Wagner Creek: A Pastor’s Burdens

About 65 years ago, I married Ken and Merle Victorson at First Baptist Church in Iron River, Michigan. Last Friday, on Ken’s 90th birthday, their son Gordy and wife Mary Kay brought them to Woodland Garden for a nostalgic visit. John Hedberg, Gordy’s childhood kin and friend came along. For an hour we relished memories in my apartment then headed to 313 to enjoy coffee and snacks prepared by Noma, where memory-sharing continued, focusing on Oscar, Ken’s father and my beloved fishing partner during Iron River years.

Gordy and John produced maps and asked me to mark spots. They are planning a pilgrimage to fish Grandpa Oscar’s trout streams. The maps triggered more stories.

Oscar earned his living painting houses. When rain threatened, I could count on his Terraplane pulling up to the parsonage. Oscar would call, Mattson, you got worms?  I got worms, Oscar.  OK, let’s go fishing. Feeling it my pastoral duty, I would gathered my gear and we’d head for Wagner Creek.

But sometimes, Oscar fished alone. One night, his wife Nannie phoned. Oscar’s not back from fishing. I’m so worried!  I picked up deacon Arnold Sjodin and we drove to the Wagner Creek area to look for Oscar’s car. No luck.  We roamed back roads, checking other fishing access points. Still no luck. About midnight we returned to the Victorson home and found Oscars car in the yard. Through the kitchen window we saw Oscar clad in long johns with Nannie chewing him out to a fair thee well. Oscar was glad to see us. While Nannie made coffee, Oscar told his story.

He had fished too long and got lost seeking the trail to his car. Stumbling about the dark woods, he found himself back at Wagner Creek with no choice but to wade down the beaver-pocked stream to a low bridge. He was soon soaked to the skin. Reaching the bridge, Oscar walked the narrow dirt road some distance to his car.

Many are the burdens pastors carry as they tend their parishioners.

Old Grandpa Lloyd