The Tale of Frederick Francis McMann

Many a story’s been quietly told
Of the Michigan forests, haunting and old;
But what I’ll soon tell you with make your bones cold-
The tale of old Frederick Francis McMann.

Freddy, he lived out on Beaver Isle;
What he lacked in good looks he made up for in style-
On his frizzy red hair perched a tattered old hat,
And he sewed all his shirts out of old burlap sacks.

He might’ve looked better of he’d had a wife,
But Freddy was happy alone in this life,
Happy to take but two baths a year,
Down in Lake Michigan with the otters and bears.

Now Fred was a trapper, and till winter came,
He lived on the Isle collecting his game.
When came November, on the last ferry out,

Old Freddy packed up and left his campout.

In ’87, like every year,
Fred had trapped otter and beaver and bear;
All of his furs were wrapped up to go,
So Freddy went to the docks, his fur bales in tow.

When he arrived, he was met by some men-
“The ferry’s not comin’!” one of them said.
“Well call me a catfish!” said Fred with surprise
And he blinked to make sure he weren’t crossing his eyes.

Yet, the ferryman wasn’t nowhere around-
Neither the ferry- it couldn’t be found!
“There’s nothing to do but wait here, I guess,”
Said one of the trappers- looking quite stressed.

“You can stay here with us, Freddy,” invited the man,
But Fred, he said, “Thanks, but I’ve got to attend
To my cabin. Only, if none of you mind,
Each week I’ll come down here to buy some supplies.”

“You’d better be careful, Fred”, cautioned Jim Jones,
“This winter’s a bad one- so say me bones.
Your cabin’s two miles from the post at the dock-
An awful long way for an old man to walk!”

“Old!” scoffed McMann, “I’m still in my prime!
I’ve tramped o’er this island hunderds o’ times!
If there’s any trouble, you fella’s just know-
I’ll hang by a meat hook ‘fore I’m skeered o’ snow!”

With that, red-haired Freddy turned with his furs
And blustered his way back through the ferns;
Back to his cabin, to sit by the fire
And wait for the winter to finally expire.

“Skeered!” muttered Freddy, beginning to pout.
“Skeered of the winter!” his lip stuck way out.
But even as he glowered and cowered and glared,
The snowflakes were spinning throughout the cold air.

Every week Frederick would walk to the Post,
Buy his supplies, and gaze at the coast-
Hoping the ferry would one day appear,
Though of course, Fred McMann was not the least “skeered”.

Months were soon passing- t’was soon the New Year,
But Freddy had not at the Post yet appeared.
After three weeks, with no Fred to be seen,
Some trappers set off to his home by the stream.

Once at the cabin, they knocked at the door,
But Fred did not answer their bellows or roars;
So one of the men crashed into the place-
And pale as a bedsheet was his big bearded face.

There, by the fire, sat Frederick McMann-
The coals were all dead- and so was the man.
Both were as cold as the Michigan snows-
When the fire died out, old Frederick had froze.

The men tried to lift old Fred from his chair,
But his trousers had frozen his bottom right there-
So with a crowbar and hammer they found on the wall
The men pried old Fred off, trousers and all.

Off down the trail they paraded their prize;
The men at the Post were rubbing their eyes-
For there was old Fred, frozen straight through;
His hair still quite red, though his face was quite blue.

Into the tavern old Frederick was tossed
By the great fireplace, to let him defrost.
However, this method thawed only his face
So the men tried to think of some better way.

“Here’s something,” yelled Johnny, and extended his hand
And brought down a meat hook for smoking the hams.
“Hang our friend Freddy, up by his belt,
But in front of the fire- we don’t want him to melt.”

Up went old Frederick, to hang from the beams
Of the tavern, as if he were a large side of beef.
“Leave him a while: he’ll thaw, I should think.”
Said one of the trappers as he asked for a drink.

It wasn’t so long before the men heard a noise,
And fear made them tremble like a lot of small boys.
Then WHOOSH! out the chimney a figure near ran-
The ghost of old Frederick Francis McMann.

All white Freddy was- covered in snow-
But when he shook it all off, his color stayed so!
White was his face, his clothes,- all, except,
His hair- all that hair, was still just as red!

“You thought I’d be skeered!” hollered the ghost,
Pointing a finger at the trembling host.
“Well, I’m not skeered of winter and I ain’t skeered o’ snow!
I said I’d hang by a meat hook before I’d be so!”

“And hanged you have been,” one trapper declared.
“Look Freddy, look- you’re hung over there!”
Freddy turned quick and glared at hisself,
Swinging by the fire, hung by his belt.

“Well, bless all me buttons, hanged I have been!”
Shouted old Frederick as he turned back to the men.
“But I weren’t skeered before and I ain’t skeered even now!”
Bellowed McMann as a frown creased his brow.

“Well, I’ll just take this and be off,” said old Fred
And he reached up above his frizzy red head,
Grabbed himself off the meat hook, smiled, and then
Nodded, strode out, and was not seen again.

Old Frederick is said to sometimes be seen
Toting himself through the forests so green;
Sometimes, in winter, he’s also appeared,
Bellowing still that he’s not the least “skeered”.

Yet some dare to say that it wasn’t the cold
That killed Freddy Francis in those days of old.
Some say he left on the ferry each year
Because the thought of the winter filled him with fear.

Now that the story’s been quietly told
Of the Michigan winters, haunting and cold,
Remember the tale of that trapper of old-
The tale of old Frederick Francis McMann!

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One Response

  1. i liked you’re poem i live on beaver island and i like it
    your a good poet . wish i coud be 1 , 2. ttyl

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