| Jul 19, 2007

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Feature Article - July 19, 2007

Dick Grandstaff - 71 years at TwinOak Lodge

by Katie Ohlke

Richard "Dick" Grandstaff first set eyes on Twin Oak Lodge in July of 1936. "I was 12 years old and came up with my uncle, Dr. Roy C. Gygly and his wife, as well as my other uncle, Vernerd Grandstaff. I knew nothing about the area but was so excited about coming to Canada and fishing!"

My uncle heard about Twin Oaks from a friend, Mr. Nelson, a jeweller in East Cleveland. He said, "You ought to try it if you like fishing!" Twin Oak Lodge was opened in 1935 by Tony Weiss who ran it until 1970, when his daughter and son-in-law, Mary and Arnold McNeil, took over operations. Today Twin Oaks is run by their children, Donald and Carla (McNeil-Thompson) with Mary.


"I missed two years for the war, in 1943 and 1944, though I was in the service for three years." Grandstaff was a sailor on the USS Rodman Destroyer 456 that was converted to a DMS 421. "We worked with the Canadian Navy on the Normandy and Cherbon invasions. In 1944 we were in Okinawa to do mine sweeping when three kamikaze planes hit us and killed 16 of my friends. Ten minutes earlier and I would have died. The third plane blew me over the side and we spent three hours in the water - fortunately seeing no sharks. We were 7 miles from shore and the sharks were there. A small mine sweeper picked us up and shot down another kamikaze before it hit us.

"I have come up to [Twin Oaks] ever since, including my honey moon in 1949. My new bride, Lois, thought I was bringing her to the back woods to kill her! Along the way we had two flat tires and lost a fender. Coming through Trenton, a car stopped suddenly ahead of us and the potato salad in their back window flew out and hit us! She couldn't believe I was bringing her to such a wild place. Tony had a surprise party planned for us but because we were late, we missed most of it! Tony had tied a cow bell to the bed (secretly, of course, for a joke) but that isn't what scared my wife! A cat chased a chipmunk under the cabin and all [heck] let loose and Lois almost jumped out the window!"

Four generations of the Grandstaff family have enjoyed summers on Lake Kashawakamak. When asked if much has changed, Dick replied, "Not much! It is still beautiful, quiet, with mediocre fishing - but coming here is the most important thing - not the fish. It is like a family here now! People who come here from all over are good friends; I enjoy talking to them, better than some of the friends from home! I just love the camp and the people. I feel very much at ease and I don't think you could find another place like this ever!"

Dick noted that the parties have changed, as have some of the cabins - the "boathouse" was a dancehall and there were fiddlers at the dances. But over all of his 71 years, the excellent quality has stayed the same.

Dick resides in Wilmington, Delaware when he isn't enjoying the lake at Twin Oaks in Fernleigh. He visits twice a year, at the end of June with fishing buddies and the end of July with his wife Lois. Dick remembers his uncle who first introduced him the lodge, "What a great guy! I couldn't thank him more, it is wonderful!"

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