Snapshot rekindles memories

  • Article by: DENNIS ANDERSON , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 17, 2011 - 10:35 PM

A 69-year-old reader took special interest in a picture taken in 1951 that recently reran in the Star Tribune. All of a sudden, he realized he was looking at his father.

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John Feyo, right, and Ed Chamberlain posed for a Star Tribune photographer on Portland Avenue in 1951.

Jack Feyo was 10 years old when his dad and a friend piloted his dad's nearly new Ford to this newspaper's offices in downtown Minneapolis. The year was 1951, and strapped to the front fenders and across the hood of the vehicle were two deer felled early on opening day of the white-tail season.

Dutifully, a crack photographer was dispatched to the street to record the men's successful hunt. The resulting photo showed not only the Ford, the deer and the hunters -- John Feyo and Ed (Bud) Chamberlain -- but also the men's rifles, which they brandished proudly.

Right there on Portland Avenue.

A few weeks ago, that image appeared again in this newspaper, this time to illustrate a story that looked back at deer hunting in Minnesota over the years.

The vintage photo caught the eye of Jack Feyo, who is now 69 years old, retired and lives on Mille Lacs.

"As I recall, Dad and Bud shot those deer within five minutes of the opener in 1951," Jack said. "I believe they had been hunting near Cambridge. I vaguely remember them coming home with the deer. What stood out in my mind was the blood all over the car."

In the years since, a lot of hunting, fishing and camping memories have come and gone. In that respect, the Feyos' family story is quintessentially Minnesotan, with one generation passing down to the next, the next and the next its love of the outdoors.

"I fished and hunted with my dad all over the state," Jack said. "Mille Lacs was my dad's favorite fishing lake. But we also traveled to other states. I shot my first big game animal in Wyoming when I was 14 years old."

John Feyo died at age 90 in 2006, having lived long enough not only to see his son grow up to be a hunter and fisherman, but his grandsons and one great-grandson, also.

Jack believes that when his dad drove to the newspaper to have his deer photographed, he probably also showed off his trophy to his co-workers at Bemis Bag, which then was located near the Star and Tribune building (as it was known then).

"Dad was one of nine kids, and had to quit school when he was 16 to help support the family," Jack said. "He started at Bemis as a janitor and worked his way up. When he retired he was the manufacturing superintendent."

Whether times were "simpler'' when Jack was a kid now 60-some years ago is arguable. But certainly game and fish were abundant back then. Duck migrations were lengthy and self-evident, as continuous skeins of mallards and other fowl winged their way south in October and November. Pheasants were abundant, too, and certainly deer had by then earned a strong following among state hunters, who each fall fanned out into woods and fields near to, and far from, the Twin Cities.

In that midpoint of the last century, the state's lands and waters molded its residents in much the same way they do now. Minnesota, after all, is still an outdoors place, as indicated by a Minnesota Poll taken not many years ago in which more than 90 percent of respondents agreed that participating in hunting, fishing and other outdoor activities are integral to "being Minnesotan."

Yet differences between then and now abound. Minnesota is vastly more urban than it was in 1951, and its population is not anywhere near as homogenous. Also, the number of single-parent families has grown and peoples' lives are busier.

As a result, opportunities to pass on family traditions that involve rods, reels and guns are in some ways fewer -- or at least more challenging.

Credit John Feyo for doing his part.

"I was an only child, and he and I were busy hunting and fishing year-round," Jack said. "I live on Mille Lacs now in a home he built on the lake."

Not far away are 160 acres of land Jack purchased some years ago "just for hunting for me and my boys, John (47) and Ken (39), and my grandson, Andrew, who is 15, and for my younger grandkids, too."

This fall, the Feyos have dropped five deer on the property, including one buck.

So far, none has been strapped to the hood of a Ford -- old or new -- and driven to downtown Minneapolis.

Proving not all family traditions survive.

Or should.

Dennis Anderson danderson@startribune.com

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