Sunday, July 4, 2010


Here in the Michigan Upper Peninsula we love our country. We don't always agree with the federal government (mostly we don't), but the land, the people, our relationships with each other that's what's most important. My name is Gertie Johnson and I'm an original, authentic Yooper.

Today, Stonely (where I live.) is celebrating with a barbecue cookoff, lots of beer, pony rides for the kids, a chain saw carving (bet you've never seen one of those) and cow pie bingo.

Cow pie bingo is my mother-in-law's favorite Fourth of July activity (other than taking potshots at me). She's in her nineties and still has a lot of get-up-and-go.

For those of you who don't know about cow pie bingo, here's the scoop. A bunch of men take chalk and make a numbered grid in the farm field right next to the park. Then they sell tickets. Next they release the cow into the field. Whoever's numbered square she cow plops on wins the cash prize.

Grandma has a real knack of guessing. Sometimes I wonder if she cheats. And how she does it.

To read more about my family and the U.P., try Murder Passes the Buck or Murder Grins and Bears It.

Are your Fourth of July plans as excited as mine?


  1. Oh my goodness--I think I've actually heard of this game...or one very much like it. I grew up in a small Southern town. :)

    Hope you'll have a happy July 4th, Gertie!

  2. The chain saw carving mixed with Coors could be dangerous. Yikes, be careful out there!

  3. Having done a stint in way-northern Minnesota, I have a soft spot in my heart for north country culture. Chainsaw carving, ice fishing, meat raffles, pull tabs ... all good clean (and often drunken) fun. Must say that the cow pie bingo is a new one for me, though. :)

  4. I love the name of cow pie bingo. I can visualize it. Happy 4th!

  5. I've heard of chain saw carving. Amazing what a skilled person can create with a chain saw!

    I thought tractor pulls were unusual, but cow pie bingo has them beat. What a hoot! LOL!

    Happy 4th everyone!

    ~ Krista

  6. I'll gladly let you do the visualizing, Dru.

    I'm digging out the red checkered tablecloth and planning a picnic.

  7. Great to meet you, Gertie. Talk about a game that's close to the land! You nailed it.

    Thanks for the chuckle. Hope to see you again. I'm very fond of your author.


  8. Happy 4th of July, Gertie! Wow... Cow pie bingo - what a hoot. I wish I could get to see this in action. Seriously. Sounds like fun!


  9. Hi Gertie,

    Happy 4th of July!

    We play cow pie bingo in Scumble River during our Chokeberry days festival. Although we do it a little differently, as the person who buys the square actually has to occupy it.


  10. Sounds like a fun 4th of July. Here in Mercy, SC, we have a parade. It's problem when people faint from the heat and all the firemen and paramedics are way down at the other end of Main Street running their sirens and waving at folks. That's why I hand out free iced lattes. It's a shame how silly people are. They should come into Belle's Beans FIRST, then find a spot to sit and watch the parade. Cow pie bingo? Is that something I could name a coffee drink?

    Belle--the REAL one in them stories about cats always getting in trouble

  11. Getting ready to push the Remember the A-la-mode ice cream cart to the other side of the courthouse square for the Dalliance Independence Parade, so I have to dash ...

    But I think a cow pie bingo flavor might have to be in the freezer at the A-la-mode next week. Maybe a lovely green mint ice cream with chunks of fudge (in honor of Michigan's Mackinac Island and its famous fudge ...).

    I'll work on it!

  12. I've got 2 acres in Alston (near Baraga). No cows, but we can fix that. Okay, Gert -- my place. Next year. Be there:)