Hayward: Someone You Know Has A Cabin Here

Updated: Apr 25, 2018

Hayward, Wisconsin finds a place in everyone’s scrapbook. A small town that is tucked away in the north woods of Wisconsin, Hayward is known as being the “Musky Capital of the World”. What was once a vibrant logging community named after logger Anthony Judson Hayward is now a vacation destination circled in Sharpie on various family maps. Throughout the year, many world-class events are held there and of the most notable being the Lumberjack World Championships and the American Birkebeiner (the largest ski race in North America). Although some of the people that live here claim to resent the place that molded them, they never seem to leave.

Some may stay far away from their hometown known as the place where the mid 80s horror film Bloodhook was filmed and never return again like a teenager killed in the movie. They pack up their things and go like the film crew who shot the movie here, but didn’t really get to know the place. The shops have the same things on their racks year after year. The local gossip pierces your ears and there is no way to escape it. The people you once knew, you find yourself hiding from at the grocery store. At the same time, it is things like bumping into an old friend while filling up your gas tank that make the town special.

It seemed like I never could get away with anything because everyone seems to know everyone’s car and life story. I once rented a war video game from a local video rental store and the person working called my mother first to see if it was okay with her. (I didn’t even have to give her my mom’s number.) My mom would probably find out about me getting a speeding ticket before the cop even got out of his car.

“So, what were you doing last night in town around 11pm?” Mom asked.

“What? Who told you that?” I replied.

Mom continued to sweep the kitchen as I put on my shoes.

“I’ve got eyes everywhere,” she chuckled.

She did have eyes everywhere. Born and raised in Hayward, my mother practically knew everyone. God help you if you were with her and she ran into somebody at the grocery store that she hadn’t “seen in ages” (last week). The West’s Dairy ice cream would be melted by the time you finally made it to the car! I ‘d be lying if I said that I wasn’t happy when I finally got my driver’s license.

The freedom that a driver’s license gave me in Hayward was like handing me a winning lottery ticket with the back roads being my prize. When traffic got heavy in the summer months due to tourism, I would turn to the winding back roads to answer my prayers. Small lakes were scattered along the roadside while the towering pines and oaks would look down upon my 1999 Ford Ranger. The trees and lakes were welcoming in the summer, but would meet you with a frigid heart during the winter if you weren’t paying attention. Luckily for me, most of my friends had trucks and I would give them a call if I ever needed to get out of the clutches of the snow bank. Winter seemed to last forever in Hayward and you had to enjoy the two and a half months of warm weather while you could.

People’s definition of hell may differ from mine, but to me, hell is Hayward in the summer. Although our town is home to only 2,318 people, that number grows exponentially during the summer months. Cars flood the once quiet streets because everyone would be in town to fish, drink, eat, and repeat. Friday Night fish fry’s were basically a religious practice. When everybody wasn’t on Round Lake, Smith Lake, Nelson Lake, Stone Lake, etc. They were downtown on Main Street enjoying the various shops and restaurants or at the go-kart track.

As a kid, my dad would always take us to the go-kart track when we had a little free time in the summer. I lived for the thrill of racing around the track with the sun-faded centerlines. I used to sit in the tiny passenger seat with the fake steering wheel next to my dad and we always seemed to be the first ones to go. We were locals after all, so after a few visits; we quickly formed an alliance with the teenagers that worked there. I looked up to those sun burnt superheroes in cut off t-shirts and if given the chance I would take the job in a heartbeat.