In September of 1930 nine year old Joe and his mother arrived in Bradlo to join his Father. His father Joe Lilko Sr. , one of the original settlers arrived in Bradlo in the spring of 1930 to build the initial cabin for his family. He was a finishing carpenter by trade and played a major role in the building of the Church, the school , and in teaching the other men how to work with wood.
In 1932 tragedy struck the Lilko Family. Mrs. Lilko died shortly after childbirth in the Hearst Hospital. The baby did not survive. Joe was orphaned as an eleven year old boy. With his father he was on his own living in that lonely log cabin .
A frightening experience for the young boy who was spooked by the creeking and the groaning of the cabin especially when his father was away at the lumber camps.
He became the unpaid baby sitter for many of the young Bradlo families and helped out with chores and other errands.
Asked about Joe , Stella Drajanoff Wurm the first teacher at Bradlo made the following comments:
* Joe was a good student, he was bright , could be left on his own with very little supervision, was musical and could sing. He also had a terrific sense of humour . He used to come to School with a piece of bread and big piece of bacon...slanina Thats what he used to eat for lunch and hed say he had swept the floor but there was no dirt because the cracks between the floor boards took all the dirt. And he had a shirt ..a cross stitched shirt...and he used to say -- I dont wash it in case it wears out..
And Joe was bright . He finished eight grades of school in three and one half years. He was very much interested in mechanics and loved cars.
Mr. John Bies owned a 1928 Chevy that Joe would sit in and move back and forth with the car starter when Mr. Bies was away. I drained the battery in that car a few times he said with a mischievous twinkle in his eye as he produced a photograph of that old Chevy with Bies sisters , Anne and Olga sitting on the running board. He learned to play the accordion and the fiddle and was one of those musicians at Bradlo that Mary Lasan Marzan spoke of in her article.
In 1934 another tragedy took place that was to affect Joes life. Mary Lasan Marzans uncle, Joe Ziga was killed in an accident. Joes widowed father married Joe Zigas widow in 1936. Joe Lilko and Mary Lasan are now related by marriage.
In 1936 at fifteen years of age he left Bradlo and went to Ed McKennies Service and Garage in Hearst and asked to do some work on cars. He was paid $ 4.00 a week and allowed to sleep on a bed in the corner of the garage. His meals at a local Finnish boarding house cost him $ 4.00 a week . He got some extra money from tips. Some times Ed McKennie would bring him cake and a pop as it was a long time between meals at the boarding house. He learned to drive on a 1930 open air Hudson Tow Truck Joe recalled. I used to pull cars through the mud at the Hearst Bridge for $ 1.00 a tow. The seat got pretty wet in the rains. During the winter I drove McKennies Snow Plane Taxi service. Streets were not cleared and all cars were blocked up for the winter. In 1940 Joe got his Auto Mechanics Licence. This required discipline as he studied on his own.
Friends of Bradlo - Newsletter Copyright by Rudy
Bies © 1997