Frank Tettemer

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Franklin R. (Frank) Tettemer grew up in Doylestown, Pennsylvania. In 1968 he was an anti-war activist with a chapter of the Students for a Democratic Society (SDS) in Pennsylvania and participated in several direct action operations aimed at shutting down his local draft board. He was drafted into the US Army, deserted and arrived at 224 McCaul Street in Toronto in January 1969. He was welcomed into the house and, like all recent arrivals, crashed in the living room because the house was full beyond capacity. The following month he, Mary Rauton, Colleen Anderson and Steve Blossom rented the house at 218 McCaul Street. By June the residents of 218 McCaul Street included Frank Tettemer, Marita DeGive, Steven Bush, Steve Spring, Steve Blossom, Colleen and Seth Anderson and Ed and Sheila Street.

Marita DeGive came from Atlanta to visit Mary Rauton, a friend of her mother. Marita and Frank married in August. They both worked at the Ragnarokr leather shop for several months. Frank left the leather shop in August and found work as a carpenter. In the fall of 1969 Frank and Marita both enrolled in the Sheridan School of Design in Toronto and left the Ragnarokr commune.

Frank and Marita stayed in contact with the leather shop and in December 1970 Frank, Philip Mullins, Randy Rauton and several others drove up to see the land the leather shop had purchased in Machar Township. They camped in the only clearing at the Frostpocket until sub-freezing weather forced them to barricade themselves inside the old horse shed. After graduation Frank was employed by Mr. and Mrs. Brooks, the owners of Pax Designs on Yorkville Avenue. In June 1972 Frank and Marita Tettermer lived near Thunder Bay, Ontario, where Frank had a contract to teach native people how to make and market contemporary leatherwork. He and Marita rented a lakefront cottage at the mouth of the Pic River and Marita lived there while Frank visited the often-isolated reserves demonstrating contemporary leather craft. He recalls that one winter evening he was holding a class in the reserve’s community center when an entire wall of the building collapsed into the snow outside. Another time he was forced to leave a reserve when neighborhood children began shooting at the building where he was teaching. Marita did not feel comfortable accompanying Frank and stayed at the isolated cottage two or three miles from the Indian settlement at Heron Bay and some fifteen miles from the little papermill town of Marathon.

In the fall Frank finished the contract with J. & J. Brooks and he and Marita moved into the farmhouse at Doyle’s Mountain near Killaloe Station. The municipal government at the Pic 50 Heron Bay Reserve was interested in reintroducing traditional language and crafts skills to their community and they requested that Frank return and teach a group of women leather working skills. Marita did not want to return to northern Ontario so in October 1972 Frank wrote Philip and Mary of the Ragnarokr leather shop about the band’s request and handed the project off to them.

In February 1973 Marita left Frank and Killaloe Station and drove to San Francisco, California with Peter Judd who was a friend of Ruth Lyon from Toronto. Marita returned for a brief reconciliation with Frank in the fall of 1973 but then returned to Atlanta, Georgia where she had grown up. She subsequently returned to the West Coast. Frank stayed in Renfrew County. In 1973 he and a group of friends purchased land there. He later married Linda Sorensen and they lived on the small farm Frank has purchased. He found occasional work pulling sunken logs from rivers in the area and worked as a carpenter.

In April 1974 Frank visited the Frostpocket and proposed to rejoin the Ragnarokr co-operative. He had been doing leatherwork on consignment for several years and occasionally spent two or three weeks working at the leather shop in Toronto. He developed a custom-molded sandal modeled after the famous Birkenstock cork sandal. He intended to sell the sandal through the leather shop while continuing to live on his farm in Renfrew County. He arranged to watch the leather shop in September and October in return for a consignment rate of 15% (compared to the usual rate of 25%). For several years Frank continued to work in the leather shop from time-to-time and to make and sell his unique sandals.

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