Lake Kabetogama in the 1960s
Contributed July 26, 2007, by Steve Wigton, seasonal resident since the late 1950s
Since I was lucky enough that my paternal Grandparents and subsequently, my parents, were owners of (and still owners of.) a summer residence, I want to share some memories. The Wigton family has been area homeowner and part of the Kabetogama family since 1950. My family’s history in the area started with camping on the Ash River and staying at Herseth’s resort so, I would say, from the late 40s based on what I was told (and not being a twinkle in anyone’s eyes yet!). While some may think of the early 60s as recent history, it is this time frame that I want to write about. Just some brief highlights without boring everyone with, “What I did on my summer vacation.”
- “Gappa’s Landing” - We had our own naming conventions and this is the bay area consisting of the Clines’, Esslingers’ and Lewis’ places. This was also the main place to launch and retrieve boats for us so it was always an active place for little kids.
- The Esslingers had sled dogs (or part husky, part wolf as I was told). I remember going up the hill and visiting these dogs. You could also hear them distinctly on summer nights as they all would howl.
- Pop and Mrs. Lewis – Walking the trail through the forest past the Pappentheins’ place to go to the Lewis’ store for candy was a childhood highlight. Pop Lewis would sit in his chair and slide the screen open and shut on a small window where you would do your business. Pop would exchange your money for something tasty. It took me a summer or two before I knew there was a door on the side porch where you could go inside. The building was square shaped and low profile with a deck or “boardwalk” around most of it. The Lewis’ always made you feel at home.
- Jeno Paulucci’s place and the large “ocean going” boat. This boat was quite the cabin cruiser and was the alpha boat on the lake for a long time. One summer my older cousin Linda Cammack stayed with our grandparents and worked for Jeno cleaning cabins and the boat. That summer I got to go to his place a few times, but only got as far as the kitchen where the “help” hung out. They had a commercial style kitchen with dual ovens, all stainless steel. You couldn’t miss the Wilderness pie fillings. The Chun King logo was painted on the door of their boat storage garage. I met Jeno a couple of times and remember him shaking my hand and making me feel welcome. From Grandpa and Grandma’s front porch, we would watch Jeno’s boat go back and forth to “Ranger Bay” (remember our made-up naming). One summer the Thorpes and I hung out on their bicycles, waiting for Buddy Hackett to be picked up. He was to be a guest of Jeno’s; at the time, I didn’t really know much about him, but knew he was a celebrity.
- My sister, brother and I had a few activities we liked to do. One of those was to get the mail. We would go up and down the hill, and then “deliver” the mail to Mr. and Mrs. Buntrock, Mrs Lange, then Mr. and Mrs. Jeter, and then on to our place, and last to Mr. and Mrs. Winberg. I talked to Bob Buntrock about this a while back as I remember walking over the rock from his folks’ place next door to Mrs Lange’s. She always had something baking in the oven and the fresh cookies were our payment.
- I remember shaking hands with Mr. Melheim and remembering how strong his grip was! (click here for more on the Melheims)
- Fishing off of Kettle Falls dam and along the shore by the dam
- Cline's Resort was a landmark building as you could see their name on the side from along way out in the lake. The dining room was stylish to me. I remember mostly getting pop or candy bars in the bar area. They had a bathroom with a joke – in the bathroom was a risque picture of a woman set in such a way that enticed you to open the door to see more. When you opened the door, a buzzer in back of the bar would sound off so everyone knew that you had “looked”! I remember it took me quite a few visits until I worked up the courage.
- Long hours of watching the workers building the “State Dock”. Quite an undertaking and it still stands there today.
- There was a water ski jump out in the bay that was used during 4th of July happenings. I never jumped over it. It was big and similar to a professional ski jump in Florida or wherever.
- Mr. and Mrs. Ellsworth - Grandpa and Grandma Wigton knew many folks, and after evening dinner or early mornings we would get in their Starcraft boat with a 40 horse Johnson and go to the “North Shore” as Grandpa would call it. I was 8 or 9 and remember all the adults sitting enjoying coffee while I would run around Ellsworth’s place. It was always full of flowers and the obvious decorative sculptures. I thought it was like a mini carnival in the middle of nowhere. I mostly remember the flowers, and the Ellsworths always offering my grandparents coffee in elegant looking teacups and saucers. Watching them all drink out of these seemed such a contrast. The memory of those teacups and saucers is has stayed with me for some reason.
- Last, I remember spending many a summer day and night (mostly around supper time) at the Thorpes' house. It was always the command post of the lake neighborhood, with good kid and family things going on. Good friends and folks then as well as now.
Steve Wigton (married to wife Cindy)
Son of Ed & Marjorie Wigton (and mom is still a full time summer resident)
Paternal grandson of M.B. (Maurice) and Mae Wigton (Mae was a long time summer resident, visiting until her 100’s)