Traveling Trails Less Traveled. By Buckshot Anderson
For April 24th, 2009 Edition.
As the north dips deeper into spring there comes with it a noticeable increase in vehicle traffic, especially cars, vans and trucks sporting out-of-state plates and dealer decals from downstate. Greenbacks are once again flowing into up-north cash boxes!
A good part of this increased traffic flow are folks who are heading for their seasonal homes, (formally known as summer cottages and cabins) to get them ready for vacation time and fun on the water under a warm summer sun. But as usual even these annual spring visits have destinations much different from what awaited seasonal visitors years ago..
Without a doubt the biggest change from what was normal in yesteryear is the size and configuration of what constitutes a normal vacation home in the new millennium compared to those of a few decades ago. Today most seasonal homes, cabins, cottages or whatever you wish to label them are ultra-modern and gigantic compared to the type of summer retreat so vividly portrayed in the classic movie of the 1970s, On Golden Pond. Summer residences of that vintage are currently mostly relegated to yellowing photographs in photo albums or old post cards in area museums.
However, there are still a few of those original small log cabins with a screened in porch nestled in a grove of pine, birch and oak overlooking a quiet, pristine lake or stream here in the heart of Wisconsin's vacationland. And if one heads further north into Michigan's U.P you'll still find many such quaint, nostalgic, rustic summer cabins.
One such historical relic resides less than a half mile from the location Wifee Poo and I call home. It was constructed about the same time World War II started and remains almost exactly as it was when originally built. The tiny log cabin measures about 18 X 22 feet, contains but one room plus a porch and small loft area with no running water or electricity. It's a thing of beauty!
The original owners were two couples from Fox Lake, Illinois, the Ed Kasiks and Ray Risvolds. Ed was a professional sign painter and Ray a professional wrestler. Mrs. Kasik was called Millie and my memory fails to recall Mrs. Risvold's name.
The four spent much of the summer of 1941 building the cabin and lived in a tent while construction was underway. When completed a spacious porch overlooked Dollar Lake that contained screened windows and hinged glass windows, a swing bench plus a refrigerator cooled by propane. The one room living area boasted an antique gas range, propane lights, hand made table, chairs and benches, and a handsome double bunk made of peeled pine logs. A retractable ladder allowed easy access to the loft over the porch. All interior and exterior walls were coated with gleaming varnish as well as the three-sided outhouse behind the cabin. A hand pump at the kitchen sink supplied cold, pure, fresh water and heat was abundant when needed via a pot-bellied wood burning stove sitting smack dab in the center of the main room. As I said earlier - the cabin was beautiful and the setting sublime!
All this luxury was, and still is, surrounded by a stately grove of old-growth white and red pine. Decades of accumulated fallen pine needles create a lush brown carpet that rarely needs clearing except to annually gather the dead branches that have been shed from the massive trunks of the pines. And less than a hundred feet from the front door a small, peaceful lake shimmers in the summer sun where resident loons fish for perch and the surface is generally devoid of human activity. Yes Virginia, a small slice of yesteryear still exists here and there amidst the busy north.
Shortly after WW II the Risvolds dropped out of the picture and only Ed and Millie came north to use the cabin. Their stay usually spanned late May through June and then again from Labor Day well into October. The Anderson's were always welcome to visit and visa-versa, as our resort and their cabin was connected by a well-used quarter mile deer path along the north shore of the lake.
One of my uncles, Bud Jorgensen, was the official caretaker of Kasik's Cabin, although there was little care that needed to be taken and Bud never accepted any payment for his watchfulness. The 80-acres Ed and Millie owned fit perfectly into my parent's 120-acres, which presented my dog and I 200-acres of forested paradise to roam at will. Those were the days my friend!
But, as always Father Time had to intervene and advancing age forced our friends to sell their cabin in 1968. Fortunately the new owner was one of my guiding clients who continued to allow my family and I to roam the land at will.
During the next 24 years the Kasik Cabin remained unchanged, but little used. Mr. Black, the new owner, had a "modern" seasonal cottage several hundred yards west of the Kasik Cabin he and his wife used when vacationing up north.
For several days and nights during the early '70s the Kasik Cabin housed Mr. Black's chauffer, Oswald. Oswald was a Jamaican national who experienced life in the Northwoods for the first time during a very brief visit in June of 1972. Mr. Black, his wife and driver arrived about midnight. Oswald toted his personal luggage along the pitch dark deer trail as his boss lead the way to Kasik's Cabin with the aid of a flashlight. Imagine the images that must have flashed through the Jamaican's mind as Mr. Black listed the species of wildlife that called the surrounding forest home! I would guess "bears" probably stuck in Oswald's memory.
Well, for some reason unknown to me Oswald and uncle Bud did not become friends. And uncle Bud, being someone who enjoyed a good practical joke thought up a dandy!
My job was to keep the cabin livable and when I cleaned up the Kasik Cabin after Oswald left, to my horror and disgust I discovered he had used one of the trashcans in the cabin as his bathroom! My uncle eventually cleared up the mystery as to why Oswald used the trashcan rather than the biffy out back. Uncle Bud graphically related his story to me concerning a visit he made to the remote cabin one dark night well after Oswald was probably sleeping, but probably not to soundly. Bud circled the cabin uttering deep-throated growls while scratching on the log walls! Now that's mean!
The Kasik Cabin was also made available to my companions and I to be used as a November "deer shack" for the Anderson-Jorgensen deer hunters during the seasons of 1969 - 75. After 1975 the group of deer hunters moved into a new Hunter's Hilton on my property. There are about a dozen guys who have great memories concerning those seven deer seasons at the Kasik Cabin!
Our oldest daughter, Cherie, was also permitted to use the Kasik Cabin as a location for "slumber parties" with her girlfriends a few times during her teenage years. This allowed Peggy and I to enjoy a good nights sleep rather than being kept awake listening to a batch of giggling girls.
Mr. Black sold the property in 1992 and I'm happy to report the current owner continues to keep the historic cabin in its original condition. He also confesses his little piece of privacy is his favored location to spend much of his free time during the warm months.
And why not? It's a little piece of Heaven on Earth!
Mr. Leon "Buckshot" Anderson is one of the few old time hunting and fishing guides left in Northern Wisconsin. Buckshot is a personal friend of the family and has known and worked with my grandfather, Howard "Pop" Dean, both of whom are members of the fresh water fishing hall of fame, Legendary Guide. Buckshot has authored 7 books on the great outdoors. All of his books can be purchased directly from him, at a discount, by email: firstname.lastname@example.org or by mail to: 2220 Deadman's Gulch Road, St. Germain, WI 54558.
Books by Leon "Buckshot" Anderson Click Here
Yes; Deadman's Gulch is the correct name, I have been on that road many times. Sincerely David D. Cruger
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