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Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
Buzby's Blog
Uncle Vic's Cabin
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By Buzby's Blog
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March 27, 2012 12:01 a.m.

Rain was a good thing on the farm, especially if it arrived after spring planting was completed. A forecast promising consecutive days of rain was all my Dad needed to declare a fishing trip. As soon as the decision was made we'd hustle to pack for the trip north to Waskish and Uncle Vic's cabin.
As quickly as we could, supplies needed for a stay in the rustic cabin were pulled together. This wasn't like packing for a picnic. We had to bring everything. Mom and my sister gathered food, cook ware, bedding, towels, clothes, mosquito repellent etc... Dad and my brothers prepared the boat, fishing supplies, and the mosquito repellent. The youngest, I was useless when it came to packing except I always made sure we packed mosquito repellent AND the calamine lotion. Did you catch the drift that mosquitoes were awful there? Yes, Washkish was the Jurassic Park of mosquitoes.
The folks at the cabin. Early 1950's
Jam packed full of supplies and the seven of us, our black fin-tailed Chrysler hung low when it pulled the boat trailer. Even if the car was overloaded, my Dad was light in spirit. He had a routine when we pulled out of the farm yard. Dad would crack his window, light up a sweet Tiparillo cigar, punch the radio tuner to KFGO, and away we'd go.
You know, Dad was always extra cheerful when we headed to Uncle Vic's cabin. My parents had spent some time there before they were married. I wonder if his cheerfulness came from the memories of that fishing trip he made with Mom while they were still dating. I wish now that I could ask him about that sweet time in their life.
Uncle Vic, Grandma Una & Grandpa Frank by the pump
Uncle Vic's cabin, also known as the "Wash-Dish Cabin" had been built in the 1940's. It held an old oil burning stove for warmth and a vintage gas stove for cooking. At some point, the cabin was wired for electricity but that was the extent of any updating. The path to the outhouse was lined with worn planks that wobbled under your feet. When you needed water you took a bucket and filled it from the big red hand pump outside. I thought that was fun. I bet my Mom didn't.
The tiny cabin had three bedrooms, each with just enough space for a full-size metal bed. They all had a smooshy mattress atop squeaky sagging springs. To get to sleep I'd settle on my side, clutching the mattress edge with a death grip to prevent rolling down the sagged crevasse and into my sister. Regardless of my effort, in the morning I'd end up in a tangled lump with my sister down in the middle of the slumped mattress. As youngsters, we shared a bed and frequently fought about the amount of mattress and blankets each other claimed. But at the cabin we didn't fuss at each other. When you woke up to frozen cabin air, you were grateful for the shared warmth. By the time Dad got the oil burner fired up and the morning chill chased away, Mom would have a hot breakfast ready. That was motivation enough to pry yourself out of bed, dash outside into the cold and race down the planks to the outhouse.

Tat, Kat, Me, Doo & Dee at the cabin.

I haven't a clue why we were posed with a dead gull.

After an early breakfast, we'd head out to fish on that giant nauseating body of gray water. For me, a few hours fishing was an eternity. It didn't matter if I was swinging in the tire swing at home or riding in a boat, I was hopelessly afflicted by motion sickness. Out on the water, shoreline long out of site, I'd spent most of the time feeling sick rolling around on the bottom of the boat. I wondered why we had to fish when Mom always brought hot dogs and beans (just in case.) The motion and sound of waves sloshing made me miserable so I'd pretend I was back at the cabin. I'd think about laying on the black bear skin rug on the floor by the worn leather couch. When the sun warmed my hands it reminded me of the sensation I'd get when I would glide my fingers through the thick fur rug. Pretending I was a turtle was another favorite getaway. My stiff orange life vest became a turtle shell. I'd tuck my head down as far as I could inside the buckled vest. Imagining I was burrowed securely in the sandy shore helped take my mind off the relentless motion. Now as I look back I'm surprised none of my siblings made fun of me. Perhaps they held back, not wanting to risk me puking on them. I do recall a brother once jesting about hooking me to a line and playing bobber with me. My Dad's response of, "That will be enough of that!" put an end to the temptation to tease the pitiful, pouting baby sister. I think Dad wanted to make sure that the only thing rocking that little boat were the waves. Regardless of being sick, these are great memories of family time together.
Uncle Vic's cabin was a sweet spot for us to stretch out beyond the farm. We all thought it was cool. It was a great getaway where our family could laugh and play together. For me, the only downside was the whole water, boat and fishing ordeal, but that's a story for another day.

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