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Up North: the series ::”Greens’ Point”:: Chetek

Posted by on March 28, 2009
Long dock

Long dock

Because Wisconsin was calling my grandparents, they finally decided to purchase land and a cabin in the state. I don’t know how or why they chose Chetek, but I suspect it was because they had friends who had vacation homes there. Chetek is on the other side of Wisconsin from Arbor Vitae.

The house they bought was a tiny two-room cottage on a moderately large parcel of land along Ten Mile Lake. It had no indoor plumbing — at least no personal care kind of indoor plumbing. I think it may have had hot and cold running water in the kitchen.

They immediately began building an addition onto the house that was twice the size of the existing structure. It included a garage, a bedroom and a small bathroom.

I remember the house before the remodeling though. I remember using the outhouse and later the chemical toilet that must have sat in the corner of what became the dining room.

I can visualize the rooms of the cabin almost as clearly as I can visualize any room in my current house. If I were an artist, I could draw a perfect picture of my grandparents’ cottage. The living room had a huge picture window that looked out onto the lake. At one end of the living room, under a smallish window was a hide-a-bed sofa. In front of the picture window were my grandfather’s chair — a dark-golden easy-chair — and my grandmother’s plush rocking chair. In the corner, behind the door, was an old, low cupboard with sliding doors. Next to the door, on the right side as you looked at the door was a bookcase full of books. My grandfather was a reader and had boxes and boxes of books in the garage.

My grandmother's stove was similar to this

My grandmother's stove was similar to this

The kitchen was a tiny galley kitchen. It held a refrigerator, a sink, an island and a enameled cast-iron stove. The stove was the kind that could burn gas or wood and I vividly recall my grandmother putting wood and paper under the cast iron cook lids. I don’t know if she cooked anything on them, but it is possible she did. I think it was mainly used to heat the house.

My grandparents’ last name was Green. They called their vacation property “Greens’ Point”. When my grandfather retired, my grandparents moved to Chetek for good. Grandpa got a job in a local bar and played some golf. Grandma fished and visited with the few neighbors around.

I can’t count the number of times we visited Chetek, but enough that everything about it is vivid in my mind nearly 25 years after the last time I was there. I spent several weeks of many summers with my grandparents; and then just my grandmother after my grandfather died.

When my grandmother met John, she moved back to Illinois, but kept the house in Chetek. The last couple of times I went to Chetek, I was in my twenties. One time was shortly after I began dating my husband-to-be. It was great showing him where I’d spent so many happy days as a child and teenager.

Dean & Neal Juggling

Dean & Neal Juggling

The last time I visited Chetek was on our honeymoon. The fact that we brought some of our closest friends only made it better.

This summer I am determined to visit Chetek with my kids. We may not make it to the small house on Ten Mile Lake — that might be a little too painful, but we’ll see if the town is the same and maybe have lunch at the B&B Bar, which according to this website, still exisits or perhaps The Pokegma — one of my favorite restaurants from when I visited there. I used to love the pizza. Whatever we do, I know it will be bittersweet. It was such a huge factor in who I’ve become.

7 Responses to Up North: the series ::”Greens’ Point”:: Chetek

  1. Bridgett

    I covet that stove.

    You make me want to go to Chetek.

    Bridgett’s last blog post..I’m a sucker for memes

  2. Dona

    I know what you mean. I love the stove and wish I had a house that would fit one.

  3. helen

    What happened to the house? If it’s not too painful a story…

    • Dona

      As far as I know the house is still there. I wish someone in the family could have bought it, but no one did or could.

  4. indigo bunting

    I am really looking forward to hearing about the trip. This is great. Thanks.

  5. Hodag Pete

    Like you, I got to know Wisconsin through visits to Glidden as a child. We lived in northern Illinois and went up there because my great grandparents had bought a farm in Ashland County from Cornell University about 1900.

    I’ve never seen so many bars and taverns anywhere else. Some towns in northern Wisconsin seem to be half tavern. There are new ones but it seems that almost all of the old ones have survived as well.

    The old ones are a world to themselves: mostly seedy and worn, and occupied by regulars; and serving menus not seen anywhere in Illinois: bison burgers! deep fried cheese curds! deep fried pickles, cauliflower, broccoli, mushrooms! Pickled boiled eggs and turkey gizzards!

    An old Wisconsin tavern is definitely worth a visit.

  6. Ginny

    What a coincidence — I spent my honeymoon there too. In fact your grandmother tied a cow bell to the springs under the bed. The bell belonged to Millie who owned the Indianhead Bar. Another great memory of Chetek.

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