Saturday, July 14, 2007

Hello, Ralph and Bea!

This blog is for Ralph and Bea Griffis in Harlingen, Texas. Ralph called us just before dinner to complain that I wasn’t writing the blog frequently enough. So read on Ralph and Bea. See how I tell your story.

Ralph and Bea were the last private owners of Chik-Wauk Lodge on Saganaga Lake. They bought in 1958 and operated the business until 1980. At that time they sold to the Federal government. After selling they were able to summer at the lodge until about 5 years ago.

The Kerfoots have a long relationship with Ralph and Bea. As a young resort owner, Bea taught me how to make corduroy bedspreads for all our cabins. Bolts and bolts of corduroy went through my sewing machine and ended up on cabin beds. They were a huge improvement over the chenille ones that had been used previously.

In late August of 1975 Bruce flew some guests up to a remote lake in Canada for a day’s fishing. They didn’t come home. The next morning Ralph took his plane up and found them for us. Ralph’s plane was too big to land on the lake, but he did tell me that he thought he saw Bruce by a campfire. Eventually the U. S. Forest Service flew in to rescue Bruce and his two guests. The sequel to this story is that Lee was born one week later.

Today Ralph and Bruce were talking about the Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Center which the Gunflint Trail Historical Society is building in the old Chik-Wauk main lodge building. Word has just been received that the building as been accepted on the National Register of Historic Places. It is a big step as the society works on raising the money for the museum. It was also a big deal for Ralph and Bea who have supported us throughout the process.

Last fall Bruce and I drove down to Harlingen to see Ralph and Bea. Along with lots of Texas hospitality, they loaded us up with artifacts for the museum. We took down an empty fifteen-passenger van with no seats and came back loaded to the gills. Some of our treasures included 2 snowshoe chairs made by Tempest Powell Benson, an original painting by Howard Sivertsen, four place setting of Chik-Wauk china, a table standing on a large burl, 4 hand made chairs, an original candle wall sconce from the lodge, etc. The list goes on and on. Eventually most of these things will be displayed in the museum.

More important (and more fun) than all these things was getting to listen to Ralph and Bea tell us some stories. We started up the video camera and listened and listened. These were stories from two people who obviously loved their life on Saganaga Lake. We heard about old employees and guests. We heard stories of making Hamm’s Beer commercials with Sasha, a real live brown bear. We heard about all the funny happenings to people who run resorts. It was wonderful.

But Ralph won’t like it if all I did was talk about he and Bea in this blog. So I better tell you a few things that are going on in the neighborhood. Fishing has been really good lately – both lake trout and walleye. All the guides have been out and bringing in good catches of fish. Last night Bruce and I joined the Feeneys and another couple for a fresh walleye dinner that would not end. Patty cooked them to perfection and we ate until I thought I would burst. Of course, I saved a little room for Melissa’s chocolate pie.

At lunch today Bruce and I had our first small dish of raspberries. I looked around the house and came up with enough for two small dishes after picking for about 10 minutes. Every one of you reading this should be green with envy. There are lots more raspberries coming so get up here and pick your own.

Lee and Eva took Sybil, a visiting friend, out looking for blueberries. They came back with enough to make a pie. On Tuesday they are all coming over for dinner and we are going to have homemade blueberry pie. Who could ask for anything more?

Bruce and I are leaving for a couple days. Granddaughter Emma and her friend went home Thursday. It is time for another grandchild to visit. We are driving down to Clear Lake, Iowa, to pick up Zach for his time with us. In the afternoon before the canoe races start on Wednesday, Zach will have his lemonade stand set up. Last year he raised about $40 for the fire department. It is a great way for a child to learn to give back to the community.

On Wednesday the canoe races will be held here at Gunflint starting at 4:00. A new activity this year will be the silent auction. So many wonderful gifts have been donated that the committee decided to put some of them in a silent auction. Whether you buy raffle tickets or participate in the silent auction, there will be lots of gifts to tempt you. If you can’t come, just pray for warm weather and sunshine.

That's what is going on along the Gunflint Trail. Summer is passing quickly but we are enjoying every minute of it.

6 comments:

Jessie said...

I was very interested in this post about Ralph and Bea and Chik Wauk Lodge. Back in the 1970s my family would get tow service from Chik Wauk out to Silver Falls. I was a young boy at the time, and I fondly remember the lodge and the bay where the boats and Ralph's float plane were parked. I remember the big northern that would lay in the water just off the dock by the boat house, and how those hungry pike would make the water boil if I threw a little stick in right above their snouts. Heady stuff for an Iowa boy who'd been dreaming all summer about fishing in Canada. My dad always had a long conversation with Ralph in the parking lot or in the office. I don't know what they talked about (probably the weather, fishing, lodge life, etc..) Ralph was a bigger-than-life figure to me, and I was sure glad to see him each year. I'm glad Chik Wauk is still there and that someday maybe I'll be able to see it again.

--Bob True

Lee said...

Hi, Bea and Ralph
Cheryl Hedstrom Dailey found this site. Lee Hedstrom Saah is the one writing this. How are you? Cheryl was up at Chik Wauk this summer and took some pictures after the fire. We are going to be in South Padre Island 9/1-9/9 and would like to come and see you if you'll be home. We are vacationing with the women on our side of the family. Thursday, 9/6 would be the best day for us. We have company leaving that day and company coming the following day. I think Cheryl has your phone number so if we don't hear from you on this blog, we'll try calling you. Look forward to seeing you.

Lee

Sundar said...

we enjoyed our school tour only because of this Alpine Peaks restaurant wow really wonderful,we prefer our seniors too to stay there

Keith Kreitner's Blog said...

Well it has been 40 years since I have been to Chik Wauk. I was hoping to take family there. Guess I am a tad bit late. But I will be visiting it. Lots of memories and the fishing was great. My brother and I would take a canoe out onto Sag and yup..we would always cross that line. The mounties would smile, take the fish and tell us to have a nice day.
I also remember all of the wildlife and the fish stories we would tell when sitting at the lodge. No complaints. Just a big thank you for all of my memories.

Keith Kreitner
Austin, Tx

relmore said...

Ralph and Bea are two of the nicest people in the world. There is a history of brotherhood, between Ralph and my father, Paul " Pete " Elmore. From the Conoco refinery in Billings, Montana, to Grand Marais,They would keep contact for years. I spent a summer at Chic Waulk, supposedly as a dock boy, but in reality, I was the kid that caused them to go grey early! Alot of funny Elmore-Griffis stories, that will be remembered... Like the hunting trip, where Ralph indulged in too much licorice.... Remember, Ralph ?
I read the blogs and had alot of fond memories of this couple, as well as there kindness toward me and my family. God bless this couple, as they have made a mark in this world... Both are people of substance... God bless you, Ralph and Bea....

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