In 1940, Mr. and Mrs. White bought a small hunting cabin in northern Wisconsin. They named the cabin “Nobells”: no doorbell, no phone, no bells. It was a sanctuary to retreat to from busy Chicago lives.
They expanded the small space through the years and accumulated furniture, much of which was donated by friends and family. The Whites were my second family, and I treasured time spent with them on the quiet shores of Clear Lake. In 1949, I married my sweetheart at the University of Minnesota, O.H., and we had three daughters. After Mrs. White’s death, Mr. White wanted to sell Nobells to us. Although it was financially “inconvenient” for us, we jumped at the chance.
Each summer the girls and I moved to the lake on Memorial Day weekend and stayed until Labor Day. O.H. worked in our hometown of Red Wing, Minn., and drove to the lake on the weekends. We loved living in the woods, taking long walks, and picking wild strawberries and blueberries. We swam in the aptly named Clear Lake and rowed along the shoreline in a leaky wooden dinghy. The girls sewed, acted out Shakespeare, gave fashion shows and parades, and spent evenings by the massive fieldstone fireplace playing games or reading. Many friends and family joined us, especially my sister and her family. The cousins enjoyed bonding over chores. They also had fun making paths in the woods and building small toll bridges.
After 22 years, Nobells needed major repairs, and we were faced with the decision to repair, to sell, or to rebuild. Because we owned the adjacent property on a point with a view of tall pines, birch trees and Clear Lake’s pristine bay, we decided to sell our log cabin, put our antiques in storage, and build a modern home with 20th-century plumbing. Because our new A-frame no longer qualified as Nobells, we named it “Nubells,” keeping the charm of the old place by filling it with our treasured antiques along with comfy new pieces. Nubells also was winterized, which allowed a host of seasonal activities. It became the favorite place to spend Christmas.
Before my husband died in 2003, we deeded the cabin to our daughter and family in Red Wing. They have kept the traditions of family and friends. Last year our first great grandchild, Olivia Joan, visited the lake for our July 4th gathering. This is the beginning of a fourth generation of wonderful memories.
Joan Norgaard, Red Wing