Our cabin life began with a generous gift to my grandmother from her brother-in-law, Gus Urban, a businessman from Robbinsdale.
Urban loved the Brainerd area for its excellent fishing and bought 80 acres of lakeshore property north of Brainerd back in the 1920s for $850. Throughout the years, he sold many of these small, 50-foot lots to his local Robbinsdale friends and business associates.
There also was a twist: If you bought a lot, he would give you another. Fortunately, he gifted to my grandmother her choice of any lot, and my grandfather set about building a little cabin in the woods. That began our many years of three-hour drives in my dad’s 1948 Plymouth, anxiously opening the cabin on Memorial Day weekend and dreading its time to close on Labor Day weekend. We never missed our weekends of singing songs together in the car, reading Burma Shave signs and looking forward to fishing, swimming and laughter with our friends and relatives. The more people who crowded in the tiny cabin, the more fun it became. No television, no telephones — just sharing stories and creating memories for a lifetime.
My grandfather crafted an unusual lakefront stairway with a heavy, metal fire escape, and two old telephone poles from Robbinsdale were repurposed for our raft-style dock. It was a peaceful era, and it didn’t take long for others to hear about the wonderful Whitefish Chain of Lakes.
In 1990, my father, then 80, sold his home in Robbinsdale after my mother died and fulfilled his dream of building a year-round home in Crosslake. He lived there until his death in 1993. His desire was to be able to create more room for the next generation to enjoy.
My husband and I are now fortunate to be living in the dwelling, welcoming friends and family members who visit. My husband also built a log cabin storage space and man-cave.
As I did, many people have experienced their early childhood here at the lake. We want our children to share in what’s been called the family shrine.
It is an honor to live on Urban’s Point Road, named after Uncle Gus — a true memorial to one very generous man.
Ray and Marjie, Crosslake, Minn.