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West End News Dec. 30, 2009

Citizen band radio
Citizen band radio

WestEnd_20091231.mp38 MB

One more time, West End folks have demonstrated their generosity and their support for the Birch Grove Foundation. The match offered by the Grand Marais State Bank was met well before the deadline. The money will go directly into the endowment fund. As soon as the endowment grows to $25,000, Birch Grove will begin to benefit from income from the fund. The payments will be placed in an annuity.

There is an important change in the day of the senior lunch at Birch Grove. The lunch has been on Thursdays. When school is back in session the lunch will shift to Wednesdays. Spread the word about this change to your friends and neighbors who may not know about the change.

Those of us who knew Cap and Billie Peterson who owned Tait Lake Lodge are fascinated by the articles in the local newspaper about them and their Lodge.

A recent article mentioned that the former generator shed was now a storage building. There is quite a story about the generator at Tait Lake.

After Cap died Billie stayed at the Lodge. She had her mother and her sister with her much of the time. The community was concerned about them being at the isolated Lodge with no communication. We installed a citizen band radio for them, which allowed them to join in the network of neighbors who also had these radios. We were at Sawbill Lake, Wally Lee was at Cascade Lake, the Osmans were at Sawbill Lake in the winter and at Brule Lake in the summer, and Harley Dinges was on an island resort on Brule Lake.

All of these folks maintained a contact schedule twice a day, at seven in the morning and again at seven at night. This was taken very seriously. If someone was not going to be on the net, this was made known to the group. Billie was especially good about this. If someone did not "report in" the group did not let it go until the reason for not reporting was established.

Billie was dependent on her generator running so that she would have power to run the radio. On one occasion she failed to report in the morning, the evening and again the following morning. This meant that she needed to be checked on right away. Wally Lee volunteered to drive in to Tait Lake to check. He discovered that the generator was out of order and that Billie had no idea what was wrong with it.

Wally spread the word from the radio in his truck. At this point coincidence set in. Ken Osman was a master mechanic but he also happened to have two employees of the Onan generator company visiting him at the time. They all got into Ken's large boat on Brule, crossed the lake, then drove to Tait over horrendous roads to help Billie out.

The generator was an Onan machine, a single cylinder diesel. The Onan employees found the trouble, a broken wire, and got the generator going. They also made another discovery: That generator was one of the earliest of that model built by the Onan company. They were amazed that it was still running at all.

They went back to work and mentioned what they had found to Bud Onan, the son of the founder of the company. Bud offered to swap Billie a new machine, even Steven, for her old generator. Billie was delighted. Ken Osman and the Onan folks brought the machine to Tait and installed it for Billie. They took the old one back to Onan where it was totally reconditioned and then put on display in the reception area of the Onan factory, then on University Avenue in Minneapolis.

That was in the very early ‘60s. I don't know when the new generator was removed from Tait; but at the time of removal it was probably as old or older than the generator it replaced.

This is just one of many stories in the saga of Cap and Billie at Tait Lake, and another example of the caring folks in the West End helping each other.