Don’t ask me why, but on this rather chilly January day, I have thoughts of an old friend of mine: Elton Kellogg Crowell Jr. With a name like that it was not surprising we called him just plain “Bud.” One might think it would be impossible but Bud and I became very good friends in a dental chair. He was an advocate of good dental hygiene and was a proponent of regular six-month dental exams.
However as much as I preached the hazards and dangers of smoking as it relates to good dental health, he continued to do so. I was a strong crusader and contant campaigner against this horrendous habit as my wife Joyce died from the terrible practice about the same time as Bud passed away.
Nevertheless, in addition to my preaching at the dental chair of the dangers of smoking, we also managed to discuss the game of golf, fishing, and the happenings at his Borde du Lac Lodge on beautiful Benedict Lake. When Bud told me he originally came from St. Paul and eventually moved to Hutchinson, where he owned a couple of Singer sewing machine stores, I asked how and why he became involved in the resort business. I will always remember Bud’s quick-witted, comical answer:
“I wanted to be a dentist and I took a couple of pre-dental courses at the University of Minnesota. But I spent too much time shooting pool, playing ping pong, bridge and time at the lunch counter!”
I could keep up with Bud, Dave Melby and Jack Bieloh at the bridge table, but on the golf course, Jack and I were always on the short end, as Bud and Dave took all our money: Bingo, Bango, Bungo1
When I was a kid working on my Boy Scout merit badge in canoeing, there was a year when the waters of Leech and surrounding lakes were high and we were able to pole our canoe from Benedict Lake to Kabekona Lake. Normally you can’t get from Kabekona Lake to Benedict Lake. However another year when the water was high again, my family and I tried to get through by poling our pontoon boat. Not surprisingly, we got stuck and Bud, who owned Borde du Lac Lodge, came to retrieve us. We were tired, worn out and weary from trying to pole our way through the creek, so Bud brought us to his resort and graciously offered Joyce and me a cup of coffee and pop for the kids.
As we walked from the dock up the hill to the lodge, the kids discovered a boardwalk that meandered all along the shoreline, and they were long gone! Walking up to the lodge, we observed the meticulously immaculate and pristine grounds, and the many cottages were also, with their ultra-modern, rustic decor. The lodge was impeccably tidy and clean, and we found both Bud and his wife Maribeth to be delightful, charming hosts. When the kids returned from exploring the boardwalk, one of them asked the meaning of Borde du Lac, and Bud quickly answered, “It’s French for ‘the edge of the lake.’”
I was surprised soon after our visit that Bud made a dental appointment, knowing that the dentist was mindless and foolish enough to try to get from Benedict Lake to Kabekona Lake in a pontoon boat!
One day Bud’s wife, Maribeth, supported me by writing a very nice, rewarding letter to the editor in reply to a very degrading, demeaming comment concerning this column in The Pilot-Independent.
Maribeth’s use of modifying adverbs and descriptive adjectives put my words to shame as she wrote:
“Your memories have brought to life the sound and smell of horses pulling wagons, the sight of men delivering tongs of sawdust-frosted lake ice, enabling folks to keep their food fresh; the medicinal smell of the old hospital; the taste of beer from mugs sliding down a bar; the tinkling of jingle dresses accompanied by drumbeats of powwows of past days.”
When I read Maribeth’s words I thought to myself, “Wow! Did I write words that inspired Maribeth to make that comment? Are those the thoughts of one who flunked high school English and had to take a course called Bonehead English to get into Carleton College?”
Thank you sincerely, Maribeth! Thanks for inflating the self-esteem and the confidence of an old man passing the slow-moving, meandering days of retirement of a dentist, who looked down in the mouth for 54 years — recalling a dental patient, a fine gentleman and a good friend who went by the name of Bud.