Why I Named My Blog “Dreams Of Forest Lodge”

August 9, 2017

Well 18 guys showed up tonight for dinner …most I think were females…and Yes they must be from either Phoenix or Indio (nothing against those 2 divine communities)….


As the girls…those I could identify….maybe a few trans and gay guys  too….were all wearing those 70’s plastic pop em together  pearl  necklaces kids wore back then…and were carrying Wal Mart shopping bags….

and Man did they have Big Bills…they just rudely Hoovered up all the vittles….that this chef with his freshly laundered Chez Panisse apron… slaved to prepare…”Champignon (mushrooms to those from Indio) a la Bourguignon” over a bed of wild rice…


And the Feet….on the 2 males….I wonder if THAT  theory applies to ducks…..


But Man are they molting….I mean if they are spooked by something ALL of them Take flight and head to the pond leaving a Lot of feathers in their wake….


A couple more weeks and I will have enough for my own duck down pillow…..


And they Had the balls to come back for a second helping an hour later…..I am worn out…..


In reading A.N Wilson’s biography of John Betjeman…who was a poet (eventually given the title of Poet Laureate of the UK in 1972)…he stated: “…very few poets have been able to imitate Tennyson and continue to write well …after their 40th birthday….most poetry is written by those who are young or middle aged….and are only good for a short period of their lives….”


It sort of astounds me that he could say that but not being a poet myself  maybe he is right…..I just can’t believe it…and this book was written in 2002….so Betjeman’s homosexuality did not bother him that much…but yet he kept saying Betjeman  was bisexual and only active in the gay way early in his life….

my only protest is that ALL of the men that were gay back in the early 20th century…. married a woman so to conform….and not be an outcast…

as my dear Gay Uncle said  when he came out of the Navy  he  planned on marrying his “girlfriend”…. the buxom Cynthia Dowrimple  who went with him one night  to shoot out all the street lights (he did go to jail for one night) in Charleston where he attended the University of Virginia for 7 years without getting a degree…the Dean told him he thought it was better if he joined the Navy rather than motoring on ineffectively at the U of V for any more years …oh Uncle Sumner back then due to gas rationing bought a gas station so he could privately sneak in to fill his tank up late at night….

his NOT ever graduating  must have pissed my father off ..as he was in charge of the family after the tragic flaming death of their parents when the chauffeured car (the Kleins (?) owned)…. they were driving in one rainy evening on their way to dinner….  smashed into a gas truck that had slammed on its brakes to avoid downed power lines in Palm Beach  where they wintered from the snows of the Midwest

My grandmother and the Kleins were burnt to death…no I take that back Mrs Klein survived for a while but her arms and legs were burnt off….

Grandfather Matteson lived long enough for my father to fly down from St Paul and see him…but grandfather did not die fast enough so father went out and entered a ping pong tournament which he won and got a cup for….

He did accompany the bodies back to St Paul…for burial at Oakland Cemetery….where I will be interred as Father bought like 7 plots besides the ones my Grand had already bought…..

Dad was a sophomore at Carleton College and Sumner like a junior at the St Paul Academy…a posh  school but back then only male…so they were quite young..when testosterone was building toward its height….

and this was when Aunt Mary – a good friend of their parents took them in…really adopted them in a non legal way….she well… was quite well off…..

She owned “Forest Lodge” in Northern Wisconsin which had been her husband’s hunting lodge…a huge acreage.. miles of shore line..which had 2 vegetable gardens, 3 greenhouses…her own dairy (housed down in what was part of the stables and later the garages..way away from the main house) with Swiss cows she had imported…

there was a Guest House…that  just is a wonderful timbered edifice with its soaring 2 story Great Hall…where when she was alive I  was served Breakfast in Bed at her insistence….(sigh!!)…it was a double canopied bed just off the front screened in porch 

a maids cottages… a fire house with a fire engine in it that pumped water from the lake..an ice house (back then frig’s were kept cold by ice blocks..I Loved the icemen that came to stock our ice house in the early days)…

a clay tennis court with the old wooden racquets kept in shape by the old wooden presses….(and I always loved the smell in the tennis house…a combination of the net…the tennis racquets…every summer I would go in and  softly inhale and feel I was home)

….and a doll house built in the woods way off…for her daughter Aunt Mimi…it was a house you had to stoop in…with everything in miniature…the silver was made for her  by Tiffany…the China….by Meissen all child size…there was a miniature pot belly stove in the kitchen that you could cook on….a wind up bird in a cage…small people’s stuff…

a fabulous Bowling on the Green Court that is where I realized later my homosexual desires started as I watched the muscular Don mow it once a week…..

it had a Magnificent two story  halved logs….boat house…that had an elevator for Aunt Mary who use to paint in oil …or work on her shell collages …on the top floor that had windows all around it so you could see out over the whole lake…(and this is where my blog’s  picture was taken year ago….)…

on the ground floor all the boats were stored in…canoes…she even had an original birch bark canoe that the Native Wisconsins had made….(it was stolen later)…..sail boats were tethered to the dock…but inside was a spare one….and it had two inlets for motor boats with doors that you could raise to release them)


….she had a house in St Paul…432 Summit Avenue….where she spent the spring …and had a house in Palm Beach Florida where she wintered….

In the St Paul house which her husband built for her…the walls were imported from a French (or was it Italian) chateau…it was Quite Grand….there was a marbled ballroom in the basement…that had a tunnel that went to the garages and the chauffeur quarters…

I’ll never forget the time I visited her at 432….it was the beginning of my freshman year at Carleton…..she asked me up for tea….

I entered nervously  this impressive house…had to go through a front door and a door beyond…it was like an entry parlor that kept the warmth in…by these huge…heavy…doors with leaded windows…..(if you go online…just enter the address https://artfullivingmagazine.com/featured-property-432-summit-avenue/

I was met at the Front door by one of her maids…who showed me into one of the parlors or living rooms….a fire was blazing in the center of the room and from the windows on the sides you could look down and see the Mississippi…as this being Fall the leaves were off the trees….

The girl said “Mrs Griggs will be down soon”…Aunt Mary had to use a wheel chair at this point….and had one of the first elevators built in a house way back  then….(this was 1964 that I visited)

She was wheeled in…and we chatted……and when it came for the pouring of the tea…Aunt Mary said “Oh Mildred we want champagne”….where upon Mildred said well “Mr Matteson is not old eno…” whereupon Aunt Mary cut her off saying “JUST pour it…Thank you…”


Aunt Mary’s wealth for me was her human kindness….she Cared Immensely for Everyone…and Every Creature…..as a kid I will Never forget the Treasure Hunts she use to arrange for us kids…through the pachysandra and wonderful smelling  decaying stumps at Forest Lodge….you would follow a string and there would be a gift left by the “fairies”…..a silver bibelot from Tiffany’s or the local craft shop in Cable….

She did tho have a lot of physical  wealth due to her wise financial choices…

at one point she and one other man owned complete control of  a stock back then that was quite successful…Polaroid …she loved cameras…and was a major holder of Kodak….but at the end of the day her father was a Livingston whose family owned much of upstate New York given them by the King of England…she  had the property maps on the logged walls of the Main Cabin at FL..so he had a tad more money than the man she married…Mr Griggs…whose money came from I think grocery stores…..

She at Forest Lodge would get her only child…a daughter (according to my uncle born out of wedlock which would make her a bastard)….. to star in films she made in Black n White…with the cast being filled in by the local girl scouts…Aunt Mary produced…directed…filmed it….and the costumes were made by her help…

Her daughter Aunt Mimi was Very  Beautiful ..very remote….not at ALL like her mother…I always felt like I was an amusement toy for her that could be cast aside any moment…..

her husband “Uncle Jackson”….whom she married  late in life…always looked down upon us…especially my mother Aunt Mimi’s “Best Friend”…they both being an only child… grew up together tho separated by mountains of  financial wealth….

Aunt Mary gave my parents 12 acres  as a wedding present… our summer home on Burgundy Point ..part of her  acreage…it was across the Bay on Lake Namekagon from Forest Lodge….and had a private mile long dirt driveway in through the blogs and the Cathedral of Soaring Trees……..no electricity only kerosene lamps…ice box that was truly only kept cold by blocks of ice from the lake…water pumped up by a one cylinder Briggs and Stratton gas engine into a wooden tank on stilts…we had to wait til the water poured out of it before we could race out and push  a metal prong  to the lone spark plug that would turn it off……we had a two holer outhouse…that we had to throw lye down to lower the stench……

I grew up there….. every  summer….from when I was born in 1946  until Aunt Mimi died…only a few years ago….



It was  a Magical Time in my life   that I will Never Forget…..


And that is Why my blog is called “Dreams Of Forest Lodge”

4 Responses to “Why I Named My Blog “Dreams Of Forest Lodge””

  1. Janet Nelson-Alvarez said

    you ARE writing that book, aren’t you, Rob? Because I’m beginning to yearn to see all your stories in one tidy spot, rollin’ (as Elton John would say) beneath the covers. Really enjoying all the beauty of your memories…….

  2. Janet Nelson-Alvarez said

    Rob….this is your dad that is giving this interview, isn’t it? http://collections.mnhs.org/cms/web5/media.php?pdf=1&irn=10279698 …..fascinating. I’m only bout on pg 10 but really interesting….

  3. Rob said

    Yes Janet that is my Father… Thanks for your kind comments!

    • Janet Nelson-Alvarez said

      what an entirely fascinating life, but how difficult that must have been for you, with Father being away so much. (I have just seen “The Lost City of Z”, and the stories have in common the Father who, while loving his family, is also tied to Adventure….in the case of Percy Fawcett, one which, in the end, he never returned from. Thank goodness this was not the outcome for your family!). I so enjoy reading your musings…..time, in all its amber-hued loveliness, is pouring from your ‘pen’.

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