Cozy Beach Memories on Crow Wing Lake

(as told to Helen Graning by Clara Jenkins*)

My (Clara’s) father, Peter Gregersen, purchased land on the south side of Crow Wing Lake in 1922 from Con O’Brien, who had purchased it from Eliza Adams; who had homesteaded it in 1885. It was sold to Con O’Brien in 1909. The purchase price was $3500. He received a warrantee deed in 1909 for lots Railroad 5-6-7-8, so he could sell lakeshore lots for $500 each. They were surveyed and platted in July 1922. He had 23 lots platted on RR lot 6 and 2 on December 2, 1922.

Peter Gregersen began building cabins on Crow Wing Lake in 1923. He built six, five to rent and one for himself. One cabin was a log cabin. He called the resort, Cozy Beach. He sold a number of lots to people in Little Falls, who also built cabins. (Wm Parshall, Vicor Olson, George Myrman and Lois Seekert, Parshals sold to Martin Skoglund and then to Bob Wreygands. Victor Olson sold to Matt Smith of Brainerd. Cabins were rented for $10-15 a week. They were furnished with ice boxes, wood stoves, kerosene lamps, dishes and bedding. There was a path to the privy and a pump for water. Boats were rented for $1.00 and minnows were $0.20 a dozen. Ice was put up in the winter to supply the ice boxes in the summer. Ice was usually harvested in January with the ice known to be up to 24 inches thick.

The Gregersen family moved to Crow Wing Lake in 1926. Mr. Gregersen began farming all the land south to the next town line and some land along the river. He continued to farm until 1941. He then built the Sleepy Hollow Dance Hall and operated it for two years, as the War interrupted the operation. Gregersen also built a waterslide in 1928, but was only used for one year as liability insurance was so high.

In 1945, Gregersen laid out 13 lots on Sandy Beach. They were sold to people of Swedish decent from Minneapolis. Several cabins were build for Thorsfeldt (later sold to Dr. Nessett and then to Rolf Graning). In 1946, another nine lots were laid out as the first addition to Cozy Beach on the south side of the lake. Later, a second addition of 10 lots, was laid out across the road.

In 1946, Gregersen sold the dance hall to Dell Howard. Howard later sold it to Ray Hoke. Sleepy Hollow Dance Hall burned in 1965, when it was owned by Gad Magnum. The going price for lunch was $0.25; beers were $0.15 or 2 for $0.25. Ticket entrance fees were $0.50.

There were only three homes on the lake until after the War. After the War, people started building cabins from boxcars and other material that was available. Those non-modern cabins have been replaced with lovely homes over the past several years. Many were owned by retired residents from the Minneapolis and St Cloud metro areas. At one point in time, there were four trains, two freight and two passenger, going past the lake on a daily basis. Brainerd was a big railroad town.

Fun Stories from the Lake as recalled by Clara:

The Girl Scouts used the resort as a camp for four years during the first week in June. Camp fee was $3.00 a week for each of the girls. Gregersen built a large cabin for a cook house and the girls helped with the dishes. Addie Jack was one of the counselors. The girls traveled by truck to Brainerd for church.

Fishing was good. It was not difficult to get your limit of walleye, northerns, bass and crappies. Clara recalled she caught a 15 inch Northern when fishing with her uncle. Her father came out and shot it! Clara traded it to a barber in Little Falls in exchange for a haircut! Clara also recalls that her dad caught a deer in the lake. He built a pen for it, but later released it due to a lack of permit.

Each summer the parish at Belle Prairie rented the resort for a large picnic. The men often went out fishing and the women gathered to visit. Each family brought their own picnic lunches. On one occasion, a family’s picnic was interrupted by a flock of chickens and a rooster. It was also noted that a Bellefuello boy caught a 16 inch Northern using a cane pole!

Clara recalled a memorable story from a time when she was about 10 years old. Her father asked her to row out to a fisherman to exchange oars for his boat. A strong wind came up and her father could see she needed help. Mr. Gregersen had a motor boat he built with a converted car engine used for the motor. As he grabbed my anchor rope to tow me in, he didn’t realize how fast he was going, and he was pulled into the lake. He was not a swimmer, but was able to climb into Clara’s boat. The motor boat continued on to shore by itself! We eventually got the boat and tied my rowboat to it and continued on to exchange the oars as we had originally intended to do. The following day, Clara’s dad went to the doctor and found he had broken 4 ribs!

Clara was born in 1912 and passed away in 2008. She lived in the first house on the left side of Sleepy Hollow Road.

Obituary from the Brainerd Dispatch:

Clara Louise Jenkins

Posted: Friday, October 03, 2008

Clara Louise Jenkins, 95, Brainerd, formerly of Fort Ripley, passed away peacefully Wednesday, Oct. 1, 2008, at Edgewood Vista Senior Living complex in Brainerd. She was born on Oct. 31, 1912, in Little Falls to Peter and Rose (Hanfler) Gregersen.

After graduation in 1930 from the Little Falls High School, she attended the teacher's training in 1931. She taught school in Morrison, Crow Wing and Koochiching counties for 33 years. She earned her bachelor of arts degree at St. Cloud State University. On April 15, 1939, she married Arthur J. Jenkins in Brainerd. She was a member of the Crow Wing County Historical Society, Lennox Mother's Club, St. Mathias Card Club, Crow Wing Lake Association, R.S.V.P., the Red Hat Society, Brainerd Area Retired Teacher's Association, Pinetree Patchworkers Quilt Club and R.E.A.M. She created many "trauma" bears and lap robes for the community and area nursing homes. Six years ago she delivered the 300th lap robe to Bethany Nursing Home. She enjoyed gardening, fishing, traveling, reading, sewing, playing cards, canning, baking and visiting friends.

Clara taught school in Morrison, Crow Wing and Koochiching counties for 33 years.

She was preceded in death by her husband, Arthur, and sister, Lillian Olson.

She is survived by her one son, Allen (Dianna) Jenkins, of Nisswa; three grandchildren; and five great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on Friday, Oct. 3, 2008, at 7 p.m. at the Halvorson-Johnson Funeral Home and Cremation Service in Brainerd.