The Lehto Family Legacy at Lake Kabetogama
Story and Photos courtesy of Patricia Lehto, 2010
In all Gust and Tyyne had six children:
Arthur b. 1904 d. 1988 buried at Kabetogama, Minnesota
Arvid b. 1917 d. 1971 buried in International Falls, Minnesota
Velma b. 1919 d. 2008 buried at Kabetogama, Minnesota
Tauno b. 1921 d. 1988 buried at Kabetogama, Minnesota
Anna b. 1925
On October 27, 1925, at the age of 48, Gust was killed in an automobile accident north of Orr, Minnesota. This tragedy left Tyyne to raise their 6 children. Gust is buried in Virginia, Minnesota. Arthur was by this time a young adult, and was able to provide much help to his mother on their farm, taking care of cows, chickens and siblings. Even Arvid, who was by this time 8 years old, had his farm chores to do.
School for the children was located across from the Kabetogama Community Center. All classes were held in the one room school. One of Arvid's jobs was to get to the school earlier than the other children and get the wood stove going to warm up the school. Arvid and his brothers and sisters spoke only the Finnish language. After the 1st day of school Arvid decided he could teach sister Velma how to speak English: as if he could speak it himself. So even at that age Arvid was a jokester.
Tyyne and Gust had a small two room log sauna. One room was used for disrobing/dressing, and the second room was for bathing. A large metal barrel, laying on it’s side mounted on metal legs and fed wood thru the homemade door on one end, provided the heat. On top of this barrel were rocks that were heated by the barrel stove and steam was supplied to the room by wooden dippers filled with water and thrown onto these hot rocks. Kids always took saunas together, until they reached a certain age, whereas at that time women and girls together, men and boys together. When Arvid and Tauno got older they were allowed to take their sauna with the men or by themselves; as they didn’t want their sisters to see then in the nude!! Tyyne had the sauna going every Wednesday and Saturday nights. People who did not have a sauna would pay her 25 cents for a bath. She always supplied them with her homemade soap and a large bath towel. One time someone gave her a box of chocolates as payment, which she hid in her dresser amongst her good clothes. Arvid and Velma, being curious little ones, found the once delicious chocolates and proceeded to eat them, only to discover they tasted like the mothballs Tyyne used in her dresser.
Many times Chief Woodenfrog and his family stopped to visit Tynne. Seems like they always knew when Tyyne had one of her delicious meals on the table. Whatever Tyyne served they would eat by first mixing all the food together before eating it.
Arvid Lehto married Becky Lehman in 1949 after courting her while she worked at Arrowhead Lodge. Arvid had a job working at Totem Pole Resort building new cabins and remodeling the existing lodge and cabins. While living at Totem Pole Resort Arvid spent winters putting up ice for the resort. Using an ice cutting saw with a motor on it he would cut huge blocks of ice, put them on a conveyor belt that took them out of the water and into his truck bed. The ice was then hauled to a log shed where the ice would be covered with sawdust where it lasted the resort most of the summer. He also sold ice to the other resorts.
Totem Pole Resort was owned by Carl and Goldie Moore from Waseca, Minnesota. They had bought the resort from a couple by the name of Youngstrom. Carl and Goldie had a restaurant in Waseca which Goldie and her son, Jack, operated. Carl and Goldie’s mother, who was an excellent cook, ran the resort and while Arvid worked maintenance, Becky helped in the kitchen and cleaned cabins. Carl Moore commissioned Herman Melheim to carve the two large totem poles at Totem Pole Resort. One was placed to greet guests as they arrived at the resort and the other, which was carved with a huge fish in its mouth, was erected at the breakwater to welcome guests as they arrived by boat.
Arvid and Becky lived in a small house at Totem Pole Resort. Son Rocky was born while they lived here. When Rocky’s time for delivery arrived unexpectedly fast, Becky and Arvid made it as far as Bob and Ann’s Bar and Groceries. (Now Lure Me Inn). So he was actually born in the car, not the hospital. Upon arriving at the hospital in International Falls, a shaken Arvid and Becky were relieved to learn they had a healthy son. Another birth arrived the same day. The famous rideable giant walleye was erected at the Junction of Hwy 53 and County Rd. 122.
After the sale of Totem Pole Resort to Don and Mary Spaulding, Arvid started his own business of hauling gravel and cutting pulpwood, all the while staying in his life long love of building and remodeling cabins, and resorts, building breakwaters and docks.
Tyyne passed away at Kabetogama in July 1961 and is buried in International Falls, Minnesota.
Growing up with Arvid and Becky were wonderful years for Rocky. He and his Dad were very close. As a teenager Rocky and Arvid worked side by side, Arvid taught his son the trade of building docks, cabins, rock work, and being “jack of all trades”.
Both, along with Becky, worked for Jeno Paulucci, who had a guest lodge on the north side of Lake Kabetogama. By this time Arvid and Becky had purchased their own property from sister, Velma and her husband Eli Manninen. At Jeno’s, Arvid remodeled the lodge and caretaker’s house, built a boat house with guest rooms upstairs, built the sauna with the rocks arriving from Finland and placed them on top of the stove. He also built the docks and breakwater and bocce ball court. Arvid and Rocky made many trips hauling passengers and supplies from the Ranger Station boat docks to Jeno’s. Using Jeno’s large barge they hauled sod for the lawn and even white sand from Florida dumping it onto the beach at Jeno’s, only to find in the spring the winter ice had washed all the sand away. Jeno also had a plane he used to fly in supplies and passengers, food brokers, advertisers, and entertainers from Duluth.
Arvid and Becky were blessed with four children:
Rocky b. 1949
Cheryl b. 1951 d. 1952
Debra b. 1953
Russell b. 1961
Arvid passed away in 1971 of cancer. He is buried in the Veterans Cemetery in International Falls, Minnesota.