Star Lake Store
The store in Star Lake begin as a company store owned and operated by the logging company that developed the town: Williams Salsich and Co. An article in the Minocqua Times, June 5, 1895, reads, "The new store building is completed and the goods have been moved into it." Times The store operated on credit and scrip (examples of which exist and are owned by both me, Charles Forbes, and the Starlakers Club).
I first came to Star Lake in 1941, at 9 months old. That was Oliver Lodge's last year, and I did not return until 1945 when it opened as North Star Lodge. My memory of Star Lake, and therefore of the Star Lake Store, goes back to that time. It was then owned by Elsie Mykelby and run by Elsie and her brother Ed Mykelby. The store was a big old unpainted general store that, as I understand it, was purchased by Elisie's father when the lumber mill closed in 1908 or 1909. However, I need to make it clear that that is only what I understood; I cannot remember any specific conversation with Elsie regarding the history of the store.
I remember that the store had a big old pot belly stove, and that even in the summer its warmth was appreciated. Elsie sold ice cream cones, and it was a frequent activity, especially after dinner, to walk to the store from North Star Lodge and get ice cream cones. We walked along the old railroad grade, which had only recently been removed.
There is a story, told by my parents but probably apocryphal. It seems that guests of the lodge--in the Oliver days--grew to like some kind of pickle, or other delicacy, that the store stocked. Many of the guests bought a jar and soon the store was out of stock. Asked when she might get more, Elsie replied, "Oh, those go so fast we can't keep them in stock, so we don't try." If that isn't a true story, it certainly catches the spirit of the place.
Elsie was the Postmaster of Star Lake and the post office was in the back left corner of the store.
There was an old hand pump gas pump out in front, with a Standard Oil sign. Ed would pump the hand pump and gas would fill a glass bowl at the top of the pump. That was then drained into your car or gas can. I have memories of that pump, but no idea when it was replaced by a modern electric one. That was back when you mixed 1/2 pint to the gallon of gas for your outboard. Ed would take your gas can into a little workroom on the side of the store and pour the oil into your can. He had a pint and a half-pint milk bottle which he used for measuring, and you were charged by the half-pint for the oil. He always left the empty quart can tipped up against one of the bottles to drain the last drop!
In the last couple of years of operation by Elsie Mykelby the store had a competitor: Brad Haywood, father of Lynn Haywood Olson, ran a little sports and bait store behind or beside the store. It wasn't competition for the store, but it was for the Fredrickson Minnow Stand, and there was considerable friction over it. The matter was settled by Elsie's death and the purchase of the store by Brad Haywood. He became the proprietor of the store and his daughter Lynn became the postmaster.
Owners (or operators) of the store (in most cases dates are needed):
Williams Salsich & Co. (1895- )
Mr. Jacob Mykleby
Elsie Mykleby (until she dies, ~1959)
Brad Haywood (1960 to either 1965 or 66)
Store Closed 1965? and 1966--certain.
Gordon Case (1967 through 1970)
Harriet Boetcher (1971- )
Jerry and Rosemary Bartascewicz
Gary and Annie Errington (1993*- )
Debbie Errintgon ( -2010)
Mike and Sarah Errington (2011)
Debbie Errington Becker Tennies(2012-2020)
Karl (proprietor in the store and Karl (his son and financial backer) (2020- )
*According to a note in Backward Glances, Vilas County News-Review, October 1, 2003.
**** indicates no known author.
GORDON CASE VISIT
Gordon Case visited Star Lake in the summer of 2011 and attended the Star Lakers Club picnic. He greeted everyone. He reported that his wife, Gloria, had died in 2010 after a long illness. They had moved to Vero Beach, Florida, where he continued to live. He provided the dates of his store ownership as shown in the main article.
WISCONSIN NATURAL RESOURCES MAGAZINE STORY
The Wisconsin Natural Resources Magazine, August 2011 issue contained a story about the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest which had this to say about the State Lake Store: "More typical is the Star Lake Store which, as its advertising claims, has 'a little bit of everything.' Besides groceries, clothing (including souvenir Star Lake hats and shirts), gas, bait and tackle, northwoodsy gifts, and handmade soaps from Star Lake Soap, LLC. The place is also the post office and rents boats."