The Cabin’s Living History
There are three famous things about Hibbing/Chisholm Minnesota, where the doctor who built Buttos Lake Cabin spent his life. Unless you’re a devotee of taconite mining, we have links to the important two out of three: Moonlight Graham in the movie Field of Dreams, and Bob Dylan, who was born and grew up there!
If you saw the movie Field of Dreams. or read W. P. Kinsella’s book, Shoeless Joe, upon which the movie was based, you know the story of Dr. Archibald “Moonlight” Graham. Moonlight Graham, played by Burt Lancaster in the movie, was a real person. At the end of June during the New York Giants’ 1905 baseball season, he played only a half an inning, in right field. No one hit the ball near him. He was next to bat when the game, and the season, ended. Official records show that he never got to bat against a big league pitcher. At the end of that game, 28 year old Archibald Graham went home to North Carolina and went to medical school. He never again played pro ball until the apochryphal game against Shoeless Joe Jackson in Field of Dreams!
When Archibald Graham was a qualified doctor, he answered an ad to become a doctor in Chisholm, Minnesota, only miles away from the Burrows Lake property. He was the school doctor in Chisholm for years. As shown by the Burt Lancaster character in Field of Dreams and described in Shoeless Joe, he did wear a buttoned suit no matter how hot it was. He did carry an umbrella wherever he went; his beloved wife Alicia did love blue hats, and an office closet was filled with the blue hats he hadn’t yet given her when he died in 1965.
Doc Graham’s best friend in Chisholm was Dr. Eisenman. Dr. Eisenman died when his son, Walt, was only 8 years old. Doc “Moonlight” Graham took over as Walt’s honorary dad, and later, an honorary grandfather for Walt’s children. He spent Christmases with the family (they always went to the cabin) and told stories and read books to Walt’s children. Doc Graham was so brilliant that he read books aloud to kids by turning the text toward the child while he read upside down!
Little Walt Eisenman, Doc Graham’s honorary “son,” also became a doctor. He also practiced medicine his entire career in Chisholm. One of the many babies he delivered was Bob Dylan. There is no record that Doc Eisenman listened to Girl from the North Country, but there is a copy in the cabin for YOU to listen to!
Dr. Eisenman bought this Burrows Lake property in 1946, and built this cabin in 1962. The stones from the fireplace were collected by his wife, who loved interesting rocks, during a family trip out west. She picked up rocks from Seattle, through Yellowstone and points east, and tucked them into corners of the luggage trailer. When Walt Eisenman came home he found hundreds of pounds of rocks carefully packed into the little trailer! He grinned, shook his head and they built the fireplace for the lake house with the western rocks. He used marble taken from the old Chisholm Medical Clinic for the hearth.
Dr. Walt Eisenman helped a local builder make all of the wood paneling, cabinets and gorgeous 26′ exposed beams throughout the house. He made the living room from local aspen (we call it “popple”), the kitchen from birch and the dining room and living room from cedar. He lived in this beautiful cabin during most of the year after his retirement with his beloved second wife, Rita,, and he passing away in February of 2005.
The week we purchased this amazing land from the Eisenman children, an 86 year old woman and two kids from Chisholm threw the first pitches in the Minnesota Twins game against the Kansas City Royals. It was Doc Graham Day. Moonlight Graham had played in his now-famous half-inning for the New York Giants exactly 100 years before. The kids were recipients of the Doc Graham scholarships paid for in part by sales of Doc Graham baseball cards.
The cabin stands, refreshed, refurnished, a vivid reminder of many strands of Minnesota and American history. A copy of Shoeless Joe is on the coffee table before the fireplace. Field of Dreams is ready to play in the DVD (as well as Bull Durham and League of Their Own). So are some Dylan tunes. They’re waiting for you!
“… and the memories will be so thick they will have to brush them away from their faces.”
Field of Dreams
“And there were times when children could not afford eyeglasses or milk or clothing. Yet no child was ever denied these essentials because in the background there was always Dr. Graham. Without any fanfare or publicity, the glasses or the milk or the ticket to the ballgame found their way into the child’s pocket.”
Dr. Graham’s Obituary