Around 1920, my great-uncle and aunt became the owners of Seni-Om-Sed Lodge on Woman Lake, about equidistant between Hackensack and Longville. My grandparents from Des Moines, Iowa, (Seni-Om-Sed is Des Moines spelled backward) built a one-room log cabin in the resort. My mother and aunt came every summer with their parents.
In 1950, my cousin added onto the cabin, cutting each and every log by hand. My three siblings and I came with our family every summer from Greenfield, Iowa, since my father was a school superintendent and had that time off.
Six local cousins joined us. Seven cousins from California came, along with five cousins from Arizona. We kids were on the lake every day swimming, boating, surfboarding, saucering and water-skiing. We started with a 15-horse motor and worked our way up from there as the years passed.
I swam across Bungey Bay when I was 9. I skied slalom starting with one foot on the lakeshore and the other on the ski yelling, “Hit it!” If there was rain, all of the children climbed into the loft above the bedrooms (where we slept on bunk beds) and played Monopoly all day. In the evenings we would gather around the piano for a singalong. My grandmother could play any song if we could hum the melody.
As my sisters, cousin, a sister’s sister-in-law and I matured, we spent more time canoeing with our aunt and mother to McKeown Lake and on the Boy and Crow Wing Rivers. No cabins, no people, no noise — just nature at its finest. Many nieces and nephews joined the annual migration, and now grandnieces and grandnephews arrive for the summer.
My husband travels here since his retirement to work on the cabins. My sister and her husband and I own six cabins from the resort, some of the originals now more than 90 years old, built as shelter from wind and sun and rain. Like many resorts, the land was slowly carved into 50-feet lakeshore lots with one cabin on each piece.
I have been fortunate to live in California, Nepal, Thailand and Hawaii. Woman Lake has always retained its beauty, and my memories bring me here in the summertime even now at the age of 70.