Having grown up in Minnesota, our father loved its lakes and longed for a cabin for my mother and we five children. Our mother, raised in Philadelphia, had always dreamed of “a place at the shore” in Cape May, N.J. But because we lived in Fargo, she settled for a cabin on Turtle Lake near Detroit Lakes.
Dad had a work buddy who’d told him about a farmer selling lots with 50 feet of shoreline for $500 on Turtle Lake. Built in 1963, our cabin included our mother’s two requirements: an indoor bathroom and a screened porch. Dad, a railroad employee, incorporated damaged doors from a train derailment.
We had chores at the cabin, but we spent as much time as possible in the water. Back then, almost everyone owned a red Lund rowboat. We had oars for rowing, a three-horsepower motor for fishing, and we pushed the boat’s limits with a new 20-horse. We learned to ski behind our Lund rowboat. We graduated to a used speedboat with a temperamental 40-horse engine. We also had friends with an enormous homemade pontoon that moved across the lake at a snail’s pace.
We spent hours in the water trying to stand on a log that had floated ashore or balance on a large inner tube belonging to our friends. With no television, our nights included a variety of card games.
Over the years, our cabin endured a fire; had renovations; added 50 feet of lakeshore; and saw the planting of Dad’s apple orchard and the passage of ownership from parents to children. Our spouses, children and their friends have created their own memories. Our July 4th celebration is a highlight of the summer. We continue to love our cabin and cherish this gift with each passing year.
Mary A. Eret, Mahtomedi