In 1968, after camping in the Webster, Wis., area for a few years, my parents decided to search for a lake lot to buy.

One day, after seeing an advertisement in the Minneapolis Tribune, they went to look at a vacant lot with 100 feet of shoreline. My dad said he walked to the end of the dock and dropped a dime in 5 feet of water. He could still clearly see it as it rested on the sandy bottom — they were sold. They took their life savings and bought the lot. So much for the college fund for me and my five siblings!

The first year the family camped in tents and a tent trailer. The following year they bought a used Airstream trailer we called “The Silver Bullet.” This sufficed for a few years until they built a one-room cabin with a porch. The cabin was expanded and remodeled over the years, and now there are three bedrooms, a kitchen, a bathroom and a garage (half serves as a bunkhouse). They named the place “Ries­haven.”

The cabin has grown into something beyond what I am sure my parents had envisioned in 1968. It has kept our family close and has become a place to share good times with our friends. The cabin also was a place where my dad and mom could bestow their morals, values and wisdom on their grand­children.

There is the annual “opener” in which the guys (brothers, brothers-in-law, cousins and friends) go up to do the outside tasks of preparing the cabin for the summer. The women in our family have their own opener where they work their magic on the inside. There also is an annual “Big Chill” long weekend. Our college friends have attended for more than 35 years to share laughs, stories, memories, music and beers around the campfire.

Our parents have passed away, but their legacy lives. Whenever I think of the cabin, a joyful memory comes to mind — ultimately followed by a smile on my face.

Tom Ries, Burnsville