My mother, Agnes, bought a cabin 55 years ago last summer. She was 62 at the time.
She had grown up in south Minneapolis but had the chance to spend summers on Lake Minnetonka. This was in the early 1900s. She, her parents and five siblings would take the train to Excelsior and stay at their place on west arm for the summer. They fished every day for food. They had a huge garden. They walked about a half-mile to the closest beach and swam. It took great strength for the girls to swim as they needed an extra stroke to pull up the skirts of their swimming costumes in order to kick their legs. She often spoke of the wonderful times the family had together with close friends, neighbors and guests who made the trip out from Minneapolis.
She wanted her children and grandchildren to have similar experiences. Two years after my father died unexpectedly, she asked my brother to help her look for a suitable lake place. He lived near Burnett County in Wisconsin, and they started there. Two of her requirements were indoor plumbing and a good beach for swimming. They found a two-bedroom cabin that had been part of a resort. It also had a kitchen, living room and screened porch. She loved being there. She often went fishing wearing her pedal-pushers, an old straw hat, with a towel in her lap. She quit if she caught a bullhead.
She lived to age 82, giving her 20 years to enjoy the cabin. We children began to share the expenses (starting at $2 per night) and to help with decisionmaking. Twenty-five years ago, my brother coined the name “Carmonel” from the family names Carlsen, Moen and Nelson. That name stuck and is now the legal name of the property.
After my mother died, the family put the property in a trust to make it easier to keep it in the family or to sell it if warranted. We formed a family council for making decisions. The family grew over time, and about 10 years ago we realized we had to make our arrangement still more formal and legal. We finally formed a limited liability company with 12 shareholders with various percentages of ownership. These 12 represent at least 12 families; a lot of people from four generations are involved.
Many changes have been made to the cabin and property over time. Added were an enclosed porch, deck, 16-by-16 addition, bunkhouse, shed extension, patio and portable sauna. This last was built on the frame of an old pop-up camper.
Recently a guest wrote words in our guest book that summarize life at Carmonel: “We experienced the love, laughter, and tears that are in the very walls, water and land of your family treasure place. Many thanks.”
It has been a treasure indeed.
Ruth Moen, Maple Grove