My father, George Doetsch, returned from his tour of duty in Europe in 1945. Having grown up poor in northwestern Wisconsin, he’d been sending money he earned each month to my grandmother. He had always loved the area of his youth and, upon his return, had the opportunity to buy some lake frontage east of Gordon, Wis. But just out of the service, his lack of funds was an issue. Bless my grandmother’s heart — she had saved all of the money my dad had sent back over the years.
And so our cabin story began.
My father and a buddy hauled over an old moonshine cabin piece by piece. What had started out as a tiny little room turned out to be a rare legacy. My dad eventually started a family and kept adding little rooms to make space for his small but close-knit family.
I never knew while growing up that years later our little cottage — with mice running on the floor, bats flying overhead and my brother in pursuit with a badminton racquet — would turn out to be a priceless gem.
Today, it still stands. Now, with electricity and running water. It remains quite rustic and charming and with a million wonderful memories.
Growing up during the Depression, my father had learned to use and reuse whatever was available. He was resourceful. Most of the floor is carpet squares. Mom would say we needn’t worry about coming up from the lake because if one square got dirty, Dad would pull it up and glue down a new one. It was a good game for the new kids who visited. Someone would call out colors, and we would have them find the different carpet squares.
After my folks passed and we acquired the cabin, my son wanted us to remove that odd floor, but no way. I love it.
I love this place — even though the floors are slanting, the chinking in the logs is falling out, and we risk having a dry well. When I rise in the morning and look out at all the stars shining on the lake, I hear my husband chopping wood just as my dad did so many years ago and a smile comes to my face. As it is said, heaven is a little closer in a cabin by the lake!
Mary Hankins, Richfield