In 1966, my parents were living in Chicago when they found a beautiful piece of land on a lake in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, with plans to build a cottage. It was too steep a price at $6,000, so they got two other couples to join them and, by the draw of straws, they got the prime chunk on the end of the peninsula that had the lake on one side and a lagoon on the other. The lake was so clean they could pull their drinking water out of it. The lagoon was full of waterlilies and old logs that were lined with painted turtles.
But a cottage was still only a dream. One day dad saw an advertisement in a paper that a factory was closing down and all the shelving was free to anyone who would remove it. The uprights were 16-by-4-by-6 fir and the shelves were 12-by-1-by-12 pine. Dad tracked down a truck driver from the U.P. who was coming to Chicago and would be returning with an empty truck. Then he called his friends and had them join him at the factory to load the shelving.
For the next two years, Dad and Mom, my three sisters, and others who were willing to pitch in built the cottage with those 4-by-6 fir pieces — standing upright and caulked together with furring strips nailed on the seams. The pine was perfect for the floor, which they covered with carpet samples.
My sisters and I gathered there with our folks every summer as we married and had our families. We’ve made many changes, but the cottage is still the magical place that we all love. Mom and Dad are gone now, but we are so thankful for their gift to us. Now the fourth generation is making memories at the cottage on Golden Lake.
Jeannine Nordlund, Minneapolis