My neighbors, my wife, Joyce, and I went looking for land many years ago.

We fell in love with a chunk of lakeshore in the northwest corner of pristine Palmer Lake near Park Rapids, Minn., where we bought three lots in 1964 with the idea of splitting the middle one.

We constructed a kitchen-dining room out of an old fish shack and some scrounged porch screens, and then went to work on our “cabin” in 1965. Our two boys, ages 12 and 9, and I built a 20-by-26 cabin from scratch. Our 4-year-old was feeling left out, so I bought him a bag of fourpenny nails, gave him a hammer and told him to cover the nearby tree stump.

All windows and doors were scrounged. The lumber came from trees that we had taken down and had sawed into lengths by a neighboring sawyer. The most expensive item was the roofing. The whole project cost $700.

Some of the piers were concrete blocks, some were creosote butt ends of telephone poles, and some were pine logs soaked in discarded car oil. The boys and their buddies loved sleeping and playing in the loft. As time went on we saw the need for more space. We have since added on three rooms — the last addition in 2000 — so the cabin is now 48 feet wide and faces the lake. A deck and wood-fired hot tub complete the scene. Our place is 53 years old and remains a family treasure.

Jack Alwin, Minnetonka