Our father, Curt Hansen, was a humble man and our family hero.

A music teacher, he joined the Navy during World War II and flew a landing craft to Omaha Beach on D-Day. After the war he taught high school music in Brainerd and spent summers as a fishing guide on Pelican Lake. In 1958, our parents made a life-changing decision: Dad withdrew his teacher’s pension to buy a lot on the west side of Pelican. With friends and family, they built a simple 800-square-foot cabin called the Aqua Shack because of its color.

Dad prided himself on keeping the cabin easy to keep and affordable. Of its five rooms, only the bathroom had a ceiling. The others looked into the rafters. Family and friends came in droves to fish, swim, grill and enjoy each other’s company. The kids climbed into the rafters and spent hours playing games, drawing pictures or spying on adults. One necessary activity: signing their names on the rafters or roof. The tradition has continued for four generations. We daughters now own the cabin. A granddaughter and all children who come can’t wait to climb to leave their mark. Some people say that visiting is like stepping back to a less-complicated world. Others ask why we haven’t modernized and put a ceiling in the cabin. Our reply: “We could never cover up all those memories.”

Mary Hansen Farrell and Jeanne Hansen Rosauer