In the late ’60s, 10 adults, 18 children and five station wagons (constituting five families) set out on an adventure to find the perfect property on a lake in northern Minnesota.
Moms, dads and kids climbed into their respective vehicles with paper maps in hand to check a number of possibilities. After lots of laughs and a few disappointments, we settled on a stretch of farmland at the south end of Long Lake in Hubbard County — next to where the cows drank and grazed.
A wonderful family friend across the lake had alerted my parents to the property. There was only one problem: There was no road to get into it. After a bit of discussion and canoe-collecting, a caravan assembled to paddle across the lake for the first step on what would become unofficially known as Knob Hall Lane. (Four families lived on Hall Avenue and one on Knob Road.)
Papers were soon signed, and a road was cleared by the farmer and his tractor.
The original property can only be described as a stretch of raw woods and a stump-filled shoreline. Mosquitoes, wood ticks and poison ivy were included. The first business was walking off five lots, building a two-seater outhouse, and installing a common sand point hand pump for drinking water. Wall tents went up and campers were leveled, and the work began. Everyone helped.
After hot days of stump-pulling and brush-clearing, we bathed in the lake and laughed at our dad’s shaving-cream faces. The evenings brought campfires with s’mores, “Tonka Toasters” (using a pie iron), loons, fireflies and star-watching. The first July 4th we had a potluck and a candy-filled, handmade piñata. The tradition continues as we watch the great-grandchildren swing with all their might and wait with buckets and bags in hand for the candy to fall. What fun.
Fifty years and four generations later, we continue to follow traditions and make memories. We have been blessed with a place to relax, reflect and create, thanks to our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents. Cabins, docks, boats, lifts, toys and new people have provided different dynamics and modern luxuries. The work continues, but thanks to five young families with a vision, the memories are priceless.
Wendy McKenzie, Golden Valley