The year was 1967. Our family of six had been campers until a 6-inch downpour, and it was decided it was cabin time.

We spotted a hand-painted sign that read “Cabin for Sale” in Crow Wing County. We followed the gravel road that led to the driveway and met Loris Smith. The honeymoon cabin was built in 1915.

The kids thought our monthly payment of $37 was a hoot. A sand point water well would be the first of renovations. We enjoyed water in the kitchen, but it would be a while before we had an indoor toilet. Next we had to remove lathe and plaster and do wiring, insulation and paneling. With only two bedrooms, we made one room into a bunk room sleeping eight. The kids loved bringing up friends.

Clearing 1 ½ acres of land was no easy feat, but our family persevered. There was, and still is, a major hill between the cabin and the lake. It became known as Cardiac Hill, owing to all the running up and down many times a day for little things we had forgotten to bring down for the s’mores, campfires or boat rides.

The men in the family made the docks and, because we Vikings fans, they were white with purple and yellow circles spray painted on them. It is kind of embarrassing today to think we were the cabin with “those docks.”

After two years of all of the renovations, prepared to really enjoy and reap the reward from all of our hard work, we got a job transfer to Chicago.

Our time on Bay Lake was now limited, but it was decided we would keep the cabin because we were leaving a married son behind. After a few more moves, we landed back in Minneapolis as retired grandparents.

As the family grew, we built three bunk houses and a large garage.

Last summer we celebrated 50 years of ownership and had a big celebration. All of my family (40-plus) attended. We have many, many beautiful memories and feel blessed the family still enjoys the best investment we could have made.

Phyllis Watkins, New Hope