It began with a windstorm. At least, that is how I remember the storytelling. The windstorm (maybe a tornado?) blew down all the trees, and the owner didn’t want to deal with it. So my grandpa, dad and uncle bought the 3½-acre property for $600 in 1927.
The original one-room cabin was built in 1928. A porch was added a few years later. It was the only cabin in a bay on Pine Lake, in western Wisconsin. My grandpa said the drive to the lake from St. Paul — 50 miles — was too far.
We stayed a lot at the cabin. I have memories of a big, lumpy bed, of going to the outhouse in the dark, of the warmth of the wood stove in the morning, of making pancakes and bacon for breakfast, and of all of us swimming a lot. With four kids, our family outgrew the place, and my parents decided to build their own cabin. So, in the fall of 1954 when I was 7, we started the foundation. I was the designated cement mixer. Sand was brought up from the lake and sifted with a screen. It had to be mixed a certain way. The foundation wouldn’t hold if the cement wasn’t mixed correctly. My dad couldn’t use it. Then, I’d have to mix it all again. The new cabin was completed over the following two summers. We bought a speedboat, and we created a beach by hauling weeds out using an old mattress spring and dumping wheelbarrows of sand. A dock and boathouse were built. The cabin got indoor plumbing in the late ’60s. Life was perfect — we never wanted to leave.
Today we still have both cabins, plus smaller sleeping spaces to accommodate growing families. Our grandchildren who visit are fifth generation. There is no interest in giving it up. When I count my blessings, I count the days at the lake.
Mary Lu Jackson, Bloomington