I remember one scary trip on the boat. Mom, Dad, myself, Mike, Scott and Sherry had left on one of our Saturday fishing trips, like we had done many times before. Dad had taken to leaving the boat docked at Springsteel resort, very near Warroad, on the Lake of the Woods. When we got there, Dad verified that the spare five gallon gas tank was still full and we were off across the lake. He used to drive us out over the lake toward the Canadian shore. We fished for a while, then pulled into the shore and ate a late afternoon lunch, swam out in the lake and played on the beach. I still recall half wading, half swimming with Mike out far enough to reach a sand bar about 50 yards off the shore. Scott and Sherry were still too small to swim that far, so it was a way for Mike and I to get away from the little kids. We spent a lot of time trying to get away from them. I guess that's natural for older kids to do to younger brothers and sisters. After lunch was finished, Mom and Dad packed the little grill and other stuff back into the boat and we pulled away from shore to continue fishing.
Just as we started fishing in earnest again, Sherry figured out how to untie the knot Dad had in the rope holding the fishing net to the side of the boat. I remember seeing the steel wires on the net flash in the sunshine as it slowly drifted to the bottom of the lake. Not only were the fish we had caught in the net, but all of our sodas were in there too! It was a good place to store them, since the water kept them cool. Dad had a heavy line on his fishing rig, designed for ocean fishing more than lake fishing, and he decided to try to retrieve the net by trolling back and forth, dragging the bottom. On the first pass over the area, he pulled up an old rubber boot. On the next pass, he snagged an old tree and pulled it to the surface. The tree was about 40 feet long and everybody laughed when we figured out what Dad had caught. Finally after several more tries, he managed to get a hold of the net and pulled in both our fish and the soft drinks. He retied it to the boat with orders to Sherry not to untie it again. He said it with a smile though.
|After that, Dad played around with us kids and gave us a wild ride. The boat had a big enough motor on it, so if Dad wanted to, he could water ski behind it. This day, he scared us by driving the boat around and around in smaller and smaller circles at high speeds. Finally he was going so fast and the circle was so small, I thought we going to tip over. The water was almost at the very edge of the boat and we were spinning in a very tight loop. Finally Mom asked him to stop, which he did. Then he raced across the lake in a straight line and tried to catch up to some pelicans that were flying nearby. I remember thinking that they had big powerful wings and could really fly fast. Then we stopped and did some more fishing.|
As the sun was starting to go down, other boats were pulling up anchor around us and heading back to the resort. We decided our day was complete and did the same thing. A mile or so across the water, the motor gave out and we stopped. The gas tank had run out of gas. No problem, we had the spare tank along, remember? It took a few minutes for Dad to swap tanks. He pulled on the starter cord to start the engine and nothing. He pulled and pulled and pulled, but the motor would not start. He thought maybe the plug was fouled and tore apart the top of the motor so he could clean it and check the fuel lines. It refused to start though. More boats pulled away as he was working on the tanks and motor. Finally he got suspicious and dipped he finger into the tank and tasted it. The tank was full of water! Mom and Dad theorized that one of his drinking partners had stolen the gas for his car and replaced it with water instead. Now we were in trouble, since we could see a storm was blowing in from the west and we were about four miles from the resort. We tried waving our hands and screaming at the last boat to pull away. I remember seeing the boat turn on its running lights and disappear into the dusk, without seeing us.
We had one oar and a large piece of wood on the boat, so Mom and Dad started paddling us slowly across the water. I tried my hand at it for a little while, but was too small to be of any real assistance yet, so Mom quickly took the oar back out of my hands again. Soon it was almost completely dark and the water started to get choppy. The boat was being pushed closer and closer to the north shore line. I am sure Mom and Dad were scared, but they did not let it show. They did not want us kids to be scared also. It was past dinner time, so Mom split up the last of our snacks and we ate again. I remember that I got a cinnamon roll and split a can of 7-Up with Mike. Scott and Sherry were then tucked beneath a blanket under the nose of the boat to sleep the rest of the night away.
Soon the waves got even stronger and Mom and Dad could not make any real progress paddling. We were getting close to the shore now and the next thing we know, the boat jerked as we were pushed into some large rocks just under the water line. Dad immediately jumped into the water and used his body as a buffer against the rocks. He forgot to take his keys and wallet out of his pockets, so after the immediate danger was over, he pulled them out and handed them to Mom for safe keeping. I could tell both of them were scared, but they kept talking and even joking to prevent Mike and I from being too scared also.
|I remember Mom saying to Dad, "I bet one year ago, if somebody had predicted that you would be swimming in the cold water, fighting this boat off rocks in a storm in the middle of the night, you would not have believed them." He agreed with her and made a effort to joke back with her. Dad was in the water for an hour or more and basically he dragged and pushed the boat down the shoreline until we got past the rocks and found a small shallow inlet where we could ride out the storm in relative safety. It was very late and I fell asleep at this point.|
Early the next morning, Mike and I tried our hand at fishing in the small inlet and even managed to catch a Northern pike. Mom and Dad were trying to decide what to do. As the sun got higher, Dad finally stated that he was going to walk across the swamp to the resort and get help for us. He asked if I wanted to go with him. Of course I did. In a way, I think he wanted the company, if nothing else. So we left, marching in the wet ground, often sinking our feet a foot or more down into the marshy soil. It was about a 3 mile hike, but part of it was not too bad. There was a tree line between us and the road leading to the resort, and the ground was firmer there. Along the way, we found some very old glass bottles and jars, even older than the Mason jars Mike and I had found. Dad and I collected a couple of them to save as reminders of the trip.
When we cleared the trees, we could see the road about another half-mile or so ahead of us and we trudged toward it. When we neared the road, we saw there was a very wide, and according to Dad, very deep ditch between us and it. We had to swim. Dad took the bottles from my hands and we jumped in, clothes and all. It was a hard swim, and part way across Dad started to sink. He could not swim and hold the bottles too, so he let them go and they sank down. We managed to reach the other side safely, however. Soon a passing car stopped to give us a ride into the resort. Dad pulled out his wallet, it was soaked again, and rented a small boat from the owners. We drove out and around the point toward Mom and the rest of the kids. Soon we had a rope attached from the small boat to them and were slowly pulling them back to safety. I remember feeling so proud that Dad and I managed to save the day. It was a scary time, but also one of those memories that I can never forget.
Part 5 - Over the Hill to Grandma's House
For information about Minnesota in general visit here or here.
Visit the home page of International Falls where I was born.
Also see the home page of Roseau, where I was raised.
Thunderbird Lodge is where my brother, Michael, works.
See Hayes Lake State Park, a few miles from where we lived.
Lake of the Woods where we often went fishing.
Find out more about Minnesota's natural resources.
The Virtual Sweden Site can tell you about where my grandparents came from.
Seattle, Washington is where I visited my Aunt Joyce and Uncle Maynard and saw the Space Needle.
Visit the International Peace Gardens. Many of my great-uncles and cousins helped build this beautiful place.
Dad worked at the Polaris plant for several years.
Both Mom and Dad worked at Marvin Windows at one time or another.