The Retiree

Bob’s wife, Cora, was Dad’s sister. In the late ’40s Uncle Bob bought a plot of land on Maple Lake. He liked the fact that the lot was close to the city, and inexpensive. Five hundred bucks for a lot on the lake, and three-fifty for one across the road. With a little encouragement, Dad bought one too.
After the war Bob started a metal stampings shop in his garage. Later, as the business grew, he encouraged Dad to join him as a production superintendent. Other relatives joined the corporation as workers off and on over the years. I did, too. Dad and a few others shared a piece of the business.
Bob’s dreams became reality. The shop finally employed 150 or more people, and the plant was moved and expanded to meet its needs. Bob was a true entrepreneur.
As for the cottage, it grew, too. It was raised and moved and improved and added onto. In my early teens I helped with the original cottage—as much as most teens would—and when Dad built his cottage, I found out how hard it was to dig a toilet in blue clay. Our families were lake neighbors for many years. Lots of memories came out of those years.
For example, Bob had memorable dogs. Penny was an Irish Setter with an eagerness for hunting. She lived about seventeen years. Toward the end, Bob had to sneak his shotgun out of the house, as she was getting too frail to hunt. Penny was too excitable for her own good. He also later got Pierre, an intelligent obedient Poodle with a sincere desire to please Bob, and a love for swimming in Maple Lake with Bob’s girls.
When he got to retirement age, Bob showed us that he could still water ski. I had no intention of doing that when I retired. Others had tried to follow his example to their dismay.
Over the years, Bob gravitated to Florida, spending more time there than at the lake. Cora, Dad, and the rest of the uncles and aunts are gone now. Bob could never bear to get rid of the Maple Lake house, though. He visited it as often as he could, the last time several years ago. Then he had to give in the the problems that attend aging.
You may remember Bob. Probably not. He was typical of summer people, if there is such a thing. He spent his winters away from the snow and ice. You won’t see him out here. He died peacefully in Florida, at 99 years of age. Harold and Vern and Alice and Wayne and John and Fred and so many others are gone, too.
There are many more memories that come to me, but those will do. All I wanted was to recall a little bit of the life of one of Maple Lake’s summer people, and a few of their cohorts.

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