My parents retired to a small town in north central Wisconsin in 1957...I believe the day they moved into the new house was either May 3 or May 4, 1957. The new house was built by my Uncle George who was a moderately successful custom home builder. He was related to Dad through his wife, Ingeborg, who was Dad's sister. The plans for the house were ones they found in some sort of magazine. I remember that the plans were accompanied by an actual model of the house. The model of the house was a dark pink/plum color with a dark green roof. It showed shutters and a slightly different entrance than what was actually built.
On my father's side of the family, he had a cousin who had also immigrated to the United States from Denmark and her name was Elsa. I do not know what her maiden name had been...simply that at the time I knew her, her name was Elsa Off...married to a man named John Off. Elsa and John had lived in Chicago, IL during their working lives and had one son. So in the mid-1950s they had decided to retired and had bought some farm land that overlooked Amacoy Lake that was also bordered by a tributary to the lake...as far as I know that stream did not have a name. The property was and is about four and one-half miles south of Bruce, WI...and was about 100 miles northeast from Hudson, WI (where my parents had lived until 1957).
I remember Elsa as a tall very European sophisticated type of woman. I really loved this woman and called her Aunt Elsie. She in turn was very good to me. One of the things I remember about her was her talling me about one of her and "Uncle" John's transatlantic voyages in which the weather was so rough that some of the portholes on the ship and been broken. I also remember her giving me books because by then I was well on my route to becoming an avid book reader. The other thing I remember distinctly about them was that they had a brand new 1955 Dodge that was a pale green in color with a cream colored interior. I considered that car to be far superior to my own parent's 1949 Nash Ambassador (also pale green but with a darker colored upholstery).
In a large grove of very old white pine trees was an old log farmhouse...that Aunt Elsie and Uncle John updated, added on to, and made into their retirement home. Before the updating it was two stories with a large kitchen on the main floor and narrow stairs that led upstairs to two small bedrooms. It had an outhouse! Before actually retiring to Bruce, my parents actually used this house a couple of years for summer vacations with Aunt Elsie's blessings. Also there were a couple of times that I would spend a week or two with Aunt Elsie and Uncle John. They were an entertaining couple who made me feel like an honored guest, treated me like a young adult (I was seven or eight years old at the time), and I loved staying with them. Also they were not as strict with me as my parents were...so that was a definite plus in my relationship with them.
Eventually Aunt Elsie and Uncle John added another large room to one side of the original log house. It was a combination kitchen and dining area with a large picture window facing south...and it had a comfortable big fireplace to take the chill out of the air on cold winter days.
With the addition of this room, the old log house sections was converted into a living room, large bedroom, and a bathroom on the first floor.
As I mentioned, the house was nestled in a grove of white pines and the northern end of the forty or so acres Aunt Elsie and Uncle John owned. There was also an old barn that was falling down...and which was eventually demolished. I still remember sitting in the shade of the pine trees on hot summer days with either Mom and Dad or Aunt Elsie and Uncle John...the shade was cool and it was there I learned to love the quiet, the sound of the wind whispering though the needles of the trees, of just being.
Eventually my parents did decide to retire to Bruce, WI and they purchased from Aunt Elsie and Uncle John approximately 13 acres of land at the south end of the 40 acres of land...and the property had more direct access to Amacoy Lake. The shape of my parent's new-bought property was similar to an hourglass. The top of the hourglass was where they built their new house...and it also bordered what was at the time an upscale resort called Wonderspot. The bottom half of the hourglass was a wooded area that had a nice sandy beach, was hilly, and covered with a combination of oak and pine trees.
It was an ideal place for a young boy to grow up.
...to be continued.