A refreshing dip into the lake suited this farm boy

Jerry Apps
There's nothing like a refreshing dip in a spring fed lake after a hard day’s work on the farm.

My fondness for lakes began in the mid-1940s when we regularly visited Chain O’ Lake, which was but a mile and a half from the home farm. To clear up the spelling of the lake’s name, Chain O’ Lake has no above ground connection to another lake. But it is connected to a series of other lakes underground. So those naming it comprised—no “s” on the name.

One of my favorite memories involves Hank Lackelt, who Pa hired for the summer of 1943 or 1944. He owned a Model T Ford “Touring car,” which today we would call a convertible.

On hot summer evenings, after the cows were milked and turned out to pasture, my two brothers and I would pile into the Model T with Hank at the wheel and chug our way along the dusty country road to Chain O’ Lake. Once there, he would back the car into the lake, far enough for us to jump off the back of it into the lake’s cool waters. What fun it was. We would splash around in the lake for an hour or so, until sunset. Then we’d push the car out of the lake and be ready for our trip back home.

But we had to do one more thing before we left the lake, check for bloodsuckers (leaches). We saw them as an annoyance, even if we might emerge from the lake with one or more hanging on us. Earlier we’d discovered the remedy for removing them. We had a salt shaker with us. A little salt sprinkled on the bloodsucker and it fell to the ground.

THE OLD-TIMER SAYS: Nothing better than jumping into a lake after a hard day’s work on the farm.

Jerry Apps, born and raised on a Wisconsin farm, is Professor Emeritus at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and the author of more than 35 books, many of them on rural history and country life. For further information about Jerry's writing and TV work go to