Memories and lasting bonds made at the lake

Jerry Apps

There is something about a lake that has always attracted me. I’m not a swimmer, never water skied, never drove a powerboat—but did considerable amount of canoeing as well as boot rowing over the years. And fishing, oh how I enjoyed fishing.

KIds frolic on a floating trampoline on Round Lake in Waupaca. The Chain O'Lakes - a string of 22 lakes in Waupaca County - have been a popular vacation destination for families for decades.

When I was a kid, visiting a lake meant a few hours away from summer farm work to go fishing on a lake. It usually happened on a rainy day when it was too wet to make hay, or shock grain, or cut corn, whatever the task at the time needed doing.

Lakes have been important for me in ways that go well beyond fishing. For twenty-five years I, along with one of my adult children, canoed the Boundary Water lakes of northern Minnesota. Not only was it a way to enjoy the outdoors, the call of loons, and the quiet, but also it was a way to get to know my children in a special way.

Since 2002, Ruth and I and our three children and grandchildren have spent a week at a lake—for the last five years on Long Lake, one of the lakes in the famous Waupaca Chain O’ Lakes.

It is way for the grandkids to get to know their cousins—they are scattered from San Diego to Denver and Minneapolis. It is also a way for Ruth and me to watch the grandkids grow from babies into responsible young adults. It is a lake that brings us together, this year 15 of us, for fun and adventure, for creating family togetherness and making life-long memories.

THE OLD TIMER SAYS: Lakes are important for many reasons—well beyond swimming, boating, and fishing.

Jerry Apps

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