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Cabin fever: a lakeside cabin creates many memories for family and friends.

My husband has wonderful boyhood memories of Kern's cabin. Kern and Marge were that couple in his neighborhood with no children r grandchildren who loved children and creating fun and memories for them. The dear couple would plan campouts at their cabin on the lake for all the neighborhood kids--about a dozen in all. They would roast hot dogs, toast marshmallows, fish, swim, and boat together in the Mississippi sunshine. It was quite a relief for parents of the 1950s to enjoy an evening out with their children in good hands. My husband loves telling the story of late night hikes with all the kids tied to a rope (led by Kem) wandering on a trail around the lake. Kern later told him that the real reason for the hike was to wear the kids out so they would sleep and not tear up his cabin.

So several years ago, when Kern (a true Renaissance man) decided it was time to sell the cabin that he had created from small wooden buildings and leftover wood and building supplies given to him by friends, he chose my husband to be the recipient of the old memory cabin.

On our first visit to the 1,400-square-foot cabin, I was a bit surprised and shocked at its state of disrepair, but my husband assured me that all it needed was a couple of cans of paint, a few minor repairs, and a change in decor. He was sure it could be done in a few months. His biggest selling points were that it would be a place to enjoy and store his wooden strip canoe (taking up valuable space in our garage) and a place to use my too-nice-to-get-rid-of excess furniture and my never-ending lamp and picture collection. Also, it would be so much fun to have family and friends over for easy picnics and swimming and boating just 20 minutes from Jackson.

I was taken by the beauty and serenity of the still lake surrounded by large green trees and blue skies in the small community that was truly a step back in time to the 1950s. Kem's cabin is situated on one of three lakes called the slow-boat lake, with access to the adjacent swimming lake and the fast-boat lake. People were fishing, boating, and swimming with laughter and the summer smells of hamburgers and steaks on grills, making you want to stay for supper. Needless to say, we were the proud owners of a second home.




The couple of months of renovation began with the kitchen floor falling through and the replacement of all the electrical and plumbing, which my Renaissance husband did by reading a few DIY books. We decided to replace all the windows with larger, energy-efficient ones to create more continuity and light with a better view of the lake, and then all the doors and cabinets were replaced to go with the windows. A central air and heat unit was added for comfort. And before we installed the rough cedar siding on the exterior, why not just turn the carport into a second bedroom and a side porch into storage? All we really needed was the one screened porch extending the length of the main room.





With a much more workable floor plan, sheetrock added a nice appearance to the walls, and whitewashed wood ceiling boards completed the contemporary feeling of the slanted ceiling of the now light-filled living area. Of course, a tin roof replaced the existing leaking roof, creating the calming sound of raindrops in the spring rains.

After a few years of remodeling, with the only remaining original surface being the wonderful wide, pine floors in the main room, it was time to decorate and plan a party. Our excess furniture and accessories dictated the decor: country French, shabby-chic, flea-market style. A friend's gift of Stark carpet (my favorite) removed from her bedroom, and my love of Carole Pigott's watercolors dictated the decor of blue and white and Blue Willow. We purchased a few things and set up housekeeping. We met the neighbors, many of whom are permanent residents, who left homegrown garden tomatoes and okra on the doorstep, brought coffee and pleasant conversation as we worked, and invited us to fish fries.

We added deck chairs, the strip canoe, a paddle boat, and a friend's sailboat and his three colorful kayaks.

We planted wonderful, fragrant jasmine around the blue door and mounted an American flag. We had our first party on July 4th, and everyone now comes every year. We have had many get-togethers and family reunions and have entertained the original neighborhood campers, friends, and seminary students. And we almost always have lots of pink lemonade and homemade ice cream and fun, fun, fun.

by patty roper photography by greg campbell
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Author:Roper, Patty
Publication:Mississippi Magazine
Date:May 1, 2012
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