And Then Came Summer...
Ahhh, summer in the Alexandria lakes area. To those who live here and those who visit alike, there's no question that this area becomes a magical place in the summer.
When a group of friends gathered in Alexandria in January 1975 to experience what winter was like in their favorite summer vacation spot, they reminisced about their summers here.
"Isn't it amazing," one of them remarked, "the magic draw that this place has had for so many families...from far away...and for so many years?"
That question stirred something in two of the friends - Peggy Schoellkopf and Jane Carey DeLay.
Schoellkopf traveled for many summer vacations in Alexandria from her home in Texas, while Carey DeLay came from Iowa.
"We got to wondering how it all happened...what made so many people, over the years, feel that fall, winter and spring were just a prelude to the moment when it was time to go to Alexandria.
"The more we talked, the more excited we became until one of us said, 'You know what? We ought to write a book!'"
And so they did.
The above was taken from the introduction to that book - And Then Came Summer: Alexandria Remembered, which the two women spent the next three years compiling and writing. It was published in 1978.
The 72-page book included the women's detailed memories of the lakes, businesses, resorts, recreational opportunities and - most of all - the people, who made vacationing in the lakes area unforgettable.
"Originally we set out to examine the peculiar attractions of a much-loved town called Alexandria. We've listed many, from the thrill of catching fish to the simple pleasure of walking down Broadway on a sunny summer day. But these experiences, much as we enjoy them, are not unique. There are other towns and other lakes. If our efforts have been successful they must prove, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that the secret of Alexandria lies in its people. Local people - summer people." (Taken from the book's ending.)
More than 30 years later, the book still stirs up fond memories for those who summered in the area.
While copies have surfaced here and there through the years, many people have tried in vain to obtain a copy of their own, but to no avail...until members of two local groups decided, why not?
The Douglas County Library Friends and Foundation and the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum (MLMM) recently collaborated with the families of Peggy Schoellkopf and Jane Carey DeLay to reprint the book.
Despite a few minor corrections, the text remains the same as originally printed. While the first publication included only 13 photographs on four pages at the book's center, the new book includes nearly 100 photos spread throughout, and includes a full color dust jacket containing more photos of historic summers in the Alexandria lakes area.
The following, written by DeLay's daughters Susan, Judy and Elizabeth, appears in the preface of the new book: "We are so grateful to Mother and Peggy for what they have given their children - not only the book but, more importantly, the opportunity to be here, summer after summer making memories. Alexandria has taken root in our hearts and now our children and their children, the sixth generation, are eager to carry on the love affair."
Two events have been planned on July 18 to celebrate the reprinting of the book (see inset for details). Members of the authors' families hope to take part in the events.
Local events to celebrate the reprinting of the local book, And Then Came Summer: Alexandria Remembered.
Wednesday, July 18
1 to 2:30 p.m. at the Douglas County Library, Alexandria.
5 to 7 p.m. at the Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum, Alexandria
Both events are free and open to the public.
Rachel Barduson, director of the Douglas County Historical Society, will talk about the history of tourism, the grand hotels and resort district at both events, at 1 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.
500 copies of And Then Came Summer: Alexandria Remembered will be available for sale at the July 18 events. Cost is $25 plus tax. Proceeds will go to the Douglas County Library Friends and Foundation and Minnesota Lakes Maritime Museum.
Tara Bitzan Tara Bitzan is a lifelong Douglas County resident. She obtained a degree in Mass Communications/Print Journalism and English with a minor in Scandinavian Studies from Moorhead State University. She joined the Echo Press in 1991 and currently serves as the Life/Variety/Special Projects editor. She lives in rural Douglas County with her husband, Dennis, and their daughters, Courtney and Cayla. Follow Life Editor Tara Bitzan on Twitter at @TBitzan.