Libby Baker Sweiger

Weaver of Everyday Tales

Summer Vacations with Pop

Scott (4) Bill (6) George Lake Summer

“Summer night–
even the stars
are whispering to each other.”
― Kobayashi Issa

Summer nights, summer days. When I was a child I thought summers in Minnesota were just as long as the winters. They were packed with so much fun. My grandpa Pop, my dad’s dad took the four of us to Willmar, Minnesota where he lived to a beautiful lake with an inauspicious name: George for a long week every summer. He rented out a wonderful lake home and spoiled us rotten the week long. Here are my brothers on the deck. More often they would be found down on the dock fishing and I would be keeping an eye on them, or Pop would be fishing with them.

I polled my brother Scott and we cannot remember much adult supervision on these trips. My guess is that meant a grandparent was delightfully in charge. Pop was a wonderful man. He was tall and gentlemanly. He talked a lot and told great stories. He loved to take us for drives and when he came back from the grocery store, he always had with him GALLON containers of ice cream. This is how little my brothers were when they started eating their ice cream out of cereal bowls, not ice cream bowls…a tradition which is carried on in our family to this day.

I’m quite certain these wonderful vacations involved shared visitation by both of our parents, courtesy and all expenses paid for by Pop. Pop was not a rich man. He sold insurance for Waseca Mutual Insurance Company and lived in Willmar, MN. Willmar is a nice town, where Pop was well respected and had lots of friends.

Willmar also is host of a Presbyterian Church were my ex-husband did his internship for a year to graduate from seminary. I lived there when I was pregnant with my 1st. And it is there that little Shirley Deborah is buried. I made many terrific friends for the 13+ months we lived in Willmar and I can see their faces now. It was my only taste of small town life and I was lucky to live in that gracious, friendly place.

But, back to Pop. He was a fun, generous and nice grandpa. We enjoyed the vacations on the lake he gave to us and the added time spent with him and dad on the weekends. We loved fishing for the sunnies. Tanning on the diving deck. Puttering around in the fishing boat. And we really liked the cereal bowls full of ice cream!

I miss Pop. He was fun to talk to. Easy going and kind. He was a mellower version of my dad. He told longer stories. He reminds me a bit of my husband. People tease my husband Mike to speed up his stories and get to the point. But most days, I love the relaxing, not a care about time in the world-way he tells his tales. Just like Pop.

Pop finished out his days in Rio Verde, Arizona in the resort home my dad bought with the intention of someday retiring there. Pop was the caretaker and main host of this home, at some point seeming to forget it was dad’s. Dad didn’t make a fuss. He let his dad keep his dignity and we all acted when visiting as if good old Pop were picking up the whole tab again!


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12 thoughts on “Summer Vacations with Pop

  1. Denise on said:

    Oh my gosh Libby, I have friends who’s parents use to live in Rio Verde, would be awesome, amazing, just plan ole cool if they new your Pop! Now back to your latest chapter… Reading this latest chapter brings back grand memories of our family vacations on a lake & what small towns are to live in. Vacation of swimming, eating, swimming, boating, swimming…left fishing to others in the family. Always a trip to the amusement park over at the other lake near by. Never new what ice cream bowls were until I got ice cream at a restaurant, always and still eat it out of cereal bowls. It’s the best way, you get more ice cream!


    • My mom had been teaching us ice cream in moderation at home I guess and Pop blew that lesson all to heck! We’d NEVER seen a gallon ice cream container ever before. And my brothers would egg Pop on until there’s was overflowing. I don’t how those skinny little guys got it all down truthfully!


  2. Denise on said:

    I got so excited about vacations and ice cream that I left out… I’m sorry to hear about your daughter Shirley! I know from friends and a grandma what they went through with a death a child, all I know is it is the worst experience ever. I’m sorry you and your ex were given that to caring!


    • Thanks Denise. I kinda slipped that in there. She was a baby I didn’t get a chance to know, who died while I was in labor. Still, a beauty. There is a post you may want to read to hear more about her. It’s on this blog and it’s called: “A Mother’s Ring”.


  3. I can’t even imagine what it’s like to have all these memories stored up in your mind and heart. I have nothing like them. My kids on the other hand, now that we’re in MN and are closer to extended family, are going to have the same type of memories you have. So blessed!


    • Carol Rainbolt on said:

      Libby,,,, I love the idea of writing down and sharing all of your wonderful memories , thoughts and times with all of us,,,, its as if we were there with you ,, running along that deck,,,, tasting the ice cream….. and most of all hearing and seeing your “Pop” as you saw him,,,,, cant wait to keep reading as you keep writing, God Bless you my sweet friend,,,,,


    • Dearest Mimi, my mom made wonderful traditions for us all on her own, doing things quite different from her parents. And I made traditions for my little family of three that were much different from the grand scale in my family, they were very dear to Mike and Abby and I. You can lead with your heart as a mom into wonderful frontiers of blessing and new traditions for your children as you open your heart to the Lord who loves and treasures you so very much. I love you Mimi!


  4. Libby! Thank you for letting me take a peak into your beautiful memories! A beautiful soul like – of course had a beautiful pop:) Bless you sweet angel:)!<3


  5. Yes my grandpa Pop was a treasure. I enjoyed writing this so much I think I’ll write soon again about my other grandfather! Love you dear ❤


  6. Thanks for sharing memories of your Pop and summers at the lake. Storytelling is a wonderful tradition and gift to pass down to the next generations.

    I know my maternal grandfather only through my family’s memories. He passed while I was still an infant. I have a photo of him holding me in his arms, and keep it in my room, where I can see his smile every day. My paternal grandfather seemed to strive to fill the gap for my siblings and me. I came back home after leaving grad school, to be with family, to be able to visit my grandparents while they were still living. I consider myself blessed to have had the time with them.

    Now, all your talk of ice cream has me hungry again. I think I’ll grab a cereal bowl. 🙂


  7. You’re so nice and trim Mark, just like my brothers! You have yourself a cereal bowl-ful! I’m glad you had that special time with your grandparents and have the picture of the one you didn’t know in your room. They are so precious! 🙂


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