Letter: Remembering the early days of state park
I read with great interest about the new superintendent of Lake Bemidji State Park, Pete Harrison. I wonder how many people remember my grandfather, Maynard Bjerk. My grandfather took over the park in 1943 when, in my mother's words, it was "nothing but an overgrown weed patch". My uncle, Armaine Bjerk, and my granddad spent every day clearing brush and making campsites that are still there today. My uncle said they worked so hard he couldn't believe all the work they put into the park to prepare it for visitors
My granddad had a small cabin that he and my grandmother, Minnie Bjerk, lived in until he left the park in until 1968. My granddad worked day and night working in that park and he loved all the people who came to the park to camp every summer. In the winter he keep the park open for ice fishermen.
Many of the same people came back to the park every year for their vacations and they loved it there. I made a lot of friends because I spent as much time in the park with my granddad every year. To make money while I was here in Bemidji with him, I put up signs in the bathroom in the park saying I would babysit, and I was always busy.
Every year grandpa would clean the park along with his crew, making sure it was always a safe and beautiful place for anyone that came to the park. Back there was a little store down by the lake where he sold souvenirs, food items and wood for fires. It was just enough that most people did not have to leave the park for candy bars, cold drinks and marshmallows.
When he left the park, they tore down that little cabin and we were all disappointed. It broke my grandfather's heart, because he lived there for so many years and there were all kinds of wonderful memories. They could not tear down his memories of the park.
It is wonderful to look at what and whom we have today in the park, but it is also good to remember how we got there.
I introduced my husband to Bemidji, and when we retired we moved here because of the love we have for Bemidji and the state park.
Martha M. Schmidt