|Uncle James and Aunt Vanita's husband fishing at Crystal Lake|
My Uncle James Bane passed away quietly in his sleep on January 3 of 2012. He was a hard-working man, just like his siblings, which included my dad, Kermit, Uncle Curtis and Aunt Vanita. James never married nor had children. He worked as a welder for Associated Mining from 1968 to 1989, and he also farmed. He enjoyed flying, inventing and building. His pride and joy, though, was Crystal Lake, which he purchased and by which he placed a small two-bedroom home. On January 6 at the graveside services, the people who came and shared stories of his generosity touched us. My sisters and I went out to Crystal Lake, and it was at that peaceful moment with the wintery sun reflecting off the water that I felt compelled to buy it and keep it in the family. My vision for the future includes family fish fries and barbecues and spots for family campgrounds, complete with a shelter house. Fortunately, Blaine supported my decision. I could not have tackled the project without him.
|The two geese on the end of the dock think they own the lake.|
Now, the name Crystal Lake sounds idyllic, and it is beautiful, but as our son said when he first saw it, “It’s pretty, but it’s a project.” We repeated that often as we repaired the hole in the dam, scrubbed the house, ripped up carpet and painted walls. Family members and friends pitched in, carrying out old carpets and furniture, trimming trees and mowing the grass, rolling paint on the walls after much careful deliberation in deciding the perfect colors, mudding cracks in the walls, installing beautiful white crown molding and baseboards and amazing sliding glass doors in the kitchen, which provide a gorgeous view of the lake. It was hard work, but I will treasure the memories of talking and laughing with Blaine and my family as we worked together over the summer to fulfill the dream.
An added bonus is that the property came with our original home – a mobile home that we first started housekeeping in back in 1972. James bought it from us when we moved to Atlanta and put it on his property to rent out. He also bought two more trailers, and the property includes a falling-in house still to be removed. The property has a fascinating history. Civil War soldiers camped there, as evident in the old lead bullet that a metal detector located in the trees. The abstract documents the transfer of a female slave and her “increase” (children) to be shared by a man’s wife and son.
|Our first home together. It was olive green from end to end.|
Men with mules and scrapers built Crystal Lake in the early 1900s. They also cut ice from the lake in the winter to be used in the summer. Cabins surrounded the lake, and a big pavilion provided a place for music, dances, and skating. It was also a private pay lake, where people paid a small fee to fish. I love the trees, the house and the lake, including the ducks and geese that call it home. I recently took these pictures of snow at Crystal Lake.
I hope Uncle James is happy that we kept it in the family and is smiling down on us like he is smiling in the picture above.