It all started with a few gentlemen (two, to be exact), Woody and his cousin Harlan Krinke. The draw was a Gun Show at the Duluth Arena Auditorium (now called Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, or short for DECC). The time was a last weekend in June. The year was 1962. Tagging along with Harlan were his lovely young bride, Dorothy, and their young daughter Dawn. The seem-to-be-one-time trip to Duluth soon became an annual event and Harlan’s entourage expanded; his sister Nancy and brother in-law Art Hawkinson and a friend, Benson, kept Harlan company. Woody preferred to stay in a motel, but Krinke-Hawkinson made the campground their home during that event.
Fast forward to the weekend of June 22, 2012, close to a week after the notorious Duluth floods, the ever-growing Krinke-Hawkinson family celebrates their 50th anniversary coming to Duluth and staying at the campground during the Gun Show. The trip is no longer just for the Gun Show where Harlan has a table to show his collection but has evolved into a fun, intimate and productive family gathering. Fifty people are housed in five campsites in the southeast corner of the campground, making this area Home Sweet Home for the weekend; three of the four Harlan and Dorothy Krinke’s children come with their children, four of Art and Nancy Hawkinson’s children are here as well with their children. The oldest of the group is, of course, Harlan, 78 years young; the youngest is Carter, four years old.
A few years ago, they started their own Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Walk; three family members are cancer conquerors, including Dorothy. They do the 5K-walk along the Munger Trail on Saturday. This is the first year, sadly, Dorothy can not join her family for the walk or the campground family gathering; she now lives in a home for Alzheimer’s patients. On Saturday afternoon, a bridal shower is arranged for a member of the Hawkinson family at the campground pavilion. Pink and black balloons, cakes and punch, jokes and laughter are music to this wonderful gathering. We crash the party with champagne and sparkling juice, raising our cups (hey, this is a picnic!) for 50 years of memorable times, lovely family gatherings, and wonderful stories to share for a lifetime. Everyone wears a t-shirt specially designed for this year’s weekend, they give the campground one to keep -- we are now officially part of the family.
Sunday morning around 7:30 a.m. while the ground is still wet from leftover light rain the night before, Harlan is getting the grill ready for a pancake breakfast. He sits on a stool facing an antique-looking grill that quickly cooks six hot cakes at once. The grill is 40 years old, it joined the tradition 10 years after it started. “It’s a tradition before we send them home,” he says jokingly while pouring some batter on to the grill. It is true, most of the family members pack their campers, make a stop at the campground office to reserve the same spot for next year, and then hit the road. For the happiest life, days should be rigorously planned, the wise men say. So they do. The Krinke-Hawkinson is certainly not the only family who has family reunion; a few may celebrate a 50th family gathering anniversary in their lifetime. Again, we are fortunate to experience one at our campground.
We tip our hats to Harlan and Dorothy for starting this tradition; we salute the extended Krinke-Hawkinson family members for coming. Our thoughts are with Woody who passed on in 1998, and Dorothy. They may not be coming to the campground anymore, yet the tradition Woody, Harland and Dorothy started certainly will live on. When the second generation of the Krinkes and Hawkinsons reserve a site for their parents as they make theirs, we know they have passed the baton to the next generation of Krinke-Hawkinson to keep the fire burning. Maya Angelo says, “Life loves the liver of it.” This family is surely one liver of life.
See you next year, family!
“Life consists not in holding good cards but in playing those you hold well.” ~Josh Billings