Gino Dal Ponte and many years of many family vacations

Gino Dal Ponte

Our Isuzu Trooper, our first, that we originally leased. It taught our sons how to drive with manual transmission and survived long enough to travel cross country to end up in California with Mikey.

Our first dog, Freckles, a Brittany Spaniel – Shelty mix. She loved to run like crazy in Eagle River and swim and sleep like a baby.

The upper level of the boathouse, within a short distance from the main house.

Not my favorite photo of the old, hundred year old house, but this is what we would see upon arrival.

The other day, one of my sons and I were in downtown Highland Park collecting some take out and thought of Gino.

Gino has been gone a few years and we are sorry to say that we did not know of his passing until after the fact. As I remember him telling me, he knew that his days were numbered and that his ‘ticker’ was going to set him free at some point in time.

He was a man’s man and a perfect man of the land, an entrepreneur, a man able to buy and sell and make lots of money. He was able to spot things of value and then purchase and sell them. He had a personality to remember and a great smile and charm.

He had an upholstery shop in Highland Park and we came across him when the kids were young and we were searching for the perfect vacation, because we were finally in a financial position to be able to afford it. We rented his vacation property on Little Pine Lake in Eagle River, Wisconsin, having found out about it from our now deceased neighbor Jan Schultz. MK had always dreamed about Eagle River.

The vacation property was wonderful. It had a very long driveway to get to it and it was a bit hard to find. The poorly insulated, one hundred or so year old home had a terrible kitchen, lots of bedrooms, and Stickley furniture that Gino had reupholstered. The kitchen worked well despite its inadequacies and we actually loved it. It has a walk down to the lake and a boathouse with a huge room on top with a screened in view of the lake. Little Pine Lake was not too small and not too large. It only had three habitations on it, one of them being a trailer belonging (as they said) to a Chicago Cop. During our many visits there, I think we only saw humans there once or twice.

Gino rented this place to us and he also had a smaller cabin on his property for rental and then later a newly built cabin for himself.

The place was great, a landline we barely ever used (in the days before cellphones), a radio, no TV, and plenty of places to read a book. It had the most beautiful old wooden rowboat (that I took out more than once during the day), several paddle boats, a canoe, and other items. There was a raft moored not far from the boat dock. We could fish, hike, boat, etc. It was HEAVEN for us. We were NEVER bored.

Gino had vacationed there as a kid. The place had been owned by a wealthy family. Somehow, Gino got the option to purchase it and he did, just one of many real estate ventures he had.

Gino was into fishing, hunting, and taking proper care of the surroundings nature provided us with. He loved to go to the Casino and often did with his wife and friends when he was in the Eagle River area. He died while hunting, the perfect scenario; apparently he sat down by a tree, took a nap, and never woke up.

Our family is indebted to him, we have at least one chair that he reupholstered for us, and several that he restored. He gave us unforgettable memories. Damn, we have to go back to that place.

About Richard Koerner

Sixty something, father, papi, educator, organizer, Francophile, traveler, amateur photographer, gardener, cyclist, kayaker, calligrapher, cinephile, reader, and overall renaissance type human being.
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