Every summer, Mimi Mullin makes the journey from her home in Columbus, Ohio, to a small brown cabin in Leland. Though Ohio is her home by location, Leland is her home at heart. “I always look forward to it. When I was a child and school got out, we came up here. Summers in Leelanau are the only summers I know.”
Every year she stays at one of several family cabins on Lake Leelanau. The cluster is affectionately called The Johnson Camp by Mimi and family members. It’s provided the backdrop for countless summer memories that span across generations, and all began with Mimi’s grandfather, Claude Walden Johnson Sr. “Both my grandfather and grandmother enjoyed camping. They started exploring northern Michigan, and when they found Lake Leelanau, they fell in love with it.”
In 1921, they brought their three children up to camp – Mimi’s mother Louise (Pat) and her brother (Claude) and sister (Sarah). On lazy summer afternoons, the Johnsons would wander over to visit with the families that summered in a trio of cabins in East Leland on the north side of Lake Leelanau. Two red cabins belonged to a couple, and the brown one belonged to Dr. William Locy, a retired biology professor.
Dr. Locy’s midday hammock naps were of particular importance to him. He made a wooden sign that read “Please use upper paths in the afternoons” to keep this time quiet for himself. Claude was one of the few who respected the sign, and because of that, Dr. Locy sought him out as a fishing companion and friend.
At the end of the summer, Dr. Locy offered to rent his cabin to the Johnsons the following August. Included in the offer was the option to buy. On the family’s second day at the cabin in August of ’22, Claude walked to the train station and sent Dr. Locy a telegram that read: “Offer accepted. Check-in mail.”
Eventually, Claude also bought the neighboring pair of red cottages. The original three have been remodeled, and more cabins have been added. No matter how many there are now, Mimi always stays in the brown one that started it all.
“Next summer, it will be 100 years since it’s been in the family.”
She has spent all of her summers there. The magic of Leelanau is interlaced through her most cherished memories. Her past and present enjoyment of Leelanau is part of the reason Mimi has been a longtime Sustainer, and Heritage Society member. “When my mother passed away in 2006, I wanted to honor her by helping to protect Leelanau. It was then that I became a sustainer. We shared so many wonderful memories here, and by preserving this place, I feel like I’m preserving those memories too. It’s special to be giving back to the land that has given so much to me, and now my children and grandchildren will be able to enjoy this place for years to come.”
Mimi spends half of the summer in Leelanau soaking up the sunshine, walking, visiting friends, enjoying long conversations in backyards and on porches, and picking cherries for her Best Damn Jam in the Land.
“It’s my little piece of heaven.”
The Sustainers Circle recognizes members who commit to making a gift of $500 or more annually to the Leelanau Conservancy to support the core expenses of the organization. To learn more or to join, please contact Meg Delor, Development Director at [email protected] or 231-651-1882.
The Leelanau Conservancy’s Richard O. Ristine Heritage Society recognizes those who have included the Leelanau Conservancy in their estate plans. It is named in honor of our former board member, Dick Ristine, Sr., who talked to everyone he knew about leaving a gift to the Leelanau Conservancy in their wills. For more information, please contact Leslee Spraggins, Planned Giving Officer, at [email protected] or 231-256-9665.