This story was collected as part of a collaborative effort to record the state of American lakes, rivers, and waterways as well an attempt to uncover what water means to Americans. Listen to other stories recorded by the Minnesota Humanities Center for their We Are Water MN initiative, an outgrowth of our national traveling exhibition "Water/Ways."
"My name is Arlys Ousman. I live in Spicer, Minnesota. I have lived there for about 60 years. I have been an English teacher as well has an elementary school librarian. Way back when I was growing up, there was a saying that Green Lake was the second purest lake in the world. Now you probably have heard that before. It probably was some promoter that was giving that information or maybe someone at least probably made it up. We believed it and we told people.
We thoroughly thought that it was. And I think at that time it was pretty pure. How has it changed? Well, it has changed in that we have seen the influx of zebra mussels and the milfoil and I think the fishing has deteriorated and I think we can see more problems on the lake—more use of motors and that kind of thing. Well, water has always been important. I think as a child, we would go out fishing at a moment’s notice. My dad would come home and he would say, 'Let’s go fishing. Let’s go out to Green Lake.' We lived about 30 miles away.
So, my mother would pack a lunch, usually Vienna sausages and homemade bread, and maybe sauce and we would go out and fish. To me, we spent too much time on that water, but Green Lake, at that time, the fish were very plentiful. So, we managed to come home with a nice mess of fish, always. That continued on until I was in high school and until college days. My parents moved out here to Spicer, and now I live in Spicer, and I live on the lake, and I still continue to fish. I swim out to a raft, and I drop a line and catch lots of sunfish. It was fun! The legacy I would like to leave is that Green Lake would be just as it was. That is probably not realistic, but, at least—this morning, in fact—I looked out at that beautiful lake and it is just such a wonderful place to live. I thank God every day that I can live there and I hope that it will be preserved."