Life Lessons In Mini Golf

Aug 20, 2014

June Melby spoke with Lake Effect's Mitch Teich about her memories of the family mini golf course and how it became a part of herself.

There are still a few precious weeks of summer ahead of us - still time to squeeze in a trip or two up north, or a few afternoons at the beach, or maybe a round or two of miniature golf.

Writer June Melby experienced more than a few summer afternoons of mini golf when she was a girl.  But it was not the experience you and I probably had.  Melby grew up in Decorah, Iowa, but one day - when she was still in elementary school - her parents announced they had purchased the Tom Thumb Mini Golf in Waupaca, Wisconsin. From then on, the family would relocate to Wisconsin each summer to run the classic old golf course and its many obstacles.

"We had this place that needed all of us to work at it to make it what it was. And it really brought us together in ways I didn't realize," says Melby.

Years later, Melby had left the Midwest to pursue a life performing in Hollywood, when she got the heart-wrenching word that her parents were selling the course.  When it was all said and done, Melby looked back on those days in a memoir, called My Family and Other Hazards.

Melby's book presents a chapter for every hole in the course that takes the reader through her childhood memories, life lessons, themes that follow the course's obstacles, the pain she felt in losing her childhood summer home, and the joy felt in revisiting it.

"Having a place that's colorful and fun in your backyard is not a terrible thing...all hours of the day you have people laughing with each other," says Melby.

June Melby is back living in her hometown of Decorah, Iowa, and she spoke with Mitch Teich on a recent book tour which included stops at Books & Co. and Boswell Book Company.

In case you are interested in becoming the latest steward of the Waupaca mini golf tradition, Tom Thumb remains up for sale.