Leyden Family Celebrates Decades of Lake Vacations
By Brian Wright
We all know the old saying “time flies when you’re having fun.” And for the Leyden clan, a fun-loving group of family and friends from the Chicago area, time equals 50 years, and the fun is Table Rock Lake.
The family elders, Mike (age 83) and Mary Lou (age 81), first visited Table Rock Lake in 1969. They have been coming back ever since.
“We first came down 50 years ago with some friends who invited us to come along for a summer trip,” says Mike. “I grew up loving the water but growing up in Chicago sometimes even in the summer the water can be a little chilly. We decided to pack everybody up in the old family station wagon and off we went.”
What started off as a summer trip for the Leydens and their four children -- David, Laurie, Linda and Kathy, has grown to be an annual event of monumental proportion.
Since nearly the beginning, the Leydens have also been joined by former Chicago neighbors Ed and the late Maggie Rupkey. Coincidentally, the Rupkey family also featured four children (Tom, Jim, Lori, and Ann).
“Ed and his family lived next door to us in the Chicago area and so we invited them to come join us in the early 70s,” Mike says. “Ed is here every year with us, and many of his family members have joined us over the years.”
Although the Leydens have travelled to many places, they always come back to the Table Rock Lake area each year.
“Right from the start, everybody just loved it here,” says Mary Lou. “It’s warm and the lake is so beautiful. We have always blocked off two weeks for our Table Rock Lake trip. It’s just something we do. I just can’t imagine not bringing the family here every year.”
The group has always stayed lakefront near Indian Point in housekeeping cabins where they can stretch out and enjoy the lake. In fact, they been coming here so long, they have outlasted several resorts.
“We originally stayed at Driftwood Resort, which is now long gone. We stayed there for 26 years,” Mike explains. “We then moved to Cedar Resort for nine years. It then closed to be sold for development. That’s when we discovered White Wing Resort and we have been here ever since. We absolutely love this place.”
The family now consists of Mike and Mary Lou, their four children, 12 grandchildren, and four great grandchildren. When you add in spouses and friends that often join the group, it’s a large, tight knit caravan. As one might imagine, 50 years of vacation history has produced many memorable moments.
“We’ve had a wonderful time throughout the years, watching everyone grow and share this experience with us,” Mary Lou says with a sparkle in her eye that would light up a crowd. “There have been two engagements, and a wedding during our Table Rock vacations. Plus, lots of memorable lake time, dinners, and of course, cocktail hour at the pool.”
What does a typical day look like for this group of family and friends? According to Mike, it’s breakfast, meet at the boat dock around 10:00 a.m. for a day of lake fun -- and then the aforementioned cocktail hour poolside at 6:00 p.m. to relive the day’s treasured moments.
“Over the years we have spent many a day at Silver Dollar City during our stay,” Mike says. “Of course, we have also seen many of the shows in town and visited the various other interesting things to do in the area. But we are lake people. That’s where the bulk of our time is spent.”
Celebrating 50 years of Table Rock Lake memories.
As this year marks the 50th anniversary of the Leyden family vacation trip to Table Rock, it’s obviously a special time. In all, some 50 people will partake in this year’s adventure, culminating in a dinner at LedgeStone Country Club in StoneBridge Village. Laughter will fill the room, and perhaps a few tears will be shed as the group reflects on a family tradition that has a remarkable, time-tested, history.
Mike and Mary Lou will make the trip to Table Rock so long as they are able, and they both hope that in some way, the Leyden family will keep the Table Rock connection going.
“You know, Mary Lou and I have given that some thought,” reflects Mike. “We have been very blessed. I don’t know that they will but it’s something we hope will happen. Our son David actually bought a house down here so we think in some way, there will always be some type of get together.”
Family is everything to Mike and Mary Lou, and for two weeks each year, time slows to a snail’s pace as the Leyden clan enjoy their annual two weeks at the lake. They have created 50 years of fun and memories at their special place… Table Rock Lake.