I Write. He Paints. We Preserve History.

I write. My brother paints. We are both preserving history.

Since the early 1960’s our parents took us to the Indiana Dunes State Park in Chesterton, Indiana to play in the water and waves of Lake Michigan. We hiked the trails, explored the blow outs, climbed the sand dunes and conquered Mount Tom and Mount Baldy.

It was a place for us to roam freely with acres and acres of sand dunes vs our suburban neighborhood with houses built side-by-side.

On a cold day in 1967 while we explored the beach, my brother, Jacob, sat in the sand and made sketches of an abandoned cottage that still stood on the lakefront. He later created this painting. Shortly after, the cottage was demolished. All of the cottages that once stood are gone.

However, fifty years later the memory of this cottage remains as the picture hangs in my living room. And it preserves an era of cottages that were built one hundred years ago by owners who, like us today, relished their hours spent on this beautiful lakefront.

We don’t know the original owners or history of this specific cottage, but in the early 1900’s many folks from Chicago traveled to the Indiana side of Lake Michigan to enjoy a time of recreation at the Indiana Dunes.

It was so well-liked that eventually a group of Chicagoans incorporated the Prairie Club in 1911 and two years later built a beach house for members. Members would come to spend weekends and the summer and slept in tents.

Later in the 1910’s and 1920’s landowners began renting small parcels to these Chicago folks. Simple, inexpensive one story wooden cottages along the lakefront would be built on the rented parcels.

Alarmed by industrial sand mining destroying large areas of duneland and steel company land purchased, the Prairie Club members and others began a campaign to create a state park. The cause to preserve the Dunes began in 1916 and that campaign finally came to fruition in 1926 when the Dunes opened to the public as the Indiana Dunes State Park.

In 1966 with the drive of Illinois Senator Paul Douglas to save the dunes, the park was authorized as the Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore. With perseverance from multiple groups the preservation of more land was granted.

The Indiana Dunes today stands at 15,000 acres. What I will remember of that extensive amount of land, because of my brother’s sketches and painting, is the small portion of land where a cottage was built and an unknown family or individual’s memories were made.

I have over fifty years of good memories made of experiences at the Indiana Dunes from my childhood and with my children and eventually with my grandchildren, and I have recorded my memories on paper.

Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of the Indiana Dunes or of your nature preserves for your descendants to read.

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

 

 

 

Home Sweet Home

July 2002 160

Growing up in the 1960’s in this industrial area of Northwest Indiana we were accustomed to living in the smaller homes that were built within close proximity to neighbors. The busy stay-at-home moms and hardworking dads worked daily on the upkeep of these homes along with their children who were assigned weekly indoor and outdoor chores to help maintain their homes.

Being from the generation of baby boomers it was not unusual for families in our area to have large families ranging from two to twelve children while the majority of families that I knew had at least five children. In these small homes multiple siblings shared bedrooms and one bathroom. It was a matter of taking turns or squabbling over who was in line next to use the bathroom.

The gray home – my home – had four bedrooms, one and a half baths, mom and dad, four brothers, one sister and two dogs. The white house – my best friend’s house where I spent many days and nights – had four bedrooms, two baths, mom and dad, four brothers, three sisters and one dog.

We often reminisce how back in those days after our chores were completed, we were not kept inside the house but expected to go outside. Reflecting on it I imagine it was for the sanity of the stay at home moms to have some peace and quiet!

We were sent outside and told to be back home in time for lunch. In the afternoon we met up with our friends again and rode our bikes, jumped rope, played Hopscotch, Hide and Seek or Simon Says. My brothers and their friends often knew where to meet up to play sandlot baseball or football.

We always knew when to come back home for dinner. And in the summertime we were back outside again until dusk catching fireflies and playing Ding Dong Ditch or Kick the Can.

Even though the home I grew up in was small, the good memories created there were immeasurable. What do you remember about your childhood home? Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and start Keeping Your Memories of the home or homes that you grew up in for your descendants to read of your childhood experiences.

  • What was the size of your home?
  • Did you have to share your bedroom?
  • Did you play at your homes, or mostly in the streets and playgrounds and fields?
  • Did you have chores around your house?
  • What was the proximity to your neighbors?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com

A Time I Can’t Remember

2015-12-28

I have been an adult orphan for the past seven years. Yesterday Mom (who passed in January 2009) and Dad (who passed in 2007) were on my heart and in my thoughts while spending a wonderful day celebrating my birthday with my husband, daughter and sons. I especially missed my mom. Even yesterday, with her passing almost seven years ago, I cried and I missed her.

I was mulling over how Mom must have felt the day that she was in labor and gave birth to me. I wish she had recorded in writing when she started having her contractions and the entire experience. Was Dad home to take her to the hospital? What did it feel like at that time to give birth and not have Dad with her during the delivery as was the typical case at that time? How did she feel delivering her fifth child? I would have loved reading today what her dreams for me were that day.

As a mother myself, I can easily envision my thirty-one year old mother holding me, kissing me, and loving me. Being born two days after Christmas Mom always told me that I was the best Christmas present she ever received. They were delighted to have a daughter added to their family of four sons.

I do have pictures (and Dad bought colored film for these pictures) of Mom and Dad holding me when I was an infant fifty-six years ago. And I’m also fortunate to have a copy of our silent 8 mm home movie (converted to a DVD) that my dad taped on Christmas Eve of Mom when she was nine months pregnant with me. She looked young and slim, other than her stomach, and she was admiring the homemade gifts that her sons (ten, eight, six and three years old) had made for her.

With the holiday season we miss our loved ones even more. And I felt it yesterday on my birthday. But I still had a terrific day because I feel my mom is with me wherever I go. There is not a day that goes by that I don’t think about her. With the cycle of life I also had a new generation, my adult children, to spend time with and enjoy life.

Now is the time to start Keeping Your Memories of the day that your child was born because that is one day that he or she will not remember! Pull out your laptop or grab paper and pen and record in writing the emotional experience you had that day. One day your child and his or her descendants will cherish reading your memories you have on this special day.

  • When did you start having contractions?
  • Did you deliver the infant at home or at a hospital?
  • Who took you to the hospital and what was the story behind the transportation?
  • Share the emotional feelings you felt when you saw your infant for the first time.
  • What prayers or wishes did you have for this newborn child?

 

 

Easter Pictures and Memories

2015-04-04

Old family Easter photos stir up memories of when my family was one small unit. Our family began with Mom and Dad, my four brothers and me. Our extended family of grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins at that time was comprised of a variety of faiths and lived long distances away, so holidays were celebrated with only the seven of us.

Over the years our holidays were blessed with the addition of spouses, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Our family expanded from seven to over forty people.

In time traditions changed as each sibling branched off with their own children and grandchildren, and we now live miles away from each other. And with the loss of Mom and Dad, who were our home base, we rarely gather together for holidays. But instead we are now creating new memories and traditions with our next generation.

My brothers and I still have good childhood memories which keep us bound together in spirit.  Frederick Buechner, a writer and theologian wrote, “You can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you do not just live in a world but a world lives in you.”

What childhood memories do you carry with you of your family at Easter?  Grab a pen and paper or open up your laptop and begin Keeping Your Memories by answering the questions below for your children and grandchildren to read:

  • What was your favorite Easter family tradition?
  • Describe your childhood experiences with Easter baskets, Easter eggs and Easter egg hunts.
  • Did you get special Easter outfits? Describe one of your favorite outfits and the shopping experience.
  • Where were Easter dinners when you were growing up? Describe the food and activities.
  • Which family members and/or friends did you gather with on Easter?

http://www.keepingyourmemories.com