Thursday, October 22, 2009

Return to Pokagon

Chief Simon Pokagon of the Pottawatomie is honored
with his name attached to a great state park in Indiana. My wife and I visited the park yesterday, a warm and breezy last touch-of-summer day. Ah, the childhood memories! The Potawatomi Inn has stood on the edge of Lake James since the late 1930's. It was a project of the CCC and much of it remains just as a kid had imagined it.

We had a great dinner in what is now called the 'historic dining room.' Those CCC workers were great construction crew because much of the inn looks as it did, lo those many decades ago.

Of course, not the indoor swimming pool or deck of the additions to the lodge and the removal of the 'motel' rooms at front. The child mostly recalls the long grassy slope leading down to the sandy beach at the edge of the large lake. Our family spent several days wading and swimming as well as making sand castles on the water's edge. Yesterday the dock lay oddly on the beach- an unusual look for one who recalls it 'floating' in the lake. The trees were in their fall colors rather than the summer's green.

Interestingly, we were not alone at the Inn. There was a large church conference going on [wasn't I lucky!] whose attendees enjoyed walking along the beach and sitting outside soaking in the warm rays of the October day. In fact, some did not leave for the 'afternoon talk,' choosing to find God outside in this beautiful fall day. I'm quite sure that black check marks were not earned for these unorthodox members, as they were from mainline Christian churches.

The quaint town of Angola brings back memories from the past, especially its curious roundabout in the center of town. Today the roundabout is the new trend for intersections, but Angola had one back in the 50's if not earlier. I have a most curious boyhood memory of seeing pneumatic tubes zipping money from one end of the store to another there in downtown Angola. I don't remember which store but surely the tubes have long disappeared. Perhaps the store as well.

Pokagon Park has a toboggan run that was also constructed by the CCC; today, it is updated and electrically cooled to extend the season. Going down was much more fun than dragging the heavy toboggan back up to the beginning.

The cabins are still available for those wishing to stay in more 'privative' surroundings. Many have been restored but this one looks like the one our family used those many summers ago. We would alternate between the lodge and the inn.

The buffalo, moose and deer no longer are penned up for wide-eyed children to examine, yet the Nature Center still offers children exciting 'adventures' deep into the woods or along the shoreline. I wonder if a child can still earn a badge for participating in one of the nature adventures.

Our short but warm and sweet retreat was a needed get-away because we have been much too busy doing things with and for others. Sometimes a bit of narcissism is needed to refresh the spirit.

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