Flipping through some postcards one afternoon in a antique store, I made a chance discovery. There, among pictures of houses, buildings, monuments and churches along with the odd bit of cheesecake, a familiar face stared back at me. It was mine. In the background was the resort hotel on the lake where I grew up; a large rambling structure, portions of which dated back to before the Civil War. There I stand, arms crossed, facing the camera. My father is sitting next to me, his feet in the water. I remember when that picture was taken. I was six at the time and the summer was new. It was evening and most of the guests were in the hotel, eating dinner. We had come down to the lake for a quick swim before going home to our own dinner. The photographer had positioned his camera, a large box camera on a sturdy tripod. The photographer told me to smile before he ducked under the canvas to focus the camera. Reappearing, he smiled and said, ?Thanks.? I was too young at the time to realize what had happened and, although I was aware of the resulting postcard?s existence, no one in my family had ever thought to buy one as a keepsake. Until now. Five dollars poorer, I left the shop thinking about the hotel which was the real subject of the postcard.
The hotel began its existence as a stage coach stop on a road which wound along the Indiana/Michigan border. Some said it was along the route between Toledo and Chicago while others maintained that the road linked Detroit to Fort Wayne. I have my doubts that either story is true and suspect that the coach line was a local line which linked up with those which ran between the aforementioned cities. Just down the road from the hotel was the building which originally housed the stables for the coach line. At the time the picture was taken, it housed a general store and a roller skating rink.
Tradition said that located just next to the front porch was the grave of a Potowatamie Indian chief, Chief Red Jacket. It was marked off by a large stone surrounded by a few low growing shrubs. It was barely discernable in the left-hand portion of the picture. A early brochure for the hotel proudly proclaimed the existence of this grave but did not go into details as the facts surrounding Red Jacket or how his grave came to be, Later accretions to the story had him dying during the French and Indian War. The stuff of local legend, later brochures for the hotel dropped the story and it remained known to the locals and a few of the longer standing guests of the hotel.
The hotel was unable to keep up with changing times. Hopelessly old fashioned, the cost to remodel and upgrade the structure would have been prohibitive and so it, along with the general store and the roller rink, was torn down to make way for a group of condominiums. Memories of what used to be remain; the sidewalk that used to run in front of the store and the roller rink and Chief Red Jacket?s grave.