Riding the Wave: Katie Zarich
Deputy director for public affairs, IMA
My family’s annual trips to Wawasee started in the 1980s, prior to the building boom of three-story lake houses. Back then, the cottages were mostly modest, and many of them had been in the same families for decades. My parents would pack up the van with my siblings and me for the relatively short drive. We’d settle into our creaky rental cottage and prepare to spend our days in the sun.
Now, almost 30 years later, my husband and I have our own cottage there. It’s easy to fall in love with the pace of life. I sleep better; food tastes better. In the mornings, we head to Sweet Corn Charlie’s to buy corn, tomatoes, and watermelons for cookouts. Our afternoons are often spent out at the sandbar, where hundreds of boaters dock together for sunbathing and Frisbee. We try to exercise a bit to justify evening trips to Joe’s Ice Cream.
My husband and I welcomed our first child in 2012 on Memorial Day weekend, and we took him to the lake for the first time two weeks later. Soon, we’ll be taking him for his first swim. Like so many of the families on Wawasee, we’re diving into our fourth generation there. And the water remains very inviting. —as told to Daniel S. Comiskey
Dropping Anchor: Debi O'Heran
Vice president, WS Property Group
I’m from Michigan, but after 25 years in Indiana, I consider myself an adopted Hoosier. When my three sons were young, we cut our boating teeth at Lake Lemon, but once they reached their teens, we decided we were ready to graduate to the “big-boy lake.” That was more than a decade ago, and I’ve spent nearly every summer weekend on Lake Monroe since. We’ve swapped the old dinghy for a 26-foot cabin cruiser, christened Goose II for my basset hound, Lucy Goosey, who has her own seat of honor.
Every Friday, I pack up and head out. The first thing I do is wash the boat. I’d rather wash my boat a hundred times than dust my house once. It’s a feeling of pride. My son brings my grandson down on Saturday morning, and we spend the rest of the weekend cruising. Sometimes, we venture over to “cocktail cove” and watch the boat-hopping college kids, but more often than not, you’ll find me in the peaceful idle zone near the marina.
The boats here, like the people, have personalities. Mine’s done up in a pirate theme, and my grandson wears an eye patch when he drives, giddily spinning us around in circles until we’re dizzy.
The fresh air, the water, the sand—they heighten the senses. To me, a bologna sandwich on the lake tastes better than steak at a restaurant. There’s nothing I love more than waking up on the water, watching the eagles soar and the deer on the shoreline, sipping a cup of coffee in the morning sun as the lake comes alive. —as told to Amy Lynch
Local Hero: Bill Beatty
Tenant of Lake Michigan's Florida Tropical Home
I didn’t move to Beverly Shores for the great climate like most people—I was born in nearby Hammond. When I was 11, my folks had a summer home in Dune Acres, a short way down the road. We spent four wonderful summers on Lake Michigan.
The first two years we lived there, it was the end of World War II. People didn’t have the money or gas to go anywhere, so a number of relatives would take what vacations they had and stay with us. We’d have guests on the lake the entire summer. For fun, we’d dig two holes in the sand and toss beach stones back and forth like horseshoes. We’d sunbathe, jog, picnic, and talk. It’s the same stuff people do today. Although now we have a couple of boards and beanbags for that game.
I have several beach bashes a year. The house has become a bit famous, actually. Last year, we had 110 people here for one party. People come in from both coasts. The only problem is, during a good sunset, you can’t get guests to leave. —as told to Trisha Brand
First Dance: Becky Hartman
Treasurer of the Lake Tippecanoe Property Owners Association
My family used to come here during the summer, so I’ve been on this lake since 1959. We started out tent camping, and then we got a little house. When I was 14, I decided that my lifetime goal was to live here, so I set about finding a husband who was from the area. Just before I turned 16, I met my beau at Tippy Dance Hall. It used to have live bands—people you would hear on the Top 40.
So much has changed about the lake since those years. When I was dating my husband, we would go cruising the lake, and he would say, “Boy, I would give my right arm to have that piece of property over there—but that will never be developed.” Well, now there’s a huge house on it.
Even so, I finally got the lake house I always wanted. The dance hall is within eyesight of where we live. They still hold teen dances there, and they have a DJ who plays records. Unfortunately, with the air-conditioner running and closed windows, we don’t hear the music wafting over like we did in the old days. But sometimes we just sit out on the deck on a Saturday night and listen. —as told to Julia Spalding
Into the Wild: Evan West
Executive editor, Indianapolis Monthly
Growing up in the 1980s, I spent weekends with my dad at our cabin in Southern Indiana, and from there, Patoka was a short drive. Then as now, the lake’s banks were completely undeveloped.
On one of our fishing trips, Dad steered the boat into an inlet that slithered for miles through grass-choked backwaters. We trolled the passage until the day grew long. Right about the time we decided to head back, the motor died. No matter how much Dad yanked on the rope-starter, it wouldn’t run. We sat in the boat, facing one another but not saying a word. A cicada chorus swelled around us. Finally, Dad grabbed the starter, cursed, and pulled one last time. It fired! With a light hand on the throttle, he eased us back to safety.
On my last trip to Patoka, it looked about the same as it did on those boyhood adventures. I rented a boat and scarcely saw another watercraft in the coves. I took my cellphone and the marina’s number with me, because as far as I could tell, Patoka is still a good place to get lost.
Photos courtesy Zarich, O'Heran, Beatty, Hartman, and West
These stories appeared as sidebars in the "Our Great Lakes" cover feature in the July 2013 issue.