Wednesday, July 18, 2012

1982: 40 Thoughts in 40 Days

At 10 years old, I was spending a LOT of time with my grandparents!  In 1982 they had been married for only two short years, but he was still "grandpa" to me.  Probably because I was too young to really know any better, and at that point in my life, my dad's actual father had not really been around and been a part of our lives.  This man, "Grandpa Wright" was always grandpa.

Grandpa was...different.  Especially growing up in northwest Ohio.  Grandpa was a native of the Hawaiian Islands, so he was very dark skinned, and certainly drew his share of looks.  Surprisingly, in my genealogy habit, I have not quite figured out when he made it over here to the mainland, let alone ending up in Indiana 

The two of them had met working in Indiana at Pokagon State Park, just outside of Angola.  He worked in the kitchen, and I remember her working in housekeeping, but I think...my memory kind-of fails me here, but maybe grandma worked in the kitchen at some point as well?  At any rate, that's where they met.  I remember when we would travel the short distance from our house to visit them - it was an adventure!  My brother and I would wander through the hotel that was on the park's property, the Potawatomi Inn, slightly superior because after all, we were the adorable grandchildren of two much loved employees there.

I look at current photos of the place now - it doesn't look a thing like it used to.  Driving in the main gate, the road would wind through the woods, before splitting - to the left was the hotel and restaurant.  Straight ahead was picnic area and the beach.  The road to the right led throughout the park; the trails, the camping areas, baseball fields, more picnic shelters...your typical state park.

The hotel/restaurant was very "1960's beach resort"...stucco exterior, red roof, kind-of a spanish looking architecture.  Through the main doors, past the check-in desk, around the corner and down the hallway that led to the kitchen door.  Lots of hugs for grandma and grandpa, usually showing up as they were finishing their shift.  While waiting for them, sometimes my brother and I would explore...walking up and down the halls of the hotel acting like we really belonged there.  How did we never get in trouble for being the annoying children wandering the halls like rug rats? 


Outside the main doors was a row of 5-10 additional hotel rooms, and across the lot was a 2 story older building.  A really old building.  When grandma was first working there, she lived in an "apartment" that wasn't even an apartment.  It was a single room.  I wonder now if it wasn't originally one of the rooms for guests way back when.  I don't know, but it wasn't fun to be stuck in that room when visiting grandma.  It was a bed against the wall, a pedestal sink, I'm sure there was probably some sort of seating area, or maybe even a small table and set of chairs - but I don't remember them.  Bathroom...I remember having to go down the hall to a community bathroom that the whole floor of apartments used.  Thankfully, once they married they upgraded to the main apartment that took up half of the first floor of the building.  A real apartment with multiple rooms and another door at the far end that was next to the woods...which usually meant raccoons could be found at their back door at any point in time.

Eventually our days visiting Pokagon State Park came to an end and grandma and grandpa did the next best thing to living in a cool state park....they moved next door to us!  Summers were spent riding our bikes down to their house and being fascinated at the house trailer they lived in, and the old greenhouse that grandpa had set up a woodshop in.  

Fun times...fun memories.  Every kid should LOVE going to their grandparents house as much as we did.

C.

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