My First Visit to the Lake in a Year and A Half – A Lovely Yet Unsettling Experience

Last Monday brought a roller coaster emotional experience. Perhaps sharing it – and the few photos I took of the lake – will help me cope with the unsettling changes to my favorite Midwestern beach town.

The spirit of a carefree lakeside town is still there. The flowers hanging from streetlamp posts are more bountiful and prettier than ever. The town was filled with a vibrant spirit only found in hamlets near water. I felt immediately refreshed and confident about the future.

But then I looked for our usual parking space, the one above the beach behind the old mansion and closed museum (why they moved the displays to Toledo remains puzzling). The ship’s cabin that looked out over Lake Erie. I couldn’t find it. At first I thought I was disoriented. Then I realized it was gone. Only a bleak hillside remained, thinly spaced blades of new grass struggling to spread and cover the bare ground.

The storms of the previous week washed more debris onto the beach than an average winter brings.

Actually, our parking space is still there and so are the trees at the top of the land that slopes toward the beach. But the area will never be the same. They don’t build mansions like that one. Even the concrete stairs that cascaded down the hillside seemed grand. They are now gone. And for what reason?

I chatted with the sweet ladies who ran the little beach supply shop. They told of the cost to restore the home and why it had to be torn down. I understand. Yet I don’t. It’s all about priorities, I think. An opinion voiced by a representative of a historical preservation organization, it seems, as mentioned in this article about the choice made to demolish the building.

I was told I’ll love the changes next year. There will be a much needed circle at the end of the street, to facilitate turnarounds if no parking spots are available. Changing rooms and civilized restrooms.

This isn’t the one, but another of these lovely homes will soon be gone.

But it was also noted the small but well-maintained private home, with the beautiful landscaping, flowers, outdoor decor – a place I’ve always loved to imagine as my home, will also be sacrificed to make room for the amenities.

The view from my impromptu picnic spot.

My walk on the beach was quite relaxing, in spite of the whole trees and massive piles of shredded branches that littered the beach from the high water last week. But since my visit I keep getting flashbacks of the mansion, just as though it were a friend or relative who was murdered.

There has been so much loss this past year –

Not only due to COVID, though that whole experience was and remains a tragedy and source of frustration.

-But we have also suffered the loss of customer service, of appreciation for nature, for simple pleasures and the beauty of just sitting and appreciating the details of things.

We are all too busy whether for reasons of industry or of endlessly surfing questionable websites, filling our minds with misinformation.

I can’t find anyone who remembers how to make a real soda, but the Sailor sandwich (Cod) was wonderful.

I’m sure I will return to my favorite Midwestern beach town, though it will never seem the same. They can’t easily destroy the view of the water. I will enjoy another Sailor sandwich from the soda shop on the corner. I’ll listen to the gulls screech, pretend I’m at the Atlantic. I’ll listen to the water lap, and feel a bit less stressed.

But not today. The grief triggered by the loss of the Wakefield Mansion is still too real.

Along the lagoons – a depression era project that produced these lovely homes for boat lovers.