Wednesday, May 23, 2012

An Ode to Grand Lake St. Marys.....part #1

No blog yesterday, I decided to take the 30 mile trip via the roadways around Grand Lake, and see how our alga infested, 13,000 acre swamp was looking.....Not So Good!

Regular readers have seen my hundreds of photos of Grand Lake sunrises, sunsets, and other looks over the last 5 years(in July)...what you have not seen of late are people using the lake....because few are.  Fishing is almost non-existent, boating is down, and swimming?  Forget about it!  The Blue-Green Alga over the past few years has put a damper on an already bad situation for the once largest man-made lake in the world.......

The 1960s____

When the Houseworth family left Venice, Florida, in late 1962...we had already checked out the Celina/Grand Lake area, it was some 30 miles south of dad's hometown of tiny Scott, Ohio, and located on the huge lake known as the Celina Reservoir, Lake St. Marys, Grand Lake, etc...the shallow body of water was hand dug back in the 1830s, where workers received 50 cents a day and a jigger of whiskey, to ward off the malaria that abounded in the swampy area.  Dad purchased a Marathon Gas Station{which still sits in the same location today} less than two blocks from the lake and Lake Shore Drive....we eventually settled in Montezuma on the lake's south side, and that is where I would spend my high school days.

Whether it was ice skating at Whiskey Run a long stones toss from our house, located by the small Lakefield Airport, or fishing in one of the channels that intertwined the Lake's south side, I spent many hours on and around Grand Lake.  When the Jones boys and I started driving, with Bob, a few months older, getting his license first, we explored even more....including plenty of "lake bars" as we turned 18...Windy Point was a focal point, a beach, and plenty of space to hang out.  We would also head to the north side, and check out the bars and Scotty's Beach on that side...spending endless hours during the summer in pursuit....of whatever we could find.

The lake wasn't the cleanest, even back then, but we didn't was swimable, and we used it most, or at least many days during the summer months.  Off to the Air Force I went, and when I returned to Celina and the lake, it was the next decade....

The 70s_____

When I finally returned to Celina, living full time starting in 1973, Rick Pearson had long since returned from his shorter stint in the Army.  While going to college Rick found his calling, while attending, first Wright State Lake, then Ohio University, he managed to hook on as a Lifeguard for the State of Ohio, and his location was Grand Lake State Park at St. Marys....Pearson used those summers to try to score women, and I'm sure he met with some success.  I do know for sure he loved that job....

After I returned from upstate New York...the lake was mostly a boating location, and bar stop for me.  Dad had passed away on Christmas Eve 1972...the next summer, I used his boat for most of those months, frankly it was lucky I survived.  As I recall, the use of the boat, was stopped, when mom pulled back the cover one morning and found a few empty cases of beer cans littering the floor.   That was it for me, she sold the boat soon after.  We did have some wild times on Grand Lake, especially Mike Schilling and me, both with boats that summer, and taking them out on days, both condition of lake, and our personal condition, that we had no business being on water.

The Lake Festival was, and still is, held every July in Celina....while managing the Red Door, it was our biggest and wildest weekend of the year....Jim Olsen, back then a DJ at WCSM radio, lived in a cottage on the lake's west bank....the parties we had at that shack were the stuff legends were made of.  I remember crawling on my Kawasaki and riding back across town at 6 in the morning, more than a few times...sometimes in early winter, with snow and ice covering West Bank Road I would slide that two wheeler back across town to Brandon Avenue....I was indeed crazy!

Fishing, for Nick Hromish and I, remained a part of our Grand Lake area lives through the 1970s, until Patricia and I moved to Wisconsin in the fall of 1977.  Other lake activities were also a large part of life in my 20s...working nights as a bartender, or home for the summer from college, I would take our first Airedales, Rag and Max out to the Windy Point area...those Terriers loved to swim.  Frankly Max was a good swimmer....but Rag?....Not so much, but she loved the water anyway...and to keep them off the beaches, I would take them to a small channel where we would swim for hours during the hot summer days.

After moving back and hooking up with the Health Departmnt in the 1980s, the lake and it's conditions began to change....even with the new sewer system on the south side, most of those changes, and the increased development, were not for the better.

The 80s, 90s, and beyond, tomorrow....back later>>>> 

Photos-Me at the 2009 "Bar Stool Open"  13 bars, 13 mini golf holes, and lots of beer...despite it's decline over the years, Grand Lake Sunrise and Sunsets make for some good photography, a self-portrait taken last August off the West Bank....A channel off Montezuma and State Route 703, dad and I fished here on many is a non starter these days on Grand Lake.  The State Park Beach at St. Marys...where Rick used to ply his lifeguard trade, and try to impress the girls...this weekend, Memorial Day or not, I suspect it will be as empty as it was yesterday, even with temperatures slated to soar into the mid 90s....and Rag and Max Channel near Windy Point on the lake's south side as it looks today, Rag(foreground) and Max tree a Squirrel, back over 30 years ago....

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