Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v03n11)
The Fishing Lodge: part 1 - by Sally Kellerhals
posted: Jun. 02, 2006
My dad wanted to be a great sportsman. The truth is that he liked to hunt but never killed anything of any size, and he loved to fish but never caught anything over a few ounces. His outdoor sports stories consisted of times like the fishing trip when he and his good buddy Charlie Campbell, a Broad Ripple resident, were chased by bees that swarmed out of a log they were sitting on, only Daddy making it to the water in time. I have a picture of Daddy in his 30s sizing up a little fish dangling from his fishing line, and even with the sunglasses he wore you can still see the disgust on his face.
In the early 40s he always went to the meetings of the Broad Ripple Rod and Gun Club, a group he helped organize. It was about 15 men who became fast friends over the years. They were a nice bunch, and as a child I always appreciated those of my parents' friends who were nice to me. The Rod and Gun Club men were teasers, smilers, patters, jokers; family men whom my dad trusted, and so did I. Many times I was my daddy's buddy as he went to the lodge, as they grandly called it. Actually it was an old cabin where the group gathered on occasions for a club meeting, a pitch-in, or other demanding fish business. Sometimes Daddy asked me to tag along.
image courtesy of Sally Kellerhals
The two of us started out for the lodge, in our classy '37 Chevy, by going north from our house in the 5400 block of Haverford. At that time (1942 or so) our road was pea gravel, and it became a dirt track as we entered the thick woods above where 56th Street would be - then it was only a scar on the ground which separated the cornfield on the south from the woods on the north. We followed our little meandering road through tall trees up to what is now 59th Street, passing just two or so houses along the way.
This land which now holds such an extensive series of neighborhoods was at that time country woods and not much more. The grand sweep now known as 59th Street or East Kessler Boulevard was narrower than Haverford was, a tiny, barely two-lane gravel road with trees growing right up to the edge of it.
If we were turning west, we would have passed quite soon on the south a large and lovely white frame house with carved glass in the doors, impressive wings on each side, and a wide neatly kept lawn with urns and hedges. It all belonged at one time to a wealthy farmer who built the place in the nineteenth century and whose acreage stretched far and wide. Directly across the street sat, and still sits, a house made of odd-looking blocks which was the living quarters for his servants who kept the farmer's property neat and productive. (photo below)
The servant's house on Kessler Boulevard.
image courtesy of Elizabeth Hague
But instead of turning west we turned east, and we drove along the little gravel strip where we soon passed on the south an old farmhouse sitting close to the road, gray with its unpainted siding, but looking stately and a little spooky at the same time. The whole yard was always covered from side to side with flowers of every type and hue - an island of color in this otherwise plain expanse of woods. In later years my parents came here to buy flowers, especially on Mother's Day.
We jostled along, the gravel grinding and spitting out from under the car, until we got to the first crossroad, a raw and newborn Keystone Avenue, not deserving the title of avenue but anticipating better days. In this long past time, it looked no different from Haverford or 59th Street, two skinny little gravel lanes, really more mud than gravel, with woods right up to the edges. Not a sign of civilization anywhere. South on Keystone from this point, the distance of a few future blocks, Keystone ran through clean and neat Hoosier farms, little white houses with barns and silos on flat pastureland, and to the north where Keystone crossed a ragged 62nd Street, there was already a two-story brick house on the northeast corner which was part of another farm. But this intersection on 59th Street was a primitive surface for the now very commercial thoroughfare - it was as rough as all the land you could see.
As my dad and I sat in our car at this lonely crossing, there was within yards of us an all-but-forgotten legend waiting to be confirmed as truth, a grave of a Confederate soldier in the southeast quadrant, an unknown grave to many who passed this way, and yet within ten years or so, I in my turn would hear of a grave in that area. That quadrant was the only one remaining in the woods for years until the grave was verified. Why was this soldier given back to the earth in such a lonely and forsaken place so far from his southern home - did he live in the area or did he just die there? Mr. Dickerson's body was finally identified and dignified by a new decorated grave in the center of the lot, although truthfully there was nothing wrong with the simpler site by the tree where he was known, if only to God.
to be continued
Sally Sparks Kellerhals was born in and grew up near Broad Ripple which she remembers with great affection. She now lives in Nashville, Indiana with her husband, children and grandchildren.