Converted from paper version of the Broad Ripple Gazette (v03n12)
The Fishing Lodge: part 2 - by Sally Kellerhals
posted: Jun. 16, 2006
It was a major surprise to meet another car on Keystone Avenue at the intersection - or anyplace along the road. But Daddy at least paused and then turned south. Traveling on Keystone was tricky in those days, too, since each driver had better stay on his own side of the road, even if he had to ride the ridges of dirt at the side, or he had trouble passing another car, which happened sometimes, of course.
After the length of a couple future blocks we turned into a rutted and rolling dirt track that went off to the west, giving us a bumpy ride deep into the woods until we reached a clearing where the cabin sat against a small creek. One might well ask, how did a cabin get here? Well, this is the kind of isolated place where they were built, just perfect for a homestead of one or two hundred years ago, most likely the way it happened.
The lodge was my first experience with this basic American architecture. The interior was quite rough - bare wooden floors, a big fireplace made of round creek stones of different hues most likely found at the creek site behind the cabin, a few odd chairs and a big old table for furnishing, and no plumbing at all. There was an air of freedom and fun that I felt when I was there - maybe the freedom of being away from home for a while, but also the fun-filled abandon in the way the men kidded each other and laughed loudly. I saw my often staid father laugh and relax with his fishing buddies, and they called me by name, gave me pennies and a glass of water from a thermos. The lodge was always a pleasant place to be, even for a little girl who didn't really fit.
In the 60s when my husband and I lived on Rosslyn Avenue and this memory became impossible to resist, I wanted to see if the lodge was still standing. The route there was easy to remember, as though I stored directions and places by some kind of instinct, having lived in this area south of Broad Ripple and west of Keystone Avenue for all my life. I wanted to drive to the neighborhood of little ranch houses which now occupied the land east of the creek and see if I could lay my memory upon the present landscape and find the old cabin.
I set out one day alone. Married now and with children, I lived only five blocks away from where my parents lived when Daddy and I made those trips to the lodge, so I knew where the little creek still wandered near the streets which now crisscrossed the land, the woods being long chopped away and replaced with small houses and lawns. It was sad that the builders didn't save some of the old trees because there were only skinny short ones left where the taller ones used to thrive.
I drove up and down the curbless street that ran along the creek, but I found nothing that felt right - and that is what I was waiting for, some instinctive recognition. I tried again another day and never found the lodge.
Some years later, when it gnawed at me again, I drove to the area and tried once more, looking closer, deciding to look for a chimney of stone like I remembered. I went east on Kessler and south on the street by the creek, studying each and every house, going slowly, and - there it was, farther south than I thought it would be, the chimney giving it away as the fishing lodge from years and years before. I had been thinking the fireplace would show on the exterior north wall, but of course not, it was on an inner wall, and therefore I would find only the chimney on top of the roof. The cabin logs were now covered with stonework, a flower bed encircled the house, and a neat driveway went up to the detached garage. It was heartening to see that the old lodge was loved and cared for by its present owners. To the people passing by, it was just one in a row of houses, but I knew it was holding secrets of a long past, first as a simple lonely cabin and then as a lively meeting place for the old Rod and Gun Club of Broad Ripple.
My dad was still alive then and was glad to hear that the old lodge was still standing. There is that old saying about not being able to go home again - I guess not, but sometimes we can at least drive by.
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.
To our readers: We editors inadvertently overlooked an incorrect detail in part one of Sally's story that was published in Volume 3 Number 11 of the Broad Ripple Gazette: Mr. Dickerson was a Revolutionary War soldier, not a Confederate soldier. We apologize for that oversight.