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home : columnists : columnists August 22, 2017

Lagoon Lodge, little libraries and lots more

By Paula Dunn
From Time to Thyme

It's officially spring - Gatewood's is open again!

When I picked up my onion sets, Bruce Gatewood passed along a bit of cautionary weather lore I'd never heard - the day it thunders in February, it will frost in May. (Yikes! When WERE those storms last February?)

My Westfield experts Michael and Nicole Kobrowski say there is - or was - a tunnel under State Road 32 between the old Union State Bank and the building currently housing Erika's Place. Michael talked to Cheryl Hunter Pettijohn, co-owner of Erika's, who confirmed a tunnel-like opening still exists in the restaurant's basement. The tunnel itself is impassable, however, due to debris at both ends.

There's a tradition that the tunnel was part of the Underground Railroad, but the buildings there now are too new for that. For that rumor to be true, the tunnel would have had to have predated both buildings. (Could it be connected to Westfield's "dry" years instead?)

Sally Knopp recently ran across the columns I wrote on Lagoon Lodge last fall. She says the Belle who owned the lodge during Prohibition was her great-grandmother's sister.

Sally's mother spent a lot of time at Lagoon Lodge as a child, and before passing away last summer, she told Sally many stories about it.

Sally said her mother used to play at the lodge during the day (she especially loved the slot machines!) but she wasn't allowed to remain there after dark. Nor was she ever permitted to go upstairs because that's where the "girls" made their "extra" income. (Belle wasn't a madam, but she ran a rather loose establishment.)

According to Sally, the reason I was unable to find any evidence of police raids there during Prohibition was because Belle's "gentleman's supper club" catered to the county's "powers that be" and was, therefore, safe from prosecution.

Once or twice, however, the lodge folks were tipped off that police (obviously not regular customers) were headed their way, and they had to cut their booze loose and let it float off. (Sounds like they stashed illegal liquor in the lagoon as well as in those hidden compartments in the upstairs bedrooms.)

Ed Snyder reminded me it's time again for the Blatchley Nature Study Club's annual Spring Wildflower Walk. It's free, and open to the public, and will take place Saturday, April 29, from 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at the Blatchley sanctuary and clubhouse, 125 Boulder Dr., Noblesville. (That's just off Edith Avenue, north of Potter's Bridge.)

I've heard from more people unhappy with the changes at Hamilton East Public Library.

Nancy Waltz-Stern pointed out that people DO still read books. She mentioned the popularity of the "Little Free Library" her Noblesville AAUW branch placed in downtown Sheridan. She said the Sheridan public library even "refers" patrons to the box, which is a kind of honor system lending library.

If things don't change, those of us in Noblesville and Fishers may have to start our own Little Free Library boxes. In the five years or so since the current HEPL library director took over, nearly half our audio, video and print materials have been quietly dumped into a recycle bin. (See the stats: http://hepl.lib.in.us/library-board-of-trustees/)

But hey, they'll gladly spend your tax dollars to re-purchase any weeded item . . . upon request . . . probably in paperback . . . IF it's still available.

Perhaps the sign in front of the building should be "Hamilton East Public (and library.)" When traditional library services aren't considered that important, and books and other library materials are treated like set decoration, can it really be called a "library?"

Paula Dunn's From Time to Thyme column appears each Friday in The Times. Contact her at younggardenerfriend@gmail.com

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