One of the perks of my job is meeting so many of you, whose families have been coming to Lake Maxinkuckee for generations. I see the deep connection you have and how much you all care about the lake. It makes my job easier and more enjoyable knowing I have a receptive audience.
If you are a regular reader of this blog, you already know that LMEF received a grant from the Ralph C. Vonnegut Jr. Fund to purchase equipment for stream monitoring. I asked for volunteers and one of the people who responded was Ginny Vonnegut Hahn – a niece of Ralph Vonnegut’s. She commented that she was initially intrigued to volunteer because the money came from her uncle.
Ginny first came to the lake as an infant in 1962. Her maternal grandparents – Walter and Lulu Goodall, had a cottage at 1814 East Shore Drive and her family would spend two weeks’ vacation there every summer. The cottage was sold in 1972 and Ginny said it was like losing a family member. In 1987, Ralph Vonnegut Jr., Ginny’s uncle, bought one of the original Vonnegut cottages, 814 East Shore Dr., which Ginny was able to use for several years. In 1994, Ginny and her husband, Greg, purchased a lot in West Shore Circle and subsequently built their own “happy place.” Now her children are 5th generation to enjoy Lake Maxinkuckee.
I’m sure many of you can relate to Ginny’s favorite memories from her childhood; getting blueberry pies from The Shack for Sunday dinners, spending the days listening to the transistor radio on the pier, eating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches and chips, bathing in the lake with a bar of Dove soap kept underneath the pier bench, and turtle hunting. She shared the feeling of anticipation waiting for the Moonlight Serenade, with luminaries on the piers to light the way for the Fowler, the predecessor to the Ledbetter. And the grown-up feeling of walking by herself along the shoreline to the candy store at the corner of East Shore Dr. and 18B, picking up the daily copy of the Indianapolis Star with the name “Vonnegut” written in black marker across the top.
I asked if her generation of Vonneguts feels the same connection to the lake as previous generations did, to which she replied, “Most definitely!” She hopes that her children will come here for years to come, introducing the next generation to the magic that is Lake Maxinkuckee. She added “We feel so blessed to be part of a long line of family who have enjoyed this lake for generations and we don’t want to take it for granted.”
Ginny’s cousin Nonie recently shared with her that Nonie’s dad (Ralph C. Vonnegut Jr.) would have been so proud to know that Ginny was helping preserve the beauty of Lake Maxinkuckee, a place that was so special to him.
These words of Kurt Vonnegut Jr. written to his cousin, Catey Rasmussen, in December 1977, could have been written to Ginny and her cousins today:
“that is good that you two are keeping the Maxinkuckee dream alive. That will always be an enchanted body of water to me, my Agean Sea, perfect in every dimension.”
Thank you, Ginny, for volunteering your time and sharing your story.
Hi, I’m Debbie Palmer. I received a BS in Horticulture from Purdue University. Here at LMEF, I am responsible for outreach presentations, monitoring the lake and it’s wetlands, project manager for restoration and research projects, and act as a community resource for all things related to the well-being of Lake Maxinkuckee and its surrounding watershed. I completed Indiana Watershed Leadership Academy, volunteer with the Indiana Clean Lakes Program, Hoosier River Watch and Marshall County Lakes and Waters and serve as a Board Member for Indiana Lakes Management Society.