Ogden Dunes Stories Project: Excerpts from Interviews by Ian Roseen
Over the past year, 2013-2014, Roseen, who directed the Ogden Dunes Stories Project interviewed formally nearly 50 current or former residents, as well as many others informally.
These interviews became the foundation for the two exhibits, “Life in the ‘Hour Glass’,” now showing at the POCO Museum in Valparaiso, and “Ogden Dunes Stories,” at The Hour Glass Museum.
These interviews will become ever more valuable in the future as the coming generations will be able to recover their past. This project has also created a momentum to add new interviews and new stories. An example of this is the Maurice Avery’s stories of Ogden Dunes from the 1940s to the 1980s that are included in this issue of the “The Hour Glass.”
Jean Bargeron: “People don’t realize that we’ve disagreed before. We have had beach erosion; we had different things we did not want. The national park was a bigger one. Today’s issue, the controversy over the deer cull, is just one issue. Let’s get on with our lives.”
Dave Larson: “I shot [photographs of the dunes] between 1958 and 1963; shot as many as I could, because I knew the dunes would be destroyed. I was also co-editor and photography editor of my high school yearbook. I had a lot of work to do [during my high school years].”
Nancy Van Santen: “The Town Board asked me to become the beautification committee because every year on Thanksgiving night, I would decorate the town hall outside, put lights on Christmas trees, and wrap the poles and put ribbons and stuff [up]. Finally, someone said they knew who did it. And it was me who was doing it for maybe five years.”
Jerry Savel: “We had really, a really aggressive and serious soccer programs out here, and I had never played soccer in Illinois. We ended up being the “76ers.” So in 1976, the bicentennial year, our coach Vernon Smith was heavily involved and he was from England. We went over and did a tour of England. We went to four different towns, and played four different teams and stayed with local people. That really was an unbelievable trip.”
Libby Larson” “There was a need for someone to take over [the music program] for the really young children. I had worked with Gina Easton for years. In the church children would do a spring musical or a Christmas musical and she would come down and volunteer in the drama department. She’d coach the kids on their lines and where to go and I would do the music. … When the director of music left in 2004, I was hired as the director of music.”
Dave Larson: “My grandparents were pioneers who were camping here in 1905, Mr. and Mrs. Nils Linnberg. We have a picture of their house basically on the top of a dune with nothing around it, very little vegetation, no trees. They had to bring in materials by horse and sleigh because there were no roads.”
Historical Society: Dick Meister: “[Among the founders were] George and Naomi Svihla, I think, invested virtually their retirement years to collecting information, conducting oral interviews, transcribing those.”
Soccer: Anne Muntean: “[The high school boys were playing baseball on Kratz Field in the late 1960s.] Mr. Matavuli, Nick, stopped by and asked like, ‘Soccer? Futball?’ So he went home and got staff, and sent them back to talk to their parents. They formed the Duners! Black and blue; I still have an old sweatshirt. And then the problem was finding anyone for them to play again. But Nick Metavulli – he was teriffic.”
Return of the Natives. Dawn Moore: “My parents [Jim and Barb Homme] came here in 1963, and they came because my dad worked with Norm Chadwick at Xerox. … And I was born here in 1965. …. [When my husband Dave and I moved back after being out East and then in the Chicago suburbs, we were not the only ones who returned.] John Olsen, who lives around the corner from me on Ogden, his family lived on Diana Road. One of his sisters is still in town. Charlie Costanza, I not sure if he ever really moved other than going to college Eric Kurtz, I grew up with him. Tom Froman lives in his parents’ old house on Ski Hill. Alec Mackenzie still lives in town. There are a lot of 2nd and 3rd generation Duners who live in town.”
Lasting Friendships. George Svihla, Jr.[resident of Dallas, owner of family home at 49 Ogden Road, built by hand by his father in 1946] and Dave Larson [grew up in Ogden Dunes, returned in the 1980s]. George: “I’ve been out of the loop since 1962. Dave and I were the only two from Ogden Dunes in our class that went to the Portage schools from first to twelfth grade, the others came later, Hugh and Ann Moore in the fourth grade, etc.”
[George and Dave have become informal hosts of a reunion of Ogden Dunes childhood friends who gather every other year at Memorial Day, using the Svihla home as their home away from home.] ‘The way this reunion thing started was in 1999, Starr Rohrman, Virginia, and Jane and Nancy Hinkle returned for a high school reunion. They were driving around Ogden Dunes when they saw my dad working out front [of his 2nd home, the one that he raised his family in.] So they stopped and he took them to the Hour Glass Museum. He says, ‘You know, you all ought to have a reunion and come back around Memorial Day.’ A few months later, Starr, the daughter of Dale Messick, calls me, ‘Hey, your dad says we can come up and use the house to stay while we have a reunion at Memorial Day.’ [Since that time, 40 to 60 friends gather every other year at the Svihla home on Ogden Road over Memorial Day week-end.]