The Cash Family in Ogden Dunes (without photos)
by Dick Meister (revised 28 Feb 2013)
Few families have had as much of an impact on the development of Ogden Dunes as the family of Lester and Dess Mitchell Cash. Lester, also known as A. L., was born in Marion, Illinois on November 8, 1886. He died in Florida on March 27, 1966. Dess Mitchell was also born in Marion, eleven months later, on October 21, 1887. She died at 95 in April 1983.
The year 1925 is an important one in the history of Ogden Dunes. It was the year when a new development on the southern shore of Lake Michigan became a town; it was when Alice Gray, i.e., Diana of the Dunes, died in her cottage near Pollywog Pond, and when Les and Dess Cash, a Gary contractor, bought a small summer cottage for the family and their three young three sons, Mitch, Web and Art, near what is today’s Beach Lane and Shore Drive.
Photo: Ogden Dunes cottage with Mitchell, Lester, and Art (about 1928)
By 1930 A. L. Cash Builders had constructed a few of the larger year-around homes in or near Ogden Dunes, most notably the E. M. Kratz home at 50 Shore Drive and the James Cassidy home at 13 Beach Lane. [Arthur Cash’s Memoirs]
However, the Depression soon brought an end to the Cash construction business as well as to the dream that Ogden Dunes would become a highly-selective lake front community and the site of the largest competitive ski jump on in North America. It was not until the mid-thirties when the economy began to recover that Les Cash again began to build homes. Around 1937 he and his family moved from Gary to Ogden Dunes into one of his newly built homes, thus becoming full-time members of the Ogden Dunes community.
During the next twenty plus years Les built scores of homes in Ogden Dunes; most were built with light-weight cement blocks and the homes came to be known as “Cash Boxes”. Dess became the leading force in fostering an active social and intellectual community. She was a founding member and the first president of the Woman’s Club and a leading participant in theatrical programs. Their oldest son, Mitchell, returned from World War II to become a partner with his dad in the family contracting business. By the late 1940s, Mitch had served as the first fire chief of the Ogden Dunes Volunteer Fire Department and the vice commander of the Ogden Dunes American Legion Post #132.
Les and Dess Cash
Lester Cash was the oldest of three children who were born to Noah Claybourn Cash (April 27, 1860 – May 5, 1908) and Eva Hill Cash (April 21, 1865 – December 13, 1905) in Marion, Williamson County, Illinois. Marion is about 320 miles south of Chicago. Noah had married Eva in 1885. The 1900 Census has Noah and Eva renting a home in the city of Marion with Noah managing a saloon. Lester is 13 and his younger brother, Orrin Austin Cash, is 10. A third child had died before 1900.
Lester and Orrin suffered through a period of tragedy with the death of their mother in December 1905 and then the death of their father in 1908. In the year before his death the Marion City Directory lists Noah Cash as the proprietor of the Jumbo Saloon and Pool Hall at 112 N. Market. His two sons are listed as miners, working in the nearby coal fields. After Noah’s death, the 1910 Census lists the two brothers as managing the pool hall. According to Art Cash, Les and Dess’ youngest son, the brothers used the income from the pool hall to attend college. But their college careers ended when Orrin lost the pool hall in a poker game and then ran off with a girl friend to Chicago.
Contemporaries of the two Cash brothers in Marion were the children of James Cofield Mitchell (October 1851 – May 30, 1927) and Lilly White Mitchell (August 1854 – 1901). The White and Mitchell families were among the leading families of Williamson County. In 1860 John H. White (1831 – 1862), Lilly’s father, was County Clerk with real estate valued at $6,000 and personal property at $2,850. [1860 Census] John H., an early volunteer and officer in the Civil War, was killed in Kentucky in February 1862, leaving his wife Emily with five young children. Art Cash describes John White as “Marion’s most celebrated hero” in the Civil War. [For a brief biography of Arthur Hill Cash, see www.columbia.edu/AHCash-Home]
By 1870 James Mitchell and Lilly White were living in the same household; his father had married Lilly’s mother. The 1870 Census indicates that the combined Mitchell-White families include three Mitchell children and five White children. James Mitchell, age 19, works as a clerk (apprentice druggist), in the local pharmacy. Lilly White is sixteen and in school. Two years later on October 21, 1872 James Mitchell married his stepsister, Lilly White. By 1880 their family was thriving in Marion. James owned the local drug store and he and Lilly had four children. Ultimately, Lilly gave birth to eleven children, seven of whom survived. Dessie the second youngest was born on October 21, 1887. [U.S. Census, 1870, 1880, 1900]
According to Art Cash, Dess Mitchell and Les Cash were childhood sweethearts. However the 1900 Census indicates a significant class difference between the Cash and Mitchell families. James C. Mitchell had become involved in banking and is listed as the bank cashier for the 1st State Bank. The Mitchell family owns a large home at 402 S. Market Street. Noah Cash, Lester’s father, rented their home and managed a saloon. [1900 Census]
Following the death of her mother in 1901 and then her graduation from high school, Dess Mitchell attended and graduated from the Illinois Women’s College in Jacksonville, Illinois. The college, founded by the Methodist Episcopal Church, offered its first baccalaureate degrees in 1909. In 1930 it became McMurray College. Dess became the second woman in Marion to complete a bachelor’s degree.
In 1910 Dess, at 22, lived at home with her father and his second wife, Julia, and her younger brother Everett, who was a civil engineer. Dess would later teach English in high school prior to marrying Lester Cash. Her brother Everett would become a successful road contractor. [1910 Census, also letter from Arthur Cash to author, March 8, 2012]
One can imagine Les Cash and Dess Mitchell in 1910 being very much in love but separated by social class and his struggle to make it on his own. He had worked in the mines and was managing a local pool hall. He boarded in a local rooming house; she lived in her father’s comfortable home. After Les’ falling out with his brother, Orrin, he also left Marion to make his fortune in Gary, Indiana, a booming steel town. It was not until the 1930s when Orrin’s wife Frances intervened in the brothers’ long-standing alienation and was able to bring them together for the first time in nearly twenty years. [Arthur Cash’s Family Recollections]
Through the help of a mutual childhood friend, Les and Dess renewed their earlier friendship. By then Les had a good job with the Illinois Steel Company in Gary, having been promoted to general foreman. They married in Chicago on January 1, 1917. Later that year, when Les registered for the draft on June 5, he and Dess lived in an apartment at 601 Van Buren in Gary. The 1920 Census shows that they continue to rent their apartment and that their first son, Mitchell, was born on August 19, 1918. [W.W. I Draft Registration; 1920 Census]
The 1920s were good years for the Cash family. A second son, Webster Cofield Cash, was born on February 23, 1920 and the third and last son, Arthur Hill Cash on February 4, 1922. Les left his position as general foreman and began the A.L. Cash contracting business. The family bought a large home in the middle-class neighborhood at 540 Taft Street on Gary’s Westside. The home was valued at $14,000 in the 1930 Census. [1930 Census]
According to the memoirs of both Arthur and Mitchell Cash, their parents purchased a small, one-room, dilapidated cottage in Ogden Dunes in 1925. Arthur calls it “The Shack.” At that time the main road to the lake was what is today’s Hillcrest/Cedar Trail. It ended at today’s Shore Drive which extended to the west to today’s Beach Lane. They remember only three real houses, including the Glover, later the Zimmerman, home (3 Cedar Trail) and the Samuel Reck home (4 Cedar Trail). In addition there were a scattering of older and newer cottages. “The Shack” was located off of Shore Drive near Beach Lane. It was near the Louella Davis cottage, which may have been the original office for Ogden Dunes Reality. Davis, who worked for the University of Chicago, grew up with Dess and Les Cash in Marion. Most likely, she was the one who convinced Dess, thus Les, to buy in Ogden Dunes. [Arthur H. Cash, “Ogden Dunes, 1925-1939: A Memoir” (June 2012) and Mitchell Cash, “Autobiography” (2006).
The Cash family’s next door neighbors in Gary in 1930 were Ambrose and Eliza Richardson and their daughter Olive. It is interesting to note that the Richardson family, which included three daughters, Elizabeth, Olive and Dorothy and a son, Newton, also had a cottage on Shore Drive in Ogden Dunes. It is unclear whether it was the Cash or Richardson family that first bought in Ogden Dunes. The Richardson cottage was shared by the Richardson sisters, especially Olive and Elizabeth. Both were teachers, Olive in Gary and Elizabeth in Berea College in Kentucky. In 1918 the youngest sister, Dorothy, married James Harold Buell, an electrical engineer. After their marriage the Buells lived in various parts of the country before returning to the Chicago area in the late 1920s. Their son Robert was born in 1922. About the time that Robert entered college in 1941 the Buell family built a home on Cedar Court in Ogden Dunes. While the Buells were building, Dorothy’s two older sisters were spending the summer in Mexico City. Olive was an avid film photographer, who worked in the Visual Education Department of the Gary schools. Elizabeth taught French and Spanish at Berea College in Kentucky. [The Sandpiper, Oct 15, 1941, p. 3] The Buell home at 17 Cedar Court would later become the site of an historic meeting. Dorothy hosted a meeting of twenty-one women on June 20, 1952 that resulted in the establishing the Save the Dunes Council. [Sandpiper, Sept 10, 1952, p. 1; J Ronald Engel, Sacred Sands, p. 255]
One of the first homes, perhaps the most expensive, that A. L. Cash built in Ogden Dunes was for the E. M. Kratz family at 50 Shore Drive. The Valparaiso Vidette Messenger carried this article on February 4, 1930 (p. 4).
“$50,000 Home To Be Erected”
Contract for the construction of a new $50,000 residence overlooking Lake
Michigan in Ogden Dunes was let Monday by E. M. Kratz, a Gary paper
manufacturer, to A. L. Cash, a Miller contractor.
The new residence will be a seventeen-room structure of English colonial
type and will be constructed of brick veneer, embodying a number of unique
ideas in home building. When completed it is expected the dwelling will be
one of the finest on the lake shore in Porter county. Construction is to be started within a week, Mr. Cash said.
Photo of Kratz Home
Arthur Hill Cash remembers that the contract for the Kratz home saved his father’s contracting business, at least for a time. It was only after 1935 that A. L. Cash builders began to build again. After that, though times were tough, most of A. L. Cash’s homes were in Ogden Dunes.
The1930 Census for Ogden Dunes lists only 14 families and 50 people as full-time residents with the local plat maps showing slightly more than thirty residences and cottages. Even the end of the Depression and the coming of the war in Europe failed to increase significantly the full-time population. By 1940 only 46 families and 144 individuals were full-time residents, including the Cash family.
Around 1937 the Cash family moved from Gary to Ogden Dunes. The two older sons, Mitch and Web were in college at Purdue and the University of Chicago, while Art continued to attend and then graduate from Horace Mann High School on the Westside of Gary. Les Cash had built a home for Olive Richardson on the ridge of dunes between Shore Drive and Ogden Road (most likely 48 Ogden Road]. The Cash family would live in the home rent free in exchange for his work in building the house. About ten years later Les and Dess moved into their own home on the same ridge at 44 Ogden Road.
The Cash Family
The presence and impact of the Cash family on Ogden Dunes is reflected in the community newspaper, the Ogden Dunes Sandpiper. In the early years, this newspaper/newsletter appeared four or five times a year. Nelson Reck’s Ogden Dunes Realty published the paper; his wife, Helen, was the editor. The first issue appeared on August 25, 1938. In this issue, sixteen-year-old Art Cash’s by-line was on a column on the “Rafters” describing the summer activities of the community’s high school and college students. The group had built a large raft that became the center of their social life. Some rafters lived year-around in the dunes, others only spent their summers at their family cottages. [In later issues, the “Rafter” column was written by others.]
In the next issue, September 22, 1938, Art Cash’s elegy, “In Memory of Anne North,” appears. Around Labor Day the “rafters” had rented a tractor and hay wagon that was struck by a truck along U.S. 12. A number were injured, some seriously. Anne North was killed. She was from St. Louis, spending the summer in the dunes with her married sister, Mrs. Rudolf Kronfeld.
“In Memory of Anne North”
She filled the lives of those she knew
With richness born of earnest love;
And like a candle, snuffed anew
By Him who watches from above
Leaves still a glow, so then will she,
Which through our lives will ever be
Reflections of eternity.
The “Rafter” column in this issue reports that Art’s brothers had returned to college, Mitchell to Purdue University to study engineering, Webster, along with fellow “rafters”, Vernon and Melvin Tracht, to the University of Chicago. Webster was in pre-med.
The January 31, 1939 issue of the Sandpiper notes the founding of the Ogden Dunes Woman’s Club on October 6 at the home of Mrs. R. N. Taylor. Dess Cash was elected its founding president. Their next meeting in February was scheduled to be held at the home of Mrs. Mayme Logsdon at 49 Cedar Trail. Logsdon, a widow and a mathematician, would later become the first woman to be tenured in the Department of Mathematics at the University of Chicago. Her cottage had been built around 1937 by A. L. Cash, reportedly with some materials salvaged from exhibits at the 1933 Chicago World’s Fair.
Photo: The Logsdon Cottage: 49 Cedar Trail
The home has a wonderful great room with a magnificent fireplace. At that February meeting Mayme presented her paper, “Women in Mathematics”. She had first delivered this at a conference of the Chicago Chapter of the American Association of University Women. [The Sandpiper, April 28, 1939, p. 4]
Photo: possibly at Mayme Logsdon Home in mid-1940s (back row, Webster, Mitchell and Les Cash, front row Mitchell’s wife, Muriel, Dess Cash, and Mayme Logsdon)
Art Cash, while in high school, made a number of radio appearances on WIND, a Gary radio station. Dess was also involved in radio. In 1939 she wrote a weekly radio script for the “Mom and Art” show that was aired on Saturday mornings at eleven thirty. Edith Martinson of Chesterton, who played Greta, the Swedish maid, was the third regular on the show. [Sandpiper, April 28, 1939, p. 3]
This was also the time when names began to be given to family homes and cottages in Ogden Dunes. Mayme Logsdon’s cottage became “Logsdune.”, the Cash home, “Cash Inn”, the O. D. Frank cottage, “The Hour Glass”, Sue Mectersheimer’s “Sue Sans Souci”, the Mahoneys’ “Dune Ridge”, and Ethel Durfee’s “Columbine Hill.” [Sandpiper, April 28, 1939, p. 4]
Following his graduation in 1939 from Horace Mann High School, Art received a scholarship to attend the Chicago School of Expression and Dramatic Art. That September he joined the School’s stock company, Barnum Players. The company opened its season in Sycamore, Illinois and it was on the road in the Midwest until Christmas.
Dess Cash’s creativity is also reflected in her poetry. The April 6, 1940 issue of the Sandpiper includes her poem that was dedicated to Louisa Whelpley, the town’s switchboard operator since 1931. Louisa had been ill for a number of months. Her husband, Harold Whelpley, oversaw the property office of Reck’s Ogden Dunes Realty. Three of their children were “rafters”.
There’s something wrong with our telephone
It doesn’t sound at all like home,
Whenever I ask for a number
I get a central, yes, by thunder
I used to get a voice of cheer,
“Say, how are you today, my dear?
I’m feeling fine, hope you’re the same”,
Oh dear, this central is so tame!
And so I say hope you are fine,
And soon will be back on the line
To make us Dune Bugs feel at home,
When we take the hook of the telephone.
The Cash boys continued to thrive. Mitchell was elected president of his fraternity, Theta Xi, at Purdue. Webster was initiated into the Sigma Chi fraternity at the University of Chicago, while Art ushered at the Apollo Theatre and followed his dreams of a dramatic career. During the summer of 1940, Mitchell’s college friend and future wife, Muriel Smith of South Bend, spent time with the Cash family at their home on Ogden Road. And at the August meeting of the Woman’s Club, Dess Cash gave several of her original monologues “which were enjoyed and praised by all.” During these years, Dess also served as secretary and business manager for the A. L. Cash contracting business and taught English at night to immigrants in the Gary Public School System. [Sandpiper, Oct 10, 1940, p. 1; Art Cash’s notes]
The summer of 1940 also saw the building of a number of magnificent homes in the community. Frank Lloyd Wright designed and oversaw the construction of a home for the Andrew Armstrong family at 43 Cedar Trail. The Sandpiper noted that “the method employed to heat the house, that is, by means of hot water pipes laid below the cement floor, caused much comment since it has not been used before in the his region.” [Note: It was soon replaced.] The Ralph Sykes family also built their “stone castle” home at 114 Shore Drive, constructed with St. Meinrad sandstore. Its unusual feature was “the subterranean passage which connects the house and the garage.” And the Paul Williams family built the first home on the recently opened south section of Cedar Court (25 Cedar Court) with a spectacular view of the oak forests to the south. [Sandpiper, Oct 10, 1940, p. 2.]
The creative energies of the Cash family continued during 1940. Art had moved back home while commuting to the School of Dramatic Art in Chicago. He also took on coaching two groups of children in Ogden Dunes and served as director of the Presbyterian Players in Gary. As part of a Red Cross benefit, held in the Mayme Logsdon home, Dess Cash directed a short play, “The Runaways,” and Art gave readings selected from “Ben Hur” and “Valley Forge.” [Sandpiper, March 8, 1941]
The War in Europe began to impact the Ogden Dunes community during the summer of 1941. The country and the community began to prepare for war. One sign of this was at Mitchell Cash’s graduation on June 8 from Purdue. That same day he received his commission as an ensign in the U.S. Navy. Yet life for the Cash family quickly returned to normal. A week later, Art directed the members of his Saturday acting class in presenting an original one-act play, “The Mark of Courage.” The venue was the Finger Bowl, a natural amphitheatre, in Juniper Park, today’s Nelson Reck Park between Ogden Road and Cedar Trail. The play was based on an Indian legend and written by the junior high students. Key parts were played by Joan Zimmerman, Mary Louise Nickerson, Marjorie Ann Dorman and Justin Cassidy. The following day, June 16, the Woman’s Club met with the entertainment being a pseudo-radio script written by Dess Cash satirizing the history of the Club. [Sandpiper, June 25, 1941, p. 4]
Following Art’s completion of his dramatic studies, he joined the Tilton Comedians, a traveling repertory stock company. The company presented the Toby Shows, a series of plays featuring Toby, a smart yokel, who outwits the city slickers who prey on poor farm families. The stock company was located in Somonauk, Illinois, about twenty miles west of Aurora. Each week the company offered a new play; it was presented first on Sunday in Somonauk and then in six other small-town venues. Art sold tickets, sang between acts, and played many roles. Art completed his winter season with Tilton and then joined the Madge Kinsey Players out of Sandusky, Ohio. It was a much larger operation and offered more challenging roles. Following this Art returned home and enlisted in the army. [Arthur Cash, “A Memoir of the Toby Shows,” North American Review (Sept. – Oct., 1994), pp. 52-56]
In the fall of 1941 Ensign Mitch Cash married Muriel Smith of South Bend at Old Christ Church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, where Mitch was completing a naval architecture course at M.I.T.
Photo: Mitchell and Muriel about the time of their marriage in 1941
Webster Cash, who was unable to join the army because of childhood polio, had graduated from the University of Chicago and had taken a job with Sears Roebuck in Gary. Their friend and fellow ‘rafter”, Mel Tracht, had also graduated from the University of Chicago. He worked at the Illinois Institute of Technology as assistant purchasing agent. [Sandpiper, Oct 10, 1941]
With war declared in December 1941 the United States and Ogden Dunes mobilized. Mitchell was one of a number of young men from the dunes who were already serving their country. Dess Cash had become the women’s coordinator for the Ogden Dunes war effort. At their February 1942 meeting of the Woman’s Club, Dess gave an update on the proposed “Victory Gardens” on the site of the old ski jump. At the same meeting she introduced the youngest daughter of their former Gary neighbors, Ambrose and Eliza Richardson. Dorothy Richardson Buell, who with her husband James and son Bob, had recently moved into their new home at 17 Cedar Court. Dorothy presented an original monologue about a very bewildered lady book-reviewer. [Sandpiper, May 8, 1942] Within a year, Dorothy was asked to organize a book club, because of her reputation as a reviewer of books before various groups in Chicago. During the summer of 1942, Dess Cash presented a play, acted by ten to fourteen-years olds, on the patio of the Arthur Zimmerman home at 3 Cedar Trail. It played before a packed house. [Sandpiper, May 10, 1943, p. 3]
By 1943 more than thirty young men with connections to Ogden Dunes were serving in the military, including Art Cash. He had enlisted as a private and had served in the Hospital Corps in Louisiana and later in Massachusetts. His brother Lt. Mitchell Cash was still stationed at the Philadelphia Naval Yard at the beginning of that year, but ended the year in Iceland. On April 9, 1944 Dess and A. L. became grandparents with the birth of Laura Dess Cash in South Bend. Their son Lt. Mitchell Cash, who was still in Iceland, missed the birth of his first born. [Sandpiper, Oct 10, 1943; May 12, 1944, p.2]
Dess Cash and Ed Kratz, who was president of the Town Board, served as co-chairs of the 4th of July celebration in 1943. That October she reported on the activities of the Woman’s Club that supported the war effort. She also took the lead in a Woman’s Club project of sending Christmas greetings filled with photographs of the dunes to thirty-three Ogden Dunes men in the service. [Sandpiper, Oct 15, 1943; Feb 4, 1944, p. 3]
Webster Cash returned to the University of Chicago with a graduate school scholarship to study International Relations in 1944. Art Cash, who had been assigned to the Loyola Hospital in England, kept his home community informed of life in England as it prepared for the eventual invasion of the continent. Meanwhile his brother Mitchell had been transferred to the submarine base at Hunters Point in California, with his wife Muriel and daughter Laura flying from South Bend to join him. [Sandpiper, July 7, 1944]
The reports on the meetings of the Woman’s Club reflected how aware they were of the war’s impact on their families and how it was changing the lives of their children and their friends. At the September 18, 1944 meeting the club decided to cancel its annual Christmas bazaar, replacing it with a sale of articles and baked goods at its November meeting with the proceeds going to the Fund for War Relief. After Dess Cash read excerpts from Howard Vincent O’Brien’s book, So Long Son, she and others shared their sons’ letters. Mrs. Fred Tracht reported on the experiences of her son Melvin since crossing the channel on D-Day. Dess read letters from Jim Douglas on his eighteen months in the “Oriental capital” of Tehran and from her son Art , “who is stationed with a medical unit in France, in ‘aloof safety’ from the fighting lines, but where he constantly sees the dreadful backwash from the front.” [Sandpiper, Sept 9, 1944, p. 1]
With V-E Day, many in the dunes were counting the days until their sons, husbands and neighbors would be out of harm’s way or on their way home. Before departing Paris for the occupation of Germany, Mel Tracht and Art Cash had a mini-reunion in Paris. They heartedly agreed that “there are certain things about the dunes which make them preferable even to Paris.” [Sandpiper, May 27, 1945] A few months later a number of the young men had been discharged. Mitch Cash was promoted to Lieutenant-Commander prior to his discharge from the Navy. His brother Art, while awaiting his discharge, was transferred from his hospital unit to the Soldiers Show Company. There he was stage manager for “Brother Rat” that played at army bases in Germany.
Meanwhile, Dess Cash continued to be a central figure in the community life of Ogden Dunes, being in charge of programming for the Woman’s Club. Her friend, Elma Klinedorf Lobaugh, discussed her mystery novel, She Never Reached the Top, at its fall meeting. Some of those present believed the novel took place in Ogden Dunes. [Sandpiper, Oct 31, 1945]
Life began to return to a “new” normal in Ogden Dunes in 1946. A number of the young “rafters” of 1940 were now seasoned adults. Some returned to Ogden Dunes to raise their young families. Mitch joined his dad in forming the A.L. Cash & Son builders. Mitchell, Muriel and Laura Cash made Ogden Dunes their home, first with Les and Dess, then with homes at 17 Hillcrest and later at 6 Beach Lane. Their son, Mitchell (Mike) was born on December 16, 1945. Mitch was one of the twenty-two veterans who organized Ogden Dunes Post #132. He was elected vice-commander. Other officers included Leonard Whelpley, Edward Pittet, and Richard Siebert. [Sandpiper, May 29, 1946, p. 3; June 25, 1947]
Meanwhile, following his discharge, Art Cash married Dorothy Moore in Winchester, Virginia on June 25, 1946. This marriage occurred six weeks before his fellow “rafter”, Mel Tracht, married Mildred Janousek in Chicago. Art and Dorothy then spent the summer as members of the Barnum Summer Theatre in Michiana Shores. In the fall they moved to Chicago and Art enrolled as a freshman at the University of Chicago. His brother Web was also at UC completing his Ph.D. and serving as an advisor for students in International Relations. [Sandpiper, Sept 28, 1946]
On May 30, 1947 Ogden Dunes came together as a community to observe Memorial Day. Following a parade along Shore Drive from Hillcrest to the flag pole at the end of Cedar Trail, Commander Dennis Harvey read the American Legion ritual honoring the war dead. After the flag was raised to half-mast, the community gathered around a bonfire, having hotdogs and soft drinks. The Sandpiper concluded “The affair was such a pleasant success that it will no doubt become an annual event.” [June 25, 1947, p. 3]
Photo: In the foreground, young Mike Cash and his older sister Laura (Lolly) at the 1948 Memorial Day community picnic.
The following year, 1948, the Cash family continued to receive considerable coverage in the Sandpiper. That year the major issue facing the community was the need for a volunteer fire department, especially after the disastrous fire that destroyed the large Willard Dorman home on Shore Drive. In response, the community again came together to raise funds for the equipment. Volunteers sought an average of $50 from each household to fund this effort. Eighteen men formed the first company and Mitch Cash was appointed the first chief. [Sandpiper, May 8, 1948, p. 1]
Photo: Top Row: Ed Kratz, Mitch Cash, Roger Willis, Ted Borg, and Ed Pittet Bottom Row: Ron Stevens, Paul Hake, Ogden Nickerson, Gus Lawson
Mitch’s parents also built a new home with a wonderful view of Lake Michigan at 44 Ogden Road, about 100 feet east of their old one. The September 15, 1948 issue of the Sandpiper reflected on Ogden Dunes’ first twenty-five years and the ten years since it started publication. It provided an update on the “rafters” who were so visible in the early issues. Most of the “rafters” had left, save for a few like Mitch Cash, George Semerau, Mel Tracht, Murphy and Leonard Whelpley who returned to settle in the dunes. On June 19, 1948 Webster Cash and Mary Ann Thomas married in the Bond Chapel of the University of Chicago. They would live in Hyde Park as Webster finished his doctorate.
In 1950-1951 with the outbreak of the Korean War, a number of Ogden Dunes men were recalled to service. By 1951 Lt. Commander Mitch Cash was part of the Pacific Reserve Fleet, based in San Francisco. His wife and family had moved to San Mateo, California. [Sept 12, 1951, p. 1] He would make the Navy his career. A note in the September 1957 issue reported on a likely reunion in the Philippines of former friends and neighbors, Mitch Cash, who was serving as a Commander at Subic Bay, with Major James Cassidy serving with the medical corps of the Air Force at Camp Clark. They both grew up in Ogden Dunes and Mitchell and his family had lived across the street from James’ parents on Beach Lane.
While their sons had moved away, Dess and Les Cash remained in the dunes, but with age they turned their energies to becoming champion bridge players. They built a new home at Beach Lane Circle in 1952, having sold their home at 44 Ogden Road to Helen Shorley. [May 1, 1952, p.2]
Photo: The Cash Inn, 29 Beach Lane (2013)
Dess continued to be involved in the community, serving as program chairman for the Book Club in 1955. [Sandpiper, Sept 1955, p. 1]
Although the Sandpiper appeared less often after 1950, two issues appeared in 1963. The Autumn issue celebrated its twenty-fifth anniversary of publication, with a long reference to the “Rafters”. Among the names that “still have meaning here, because either they or their families still live here, are Vernon and Melvin Tracht, Lucille, Leonard and Murph Whelpley, Grace Kratz, Neysa Dalby, Mitch, Web and Art Cash, and George Semerau.” [p. 1]
Dess and Les Cash would retire to Osceola, Florida in 1964 when Les was ill with cancer. Their names last appeared in the 1965-1966 Ogden Dunes Directory with their address at 29 Beach Lane. Les died on March 27, 1966 at the age of seventy-nine. Dess lived until she was ninety-five. She passed away in Florida in April 1983. Her son, Art, wrote, she was “to the last her cheerful and always popular self.”
Photo: Les Cash with his famous cigar around 1960