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From The Cataloger’s Desk: Summertime Selections

July 8, 2021

Now that summer is officially upon us, I thought I’d share some seasonal gems from our library. Whatever your favorite pastime is, it’s probably represented in our collection: fishing, boating, swimming, camping, gardening, and so much more. These selections have helped me get into the summer spirit, and I hope they do the same for you, too. After all, it’s been a tough year, and we could all use a little fun and adventure!

Where to go in Indiana: official Indiana lake guide (1938)

I’m a self-described “water baby.” I grew up in a small town on Little Traverse Bay off Lake Michigan, and I spent many happy summers on Crooked Lake, which is part of northern Michigan’s beautiful Inland Waterway. When my family moved to central Indiana many years ago, I initially felt landlocked. Over time, however, I came to realize there are various waterways throughout the Hoosier state, and living the “lake life” is definitely possible. If you’re like me and hear the water calling your name, then this official Indiana lake guide is for you. Even though it was published in 1938, the information is still relevant and useful. It includes tips for fishermen, hunters, and campers, as well as an alphabetical list, by county, of all the state’s lakes measuring five or more acres. It even offers specifics for each, such as location, area, depth, type of bottom, and available facilities. I guarantee you’ll discover Indiana lakes on this list that you’ve never heard of before!

Creek Chub baits: “catch more fish!” (ca. 1950s)

I might call myself a “water baby,” but I’m the first to admit that fishing isn’t my cup of tea. It was, however, a summertime hobby enjoyed by many of my family members, especially Uncle Richard. He was an excellent fisherman, and I have fond memories of him bringing in his daily “catch” after early morning excursions on Crooked Lake. His efforts resulted in many family dinners of Bass and Walleye over the years. When this Creek Chub Baits catalog came across my desk recently, Uncle Richard was the first person I thought of. Whether you’re a fishing enthusiast or not, it’s an enjoyable read. The illustrations are fantastic, the descriptions are detailed, and the product names are pretty fun. Creek Chub Baits operated out of Garrett, Indiana, from 1916-1978. Maybe Uncle Richard had some of their fishing lures in his tackle box back in the day?

The Gilkie camp trailers: three models: your vacation home (ca. 1920s)

For many people, summer means camping out and sleeping under the stars. Since my own camping experience is practically non-existent, and my survival skills in nature are sorely lacking, I doubt I’ll be pitching a tent in the middle of nowhere anytime soon. On the other hand, I could definitely see myself hitting the road and exploring Indiana in an RV or with a camper trailer. It would still be an adventure, just a little more safe, comfortable and convenient – at least for me. In fact, something similar to a Gilkie trailer would be ideal. These were manufactured by Gilkison & Sons in Terre Haute, Indiana, from the 1920s-1950s. Although the models would be considered vintage by now, they still sound – and look – amazing in this brochure. My choice: the Camp King, which boasts two full-size beds, a large amount of luggage space, multiple food compartments, and a refrigerator. Not a bad way to travel if you ask me!

Spink-Wawasee Hotel and Country Club, Lake Wawasee, Indiana: the playground of the Middle West (ca. 1920s-1940s)

For some families, the ideal summer vacation is all-inclusive, with a wide variety of fun activities to keep everyone occupied and entertained. We hold many promotional materials for Indiana resorts in our collection, such as this vibrant brochure for the Spink-Wawasee Hotel and Country Club on Lake Wawasee, the largest natural lake in the state. Described as “the playground of the Middle West,” it offered guests swimming, boating, fishing, horseback riding, golf, tennis, and dancing. What else could you possibly want or need? Even though this particular hotel is no longer in business, there are so many others around the state that offer similar guest experiences today. Just looking at the pictures in this brochure will make you want to book a resort-style trip for your family a.s.a.p.!

The roses of New Castle: [catalog] (ca. 1925)

Finally, summer is prime time for many beautiful flowers and plants. My grandmother, Nanny, was the most amazing gardener. She worked in her garden almost every single day of the summer, even into her nineties, and it brought her so much pleasure and enjoyment. In fact, strangers would walk or drive by her house just to see all of the gorgeous blooms. It wasn’t until I tried my hand at a little gardening a few years ago that I realized how much thought, time, and hard work goes into it. I did okay, but I wish I had inherited more of Nanny’s talents – and energy! Regardless, whenever I see a sales catalog for flowers or plants in our collection, such as this one from New Castle’s Heller Brothers, I think of her. I could definitely see some of these colorful roses fitting into her garden perfectly. If you have a green thumb like Nanny, or simply appreciate looking at beautiful flowers, our collection of Indiana flower catalogs is a must-see.

However you choose to spend your summer, I hope you’re able to enjoy much of what Indiana has to offer. And perhaps you can add a visit to the Indiana Historical Society to your calendar, too!

Lindsay Borman is a former staff member at the Indiana Historical Society. Her claim to fame: she can name all of the U.S. presidents … in order!

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