Generation Next embraces a family vacation tradition

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The Lakeside pavilion, framed by holly hocks. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

By Bruce Stambaugh

My parents took my brothers and sisters there. My wife and I took our daughter and son there. And now, our daughter and her husband have taken their three children there, too.

“There” is Lakeside, Ohio. Nurturing body, mind and spirit, it’s an ideal family vacation destination. Activities abound for youngsters through oldsters, all under the umbrella of the Chautauqua community’s four pillars, religion, recreation, arts and entertainment, and education.

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The fountain in front of historic Hotel Lakeside. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.
Of course, my wife and I were excited to have our daughter and her family, and her husband’s mother, too, join us for our annual Lakeside retreat. The last few years we had accompanied them to their beach vacations. I hoped the grandkids, ages 10, eight and four, would take to Lakeside the way they took to pounding waves on ocean beaches.

Located on the south shore of Lake Erie on the Marblehead Peninsula, there is plenty of water, just not much sand at the little Lakeside swimming area. There would be no challenging the waves this year, or so I thought.

Another concern was that Lakeside thrives on traditions of the past, when times and communication were both slower and life seemed simpler. I wondered if the kids would miss their high-tech toys in the quaint town, founded in 1873 as a Methodist Church camp.

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Even at their ages, our grandkids are no different than any others. They can run iPhones, iPads and iPods, and I can’t. I hoped they would embrace Lakeside’s wide variety of low-tech opportunities.

Boy did they ever, partly because some of the educational and recreational activities involved technology. Kids and their parents, or in come cases grandparents, built Lego robots. Faces flashed accomplishment when their robots responded to command.

The four-year old painted a beach bucket in an art class. She also easily made friends playing in the sand with little girls she had never met.

(Click on the photos to enlarge them.)

While adults attended classes and lectures, the boys each had more fun building toy boats. When completed, they held their maiden voyage in the children’s pool.

Under the abundant shade of the giant hardwoods, the kids wore out the miniature golf course. It was in the same grove of trees where I had picnicked with my family decades ago.

Our grandkids discovered a Lakeside treat. They downed fresh donuts, made daily at an iconic seasonal restaurant. However, what

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Flowers and rock sculptures brighten the shoreline in Lakeside. © Bruce Stambaugh
really got our daughter’s family’s attention were the shuffleboard courts. Too concerned with watching boats and birds, I had never paid much attention to the game even though national and international shuffleboard tournaments are held at Lakeside.

Thanks to my grandchildren, daughter and son-in-law, that changed. I learned more about shuffleboard in one morning than I had ever known before. They shuttled the disks down the well-maintained courts until it was time to head out. In other words, they had a blast.

No Lakeside vacation is complete without at least one round of dominoes. The grandkids learn to play that game, too. I have a feeling the dominoes will click the next time we gather.

I was wrong about the waves, too. When the northeast wind kicked up large whitecaps on the lake, the kids stood at dock’s edge hoping to get spritzed. At the famous Marblehead Lighthouse nearby, they successfully dashed from one rock ledge to the other, teasing the waves.

It was great to see our family’s next generation enjoy Lakeside so much and in so many ways. It truly was what Lakeside is all about.

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Dodging waves on the rocks at Marblehead Lighthouse. © Bruce Stambaugh 2014.

© Bruce Stambaugh 2014

Staying calm during a ghostly encounter

Hoover Auditorium, Lakeside, OH by Bruce Stambaugh
Hoover Auditorium, Lakeside, Ohio. This picture was taken July 3, 2010, the day I saw the ghost in the huge hall.

By Bruce Stambaugh

I wasn’t going to say anything about the ghost I saw last summer. But with the ghoulish season of Halloween upon us, and the details of the experience still fresh in my mind, I decided to share what I saw.

First and foremost, I am not a fervent believer in ghosts, especially the horror kind put forth each Halloween season. I have watched with skeptical interest the ghost hunter shows on television. Once I saw how excited they got after showing video of some supposedly spectral orb, I was more convinced than ever that such adventures bordered on silliness.

Nevertheless, I had occasionally wondered how I would respond if I had encountered a ghost first hand. Last July 3, I found out. I just sat there watching, calm and unafraid, taking in every detail.

I was hardly alone when the apparition appeared. More than 2,000 others were in their seats two-thirds of the way through a lively, if not loud, concert in Hoover Auditorium in Lakeside, Ohio.

During one of the songs, something caught my attention directly above the stage. I looked up, and I saw the bluish-white shape of a man walk across the catwalk that held the lighting and speaker systems for the performance hall.

I say “appearance of a man” because that is all I can logically conclude that it was. I watched as the man, dressed in period work clothes of the early 20th century, casually walked across the catwalk from stage left to stage right. He bent down as if to pick up something, and then simply disappeared. I glanced to the stage where the band continued to belt out its Celtic vibrations, looked back up, and saw only darkness.

I knew right then and there that it would have been impossible for a human being to actually walk across that purposed bridge. The crisscrossed steel structure had no stairs that led to it. In fact, the structure wasn’t designed for anyone to ever walk there. The horizontal frame was simply lowered by a system of ropes and pulleys.

Convinced of what I saw, the next day I headed to the Lakeside Historical Museum to see what I could discover about ghosts and the construction of Hoover Auditorium in 1928-1929. Neither the young museum curator nor the senior archivist blinked at my story. Neither did they laugh at me.

After an exhaustive search by the three of us, we had come up empty on both the report of previous ghosts in Hoover, and the report of any serious accidents or deaths during its construction. The one interesting fact I did discover from old blueprints was that the scaffolding that was used to erect the large meeting room was exactly the height of the structure that held the speakers and lighting.

Hotel Lakeside, Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
The rear of Hotel Lakeside in Lakeside, Ohio. Guests have occasionally reported seeing ghosts there.

I also learned of reports of ghosts in the Hotel Lakeside and in the museum where I had begun my search. I appreciated the fact that both the curator and the archivist dived right in to help me find whatever facts we could.

Unfortunately, the facts were few, but the personal encounter was real. If anyone else in the audience saw anything, they never said so. It wasn’t like seeing the ghosts of Christmas Past, Present and Future, and it certainly wasn’t the commercial and entertainment-driven ghoulishness currently being spewed out.

I know I saw this man in clunky work boots, old-style work pants, a thick leather belt, and old-fashioned work shirt and slicked back hair. I just don’t know why.

Decorated cottage at Lakeside, Ohio by Bruce Stambaugh
Peaceful, attractive cottages like this one abound in Lakeside, Ohio, making it an attractive, fun and safe vacation destination for families.