The Strange Depression On Our Field


Not far behind our old barn on the field is a strange depression that looks for all appearances to be about the exact shape as the indention of a flying saucer. It is the only place on our half-mile long field with a depression like that. In fact, it is the only indention on that entire field. How did it get there?

Well, it made for a great story line outside our woods for boys club campers. None of the kids could explain that depression either. They were quite dumbfounded as to how it got there but that is the same amazement that has held me captive since I was a young boy. I’ve visited that location many times and sometimes if I had the motivation would start digging there just to check it out more thoroughly.

Can you imagine if you were driving down the Big Bass Lake Road on the southwest side of the lake and saw a flying saucer there? Would you stop to check it out or continue on your way even a tad quicker than usual? The haunted island has a more vivid story to it but this one remains a gigantic mystery as to how that depression was formed in a field that is otherwise 100% flat? Maybe Rod Serling might have had an answer for one of his Twilight Zone programs?

Memories of Our Land and Big Bass Lake

Well, we’ve written over 1,350 posts over the past four years but now all of us are out of ammunition. There are just no more stories to tell so at this junction point in time, this will be the last post at Big Bass Lake and Beyond as the website moves into eternity on the Internet.

My grandparents purchased our family farm and forest in 1914 and it was sold by my Aunt Beth in 2002. Most of my memories come from the years 1950-1996. In that time many Boys Clubs of America trips were held there and even a few Marion YMCA trips. I utilized our wooded beachfront and entire forest for the kids. In all our property was 256 acres. And, I made full use of the Haunted Island on each trips with midnight excursions there.

I have vague memories of my grandfather but many great ones of my grandmother, Barbara Noreika. I remember cows being there one summer and chickens for the majority of the 1950’s. Prior to that pigs and horses were also kept on the farm.

All those stories can be found here on Big Bass Lake and Beyond with much, much more. But now it’s time to say good-bye to all our company! Thanks for all your comments and suggestions and thanks also for our guest writers. Big Bass Lake forever!

The Old Bus Overlooking Our Dock

As a young boy, I never got on a school bus until 8th grade. That is, one with wheels. As a seven and eight year old boy I did get on a school bus at our family farm overlooking Big Bass Lake. Just to the left of the path that led down a hill to our docking area was an old school bus. How it got there I never knew but it was fully functional for a kid my age as the swivel doors could open and shut.

The downside was that this bus had no tires. And it stood in place for two summers and then mysteriously vanished. But for those two summers my older sister and I had a field day playing on that old bus. We would drive it all over Michigan and let on our passengers every few miles. And what a view of Big Bass Lake our passengers had.

My grandmother never told me what happened to that bus when I arrived at the farm as a nine year old boy. Yet I wasn’t all that disappointed as I found new things to stimulate me that summer like feeding the chickens and climbing the hay stacks to the top of the barn. Even so I often wondered what happened to that old school bus. Who wound up with it next and what fun might they be having with it? Maybe it found its way to your property?

The L-O-N-G Driveway

As a young boy being sent out for the mail, I remember how long my grandparents driveway seemed. What made it worse were the occassional black flies that nipped at the skin. Our mailbox was across Big Bass Lake Road and the public landing just a short distance away to the east.

On the way back I’d often take the wooded course along Big Bass Lake. We had a kind of neat little trail that moved up and down the hillside that was coated with trees. It was a more challenging walk but not quite so boring.

Our driveway was a gravel road that led directly to the icehouse and then kind of curled around it. Today I would call that a round-a-bout which seems to permeate the greater Indianapolis area.

I would also retrieve a lot of great skipping stones from our driveway to later use in Big Bass Lake from our pier. This picture provides you with a glance at the whole driveway from Big Bass Lake Road.

Night of the Bear

During the afternoon of the night of the bear, I had been at our beach property building up a rather large wood pile for a fire over the next couple of days in which I planed to do some foil cooking. That evening, however, as I longed in my chair back at our cottage, I heard a voice cry out to me from the night. I glanced outside our picture window into pitch blackness with my eyes focused on our dock area which was not able to be physically seen since it was down a hill. The voice cried out again.

I slipped on a windbreaker and made my way down to the pier only to find my friend Jack Knysz with a buddy of his from Chicago. He asked if I would join them down at our beach which was a good half mile down the shoreline from our pier. I ran up to get a flashlight since our motor boat did not have running lights and, for that matter, neither did Jack’s boat. We made our way to the wooded beach area.

You could visually observe steam on the lake as the late July evening was that cool. Since we were needing some warmth I fired up that large pile of wood in my firepit and all of a sudden the whole area brightened. Jack suddenly shouted, “Bear, Bear!” He pointed to an area near the swamp and his friend from Chicago bolted headfirst into Big Bass Lake in a running dive. Jack literally rolled over in laughter. I suppose Jack had it all planned out from the start to fool his city friend but I don’t think his buddy thought that was too funny as his clothes were soaking wet and he needed to stand close to the fire for a good hour before he could return via Jack’s boat to an area to get out of those clothes.

Of course, there was no real bear but still I will never forget that night. I’m sure Jack’s friend won’t forget that night either and is probably planning his own practical joke to get even.

Camping Meals with the Marion Boys Club

Some of my fondest memories of my boys club camping trips revolved around meal times. After the fire crew filled the firepit with woods the cooks for that meal took over. On one trip with the Marion Boys Club, Andrew Freshwater had teamed up with Keith Hansel to prepare the meal which was trail pak macaroni and cheese.

After getting water from Big Bass Lake they heated up their kettle with water and then added the trail pak mix. Andrew was the chief stir person that day and as the mixture got hotter it thickened making stirring a tad harder. He then set that portion of the meal aside to cool a might while Keith stired up the Kool Aid mixture for the meal adding water purification tablets to it since that water would not be boiled.

Diced ham was then added to the macaroni and cheese making a great meal. Conversations during meal times were great. The kids talked about the activities of that day and what was about to happen once darkness set in. On this particular night we were going to head for the Bloody Antler Trail and the boys were excited about that.

Often after meal times the kids would retreat to the tents for a brief rest or some would engage in off shore fishing. Others would hang around the campfire for talk as the clean up crew took over to get the dishes washed in the barrel provided for that purpose. Meals were always fun as good talk mixed with great food.

Noreika Road

This is the junction point of Noreika Road with North Big Bass Lake Road. It separates our fields from the forest at this point. Noreika Road is probably just over a mile in length as it exits out again onto West Big Bass Lake Road right next to the public landing. I understand that it is now called different things but initially it was named after my grandparents who settled that area (Page- Big Bass Lake History).

It was largely a sandy path until it approached our barnyard at which point the trail began as grass until it reached our cottage and then the road was more gravel in nature. Now there seems to be a road leading down to our wooded beach as well.

I understand that the State of Michigan still considers that stretch of road, Noreika Road.

The second picture is a view fairly close to our wooded beach cutoff from Noreika Road. Here is where the greenery is the only thing that stands between the road and the lake. I was taking some of the boys club kids on a hike down our sandy road enroute to the old logging trail. The boys enjoyed watching Big Bass Lake as we hiked as they were following the progress of a speedboat towing two skiers.

The road was a good way to get to and from our family cottage or just about anywhere on the property with the exception of the north border. Lost Lake, the blackberry bushes, the path down to the wooded beach, the old logging trail, and the pathway through the electrical lines all had open access from Noreika Road.

Big Bass Lake was the chief attraction, though, for the kids of the boys club. They used it to swim in, fish, boat, and even bathe in. All else was just icing on the cake.

Autumn Dining Meant Deer Meat and Carrot Juice

I didn’t have the opportunity of spending many Autumns at Big Bass Lake because my grandmother was always heading south for the winter to stay with my Aunt Barb in Enterprise, Alabama. Our family helped her get to Wabash, Indiana, from the farm but as I recall I only went on that trip twice. I never got to explore our property due to hunting season being in place and my dad told me the woods would be a most dangerous place at that time.

I did get the chance to row out on the lake and see scenes such as the one featured in our photograph today. Perhaps I was more fortunate than I thought as scenes like this are also reflected on the lake making the color doublely delicious. Plus the lake at this time of the year has few speedboats on it so you almost have the lake to yourself.

My supper that evening was venison and carrot juice as my grandmother served what she had left to serve. I supplimented some water after that carrot juice. For Breakfast we had the last of the Sugar Crisp and then we were on our way south back to Indiana

Dead Birch Bark is a Camper’s Friend

On a few days of rain at our property on Big Bass Lake, the Hoffman Estates Boys Club kids got to experience how to build a campfire in the rain. Now we had a canopy of trees over our campsite so the rain never really poured down yet a goodly portion still reached us. Yet on our wooded beachfront there was also a goodly assortment of birch trees that were dead. The bark of that tree burns in wet or dry weather.

Danny and Tim gathered in a lot of bark from those dead trees that served both as fire starters and fire continuers throughout one evening meal. The oily substance within the bark catches fire quite easily. It enabled the kids to enjoy a really hot meal despite the inclement weather.

The boys were never allowed to peal any bark off live birch trees. Even so it seemed that our wooded beachfront had more dying birch trees than live ones that year. On our full seven day trip we only needed birch bark twice. And, it wasn’t used unless we just had to have it. The kids were surprised to learn that they could still enjoy a hot meal even in the rain which sure beat the expectations of cold beans out of a can.

Quickie Pies From The Big Bass Lake Store


With all the emphasis on pie recipes lately, I have to say that pies were also a favorite of the kids that came to our property. But Hostess played the key here. The Big Bass Lake Store was where the kids stocked up on their favorite pies for snack times later in the day or even on a hike.

Here they could find peach, apple, blueberry, and cherry pies along with several other flavors. I have to admit that I enjoyed them too. The only recipe these boys needed was on how to unwrap their pastries in order to gobble them down.

The Big Bass Lake Store was a favorite place for the kids to go for their snacks and soda pop which gave them a break from Trail Pack foods that we used at our family wooded beach. However the boys did learn to make their own jelly once to top off cattail pancakes and that flavor was blackberries that they gathered themselves from our blackberry bushes just off Noreika Road.

The Pond on Our Property

Just off Noreika Road and our old logging trail was a trail that led to Matson Road behind the swamp that surrounded our wooded beachfront.  The Marion Boys Club discovered that pathway on one of their trips to our property and its initial impact on them was enormous.  It was at twilight on a foggy night and when they first encountered this pond, its overhanging branches looked like ghostly specters.

Our two photographs display it from an aerial perspective but it is the one on the ground that is most interesting.  Our property has trails that exit onto Matson Road in various places but this one is the shortest in distance.  However this pond appears invisible from the road with only a short hill between it and our forest.  The kids fully explored this area on that trip and some even tried fishing te pond but with no success.  On this particular trip the pond seemed the largest that I had ever seen it as the amount of rainfall that spring must have swelled its size. 

Trips with other boys clubs largely ignored this pond even though they used that trail.  It just proves that how on some trips particular parts of our property caught the attention of the kids eyes more than others.

Noreika Road Divides Our Property

I have always loved this road. It extends from Big Bass Lake Road to Big Bass Lake Road and cuts right through the middle of our property. It begins as our driveway leading to the house, then curls around past the barn. For that about 150 yards it is all grass. Then the sandy road picks up and goes down and up a small hill then proceeds past our blackberry patch and then turns sharply to the left. You can see that turn in this picture.

To the right is an old logging trail that cuts through the forest all the way to the Matson Road which intersects also with Big Bass Lake Road. Enroute on this logging trail one will pass two large swamps and past a small creek.

As to our sandy road, after the curve you see just ahead it proceeds for about another two- hundred yards to Big Bass Lake Road where we have featured two pictures already of that location.

In the picture above, right where the photograph was taken there is another small grassy trail that leads to our forested beach which is on a slight downhill grade.

I have biked this road many times and just before the turn you see ahead the sand gets rather deep as I have wiped out in that area more times than once. I often take the old logging trail as part of my ride. I will have more on the old logging trail later.