Some of our all-time best memories have come from Punderson State Park
, a 741-acre treasure in Newbury, Ohio. It started when our son Scott was very young -- back when it was tough to reconcile our penchant for travel and my husband's meager high school English teacher's salary, so we tried our hand as tent campers. No "candy campers" we; we slept in bags on the ground, and we vowed that no string of flamingo-shaped lights would ever touch our 8 by 10 canvas quarters even when electricity could be tapped.
After our daughter Christine was born four years later, she joined the summer forays (although we finally gave up trying to squeeze all four of us in a single tent and purchased a smaller one just for the kids). Then, as youngsters often do, they started to balk at being cooped up with their parents (the real problem, of course, was no TV or a refrigerator to raid). And so it was that our camping days came to an end. We consoled ourselves by looking at pictures of our 3-year-old daughter struggling to re-zip the tent -- complying with Mom’s rule that was intended to keep the creepy crawlers out -- and those showing her 7-year-old brother swinging, Tarzan-like, from the strong vines that hung from the trees surrounding the Punderson campground.
Long after they, and we, had traded in the camping experience for indoor plumbing and HBO, Punderson continued to play a part in our lives. Winter was no exception; on more than one occasion, our daughter was invited to accompany one of her school friends to the winter sports chalet area, where an outdoor lighted toboggan hill and an abundance of snow made for screaming good times (it's still in operation, by the way).
Much later, the manor house served a different purpose -- as a crash pad the night after our daughter's wedding. Both she and her brother had opted to get married on or as close to as possible our own wedding date of Aug. 18 (our daughter reasoned that since the date apparently has worked for us, it couldn't hurt). In any event, we wanted to "celebrate" our anniversary and the fact that both our children were now out on their own -- and perhaps most of all, recuperate from all the wedding brouhaha. Where better to do that than at the Punderson manor house?
Both the park and the lake are named for Lemuel Punderson, who, in 1808 -- five years after Ohio achieved statehood -- became Newbury Township's first permanent settler. According to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, the Punderson family developed a small estate on the edge of the lake, which later developed into a get-away area for folks in the nearby Cleveland area. Punderson Lake is one of the Buckeye State's few natural lakes, formed when a large block of ice broke off a glacier to create a depression that filled with meltwater.