In the days of old, the Palette and Chisel had a summer place in Fox Lake. The club would close down in the heat of the summer and members would relocate to the countryside. Glen Sheffer, Cottages at Fox Lake

In the beginning, Fox Lake meant tents; over the years, the club built house. Here’s an early photo of the summer camp, from around 1907:

At its peak, the summer place could hold up to seventy-five people, and the members went up there in the summer to go sketching and painting and to escape the city.

A powerful nostalgia has gripped me since I first learned about the summer camp, but I had no idea where to look for it. Then I bumped into Frank Hensley as he made his way along a downtown street as I was coming out of a coffee shop. Frank got to talking, as he did, and he told me that there was a map showing directions on how to get to the old place. A couple days later, he gave me an envelope with a copy of the old map.

The map–the one at the head of this post–had been drawn by Otto Hake and published in the June 1928 club newsletter. Frank copied it out of there. The map is drawn and lettered beautifully in pen and ink, but it sits on the page cockeyed–north on the compass rose is pointing to the upper right hand corner of the page.

Here’s what the newsletter says about it:

The Camp Deestrict as Otto Views It

Inasmuch as you travel in a northwesterly direction when going to the camp, Uncle Otto thought it would be a good plan to place that point of the compass at the top of the map which he designed for the club circular last month, and which we reprint in this issue.

The information as to automobile roads is guaranteed to be correct, however, and the elimination of unnecessary details makes it possible to find the way in the brightest of sunlight. Having this map in hand and the railway time table on page 7 for emergency use, any flivver navigator should be able to pole his way to our favorite sketching grounds without trembling or very much rattling. . . . Signs have been placed on the camp building and also on the main road and one at the railroad track, so you cannot get lost.

In my mind, the photos of the old camp were as good as posted on the blog. Problem is, the Fox Lake of 1928 bears no resemblance to the Fox Lake of today–the Fox Lake of auto dealerships and fast-food joints, of malproportioned new houses planted one on top of another. Hake’s map shows few roads and doesn’t give the street names where you need to turn for the old camp. Google Earth just confused me–I couldn’t figure out how to mentally overlay Hake’s cockeyed map on the satellite image. I drove around for hours, got stuck with a dead battery, and limped my way home. Somewhere in my files I have the property’s legal description, which should lead me straight there next time . . .

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