Wendy Koile knows the magic of Geneva-on-the-Lake.
Her head sticking out of her family’s car as they drove down Lake Road, her pigtails in the lakefront breeze, the smell of hot dogs in the air, and the slam of a screen door at Eugobode’s cottages fill Koile’s childhood memories.
“My favorite moment of each vacation has always been the instant that I get a glimpse of Lake Erie,” she said. “Each and every year I wait with great anticipation for the precise moment when that blue border peaks from the horizon. I still catch my breath.”
Special doesn’t begin to describe the little lakefront resort town, said Koile, who is from southeast Ohio, but her new book “Geneva-on-the-Lake: A History of Ohio’s First Summer Resort” is filled with photos and facts, history and memories designed to showcase all the character GOTL has to offer.
Koile will sign copies of her book from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday at the Lodge and Conference Center at Geneva-on-the-Lake.
“My grandparents began the tradition of going to GOTL in the 1940s,” she said. “One week on the shore and they were hooked. My family is now on the fourth generation of GOTL vacationers. I have been to the lake every year of my life and it has always been the highlight of my year.”
Koile said as an adult she is now amazed — how did all those family members fit into one tiny GOTL cabin?
“How we managed to fit and share one tiny bathroom is still a mystery to me,” she said.
An English professor at Zane State College, Koile said she wanted to write about something she is truly passionate about.
“I tell my students on a daily basis to write about something they love and it will come naturally. As I began my research, I realized that talking to people, or looking at old pictures of GOTL was not work at all,” she said. “In fact, it was one of the most enjoyable projects I have ever experienced.”
No matter how much fun she had writing the book, Koile said she had one goal in mind — preserving everyone’s memories of the lake.
“My main goal was to capture the history and feelings associated with the resort in hopes of forever preserving them,” she said. “I could have easily written a book of facts on the town history, but I knew there was just something more than that. It is my hope to have woven my love for the town into the history. Luckily for me, my publishers The History Press accepted my manuscript and promised to keep my voice in the work.”
Koile’s happy memories, however centered around GOTL, come down to one thing — family.
“Our times at GOTL were meant to make memories and traditions that we would forever hold in our hearts,” she said. “In my research, so many people that I interviewed expressed this same feeling with tears to go with it. The town of GOTL presented a perfect place to build those family moments. From laughing so hard we cried to fighting over an inflatable raft, to watching a purple pink sunset, it was always about experiencing it with family. I continue to preserve this tradition with my daughter and nieces and nephews. They, too, have come to understand that GOTL is our special memory making place.”
Koile said she still can’t contain her excitement when she rolls into the village for a visit.
“Last weekend I attended my first book signing event at GOTL and I was very excited for this day and to share my experience with other GOTL fans,” she said. “As I rolled to town on that very important day, I still yelled when I saw that first Eddies Grill sign. I still got choked up when I saw the lake, and I still felt those magical moments return as I cruised through the town. For me, and many other of my kindred spirits, those moments are what make GOTL the best place of Earth.”
GOTL Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Marge Milliken said she is a big fan of the book.
“Wendy sees the village through the eyes of the tourist,” Milliken said. “She came here as a very small child and carries the warm feelings of the summers at the lake with her. Each year she would look forward to the trek back to the Lake to relive those feelings over and over. Her story is the same one that I hear from the families that have been coming to Geneva-on-the-Lake for four generations.”
The book was meant to be written from the perspective of a visitor, Milliken said.
“We who are lucky enough to live here have told these stories over and over,” she said. “It is comforting to see that she has taken the time to assemble them in one place for all of us to enjoy and be able to pass on to the next generation.”
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