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Meet your Neighbors – Jamie Hogan

Meet Jamie Hogan!  Jamie makes her living in real estate and her life as a writer.  She is known along the Lake Michigan Riviera as an observant chronicler of beach community life and history and has been a feature writer and reporter for daily and weekly newspapers in some unlikely small towns in the Midwest.

What brought you to the Dunes? In the early 1980’s I was invited by John, who was then my co-worker at the Midwest Stock Exchange, to visit a Porter Beach cottage he shared with a diverse collection of his women friends. They were an interesting mix of academics, artists and writers, and he reverently referred to them as the dowager empresses. It wasn’t communal exactly, but there was a hippie vibe.  Jameson was the house pour.  Tarot cards were read and tiaras were worn. It was a scene. Nothing in the house quite worked right, including the water pressure, which didn’t really add to the charm. The theme of the place: “Oh, it’s broken, let’s take it to the cottage!” was supported by a museum like collection of inoperable small appliances.  And I loved it. It was a step up from camping, but not much.  I was very happy when I discovered I could indulge a hot shower for two bucks at a “charming” truck stop just a short drive away.

I fell hard for Dunes life and became a de facto cottage partner in 1985 when John and I married.  I’m not sure what it says about the effect of my presence, but soon after that, the partners scattered onto other adventures and the cottage was left to us, or were we left to it?

How long have you lived here? I’ve been blessed for more than 30 years to live with a wonderful duality, the good fortune to make a home and life in Porter Beach, Indiana as well as in Oak Park & River Forest, Illinois.  Both of my hometowns are artistic, vibrant, lively and notably eccentric.

The Dunes are deep in every memory, milestone and important event in my adult life. I don’t honestly have a recollection of life without the dunes as a backdrop. I brought my son Jake here for his first visit when he was just six days old.

What is your favorite thing to do in the area? Sunset!  That is my moment of reflection each day, a time I really try not to miss, entrancing from any vantage point here.

One of my favorite memories was a sunset cocktail party hosted by a beach neighbor many years ago.  It was raining buckets, but we all showed up anyway. Every single person, and I mean every one, came in the door and pulled from hidden protection under their rain slicker a framed photo of a beach sunset, something that can be found in nearly every house here. No one planned that, they just did it. There may not have been a sunset to watch that night, but all the photos lined on the mantle at that party made it a great one anyway.

Sunset is a marker for each day, and they are all different. It is a privilege to be able to salute the skyline at the dimming of the day with fellow sunset followers all along the Dunes beaches.

Tell us a secret about the Dunes? Well, after so much time here, I couldn’t imagine there was something in the Dunes that had not revealed itself to me.  But a few years ago, a wise and wonderful friend, new to the marvels of this place, seized every last bit of it as she was staring down cancer at the sunset of her life.  She opened my eyes to a phenomenon I had overlooked, heart shaped rocks.  Ubiquitous in beach houses everywhere are jars of beach stones and glass and here we also have crinoids.  But the Dunes, my friend said, is The Land of Heart Shaped Rocks.

She passed away two years ago and among the many enduring gifts she left me, one thing is tangible, a jar of heart shaped rocks collected from our beach. She told me in her last months that the heart shaped rocks held the deepest meaning, that they were blessed by the sun and sand, christened by the Dune moon.

In a very touching moment shortly before she died, she took a heart shaped rock, held it in her hands and warmed it by her spirit. As she pressed it against my cheek she asked me to always remember that I was both heart and rock, soft and strong. She wanted me to know, if I didn’t already, that there was magic in this place.  Heart shaped rocks inspire strong hearts and superlative strength; the kind of strength needed to take chances, to forgive and to keep kind hearts in a hard world.

How is it, I hadn’t really taken notice of their abundance on our Dunes beaches before then? Now, I see them everywhere.

Give your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event) The people, the people and the people!

The truest treasure I know is in the connecting of so many quirky characters here.  They’ve added much to the color and texture of my life.

I keep adding more of those people to what I like to call the FOLD, an acronym for “The Fraternal Order of the Looney Dunes”. There is even a logo for that somewhere and some t-shirts.

On the people theme, let me say a real hidden treasure is the live music so available to us here.  I look for it wherever I can find it.  The caliber of local talent is exceptional.  We have literally every genre of music to be found locally.  Music can often be heard on the beach, too, and I’m especially fond of the gentle drums and percussion shared some folks who frequently come in the evening to tap the sun into the horizon.

What would you like to teach people about the Dunes? The dunes are really a metaphor for life.  They remind us that there is always a chance for second chances.  Days begin here with the revelry of sunrise, each morning on the beach revealing a sandy shoal of windswept renewal, different than the day before. Yesterday’s sandcastles are a memory, swept away with the rolling waves. Each day is an opportunity to start fresh, like the early morning beach.

Anything else? This is where I get to say I can help find your Digs in the Dunes! I am a lucky gal to be professionally connected in my business to the biggest name in residential real estate.  My association as a broker with Coldwell Banker afford me to the tools and resources to bring an exceptional level of service to clients in both Illinois and Indiana.  I’ve been in real estate for more than 25 years and love what I do.


If you would like to reach out to Jamie and utilize her services, you can call her at 708.508.1991 or check out her website right here.

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