Meet Your Neighbors: Jayde Starmapper
Jayde has been lucky enough (and gypsy enough) to have lived an eclectic life in a lot of places, including growing up for a good part of her youth in the Ozark Mountains of southwest Missouri, where the tales of “haints” and “injuns” piqued her love of history and ghost lore! She spent the first half of her adult life as a copywriter, proofreader and graphic artist, then went back to college for her Masters to become a middle school teacher. She then worked for seven years at the Challenger Learning Center in Hammond, flying space missions with kids, until she retired that hat and became a full time artist and ghost tale teller a few years ago. Opening her shoppe was the final step for her to become a Wild Girl of the Dunes herself, much like her beloved idol Alice Gray.
Jayde is also the proud mother of four boys (well, men now), and she has two spoiled rotten dogs, a sassy Bengal cat and six beloved pet rats.
We asked Jayde a few questions about the dunes. Here’s what she said!
What brought you to the dunes?
I moved to Chesterton in 2010 from Illinois (I know, I know, I’m one of “those” people). But in my defense, my family has a dunes cottage in Bridgman, Michigan that my grandparents bought in 1945. We’ve been coming to the Dunes and this area for three generations! That’s how I knew I wanted to live here!
What is your favorite thing to do in the area?
Oh, hiking for sure. There are SOOOO many trails, and so much diversity here that I can find something new every time I go out. I really don’t feel the pull to go to Hawaii or other exotic locations…we have our own gorgeous beaches right here, and nothing in the water will sting or bite me!
Tell us a secret about the dunes.
The Dunes hold many secrets…I’ve done many many hours of research about the area for my ghost hunting and ghost tours, and what I’ve come to conclude is, the Dunes are and have always been wild. They say there is bootlegged booze and money tucked away in the sand, and it may never be found. I kind of love that.
Give us your top three “hidden treasures” (restaurant, shop, trail, beach, event…really anything!)
a) Bailly Homestead turns into a golden wonderland in the fall, not every year is vivid yellow, but in certain years, the leaves just explode in golden warmth and it’s quite a visual feast when you hike it.
b) To eat, I love Ivy’s Bohemian House of course, but also don’t forget the Ritz Klub in Michigan City. It’s the oldest tavern in the area, an old fisherman’s hangout, and the new owner updated it but also kept the charm. The staff are amazing. Oh, and it’s haunted. 🙂
c) I gotta plug my own new venture, Pieces of Jayde Uncommon Goods, a new shoppe I opened in March 2021. We feature many Dunes related things, like my jewelry made with Dunes gifts like acorns and leaves, plus local artwork by talented friends, and even local honey!
What would you like to teach people about the dunes?
There were many folks who fought hard to keep the Dunes away from corporate greed and development. At times it even came to blows and gun threats. That’s how strongly people feel these sacred sands need our protection, and they still do. Please appreciate them for their beauty and their diversity, and for the way they provide a sanctuary for your sanity if you spend any time exploring them!
I do walking history and ghost tours of Chesterton and Porter. These sleepy little towns have had a lot of strange occurrences over the years, and their stranger-than-fiction tales are my favorite things to share on the tours! You can get more info and upcoming tours, here!
Want to learn about more people like Jayce? Sign up for the Dig the Dunes e-newsletter, right here! You can also send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org with your suggestions for people we should feature!