I have many wonderful memories of summer vacations through the years. Who doesn’t love summertime? I’m not a very musical person, but I do have a few favorite summer-themed songs, like Gershwin’s “Summertime,” referenced in the title, the Jamies “Summertime, summertime, sum sum summertime” song and, of course, anything by the Beach Boys, evoking visions of California sun and surf.
My own vacations had nothing to do with California or oceans, but everything to do with lakes, specifically Little Sebago Lake, near Portland, Maine.
My grandfather passed away in 1968 and Grandmother sold the cottage the following year, so it has been a long time since I’ve been there. However, the old dirt turnoff road was about half way between the towns of Gray and North Windham. I think it may now be Cambell Shore Road. The red marker indicates about where I think the cottage is.
The reason I think it might be here is that there is a very small island directly across from the cottage and there is one, hard to see, on this map.
I also think that the little beach where we used to visit via boat was along where those little bays are right across from the red marker.
Now, relax and step back in time to the 1950’s and 1960’s.
As you can see, this road didn’t need a name back then. When it rained, driving to the cottage could be a bit problematic, but most of the time, when it rained, we had a nice fire going and we stayed indoors.
The cottage was definitely rustic. The water wasn’t potable, heat came from the fireplace and the toilet used to be in a shack in the woods. Grandfather was very handy so he built a little outhouse attached to the cottage. See the picture windows on the right? The outhouse was that little piece jutting out from the main building, immediately to the left of the picture windows.
My grandparents and aunt slept in the main cottage. When we visited, we slept in the guest cabin, maybe 50 feet from the cottage.
I don’t know if my grandfather built the entire guest cabin, but he turned the storage area in the back of it into a second bedroom so there was a little more space for my parents, brother and me. Here’s an early picture before the second room.
Here is a photo of the little beach across the way. We did a lot of sunbathing and swimming there. Most of the time, no one else was around. I imagine that has changed! The beach might not even exist today.
This might be my very first swimming lesson. I took regular lessons later on at the YWCA in Passaic, but mommy and me classes didn’t exist back then. I probably learned to dog paddle in Little Sebago. This was at the little beach.
Mickey liked the water as much as Mom did!
After the swim came sunbathing with Mickey licking my mother’s face.
We walked down the steps to reach the water. The open door is to the boathouse, where supplies were kept. In the winter, the boat was stored in there.
This was before my time, but cousin Charles, my aunts Carole and Barbara and my mother, Doris, went out rowing one day.
There is the little island, just left of the center of the photo. My mother swam from shore out there when she was a teenager. It was quite a good distance from the cottage-side of the lake.
Here is Grandfather’s green wooden putt-putt motor boat. We were headed out for a ride around the lake. The island can again be seen in the left corner.
The lakefront had limited beaches, as you can see. This was about the extent of our “beachfront” lot. Mom was with Mickey, our dog, and both were ready for a swim.
I became an expert blueberry picker. Every time I was bored, Grandmother was always short of blueberries for a fresh baked pie. I have never liked blueberries, but I loved picking them! I was sent out to get blueberries for the pie until I was well into my teens.
Grandfather even made a swing from a piece of wood and two ropes, attaching them to high branches on these trees. I spent many hours swinging as high as I could go.
Although these photos are all from my early childhood, I had just as much fun in my teens. There were several girls in the cottages on either side of us so I often had playmates. Of course, on becoming a teen, we no longer “played,” we hung out together.
They say you can’t go home again. Grandfather died on Pearl Harbor Day, 7 December 1968. As I mentioned, Grandmother sold the cottage some months later. In 1980, Dave and I spent a few weeks in New England. When we got to Maine, I wanted to try to find the cottage and see what it looked like twelve years later. The dirt road was still there and I remembered which fork to take. Our cottage was the very last one on that road.
I was hoping the owners were there, but the cottage was closed up. However, at that time, it still looked the same. Brown paint and white trim still decorated the cottage. We walked down the steps and it looked like my grandmother’s green curtains were still on the porch covering the picture windows. The property, with the wild growth near the lakeside, was still there, with the wild blueberry bushes.
I have a feeling that the next time I visit, it will look very different. Modern progress, if one can call it that, is impossible to check. I was very lucky to have such idyllic summer vacations with my family and I treasure all of my memories.