Life on Little Sebago Lake in the 1950s

Summer 2020 is well under way and I can’t believe that it’s been almost 70 years since Grandfather and Grandmother bought their camp on Little Sebago Lake.

They had rented for several years – the late 1940s into the early 1950s – and I guess the owners decided they were ready to sell.

While Grandmother enjoyed the lake, sunbathing and taking boat rides, I think the impetus behind buying the camp was Grandfather.

Grandfather and Grandmother with Family and Friends

Grandfather was a very handy guy and I remember him always puttering around camp with various tools, working on his projects.

Their camp had two buildings on it, the main cottage, where Grandmother, Grandfather and Aunt Barbara lived and the guest cabin, where my parents, brother and I stayed when we visited for two weeks every summer.

Mom, in front of the guest cabin, c1956

Notice the right side of the guest cabin and the open door. That was a wood shed. Around 1957, Grandfather finished off the shed into a second bedroom and covered an area behind to use as a carport.

I remember being quite in awe as we inspected the beautiful new room. I also have distinct memories of those big wooden window shutters that opened and closed pulling that rope. There was a second shutter on the left side of the cabin that let in nice cool air in the evening. They were so heavy that I couldn’t open them by myself and, if I tried to close them, there would be a huge THUD. I imagine I probably tried doing that once by myself and got yelled at enough that I kept my little hands off the pulley rope!

I think part of the reason I remember those shutters so well is that, when the weather was nice, they were left open all night and all the scary night sounds kept my fertile imagination going. What animal was walking around right outside, crackling the pine needles on the ground? Was it a wolf or a bear or something else? Or was a stranger lurking about? (The stranger was probably Aunt Barbara who liked to walk around camp in the early evenings.)

On the other hand, there were some ferocious summer storms on the lake. I remember a big hail storm with golf ball-sized hail pelting the cottage during the day. Thunder and lightning made regular appearances so when storms arrived, the shutters closed. I was tucked safely inside the guest cabin, listening intently.

Grandfather and Grandmother loved taking boat rides. I never, ever remember Grandmother taking the motor boat out by herself. I don’t think she ever did, nor did Aunt Barbara. They sometimes went rowing in the rowboat, but that was all.

Me, c1955

This appears to be Grandfather’s first motor boat, but it’s not the one I remember. This boat was retired to a tiny sandy area along the camp’s waterfront and I used to play in it when I got a little bit older.

Eventually, it had too many spider webs and there were water snakes slithering along the path to the boat and I stopped wandering down there.

However, by the summer of 1957, Grandfather had the boat which I remember and which he still had in 1968, the last summer before he died.

Once each season, Grandmother and Grandfather would head out on their marathon boat ride early in the morning. They explored every nook and cranny all the way around the lake and they were gone for hours. I remember asking if I could go with them a couple of times, but the answer was no because I would get bored sitting in the boat for that long. I probably would have!

They never tired of the beauty of Little Sebago Lake.

The  green motor boat is also the boat behind which I learned to water ski around 1965. I was spending time with my aunt and uncle on Lake Winnipesaukee by this time and traveled over to Little Sebago when my parents came up for their two week visit. I had been trying and trying to get up on skiis in New Hampshire and had almost made it up. I was determined to learn and Grandfather spent several days with me, pulling me up out of the water. His green putt-putt didn’t have tons of power, but I did succeed and went back to Winnipesaukee able to water ski with my friends.

Grandmother loved to sunbathe on the dock and on the beach across the lake that we used to visit. It was like our own private beach because there was hardly anyone ever there when we were.

Grandmother, ready to sunbathe, c1958

In the water with me, c1955, off the beach

My favorite activities were (1) picking blueberries, which I did even when I was of high school age, although they weren’t nearly as plentiful as when I was little, and swimming or playing in the water:

Playing with baby brother, 1958

Mandatory life vest until I became a proficient swimmer

Enjoying the inner tube at the beach

I still think back fondly of those perfect summers on Little Sebago Lake. I also remember being quite sad when Mom told me in the spring of 1969, a few months after Grandfather died, that Grandmother had sold the cottage.

Later this summer, I will do one more post about those idyllic years on Little Sebago Lake in Maine.



One thought on “Life on Little Sebago Lake in the 1950s”

  1. Love your story. Amazing the memories that are seared in our brains that we cherish. Hoping this can be shared and archived in Little Sebago Lake’s history. We are gathering such stories for our centennial celebration for 2024. Wonderful story.

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