Category Archives: Little Sebago Lake

Mid-Summer Memories of Little Sebago Lake, 1950s-1960s

Every summer, I think back fondly of summer vacations spent on Little Sebago Lake in Maine. I also often share a post or two each summer with vintage photos from my years of vacations spent in Maine with my extended family.

However, I realized that last summer, busy with several genealogy projects, I neglected to write about those years.

To remedy that situation, today’s post is all about those wonderful years on Little Sebago Lake.

My grandparents, born and bred in Maine, returned there every summer to spend vacation time with family and friends. Grandfather worked for Western Union and often got transferred up and down the East Coast.

About 1947, the final move came when he was transferred from New Jersey to Boston. Now living in Massachusetts, Grandfather and Grandmother found vacationing in Maine a much more accessible experience and began renting a cottage on Little Sebago Lake. This was before my time, but thanks to Aunt Barbara, who was an avid photographer, there are photos documenting our family life from then through the 1960s.

Little Sebago Lake was a much different place back then compared to today. Camps were rustic – very rustic – as there was no potable water, no telephones, firewood was the heat source and the bathroom was an outhouse in the woods. Our camp did have electricity, but my grandparents saw no need for a television.

Although boating was a popular past time, you were much more likely to see sailboats than waterskiers. Jet skis hadn’t even been invented. Vacations were all about family experiences – swimming, sunbathing on a small beach or your own dock, grilling food, enjoying lake views on land or in rowboats.

In bad weather – and it could be quite cold and wintery in July – we stayed inside and read books or magazines, did puzzles and I remember finishing up quite a few paint-by-number kits.

Little Sebago was – and is – beautiful. Now, step back in time and enjoy the lake!


We’re There!!!

This was the first view of the lake peeking through the trees along today’s Cambell Shore Road. By 1981, when Dave and I visited Maine and drove down to the cottage, the foliage had grown so much that the lake was no longer visible at this point.


Almost to Camp!

Camp was the very last cottage along this dirt road, which I remember having some VERY bumpy spots due to Maine winters.


Approximate Camp Location (red), Beach Location (purple)


Cousin Charles with Carole, Barbara and Doris


Aunt Carole and Grandfather
on the beach across the lake


Mom, Dad, Grandmother & Grandfather

Aunt Carole & Grandfather boating at the beach


Mom at the beach

The land behind those bushes was all marshy. Today, those bushes have all grown high and there are cottages encroaching on it.

Grandfather built this deck by hand and each fall, it came out of the water and was stored in the boathouse below the cottage.

My grandparents loved the lake and I think what drew them to this particular cottage was the lake views:


Cottage Porch View


Lakeside

The camp lot was quite large – I’d say well over an acre – with lots of space from the neighbors on each side. The cottage also sat up on high ground.


Spring time view of camp from the water


Uphill from the lake, boathouse door open


Almost like glass


Lake view through the trees


Family Fun


Grandmother & Me

This was my first summer at Little Sebago Lake – I was three years old and my earliest memories are all about Grandmother making me feel comfortable in the water – walking, playing with her in an inner tube and, eventually, swimming.

The summers I spent on Little Sebago Lake are filled with nothing but warm memories.

In late August, there were some last looks around the lake:

All good things come to an end, though, and, as Labor Day approached, the camp shut down for the winter and we headed back to the real world.


Fall is coming!

Those were definitely the good old days! I never realized how lucky I was as a kid, but I appreciate every moment spent on the lake now.

Reminiscing – Good Old Days on Little Sebago Lake

It’s June and it’s Summertime, which always brings back memories of the wonderful years I spent with my grandparents on Little Sebago Lake.

My grandparents, Vernon and Hazel Adams, rented their camp for a number of years – I think from the late 1940s until around 1954 – and then finally purchased the property in the middle lake area.

Earliest photo of the camp, c1946

This photo is blurry, but I love it because it is the earliest one I have of the family camp. Grandfather is with King, the collie. Grandmother is behind him. I have no idea who the person is sitting on the right, but one of the girls (on the left) standing on the porch is my Aunt Carole. The other girl looks like my mom, Doris, and the photographer, as always, was probably Aunt Barbara.

None of the roads – and the term is used loosely because they were more like bumpy dirt paths that flooded in rain – had names. How did we find the camp?

The turnoff, which was between Gray and North Windham on the state highway, had a distinctive display. Two wooden posts held wooden signs with the names of various camp owners down that road, which today is Cambell Shore Road.

The earliest photos I have of me at the camp are from 1954. I was only two years old, so don’t remember that first visit, but as I got older (school age), my excitement grew as we neared the lake.

When I saw the post with the signs, I knew we were almost there, after a long drive from New Jersey. Before we headed down the hill into the woodlands, I would catch my first view of Little Sebago Lake.

Back in the 1950s, the trees weren’t yet tall enough to block the water view.


Water View Approaching the Lake, c1960

When my husband and I went back in 1981, I was quite disappointed that Mother Nature had taken over. The trees were so tall, the lake view was totally blocked and I had to wait until we were further along the dirt road to get a look at the lake.


Road to the Adams Camp

I quickly learned to keep my hands and face inside the car because there were a few spots where errant branches would smack you in the face if you didn’t take care!

No map was needed, though, because the Adams camp, at that time, was the last camp along the road. We had to – very slowly – drive up and down a very short steep hill and then quickly turn right as the back of the guest cabin greeted us.

Grandfather was usually puttering around, working on various projects, but Grandmother and Aunt Barbara were in the cottage when we arrived and I am sure they could hear the car approaching.


We’re Here!!!!

Vacation activities were the same every summer, but what fun they were!


View through the trees

Back in the 1950’s the toilet was outside, attached to the cottage but not accessible from inside. If you look carefully at the cottage photo (above), you can see the little square outhouse shape between the pairs of trees on the left, which Grandfather built. Before that, and before my memory, the outhouse was 100-150 feet into the woods.

The water that came out of the cottage faucet wasn’t drinkable and there was no hot water, either. Once a week, we drove somewhere towards Gray, I think, and filled containers with potable water.

We swam:

Linda & Grandmother

I was forever picking blueberries and, while Grandmother made a mean fresh blueberry pie, I never have liked blueberries. However, I loved picking them:


Linda, c1955

Last, but not least, there were those fun boat rides to nowhere, taking in all that Little Sebago had to offer:


Smooth as silk


Not so much!


Grandfather’s first dock, which he built himself!

I hope you’ve enjoyed my reminiscing about the good old days on Little Sebago Lake. I have lots of family photos on the lake, but have tried to include mostly views of the lake as it was in the mid-20th century.

 

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.