Tag Archives: Little Sebago Lake

Best Childhood Memories Ever: Summers on Little Sebago Lake, Maine

Summertime always makes me nostalgic because I was one lucky little girl to spend my summers vacationing on Little Sebago Lake, Maine with my grandparents and my Aunt Barbara. Of course my family was there, too, but spending time with my grandparents and aunt was special since they lived in Massachusetts and we lived in New Jersey.

What was so special about time on Little Sebago? Here’s my walk down Memory Lane.

My grandparents actually rented their camp for several years before they had the chance to buy it and the extended family got together for at least a couple of weeks each summer.

This was taken about 1948, long before I was around. Mom, Dad and Aunt Carole are in the back with King, Grandmother, Grandfather, Aunt Barbara and Mickey seated in front. I loved those woods! So much fun to explore!

The camp was a good sized piece of land with lots of space between the Wetherbees and the Abramsons. The main cottage sat high above the lake with a guest cabin in the back.

You can see the Wetherbees’ guest cabin in the left distance. That’s Grandfather repairing something. My parents and brother and I slept in the cabin. Notice the window shutter with the rope – that’s how we opened and closed the “window.” There was no glass, just a screen over the opening and a matching shutter on the other side of the cabin.

The open door was the wood shed – wood was a necessity because the fireplace in the main cottage provided the only heat. After my sibling was born, Grandfather surprised us one summer. We arrived to find the woodshed had been converted into a second bedroom. My parents were happy about that!

Life was rustic, to say the least. Not only was the cabin unheated and the main cottage warmed by fire, but the water wasn’t potable, nor was it hot and the bathroom, which used to be an outhouse about 50 feet or so from the main cottage became an outdoor toilet attached to the main cottage when I was small.

If you look carefully, above, there are two trees to the right of the car. Then there is a tree that is leaning. Between the second and third trees, an addition to the cottage can be seen. That was the new “modern” bathroom. Grandfather was very handy. He installed a small sink and a flushing toilet. It was wonderful to have, but if we had to use the toilet at night or in the rain, it wasn’t the most fun getting there!

My earliest memories are of swimming:

riding in Grandfather’s motor boat (wood and light green in color) with a dock he built himself:

and Aunt Barbara teaching me to pick blueberries:

Grandmother always made a blueberry pie (although I’ve never cared for blueberries myself) and I was still picking those blueberries when I was 16 – the last summer at the lake before Grandfather died.

Boat rides were always fun, but I didn’t appreciate the scenery back then:

The best ride was to the little beach, about 15-20 minutes by boat:

For those enjoying Little Sebago Lake today, my grandparents’ camp was, back then, on a dirt road, which ended at their property, on what is now Cambell Shore Road. This beach was in front of a marshy area which can’t be seen behind the brush.

The red arrow is approximately where the camp is and the purple arrow where the little beach was.

I haven’t been to Little Sebago Lake since 1981 when my husband and I vacationed in New England. I wanted to stop and see the old camp. At the time, it hadn’t changed much from my previous visit in 1968 and we had no trouble finding the cottage. I was hoping that the owners were there, so I could say hi, but the camp was locked up.

I have been in touch with the current owner – a child of the couple woo actually bought the camp from my grandmother after Grandfather passed away. The cottage and guest cabin have been renovated and updated and look terrific and it’s pretty incredible that from the early 1950s to today, only two families have owned the property, originally built in 1939.

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


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.