Tag Archives: Little Sebago Lake

Memories of Little Sebago Lake – Updated

Recently, I wrote about feeling nostalgic for the good old days of summer vacations spent on Little Sebago Lake in Maine.

August 1955

A member of the Little Sebago Lake Facebook group left a message on the post and invited me to check out their group, which I did and which is wonderful.

I posted several other photos from the 1950s and then asked for help in identifying exactly where my grandparents’ camp was. I remember which turns to take, but back then, none of those roads had names so I could estimate the cottage location, but wasn’t positive about it.

However, I did have a cottage view, assuming that the cottage hadn’t been razed and replaced:


That bumpy land was the walkway down to the dock!

And, I had a lake view with a distinctive little island directly across from the camp:


And, I remembered we used to swim and sunbathe at an empty little beach across the way. What I remembered most about it was that behind the vegetation, there was marshy, bog type land.


Armed with these photos, my memory and Google Earth and with suggestions from some of the Little Sebago Lake Facebook members, the camp was located:

Google Earth

The red arrow indicates the approximate location of the camp and you can see the little island just to the left in the lake. The purple arrow indicates where that sandy beach is and it is still there because the marshy area that I remember doesn’t make for good land on which to build!

That was only the beginning of my exciting discoveries. Another member of the Facebook group sent me a link to the Cumberland County Registry of Deeds website and, like many counties across the U.S., they have begun to put digital images of land deeds online and they are free to view.

Normally, I would add a visual example here, but because the purchasers of the camp are still living, I will omit that step. However, I’ve written a letter to them – property owners’ addresses are also visible on the website – offering to share images of their camp in days gone by. I hope I hear back from them. I was even able to save the image of the land deed recording the sale from my grandmother to them.

There was even a plat map showing the property and the island:


That wasn’t all I was able to discover. I found the names of the owners of the property next door. Their grandchild had been vacationing at the lake at the same time I was there a couple of times:

Linda, right, with friend

I then used some genealogical sleuthing skills, located my toddler friend and have also written her a letter. I imagine she will be quite shocked, if she even remembers me!

Last, but maybe best so far, is that the current owner of the camp next door found my blog posts about Little Sebago and left me a message on FB. She is texting the current owners of my grandparents’ cottage. Definitely time for a genealogy happy dance. 🙂

Sometimes, we get so involved in our ancestors’ lives that we don’t share memories of our own. I consider myself very lucky to have had two sets of relatives with cottages on lakes and I spent considerable time at each of them.

I’m so glad I’ve been able to fill in so many of the unknowns about the Little Sebago camp – when the cottage was built, who owned the property before, who bought it from my grandmother and even the last name of my young playmate in the photo above.

Be sure to take the time to record your own memories for posterity.

Feeling Nostalgic – Summers on Little Sebago Lake

With Labor Day weekend, the traditional end of summer vacation,  almost upon us, memories of fun on Little Sebago Lake have been on my mind.

Growing up, my family didn’t have a lot of extra money, but we did have a wonderful vacation each summer. That’s because Grandmother and Grandfather had a summer cottage on Little Sebago Lake. My family always made the long drive from New Jersey to Maine, where we spent two weeks with Grandmother, Grandfather and Aunt Barbara at the lake.

Little Sebago Lake Cottage

When we went to the cottage, we really were pretty much roughing it. The Adams camp, as it was called, was the last cottage at the end of a very bumpy dirt road.

Country Road
I remember the car shaking, a lot!

There was no heating system in the cottage, so heat was provided by a fireplace.

The Only Source of Heat

We did have cold running water, but it wasn’t potable. We had to collect fresh spring water once a week for drinking.

Hazel with Linda getting Water
Grandmother and Me, c1956

Notice the water container to the left of me!

Cleaning dishes meant boiling huge pots of water first and there was no bathtub or shower. I took many a bath in this:

Me, c1954

When I got a bit older, baths happened in the lake.

My grandparents and Aunt Barbara lived in the main cottage, but there was a guest cabin about 100 feet away. Grandfather enjoyed carpentry and he actually converted the wood storage area in back of the guest cabin into a second bedroom with an attached covered roof for the car.

Two Room Guest Cabin

My parents, brother and I all slept in the guest cabin. There was no heat at all in there, nor was there any running water and the toilet was attached to the outside of the main cottage. If a bathroom stop was needed at night, the only choice was to cross over to the little bathroom that my grandfather had built. It was actually a big improvement over its predecessor, which was an outhouse a couple hundred feet away in the woods!

My grandfather enjoyed four activities at the cottage: puttering around working on projects, relaxing and listening to the Boston Red Sox games on his transistor radio, swimming and going out for boat rides.

Here, he put my father to work, too, as they took down this tree:


In spite of the lack of some modern conveniences (no phone or TV, but there was a radio), time spent at the cottage was heavenly. I learned to swim at a very young age.

Grandmother & Me, c1954

By the age of three, I had picked quite a few blueberries, which Grandmother baked into fresh pies.

Me, c1955

A few years later, my brother, Mike, enjoyed his first experiences at the lake, too.

Mike, enjoying sand and water

Grandfather put up a swing for me when I was three years old. I remember being heartbroken when my mother told me one of the trees had come down in a winter storm, but by the time we got to the lake that summer, Grandfather had hoisted my swing up into two other trees.

Me, c1955

There were boat rides:

Linda with Grandmother and Grandfather

And birthday parties for Mike and Aunt Barbara:

Mike’s First Birthday Party

Aunt Barbara

We even went horseback riding. I remember really feeling it the next day after an hour in the saddle!

Horseback riding in Windham

The cottage had a porch with a view out to the lake.

Porch View

The family ate every meal on the porch. I appreciate its beauty now, but, growing up, only the grownups took the time to enjoy it!

Little Sebago, Smooth as Silk

Each year, I posed for obligatory pictures, all taken by Aunt Barbara. I really appreciate her dedication to photography because, if it weren’t for her, I wouldn’t have any of these pictures. She took literally hundreds of photos at the lake through the years.

Me, c1953

Me, c1956

Me, c1958

We spent hundreds of happy family hours together:

My dad, George

Mike and Mom, Doris

Family and Guests

My grandparents had bought the cottage in the late 1940s, before my time. Little did I know that the summer of 1968 would be our last summer at the lake. Unbeknownst to any of us, Grandfather had what later came to be known as mad cow disease. In September, he had what the doctors thought was a stroke. In reality, it was the first appearance of the symptoms of Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease and he declined so quickly that he passed away on Pearl Harbor Day, 7 December 1968.

Grandmother put the cottage up for sale that spring and it sold right away. Dave and I visited New England in 1981 and I was able to find the cottage once again. (Not easy, since the roads had no names and there had been a lot of growth during that time.) Surprisingly, the cottage hadn’t changed. The owners weren’t there, but we walked the property and, except for new tree growth and a lack of blueberry bushes, it looked like I had stepped back in time.

Yep, summers at the lake were pretty special.

“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy”

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.

Google Maps

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.

Country Road
Road to the Cottage

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.

Cottage with Car in Front
Grandfather’s and Grandmother’s Cottage

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.

Cottage Through the Trees 2
Guest Cabin

My grandparents and aunt slept in the main cottage. When we visited, we slept in the guest cabin, maybe 50 feet from the cottage.

Storage Shed at Back

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.

Learning to Swim

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.

Mom and Mickey

Mickey liked the water as much as Mom did!


After the swim came sunbathing with Mickey licking my mother’s face.

Boathouse down below

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.

Charles, Barbara, Carole, and Doris in Row Boat
Boat Outing

This was before my time, but cousin Charles, my aunts Carole and Barbara and my mother, Doris, went out rowing one day.

Island from Boat
The Island

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.

Doris Standing Next to Lake
Mom, lakeside

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.

Happy on the Swing

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.