Liberty Street Memories | Jud Hale's Sons Share Their Recollections
When Yankee’s editor-in-chief, Jud Hale, decided it was time to sell Liberty Street, the family lake house, his three sons came together to share their special memories of the place.
Part I: by Daniel Hale (middle son)
I remember well the awesome feeling of freedom being the captain of a boat without a parent. I was twelve. It wasn’t until the end of that first summer, in 1972, that I actually had the arm strength to start the motor and I wasn’t allowed to take the boat out on my own without being able to start it. Seemed unfair, as my Dad could start the thing with one pull and it wasn’t until my Dad saw that I could get it started, that he said, “Sure, you can go out on your own now.” I didn’t get too far out into the lake that first time before the motor died. Slight panic set in, as I wasn’t really sure I had any arm strength left after practically pulling my arm off just getting it started at the dock. Rescue number one by Dad.
I also learned the responsibilities of boating by not checking to see how much gas there was before taking off in the boat. Showing off my newfound freedom to a friend and wanting to get to the rope swing on Rattlesnake Island seemed so much more important that checking the gas level. Rescue number two.
One summer I needed to get back to my summer boarding house in Wolfeboro. My parents didn’t want me coming across the lake too much in bad weather. This particular night, I left for Wolfeboro after dark and my parents heard the boat sputtering as it rounded our point. I thought nothing of it. Once I got to the “broads” of the lake with no turning back and my lights starting to flicker, the engine on the boat completely died. I was 16, floating in the middle of Lake Winnipesaukee, in the dark with a fairly strong northwest wind. I had checked everything and it just wouldn’t start…soon even the battery died, so now I didn’t have any safety lights. I only had a flashlight, but it, too, was getting dim. I decided to save the batteries in the flashlight in case a boat was flying along and couldn’t see me. I was tired, cold, scared, and alone. I figured it would take hours to finally drift onto shore. Suddenly, a boat did come toward me quickly. I waved the dimming flashlight, so the boat wouldn’t run me over. It wasn’t going to run me over…because it was my Dad. Rescue number three.
Dad had three rescues on me before I finally got a chance to pay one back. Living on the northwest point of an island gives you the opportunity to see and prepare for incoming storms. We had just tied most of the boats down, put dock furniture away, and brought in the drying towels, when a south gale blew across the lake, bringing white caps and a strong wind. We loved being safe inside and I think Dad was maybe having a glass of wine (maybe two). Suddenly, our canvas canoe blew off the dock and into the lake. My Dad ran out in front of me as we both headed down to the dock. For some reason, Dad drifted off the walkway shedding articles of clothing and his watch and jumped into the lake to swim after the canoe. (I think the wine was kicking in.) I, not being the greatest swimmer, decided to go out there by boat. As I pulled the boat around the point, I could see Dad was struggling to catch the canoe as it was being blown just as fast as he was swimming. Three rescues for Dad and one big one for his middle son.
Other memories include family birthdays, plane rides over the lake, scuba diving lessons at the sunken Lady of the Lake in Glenn Dale Cover, going to the Sand Bar to swim/fish, learning to waterski, barefoot ski, tubing, nighttime rides back from Weirs Beach following the moonbeam off the lake, fishing, cliff jumping, island hiking and sailing (both Sailfish and Windsurfer). We even waterskied at night once (full moon) but don’t tell the boat patrol. Anything you could think of in a boat or pulling behind a boat, we would try or do.
I also have great memories of working at Sandy Point, a restaurant in Alton Bay. Being able to take the boat to work with Ronnie Corning, a friend/neighbor on Sleepers. The great memory of Ronnie, who worked in the kitchen, coming into the game room, where I worked and saying, “Hey, Dan. Come check this out.” Ronnie had slipped on the back stairs carrying 6 huge jugs of salad dressing. He was covered in it, and what a mess.
I remember watching Dad throw a padlock into the lake, thinking it was the old broken one…it was the new one.
Also, getting to the Mt. Washington for a family birthday party just a little too late and watching it sail away without me.
And camping out on the floor in front of the fireplace trying to stay warm in the winter.
Part II by Christopher Briggs-Hale (youngest son)
My mother knows when Lake Winnipesaukee has something to teach. She’s always been uniquely tuned in to the subtlest of changes. Something growing in the moss or the way the wind crisscrossed just before a strange gale. So, when she yelled that there was a turkey at the top of a tree, I reacted. I walked out the back door of our kitchen onto the porch. Surrounded by towering white pines that sway massively in the lake breeze, it is an unlikely spot to look for a turkey. But my mother had indeed found a turkey—perched high in the long, thick trunks.
At first, I saw nothing and then, to my disbelief, a turkey was plummeting into the yawning sky between the trees. Wings spread wide, it had made the lunge from the top of one of the trees and was headed, in a steeping descending parabola, over the near vertical embankment at the shore of Sleepers Island. It was rocketing toward the shores of Rattlesnake Island a half-mile away. My mother, ever the empathic one for the plight of any creature in distress yelled, “He’s not going to make it.” The turkey, flapping madly, had made it about halfway to its landing site across the water, but it was clear it was not maintaining altitude. More frantic flapping was doing little to keep this bird above the white-capped waves that were blowing in with the rainy southeasterly wind. “Oh no, oh no, oh no,” my mother whispered. A water landing was inevitable.