A Special Place Called 'Liberty Street'
Meanwhile, Sally and J.D. had inspected the bunkhouse (a few years later, our son, Dan, would spend his summer expanding that building–ending up with a capacity to sleep 12), and then they proceeded to walk the entire 100-acre island on a path that, a few years later, would be greatly upgraded by members (including us) of the Sleepers Island Association.
“It’s a beautiful island,” Sally said to Fannie upon their return, “but you have the best spot.” Fannie agreed, saying that a friend of hers had bought the entire island in the early 1960s and then divided it into lots for sale. He offered Fannie first choice–she could have whichever lots she wanted. She bought the three surrounding the northwest point.
Now we come to the key moment of my story. It occurred on our drive home to Dublin, New Hampshire, later that day. Here’s how I remember our conversation …
Me: “I think I’ve got the makings of a good ‘House for Sale’ story for our September issue. I loved the place.”
Sally: “Might we ever think about owning it ourselves?”
Me: “Wow, do you really think so?”
J.D.: “Yeah, Dad, yeah! Yeah!”
The next point in time in my story is the late evening of July 4th of the same year. We’d signed papers with Paul and purchased “Liberty Street.” The name came from a metal street sign in Atlanta, Georgia, sent to us that summer by Sally’s brother-in-law. It was, we felt, the perfect name. And so now Liberty Street was ours. I’d have to mosey around to find some other property to feature in Yankee‘s September 1971 issue. We were about to spend our first night, and Fannie and Paul’s last night, together at Liberty Street.
With our three boys–J.D., 11; Dan, 10; and Chris, 6–tucked away next to us in one of the upstairs bedrooms, Sally and I turned in for the night. But for a long time we remained wide awake. Excitement was maybe one reason, but also we couldn’t help hearing Paul and Fannie downstairs arguing in fairly loud voices over who was responsible “for letting this place go.” The only thing they seemed in agreement on was that it was “a mistake.” They went on and on until, with the lovely sounds of water lapping against the rocks directly below our open window, we fell asleep there on the island for the first time.
The next morning, Fannie and Paul left us on our own, taking with them a few things but leaving dishes, furniture, fishing equipment, even clothing. I wouldn’t see Paul again for many years. By then he and Fannie had long since been divorced. (We hope their selling Liberty Street didn’t play a part.)