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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.

This favorite family picture of the Hales at Liberty Street in the summer of 1972 was taken by a noted New Hampshire photographer, the late Eric Sanford, who, while standing precariously in a small rowboat (named Wah), nearly lost his balance—and would have fallen overboard. (From left: J.D., Dan, Chris, Sally, Daisy, and Judson.)
Photo/Art by Judson D. Hale Sr.
This favorite family picture of the Hales at Liberty Street in the summer of 1972 was taken by a noted New Hampshire photographer, the late Eric Sanford, who, while standing precariously in a small rowboat (named Wah), nearly lost his balance—and would have fallen overboard. (From left: J.D., Dan, Chris, Sally, Daisy, and Judson.)

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?”

J.D.: “Yeah.”

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.)

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9 Responses to A Special Place Called ‘Liberty Street’

  1. Kathleen Conner July 13, 2014 at 11:18 am #

    What a moving story about the life of a lovely family. The life of a summer home and the love shared there. It was the sharing of a glorious life lived by a blessed few. Thank You for sharing the dream with so many who may otherwise have completely missed out. I wish I could go spend a few weeks at “Liberty Street” myself this summer.

  2. ann scourtes July 13, 2014 at 10:40 pm #

    very nice story

  3. Sarah West Coast July 19, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    This is a lovely story. My family parted with our summer memory-laden lakeside house in Maine years ago, though all of us remember it so fondly. It was part of the inspiration for my husband and me to buy a small waterfront cottage in Westport Mass., so we could make wonderful memories for our kids. Now that we live on the West Coast and the children are growing and heading off to summer camps and travel, it’s too hard to maintain, so we have decided to sell. But, as the author writes, a part of us will always be there.

  4. Chuck Owen July 19, 2014 at 1:43 pm #

    I know your property quite well as I am good friends with 2 of your neighbors, the Gowland’s and Leach’s. Mark has been a long time friend and similar to yourself, a boyz weekend on Father’s Day is always had. As with you, a little work but, more socializing. Through my work at the Boston Globe, I came to know Cindy, J.D. wife. In a few conversations with her, we revealed a common interest, Sleepers Island.
    It made me sad to hear earlier this summer that you were selling the property, it makes me sadder reading such a great story. Whenever I fish around the point ( I’ve caught a lot of smallmouth just off your property ) I will think of this story and think of the good fortune my friends have been able to share in Sleeper’s. The most beautiful sun sets around!
    Be well.

  5. Denise Gonyer July 20, 2014 at 7:11 pm #

    What a great story! A real tear jerker…You are have been so fortunate to make these memories to cherish forever and ever. You, your family and friends have been truly blessed. It is so great to hear this story..the island life is so different than the inland life. Thanks for sharing this great story of our beautiful lake! Gilford’s Town Clerk, Denise Gonyer

  6. Louise Fournier Perry August 5, 2014 at 7:33 am #

    What a beautiful heartfelt story! I know exactly how you feel. We just sold our beloved family home that was in our family for 62 years. The beautiful memories of family and friends will last a lifetime. It was so sad and difficult to walk out that door for the last time. We were lucky to have grown up in that beautiful house with the best parents in the world! It was bought by a young couple who had previously looked at
    50 homes. The minute they walked into our home they said they could feel the love in the old antique colonial. It now will have a new family to fill the rooms with laughter. When I was leaving the house for the last time I thanked it for all the beautiful memories that will always live on in our hearts…

  7. ed violante August 5, 2014 at 11:48 am #

    Lovely story about fond memories.Reminds me of my uncle’s home in new York state.Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. Faye August 5, 2014 at 11:36 pm #

    I loved your story — it was sad, sweet, funny & lovely. You are so lucky to have had a place on the lake, with your beautiful family. I bet you have great memories!

  9. Fannyv Diehl August 6, 2015 at 8:24 pm #

    I remember that day distinctly, since I was the owner of the A frame and , at that time, Paul’s wife. I remember it was a drizzly day. When I deplored the weather, you said you would write the property up with the weather so gray, and then state that if it is this nice in the rain imagine how gorgeous it will be in the sunshine! I’ve never forgotten that conversation; I was impressed that you could take a situation and make a positive out of a negative.

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