A Special Place Called 'Liberty Street'
So the summers went by, one after another. Early on we sold Paul’s boat (he left that for us, too) and acquired from Sally’s father his 22-foot wooden Chris Craft Sea Skiff, which we re-named WahHooWah (Dartmouth grads will understand). But in even moderate waves it turned out to be incredibly wet. Then came Fried Chicken, a 23-foot Penn Yen. But it proved to be too wide for easy landing at our dock slip in a heavy northwest wind. So, finally, the perfect boat: a bright yellow 1977 23-foot Thunderbird Formula we named One Egg ( for reasons too silly to relate here). We still have it–and love it more than ever.
For a place on the mainland essential to islanders–for cars, boats, garbage, drinking water, etc.–we joined with 13 neighbors in purchasing a plot of land in Glidden Cove, directly across from Sleepers Island. We called it the Smith Point Marina Inc.
As our boys grew into the teenage years and began cruising around everywhere in one of a series of Boston Whalers we had, pretty young girls began spending time at Liberty Street. A few were, at one time or another, with us all summer, working as waitresses in the local lakeside restaurants while J.D. and Dan pumped gas at a marina in Wolfeboro. They also worked in restaurants, and one summer even little Chris landed a busboy job at our favorite restaurant, the William Tell, in West Alton. Sally and I treasure a certain photograph of him in one of our old family albums. He’s standing so very proudly in a tuxedo uniform just prior to going across to the mainland and his new job in Pudda, a 12-foot metal rowboat on which we’d put a 4-horsepower engine. He so loved Pudda.
One summer Dan went into business for himself. Have Boat Will Travel his flyer proclaimed, ending with a recommendation that “Daniel is a good boy” and signed by “his mother.” As a result he had so much business–painting, cleaning, cutting brush, etc.–all around our part of the lake that he had to hire his older brother, J. D. “He hated it,” Dan remembers today, “because he knew I made money for each hour he worked, and I always gave him the jobs I didn’t want to do.”
It was around this time that the boys began referring to the tower bedroom Dan had built over the second floor of the bunkhouse as “the love nest.” (Sally and I tried to be understanding.)
In those days, Sally kept the place going all week while I’d commute every Friday, returning to work in Dublin early on Monday mornings. “With all the kids off to their various jobs around the lake,” she recalls today, “and my cleaning and cooking under control, I’d be sublimely happy down on the dock in the sunshine with a good book and our dogs.” (Yes, there have always been a variety of dear dogs.)
Then there was Liberty Street in winter. “Men’s Weekend,” as we always called it, occurred on what was then Washington’s Birthday around the middle of February. A half-dozen of my buddies, and often our boys and their friends, were part of this winter experience every year. No females. (Well, one time Chris brought along his girlfriend.) Ice fishing and ice boating were supposedly our activities, but we seldom did either. We simply socialized.
“What does it take to drive a car out on this lake?” a man asked Bill “The Barber” Austin, one of my lifelong friends, now almost 90, and me one February day as we were temporarily parked on a road leading out onto the ice. “Oh, usually just one, but sometimes two, shots of vodka,” Bill replied, and he was only half-joking. I remember that the very first drive out on the ice to Liberty Street each winter was close to full speed–with my left arm holding the car door open. Sally always walked or skied.
Was it cold out there on those winter weekends? Well, I recall one time when the temperature in the house was around zero. But thanks to the fireplace and the eight electric heaters I had installed early on, it warmed up enough to be reasonably comfortable. Of course, a few adult beverages seemed to help.
As we all grew older, we eventually changed “Men’s Weekend” from winter to spring, where it remains to this day. Last year we called it “The 42nd Liberty Street Adult Beverage Spring Fishing Carnival.” Did any of us fish? Well, no. But we raised our glasses to those of our group who have passed on.