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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.)

Suki (left) and Bunkie were invariably at Sally’s side on warm summer days “down on the dock.” This photo dates back to about 1979.
Photo/Art by Judson D. Hale Sr.
Suki (left) and Bunkie were invariably at Sally’s side on warm summer days “down on the dock.” This photo dates back to about 1979.

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.

Standing on the dock is the oldest Hale boy, J.D., then 11 years old.
Photo/Art by Judson D. Hale Sr.
Standing on the dock is the oldest Hale boy, J.D., then 11 years old.

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.

Please Note: This information was accurate at the time of publication. When planning a trip, please confirm details by directly contacting any company or establishment you intend to visit.

Updated Sunday, July 13th, 2014

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10 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.

  10. Phyd April 13, 2016 at 9:14 pm #

    Do not do it…family traditions are the only memories that go on forever.

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