July 7, 2019
I spent the Fourth of July with Penny (my sister) and Thane (my niece) at the cabin they’d rented in a cabin colony on a nearby lake. The bliss of a morning lake reminded Penny and me of waking up to the lake at what our family called “the Lot.” I wrote about "The Lot" in “Ruth’s Neighborhood” in 2011, and here’s an excerpt:
Back in the golden age of magazines, a great many short stories were published. And back then Cosmopolitan magazine was in its pre-Helen-Gurley-Brown heyday, its pages filled with fiction—stories, serials, and each month a “novelette.” My father’s story “The Mink” was bought by Cosmopolitan as a novelette and retitled “The Crystal Years.” (Dan, my father, later expanded it into a full-length novel and kept the Cosmopolitan title.) The novelette was published in the April 1948 issue. I was nine then; Penny would turn seven in July.
The sale was very exciting. Besides success, it meant money. And with this money our parents bought a “lot” in a chunk of lakefront woods that had recently been divided up for a development. We were the first customers. So we felt as if the whole woods and lake were ours.
On hot summer weekdays we sometimes made the trip after Dan finished his day’s work at a Laconia factory, to have a swim and the picnic supper Ernie (our mother) had packed—deviled-ham sandwiches, olive-butter sandwiches. But usually we went on weekends and camped out.
Dan pitched a big tent that he had designed and Ernie had sewn. In it we spent the nights. Penny and I can still smell the inside of that tent, the pine boughs Dan cut for us to sleep on, the wool smell of our itchy blankets, the tent’s canvas smell mingled with the faint reek of whatever stuff Dan had used to waterproof it. Penny became the subject of a family tale about how she was so little that one night in her sleep she rolled out under the edge of the tent, where Dan discovered her the next morning, still sound asleep.
Dan was the cook on these weekends, using his Coleman stove, and Penny and I remember the breakfast smell of bacon.
A big project was his building a wharf. It became a sort of porch to the tent in the woods, so in addition to swimming from it we sat there, and when friends and relatives visited, it was the gathering spot.
Our boat-building uncle built the family a rowboat, from which Penny and I caught many a sunfish. Because sunfish were considered not worth eating, back into the lake they went. Dan caught the fish we dined on.
It wasn’t simply summer days. We went to the Lot in the spring as soon as the snow melted enough and as late into the fall as snow allowed. Penny remembers once snowshoeing in with Dan.
Inevitably, somebody from Massachusetts bought the lot beside us and began building a snazzy cottage. Our idyll was spoiled. So eventually Dan and Ernie sold the Lot.
That development now is packed with cottages and resembles nothing I remember from childhood. But needless to say, though say it I will, the real place exists in memories.
© 2019 by Ruth Doan MacDougall; all rights reserved
ARCHIVES INDEX: 2019
JULY --, 2019
The Lot (July 7)
APRIL - JUNE, 2019
National Poetry Month, 2019 (April 7)
National Library Week, 2019 (April 14)
Dorothy Parker Poem (April 21)
Spring Is Here! (April 28)
Department Stores (May 5)
Archie (May 12)
It's Radio! (May 19)
The Big Bear (May 26)
A Boyhood in the Weirs (June 2)
Pinkham Notch (June 9)
Latest Listening and Reading (June 16)
Setting Up Housekeeping (June 23)
Pizza, Past and Present (June 30)
Squirrels (January 6)
Mills & Factories (January 13)
Kingfisher (January 19)
A Rockland Restaurant (January 27)
Home Ec (February 3)
Ice Fishing Remembered (February 10)
Our First Date (February 17)
Sandwiches Past and Present (February 23)
Snowy Owls & Chicadees (March 3)
Car Inspection (March 10)
Latest Reading & Listening (March 17)
Frost Heaves, Again (March 24)
Signs of Spring, 2019 (March 31)
March, 2018 (first entry)
Earlier: See Ruth's Neighborhood
The Old Country Store (March 25)
The Galloping Gourmet (April 1)
The Poor Man's Fertilizer (April 7)
Miniskirts and Bell-Bottoms (041518)
Henrietta Snow, Second Printing;;
Food & Drink Poems (April 22)
Recipe Box and Notebook (April 29)
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