Sunday, June 28, 2009

Continuation of…. A Picnic Became A Lifetime

When he arrived on Friday night  he was  looking very downhearted, it seemed that very day he had received a phone call telling him the owner had changed his mind about selling, even with all the problems, he had become so attached to the cottage he felt he could not part with it. The next day we all felt sort of down in the dumps, our excitement had been short lived and remained that way until, Sunday morning when Bob again started reading the Sunday paper and shouted "this is it I'm sure, can you believe a six room cottage completely furnished for only sixteen hundred dollars, it's on an island approximately three miles off  Portland, can this be right, do any of you know where this is?"

Fred said he had been there years ago on a school picnic and Betty said her aunt had taken her sisters there when they were just kids.  I had never been there but knew something about it, my mother  used to go there with the senior citizens for lobster bakes,  she told us it was  lovely and verified that it was not very far from Portland , and  took only a few minutes to get there.  That was all it took for Bob to once again make a call to the people who owned it.  He was told that he could come anytime, and for him, anytime meant right then and now. 

I must admit everyone except myself was excited, my hesitation was due to my having vertigo which still haunts me to this day.  However after all their pleading I gave in and we were soon on our way, the trip proved to be an adventure that not only upset my stomach but also frightened me because of all the motion in the bay.  The water was rather rough and for a person with vertigo this is a no-no, I can only say I was very happy when the ferry landed.  Although the trip only took fifteen minutes, with a sick stomach, it felt like an eternity.  We found our way to a small  eating place  called “The Coffee Cup,”  we had tea and muffins then inquired as to where the people we were looking for might live, we were given directions and once again we were on our way.  Needless to say I was worried about the return trip.

Not knowing anything about the island it seemed as though we walked for miles, stopping several people along the way to verify that we were still heading in the right direction.  After what seemed like forever we came to a small road, which looked more like a lane, it had a home made hand painted sign that read “Winding Way.” At last we had made it, we gave a sigh of relief, after walking a short distance we made a sharp right turn in the road, which became shadowed with over grown pine trees, it looked like an archway, we forged onward for a short distance when we came upon a clearing among all the tall trees, there we saw several small cottages and one very large farm house, a dilapidated structure that you might say was definitely out of place, and had no resemblance to any of the other cottages.  We just stood there in awe; it sort of looked like a picture one might see in a foreign travel magazine. On the opposite side of the dirt path that lead to the cottages, which I think we all noticed it at the same time, was a home made “For Sale” sign, with large red and black lettering; this had to be the place.  It was a tiny little cottage neatly kept and from what we could see, it looked inviting.  I remember remarking how the steps looked freshly painted as we went up onto the porch.  Bob knocked on the door and a cute little older lady in a crisply starched apron opened the door and waited for Bob to introduce himself, then she invited us in.

Standing in the background was her husband; he introduced himself and invited us to sit down.  The living room was very small and so very neat, it looked like one would imagine a New England cottage to look, it had wicker furniture and a small braided rug on the floor, and on the wooden walls were heavily gilded gold leaf picture frames with oil paintings and tables with oil lamps and fancy doilies,it was hard not to be overly impressed with the old furnishings that appeared to be in pristine condition.

After our normal introductions and chit chat Mrs. Mc Milan took Bob on a tour to see the rest of the cottage.  They went up a very small set of stairs that went from the living room to the second floor; we later found out from Bob that there were three tiny and very neat bedrooms with lovely antique furniture.   After he had finished his tour we resumed our chit chat and then he made his offer to buy, giving them a down payment just to make certain they would not change their minds, he promised to return during the week to sign all the necessary papers and to pay the remainder of the balance.  The  walk to and from the cottage had a beautiful view of the ocean,  in fact the road ran along  the side of the waters edge  where there were Blue Corn Flowers, Queen Anne's Lace and Wild roses etc.

Roadside B-S 1

           Views along the roadside Oceanside B- S 2 Oceanside B-s 1

Oceanside B-S 3

Our excitement was overwhelming; Bob was in a state of awe and could hardly believe this was actually going to happen.  What we got to see that day was indeed an island paradise.  The trip home was much more pleasurable, it was on a different ferry boat and the water not nearly as rough, that plus the excitement of finding this adorable cottage was all we could think about.  It seemed as though the return trip was not nearly as long as going.  We were all anxious for the next weekend to come and decided to take the car in order to see what the rest of the island was like.

During the week Bob had taken time off from work, he came to Portland to finalize his purchase, the cottage was now his. He was to take it over on the following week end.

The cottage was located on the southern side of the island; it sat high on a hill and had a grand ocean view, over looking the open ocean where the large ships came through the channel. 

View from Bob's cottage

                    View from Bob’s cottage

There was an over grown path leading through the tall bayberry bushes with a colorful growth of lupine that took you right to the waters edge, it was indeed an island paradise.

to be continued….

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Continuation of …. A Picnic Became A Lifetime

Well as you can imagine, Bob  was overly excited as he read  the ad, for sale by owner, he called the number and was told that he could see it anytime,  he asked if we might come  right away,  the owner said  that was fine,  so the  four of us left immediately.  The road that lead to the cottage was the same as I had remembered it, a dirt road, not very wide and still in need of major repair.  After a bumpy ride down a rather steep hill we came to the clearing. The cottages were the same as I had remembered them, except some had miner repairs and shown where the paint had been changed but on the whole things were very much the same.  And there it was the sign that read “For Sale.”   It was only two cottages away from where I had stayed as a child and was the cottage I had always liked the best, although I had never been inside, I really liked it.  The clearing where the cottages were located was not spacious and finding a place to park was not easy. As we made our way to the door I could not help but feel a sudden loneliness for the days I had spent here as a child.

Bob knocked on the door and we were greeted by a very nicely dressed middle aged man who invited us in.  Bob explained that he was the one interested   in buying a place near the ocean.  The view that we had seen before we entered was all that he needed to convince himself that he had found a dream come true.

Once inside we were lead through a short entry way into a large living area, the floors looked as though they had never been walked on.  There were several captain chairs with canvas backs and seats depicting scenes of the ocean and large framed pictures of ocean scenes covered the walls, along with maps of the bay.  The wall facing the ocean was all glass and the view was spectacular.   After the normal inquiries as to why Whites Cove and the regular chit chat that goes on among people with whom you are not familiar, he took Bob on a tour of the house.  We waited in the living room and marveled at the magnificent ocean view.  Directly below us we could see children playing in the tidal pools and men harvesting the mud flats for their take of clams.  A scene so familiar from my childhood days.

After Bob and the owner returned from touring the house  we all sat around and engaged in more conversation about Whites Cove, then Bob made a commitment to buy, promising to return the next weekend with his money.  It was at this point the owner started telling Bob all the things that needed to be repaired, right away, “the side entry steps were nearly gone completely, the under pinning on the left rear side needed attention and when it rained the water came down the hill and went directly under the cottage and as a result the cottage smelled very musty most of the time.”  Although we saw no evidence of it while we were there, perhaps it may have been that the aroma from his pipe tobacco camouflaged it. 

Bob did not seem a bit upset or discouraged knowing that the problems could be taken care of.  As we got up to leave, he explained again to the owner that he would be back on the weekend with his money and to sign the necessary papers.  The owner  thanked him and walked us to the car, at which time he said "Oh I failed to mention that there is a problem with mice, I have tried unsuccessfully to get rid of them but have not had any luck, and carpenter ants seem to be quite a problem and need to be sprayed weekly.”  Still Bob was not deterred, and was certain that this was paradise and the perfect place for him.  As we left the excitement in the car was awesome, Bob could not wait for the next weekend to arrive.  We all envisioned spending our weekends there.  Everyone mentioned however that the man sounded uncertain as to his really wanting to sell it, and seemed to only have negative things to say about it, after Bob decided he wanted to buy.  Not wanting to believe this to be a reality, we remained overly excited wanting the week to pass quickly.

to be continued ….

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Continuation of….A Picnic Became A Lifetime

It was during the war and the soldiers were stationed in camps not far from our cottage.  The Army had taken over a prestigious Inn known as Homeward Inn, at Princess Point, a place where the √©lite came to spend their summer vacations.  Along with the Inn there were small cabins located on the banks over looking the ocean, the Army was station there as lookouts and guarded the ocean passages.  After the war ended Homeward Inn got back to being a place for the elite to go, Bette Davis and Gary Merrill lived there for several years.

  At the time that the soldiers were there I had an aunt Lydia and several cousins that were of the dating age, as a result the soldiers became frequent visitors to our cottage.  They used to come on horseback on a bridle path that ran through the woods.  At night they would shine the search lights on our cottage.  I remember a bunch of giggling girls.  On weekends they joined us when my father and my uncles would dig clams and we would have big clam bakes and barbecues.  I remember one weekend when the beer was flowing quite freely and all the men were having a grand old time, when the time came for the soldiers to leave my father insisted on taking them back to their camp. This meant that he would have to go several miles; the roadway circled the point of land where Whites Cove was located.  It seemed that his driving ability was not quite what it should have been on that night, and when he came home he had a very large bouquet of garden flowers attached to the rear bumper of his car, your right, he had gone through the Inn’s flower bed.  Needless to say my mother was not pleased, even though the flowers were in fairly good condition and made her a great bouquet.

Yes, even though I had not been to Whites Cove in well over twenty five years it was still a place I fondly remembered. I remembered how my cousin Rita and I would gather hazel nuts along the roadside that lead to the cottages.  Did you know that Hazel nuts look like Hersey kisses and they have  what appears to be spun glass all over them, you have to be very careful when you gather them or you will feel like your hands  have splinters  of spun glass sticking all through them.   My dad would dig a hole in the ground and bury them in a paper bag for about three weeks, and then he would dig them up and shake the skins off.   We would have a grand time swinging in an old hammock and having a great feast on the nuts. We would swing for hours singing “Oh Give Me Land Lots of Land Neath the Starry Stars Above, Don’t Fence Me In” This was a song that was popular back in the Forties. I wonder if she remembers this. What great fun we had digging clams, playing in the tidal pools and wandering through the woods gathering wild flowers, especially lady slippers.

to be continued…..

Monday, June 22, 2009

A Picnic Became A Lifetime … continued

As time went on  my friend  Fred, started joining us for lunch, it then became a three some.  One day he mentioned that Bob a friend of his from Boston was coming up for the weekend and  he hoped we might all get together and perhaps take a trip to Orr's Island.   His friend was from Illinois and was really in love with the ocean.  After our meeting Bob, he explained that not until he graduated from collage and had taken a job in  Boston had  he ever seen the ocean.  He explained how he had read about it and knew about the tides and etc. but he went on to say that until you see it first hand you can not really know the true meaning of such an event.  He told us that  he had written home to his brother John and said “you just have to come and see for yourself  how this really works”  and they spent 24 hours just watching the tides come and go.  It seemed that every weekend after that we four were visiting every beach from York to Wiscasset.

My family's home became our haven of rest and my parents enjoyed having all of us around.  One Sunday  morning after my mother had served breakfast, Bob started reading the Sunday paper, when all of a sudden he shouted  very loudly  from the living room, "This is it , I have found a cottage for sale on a beach right here in Yarmouth, it's at Whites Cove, do you know where  this might be ?”  Did I know where that was, you bet I knew where it was.  Back in the early forties, I'd say perhaps  in forty two or three my father rented a small cottage there for six dollars a week.  I can still hear him and my mother discussing whether or not they could afford it for two months or not , she thought they should only take it for one month, but my father won out.  It was a very small cottage, in fact as I recall  there was only one small bed room and a cot under the stairwell, no running water and a single holer outside  of the back door.  We had to get our water from a hand pump that was located half way down a steep hillside.  I remember my mother sending me down there with a  small pail to get water when my father wasn't around.  Those years were some of the best times that I can remember.

to be continued…

Saturday, June 20, 2009

A Picnic Became A Lifetime

In 1955 I was working  as a window decorator  for the Lerner Shops, I had an assistant that proved to be much better at the job than I, she was  more detail oriented, so we made a great team. We had 67 mannequins and our main job was to decorate the 6 windows in such a manner that would attract the people, bringing them into the store to buy. With this job came a lot of things that anyone who has never done this type of work would ever realize.

First of all it goes without saying that no matter what the article of clothing is that  you are displaying  it’s always the one the buyer wants. There may be others just like it on the racks inside the store, but it’s the one in the window that they really want. I guess maybe they think that the one in the window is something special or of a better quality. What ever the reason it goes with out fail that you will have to replace what ever you display at lease three or four times before you do a complete new window, of course this means you will be pressing and pinning garments along with all of your other display work, which includes interior setups, nitches, plus setting up for special sales etc. Remembering at all times that the costumer comes first. Then there are the times when you have your garments on a rolling  rack all pressed and ready to go into the window when someone comes along, and starts going through them and wanting to try them on.  This causes a little upset, even when they are shown their size is on a nearby rack. They usually fail to understand that these are the very same garments as the ones they wanted to try  only the ones on our rack have been pressed and ready for our window display.

But I dare say that this is the real kicker, it happened one night. The next morning when we were approaching the store,  we could see that the island window had been broken into,  some Sick -O had taken indecent liberties will all of the mannequins, eighteen adults and seven children.  Need I say that the window was a total disaster, the police department  a detective and the criminal squad were all over the place trying to  solve the puzzle, but no one ever did.

To this day, I cannot help but wonder where the police patrol were that night while all this was going on. I guess men must have been better back then than they are today; this happened long before Viagra was ever heard of.

I stayed there for several years then moved on to a larger  department store which I found to be more interesting, while there I met a young man (Fred) who had recently worked as a buyer of children's wear  in Boston . We  became very good friends and spent much of our time together.  My assistant at Lerner's’ became head of the display department after my leaving, she and I would often meet for lunch,  we would discuss the pros and cons of displaying.

To be continued: