Vacations, 1930's

When I was a kid we were taken to a camp on the upper Ausable Lake in the Adirondacks for a few weeks e very summer. It was not the usual camp but a private one inherited by my Mother and it was her refuge and her joy. It was a mix of being quite luxurious and yet quite rugged at the same time. There was no electricity – no telephone – no showers – the lake was our tub. We slept outside in a leanto – atop fragrant balsam boughs and blankets, and kept our clothes in a wooden box inside a cabin. Each of us had our own cubicle – there were 4 of them in the lady’s cabin and 4 in the men’s. The largest cabin was the library where we all gathered for games, and reading and writing and then there was the dining-kitchen cabin. To make all of this work we had a guide – usually 2 – so there was also a guide’s cabin.

Getting there was an adventure as it involved getting people and luggage and food and all necessary equipment up 2 lakes by boat – row-boat that is – no motors allowed. The lower lake is about 2 miles long and resembles a fiord. At its end, everything was loaded into pack-baskets and carried across a mile long trail to another lake where it was all once again placed in boats and off as we went to our camp – the whole process took over 3 hours from where we left our car. Today it isn’t quite as lengthy as we are permitted to use a gas-driven tractor on the mile long trail – appropriately called “the carry”. Our activities, once we finally got there, were varied. Lots of hiking, some mountain climbing, daily swimming, rowing, paddling canoes, many games – cards and others – lots of reading, more than enough eating, sleeping and even horseshoes. I was one of 4 and always had a friend visit me as did my siblings. Our social life was pretty quiet but we always loved being there anyway. Going to bed was the most fun as there was always a bonfire built in front of the leantos and we’d lie there talking, watching the fire, listening to the loons on the lake and snuggling in our blankets. Breakfast was the best meal (I thought) as our wonderful guide would make “johnny-cake” or cornbread to be split and covered with butter and marmalade, and topped with bacon along with some eggs. As one of our friends said “do you call this camping?” – well, not exactly – but it was a unique spot – and it still is.

Jeanie Henry
Southbury, CT
©2012

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