CAMPING and the Boat at Long Pond
The Plaisteds enjoyed going camping as a family. As Frances recalled, “Grandfather Davis had a big, white canvas tent with an overlap. It was large enough for five of us to rest comfortably in it and also to play games in when it rained.” Sometimes they camped at Kennebunk Beach, sometimes at Long Pond near East Parsonsfield, and sometimes at the Roundabout on their Wells land.
In Kennebunk, “there was a man and his wife who owned a farm on the back road near the beach. He let us camp on his land and furnished us with hay, which we spread on the ground in our tent. We would fluff it all up so it was like a feather bed and then we would spread a blanket over it and then have as many blankets over us as we needed. We bought fresh milk and eggs from our farmer friend. We stayed on the beach every day. We would go for a dip and then come back and stretch out on the sand. We all received a good tan.”
At Long Pond they pitched the tent on top of a hill which friends owned and the family carried water up from their well. “The hill sloped down to a sandy beach, where we kept our motor boat – a long, sea-going boat; slow, but safe. We would go put-put-put on the pond, from our camping site around the pond and back. Another time we would put-put-put across the pond and visit friends, and then to the pavilion, where dances were held, and the general store – which carried all the needs of the campers, including ice cream cones and chocolate bars. We would tie up at the wharf and near the store there were benches where we could sit and visit with friends; someone we knew was always there; it was a meeting place. We would always get back to the camp before dark to start our supper. Camping food always tastes good and, of course, we were real hungry. We ate around the fire: Hunter’s Stew and buns and hot dogs and somemores for dessert.”
After the Kris Kraft boats came on the pond, Leon and Frances no longer enjoyed their big boat. So, one summer, after giving Bob and his fellow Boy Scouts a good ride, they sold it. From then on they spent more time at the Round-a-bout at Wells, on the 90 acres “more or less” of farm property off Meetinghouse Road where Leon’s father still hayed and grew vegetables. The Round-a-bout was a cleared area in the woods where Leon and Frances came as often as they could to have a little time to themselves – a place so they could “slip away” and enjoy the fresh air and peacefulness of the woods. “No running water, no telephone, no electric lights – just a lantern which showed us the way, “ Frances recalled. They cooked over an open fire and built a small cabin with a bed, drop-leaf table with matching chairs, and stove in one corner. Frances kept a set of dishes there and put pictures of birds and landscapes on the walls. Whenever they could, they continued to cook their steak and somemores out of doors on the fire because “food always tasted better that way.”
The cabin had windows on each wall so they could see the animals as they roamed around the woods. In the late fall they sometimes snowshoed in from the road. But, Frances recalled, “We had everything we needed and could stay as long as we wanted.” And it was romantic. “A whippoorwill came and sang to us every night. On one night each year the lightening bugs mate and the whole field from the camp to the road was lit up. We were fortunate to be there on the right night.”
They never shot a deer even though they were abundant. “We could see their hoof prints in the snow and, one time, as we were walking up the road, we looked back and, believe it or not, two deer were following us. We exclaimed because we were so surprised and they fled into the woods – in different directions, protecting one another. “ They also enjoyed watching the squirrels, gray and red ones, “go down one tree and up another and across the yard playing tag with one another.”
If they needed wood for the Lyon Hill stove, furnace, or fireplace, Leon and Frances would go down to the Round-a-bout with their large, two-man saw. “Leon would be at one end and I at the other and we would saw one of those big, big trees until it was almost ready to topple. Then Leon would take the ax and fell the tree the way he wanted it to go. He would chop the big limbs off and I had a little hatchet to chop the branches. Then we would saw the tree in chunks just right for the furnace. We would carry a load in the back of our car and then open the cellar window and throw it down into the wood bin, ready for use. We always kept dry wood to mix with the green. It was work but it was fun. A lot of fresh air and when you go home and weigh yourself – 5 lbs lost. If you want to lose weight, just go into the woods.”