Family Fun and Farm Visits #AtoZChallenge

F is for Family Fun and Farm Visits. Sixth of 26 posts in the April 2021 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme: “Endwell: My Early Teen Years”— adding my story to the family history mix. Please join me on the journey.

On weekdays during my early teens in the 1960s, my parents, siblings and I moved on autopilot through our own worlds of school, work and household duties — followed by family dinner together, then outside briefly, homework and bed.

Off to Page Lake

But Saturdays in the warmer months meant family time at our “lot on the lake” — a camp on Page Lake in New Milford, Penna., about 40 minutes south of Endwell.

Vintage post card of Page Lake, New Milford, Penna. During my early teens, Saturdays in the warmer months meant family time at our camp on Page Lake, about 40 minutes south of Endwell, N.Y. Image: Lakeside Outing Club, Inc./Page Lake

My parents grew up in New York’s Adirondack foothills – Mom in Gloversville, Dad in Otter Lake – where anyone who could afford it had a lakeside camp. So they wanted one, too.

Never mind that it was the  budget version — with a plywood lean-to for a cabin (I helped Dad shingle the roof!) and a separate building with a toilet we flushed with buckets of lake water (a handy skill even now when plumbing problems arise!).

Montrose memories

Movie theater in Montrose, Penna. (2019). When we had our camp on Page Lake in the early 1960s, my family made annual trips to Montrose, Penna., for fishing licenses. The town generated a wave of nostalgia when I returned in 2019 to research my Blakeslee ancestors. Photo by Molly Charboneau

Still, we had a dock, a row boat, and later a motor boat, and my parents were determined that we kids would learn to swim, fish, hike in the woods, cook on a campfire and generally enjoy nature —  which we did!

There were also annual trips to Montrose, Penna., for fishing licenses — a town that generated a wave of nostalgia when I returned in 2019 to research my Blakeslee ancestors.

A camp conundrum

In my early teens I enjoyed some aspects of camp – swimming,  rowing down to the end of the lake to park our rowboat and read among the cattails or sitting by the campfire as fresh-caught fish sizzled in a cast iron skillet. According to my diary, sometimes my school friends even came along.

June 28, 1964. Barb and Jackie came to the Lake!

Two Jacks and a Queen (1963). My grandmother snapped this slide of me with my brothers Jeff (l. ) and Mark (c.) at Page Lake — and titled it “Two Jacks and a Queen.” Photo by Liz (Stoutner) Laurence

Yet as my teens progressed, when we were at the lake I began to miss my busy life of listening to top-40 radio and chatting with girlfriends on the phone — a sure sign that I was growing up and away from the family fun I enjoyed as a youngster.

Farm visits

My other regular getaway in the early 1960s was summer stays with Boom and Gramps — my maternal grandparents Tony and Liz (Stoutner) Laurence — on their Alamont, N.Y., farm. And in my early teens, I began to have mixed feelings about these visits as well.

On the one hand, my grandmother tried to plan teen-appropriate activities. We went clothes shopping at Cohoes factory stores, she let me stay up late to watch her favorite mystery show Alfred Hitchcock Presents, she taught me crochet, and she drove me into Altamont or Schenectady to meet up with my teen friends — some from childhood, others from my new Dave Clark Five Fan Club.

On the other hand, my grandparents crashed my teen ideal of true love. Yes, they’d been young and in love once — and eloped to Detroit in 1924 to get married when my grandmother’s mom objected. But by 1964, they’d been married 40 years and were settled into a routine that bothered me.

Specifically, Gramps would get on with whatever he had to do (going to work, grappling with wood and metalwork projects out in the barn, etc.) and my grandmother would nag him the minute he hit the house (not to track dirt on the floor, to put his work clothes in the hamper, etc.).

My maternal grandparents at their Altamont, N.Y. farm (c. 1963). Boom is seated at left and Gramps is standing. They are accompanied by their friends Ralph and Margaret Petruska. Photo courtesy of Alicia (Petruska) Panetta.

I ask my grandmother about love

This was a far cry from what I thought a romantic relationship should be — and not what I was used to at home in Endwell, where my parents had a policy of not disagreeing in front of us children. So one day as we drove off in the car, I put it to my grandmother.

“Don’t you love Gramps anymore?” I asked. She looked startled and hesitated for a moment behind the wheel.

“Why, of course I love your grandfather,” she responded, pushing her foot back down on the gas. I wasn’t convinced and pressed the issue.

“Then why do you keep yelling at him all the time?” I asked her.

I don’t remember her exact answer, but I am sure it was along the lines of relationships changing over time and that a bit of directing of Gramps on her part didn’t mean she didn’t love him.

What I do know is this was something Mom would never have dared ask my grandmother — so my frank conversation with Boom marked another step in coming into my own in my early teens.

Up next:  G is for Gene Pitney and the Caravan of Stars. Please leave a comment, then join me tomorrow as Endwell: My Early Teen Years unfolds one letter at a time!

© 2021 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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11 thoughts on “Family Fun and Farm Visits #AtoZChallenge”

  1. I remember you talking about Boom. But really caught my eye was your bathing cap. How I remember hating those things. And they never really kept your hair very dry!

  2. Molly,

    I remember my grandmother always being onto my grandpa for something. I never thought that she didn’t love him, though. The way people behavior reminds me of my best friend’s parents. Her mother was always fussing her dad with him getting aggravated but seemed to laugh it all off in the end. At first I thought they didn’t like each other then after thinking about really hard I understood that this was their way of showing each other love. From then on, it didn’t bother me when I witnessed their squabbles.

    Stop by when you get a chance to check out my Looney Tunes Foghorn Leghorn art sketch on Curious as a Cathy. 😉 Happy A2Zing!

  3. What a brave girl to ask such a question of your grandmother. As many of the friends we have are now a similar age that your grandparents were then I wonder about these friends relationships.

    I have one dear friend who constantly nags at her husband in a similar manner and I just don’t know how he puts up with it. I wonder what their relationship is like at home. On the other hand it’s lovely to see how othr frineds married 50+ years ago are still besotted with their life’s partner.

  4. taking a trip down your memory lane was enchanting and beautiful.. i am sure my grandma would have given similar answers too about questions like this..
    and your post brought back memories of my childhood as well. we had a river flowing right by our town and it served similar purposes for most of the year..
    love that vintage postcard and all the pics
    14 Fascinating Facts About Poets and Poetry

  5. What fun times spent at the lake although it does become less appealing as you enter the teen years. My girls were lucky to grow up on a lake but they became far less interested as they got older. It’s just the way it goes. Weekends In Maine

  6. Your early childhood on the lake and messing about in boats sounded idyllic. I remember at weekends we drove out to a favourite picnic spot by a river and we enjoyed playing along the rocks, and stepping stones. I liked the perceptive way you wrote about your grandparents’ marriage. I can relate to that but I would never have dared raise it in conversation. You were braver!

  7. Hold on… Adirondack is the name of a mountain? Shame on me, in my world it’s a variety of UGGs boots…

    Grandma Liz sounds like the person I may grow up to be 😉
    Didn’t it occur to you to ask Gramps why – after all these years – he didn’t bother to remove his dirty shoes upon entering the hose? It goes both ways. Happy wife, happy life, you know?

    Your memories sound so “colorful” as if these things happened just the other day. I enjoy your series!

    https://thethreegerbers.blogspot.com/2021/04/a-z-2021-dont-look-to-floor-for-pennies.html

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