Today was the first real day of my farewell to Bedford tour … and I only have a day and a half to go. But I got to the important places today. Tomorrow will be for taking some pictures in town, we’re meeting with an environmental engineer tomorrow about some of the rest of the asbestos in this house, and I’ll see Paul and Susan Brown I hope tomorrow night.
We’ll do the fun stuff first, and save the more sad for another post, I think. Our first stop today was Kenray Lake. I’ve written extensively here before about “The Lake”. Why is it that nobody ever uses the name of their lake? I know when we were kids, we always just went “to the lake”, and everyone knew what lake.
You can barely see it for the trees, which weren’t there when the place was built. They’ve grown up over the past 40 years or so, including a massive pine tree that I still remember the day it was planted. A small sapling maybe 3 feet tall that’s now easily 70 feet. It was strategically placed at the center of the deck, and for years, the fish bones and coffee grounds and pretty much every thing else organic went right over the edge. THAT tree flourished. Now, it’s so grown up you can barely see the front of the house from the dock. The downside is that the gorgeous view from the deck looking over the lake has been largely obscured. That’s a bit disappointing.
I’ve also written extensively about boats at The Lake. For all countless hours we spent in and on the water there, swimming and skiing and SCUBA diving and fishing and just goofing off … this is the only one left. A lone canoe pulled up on the shore, and starting to get lost in the weeds. I can’t tell you how often we would paddle a canoe over into a small cove or up into a finger of The Lake and drop a floating Rapella lure just under an overhanging branch or near a sunken log and have a largemouth bass hit it just immediately. We ate more fresh fish out of The Lake than I can possibly say. And most of them were …
Bluegill. In Florida, they call them breem (which they pronounce “brim”), but they’re basically the same fish. You can see why we liked to dive in the lake. In the summer, when the water wasn’t roiled up by our ski boats and just goofing around the visibility could be 10-15 feet. Really good for fresh water. I stood on the dock and took this shot just shooting down into about a foot of water, and the bluegill were schooling like they always used to. We’d put almost anything down on a hook: old bacon, wads of bread or cheese … and we’d catch these little pan fish like it was our job. Sometimes we’d get them so worked up they’d hit bare hooks … just from the glint of sun on the metal. Dad and Bill Kyme would clean them, roll them in cornmeal and put them on a Hibachi. And then those bones would go over the deck to feed the tree.
Dad had a pronounced mole … some would call it a wart … on his back, and the bluegill used to hit the wart. Made him jump, as they’ve got sharp little teeth. It was all I could do to not go get a pole and pull a few bluegill out of the lake this morning.
One of the trees offering shade to the bluegill at The Cabin is a beautiful mimosa tree, which is in full bloom right now. I urge you to look at this picture in it’s original size on Flickr. The thumbnail just doesn’t do it justice. A monarch butterfly was making its way from flower to flower on the mimosa … assuring the perpetuation of the species.
One of the things that always comfort me about The Lake is just the quiet. As we walked down the driveway on an unseasonably cool July morning, a lone cicada sang in the trees … its high-pitched screech the only sound to break the quiet. As the breeze began to stir the calm surface of the water, the sun reflecting off the ripples gave The Lake the sparkly look that gave rise to the phrase “a sparkly day”. It couldn’t have been a better day to say goodbye.
But say goodbye we must, and for some reason, I didn’t feel the sadness driving away from the cabin this morning as I thought I would. Either the reality that someone else will likely soon own it hasn’t set in, or it’s just such a fact of life that I can’t bring myself to be too sad. Either way … it’s done.
There would be no way to re-capture our youth by keeping the place. No one will be here to enjoy it, and even if we were, it wouldn’t be the same. Mom in particular did yeoman’s making sure the place was clean for the company that invariably arrived every weekend. As kids, we weren’t asked to do much at The Lake but have fun … and that we did. But the clock can’t be turned back, and I hope that, if the person who’s considering buying the place does so, that he and his family will find a fraction of the joy we found at that place.
On the way back from The Lake, we stopped at Otis Park … which is where I tried to learn to play golf back when I thought I should learn to play. There used to be a swimming pool there as well, but that’s been paved over for more parking.
The park was named for Fred B. Otis, who at one time was the editor of The Bedford Daily Mail. The property was a local country club, to which my grandparents belonged. When the depression came along, country clubs had a difficult time surviving, so Mr. Otis bought the property and deeded it to the city for a public park and municipal golf course. This picture is of the band shell, which was built as a WPA project in 1938. One of Mr. Otis’ stipulations of deeding the park to the city was to have a certain number of band concerts at the park, free and open to the public, every year. Dad played trombone in the community band, and we spent many warm, summer evenings at the band shell swatting mosquitos and chasing fireflies while the band played.
The WPA also built these limestone picnic areas … four of them stair-stepping up a hill along the back of the golf course. There are massive limestone picnic tables in each of the enclosures, and fireplaces with grill grates. We used to drag our sleds up the hills in the wintertime and slide down from the tee box to the fairways … probably 100 feet from top to bottom. And of course, a nice long runout at the end. It’s a golf course for crying out loud. And, since it was a public park, we were allowed to be there. I had a lot more fun sledding there than playing golf … but sledding takes a bit less skill.
Mom used to play here when she was little. She lived in Brook Knoll just across Tunnelton Road from the park. She said today this was her version of Kenray Lake.
The stop at the cemetery is the not-so-fun part of the day, but not terrible really. I’ll write more about that later. But the last stop on the tour was to shoot the old Carl Furst mill … which is still working for Evans Limestone Company.
The mill has been expanded since it was sold to Evans, but you can see the basic original outline of the building. Almost everything I have, or had as a kid, came to us courtesy of this building. Now, I’ve worked for a lot of what I have too, don’t get me wrong. I understand the value of a job and a paycheck. But because of the product that came out of this building, we were able to have the lives we had as kids. The company folded when I was a teenager … and the limestone industry had been in decline for some time. Still, the investments made by Carl sustained us when times were really lean. And, the inheritance I received back in the 80’s made it possible for me to buy a house, and another, and another (never at the same time), and get established.
It’s been a day for reflection on both sides of my family. The Fursts and the Pattons could not have been more different. The combination of them made me what I am. Mom’s departure to Florida will mark the end of a long line of Pattons and Fursts in Bedford. It will happen with no fanfare. Most will hardly notice, and that’s OK.