Back to the neighborhood
One of my favorite columns, a duty I have done for two and a half years now, was about the various neighborhoods in Boothbay Harbor while I was growing up and the families living in those different locales. It didn’t get a lot of reads online but my Facebook friends liked it and several people told me — face-to-face — that they enjoyed it.
As I watch the rain falling, turning snow to slush on Tuesday afternoon, I reminisced about when I actually liked winter. Those of you who remember, a few weeks ago I wrote a column about my distaste for the “season of white and cold.” But there was a time when winter didn’t bother me and I enjoyed being outside in January (or February, etc.).
Having grown up just a few hundred yards from Pat’s Pond off School Street (and in between Kenney Field Drive), many winter nights were spent skating on the pond. We either depended upon or helped the Arsenaults — Bill, Gary, Ronnie and their father, “Jolly” (I don’t think I’ve ever called him by his real name, John) — clean the pond of snow so we could skate. My late Gilead Street neighbor, Mike Lewis, though I don’t think I ever saw him on skates, would inevitably show up and get the bonfire going — and he would keep it going for all to enjoy, sometimes tearing fir trees up by the roots just to have some fuel for the fire! Then there was that time when the fire blew back in his face when he used gas or kerosene to get the fire going quicker ... he was OK, but a bit shaken up!
During a weekend day, some hockey games would break out, with the Arsenaults, Terry Leighton, Jon Marsh and several east side kids showing up with new skates, sticks or gloves that they might have received at Christmas. And yes, I think I remember a few fights breaking out, just like the pros. Younger brother Glenn remembers being recruited as a goalie a few times and getting wrapped in pillows, winter coats and cardboard, which were secured by rope or Duct tape. He probably still has nightmares about pucks coming at him 100 miles an hour!
Sliding/sledding was a fun wintertime activity, too. Behind our house there was a hill steep enough where we could get a good ride for about 50 yards or more. That’s a long way when you’re a kid. If we were adventurous, we would also “do the hill” behind the Opera House. That hill was much steeper and trickier — you had to avoid going off course and hitting the building!
Snowball fights after school on Gilead Street (remember Chetley Rittall’s old barn at the end of the street, which was used as a fort during the fights?), shoveling off the school playground so we could play basketball outside (mittens or gloves required), hanging out at the Y on a Saturday afternoon playing ping pong, playing bumper pool or challenging someone to a mean game of chess or checkers — these are just some of the other pleasant winter memories.
Yes, at one time, I did like winter. But not now.