By Joan Macri July 2016
Life on Taylor Pond has been a treasured experience for generations. Efforts have been made in the past to chronicle this history, most notably in the book “Now and Then at Taylor Pond” by Helen Andrews in 1986. That was 40 years ago and much has changed—but much has remained the same. While many more homes are year-round, they remain family-focused and more often than not, multi-generational. The Taylor Pond Association is interested in collecting stories and memories from people who have spent many years on the pond in order to hold on to that history. If you have some memories to share, please contact Joan Macri at [email protected].
Nancy Weber has been spending her summers on Taylor Pond since 1949. In the 1930’s her grandmother, Bertha Rattigan, and her four siblings each bought camps next to one another on what is now Taywood Road. Descendants still occupy 4 of the original homes.
Nancy recalls that her grandmother’s passion was to be at Taylor Pond as early in the spring and as late in the fall as possible. Bertha was a determined woman so she made it happen despite working as a weaver at the Bates Mill and walking to and from the mill each day. That is approximately 12 miles round trip and this was before the buses made pick-ups at the intersection of Park Avenue and Lake Street. No wonder she lived to be 91!
Nancy remembers her grandmother’s cottage well. No heat, no electricity, no running water, no fireplace. A wood stove to cook on, heat water and make “the best toast ever” by just placing the bread on top of the stove. Everyone washed up in the pond using little wire cages with bits of soap in them to create a lather, brushing your teeth and spitting from the steps. Ivory soap was the preferred choice because it floated.
With no running water, rain barrels were used to capture water for washing dishes and the entire family would drive to the Spring Road in Auburn with gallon jugs to fill from the natural spring so they would have drinking water for the week.
There was no garbage service so people burned what little trash they created or buried it. Years later, Nancy was working in her garden and discovered lots of buried glass bottles.
People had outhouses back then. Rather than awful, Nancy thought her grandmother’s was “inspirational.” It was papered with old calendars’ scenic sites across the country, such as the Grand Canyon and Pike’s Peak. And yes, it was a one-holer.
Favorite summer memories include:
- using a path through the woods to Black’s Store (the small pointed roof building at the intersection of Hotel and Lake Street) for popsicles,
- a single bed metal coil box spring hammocked between two pines with a thin pallet on top and a Bates coverlet. “You could just lie there and hear the hum of the pines, feel the air, smell it”
- an owl that came every summer and a very large turtle that is still around
- going to see a water ballet performance at Simpson’s Beach where they had spotlights focused on the synchronized swimmers.—quite a sight for her 5 year old eyes
- spending time with all her many relatives,
- the clarity and coolness of the water
Peter Durgin has been coming Taylor Pond since he started dating Judy Pontbriand in the 1950’s. Her father Bert built a home in the 1950’s and his family was the first to live year-round on East Shore Road. Peter eventually built a year-round house next door to the Pontbriands in 1984.
Peter remembers the days when there were no shooting restrictions in Auburn and people duck- hunted on the pond. It was not at all unusual for people to shoot ground hogs who were dining on their gardens. The fishing was terrific and the pond contained many different types of fish: pike, large and small mouth bass, white and yellow perch, pickerel, brown trout, and splake, a hybrid of a brook trout and a lake trout that does not reproduce.
Both Peter and Nancy noted the increase in population of people and watercraft over the yearsbut agree that the pond’s water quality has remained excellent. According to Peter, people are doing “a great job of protecting the lake from chemicals even with the population growth.” But he would like to see people slow down on the roads. He believes people unintentionally damage the pond by driving too fast on the roads. The roads, largely dirt and gravel, develop pot holes and hummocks in the center. Water can’t easily run off, the dirt and gravel get carried to the wetlands and then the pond, not an ideal situation. Even where no speed limit is posted, 10 MPH is the recommended speed.
As always, it is in everyone’s best interest to protect the pond so that our children, grandchildren, and all those who come after us can enjoy its natural beauty and the role it plays in making our lives better. Just as Nancy and Peter treasure their memories of life on Taylor Pond, we hope that our children and grandchildren will be able to do the same.