Remembrance of Things Past: Summer vacations of yore

Not long ago, my granddaughters came bursting into the house singing and shouting, “School’s out!” Needless to say, they were excited about the last day of school. As a retired teacher, I could have told them they weren’t as excited as their teachers were. The half days before Christmas vacation and the last day of school are the longest days of the school year! I’m sure those girls will have lots to do this summer, especially since their cousins from Virginia are here for the season. There are a lot of specialized camps offered every summer. The Mystic Seaport has some great ones.

I must say that my granddaughters’ excitement brought back my memories of summer vacations. Even way back in the 60s, there were things to do. Some kids worked at Whittles. Many of us went to camp. Camp Wightman, a church camp, was very popular. The Girl Scouts operated Camp Pattagansett and Camp Laurel (which my daughters later attended), and I spent several weeks at Camp Wakenah in Salem, the Pequot Council Boy Scout Camp. I remember one summer working on canoeing and lifesaving merit badges, and mile swim. There was another private camp on Gardner Lake, Camp Trupin, which was a lot more expensive than Wakenah!

I spent a lot of time in the summer at Williams Beach, which was run by the Mystic Community Center. Being too young to drive, I’d climb on my Schwinn, which had coaster brakes, no gears and newsboy baskets on the back, and coast down Oral School Road to River Road and then pedal down Pearl Street to West Main. Left on West Main, being careful to avoid the trolley tracks, over the bridge and up to Mason’s Island Road. From there to Harry Austin Drive, named after the longtime beach

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