Fields that we played in as children, amusement parks where we experienced carefree fun, campgrounds where most of the time was spent in the great outdoors with friends or family; these are places that are fondly remembered even when current residents or neighbors have no clue as to their former existence..
It is my intent to talk a little about some of the playgrounds that still come to mind. Most are from my childhood but a few are from teen and adult years.
1. Neighborhood fields where we used to play baseball in the summer and sled in the winter. They have all been developed now closing off the open spaces.
2. There used to be woods behind a friend's house and we spent much time exploring those woods, making forts, etc. Additionally, his folks installed an in-ground pool where we swam in the summer. Those woods and pool are gone. The house is on the left. The pool would have been to the right of the fence. Behind and to the right of that were the woods.
3. For several years, my family spent a couple weeks at a camp at Highland Lake. Those were memorable years. Unfortunately, the area where the beach used to be for those camps without lakefront access no longer exists. Unable to find any pictures of it, I am just including a Google maps satellite view. The white circle shows where the beach used to be. Now there's another camp.
4. I played on the tennis team in 9th grade. The tennis courts weren't next to the school. There was a little walk over Mill Creek and through some woods to get to them. There were three courts in this spot and it sat just above the creek which flowed under Broadway, into and through the Figure 8 Park and then on out to Casco Bay. In the summer, I used to meet Don Hendren, the youth pastor at my church, to play tennis. Now the area is a parking lot and I don't know what Mahoney Middle School does for tennis courts.
5. In Old Orchard Beach, there was a place you could pay a fee and ride horses on woods trails. A guide wasn't needed and it was a great group activity. It was called Judy Ann Stables. It's no longer in existence. The photo here is of a more current business somewhere and apparently riders are required to wear helmets. That requirement didn't exist back in the 70s.
6. In Hull,Massachusetts is Nantasket Beach. Standard beach on a cold Atlantic Ocean, it used to abut Paragon Park. My last memory of Paragon Park was coming down here from college and spending 30 minutes on a water slide. Dave and I would slide down as quickly as possible and run back up the stairs. I think we got close to 20 runs in. Afterwards, we went swimming in the ocean and then hopped over to a bar on the main strip for a beer. Paragon Park was closed in 1984.
7. Seminole Point Lodge was a lovely retreat located on Lake Sunapee in New Hampshire. It had a rustic meeting room with large fireplace , a small theater, a game room, and sleeping quarters. In the winter you could ice skate on the lake, ride a toboggan down a chute and slide out onto the lake, have snowball fights with other groups of people staying there. I don't know when it closed, but all I've been able to find is vintage postcards of it for sale on Amazon.
8. Lake Delores Waterpark (aka Rock–A–Hoola Waterpark and Discovery Waterpark) was located in the Mojave Desert not far from Barstow, California. After an NTC rotation at Fort Irwin, we were invited to spend the day at the park. There were waterslides, rope swings, other activities I don't remember all centered around these manmade pools in the desert. It is now abandoned but went through a few permutations as new owners tried to make a go of it.
9. The Why Not night/dance club in Hinesville, Georgia was a regular hangout spot for many when I was stationed at Fort Stewart. Even after I was discharged from the Army, it became a customer of mine as I sold newspaper advertising in Hinesville for a year until my wife was discharged from the Army. Now it is a large pawn shop. I've been inside and spoken with the owners. They told me that a lot of people have come in telling them about the Why Not. I guess it left an impression on others as well..
10. And the granddaddy of them all is Camp Wakonda in Richmond, Maine. I spent several years there as a camper, counselor and worker. It holds a special place in my memories for all the time spent there, the people met, some of whom I still stay in touch with. It was sold to Central Maine Power sometime after I left Maine for college. When I went back to look, there was nothing but a bunch of tree debris from clearcutting. I have very few pictures of Camp Wakonda and what I do have came from someone else.
These are places I remember, and there are probably more. Seems you can't live a life without a good portion of your past getting erased over time. I guess that's why there are historians.