Nils History Part 1: Summer in Winsted

This is the first of (hopefully) many entries that were prompted by my Mom. She gave me a jar full of writing assignments designed to record my life, in a sense, on a weekly basis. Today’s question:

What was your favorite season at your house? Do you remember summer as too hot or exhilarating and perfect? Did you swim a lot in the summer?

Well, this one is easy. Summer for sure. I’ve always been a huge fan of summers. I grew up in Connecticut where the summers were mostly pleasant and there was a never ending source of mischief. In my earlier years, summer was a time to hang out with the neighborhood kids (most of whom were from several blocks away in any given direction) and rescue stray cats. Well, we didn’t rescue them as much as scrounged together enough money to buy them cat food and milk. As I recall, there was even a newspaper article in the local paper about our group. I was referred to as a 12-year old Dennis the Menace looking boy in the article. Not that I wreaked havoc on my elderly neighbor but I had reddish hair and a cowlick to boot. But I digress.

Highland Lake! We did, in fact, swim a ton in the summer. We often went up to Highland Lake, which was about a 20 minute walk, I’d guess. Why guess? Thanks to Google Maps I can see. Yup – about twenty minutes. Here’s the route:

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Highland Lake Spillways
Highland Lake Spillways

We often bought treats at some little diner at the edge of the lake, Laffy Taffys mostly. I remember one day with Michael and Brian Cane going up to the spillways at the lake – an area where cars drove a section of road where several inches of lake water streamed over the road and into a stream beyond. There was a sidewalk that you used to get across but if ¬†cars went fast at all, you’d get splashed. We spent an afternoon up there trying to get cars to fly through and soak us. We were¬†successful. Aaah, Google Maps to the rescue again. Here’ s a street view capture of exactly the place.

We spent many summer days at the beach, though I’m no longer sure what the name of that beach was.

Winsted YMCA
Winsted YMCA

Aside from swimming at the lake we often went swimming at the YMCA public pool. Public as long as you had a membership or two dollars. I distinctly remember being the last of our group to get in while the poor counter person counted out my two dollars in pennies on a few occasions. We spent many-a-summer-day at “The Y”. Our family wasn’t the wealthiest so we often had free or discounted memberships, which was great. Or maybe my parents paid it and I didn’t know about it. Not sure.

This is hardly an exhaustive account of my summers but it’s a start. Perhaps I’ll add more later. I will say, however, that I still adore summertime. It’s the season of relaxation, vacations, sun and fun. So here’s to you, summer. You rock.

– Nils

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