While working in New York City I became very good friends with a very nice man named Glauco Malisan. Please read his bio elsewhere in this website. We decided to spend a two-week vacation together in the summer of 1969. Locations were suggested and discarded, until we decided on the state of Maine. I don’t remember how the Sebago Lake area was picked but here the two of us were driving to Maine to scout out the area to spend our vacation. It was the beginning or the middle of May, as I remember, a time that in New York City is called Spring. We didn’t even bother wearing anything heavy but discovered soon enough that we made a mistake. Almost immediately after crossing the New Hampshire border it started to snow, as though it were Christmas Eve. After entering Maine the speed limit changed to 80. No wonder, there wasn’t enough traffic to slow us down. Since I was driving the diesel Mercedes, we couldn’t quite attain the speed limit (the theoretical top speed was 81 MPH). Then the fan belt broke. I took the next exit and soon found a gas station with a garage and mechanic (back in those days they were not an oddity). I went in to ask about a replacement belt. The mechanic stared at the easily recognizable, huge, hallmark Mercedes grill with the three-pointed star through the window and asked “What kindacahizzat?”. I immediately knew I was in trouble. Luckily he had quite a selection of belts and by trial and error, we found one that fit and were shortly on the road.
When we arrived at Lake Sebago, there was quite a bit of snow on the ground. We stopped at a real estate office and inquired about a place to rent. After looking through some books with pictures and descriptions we both settled on a place to rent. The one I picked out had to be rented sight unseen, as it was a mile off the paved road and even a four-wheel-drive vehicle couldn’t get in there. We gave them a deposit check and started excitedly for home.
We spent quite a bit of money getting the Mercedes ready for the vacation. We invested in four new Pirelli radials (a novelty in those days), got the fluids changed. We did not take the Mercedes because as big as the trunk was it would not hold all of the stuff we needed to have with us. We ended up taking the old ’63 Rambler station wagon instead. That car was packed to the gills. Since the first moon landing was to take place while on vacation, we even took a television with us and of course the Benelli was riding side-saddle on the rear bumper. I borrowed Mary’s brother’s Yashica camera for the occasion.
Our home for two weeks turned out to be a spacious log cabin right on Lake Sebago. The owner cut the trees down across the lake and floated the logs across to build the house. The living room was 20 feet by 30 feet and the porch overlooking the lake was also 30 feet long. In the living room there was a 12 foot wide fireplace with electric fans on each side. There was plenty of firewood stored under the porch. There was an aluminum row boat big enough to hold us all. I had not been bitten by the fishing bug at this point, so we didn’t use the boat much. It would be fun to do it again and fish that lake!
With the property came a guest-house large enough for Glauco’s family that went unused for the whole two weeks. There was also a large rock in the water right in front of the house. The owner of the house bought it because he didn’t want anyone to build on it, infringing on his privacy. It became a game to swim out to this rock, sun-bathe and this swim back. We had rubber rafts that could be used to transport the boys’ fishing equipment. The three kids had just completed their Red Cross swimming lessons back in Levittown, so they were very confident in their newly developed aquatic skills. All five of us were standing on the rock, so I devised a new game: Swim back to shore. Roger went first. The water was clear enough that the rocks underwater could be seen, so he picked out a nice large one about half-way to the shore, swam to it and stood on it to catch his breath, after which it was easy to reach the shoe. When it was Catherine’s turn, she couldn’t find the rock and she panicked. She was in trouble by the time Mary reached her to help her to safety. The “men” in the family had a good laugh about it.
Since we spent all the money on the Mercedes, the old Rambler didn’t get new shoes. Consequently we ended up with two flat tires during our stay. I waited until the last minute to get them fixed, since we had the Benelli to get around on.
There was only one bedroom which Mary and I claimed. It was smallish with a very tall bed but there was a fireplace. One night I felt extra-romantic and I decided to build a fire. Unfortunately I didn’t open the flue and the room filled up with smoke. I couldn’t open any of the windows because I think they had been varnished shut, so that night we all spent the night in the living room.
The magical time of the landing on the moon was experienced by all of us in that living room. I will never forget it!
|Having dinner together
||Watching the lunar landing
I remember I had trouble getting to sleep for the first two nights: It was too quiet! We all had a great time. We visited Glauco and his family a few times. Their house was nice as well but ours – at least to us – was much more special.
Blue skies, such as those during this vacation did not exist in Levittown! On the way home, as we were approaching New York City, I remember the haze that surrounded that whole area. And once we got home I couldn’t sleep for the first night because it was too noisy!