We left NY Friday afternoon April 5th, on our journey north to NH. There was excitement in the air but with some trepidation. We were not sure if we were making a mistake by going to the camp to see what it looked like now, because we still could remember vividly what it was like those many summers ago. Upon reaching Portsmouth, NH and getting onto The Spaulding Turnpike things began to get more familiar, except for the fact that Pease Air Force Base is now a big industrial park and there were huge shopping centers all along the highway, many of the other sites were still there. As we traveled on we reached Route 11 and again except for lots more construction along the road much of it looked very familiar, eerily familiar as if we were going back in time. We made our way onto Route 28 and took that until we reached that famous left turn...Roberts Cove Road. Now we knew we were close to home...the world may have changed dramatically in the last years, especially the last few months but there was nothing better than to make that turn and see that familiar site of the Lin-Joy Cottages. The only thing missing there were the guests frolicking in that roadside swimming pool. As we ventured further we came to Roberts Cove which was still filled with ice although 98% of the rest of Lake Winnipesaukee was ice free.
We continued by Roberts Cove and passed the former site of Camp DeWitt until we reached the top of Roberts Cove Rd and the turn off for camp...we traveled a few hundred feet looking for the tell-tale change in the road to dirt and ruts...but it never came...only paved roadway...wide and spacious. The surrounding trees and land looked the same but the dirt road was conspicuously missing!
As we traveled down the road toward camp a little further things looked eerily familiar but it was hard to identify specifics because so much of what we all have come to recognize as the road to camp had been changed...but then there it was exactly as it has been for decades...The sign that was familiar to anyone that has ever driven the road to camp but especially for those that used to run, the old Aiken Mile...by the way you can't do that run anymore, most of the paths through the back are either gone or overgrown!
The following photos were taken the weekend of April 5th (unless noted) and can be enlarged by clicking on them!!!
As we went passed the Aiken cutoff we came to the area of the road that went by the beach (in the past you had to look very hard through the trees to see the beach but not anymore) and this is what now blocks our view...this house sits on the corner of the lower camp bunk line and the beach. A very nice house with as you will see later...a GREAT view of the lake and yes that is "The Beach" beyond those trees.
So we travel only a few hundred feet further and sitting just off the road is this house...located closer to the road than to the bunk line or the lake...but obviously this house too has a great view of the lake!!! We continue our journey toward the camp (towards you in the picture on the right) and there to our right with a chain across it is the back road that once lead to the office and Arts & Crafts. It is now heavily overgrown in there but you can still see the ruts in the dirt made by 55 years of travel.
We stay on the road up toward the A-field and see the first recognizable signs of camp...the basketball courts and tennis courts...the rims, posts and fences are all rusted but they are still intact. Across from there on the other side of the road is a huge pile of construction debris and just beyond that on the left where the volleyball courts once stood is a house...I believe it was one of the first homes built on the grounds since it appeared in pictures taken back in 1999 (see photo to the left)! We now reach a new fork in what was once the camp road...to the right will take us down passed the A-field and tennis courts to the circle but to the left is a road traveling down the old third base line out into the middle of the A-field. Since there is a gate across the the old road we decide to drive out into the middle of the A-field...still being maintained and manicured (I believe by Irving Roberts). To the left we see a familiar but decaying site...the site of many a basketball and hockey game...now unfortunately a backboard is missing from one side and the other is so severely rusted it looks like they are ready to come down! Speaking of coming down...the benches to the right are already coming down!!
We park out on the A-field on what looks like it should be the location of someone's driveway and take in the sites...except for the fact that now to our left on what used to be the upper camp bunk line, the campfire area, the rec hall, the circle, Chief's/Peter's office, the dining room, the kitchen, the canteen and the infirmary there stands two homes, things look exactly the same.
As we look back towards the tennis courts and turn our gaze slightly to the right...there sitting alone under the cover of the pine tress just as it did 10 years ago and probably some 55 years before that...were the bleachers. Strangely missing from that picture was "The Old Doc" overseeing a 15 year old baseball game against Belknap or Dewitt.