While returning home along Route 1B from my morning coffee break at the Waltz lunch bar, I have noticed all the tree cutting and clearing of land at the entrance to the Lincoln County Rifle Club. The activity started us both thinking how fast time goes by.
When we both saw how tall the trees had grown since we both were young grammar school children, the relativity of time and life set in for the both of us.
When the new Route 1 highway was built up by the Baptist church and down through the meadow and up the hill past Hilltop Stop and then crossed School Street past the home of George and Marjorie Plante and over the brook and past the new location of Damariscotta Hardware, just past this section of land the state of Maine put in a small picnic area with small outdoor fireplaces made of stone and three roof-covered picnic tables.
This area was all clear land when we were children. Many summer people as well as local people used the picnic area and enjoyed cooking a hot meal over an open fireplace and eating the meal at one of the picnic tables.
Many times, my parents would take us up to this picnic area and have hot dogs and hamburgers cooked over the fireplace, and my mother would have some kind of salad and homemade pie as well as a large jar of iced lemonade for a cold drink. This was a nice, enjoyable summer-evening meal.
Many local organizations used the picnic area for their group outings. The area was open enough to have a softball game or other games.
We both have often said it is hard to beat a good meal cooked over an open fire.
I recall when going to Franklin Grammar School, my schoolteacher, Mrs. Marion Smithwick, took her grammar school children in grades one through four to this picnic area on one of the annual school summer picnics when school closed for the summer in the middle 1940s.
My wife and I both recall that when our grammar school went on a school picnic, the school nurse of that town also went in case there was a need or accident with one of the children. In many cases, a simple Band-Aid may have been needed for a bruise or small scratch.
I recall that the day that Mrs. Smithwick took her children in grades one through four to the Damariscotta picnic area was a warm June day. We played many old-fashioned school games at our age level. Then one of the adults who drove one of the cars in which some of the children rode to the picnic area started up a fire in one of the stone fireplaces, then another adult put on the hot dogs and the still grill with some rolls. The soda bottles were placed in a washtub full of ice, which some parents had brought. There was also potato chips and fruits. By this time, the children were hungry after running and jumping and playing all the games. As I recall, we all enjoyed our hot dogs and hamburgers and cold soda pop and some kind of dessert.
Then after the meal was over, the teacher had us all play the game of hopscotch. This was a game that children of all ages could do. This was a game where one child could hop from one square traced on the ground to another without touching a line around each square on one foot. This was truly an old game enjoyed by all the children in our school days. We even played the game of hopscotch at home in our driveway with many children in our neighborhood over our younger years.
Then the children in grades one and two and then three and four were placed in two circles and we all sat on the ground and were asked what they were going to do during their summer school vacation. Everyone had a great time telling what they planned to do.
One boy who sat next to me was telling how he loved to climb large rocks and ledges in our area. He used to come to our house and we often went out in the cow pasture where there was an outcropping of ledge about 20 feet high and he loved to climb this ledge to the top.
After the storytelling was done, for some reason Stanwood Row saw a large boulder just beyond one of the stone fireplaces and decided to climb to the top of the large rock. It could have been seven or eight feet tall. In attempting to climb, he lost his grip and fell to the ground. In this event, he broke his wrist. The school nurse came over to check his arm and told Mrs. Smithwick Stanwood had hurt his wrist and she would take him in her car to see a doctor and everything would be all right.
The school picnic was nearly over and some of the grownups cleaned up and put all of us children in their cars and took us back to Franklin Grammar School.
Now as I look back at the days we had the school picnic, I can truly say we all had a great day full of events, games, food, and sharing stories of things to come.
Two days later, Stanwood Row came back to school with a cast on his arm. I recall he asked all his classmates to sign and autograph something on his arm cast, which we all did with a lot of fun and joy on his recovery.
This article just reminds me of the Damariscotta picnic area and all the good times many people had going there with their family and children over the many years.
We will show you an old postcard of the public camp site and picnic grounds of Damariscotta.