(Editor’s note: While regular columnist Matthew Hanly is away, fellow Biscay Pond residents have stepped up to fill in. This week’s column is by Bill Clark.)
Back in the day, back before the internet, video games, and cell phones, Biscay Pond was bustling with activity on any given weekend during the warmer months of June through September. Before technology turned us all into screen zombies, people wanted to be outside, enjoying our own little slice of awesome. It was and still is, just as wonderful as being up in the north woods, while being just minutes from town and civilization.
Back in the day, the beach was packed with cars, sometimes past Bob Reny’s driveway as kids and kids at heart flocked to the lake to splash about for an afternoon. There was a dock that the town put out each year that practically every kid that grew up in these parts had jumped off of at one time or another. There were swimming lessons on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday mornings for beginner through advanced. I’m sure you wouldn’t have to ask too many acquaintances before you found someone who learned to dog paddle at the beach.
Back in the day boats of every shape, size, and speed filled the pond. There were row boats, rubber boats, aluminum boats, paddle boats and motorboats. There were Starcraft, Alumacraft, Checkmate, HydroStream, Steury, and Corson. Bill and Rollie were out fishing most mornings, Freddy and Tom were out racing in the afternoon, and every now and then, Spidah would drop in on a given evening to make a screaming run up to the end of the pond and back. Waterskiers cruised around the bay, some on two skis, some on trick skis, and in the evening, the boys would break out their slalom skis, throwing walls of water 15 feet in the air as they vied for the title of “King of the Lake.” There was even that one time when Chris became the first to use no skis as he ran barefoot around the loop. Mallards, Hobie Cats and Sunfish tacked and crisscrossed from shore to shore and if you kept an eye out, you could see the unmistakable blue and yellow sail of Friskey Biscay as Tribou made his daily run.
Back in the day, on Labor Day weekend, the Hydroplane racing circuit would descend upon Biscay Pond for a weekend of practice and racing. For three days, these pilots would push their 6- and 8-foot craft 50 mph around a course of buoys in the bay. The craft were barely an inch thick at the bow and as they slid through the corners at ludicrous speeds, any ripples from the prevailing south winds could snub them up into a nosedive or send them airborne in spectacular fashion.
These days, it seems Biscay is a little more reserved. The swimming lessons and the dock have long since been done away with due to liability. The dozens of boats have been replaced by a few party barges and countless flotillas of kayaks. Hardly a fisherman can be seen dragging a line around during the heart of summer. Waterskis have been displaced by jet skis that sound like a swarm of angry giant bees. The Hydroplane races have also fallen by the wayside much like those kinds of events have everywhere. And when was the last time anyone saw our loon parents with a chick riding on momma’s back on a July morning?
Maybe I’m just getting old and old memories seem to stand out more as time goes by. Or maybe, things really are a lot different than they used to be back in the day.