JOYS OF A SUMMER VACATION IN MAINE
by Francis Putnam
For some part of each of the past 60 years Trudy and I have vacationed on Chebeague Island, the recent 10 years together. There are 3000 islands scattered along the 4500 mile coastline of Maine,. Of all these only 14 are inhabited year round and can be reached only by ferry or some type of private vessel.
Most of these Islands are off-shore fishing villages, but Chebeague has a well organized community life - golf club, tennis club, yacht club, 14,000 volume library, church, hotel, bed and breakfasts, and a "theme" restaurant.
Island children attend a central schoolhouse and older children commute by ferry to a mainland school. We have well organized volunteer rescue and fire departments with state of the art equipment.
Our island was first settled in 1730. It is 10 miles "downeast" of Portland, Maine in the center of Casco Bay. Chebeague is the largest of a cluster of 100 smaller Islands that provide the fascinating and endless sailing experiences that are Trudy's passion. Since Casco Bay experiences 9 foot tides and fog that can appear in an instant, sailing it requires skill, experience, and talented crews, all of which Trudy has in abundance.
Trudy and I both raised our families on the Island summers and entertained relatives so that all of them were infused with a love for the lifestyle of this little community and its people both summer and native. The lifestyle takes some adjustment and many people find it inconvenient and anything but resort-like. As an island we are dependent on limited boat and bus schedules - a parking lot that is 5 miles from the boat landing and sometimes crowded busses. We have some services, but major appliance, medical or food problems require an expensive one hour trip each way and the carrying of resulting heavy packages down a steep ramp to the ferry. We have 9 to 11 foot tides so at low tide the ramp can have a 50 degree slope.
The year-round population is about 350, originally descendants of the early settlers but now expanded by young people seeking a different way of life and some summer people extending their visits to a permanent year round home.
The summer population expands to about 2000 with about 380 families making annual visits from 34 states, Alaska, the Virgin Islands and Canada. 23 families join with us from Florida and 13 from California.
We look forward to our visit each year but by mid-September we are ready to return home to our comfortable surroundings and many friends at LakeHouse West.