Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Photography Post - Boat Houses on Lake Summit

When I was 7 or 8 years old my parents' best friends had a house on Lake Summit in NC. We would often join them for weekends up there. Lake Summit is a small lake (only 300 acres) just outside of Tuxedo, NC (population 106) near the metropolis of Zirconia (population 2,456). 

There were no mansions on the lake, only family cottages, some nicer than others, but each having a boat house. The lots around the lake were on a steep grade so the boat houses would be on the water, there would be a pretty good set of stairs up from the boat house to reach the dirt road that encircled the lake, then after crossing the road, another good size stair case to reach the house. (The first picture does not reflect the normal topography.)

I am old enough that I can remember many families having those beautiful wooden Chris Craft boats. Most families had ski boats because almost everyone skied. There was some fishing and a lot of swimming.  I have so many fond memories of time spent on that small lake.

And, as Bon Jovi sings, "Who says you can't go home?" This past weekend, I was rambling around that part of the world and found myself in Tuxedo and the next thing I knew I saw the sign to the right - "Lake Summit Road". I turned down it, almost fearing what I would find. Certainly the old families had sold out and those delightful cabins had been razed and mega-mansions built in their stead. 

The road was exactly as I remembered, although it had been at least 30 something years since I had been there. The lake was as beautiful as ever. As I drove slowly on the hard packed dirt road, circumventing the lake, it was like stepping back into time. Yes, there were changes, but nothing major. And, if there were mega-mansions, they were hidden by trees high above the road. 

I can remember the Kirkpatricks' (my parents' friends) cabin was one of the smaller ones. Next door was this larger home owned by two or three families. Every time we were up there, the neighbors would all be up with a gaggle of children and dogs in tow. They had this large deck on the second story of the house that was shaded by the trees and overlooked the lake. It was not unusual to hear one them summoning anyone who walked by to join them for martinis in the afternoon (or Bloody Marys at breakfast for that matter). 

It seemed like there were no strangers. Everyone knew everyone else. Even though my brother and I were just guests, we weren't treated as such. We were free to run at will. If we found ourselves on the dock of someone else's boathouse around lunch time, then they were sure to include us at lunch. We were often invited to go skiing with someone's parents you just met that morning. It was a safe, carefree, family environment. Well, safe despite a lot of adult beverages.

Daddy and "Mr. Bill" (as we called Mr. Kirkpatrick) would tell us horrifying tales of the Lake Summit monster who came out at night and preyed on children wandering about. It was enough to keep all of us in the house at night, for fear of getting eaten. Mama and "Miss Anne" (Mrs. Kirkpatrick) would spend the days chatting about life, how Miss Anne could improve their house, and visiting with the neighbors. 

Thinking back on those days, they almost seem magical. Certainly, there had to be times of boredom, however I don't recall any. I cannot imagine that much drinking (as I know there was) going on and no one getting hurt or killed. But, there weren't any tragedies that I recall. 

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