Who doesn’t have a dream of owning a beach front cottage? Growing up my family owned a tiny cottage in Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Build after World War II by my grandfather when there were restrictions on wood, he, like many of the neighbors building up after war, could only get enough lumber for a two-car garage sized cottage, so that is what he built.
It was walking distance from the beach and hosted many an extended family gathering under its tiny roof. There was one bathroom, and outdoor shower, a small kitchen and two bedrooms with barely enough room for a dresser. One had a short home made bed platform (luckily my parents weren’t tall) and a bunk bed for the kids. Sliding door saved on floor space. There was a ladder up to the attic if anyone dared brave the heat up there.
In the later years it even had a TV antenna, complete with a manual rotating controller that was used to dial in the one TV station that came in. My three siblings and my Mom all stayed there a few years while my father was stationed in Vietnam. Kind of incredible when I think about it. Later one summer we stayed there while my Dad worked and joined us on the weekends. My older sister was big fan of Love Boat reruns on that black and white TV and kept us all in the cottage until around 11 am when we could finally head down the street to the beach.
“Forsaken Dreams” by Edward M. Fielding is a photograph of an abandoned fisherman’s cottage in the harbor at North Rustico on Prince Edward Island. It’s a wonderful ruin of an old cottage listing to one side as it slowly sinks into the soft sand. It must have been a powerful storm that started the slide and its amazing that the building still stands. Every time I head back to Prince Edward Island I expect it to be gone, yet it survives.
The house didn’t rock. At least not in the same time frame of the deep sea fishing boat. After a week on the water anything that didn’t move was heaven on earth. Others join the little lonely house as the fishing village grew and fortunes of the hunting ground were discovered, exploited and depleted. Herring, cod, lobster, clams, mussels – bounty from the sea to be caught and shipped west to the city folks of St. John, Quebec, Montreal and even south by train to Boston and New York. Far away places with ways of life so foreign to the fishermen of Rustico.
But the little house on the beach did roll with the sands of time. Gone were the rough seaman as time past and the stocks dwindled. Now city people came on holiday to play in the water, eat by the sea and hire fishermen to ferry them around for sport. The waves of the dunes rolled the little house in its perch, pitching it slowly off kilter, the winds ripping at is tar paper siding, the ground opening to swallow it whole.