Lazy Summer Days at the Beach Cottage


After World War II, my grandfather built a small cottage in Chalker Beach, Old Saybrook, Connecticut. Due to the post-war shortages of raw material, he could only secure enough lumber for a garage sized building so that is what was built. A small cottage the size of a two car garage. One level with a bit of “attic” storage accessible via a built in wooden ladder. A small kitchen and dining area, tiny bathroom and small living room area. Two small bedrooms. One that barely fit a bunk bed and a dresser and the other with a built in bed that wasn’t full sized. Luckily the family wasn’t very tall.

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In the back there was an outside shower head for washing off sand and a small cement patio with egg crate sun shade. A maple tree grew in the back the eventually shaded the whole back yard and whose roots sucked up basically the whole lawn. There was a metal shed for the sand toys, life preservers, inflatable rafts and the lawn mower.

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Some how back in the day this humble little place was fine for the family and extended family to enjoy and cram in as many people over a summer weekend as there was floor space.

The beach was a quarter mile walk down the road with little red wagon full of beach chairs, towels, sunscreen, pails and buckets. Maybe a fishing pole or crab net.

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About three quarters of the way to the beach was the beach store. Each summer a new family would take over the store and try to make it work selling candy, milk and ice cream to the kids in the neighborhood. Seems like it would just cover the owners summer but nothing more and a different family would run it the next summer.

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The neighborhood would also get visited by various ice cream truck but we always save our money for the Vecchitto’s Italian Ice guy from Middletown. My dad would always tell us to have faith that he would come. Sometimes he wouldn’t make it to our beach until late afternoon. But even before dinner my Dad would let us get a lemon or watermelon or coconut Italian ice that would melt and drip out of these little paper cups that you’d suck the last drop out of before discarding.

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The family sold the Chalker Beach cottage after renting it out for years as we moved around in the army. My parents ended up over in Chapman Beach in Westbrook for a number of years. An upgrade place with more room and right on the beach until it became too much for them and they moved to Florida full time. But some of the extended family bought into Chalker Beach and we still have cousins enjoying small cottages like the one my grandfather built.

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