Sisters Debbie Anderson and Laurie Andrews graduated from high school more than a decade apart. Their lives were as different as The Brady Bunch and The Cosby Show from their respective eras, but one thing links them together — a cottage by the lake that they will always call “home.”
“Our dad built this house in 1948. It was the first house on the street,” the sisters say, one finishing another’s sentence.
Actually, they had to check it out to be sure. Fortunately, right there in the concrete at the front of the cottage, the year was scrawled in stone. Their father, Doug, a retired builder, built the home on Elm Street himself, little by little, over the years.
The sisters recall how in the early years the area was nearly empty of permanent residents.
“There weren’t any big houses; they were just little bitty cottages. In the wintertime, there was nobody here but us — nobody,” they say.
But during the summertime, the area was filled with people from all over. Sometimes the neighbors would be a young family, other times an older couple with grandchildren who would come and stay for part of the summer and become young playmates for the sisters.
One neighbor they recall well was a retired monsignor who had a small altar set up in his home where they would sometimes attend Sunday Mass with their late mother. The monsignor enjoyed lake life, barbecuing in his backyard and cruising around the lake on a boat he called “The Padre.”
Best of all, in those days the kids played outside constantly. Parents perhaps had less to worry about with society and encouraged their children to explore the great outdoors independently.
“We’d ride our bikes all the way down to State Park,” they recall.
If the sisters could go back in time, they’d take a few more lessons from their mom in how to make her delicious pies. Their dad, at 94, has now called this place home for more than 60 years.
As for the sisters, growing up in a small cottage by the lake is about the best childhood they could have asked for. Memories made by the lakeside grow only fonder with time for a family that stills loves a cottage built by hand.