Some of us are here because, in one way or another, we always have been. Some of us are here because lakeside real estate is a good investment. Regardless of which end of that spectrum you’re on, a sick Lake Kanasatka is working against you. For me, it’s pretty personal.
I have a lot of the same memories as the other longtime lakers. When my sister and I were young’ns, we always took Dad’s vacations on “The Big Lake”. We spent a few of them in little cabins on the Weirs end of the Paugus channel watching the boats go by all day and having a front row seat for the fireworks. Grampie would take me out in a rowboat after dark to catch hornpout on droplines. We kids could walk to the Weirs for concerts at the ballroom – Beach Boys, Gary Puckett & The Union Gap, et al. The channel traffic inspired Dad to get a boat of our own, but the dock at the cabins was rickety and the wakes were brutal as the Cigarette boats couldn’t wait to get from headway to speedway. So we shifted to Meredith Neck for a few years. Dad would tow us, sometimes 3 or 4 at a time, from Meredith to The Weirs. The stamina to ski that far is just a fond memory at this point, but the lake became the best part of my life for years to come.
Fast forward to the mid-70’s. Mom and Dad started looking for a summer place at the lake to retire to. Winni was the first choice, but the budget didn’t line up. It came down to a cabin off Weirs Boulevard, where the railroad tracks separated the yard from Meredith Bay, or a little place on a lake called Kanasatka. Being much quieter (and safer!), in 1977, a second mortgage on the Massachusetts home base and $14 grand got the spot Dad nicknamed the Kanasatka Yacht Club. The transom on the ’67 Larson had rotted out, but we had rowboats, sailboats, and canoes — thus the “Yacht Club”.
Now, I was a little young to be a real hippie, but I did my best imitation for a few years. Dad and I didn’t see eye-to-eye on much of anything. He’d head to the lake to work on the place – constantly. I had other interests and wasn’t much help those years. I grew up slowly. A little later, I had a decent job and started to come around to the real world. Dad and I were getting better. The work ethic and Yankee ingenuity I picked up from him over the years had kicked in again and I was able (and finally willing) to help out with a few projects at the cottage. Mom and Dad did find time to relax here and there and had fun weekends with good friends at the lake over the next few summers and made more great lake memories.
In July of ’81, I got a call at work to come home. Dad had had a heart attack at age 56. He didn’t make it. I was crushed and confused. I grew up quickly. I suddenly became more like my dad than I had ever been or had ever thought I’d be. I convinced Mom that we could hang on to KYC (the yacht club) if we rented it out now and then. So we went to work.
I enlisted friends and family to tick off the projects I knew Dad must’ve had on his list. I did everything with him in mind and the way I thought he’d do it – replaced the rotten deck, built our first dock, rewired the cottage, fixed rotted piers and beams to hold the place up, etc., etc. As many of you know, it never ends! I’d like to think Dad would be proud of what we’ve done — after getting over the initial shock that we’d actually done it!
Years of enjoying our home away from home on Lake Kanasatka followed as it became a great place to hang out with friends, with my wife Carol, or even just by myself. We’ve accumulated such a great collection of memories and the things many would take for granted are still fascinating to me – the sunsets, watching and listening to the loons, thunderstorms barreling toward us down the lake, the Big Dipper hanging above Red Hill, the sunsets, cruises around the shore, jet fighter war games overhead, the sunsets, eagles and ospreys soaring and diving, the echoes off of Red Hill, and, oh yeah, the sunsets! Now the KYC is great! The to-do list has become shorter and less daunting.
Suddenly it’s 2020. Carol joins me in retirement in January and we look forward to much more time at the lake. Then there’s a pandemic in March. The lake turns green in August. Now, in 2023, there’s a whole new list of things to do. Now, in 2023, the cottage is fine, but it sits on a lake that’s slowly dying. The view is just as beautiful as ever — much of the time. At other times, it’s hard to look past the green slime and murkiness toward Red Hill and all its glory.
So, what would Dad do now? “Everything he could” is the answer. So, that’s what I’ll do. This treatment we talk about is more than a science project. It’s an absolute necessity to shock this lake back to life and keep it healthy for those who will replace us. We all need to pitch in. “Bailing out” of this Kanasatka lake life is not an option. It all means too much.
Please help!
Scott Parker