Over the years, we stayed at a number of cottages on Webhannet Drive. The first, when I was about a year and a half old, was the Howgate. If you drive down the road today, it is one of the few cottages that looks exactly the same now as it did then--large grey weather-beaten shingles with a porch that goes around three sides. One summer we also stayed on the bay side, in a pink duplex cottage named the Laura Lee. George and Carol Katz and family stayed on one side and we were on the other. Auntie Doris and Uncle Donald brought Grammy Boocock to stay for awhile, and we have very vivid memories of her in a straw "coolie" hat wading through the beach grass at low tide like she was in the rice paddies!
The cottage that we called "home" most years though was "Life's Dream", owned by the Rodrigues from Sanford, Maine. It was a big brown cottage right on the ocean, with a swing set and its own shuffleboard court right in front, and we felt like we owned it! Andi and I shared the big bedroom upstairs on the ocean with two, big, iron double beds. I can still smell the salt air and feel the weight of the quilts when we slept with the windows open on the cool August nights. Cheryl, being the oldest, a "teenager", got the smaller upstairs bedroom all to herself, and Mom and Dad the third upstairs room. Sorry Joey, once you came along we just must have stuffed you in with someone in a porta-crib somewhere. Across the street from us were two cute red and white shingled cottages named Cozy and Comfy, also owned by the Rodriques. Most summers our beach friends the Hawkins stayed there while we were across the street. Mr. Hawkins was our version of Jack Lalaine. He ran the beach each morning with the sunrise, in his 60's version of a speedo. They had a son, Alan, about my age and a daughter, Cheryl's age.
I remember that we each got new "beach clothes" for the trip to Wells. These always included new white sweatshirts, white sailor hats (sometimes with "sunglasses" built in), "clam diggers", plaid bermuda shorts, white Keds, and cotton bathing suits that had a tendency fill with water (think helium balloons) when we got them wet. For the nights when there were dances at the Casino, we would spend most of the day thinking about what we were going to wear. We'd spend all day on the beach in rollers in preparation...well, except for the year we all got those ever-flattering "Pixie" haircuts for our trip to Wells. It was a big deal when Mom finally let me go to the Casino the night that it was rumored that Freddie ("Boom! Boom") Cannon would be there. When we arrived at the Casino, they stamped our hands to get in and we would walked up a big flight of wooden stairs to the dance hall. The Casino had huge wooden windows that swung out all along the sides...you could actually hear the surf and smell the popcorn while listening to Frankie Avalon, the Everly Brothers, the Platters, and Elvis. Below the dance hall was a little sundries shop with a soda fountain so there was always a place to hang out when you were afraid no one was going to ask you to dance. And when the Casino wasn't being used for dances, you could go there to roller skate on the big wooden dance floor.
We always dreaded rainy days at Wells Beach because that inevitably meant the dreaded trip to Gonic, NH, to buy wool. Mom made most of our clothes back then and she'd load up on fabric for the winter at the Gonic Woolen Mill. It would always be about 95 degrees and humid in the mill while Mom draped us in layer after layer of the hot, scratchy stuff. Somehow, August and wool just do not go together well. We did get some great clothes out of the deal though...one year it was matching ponchos, another it was skirts and vests that you could "mix and match". This may be how we all acquired our highly developed fashion sense!