Beautiful Maine summer days remind us of our entrance into the wonderful, strange world of innkeeping in the 1960s. After signing the final papers and in due course welcoming our first summer guests, my husband and I quickly realized we had inherited a houseful of elderly (average age 75), tough, unforgiving, unrelenting, fabulous guests.

They began our training from day one. Looking back, we realized it was the greatest education any hotel school could offer. Most had been coming for more than 40 years.

They stayed for the summer, or at least half of it. We were not in control. I would not suggest our guests were opinionated; however, they told us which room they would take, where they would sit in the dining room, and who could sit near them.

The waterfront was run pretty much the same. Hammocks were hung along the shoreline of the magnificent pine grove surrounding the cove. The most coveted spot, of course, was close to the bathhouse and bathrooms. The guests believed the hooks embedded in the trees were theirs personally. Movement to a better spot was by the former occupant’s death only.

Everyone moved up a notch to fill the departed hammock swinger’s place. Sometimes arguments ensued when the departed was related to another guest, who then tried to claim the departed’s hooks for his or her own use. It wasn’t a pretty sight. The deciding factor was the number of successive summers attended by our hammock-swinging guests. Thus, the living relative rarely won.

Hammock time was designated to be immediately after lunch. Guests read or slept. Apparently this was an unwritten law. No one spoke during that time. The short of leg kept special pushing sticks always left in some secret place — that is until our family arrived at the scene with two young sons.

Right from the beginning it had been an adult resort, no children allowed. However, our two young sons quickly became overwhelmed with 70-plus caring grandparents. “It’s just a stick, Mom!” “Put it back,” was heard many times in the beginning.

One set of hammock hooks squeaked, so neighboring swingers asked if the squeaking hooks could be oiled. The squeaking swinger was deaf and it hadn’t bothered her a bit.

For several days the deaf lady was asked to oil her hooks. It didn’t happen. And we had learned early on not to interfere. One of the guests, a sweet old lady, remedied the problem with her trusty embroidery scissors.

Heading down to the lake a little early and taking her time, she cut the rope to the squeaking hammock. Just one end, no need to do both.

When the squeaking-hammock user hung her new hammock, she carried a small oil can. Silence had prevailed.


– Special to the Telegram