There’s no other way to put it. Mainers are haunted by Labor Day.

Halloween may be two months away, but as soon as September looms on the calendar, we start to mourn the passing of summer. We review all the things we thought we would do before that final fling of the season and we sadly acknowledge that there simply wasn’t enough time.

Such feelings have always been most acute among school children. The end of summer vacation adds urgency to every kind of outing, and opportunities for trips to the beach are growing slim.

Those thoughts led me to talk with several friends recently about memories of favorite swimming locations. Some of those spots disappeared as years passed and others have been transformed.

The outlet at Lake Auburn was most familiar to me as a young boy. It was a good-sized pool behind a small dam and it provided fun for scores of area families. A diving board was fixed above the dam where water spilled over and created Bobbin Mill Brook, a winding tree-lined stream flowing near our farm and into the Androscoggin River.

The outlet didn’t have much that you would call a beach. Parents could spread a blanket on an embankment and keep an eye on the kids.

That location is now the Auburn Municipal Beach.

Another destination for my family was also called the outlet. It was the end of Sabbathday Lake, New Gloucester, and more recently has been known as Barefoot Beach. It had a small store and rental canoes were available. It featured nice sand beaches and picnic tables under the pines.

Day trips to Bear Pond Park in Turner also were wonderful fun. That area had amusements, rides and a roller skating rink, as well as good swimming.

At Tripp Lake in Poland, Bridge’s Beach was an east shore sandy peninsula extending into the water. There was a float with a curving water slide for adventurous swimmers. That site, no longer public, charged for use of bath houses and the beach, but not far down Route 11 there was another roadside beach. It was a popular free destination called Scotsman’s Beach. It’s still there, but many prefer not to use the politically-incorrect reference to penny-pinching.

Range Pond State Park, Poland, is a fairly new destination. That name, pronounced “rang” for some reason I can’t discover, comes from the word “range,” meaning a primary surveying line. There have been a variety of swimming destinations on all three Range Ponds — lower, middle and upper — through the years.

Those were some of the public and the private/commercial swimming options in the area. Other places may be remembered, although they are no longer accessible.

Lapham Brook, which flows past Lost Valley and Perkins Ridge into Taylor Pond, had a few small pools where local youngsters including my wife Judy cooled off. It was named for Abriel Lapham, who settled on nearby land in 1798.

These pools in brooks didn’t have room enough for a real swim. I remember a couple of these 2-foot deep pools in Bobbin Mill Brook, but it was good enough to draw neighborhood boys to it on hot days.

A much bigger and much more adventurous pool remembered by some local people is at the Mt. Apatite quarry near Garfield Road in Auburn.

Many others fondly remember swimming at Taylor Pond. Simpson’s Beach, Crescent Beach and Sandy Beach were popular spots that were fairly close to the Auburn population. Many people recall riding their bicycles to Taylor Pond when they were young.

Lewiston families also had their favorite swimming sites, and I hope readers will help me relate some of their memories. Nason’s Beach at Sabattus Pond was a nearby summer refuge for local families. Its name commemorates C.F. Nason, a settler in 1873.

Lewiston’s No Name Pond is the site of the large chalet of Le Montagnard snowshoe club. It provided summer swimming access, but more notably, it was access to ice. Large blocks of ice were cut in the winter to build ice palaces in the city for the spectacular international snowshoe club gatherings around 1950.

For 60 years or more the City Park in Lewiston, now named Kennedy Park, has provided a pool for inner city residents. It may not have a sandy beach, but friendships built of summer fun there are just as memorable.

Dave Sargent is a freelance writer and a native of Auburn. He can be reached by sending e-mail to [email protected].

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