August 7 – 13, 2020Vol. 22, No. 9

Historical Memoirs from Belgrade Lakes Native Bill Pulsifer

by Rod Johnson

At age 85, Bill Pulsifer and his wife Marie live in the same house in Belgrade Lakes village that he was raised in. His knowledge and sharp memories are often called upon to confirm or deny some historical question. He is always happy to comment on the issue and often expounds about other trivia that we didn't previously know. Long story short, Bill is our Belgrade Lakes expert and knows much about the other Belgrade villages as well. When I asked him about the old boathouse that was on his family property, now torn down, I got more than I could have hoped for. Below are short memoirs of that boathouse and a potpourri of other interesting information, some related, some not.

Concerning his father's boathouse Bill says, "The large boathouse was on the property when my dad bought the place about 1925. In the 1930s, one of the local guides named Fred Ellis lived in an apartment upstairs. Fred later built a house on Skunk Alley (Hulin Road) behind Rosby French's house. The boathouse was torn down around 1960. The cribs that served as underpinning are still visible underwater."

Concerning a boathouse that was on the west-facing side of the stream located at the Pentlarge property: "The small boathouse across the stream from ours was moved across the ice in 1945 onto Maggie Damren's property and became known as Maggie's Camp. This is now the LRC property and the camp was torn down when the LRC building was built."

Concerning the Frink boathouse, we will defer to this article in the Belgrade news on March 7, 1906, brought to light and sent to Bill by Linda McLoon. I'll fill in the blank that the Frink cottage is the Cottrell cottage on the West side of Long Pond, somewhat hidden from village view by what we know as Blueberry Island (actually named Frink's island, more on that later ) Here's the article from 114 years ago:

Leonard Frink of Boston purchased the henhouse which was on the Foster place, and moved it across the lake to his cottage. He will remodel it into a boathouse for the accommodation of his gasoline launch and a smaller craft. Mr. Frink was here and personally supervised the moving, which was attended by several mishaps of an annoying but not serious nature. In its progress through the village streets, the building came in contact with several telephone wires with sufficient force to break them and temporarily cripple the service of several instruments. It also lurched into the rail at the side of the bridge near the sawmill and made kindling of the same. It was feared that the building would topple over into the stream, but it was finally landed safely at its destination on the west shore of Long Pond.

And now, to Bill's personal memoirs of Mr. Frink:

As a kid I remember "old man Frink" as we kids used to call him. He would walk the sidewalks of the Belgrade Lakes village with a cane, white pants and jacket, along with a panama style hat. We kids used to holler at him some. He had a pumpkin seed style boat with a single cylinder engine, which he used to travel back and forth across Long Pond. He docked behind Bartlett's store (now Day's). I remember one day he was having trouble starting it to leave the mainland and took out the spark plug to put some gasoline into the plug hole as a primer. When he cranked it over it backfired and some spilled gasoline burst into flames. A bunch of us kids were swimming nearby and we found some buckets and threw water on it to douse the flames. In the meantime, Sherm Clement and Karl Johnson ran up to the firehouse and brought the firetruck. We had the fire out before they got there. Old man Frink finally got the engine going and headed back across the pond. Guess we felt a little sorry for him.

A typical burst of Lakes trivia came from Bill one day in 2013, when I was conferring with him about an old outboard motor that Frank MeGill had:

Seems I do remember the Chris Craft outboard that Frank had on his little skimmer. They were forerunners of the Mercs I think, very high RPM. While going over this in my mind, I recall other events in my childhood. We kids would go on the little island in the stream narrows and have BB gun fights across the stream with Skippy Green, who got hit in the eye. My father said they were too dangerous and I never did have a BB gun after that until I was married. From then on we used acorns for ammo and shot them with slingshots. We'd hide our boats on the backside of the island and pelt the boats that went by. Bad boys — never got caught though. As far as the 4.2 horsepower Champion goes, it had a cutout on the exhaust so it was very loud. I drove Georgie Golder nuts for a few summers as she lived right beside the stream in Maggie's camp. Harold Tukey (the warden) gave me hell a few times, but it only slowed us down a little. I had one of the first boats that Harold Webster made, but your father's cedar boats were much faster with the same horsepower. When we would go camping we always took Emil Koref along. His mother would send enough eggs, bacon and loaves of bread to feed us for a week — even though we only stayed one night. We camped out at either Oak Island or sometimes the guide's lunch picnic sites under Bogart's Mountain. On Long Pond we would go to the mouth of Beaver Brook. One time as we were about to land the boat at Beaver Brook, Pug Damren stood up early and tipped the boat over. Good thing the food was in Dick and Emil's boat!

So goes it with Bill's memoirs. Let's hope we can get him to spill some more beans in the next few years!

Rod Johnson was born and raised in the Belgrade Lakes in the 1950s and '60s.