Monday, July 5, 2010

Art And Pure Nostalgia.

On summer evenings, after dinner, my mother would take my brothers and me for a cooling
dip in the brown cedar waters of nearby Palatine Lake. Palatine was one of a string of  lakes
that included Elmer, Centerton, Franklinville, Parvins, Iona, and Garrison lakes.

Here we are, cooling our tootsies in Palatine lake, where I learned to swim. That's me, on the left,
and my brother Bob, on the right. Brother Frank was then only a gleam in my Dad's  (and maybe Mom's)
eye. About fifteen years after this picture was taken, Bob worked here as a Life Guard, and met
and wooed his future wife, Eleanore, whose family rented one of the many cabins along the back side
of the lake, for the summer.

Here is a painting of part of the lake, including the Life Guard stand, that I did (from memory) as a
gift to Bob and Eleanore, for their wedding. I think I painted this in acrylics, while still in art school.
Sadly, only two of the lakes mentioned above are open to the public anymore, for swimming, or the renting of cabins for the summer, etc. Many of the others are polluted, but do allow canoeing and sport fishing.

One of the lakes that still has tons of summer visitors, and cabin owners, is one I've been driving past every
time I visit my Dad and brothers; Lake Garrison. For years I've promised myself to spend a day there, and do a little "photo essay" of this classic South Jersey Lake. So that is how I spent about 5 hours of
my Fourth of July, just quietly roaming in the shadows (it was SO HOT!, trying not to be intrusive to my
fellow humans, who were obviously having a very "American" experience, as I was, on this Fourth.  

My thanks to Lake Garrison Manager, Joe Reggetto, for indulging my nostalgia, and giving me the run of the property. I was a kid once again, if only for a day.

 And his friendly and informative staff, who filled me in on the history of the lake, which before
1934, was a Cranberry Bog. Bring your chips and burgers; they'll provide the lake, and a good time
is guaranteed for all, at South Jersey's Lake Garrison.


  1. They charge Admission?
    How many of those lakes we used to enjoy as kids, are privatized now?
    There is a beach down the road from me, source of many of my water paintings, that is nice for dipping......IN AUGUST! Although it is expected to reach 98o here in Downeast today....swim tomorrow?
    Your blog brings back fond memories!

  2. I'm really enjoying your blog Bill. You're Bala Cwyd's answer to Garrison Keeler! I grew up in a lake distric in n. Jersey, your photo essay brought back a lot of childhood memories for me. A lot of similarities.

  3. Haa-haaa! Love the Garrison Keeler ref, Jeff.
    Hopefully I'm not as corny as he is. But being from S. Jersey, how could I be otherwise!?
    Pat; admission to Lake Garrison is about $6.00.
    When I told them what I wanted to do, and why, they let me in for nothing. My motive for taking the pics was my fear this lake would soon go the
    way of all the other lakes (except for Parvins.)
    But, turns out all the many folks who have cabins & trailers, along the back of the lake, are the owners of the whole place! They have a corporation, thus a vested interest in keeping the place going. So I think it will be around for awhile. As an historical aside; when I was a kid, all the lakes, except Parvins, which has always been a State Park, had signs that warned "Whites Only." A literal (sick) sign of the times, back in the '50s, and before. And of course, non of the "locals" would go to Parvins, 'cause being a State Park, they had to let everyone in. Thankfully, times have changed.
    (If not attitudes, of some.)

  4. This is a very interesting entry and your blog as a whole shows a fascinating part of your personality. It's funny how writing and painting mix and how the two forms can amplify each other. I have always hated artist's statements but I find blogs when they are good, as your's is, very illuminating.

  5. Fabulous photos!!! being there :)