Tuesday, August 23, 2022

My Love for East Grand Lake Danforth Maine

East Grand Lake, Danforth Maine
The Lake gave me this photo in August of 2022.

East Grand Lake 

I refer to her as "she" because no man is that pretty, sorry guys.  She borders Canada, is the third largest lake in Maine, can have waves and whitecaps one minute, and be as calm as glass the next. Someone told me she is almost 365 miles of shoreline, but I'm not for certain, I do know she is 22 miles across (wow) and she can be 10 feet one minute and 120-something the next.  Some people say fishing her is hard, but if you ask the locals for help and know where to go and what you are doing, it can be amazing. 

For some the tiny town of Danforth, Maine is but a blip on a map, or some place they have never heard of, but for me, it's in my DNA to love this place. My grandfather, Pat Vecchio, was an Italian whose family came to Morgantown WV from Salerno, Italy.  He would eventually meet my Grandmother in Baltimore, and settle roots there.  He built many brick homes and neighborhoods in and around the Rosedale and Overlea areas.  

Ironically, he became best friends with a Native American named Chief.  Now if Chief had a real name I never knew it, only that he had a wife named Esther, because that's the name my whole family called him "Chief" out of respect for the actual fact he was in line to be Chief on his reservation, which he left years before.  He worked with my Grandfather and built homes.  

Now mind you back in the 1950's how funny this must have looked for an Italian Man and an Indian Chief to be the best of friends, and certainly racism existed back then, but my grandfather and Chief never faltered. They had more than a love for building in common, they had hunting.  It was somehow, some way, Chief's people had known about Danforth, and East Grand Lake, back in the 1950's and heard the legends of good hunting. On that notion they made a trek to what I feel is the edge of the world and a view you only see on postcards, (or maybe in Heaven...)

When you take interstates today, from Baltimore to Maine it will take you about 12 hours and that's praying that you won't hit traffic jams, accidents, construction and if you only stop quickly for gas and as the crow flies will take you 800 miles. Back in those days, all the interstates weren't the same and I would hear of 2 day treks or 21 plus hour drives. 

The exit I now take off 95North is number 227, Lincoln, (originally nicknamed Stinkin' Lincoln because of the paper mill, which has closed and I'm happy to report it no longer stink), then take the back roads through Springfield to come into the town of Danforth.  Danforth is still a small town to this day (more on that later) and borders the beautiful East Grand Lake.  Anyone who sees "her" will be mesmerized, and as my Grandfather was before me, and my Mother, and so am I, my husband, my friends.  I remember seeing a painted rock once when entering Maine.  It said, "Come for a Vacation, Stay a Lifetime."  Whoever painted that rock wasn't kidding. 

Now, back to the drive, all the while going through a plethora of states and finally getting into Maine, seeing nothing but trees for almost five hours to Danforth, even the the 55 minute hike from the exit in Lincoln to Danforth leaves me wondering one question, "HOW IN GODS NAME DID MY GRANDFATHER DECIDE TO COME HERE?"   Was he crazy, or just very smart. That remains to be seen. Smart, because of the beauty of it all. Crazy, due to the bipolar weather and cold.   Yet another story for later. 

I remember always asking my mother, "Are we there yet?".  Perhaps the hours upon hours of trees you see when you enter Maine gives you a sense that this is untouched land or you are driving to the ends of the earth.   The capita of humans per acre is nill.  

Not only would my Grandfather go there and hunt, but by the 60's he bought lakefront property and built hunting cabins and lodges he dubbed "The Big Ma-Mu", a name Chief came up with no doubt.  When he became sick with Cancer, my uncle and Grandmom sold it to what is now Living Waters Bible Camp.  Not to toot my grandfather's or Chief's horn, being a builder and all that, but his original buildings still stand to this day which makes me proud he was such a meticulous builder.  More on that, on a different post. 

My mother would spend her summers there and loved Maine and the lake.  When the Bi Ma-Mu was sold she was heartbroken, but my Grandfather had befriended the Haymans' who lived just a few camps down on the lake.  So , that friendship existed between my Mother and the Hayman's long after the property was sold and many summers of my childhood was spent with Ardis and John Hayman on the East Grand Lake in Maine.  God rest their souls.  Some of my best memories in life were created there.  

More Soon!

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Natural Rock
This super cool evil eye witchy rock found in the lake! Find it here.