by Florence T. Crowell
Scout cabins at Lake Winnemaug had been a mystery until I contacted
a few old timers from Watertown who had pleasant memories of time
spent there. I wish to thank Francis McGough, Avery Lamphier,
Donald Atwood and John Miller for sharing their memories with
me. Thanks, also, to Adele Valuckas Biedrycki for the use of her
Christ Church sponsored Troop 1 and meetings were held in the
Academy. In 1934 John became a Boy Scout and he remembers walking
on many summer days from his home on Scott Avenue to the lake
for at least four years. "Sparkey "Valuckas was Scoutmaster
for part of that time. The area of the lake where the Scout camps
were built was called Bronson's Cove because Bill Bronson, who
lived on Woodbury Road, had a cabin in the woods nearby.
Troop 1 had a small cabin, perhaps 10' X 20' with a window in
each of the narrow sides but without a porch. The building must
have been several years old when John first went there because
he remembered it to be a weathered, unpainted structure. It is
thought that it was built ca. 1928. In 1935 St. John's Church,
which sponsored Boy Scout Troop 3, built a much larger cabin with
a fine stone fireplace about 300 yards from the Troop 1 cabin.
John spent several nights in that cabin.
cabin had a dock. A peninsula jetted out into the northeast section
of the lake and Troup 1 had their dock on the north side of the
peninsula while Troop 3 had their dock on the south side.
memories of the Troop 1 cabin were in winter when they would go
to the cabin on Friday nights, build a fire, cook supper and then
skate on the lake. He remembers sleeping there.
going to the larger cabin, which was about 25' X 25'. It had a
fireplace and a large loft where he remembers sleeping. When he
last saw the cabin it was in a state of disrepair and he recalls
that it burned about 30 years ago.
celebrated his 12th birthday by joining the Boy Scout of America.
He was a member of Troop 3, that was sponsored by St. John's and
his father, Martin, was the scoutmaster. In the summer of 1935
the church built a cabin on the shore of the lake near the Troop
1 cabin. This cabin had a kitchen addition to the north side.
Unlike Avery, he remembers it as having a peaked roof, which was
the ceiling and he recalls bunk beds. He, too, remembers the large
stone fireplace which made the cabin adequate for winter use.
He thinks the property belonged to the Scovill Mfg. Co. but he
does not know what arrangements were made with Scovill that allowed
the cabins to be erected on the property. This would never happen
today as no one would want to pay for the liability insurance.
spent many happy hours there for six or seven years. Troop 3 didn't
last long but the cabin remained as parish property. Steven Valuckas
was Scoutmaster of Troop 3 when it disbanded in 1936. Most of
the boys transferred to Troop 1 where Konstantus "Sparkey"
Valuckas was Scoutmaster. At one time Barnard "Barney "
Valuckas was Scoutmaster but on graduating from High School he
joined the Navy.
other interesting things that took place at the cabin. They sat
around a campfire by the lake where they were entertained with
tales by a former merchant marine officer who lived in the old
Heminway House at the foot of Academy Hill. They were left in
the woods on a fruitless "snipe hunt" which boys his
age were persuaded was a worthwhile activity. They all learned
to swim and row a boat. There were no sailboats available to the
boys at that time. There was very little fishing and no hunting.
John said that at the cabins they qualified for Merit badges and
learned the names of the trees and other plant life. In general
they became more self-reliant, a capacity which proved quite helpful
when most of them became soldiers, airmen, or sailors in World