Thursday, February 26, 2015

Pitcairn Park, Part 2 - Halibut Point, 1958

A one-per-decade series of glimpses, 1860-1960

During much of the 1950s, '60s and '70s what is now Halibut Point State Park was owned by the Richard Webster family of Brookline, who vacationed in Lanesville and became enchanted with the former quarry property that had fallen into decrepitude. I reminisced with Mrs. Cleo Webster and her daughters Kate and Heather about their experiences. Heather, who was born after the days of Pitcairn, sorted through the family slide collection to provide these photographs.
Part Two - an interview with Kate Webster, first segment
Welcome to Pitcairn Park
When I was about three years old, about 1954, my father bought the first piece of Halibut Point, which included the road into it. That year we stayed in a little Airstream trailer, the next in a cottage at the western edge of the property. It was down a little lane beside a tiny quarry. Later on it burned down.

The big quarry
He and my mother loved nature. Before he became a surgeon, as a youth, he wanted to be an entomologist. I grew up with his interest in insect life and other wildlife. His curiosity was insatiable.

Dr. Richard Webster
He and my mother were among the first people to buy aqualungs when Jacques Cousteau developed them. They were very interested in the ocean and sea life. When we were kids we weren't allowed to watch TV except The World We Live In on Sunday nights. Mum loved to draw and paint.
Clouds, drawing by Cleo Webster
He cleared acres of brambles. He had his own little backhoe. He would push down all the stuff and we were like farm girls. We'd be behind him with the picks and shovels and pitchforks, uprooting all that stuff. My sisters and I each had our own crowbar.

In the station wagon, headed to Halibut Point

What a monumental job! We did change the landscape some, but mostly it was in the way of clearing ledges, to make them more visible, especially in the area between the quarry and Gaffield Avenue.
Cleared ledges
Most of the briers have grown back, but you'll see some odd-ball things.

Ornamental rose 2014, in woods near where cottage existed
Martin Ray photo
We planted the entire area where the parking lot is with spruce and pine trees, some of which we grew from seed in Brookline. He may have intended it as a nursery from which to transplant trees elsewhere on the property. He built the boundary wall to the Trustees of Reservations land out of grout debris on hand, and planted a great many things there, maybe in an attempt to beautify it for opening it to the public.

Boundary wall
I was immersed in it, despite hating the chores that went on day after day after day, all summer. I learned so much about the incredible little things going on in the world around us - earwigs, cocoons, butterflies - an ant moving its eggs from one place to another - tadpoles coming from eggs. The joy is in the looking and seeing what's happening. 

Kate exploring
It was a great place for little girls. Oh, it was enchanting. A lovely magical area full of birds and flowers, and all kinds of creatures. My father taking us on nature walks was extremely inspirational to all of us.

Four Sisters by Cleo Webster

1 comment:

  1. Love this - go to Halibut Point all the time and never knew this history.