**Well it’s finally time to pack our suitcases for Franconia! As we steep ourselves in summer and sabbath resting, what better way than to join Elisabeth through her poignant remembrance of her beloved family summer cottage and experience how it shaped her life. So journey with us as we enter into the childhood delights of Gale Cottage…
The life lived and the things loved are what form a child’s character and tastes. It would be impossible to exaggerate the importance to our family of Gale Cottage in Franconia, New Hampshire. Cottage is not the word one would choose nowadays, but in the nineteenth century, any house where people spent the summer was a cottage. All along the coast of New England there are huge houses built at that time, all with servants’ quarters and many bedrooms, nevertheless called cottages. Our cottage was not huge, and its style nothing like Cape Cod’s. It was what we would now call a lodge, built entirely of wood, inside and out, with no plaster anywhere. There was no cellar. The house rested on (was not fastened to) granite rocks. There were two large rooms downstairs which we called the living room and the “pahlah” (mimicking the New England pronunciation of parlor), two large and two small upstairs, and two servants’ rooms in the attic.
Mother tells of her first visit there at the end of the summer of 1921. Her fiancé Phil Howard had come from Camp Allagash on Moosehead Lake in Maine, where he had been a counselor, to the Gillingham cottage on Lake Cochnewagan in Monmouth, Maine, bringing an unusual gift to his beloved—a beautiful ashwood canoe paddle made by one of the guides at the camp and inscribed with PH on one side and KG on the other. Mother takes up the story:
We had some wonderful canoe rides on the lake and when it was time for us to leave my father had agreed to drive back to Germantown via Franconia. From the garden we took a huge bag of fresh corn with us for the Howards which was greatly enjoyed for dinner that night at Gale Cottage, the big table having been carried from the porch into the living room and placed in front of the fire, which I thought such a good, though somewhat novel, idea.
Once my father was headed home there was no stopping him, so bright and early the next morning we started off. It was not a sad parting for Phil and me since we could look forward to lots of happy visits all the next year and to our honeymoon at the Cottage the following June.
–to be continued
**Excerpt originally published in The Shaping of A Christian Family, pp 147-148.