LIBERTY, Maine – Sometimes the modern world just feels too fast, too angry, just too stressful too much a lot.
When these feelings come to Linda Breslin of Winslow, she has the perfect antidote: an island camp on Lake St. George in Liberty that is a throwback to a bygone era. At the camp, a former harness shop from 1897 that was rolled on ice to its current home in 1905, the vibe is strictly that of the turn of the century.
There’s a cast-iron stove, candles for lighting, and no shortage of reading materials – one wall is carpeted from floor to ceiling with hardcover books that are over 100 years old.
And when Breslin and his friends want to sway to some music, they turn to his Victrola winding phonograph and his collection of old records.
Clockwise from left: after winding it up, Linda Breslin listens to music from her Victrola phonograph; Without a telephone in his camp, this sign next to the front door is intended for all messages; Breslin relaxes on the sofa in the living room of his camp. (Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN)
Breslin, 78, a retired psychiatric social worker and hospital administrator, has no plans to change or modernize the rustic shelter she loves.
Quite the reverse, in fact.
“The rule is that nothing can change,” she said. “I think you never really own a place. You are like a caretaker for the time you live there. This is history. I want to leave it to the next person, and I can tell them about the people who have come before and who have made these contributions. ”
She and her husband, Jim Breslin, discovered the camp by accident in 1969. The couple were traveling to Holland and met someone in Amsterdam who told about their friends who had just bought a camp on a lake in Maine and had Need help. pay their taxes.
The Breslins ended up renting the camp for a month each summer, for just $ 25 a week. For Linda Breslin, a native of Brooklyn whose thick New York accent hasn’t diminished in her 30 years of living full-time in Maine, this was the kind of place she’d always dreamed of.
“I always thought I was supposed to be in the countryside,” she said. “When I found this place, it was like, ‘This is it. This is what I always wanted.
The couple, who had wanted to buy the camp as soon as they started spending time there, finally did so in 1982, sharing the cost with other friends who own a 25 percent stake.
For Jim and Linda Breslin, and their son JB, camp has become a year-round getaway. They spent their summers here, and even in winter, flew to Maine to participate in an ice harvest started by another island family. Linda Breslin loved the idea of using winter ice from the lake for summer refrigeration. Once at the New Jersey airport, they explained their plans to other curious travelers.
“They said, ‘You know, we have electricity now. And the refrigeration, ”Breslin said with a laugh.
During the summers, they enjoyed the easy camaraderie with other island families and were eager participants in an increasingly elaborate island-wide guesthouse decorating competition.
“What can I say – I win every year,” said Linda Breslin.
Clockwise from left: Linda brews hot tea while at her camp on Thursday; Photographs from the early 1900s hang on the walls next to the shelves of old books; Breslin walks down the path from his cabin to the dock to take his boat to the mainland. (Credit: Linda Coan O’Kresik / BDN)
After purchasing the camp, the Breslins looked for work in Maine so that they could settle there full time. They finally did in 1990, when Linda Breslin was hired to be the director of the Augusta Institute of Mental Health. They lived full time on the lake for several months that first summer as they searched for a home year round.
Spending more time on Lake St. George, Linda Breslin became involved with the Citizens Association of Liberty Lakes, a non-profit organization that aims to maintain and improve the water quality of the city’s lakes. She spent 21 years as the group’s president before stepping down this year, working to educate people about erosion, invasive plants and better development strategies.
“You are extending the life of a lake by addressing these issues,” she said.
You could say that extending the life of things is a passion for Breslin. Inside the camp, she proudly points out favorite features, including the antique stove that had been restored by Bryant Stove Works in Thorndike, and traces of fish caught from the lake over a century ago, which are outlined on the wooden walls.
“Everyone puts their fish on the wall. It’s tradition, ”she said. “With witnesses, weight and date.”
She loves demonstrating the Victrola to island kids who are more familiar with iPhones and streaming music.
“They don’t even know what vinyl is, and they see me finish this,” she said, adding that when the music comes out of the box the old fashioned way, it’s like magic.
It’s the same way that staying true to the old-fashioned nature of the camp is like magic for Breslin.
When she touches the satin wood of the handrail leading to the upstairs bedrooms, stained black with time, she can’t help but imagine the hands of others who have come to camp over the decades. .
“I also think of all the people who touched him, and I feel connected to them,” she said.