WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The haunts of summers past

WOODS ‘N’ WATER: The haunts of summers past


Morin’s Grove, Dossin Beach, Double Beach, B.A.B., Red Bridge, The Swing, Millers, The Ice House, Habershon Field before it was made into a baseball and tennis park, Beavers, Baldwin’s Pond and even Black Pond.

Do you know what they all had in common, especially during the hot days of summer? They were all spots to go swimming back in the late 1940s and early ’50s and some of them right on into the ’60s.

But like all things in life, time has changed many of them, and even taken just about all of them away over the years.

For kids growing up in the Village of South Meriden, Morin’s Grove headed the list of swimming holes to go to on a hot summer day. Owned by the Morin family, it also served as a picnic grounds for many of the Village residents and, on many weekends, played host to various church and civic functions.

This was in a time when folks never thought of suing someone over every little incident and the Morin family generously allowed access to the pond, which featured a dock and diving board as well as some excellent fishing for panfish.

And would you believe we were even allowed to swim there without parental supervision? And get this, there were never any catastrophic accidents.

For a while, Morin’s Grove even had a small lunch counter that was once run by Bob Pelletier and his wife, Joyce. Our uncle, George Roberts, even ran the lunch counter for a while.

The Ancient Order of Hibernians (A.O.H). Club now stands there, although they were not the ones that originally purchased Morin’s Grove. The pond was drained and replaced with a parking lot and lawn area.

Today, places like Morin’s Grove and the generous family that allowed Village folks access to their property without charge and worry of liability no longer exist. I guess this is called “progress.”

And there was another favorite swimming hole in the Village that we kids were able to enjoy without fear of being thrown out. This was The Ice House, a small pond located between Bruce Lane and Dee Avenue in South Meriden.

While the pond and the dam that made it are now gone, the location has been turned into a small area known as Hunter’s Trail. Plans to build some houses in the area were stopped by the hard work of one of the residents on Dee Avenue.

Hanover Pond played host to a number of swimming holes, as did the Quinnipiac River. Dossin Beach, now the home of the Quinnipiac River Watershed Association (QRWA), was a spot I remember going to with our family. There was a sandy beach from Red Bridge down to the area were the Hanover Trail Walkway is now located.

It was the polio scare that got the area closed to the public, although the younger generation — yours truly included — still migrated to the area to swim on hot summer days.

There were a couple more swimming spots on Hanover Pond. These were Double Beach and the infamous B.A.B. (a.k.a. Bare-Assed Beach). These have now all disappeared in the sands of time, but the memories of the freedom that we enjoyed back then will last forever. If you walk the Hanover Pond Trail you pass right by these locations. They are now grown over with brush and trees.

For the more adventurous youths, there was Red Bridge and The Swing located a couple hundred yards above on the Quinnipiac River. Back then, Red Bridge was still used by vehicles to cross the Q River and the more daring boys from the Village would dive and jump off of the bridge into the cooling waters of the Quinnipiac.

Today, the water is no longer deep enough because of a massive buildup of silt that came downriver from various construction projects.

A bit upriver from Red Bridge was The Swing, a cable attached to the limb of a tree that hung out over the river. It was a favorite spot for the Village kids even when they got older and started to drive their own cars.

One of the favorite times to use The Swing was after a heavy rainfall and the river became a bit swollen. The current would carry you downriver to Red Bridge. If you missed the takeout on the corner of the brownstone foundation, you had to go to the sandbar just below Red Bridge and then walk back to The Swing.

We also had another swimming hole now long gone off Johnson Avenue on the Quinnipiac River. It was known as Miller’s and I have no idea where that name came from. This was a favorite swimming spot as we got older and all had our own vehicles to drive. Mine was a ’36 Dodge.

Meriden also had some beaches that were open to the public back in those “good old days.” One of them was Baldwin’s Pond located on North Wall Street in Meriden. It featured a bathhouse and sandy beach as well as a diving tower located in the deeper water. Today, the area features a playground and soccer field as well as a spot to do some fishing. The bathhouse is still standing and is used when the summer playground is open.

Beavers Pond Park, now the location of the Meriden Dog Park, was also a favorite swimming spot and had a beautiful sandy beach. Some of us older cronies still remember swimming there during the hot days of summer.

Another favorite place to go swimming, but not used that often, was Black Pond. We would rent a boat from Eddie Holmes and then row over to the distant shore opposite the boat house and cool off in the cooling waters of Black Pond. Of course, with the loss of the Black Pond Boat Livery this is no longer an option.

Many of these changes were done under the guise of what is now called progress. But as I recall all of the wonderful memories of my childhood, I cannot help but feel sorry for so many of our youths who will never know the freedom that I enjoyed in my growing years. All of the electronic devices in the world will never replace the freedom we knew.

See ya’ and God Bless America and watch over our troops, police, firemen and other first responders.

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