Seniors & Aging

Lake Whatcom Memories from Jack Westford

When school let out it meant one thing to me. It was time to pack up our brown Ford station wagon and head to our Lake Whatcom cabin for the summer. Mom had the car loaded with things we would need to get started for the summer.

Our two-bedroom cabin had sat empty all winter long. My sisters and brothers didn’t care that our cabin might not have been winterized correctly last fall. All we wanted to do was to get to the lake.

The Burlington Northern had a train route that ran from Bellingham Bay to the town of Wickersham. The tracks ran through our lakefront lot. The train tracks themselves were friendly connectors along the lake. We enjoyed balancing on the tracks as far as we could go.

In the afternoon when we heard the train coming we ran to meet it, hoping the caboose rider would throw rolls of Life Savers candies to us kids. At bedtime, we would climb the ladder up to our loft where there were wall-to-wall mattresses. As we would lay in the pitch-dark we could hear the sound of click ... click ... click ... click ... as the train approached. Our room filled with bright light and the cabin shook as the train went by.

A tugboat called the Charlotte would haul rafts of logs from the south end of the lake to Larson Mill. When I would hear a low rumble I knew the tug was coming. I sometimes would run to the lake and take my small wooden boat powered by a 3.5-hp Evinrude and go meet the tug.

My day at the lake was cut short as I had a paper route. I’d jump on my wide-wheeled Schwinn bike and sail down Alabama Hill as fast as I could without a helmet. I’d pick up my papers at The Bellingham Herald building. My route included downtown taverns, shops and hotels. When I finished my paper route, I’d look for a ride with Dad or ride my bike back to the lake. I would look forward to swimming or water-skiing.

The train no longer steams by our cabin. The Charlotte no longer hauls logs down the lake. Time passes and things on Lake Whatcom have changed.

My summer memories of the lake are still clear. Following my time in the military, my wife and I purchased the family cabin. We built our new home where the cabin stood. We are now building new memories with our children and grandchildren.

Jack Westford lives on Lake Whatcom