Beach Memories of Childhood – Breakheart Reservation

If you’ve been reading my recent posts, you’ll know. I just posted something about the swimming holes of my childhood. You may be asking yourself, another post about swimming? And the funny thing is, I am not a fan of swimming. In fact, on a cruise once, we booked an excursion to go snorkeling with manta rays. Due to a storm, there were no rays, but they allowed us to go snorkeling. I walked down those catamaran steps into the ocean, and quickly turned myself around, and went right back up the steps. I gave it a second try a few minutes later. Nope, I’d rather spend my time in the hammock with a good book and an adult beverage, iced and fruity! But yes, this post is kind of about swimming and beaches. Kind of.

small child playing in a fountain
Not this kind of fountain, but I wouldn’t have like that at all. Photo by Sophie Dale on

How much do you remember about your first year on earth?

Then there are those places that you have memories of, but only a flash of memory. Perhaps you were too young to fully remember? Perhaps it wasn’t a good memory so your brain kindly wiped things clean? There is one place I’ve thought of fondly over many years. Just a mental glimpse of it really, a big pond with a fountain in the middle. I remember somehow getting out of the car near it, and looking down on it from the road. It has a happy connection for me, and I know it wasn’t far from home. But for the life of me, look as I did at each random pond and fountain I’ve come across over the past 50 odd years, I’ve never found it. Until recently….

lifeguard seat on a frozen beach
This chair is sitting about 25 feet from the “fountain location”

And while I think this park is it, and I thought I saw the base of the fountain when we visited, in photos I’ve seen online that cement block on the island is used for a lifeguard chair in summer. How disappointing! But perhaps prior to the new visitors’ center and all being constructed in 2004, there was a fountain, and I did go there at some point as a child.

Other vague beach memories

There’s also a vague memory I have of going to Hampton Beach as a very small child. I only remember that my aunt and uncle had rented a cottage a few blocks off the beach. We went for a visit there one summer and it was so crowded. Cigarette smoke was everywhere, kids were being sent to the package store to buy beer, and a few of my cousins maybe had sparklers. Those are the vague memories, that and so many people talking and yelling. But I found proof of that memory recently when I came across my old baby book.

Yes, that an actual picture of that book, with it’s yellow moire cover, and stains from who knows what! And in fact, my mother being the frugal kind of mom, made entries for all four of us! Maybe you have such a book? You know, the kind that new mothers fill out with dates of first teeth, favorite toys, first words, etc. My first “long car trip” was to Hampton Beach to celebrate my cousin Pam’s birthday. I don’t remember when her birthday was, but I’m guessing it was summer, and she would have been around 15 or 16. It’s interesting to note that in my thirties she and I spent a lot of time together, traveled to England and Spain together. Unfortunately, life happens and you lose touch. I would have been almost a year old at that birthday party. So maybe those are actual pre-1-year-old memories?

Breakheart Reservation – the site of that fountain

Well, maybe it isn’t the site, maybe it is. But a few weeks ago we decided to do a local hike we’d put off previously due to rain. So we headed to Breakheart Reservation in Saugus. There are spots in the park where you can see the Boston Skyline, so it’s definitely a great destination for a day out in nature if you’re in or around the city. I hope you enjoy the photos below:

There was a beautiful babbling brook along the paved road we walked.

Watch out for black ice!

While it might seem that a paved path is a safe walk, on the day we were there, it wasn’t. Wherever little brooks crossed the road, those “little crossovers” were frozen deceptively into black ice. We had to warn a few people after we’d crossed into one section where the three of us nearly had to crawl on our hands and knees to get back out! But the leaves gave us a bit of traction.

And of course you have to see the pond from my memories. But on our visit it was frozen and there was no fountain. It was still beautiful, and is a great place to visit in the summer to cool off and enjoy “the great outdoors” very convenient to Saugus, Lynn, Melrose, Malden, Medford, Wakefield. It’s obviously a very big park with numerous entrances.

You’ve got choices at Breakheart

While we just walked around on the paved road that day, there are multiple options for more difficult hikes. If you check the park’s website you’ll see there are opportunities for hiking, biking, horse backriding, swimming, picnicking, and during non-covid summers they also run educational programs for kids. Supposedly on some of the areas you can climb to, you can actually see not only Boston, but NH and central MA. They’ve also got an ice rink on the right as you drive in which was very busy the day we went. And they have a dog park called Bark Place for dogs, although dogs are welcome on leash throughout the park.

This park does not have a ton of parking though, at least not at the Saugus entrance. It filled up within an hour of our arriving and I can imagine in summer that happens even faster. But there are numerous entrances in various towns, so visit the site, and choose your closest lot. It’s well worth the trip!

People walking on the path through very tall pine trees
These are some tall straight pines! Perfect for telephone poles!

With winter and snow coming on, we’ll still be hiking. But we’re on lockdown from NH, ME and pretty much anywhere else but Hawaii right now. So we’ll be discovering places to snow shoe that are nearby! I’m looking forward to it. Time to dust off the snowshoes we bought years ago and never used!

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