The dining porch, where Martha joined us for dinner in August 1962, was another gem like the beach and front porch. Each of these embellishments contributed to making the Comfort Island setting something extra special. A ten-foot wide veranda surrounds most of the house. The front porch wraps around both sides of the building. The side facing the pump house and main channel runs the length of the structure and even extends around the back of the house and the master bedroom. On the Keewaydin side the porch borders the living room and dining room. The section of porch adjacent to the dining room is screened-in and provides an open-air dining venue.
An outdoor variety of painted wainscoting ...view middle of the document...
Dad also liked to enhance the atmosphere by lighting one or two of the old kerosene lamps, which he placed in the brackets on the house exterior.
A single pane window with a wide white molding in keeping with the other porch windows acted as a pass-through to the butler’s pantry. Next to the glass entrance door was a button in a recessed casing that was hooked to a buzzer in the kitchen. In days gone by a primitive battery was hooked to the circuit to trigger the ringer, and thereby summon the kitchen staff.
I’m not sure when the dining porch table arrived on the scene, but it was a stout oak table with several leaves that we added during the outside dining season. It would comfortably seat eight, and I recollect instances where we seated ten or more. It was four feet wide and rested on central supports with elongated feet radiating diagonally to the floor for added stability. There was no shortage of chairs in the house. A set of ten varnished wooden chairs with caned seats have been used for dining purposes ever since I first ate there in 1961.
During the early and mid 1960s, we frequently ate on the porch as a family. Deb and I spent as much time as possible at the island while Betsy split her summer between school and the island. Dad’s diaries support my recollection of Betsy generally coming to the island for about a month each summer. I recall that we often had guests from around the river community join us for dinner as couples or as individuals. Houseguests have been a tradition at Comfort Island from the beginning, and we would convene on the front porch and at the dinner table to catch up on the news. The guest books are teeming with entries of friends and relatives that came to enjoy the river and the island. The entries of our company continued to fill new pages and new guest books.
The screened enclosure kept the mosquitoes out and contributed to long relaxed dinners. I recall sitting at the table chatting with friends, relatives or simply family long after dark. Comfort Island had a sizable bird population. A family of wrens became long-term residents of a convenient post supporting the roof next to the screen door. A piece of wood had fallen out of a connecting joint, thus providing an entrance to what became a cozy nest. They are still returning each season as I write this in 2013. These and other birds chirped their goodnights as dark approached. Outboard-propelled boats added to the evening sounds as they traversed the back channel. Dad liked to refer to these boats as “the mosquito fleet” in a tone that conveyed his annoyance that someone would be so inconsiderate as to disturb the tranquility of our pristine setting. In more recent years campers at the Keewaydin State Park have provided a pleasant backdrop of kids in particular expressing their joy of being outdoors and on vacation in such a splendid location.
Not all evenings were tranquil and relaxed, however. I remember one bizarre evening when we gathered as a family...