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The Wilkes-Barre Glass Negatives - Part 5

Before I closed up my research on the lake pictures that were part of the Wilkes-Barre glass negatives, I wanted to look into a picture that had captured my attention and my heart.

Photo from the collection owned by Paul Holbrook. Used with permission.

This little child, who I believe is a boy and the son of the photographer, stands in front of a cottage, very similar to what one would expect to find on the shores of a lake. With it's name, 'Idle Hours' and sloping bank, I imagined the child was watching an eagle soar above the water.

(Little boys wore dresses back then as it was easier to change their diapers.)

What lake was he perched in front of? Was this the same lake house as the one seen in another photograph in the Wilkes-Barre glass negative collection with people on the porch?

The porch rails and posts certainly matched. Even down to their white-painted tops and dark-painted bottoms.

Image owned and restored by Robin Clark of Memory Lane Photos. Used with permission.

Since I had already identified Lake Carey in the photographs from the early 1900s collection, I decided to start there first. I was unable to find a map of Lake Carey with the cottages named. A search on for Idle Hours turned up nothing concrete. However, I discovered that there was a book written about Lake Carey and the Albright Memorial Library in Scranton had a copy available in their reference department.

I went down one afternoon and read the entire thing. It is an excellent work by Walter Broughton, published by Arcadia. It can be purchased on Arcadia's website or on Amazon.

On page 70 of the book, I found the following description of the cottages on Lake Carey: "Until Roosevelt's rural electrification program wired the lake, oil lamps and kerosene stoves provided light, heat for cooking, and warmth to take the chill off the damp morning air. One or two cottages had their own electric generator, and some of the stores, picnic grounds, and camps relied on Delco battery plants. Fire was a real hazard. One hotel, a store, the toy factory and six or more cottages were destroyed in accidental fires before 1930. Despite fire and a 1998 tornado, the lake's built environment is remarkably intact. Most of its original cottages have survived....These cottagers were fond of winningly bad puns—Auto Rest, Isle of View—or names they hoped would reflect the quality of their lives at the lake— Idle Hours, Summer Rest—or those they thought descriptive—Point Breeze, Beauna Vista." (Broughton 70)

There is was. Listed between Isle of View and Summer Rest was Idle Hours. No photo was included, though I searched the images included in Broughton's book a few times looking for it.

Was it enough to confirm that the little child in front of the Idle Hours cottage was on the banks of Lake Carey?

I thought it couldn't hurt to ask, so I went back online to the Friends of Lake Carey group. Almost immediately, someone responded, and I found out they were the current owner of the property where this cottage once stood! The cottage was torn down and a new one built in its place, but I learned that the 'Idle Hours' sign hangs from their porch. It's wonderful to know that a piece of history has survived.

A friend of mine is a friend and neighbor of the owner. I was thrilled when she told me she would pass along my number and give them a message from me. I knew it was a long shot that someone would allow a stranger to visit their home and take pictures of it. But I was so blessed and thrilled that the current owner of Idle Hours did!

She told me that the original sign is the one hanging on the porch facing the water. I had my hat with me so I had to recreate a little moment from circa 1902 and take a selfie.

As I sat with Lynne, one of the current owners, I discovered that the cottage was built circa 1884. Lynne shared this picture with me, from 1910:

It was certainly the same cottage!

I traced the history of the property and learned that it was most likely built by Andrew and Clara Watt of Wilkes-Barre. It was located on the banks of Lake Carey and the Watts' sold it to Frances Geddes about 18 years after it was built. I believe the Watts' were the owners when the photographer and his little son visited. And I found a connection of Andrew and Clara to the photographer! They lived on the same street in Wilkes-Barre for a few years.

(I can't wait to reveal the identify of the photographer and his family. Stay tuned for my next post!)

Idle Hours had at least two previous owners before the 1940s, when Lynne's husband's family purchased it. It has been in their family ever since. Generations have enjoyed memories at Lake Carey.

Lynne gave permission for me to share the picture above and the following pictures from her personal collection:

Remember the picture of the people on the porch above? The hammock behind them caught our eye, and Lynne said she remembered the hook being on the wall for years.

Idle Hours had survived over 120 years, storms, a tree that was leaning and growing into it and a tornado (in 1998). It had held at least three families and their guests and friends. More important than that, Idle Hours had held a century of memories and the love of family.

In 2006, the cottage was torn down so that a new year-round home could be built in its place.

This post is dedicated to Lynne's family and the precious hours spent over a lifetime together. Idle hours, simple hours, and some wonderful hours to be sure.

Read the next post in this series and learn the identity of the photographer!

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1 Comment

What fun! Thanks for taking the time and doing the research to discover this history! You bring my pictures to life like nothing else!

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