The Beaches of Congamond

July 31st . . . “High Summer” on the Congamond Lakes in Southwick as I recall. Today I decided to take my camera and revisit the beaches of my youth. I was born in Westfield but moved to Southwick with my family in 1950. The house on Granville Road wasn’t finished so my folks rented a cottage on Bungalow Street for the summer. We would walk to the beach on the point off Point Grove Road (by The Anchor). Mom would watch as we cooled off in the shallows. The State Boat Ramp now occupies the point with a nice gazebo and fishing pier . . . but no beach.


After we moved into the new house Dad would drive the family to King’s Beach on North Pond. It was a wonderful place for a family with young children on a hot summer day. Today it’s a little bit of a hike through a wildlife management area to get there. The remnants of the blacktop access road can still be seen . . . but no beach.


As we grew, Mom and Dad decided it was time for swimming lessons. Now we headed to Gino’s Beach behind the Brass Rail (The Cove). We took swimming lessons from Huck Lamb at Gino’s. I also remember going to clambakes with my parents at the pavilion there. Today the pavilion still stands boarded up . . . but no beach.


Babb’s Beach was the happening place when we were teenagers. I remember the green clapboard concession stand and bright lights of the arcade, the steps down to the beach where there was a huge black rubber float and a slide. It was pretty quiet today. The restoration of the skating rink/dance hall is showing signs of progress . . . but no beach.


The lights and arcade music were dancing around in my head as I pulled out and headed south. Smith’s Beach on South Pond . . . surely there would be some action there! We were older when the family started going to Smith’s. We could swim out to “the raft” that had a raised platform for diving and jumping. Upon entering we would get a little piece of colored cloth tied around our wrist to show we had paid our 50 cents admission. Today, Smith’s Beach is the Southwick Town Beach. The white concrete wall is still there . . . and . . . a beach . . . but it was closed. Bacteria levels were too high.


July 31st . . . “High Summer” on the Congamond Lakes.