Welcome to a video episode on the Sebec River, our childhood playground Growin’ Up in Maine, as I narrate the video “Down Back in Derby, Maine”.
Watch here and listen, or view the text narration inserted below for persons hearing impaired.
Transcript of Video Narration
Down Back is a quarter mile stretch of the Sebec River in my home town that was perfect for swimming, fishing, and rafting. During the summers of my youth in the 1950’s and 60’s, most of my time was spent Down Back.
Why was it named Down Back? You went down some and back through the woods to get there, so it’s been called Down Back by 4 generations of the Degerstrom family over 100 years.
Let’s take a closer look at our summer playground.
This clearing at the edge of the Sebec River has grown in, yet back in the day the opening was about 40 feet square and clear of brush down to the edge of the water.
This is Swimming Hole Rock, the centerpiece of Down Back. The video and photos were taken in August 2011, so the river level is quite low compared to June and July.
Here’s the Sebec looking down river, or south. Look closely in the center to see a bald eagle and their splash to the left where they just missed catching a fish.
In 1991 the town put in a snowmobile bridge across the Sebec River from Derby to the Milo side. This is just downstream from the Old Swimming Hole and (thank God) was not there during my childhood. The rock in the foreground is Diving Rock.
Here’s another view of Swimming Hole Rock as if taken from the deck of a homemade log raft. Imagine running the length of that big rock then springing into a dive off the smaller slanted rock.
Zooming out, that’s still Swimming Hole Rock in the center. A 2 foot wide tree above that sported a Tarzan rope swing years ago. Vandals cut the tree down with a chainsaw in the late 50’s. What a shame.
Next up moving upstream is Diving Rock which provided our version of cliff diving. Note the low level at the top right and higher level to the left. To put the size in perspective the difference was 6 inches, so a high dive was considered extreme!
Across from Diving Rock was a spring brook that was ice cold and featured a clay bed. We made a new batch of log rafts each year for exploring, transportation, and sometimes clay ball wars.
Again, here’s another view of Diving Rock as if taken from a raft. We made new ones every summer. Some were let loose by vandals. Winter or spring floods carried others away.
Next up is Sliding Rock which was a favorite spot to fish. A log could be set across the space from shore for crossing, or you could get there and dock by raft.
Here’s the log raft view of Sliding Rock and the bigger rock to the right behind that is Sunfish Rock, and probably the tallest named rock Down Back.
This closeup is Sunfish Rock with yours truly. The most prominent rock to the right of my hand is Bass Rock, and the furthest set of smaller rocks in the distance is the Low Swimming Hole.
The Low Swimming Hole is the equivalent of a kiddie pool and gets deeper very gradually. Several generations of family toddlers learned how to swim in this spot Down Back.
Just upstream from the Low Swimming Hole and around the bend marks the upper end of Down Back. The top left would have been Gould’s Pasture. It is now a forest. Around the bend is The Island, and both sides were excellent for finding antique bottles.
In closing, I must recognize my two best friends Growin’ Up in Maine. Though I don’t normally name names in my stories, Mark Kinney (left) and Mark Clark (on the right) were close best friends who shared long hours and great adventures Down Back during summer plus all 4 seasons – and yes, they are featured prominently in many stories of Growin’ Up in Maine.