DRACUT -- Imagine growing up as a little boy with a lake for your backyard and an amusement park for your playground.
Such was life for Bob Jette, who lived the first 28 years of his life on Lake Mascuppic before getting married and moving to Tyngsboro and then Hudson, N.H.
Jette, a self-employed carpenter and handyman, moved back to the house he grew up in 12 years ago when he bought the old homestead from his father.
"My heart is here in this house, this neighborhood and most definitely, in the lake," says Jette, who laments the deterioration of the once pristine 209-acre spring fed lake. "My mother used to say that my blonde hair turned green from the sun in the summer but I knew it was really algae."
Jette, who is married and has two grown sons, reasons that the lake has suffered the ravages of large motorboats, jet skis, and simply a lack of respect on the part of visitors. He has organized at least one cleanup effort and has set up a Facebook page called "Help Save Lake Mascuppic."
Jette has received support from Ed Smith of Tyngsboro, who heads the Lake Mascuppic Association. The association pays to have the lake treated for algae several times during the summer.
"My goal is to raise awareness of the incredible mess people are leaving behind in their wake," Jette proclaims.
Q: What was life like growing up on Lake Mascuppic?
A: "Never dull. There was an amusement park right across the cove from our house. Weekends were so great there. There was a Ferris wheel that gave an awesome view at the top, the first bobby horses or carousel on the East Coast was there, painted so fantastically. Then there were the Dodgems, a little roller coaster and another ride that sped you in circles until the taffy apple you just ate started making its way back up.
"When I was a kid, summer meant swimming, swimming and more swimming. I was so lucky to be born in a place where there was a place to swim that was safe and clean. It was so clean that you could see a pretty good distance underwater. We would snorkel all over the place with no fear of getting hit with anything with a motor. We just loved the lake with all its childish adventures, exploring fish nests, sunken wrecks, there were new ones every day."
Q: How has life on the lake changed over the years?
A: "When I was in high school, something awful happened to our world by the lake. The amusement park was demolished and apartments were built where great memories used to be made. Sadly, by this time the lake was starting to show a little wear, due to the onset of motorboats and people who really didn't care what damage or pollution they were causing and due to the fact that many houses on the lake that were once just summer camps were now being lived in year-round. Sewage became a problem. The beginning of the end."
Q: What can be done to preserve the beauty and integrity of Lake Mascuppic?
A: "People come out to see the beauty of the sunsets and to try out all the new jet-skis and cigarette boats. That has attracted a lot of apathetic people to the lake. They made their messes and then went home. Meanwhile, the lake is getting abused badly.
"If only the people that come to use (and abuse) the lake would be more respectful to the fact that the Dracut Town Beach is in a neighborhood filled with people who, on a busy weekend, have to suffer with the constant drone of jet-skis and then deal with the incredible mess that's left behind come Monday morning."
Q: What kind of response did you get to the cleanup effort that took place last year?
A: "When I started the Facebook page -- 'Help Save Lake Mascuppic' -- I posted a cleanup day at the beach and the beach parking lot. Only a handful of people came out to help but we got it done. Michael Buxton, the DPW director, was very helpful when we had the cleanup, picking up a substantial pile of trash and other items discarded there at night, but the problem continues.
"I suggested a light be installed and was very happy when the Dracut police told me it was approved and all I needed to do was give them the pole number, which I did that very same morning. My last correspondence was on March 28 this year and still no light."
Q: What kind of trash is being left behind?
A: "You wouldn't believe it. The lot is a dumping ground for old tires, televisions, and once someone apparently in a hurry to leave the apartments, dumped a room or two of furniture right in the lot. Seriously, I have seen used condoms, used syringes, plastic water bottles full of urine and worse! In the parking lot!"