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A Jolly Good Time: Maxam's on Garnet Lake

After their marriage, Floyd and Bernice moved to the New York area, but Floyd missed the mountains. In 1925, they returned to Garnet Lake, bought Maxam's and had their children, Jack and Dorothy.

Each spring, their rental season began with a sprucing-up of all the buildings. From the 4th of July until Labor Day, families and singles arrived in waves. In the 1930s, adults paid $21 a week, all meals included. For a small charge, guides led hiking, fishing and hunting expeditions.

To ensure successful fishing for his guests, Floyd dug a 15-acre pond out back, stocked it with trout and hired a corncob pipe-smoking guard, Hattie Russell.

At all hours, the kitchen crackled with activity. A series of talented cooks - Annette Cameron, Bea Pasco, and Mary Leigh - arrived in the wee hours to begin work.

Behind the scenes, life was far from relaxing for family and staff. "It was a lot of hard work from the time we were kids," says Jack Maxam, now of Stony Creek. "I would just sit down to a meal and I'd hear: 'Jack, somebody wants a boat.'" Even in the winter they had to fill the two ice houses that supplied their ice boxes all summer.

During World War II, Maxam's closed temporarily because of gas and food rationing. Then, in January 1946, Floyd Maxam was found dead in his car a few miles from home. Coming back late at night, he had gotten stuck in a snowdrift, stayed in the running car for warmth and died of carbon monoxide poisoning.

Could they carry on without him? Bernice placed ads to announce that Maxam's was back in business, and customers flocked there once again. That summer, Governor Thomas Dewey's bodyguard was a guest, and he had to call the governor's mansion every day on Maxam's only phone: an old crank model in the kitchen. The children eavesdropped, and so did curious neighbors on the lake party line.

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