After first leasing the Thompson's Point property in 1894, George Pease of Williston, VT, built a cottage on lot #14 in 1897. In 1907 the property was sold to William N. and Alice Root of Charlotte, who subsequently sold it to Ida (Mrs. Stephen) Peene of Yonkers, NY, in 1915. The Peenes added the present west rooms of the cottage that year.
Although deeded to Ida Peene's daughter, Emma Peene Fulton in 1937, it was deeded back to Ida Peene and Emma Fulton in 1947, shortly before Emma's death. The following year Ida Peene deeded the cottage to Margaret Openshaw, better known as "Opie", a long time loyal friend of the family who had come from Rhode Island to take up residency in Burlington. Still called the Peene Cottage, it was enjoyed by Ida Peene and Opie, along with Ida's nieces Carrie Rhoeder and Grace Ingham, for many summers. After Ida's death in 1960, Opie, Carrie, and Grace were commonly seen in their white boat fishing for bass in the "cut" beneath the pumphouse.
Opie was an active member and officer of both the Thompson's Point Association and the Thompson's Point Country Club, and was widely recognized as the unofficial "mayor" of Thompson's Point. Her stories, fishing lore, and passion for spirited conversation endeared her to generations on Thompson's Pointers until her death in 1992. The property then passed to Opie's cousin's daughter, Dorothy O. Naylor, and family, the present owners.
As a matter of editorial privilege, I would like to add a couple of Opie anecdotes.
Her kindness to Point youngsters was manifest, and mine was a case in point (no pun intended). Fishing with Opie was a grand adventure, a lesson in sportsmanship and responsibility, and the chance to learn some fascinating stuff not discussed at home. In fact, for a couple of summers I had a room at Opie's cottage where I could sleep after a late night of fishing or in preparation for a morning outing slated to begin before my folks' normal rising hour.
Opie, Aunt Ida, and later Carrie and sometimes Grace were our guests for almost every Christmas dinner I can remember, as we were their guests at Thanksgiving. We usually had a beagle in residence, and it was an annual battle between Opie and our dog for the turkey skin. My father, who carved the turkey, usually sided with the hound, but Opie always got more of the crisp skin!
My father was a stickler for detail, especially in financial matters, and his boasting of always balancing his checking account to the penny finally drove Opie to what may have been the greatest of her innumerable practical jokes. As treasurer of the Country Club, she easily got the number of Dad's checking account, and one day she deposited seven cents to the account. You cannot imagine the consternation which ensued when he tried to balance the monthly statement! Opie let him stew for several days before she finally ended his agony by confessing.
As unofficial "mayor" of the Point and self-appointed watchdog for "her" end (and eventually, perhaps grudgingly, ceded the bay end to me over time) she was anything but bashful. Anyone not known to her who set foot on the "Big Dock" could expect to be challenged from her porch. One of the many scuba divers who survived her challenges and came to be a friend said that he missed being yelled at.
The opposite ends of Opie's spectrum were shown in an incident late in her life. Living alone and slowed considerably, her condition bothered me. I thought that she should have someone with her, but of course she would hear none of it. When I learned of a young lady from my home town who was coming to Champlain College but had no dorm room available to her, the situation seemed right. I called Opie and asked if she would rent a room in her house, only two blocks away from the college, to the girl, and she agreed. A couple of days later I inquired of the girl if she had worked out an agreement with Opie. The girl said that she called but was so terrified by Opie that she was dropping the whole idea. Two days later I drove the girl to Burlington and we took Opie to lunch for a face-to-face meeting. The upshot was that the girl moved in on schedule and became yet another friend of the lady whose friendship know no bounds.
- Carl Braun
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