While the annual boat parade on Cobbett's Pond has survived changing times over the past several decades, one related tradition has not. The inaugural Cobbett's Pond beauty contest was held in 1958, and quickly became a popular event in the community. Miss Cobbett's Pond was chosen by a panel of judges at a dinner and beauty contest held at Town Hall. Prior to the dinner, all of the contestants participated in a parade where their family, friends, and fellow Cobbett's Pond residents had their first chance to catch a glimpse of all the candidates before the title of Miss Cobbett's Pond was bestowed upon a single young woman a few days later. While the contest was only open to residents and campers of Cobbett's Pond, the committee included residents from surrounding towns; during the 1960 contest the head of the committee in charge of soliciting entries was a resident of Nashua. A committee comprised of local teenagers was tasked with canvassing the cottages and homes along Cobbett's Pond and registering girls between the ages of 12 and 18 as candidates in the annual contest. One lucky entrant, after being crowned Miss Cobbett's Pond, had the honor of being escorted around the pond during the annual boat parade, usually held a couple weeks later. Wearing a crown and riding on a small, decorated motorboat, the first Miss Cobbett's Pond, Marie Chadwick, is shown in the photograph above, taken during the 1958 boat parade.
The long history of Cobbett's Pond is filled with many happy memories made by residents and vacationers alike. However, the pond's history is not without its darker moments; there have been accidents and drownings throughout its history. While these incidents have, fortunately, been scarce, they are nonetheless a significant part of the pond's story. Not all of these stories of misfortune and accidents have ended in tragedy though. On Tuesday, September 1, 1953, Carl Church Jr, a swim instructor at Nashua's public pool, was enjoying his day off at a beach on Cobbett's Pond. Church, a strong swimmer, had ventured out to raft where he had been sitting when he heard a cry for help. A young girl who had just recently learned to swim had been attempting to make her way to the raft when she became tired. Not being able to complete her trip to the raft or make her way back to the beach, her father swam to her, but was pushed under by his daughter's panic. Church moved quickly, separated the pair, and helped the girl to the raft. After resting for a bit, Church helped the young girl back to the beach; her father had been able to save himself once Church separated him from his daughter. In the following decades safety requirements became more stringent, requiring life guards and other precautions for the public beaches still remaining on the shores of Cobbett's Pond.
Derek Saffie is an avid Windham historian who enjoys researching and sharing his collection with all those interested in the history of the New England town.