Lake Pocotopaug’s Laurel Island, as named by its current owner, Jack Solomon, is recognized more appropriately as West Island, or by me growing up, as Boy Scout Island. Today the Solomon’s use the island as a retreat and rent cottages to summer visitors and vacationers, as did its previous owner Bob Weiss who acquired it in 1962.
Up until the 1940s, the island was know as West Island and owned by the Purple/Buell Family since their forbearers acquired it and the “twin” East Island in colonial times. For several summers when I was a boy, I visited my friend Bruce Tolhurst for a week on East Island staying in one of the cottages owned by his mother, Eleanor Purple Tolhurst.
But back to West Island which had another distinction. Purchased on June 8, 1944, by the Central Connecticut Council, Incorporated, Boy Scouts of America, it was the annual summer camp for boy scouts from the Meriden – Southington – Cheshire area. A mess hall/pavilion and cabins were erected at Camp Terramuggus where numerous boys escaped city life for the wilds of East Hampton and its fabled Lake Pocotopaug - among them my friend, Warren Cyr. Warren’s initial visit to this town which he now calls home was as a Boy Scout.
A picture from 1954 depicting the scouts who attended that summer. Warren Cyr is 3rd from left in first row.
While researching the history of Sears Park, I located a letter dated March 3, 1935 from Executive Director John Roberts to Sears Park Trustees requesting “the privilege of erecting and maintaining a temporary dock and roadway to said dock for a term of 8 years,” which was granted by Trustees Ernest G. Cone, Albert Starr, J. Howell Conklin, Lewis T. Evans, Carl Terp, Fred H. Barton, Secretary and Chairman Mertin Weir. West Island, or as we’ve always know it locally, Boy Scout Island, was rented for at least 10 years prior to its purchase by the Scouts.