Something Old, Something New at Tobey Pond

Tobey Pond, the town beach, now has a handsome new changing room for swimmers, sponsored by the Lions Club.

It replaces an earlier one removed several years ago because of its deteriorating condition. 

“Sandy Evans, a Lions Club member, came to me and asked if I would volunteer to make it,” said fellow Lion Philip Cyr of J&P Building & Remodeling in Norfolk. He agreed and John Funchion said he would pitch in. The club paid for the materials.

“John came up with the [design] concept,” said Cyr, “and I built it on the fly. It probably took me a month and a half, working on it when I could—maybe 15 hours. I used rough-sawn lumber and tried to make it as rustic as possible because it is in the woods.”

Funchion also helped with construction. “It was hard work,” he said. “Phil is a master craftsman, but he let me help. He took my design and tweaked it.”

Interesting touches include door handles and towel hooks made out of tree branches. “It’s all-natural light, so we painted the floor a sky blue to give it brightness as well.”

Something else new at Tobey Pond is also very old. 

Long before Norfolk residents splashed happily in its waters, Tobey Pond was home to a rich array of forest and aquatic creatures and remains a sanctuary for wild and aquatic life—a fact recognized by the beach staff this year. 

Sensitive to the rights of longtime denizens of the 58-acre pond, the lifeguards responded quickly when on June 2 a snapping turtle—what could be more primordial?—emerged from the glacial pool to lay her eggs on the beach. The staff hastily created a circle of brightly painted stones around the nest and posted a sign advising, “Do Not Disturb Turtle Eggs.

Norfolk is a notably enlightened town and, to its credit, momma turtle, christened Teresa, can look forward to her brood hatching in late August, even though Tobey Pond beach administrator Josh DeCerbo hopes the little turtles will emerge for the Tobey Day celebration in mid-August.

Teresa posed for staff and her picture is available upon request. One thing is certain—she will be a no-show for Tobey Day. Notoriously nonchalant about their families, turtles lay their eggs and leave their offspring to their own devices.

The staff has tipped its hat to other “Tobey Pond Pets,” as well. A whimsical sign near the new changing room describes the creatures who claim the area as their own. Teresa, of course, has a mate, Tom. The staff advises that he is “a big snapping turtle who has lived here his whole life” and “has two children.” (Who counted?)

Not all the area inhabitants are aquatic, however. Larry, the cormorant, is cited “as the lifeguard boss,” while Al, the water snake is reported to have been “born in Norfolk,” but “travels a lot.” Unsurprisingly, there is also the lunch-stealing “Bearnice the Bear,” and Shy Di, the Deer.

So, look closely, folks, when visiting Tobey Pond. You may just meet some Norfolk’s natives, still living as their ancestors did in days of yore. 

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