In her 42 years at O’Hara’s Landing, Mary Oullette has seen it all. There was the man who arrived the evening before fishing season began and drank so much that night that he passed out face down in his eggs the next morning. He slept through opening day. Another time she watched a visitor back all the way into the lake trying to launch his boat. The car needed to be towed out of the water—but not before the staff took pictures!
Mary is back at her perch behind the counter at Mary’s Cafe at O’Hara’s Landing this year, excited to see what foibles the new season brings. But mostly she is excited just to be open.
Her counter was closed last year due to the pandemic but reopened May 8. The welcoming sign on the door reads, “Mary’s Cafe will be open for the season on May 8th, Saturdays and Sundays from 7:00 am to 3:00 pm. You must wear a mask inside or Mary will throw your ass out!”
Subtlety has never been her strong suit. “People learn fast not to have an attitude,” she says. An impatient customer might be told, “Yeah, you’re still at the end line. If you want fast service go to McDonald’s,” she says. Her well-known gruffness is endearing to those who know her. And for those who don’t, well, it’s worth the price for a great breakfast.
Her most popular dishes are Mary’s famous pancakes and the Eggs O’Hara, which is egg and cheese on a soft roll with a slice of ham, bacon, or sausage. People try to make her pancakes at home, but they are never as good. Mary’s secret is her own mix, a piping hot griddle, well water, and special grill oil with a buttery flavor. All these things and the crepe-like thinness of her pancakes make them especially delicious. “Really,” she says, “The secret ingredient is me. It’s all in my wrist.”
Many years ago, the restaurant was called The Canteen and was run by Bernie Habb, father of Dave Habb who now runs the marina. Mary began helping Bernie and eventually took over. On opening day, the place looked spic and span with the showroom rearranged and tidied up, a newly painted floor and polished appliances and tables.
In addition to Saturdays and Sundays from 7 a.m. to 3 p.m., beginning Memorial Day weekend, Mary’s Cafe will be open on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Breakfast is served until 11:30. Her busiest time is Sunday morning. That’s when you are most likely to get a vintage dose of Mary, especially if you try to order breakfast after 11:30. “If I am super busy, I can get mean,” Mary acknowledges. “It’s nothing personal. Most people don’t get offended. They keep coming back.”
Mary’s customers have changed over the years. There used to be more fishermen and now there are more pontoon goers. Most have been coming for years. Many are locals, some first timers, and others are weekenders or summer residents. “If you come around long enough you stop being a weekender and eventually are called lake people,” Mary says. Her strongest advice for all boaters at the beginning of the season: “Don’t forget your plug!”
Don’t ask Mary for the WiFi code. She’s not allowed to share it and she doesn’t accept bribes. “I don’t want people sitting around here staring at their phones,” she grouses. Then, with a wink, she adds, “It just breaks my heart when they call me mean.”
Reminder: Volunteer workday is Saturday, June 19, immediately following the membership meeting at 10 a.m. at Isola Bella. Rain date would be Sunday, June 20. We hope for a big turnout to collect trash along the roads around the lakes. Eco-friendly collection bags will be provided and work gloves will be available. But you may prefer to bring your own gloves.
Paying annual dues is easier than ever on the Twin Lakes Association website. It is also easy to make a separate donation in addition to paying dues. On the home page, click “Pay Dues” to pay the membership fee of $25 per person. You must be at least 18 to be a member. Click “Donate Now” for a separate contribution. Then follow the on-screen directions. You may pay with your PayPal account or enter a credit card number. As always, we also welcome paper checks sent via the U.S. Postal Service. (P.O. Box 99, Salisbury, CT, 06068.) Directions for filling out an application and mailing in dues are also on the website. To find those instructions click on “Pay Dues.”
This year’s photo contest will have a “celebrations and reunions” theme. There will be two $50 prizes for the best pictures of anything related to fun gatherings. Photos must be submitted by July 31, 2021. The photo must have been taken during the 12-month period ending on July 31, 2021. A special prize will go to the best photo by a photographer aged 16 and under, if we receive such entries (and they are so identified). This contest is open to TLA members and their friends and family. Winners will be declared at the August meeting.
This is an Instagram-based contest. No exceptions. You will need to open an Instagram account and follow @twinlakesassociation. You must post your photo to your Instagram account and in the caption space give it the tag #tlaphoto2021. If you are unfamiliar with Instagram, ask a child or grandchild, or reply to this email asking for help. All entries will appear on Instagram under #tlaphoto2021. We encourage you to post your best shots as you take them. The best photos may be incorporated in the TLA website. So start snapping!
Classified: I am looking for a secure place on Twin Lakes to store my kayak for the season. I live just across the Massachusetts border and kayak on the lakes often. If you have space to offer for rent near the water please call Eleanor Tillinghast at 413-446-9979.