By 4:30 p.m. Saturday, a crowd of people had gathered for the fun at the birthday party for the Grindstone Island Methodist Church. Jeff Marra coordinated a wonderful carnival for us all-jars of M & M's - How many are in this jar?...a circle game with cupcakes for prizes...the ring toss...two fine toilet seats, and rolls of toilet paper to throw through them! Then there were Thousand Islands sweatshirts to buy, and cookbooks, poetry books, prints of the church, and jewelry. Over at the side window of the carriage house, you could buy hamburgers, hot dogs, and cold drinks.
A little before 6 o'clock, just as the first sprinkles of rain began, the pageant started. The church choir sang to gather people round the haywagon, "The Old Oaken Bucket", and "The Church in the Wildwood," then Jamie Donaldson climbed up on the wagon and danced "Rockin Robin." Jacey, her sister followed her with "Get Up, Get Down, Go Crazy," and Jamie and Jada Lashomb finished with a graceful minuet.
By then the rain falling faster and faster and lightning seemed too near. So people filed slowly into the front door of the church while all the - almost all the props for the pageant were bundled into the rear door. Bob Smith and others quickly lifted tables, the pulpit, and other obstructions off the platform so the cardboard church could be set up, and the show go on. The fine church roof got left in the carriage house, but otherwise the scenes went nearly as they were practiced. It was just harder for the audience to see.
These are the church school students who acted out the last poem in "So It Is:" Carl Larson inspected the crumbling foundation of the church; Kristina Rusho was Marjorie Rusho as a straw-hatted child; Tyler Lashomb carried on a piece of the old siding from the church; Courtney Natali carried on the stained-glass window we worried about during the restoration;
Jada Lashomb and Jacey Donaldson were Audrey and Bob Lashomb, bride and bridegroom;
Anna Larson, Stephanie Donaldson and Courtney Natali brought "babies" to be baptised.
Kelly Rusho was the Rev. Shorts, the Paul Bunyon preacher who moved the church by himself in a skiff from LaRue Island to Thurso Bay and then carried it - on his back "like a cross" - up to the ridge where it still stands, where we still worship.
Carl Larson was the Rev. Calkins who moved the parsonage up to its present spot; Rachel Bazinet was the Rev. Rose Wright who ministered to all those bereft during the cholera epidemic in 1932. (Yuvonne Marra says her mother was carrying her that year, and never got sick!)
Tyler Lashomb played the Rev. Gabriel who had the well dug outside, but hard by, the church. (Nobody told Tyier how the old preacher's teeth always fell out of place when he talked. Both Yuvonne and Ada remember it though.)
Jada Lashomb volunteered, as Emmet Dodge, to fix up the moorings of the aging church. That was done about 1946 when the Rev. Gabriel was preacher.
And John Marks, by himself, since Buck Slate was busy back in the kitchen moving the carnival out of the rain, poked about the cardboard church doubtful that the old building could withstand work on its foundation.
It did though. Debbie Donaldson who directed the pageant and choreographed the dances expressed the church people's respectful and nostalgic feeling for the building, dancing "Hooked on the Memory," and after that, the congregation sang together "Praise God from Whom All Blessings Flow." Then everyone gathered back in the carriage house to cut the great cake with a picture of the church on it, under the green, green cottonwood tree that shades it, and to receive the many gifts that the generous businesses in Clayton, Syracuse, and Watertown, sent over for the celebration - hair cuts, pizzas, pottery ducks, a dart game, candle-sticks, lamps... The best gifts were the home-sewn ones -bibbed aprons made by Marjorie Rusho, packages of clothes for Cab-bage Patch dolls and stuffed animals Brenda Slate made. Stephanie Donaldson, awarded the gaily-colored bear Brenda made, hugged him all the way home, and her eyes were still shining on Sun- day morning, Jada Lashomb showed me her new necklace on Sunday morning and her eyes, too, shone.
A lot of people helped make that evening fun- just about everyone helped. So we enter our next century.
The quilt is finished - to be awarded Sept. 2. Brenda Slate, Karen Lashomb, Yuvonne Marra, and Debbie Donaldson finished it on Thursday evening. It hung for everyone to see at the carnival. We are all wishing it could be ours - all the stitches of friendship that went into it.
Every week or two on Grindstone Island, we are reminded that the "kindly affectioned" life on the island is both fragile and cherished by us all as the one thing we must be sure not to lose.
One of us, Tom Slate, was hurt | when he ran his boat up on Barge Rock coming home about 10:30 p.m. Saturday evening, and once more reminded us of the strength of our love for each other.
We had, even before that, been thinking all week, appreciatively, of how much the Slate family contributes to the uncompromising independence, the simplicity, the generous warmth of the island community. Living, as they do, on the north side of Grindstone, farther from the mainland than those on south side, they have had more inconvenience in keeping on farming their land, but have, nevertheless, refused to sell their water-front, and have, perhaps because of their apartness, a heightened appreciation of the loveliness, of the leisurely time of the home they share with all of us.
Sunday, Aug. 26, at the church service, the Rev. Robert McCune, our St. Lawrence District Superintendent will preach, and preside over the charge conference which follows. A "goodbye" pot luck luncheon will immediately follow our brief business meeting.
Please, if anyone during the week thinks of some Grindstone Island news, call me at 686-5038, or drop me a note: 36 Grindstone Island, Clayton, 13624.
The summer is passing too fast!
So it is.