This is the weekend to speak of last things. at least for this summer. Blessed by the sun, the north wind, and the cerulean river, birds flocked, families gathered, boats, loaded to their waterlines, flagged with arms waving like banners, disappeared around the rocks marking each bay, and the congregation received the last benediction in this 100th year of the Grindstone Island Church.
Bob Smith read a good-bye poem his family had read together perhaps 10 years ago..."So long it's been good to know ya; it's a long time since I've been home, and I've got to be gittin' along." But at the coffee hour afterward everyone vowed we should have an early pot luck lunch next summer when we would all be back together.
And Brenda Slate awarded the wonderful quilt which had brought so many of us together for so many pleasant hours to Debbie Pond of Black River. Next year we must have another common craft project. This was so much fun and the quilt was beautiful.
After church and coffee hour, the people who live near the four corners where the church and the hall are, gathered for "squatters' lunch," bid Bob good-bye once more-and Joyce-and in a circle, old and young, even Josh Lashomb, sang "Johnny Appleseed," before each family went a separate way for winter.
One of the pleasant gatherings this week brought Annie Couch and Sis Matthews together for a good long evening with Stub and Karen Lashomb. The two women had a wonderful time talking about old times and children and grandchildren and how the changes they've seen are not all bad.
There was also a last skiff race at Wild Goose Island, and two Grindstone Islanders won the two fast races. The wind was high and the course around the island was tricky and interesting. William D. Rueckert "Midriver Bill," won the first race, while William, "Southside Bill," Rueckert won the second race. The skiff races gather another large family together.
After church on Sunday, Harriet Shirley brought me a small book, "Poems" by Connie Thompson, (1973). Connie, the mother of Polly Kole, is fondly remembered by all Aunt Jane's Bay residents. Harriet suggested that "The St. Lawrence," and "The End of Summer" might be fitting last things in our Grindstone Summer news. I am also including "Dinner at Custis's" because it tells us so much about the Custis generosity that also provided money for the new vinyl siding on the church.
Dinner at Custis's
Fifteen, sixteen, eighteen, twenty
For all who come there's always plenty.
The Custis grandma loves to cook.
She's inspired by scraps, don't use a book.
If more arrive than bargain for
She hurries up to fix some more.
Tho where she gets the where-with-all
Is a mystery to one and all.
She dominates a long full table With upraised hand she stops the babel,
Bows her head and asks a blessing
Faith in God and flag expressing.
Once more the noise is on full blast
And food of every sort is passed
From Betsy, Leslie, Bill and Charlie
To Helen, Norman, Gregg and Tollie,
Rinnie, Greggie, Karl and Billie,
Pody, Frances, Henry till we Get to grandma who sits there Relaxed and happy in her chair, For she knows that all are fed And truthful is the one who said, "Fifteen, sixteen, eighteen
twenty-For all who come there's always plenty."
The St. Lawrence
(With Apologies to Mr. Longfellow)
From the banks of the Potomac From the sands of Florida Came this old decrepit lady Came this ancient beat-up grandma.
Arthritis cramped her knee-joints.
Dull and rheumy was her eye.
She sought the solace of the Northland
St. Lawrence weather, cool and dry.
When she reached the sparkling river
Saw the freighters steaming by, Saw the aspen leaves a-quiver A beam of health came in her
She forgot her pains and sore spots,
Balloon-ankles, racing heart-beat.
Her sore feet did a "petite jete"-
Her recovery was complete.
The End of Summer Labor Day has come and gone Peace reigns in Aunt Jane's Bay The outboards don't start in at dawn And whoop it up all day.
Instead of skiier's shouts and speed
And waves that splash up on the shore
We have a sense of being freed
As calm descends on us once more.
The cat has gone, the chipmunks know
And scamper freely here and there
To pick up acorns ere the snow
Fill every crevice-chills the air.
We're sorry for the folks who work
And kids in school-poor critters But we who stay enjoy each day And don't feel we are quitters.
So Until next June 23, the first of next summer's Grindstone Island Church Services, we, too, leave these pages with a thank you to the Thousand Islands Sun for their generosity of space to spread the Grindstone Island news. If there is news from the many Christmas letters we receive, and if the Thousand Islands Sun rises as it usually does in winter to keep us abreast of the peace of the island winter, we will write a column then. Our Princeton address is: Aminta Marks, 107 Moore Street, Princeton, N.J. 08540.
It has been a fine, celebratory summer. We look forward to the settled-in life of winter with pleasure, but past it, too, to another, a new year, on Grindstone Island with all of our friends our good, good friends.
So It Is.