When the sun slides low into the western sky on Sunday evening, the river quiets, boats move slowly, and Grindstone Island comes to rest. In the carriage house this evening, as Erma Slate and Joan Strong washed and wiped the last of the dishes from the Old Home Day celebration down at the beach, Chris Matthews, straightening things on the kitchen table, looked up smiling even as tired as she was, about the lovely day they had had. Brenda Slate rocked in the chair I had so often seen Sis Matthews rocking in when there was a lull in the work to be done. And in the chair Belva used to rest in, Caroling Bazinet rocked baby Brittany who was sound asleep in her arms.
Up the road in Aunt Grace's country, the Marra family ate orange-ripe melon and recounted the beauty of the day.
Old Home Day is a day when Grindstone Islanders come home. And they had such fine weather this year that the gathering was full and leisurely and happy for everyone. Buck, Karen, Steve, and Chris cooked the ham (with Dick's help) and Debbie and Erma took the money...
The list of people there is long...It was great to see Polly LaTarte there, and August Frazier's granddaughter celebrated her second birthday with all her relatives and friends down there in the grove above Potter's Point where the annual picnic is always held.
Let me list some of the crowd:
Magel and Junie Brown, all the Bazinets, Ada, Bob, Eddie, Gena, Patsy and their families, all the Marras, John and Nancy, Debbie and Steve, Deanna and Jeff and Deanna's sister and brother-in-law, Kim and Allen (they took home a new puppy from Marg Garnsey's litter, a fat butterball they named Buffie). Their two children clamored to take him from their mother's arms.
Margery Garnsey was at the reunion with Aleatha and her husband and little girl. Salt and Kitty drove the school bus back and forth transporting people to and from the dock, the Rushos (Margery, Leon, Manley and Mary Lou) were there. Marilyn Cook was there. Elwood Calhoun who hadn't been to the gathering in years was welcomed happily.
Golda Mellon won a Grindstone hat, George Strong win a T-shirt, August Frazier won the 50-50, Jaycie Donaldson won a basket of jellies and pickles, Margery Rusho won the clown doll and Mary Schnauber won six beach dinners.
Doreen and Donnie Meeks brought Doreen's brother and his wife over to work some on the house their Grandmother, Mrs. Robinson, lived in so long... Amie Cerio brought a busload of relatives from Fisher's Landing...Judy Bacci and Elizabeth were there...
The report goes on and on, as everyone relaxes in the setting sun, pleased with the lovely day. Because everyone brought both a dessert and a salad, the work had not been so arduous that a few people were too worn out to enjoy looking back at Old Home Day 1991.
The dance the night before had been a prelude: Such a crowd! There were two square dances, and lots and lots of other music - with hot dogs for all, and good fun. Salt Gamsey won six dinners at the hot dog stand at Potters Beach and Penny Frick won the 50-50. Next week, John Morrow will be the DJ.
Sis said she had news, George Matthews, her son, is putting all new sills under her house. So she was especially enjoying the evening. I don't know if she got a ride in the 1928 Model A Ford the Dick. Ennises ran touring Grindstone from cheese factory to school house to church to Potters Beach all through the Old Home Day celebration but she would have had a great time seeing all the old haunts-maybe with Annie Guch beside her.
As the Marras talked, Debbie said the day had begun as well as it ended, with a full church. The children taught us about God's overflowing blessings: Mr. Gipson gave them half a doughnut and asked them to pass it among them so each one had a share. When each had had a bite, there was doughnut left over, just as there were fishes and loaves left from the little boy's basket of food that fed 5,000 people at the Sea of Galilee when Jesus fed all those people.
On Saturday, another annual tradition was celebrated: The third annual Harold E. Herrick, Jr. St. Lawrence Skiff race. Once more Harold and Mary's Son, Harold E. Herrick III (Hal) and Edward Overton, a friend of Harold's from childhood, who spent many summers at "Kumtuit," the Bacon/Herrick Grindstone Island summer home, organized. Ted Overton, now from Virginia, operated the committee boat and presented the silver trophy to Eric Groat (and his skipper Max Kenner) at the party Camilla Churchill gave on Watch Island at the end of the day. Although the morning race was called because the wind would NOT blow, the persistent sailors did show their skill in moving their skiffs along silky water in one afternoon race, and the ending was even rather a close contest.
Harold Herrick and Henry, his son, came across the finish line second, John White and John White Jr. third, William H. Rueckert and Barbara, fourth, and William D. Rueckert and son, Cleveland fifth.
It was such a still day that finishing the course took great skill, and the old pro, Cleveland Dodge and Willie Dodge tangled at one marker so they didn't finish. The skiffs don't have rudders, and Ted Overton recounted how Mr. Vanderbilt, Winner of the America's Cup race when he and Harold E. Herrick, Jr. were 10 years old, started out from Kumtuit to cross the bay and never ever managed to come about!
A supporter of the Thousand Islands skiffs throughout her life was Polly Dodge. And, she would also delight in the persistence of these sailors in keeping with the race.
The baseball game which Polly Dodge oversaw at Rum Point each week for much of her life, was held this Sunday with her daughter Joan Rueckert keeping score, making sure the teams were balanced, and keeping the game moving. That weekly game gives another Grindstone Islands Group a place to gather and stay close to their old friends.
With three other notes:
1.) Phil and Yuvonne Marra celebrated their 39th anniversary on Saturday;
2.) Robbie Lashomb will talk about his experiences in Saudi Arabia at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday. Aug. 21 at the Grindstone Methodist Church;
3.) The pot luck lunch and auction will be held Sunday after church on Aug. 18.
So it is.