Traditions on Grindstone are like the grass. They spring up in their season as regularly as the day, a part of the natural order. At the Sunday service on July 12, Doc rose to say he didn't know if the church supper scheduled for Saturday, July 18, was going to become a reality -or not - since no one had called to take responsibility for the work. Several seconds elapsed, but Erma, with no fanfare, said, from near the back pew, "We're going to have it."
And we did. Erma ordered the turkeys and all the food. Manley Rusho brought it over from Clayton. Margaret Taylor, Phyllis Schwartz, Debbie Marra, Chris Matthews, and Mary Lou Rusho came with Manley and Erma to the carriage house early Saturday morning to stuff the turkeys and cut up vegetables for salad. If Erma hadn't been caught twice checking her ingredients or the mashed potatoes and the salad dressing, it would be hard to believe she was "taking charge." That seems to be one of the marks of Grindstone Islanders: for an outsider, it is hard to see who is "in charge." People here have apparently, lived so long with the weather taking charge that they have learned to "do" simply as the moment permits. It is a gracious way of life.
And that's the way the dinner was on Saturday night - gracious.
"Sis" Matthews had the flu and Erma sent her a plate of food. Her rocking chair stood empty, but if she had been sitting in it with her clean apron on, she would have been proud of the next generation. She would have been assured that life on the island would go on as naturally as the grass grows. She would have approved of the desserts, too. The pies - lots and lots of pies berry, rhubarb and strawberry, apple - were homemade, fresh out of the ovens around the island! People sat around the tables a long time after the meal, drinking coffee and talking.
And after it was all over, Elaine Brooks stayed faithfully at the turkey pans until the last one was scrubbed butler-clean and every dish or piece of flatware was back in place ready to be used next Sunday, July 26 for Old Home Day.
But, of course, the evening wasn't over. By nine o'clock the young people had decorated the Dodge Memorial Hall across from the church with crepe paper streamers and the disc jockey was playing "Happy Birthday" to Mike Brown, and crowds of teenagers and young people were dancing amid all the noise and rhythm that youth - in great, joyful gobs, produces. Chris Mattews held Jamie Brown's ticket, and delighted him by presenting him with the 50-50 prize. The disc jockey, John Morrow, will be with us at least once more this summer, and he made the party enough fun so even —the-old folks, the square- dance crowd, will welcome him.
On Sunday morning, July 19, the Rev. Alexander Meakin was again the minister. His wife, Janet, to the pleasure of the congregation, came to the island with him (and even, in an emergency, helped Collect the offering). The memorial service reminded us, once more, of the diversity of the Grindstone Church, of the joy and grace people in its congregation share with each other, and of our faith, "the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Polly and Milton Rusho were there. When a congregant said to Milton "It's been a dreadful year, hasn't it?" He answered, casting a glance at Polly recovering from her bone transplant and anemia, "No, It's been a wonderful year." One of the things, he said, that made it wonderful, was the faithfulness and love Doug and Virginia Cook had shown them when Polly was in the hospital in Atlanta. "Doug" was minister in the Grindstone Church in the 1950s, and lives now in Atlanta where he is chaplain at Emory University. He stopped in to comfort Polly and Milton almost every day, and Virginia, whose smile must have been a motherly comfort, came as often as she could. "Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Doug and Virginia's children, Debbie, with her husband David Neuroth and grandchildren, Mariah and Matthew, Jerry, with his own three-year-old daughter in a backpack, Dakin, and Rebecca with her husband, Bobby Vines, paid a short visit to their old "camp" - The old Emmet Dodge property, and to Norvin and Jean Hein and John and Aminta Marks. If we can't see Doug and Virginia, seeing the next generation is certainly a pleasant second best! Debbie and David are moving to Oklahoma, Jerry and his family live in Atlanta (where Doug and Virginia are), Dakin is working in a hospital in Bolivia, and Rebecca and Bobby teach school in Nashville. They play and sing with a band on weekends.
Courage and the nobility it brings forth are always in abundance if one looks. Anne Binhammer, still suffering from her disabling stroke of a year and a half ago, though hurt by the news that her beloved Grace Johnson died this year, hurt to tears, could also smile mischievously that she had dared the old car to give up on the road to church! It didn't. It got her there, with Bob and she had every faith it would carry them back to their little farmhouse on the south side of the island where they've spent 50 summers.
During the sermon, Anne's nieces, Robin Davison and Carol Davison Pierce took the children up the road to the cemetery where they made rubbings of the gravestones and traced the relationships of the Lashombs, Garnseys, and Slates, from one of their roots, Howard Slate.
We all await a visit from Debbie Smith who now is visiting her father Bob. She is back for a short time from her home in Burundi, Africa.
Next Sunday, July 26, the Rev. Garrie Stevens, Northern New York Methodist Conference Council director, will be minister. He plans to spend the following week in the parsonage, and we will all delight in having the house spring to life. He will also preach on Aug. 2.
Old Home Day is July 26! So Grindstone Islanders - once an islander, always on islander - will gather for the traditional picnic -ham, homemade pies and all - at Potter's Beach to talk of good times gone and yet to come. Marie Moore's daughter and two sons are here this week. We hope many more children, aunts uncles, grandparents, nieces, nephews, connected kin, and old friends will gather together next Sunday in a tradition that springs up each year like the grass.
If you like to hear poetry read, Aminta and John Marks will read from Sweet Water and Polar,
Poems from the Length of a Marriage, at 11 a.m. at the Thousand Islands Craft School on Thursday, July 23.
Latest report on the Jeff Marra twins: Matthew at 6 Ibs. 11 oz. has nearly caught up in weight to Jeff, 6 Ibs. 11-1/2 oz.! Both are happy at home. So it is.