With boat show weekend approaching, a lot of Grindstone Islanders were busy preparing in one way or another for the big weekend. Beautiful wooden boats began to ply their ways among the islands. As the weekend approached, several passed Toad Hall on Grindstone's north shore, their sterns veiled by the great sheets of spray a fine old displacement hull throws up as it cuts through the water.
All the island men and women whose work is the preservation of these handsome boats had no time for play during several proceeding weeks, Dick Matthews and Nugen Brown at St. Lawrence Restoration, Susie Marshall, Rob Lashomb, and all the others at the Shipyard docks. Midriver boatmen got the Wild Goose to the parade in first rate condition,...mentioning any names is dangerous because there are so many left unmentioned, but a few names serve to give real faces to each of those who participated in making this weekend such a pleasantly nostalgic time in Clayton.
By Saturday evening, however, some of the islanders put work aside, and docking their boats for the evening, made their way to the Grindstone Methodist Church Carriage House for 'a pot luck supper. They gathered at 5 PM. for games in the yard, and, of course, inside, for getting food onto the tables and the good talk that always accompanies those preparations. About 6 p.m. everyone broke into the feast that had appeared as if by magic. Everyone agreed, as they do every year, that this was the best pot luck we had ever produced.
Later that evening, between the supper and the dance, the church board met to talk over some administrative problems that had arisen during the proceeding week. Every year the people at the church and the hall have to reorganize their lines of procedure after the long break during the winter. Both the church and the Dodge Community Center serve as loose organizations where misunderstandings and ruptures in the way things are done become apparent enough and defined enough to be openly discussed. While differences are never erased and annoyances are never completely turned into sweetness and light, conversation continues and a community of differently -minded people evolves yearly.
So everyone went across the road to dance together at "the Hall" until the early morning hours to the
music of the High Riders. For the second time this year, Jim Cupemall won the 50-50. Two t-shirts, one from Summer Place West, and one from the Golden Anchor were also given to two lucky dancers. Bubby Bazinet had gone to some of the merchants and restaurant managers in Clayton to seek their tangible encouragement for Grindstone Island's Saturday night parties.
Bob Purcell came to the dance for the first time in years. Some of us remember when he used to sing a song he wrote about "Gotta come to Grindstone on Saturday night." Now he is a lawyer in Denver, Colo. He spent the night with Bubby and Carolyn Bazinet, 'enjoyed coffee on their front porch in the morning, and rode a bit around the island in Bubby's truck before leaving for Clayton in midafternoon.
Jeff Gamsey and his family were also there for the first time in many years.
Sunday morning was sunny and just as right as little bear's porridge, and church people from all over the island gathered on the lawn of the Byce residence for the annual Aunt Jane's Bay service. Both Garnsey school buses transported north shore residents. John Marks played the little First World War-field-organ brought over by Ray and Lolita Pfeiffer. Barbara Kuempel, the minister, prepared the communion feast and the service began with the singing of "Shall We Gather at the River." The second hymn was requested by
Milton Rusho, "Eternal Father, Strong to Save—whose arm doth bind the restless wave—hear us when we cry to thee for those in peril on the sea."
Several of the children had accompanied minister Barbara to the river before the service began to fill the silver bowl we use for baptism with river water. And, before the sermon, two children were baptized:
Kayla Marie Williams (daughter of Chris and Aleatha Garnsey Williams) and Zachary Stoll (son of Donald and Shelly Stoll of Rochester. Shelly is Chris Williams' sister.) Chris' family, and, of course, Aleatha's family were all there gathered at the river for this blessing of their grandchildren.
The sea, water, and bread are metaphors very close to the lives of all of us who live on Grindstone Island for even a part of the year. The children thought together about the contradictions of water, which is often dangerous and fearsome, but which also makes life possible. And Barbara's sermon was a meditation on the story of the feeding of 5000 people with five loaves of bread and two fishes.
And on the Grindstone hill looking out over Aunt Jane's Bay, in Holy Communion, everyone ate and all were satisfied.
Later in the afternoon a great crowd of islanders gathered at Toad Hall for another party to celebrate John Marks' retirement from teaching at Princeton University and his 70th birthday. His birthday is also his son John's birthday, so the celebration was multiple. The invitations were passed from one to another around the island, and Aminta was pleased with the answer when, on the Byces' lawn, she saw Stub Lashomb and told him she hoped he knew his family was "invited" and wanted, even though, since they live in Clayton Center, they might not have been told about the party. He hugged her and said, "We have to get back to work, but I'd have come anyway whether you asked me or not"
And a lot of people came, many just as Stub said he would have. And it was a miracle party. Tables and chairs trundled in on trucks between lunch and five o'clock, like rain from heaven. Carolyn Bazinet brought ice and the coke "thing" in time to get the drinks cool. The Marras trundled (he fresh food down from the carriage house refrigerators just at the right moment... (They had brought all the produce on Friday from Phils' store in Watertown). Peter Strong and Libby helped gather in coffee urns and such from the church, Buck Slate and Brenda brought chairs and cucumbers; and Erma brought cucumbers too. Doreen Meeks brought a wonderful watermelon fruit -bowl;, and Margaret Taylor brought bouquets of wild flowers for each table. Yuvonne Marra brought a special cake and Jello because Aug. 8 was Debbie Donaldson's birthday, too. So many good wishes multiplied once more.
And people from Wild Goose and Mid River and the South Shore, and Aunt Jane's Bay came and ferried people from shore to shore. Jaycie and Jamie Donaldson helped with babies and slicing cucumbers, Kavin Pfeiffer and Max Kenner were boatmen who helped people "anchor out" in Thurso Bay, and everyone, the list grew far too long, to name, helped with fetching and carrying, with the feeding of our lovely crowd and with the cleaning up. And all were fed and all were satisfied, and John went to bed very happy—and grateful for so many wonderful friends.
Two sad notes made us remember people not able to come to the party: Marjorie Rusho fell in her bathroom as she was getting ready, and her family had to take her to the hospital. We all missed them, and hope to see Marjorie back with us next Sunday.
Kayla Williams grew sick as Sunday afternoon wore on, so that family couldn't come to the party. She visited the doctor on Monday morning, and we hope she is fully recovered very soon,
We were all very glad however to see Lou and Bob Custis at the Aunt Jane's Bay service, and to see Polly Rusho sitting beside Milton.
- The Marshall Street Band will play next Saturday night, Aug. 14.
- Marie Moore will teach Sunday school on Aug. 16.
-- Mary Lou Rusho will be organist on Aug. 15 while John Marks is in Plattsburgh baptizing his twin grandchildren, Anna and Eliza. Two great grandmothers live there, so Pom and Belle, the parents, decided the service should be where the great grandmothers can come.
So it is.