Grindstone Island News - August 21, 1996
Surely we are at the climax of this summer. Days are beginning to shorten. The river is warm. The weather has been almost perfect vacation weather. The stars are wonderful and a trip on the river at night is like a hymn. All around the island children and grandchildren have finally arrived, so grandparents glow and groan by turns. But now is the best of summer.
The Dodge Memorial Hall dance floor was crowded on Saturday night. I could go on and on with a list of who was there: Bruce and Carol Faust with their daughter and grandchildren. Dr. Heck brought a party, John Bro and some friends came from Potter's Point, another group came from Rusho Bay, and yet another came from Club Island. There were so many children there that Brandon Slate had to stretch out on the couch because his crib was occupied. Last week Josie Garnsey Calhoun was there for the first time in 15 years.
Seeing Josie reminded me of bur first visit to the hall. John and I went over from the parsonage to see what was going on. It sounded fun. After I had sat on a bench for a few minutes, Thornton Garnsey. Josie's father came and asked me to dance. Finally, he asked if I lived on the island, and where. I told him just up the road a house or two. He questioned — just where, until I finally told him I was the minister's wife. Until that time, there had apparently been quite some distance between the church and the hall. Thornton started at my revelation, but gallantly finished the dance. He was a wonderful man, and introduced John and me to more wonderful people: Nina Garnsey, Erma Slate, Buck and Brenda Slate, to Mrs. Bacon at Midriver Farm, and to Sis and Charlie Matthews.
A few years later we had a band made up of islanders, Leon Rusho on the fiddle, Bob Bazinet on the gut bucket, Jim Garnsey on the guitar, and John Marks' "a-cording it" on the piano. Charlie Matthews and Bob Smith called many sets of square dances every week, and the building seemed to swing with the swing Charlie called.
Sis is there still, every Saturday night. She told us that Skip, her son, is now working at the Cape Vincent prison. She also sent me over to hear her grandson's (Josh Lashomb's) story: Together, Josh and friends, Cody Higgins and Matt Potter told me that the three of them had taken (without permission) their big lawn machine to try it out. There was a farm cart, a small one, attached to the back, but the blade and its casing had been removed. Finally, it was Cody's turn to drive. So — not having the faintest idea how to do it, "he put it into first gear," then he "popped the clutch." And the thing reared and turned over, pinning Cody's leg. Flames lept up immediately. But Josh and Matt were very brave. Together, they lifted the heavy machine off Cody, whose leg was bruised and burned;
but he was alive.
Only when their friend was safe, did the boys run to get Doc Schwartz to help. Doc's account of the crater left by the fire let me realize the danger Cody had been in. "I didn't shed a tear," said Cody, "but there were tears streaming all down Josh's face, and down Matt's, too." It all reminded me of Charlie Matthews telling about Josh's dad's : finding Charlie out in the snow with a broken leg. "Why," said Charlie, "That boy's feet looked about three feet long! About this long," and he stretched his arms wide.
It was an evening of good dance, "but also of good talk. Sis said she wasn't going to vote for Dole: "He thinks poor people should fend for themselves. How can they do that?" she asked. The medical insurance bill which was passed can help a man who has been laid off, but it won't help someone who hasn't any insurance in the first place. A lot of Grindstone Islanders are in the second category.
And the talk began turning to life on Grindstone. I heard Clara Carnegie saying, on Saturday, that last week there had been fog when she drove her four-wheeler home from the dance. She found it frightening, and would have passed her own driveway if her grandchildren had not seen her mailbox dawdle by. I laughed because I have seen Clara out on the river in heavy fog, and when I asked her how she dared do that, she said, "Oh, I turn off the engine every little while to listen for the birds singing on shore. Then I follow their singing." Fog never kept her home from work!
That led Brenda to tell how Buck gets into Clayton in fog: He follows the sound of the pounding at Frink's. Clara told that once Milton had turned around and came back. "Are you staying home?" another man on the dock asked. "No," said Milton, "I just came back to get my bearings." and off he went again, this time straight to his destination.
Yuvon and Brenda together recalled the night when Yuvon's parents came to. Grindstone in Francis's ice boat. The ice was breaking up and the boat went under. Yuvon's mother couldn't swim, so her father kept reaching for her as she came up under the ice. Her father finally caught her and propped her elbows on the ice, while Francis and he pulled her out with a rope Francis produced.
If it's not ice, nor cars, nor fire, nor deep water, it may be rocks or sun! We hope Nat Natali is feeling better! And Doreen Meeks told about their island car, the one which had a lot of life yet. Donnie Meeks parked it, at the end of their driveway. When Doreen came out much later on that hot day the rear window was shattered. The extreme heat had broken it into mosaic bits, no two left attached.
As she finished that tale, Josh and his friends squeezed out of the kitchen to get to the dance floor where a line dance was being organized. This time, there must have been 30 people, young and old, in that dance! And before the 50-50, Phil Marra made a plea that young people volunteer to help keep the dances going. The older workers are growing tired and need help. When he asked them, Phil said several did promise to work. There is cooking and cleaning up to do in the kitchen, and, hardest of all, the band has to be transported across the river early in the evening and late at night. Next week there is going to be a meeting before the dance, at 8 p.m., to talk about recruiting and organizing the volunteers. Anyone who likes the dances should attend.
After Phil's announcement, the 50-50 drawing was done, and Tina Scanlon won the pot. I think she bought a Grindstone sweatshirt with the money. Lisa Daley and Margaux Blumer of Jordan won the hats. And then, best of all for some of us Bubby called three square dances. The sets filled up quickly and four full groups danced all three quadrilles.
I can never believe so many people who were at the dance on Saturday night are at the church on Sunday morning, but there they are! Polly Kolle didn't come to the dance, but she made me feel the story-telling went right on: Clay had the Dearie, Polly's much-loved boat, out on Saturday night and ran the boat onto the Blanket shoal. There wasn't even a paddle to use for a rudder, so they had to use a seat plank to steer her to get help. There's a lot of ingenuity here! Then Dock Schwartz began to talk about his and Phyllis's trouble getting their sailboat back into dock when surprise wind came up last week.
Polly also told me that the 90th annual Aunt Jane's Bay Picnic was held last week at the Custis place. The weather, the food, the friendship was all anyone could wish for. 90 Years!
And Jeanne Hein told me that "Meg" had a very good report of her work at Sam's Club in New Haven. Mary Beer added a story of watching Robert Smith last week at the beach. Several weeks ago Robert made friends with a little boy who comes to Potter's Beach in one of the boats. Then Robert was off the island for quite a while. So this week, when they found each other again they ran up the beach toward each other, and hugged each other, full of joy.
And we did sing hymns. And Mary did fry to make sense of the text about how hard it is for a rich man to get into the kingdom of God. The lectionary Old Testament reading showed Joseph, who was a ruler of Egypt, saving his starving brothers, Yin and Yang. The contradictions make the tales ring true! Arid afterwards, after Carol Marsh had sung a refrain to Mary Beer's sermon, after Mary gave us a benediction, we went on to the carriage house to swap sandwiches, and to the parsonage for dessert.
Next week, Aug. 25, is the annual charge conference, when the district superintendent, David Geer, will receive the church's yearly report. A potluck lunch will follow in the carriage house.
Chris and Dicky Matthews have good news this week: Jim Matthews and Tricia Schultz are engaged to be married. We are all very pleased for them.
Maggie Matthews enrolled in Jefferson Community College this week. Bravo, Maggie.
Chris and Dicky have a new roof, too. Carolyn Bazinet reports all of these good things.
It's amazing, one week I'm writing about Burundi or Egypt. And the next I'm writing about all of the extended families who live right here: four families of Meeks, for instance, in Clayton Center! But, thinking of that counterpoint and variety and breadth, I remembered that I said Burundi is on Lake Victoria. It's not. It's on Lake Tanganyika, in Central Africa, a bit southwest of Lake Victoria. And now it's time to get this tale up to the mailbox for Melody Brabant to pick up at 6: 30 a.m. tomorrow morning!
But while I’m making corrections, Fleur Marks, Bill Rueckert's sailing skiff crew is Fleur Rueckert! I write this late at night! I learned about that misnomer at Elizabeth Rueckert's 11th birthday celebration this very Sunday afternoon! What a good time it was. All six of our grandchildren were there to sing "Happy Birthday" with two other Rueckert grandchildren and Tony and Pat Rueckert Ares, and all four of Elizabeth's grandparents.
So it is!