Grindstone Island News - August 28, 1996
On Friday, when we pulled up to the municipal dock, there was plenty of space. On Saturday, when we docked at the Hayes dock, there was plenty of space. And this morning there was plenty of room in the pews at church. The wind could have kept many people home, but I think that it's more probable that other families have left the island to get ready for school and autumn than our children and grandchildren. The leaves on the sumac are crimson. The wind is rampaging, white caps tumble down river, new rocks poke out of the water, and next Sunday is the last church service. Summer is nearly over.
When we had found the last jelly shoe, located the bedraggled bunny that accompanies 3-year old Eliza, and the funny old doll that 3-year-old Anna packs in her backpack; when Phoebe, who is 5, had gathered up the last book; and Pom, father of twins and Phoebe, had shouldered the last duffle-bag; when grandpa and grandma had gotten the whole kids-and-kaboodle across the river; when we had kissed the last smiling face, and given the last hug; we didn't get up the hill to the dance on Saturday night.
Phil Marra reported, however, that there, too, there was space and time and quiet. Steve Donaldson played discs for the relaxed dancing, while mother Debbie was in Ottawa at a dance competition, with the Donaldson girls. There was no meeting before the dance, but Bubby did call a few squares for the few who are still on the island who were able to party. It was one of those special, comfortable evenings that are best of all. Bill and Cathy Coty, Phil Marra's cousins from Watertown, spent the night on their boat in Thurso Bay, and enjoyed an old-shoe time with islanders at the hall.
Next week, the party will be informal and free. If you are among those who want to keep the Grindstone Saturday night dances alive, come to a meeting at 8 p.m. to make plans, and afterwards gather around to drink coffee. Bring along a dessert or whatever, maybe a few CD's or tapes, (we'll see that there is a player).
Sunday service On Sunday morning, a remnant (which is, surprisingly, quite a few people here on the island) came faithfully to the next-to-last service. I'm always surprised at how relevant scripture lessons are. Sara and Jesse Beer helped Karen Lashomb with a project for the Sunday school children. Rocks, Grindstone people know as a good foundation for a church. This morning the children made images from rocks. The story from Genesis described the population explosion of the Israelites who emigrated from Palestine's famine to Egypt's green fields. The Egyptians, of course, grew afraid of the immigrants, and began to make life hard for them. Very relevant indeed!
I'm always also surprised at how each person responds to a story out of his or her own experience. Mary Beer responded to the midwives who didn't kill the Israelite babies, and to the strength of the Israelite women who delivered their babies without the help of the Egyptian midwives. I just read about Edward 0. Wilson's new book “In Search of Nature”, had different thoughts. Wilson, a sociobiologist at Harvard, thinks our fear of snakes comes out of "deep history" — maybe 2 million or so years ago. "So." I thought, "does our fear of strangers who multiply in our land!"
And while Mary thought of the blessedness of midwives, I was ' thinking of the women our 5-year-old Phoebe had asked grandpa about: Sarah, persuaded Abraham to send the stranger, Hagar, out to the desert with her baby Ishmael, who was as much Abraham's son as Isaac was, and Hansel and Gretel's stepmother who persuaded her husband to send his own children, strangers to her, into the forest to fend for themselves.
Then, while Mary thought of the terrible Pharoah who feared the Israelites, I thought of the pharoahs who were pictured with children at their knees, of Amonhotep's wife who taught him about one God, God of all the world, and about the huge palace of Hatschepsut, a queen of Egypt. Wilson does not fear bugs and insects or snakes. He thinks it is human to love nature, and human to destroy it: "More organization and complexity exist in a handful of soil (as Buck or Erma know) than on all the other plants combined." It takes, he teaches, listening and examining all of our diverse responses with sharp ears and eyes and senses to make sense of this marvelous creation. "Think of yourselves with sober judgment," the scripture lesson read.
Marilyn Kime and her son Jeff passed the collection plates this morning, and you'll hear more of Marilyn later! Carol Marsh taught the congregation a new song. She sang the verses, and the rest of us sang the chorus, "He will raise you up on Eagles' wings." That is the hope of deep history.
After the benediction, the Rev. David Geer, the district superintendent of North Central New York, called the annual charge conference to order. Finally the people outside who didn't have to leave early, settled into the business of the church. Doc Schwartz, who carefully keeps our accounts, writes acknowledgements for gifts, and brings order to our institution, presented the financial report for the summer of 1996. It was accepted with much appreciation by the superintendent and the whole church family!
The following board members agreed to work for another term: Sis Matthews (an honorary life member), Phil Marra, Fred Jackson, Fred Schwartz, Yuvon Marra, and Aleatha Williams.
We then asked Mary Beer to return as our minister in 1997, and she agreed to - much to our delight. Mary reported that she and her family have felt "at home" here this summer and thanked the congregation.
Several people called attention to some specific needs: e.g. cushions for some who find the pews hard, back steps of the parsonage repaired, stained glass windows in rear of church fixed...etc. (Those windows came out of the old Cox home in Watertown. The Grindstone Church's building is deep history itself!)
Then Yuvon Marra gave a report of some of the events at the hall. The financial report listed several new additions: a ramp and deck, and 18 tables. It also listed the donation the hall makes to the fireboat.
To the rescue...
So the meeting came to an end, but Marilyn Kime, who has rowed back and forth from Chub Island by Potter's Beach for longer than I can remember, slipped in the boat as she was going home and cut her head badly enough that once again the fire boat was called. Once again, it came speeding to Grindstone, its nose barely visible above the high waves, and once again, Doc Withington came from the other direction (Round Island), bounding over the breakers. The medical team makes a wonderful difference to life on the island. We heartily thank them one more time! Jeff, the captain of the rowboat, Marilyn's son, accompanied her on her voyage. We hope Marilyn's head is beautifully mended by now.
The rest of us sat down to a table loaded with food! Our gardens have been bountiful this year. And, always, the cooking gets better and better as the year draws to an end. So, although Mr, Geer couldn't stay for lunch, the rest of us ate and ate and talked and talked — and then washed the dishes and went home to swim — or take a nap!
Notes: Alice Turcott, who lives in Gananoque died Aug. 25. She would have been 98 in November. As a girl she boarded with Joe Turcott on Grindstone Island and attended the island school. After she finished eighth or ninth grade, she went to Ladies' College in Ottawa where she boarded and graduated. She wants her ashes buried on Grindstone Island in the family cemetery lot. Gordon Turcott will keep us informed of further plans. (He lives in "Gan".)
Buddy Custis asked that I correct last week's account of the Aunt Jane's Bay picnic. There were 60 or 70 people who gathered. But it was the 90th anniversary of Camp Virginia! That's a long time! Time enough for Camp Virginia to be "home."
I met Grace Wright in the produce aisle on Friday and she told me about the pleasant day she spent in the spring with Salt Garnsey and Kitty. I told her, and realized I should tell everyone: If you can get to the town dock on the island on Sunday morning, the church van will pick you up and deliver you to church. Then it will take you back after church. Call the parsonage to make arrangements: 686-3113.
And last: Next Sunday afternoon everyone is invited to Squatter's Picnic on the Marra's lawn — about 1 p.m. It has become a great tradition. Maybe there will even be a hayride. Bring a dish to pass — and come!
One last note: Mr. and Mrs. Henry Borman, who have a house in the Admiralty Group, off Gananoque have donated a Lowry electric organ to the church. Mrs. Borman's great-great grandmother, Mrs. Rose Wright, was minister in the Grindstone church from June 1931 until May 1933. She was the last full-time minister in the church. (Incidentally, Mrs. Florence Printer preceded her. Women ministers aren't new to Grindstone!) Rose Wright was the minister Jesse depended on at the time of the diphtheria epidemic in Jessie Matthews Newberry's book, The Longest Winter. So it is.