Grindstone Island News -August 7, 1996
Mary Lou, we promise we won't hover. We won't nag. We won't speak in solicitous tones when you get back to your own little house. You can sit in your new room and watch all the wildlife in the marsh and be free as you wish. Anyway, Alice, who was pushing Mother Marjorie's wheelchair, says, you don't have a thing to worry about. Anyone who has lived with Manley all of these years must have nerves of steel!
Nevertheless, the image connected with relief in my mind, when I remember your falling ill on Old Homes Day, is the rear of the stocky Japanese "Jeep" slipping off around the baseball field as the game went on. I knew that when Manley returned, the fire boat and Dr. Withington would be on the way to the Rusho dock, and that Mary Lou would be quietly and firmly taken in the most suitable vehicle to the rendezvous. And that's the way it was.
I know today that the news most Grindstone Islanders want, especially, is that Mary Lou left the hospital on Thursday. She did have a heart attack, so she is recuperating at a friend's house in Alexandria Bay. She will have three tests before Dr. Withington can be sure of what happened, but although she is tired, and a bit depressed, she is better. All seven grandchildren went home on Thursday, so, although Mary Lou and Manley, too, will miss them, there is a quiet nest for her to come back to. Kirsten Pickett gave her address in case Mends would like to send her a card this week: Mary Lou Rusho, 1 High Street, Alexandria Bay 13607.
News from Camp Virginia:
There is one more good friend people are asking about: Bobby Custis. Polly Cole told me he had a stroke in early June and had to be taken from Grindstone to the Watertown hospital where he stayed for 15 days. He has been home on Grindstone recovering for several weeks. But, he has had a headache most days. Polly hopes that now that all his family — with grandchildren - are here on the island, he will cheer up.
(I miss a lot of important news! Please call when you know something many of us want to know and might miss! We send our energetic wishes for Bobby's and Mary Lou's quick and full recovery.)
News of Mrs. Shirley comes from Marie Moore. Diane Shirley, who has just arrived with her daughter, Laura is her source. Mrs. Shirley is comfortable, but won't get to the river, probably, ever again. We miss her cheerfulness. And I miss the news she passed on to me. Someone down at Aunt Jane's Bay must take over her task of reporting!
Boat Show weekend
The river is busy this weekend! Greg Lago said that the Antique Boat Museum has done a wonderful job this year of making the whole village part of the boat show. People were coming to the "Harmonic Visions" exhibit at the Winged Bull Studio all afternoon. Robert Paul Saphier is the artists. The colorful and visionary show will remain on exhibition until Oct. 15. Greg credits Bill and Sissy Danforth with getting more people up to Riverside Drive. At the boat show, I was signing books at .a table with Martha Tack, and heard her send someone to another village shop for a copy of a Ronald MacDonaId cookbook that is out of print. And she also talked about the good olives available in a couple of the stores, as people tasted her sample piccadillo. The recipe is in another Ronald MacDonaId book, Specialties of the House, on sale in the museum shop. Piccadillo is good!
Even back on the north side of Grindstone, old wooden boats proceed decorously up and down river. Fiberglass is practical, but the mahogany boats seem to tune themselves to the river's dignity and beauty. I think of them as being a part of Grindstone. Nugen Brown and Dick Matthews continue their wooden boat work at St. Lawrence Restoration, and Clara Carnegie still lives near the dock Erma Slate always calls "The Shipyard," where her grandfather built boats. It was there that Milton Carnegie refurbished so many handsome skiffs.
Saturday night was old-time Grindstone. Early in the evening, we met Katie and Bill Halsey, of Canoe Point coming up the hill to the church with a game under Bill's arm and their little boy holding Katie's hand. They were on their way to the Barnyard Olympics, a great success. Doc pulled several new games out of his sleeve -human tic tac toe, for one. The kids loved the water pistols they got as prizes, and ate pizza, pizza, and more pizza.
And then the Marshall Street Band called everyone from far and near to come dance. They did! Bubby called "that awful square" -the one Yuvon and Sis and I hate -for fear some gentleman will wake on Sunday with a strained back. But old Charlie loved it! He loved to see all of us hefty women twirled around like bales of hay. Sis thinks Bubby's getting better at calling! Dr. Peck won the 50-50 and gave the money to the Hall, Maggie Matthews won the sweatshirt. Marjorie Rusho came to the dance for the first time this summer and felt quite ladylike being pushed up the new ramp.
Phil Beer, in the church van, met John (the organist) and me at our door on Sunday morning to take us to the Aunt Jane's Bay outdoor service. Sometimes I've thought that modem churches are missing the old-fashioned minister's wife who considered being the ministers help-mate her own "calling." But Phil is certainly Mary's help-mate! And he must consider that as much "his calling" as his own profession of being an undertaker. He knows us all, takes care of us all, enjoys us all, makes coffee for us all, signals Mary if she can't be heard, and appreciates her sermons. We, in turn, appreciate him!
By the time we got to the Brooks' yard overlooking Aunt Janes Bay, a crowd had already huddled up the hill under the trees, out of the sun. Mary moved the pulpit (not so far that Sis didn't worry about her in all that sun) and John moved the organ into the midst of the congregation. (Lolita and Ray Pfeiffer always bring their little folding army (World War I vintage) pump organ over from "Tip.")
And the service began. Six Canada geese processed for the first hymn, and shortly thereafter, Carl Larson pulled up in his kayak from the big yellow boathouse far across Aunt Jane's Bay. After Lolita and Ray Pfeiffer and Phil and Mary Beer passed communion to each of the congregants scattered over the rocks and grass, after Mary had pronounced the benediction, everyone went down the road to Elaine and Bruce Brooks' house for muffins and lemonade or coffee.
As Sis Matthews waited in the truck, which would take her down, she told me how Skip always comes straight into her door and straight to her hearing aids. He has to put them in for her because her hands shake now. He also puts her pills - the right number for each day - in small envelopes for her, so she will be sure to take them!
There is the usual backbiting on Grindstone that we all complain about. There is the usual meanness and clannishness. But what always remains in my memory is the care "islanders" give one another. When Mary Lou needed help, "Johnny" King, Debbie Donaldson, and Steve Donaldson, three nurses, were there at the picnic to tend her. I watched "Johnny" look carefully when Mary Lou put her head down, then ask exactly the question that made Mary Lou raise up so Johnny could see she hadn't become unconscious. AIT six eyes attended without being pushy or frightening. Rick Hayes was there, too, to help her into the van, and onto the fireboat. Rick is a faithful member of the emergency squad. It's a good place, this island.
Over at Brooks', David Fuerst told us about the work of the Thousand Islands Chapter of the New York State Archaeological Association. Go into the Key Bank and look at the Indian artifacts' exhibit in the glass case there. It is an amazingly comprehensive showing of the history of Indians in this area. They were here much earlier than most of us thought, and had permanent settlements. One of them on French Creek is now being excavated. The society meets in the Knights of Columbus Hall at 8 p.m. on the third Thursday of every month. Everyone is invited to attend.
At the dance Saturday, Copy Cat will make the music. Mary says "summer is drawing to a close" there are fewer announcements." It's just begun!
They all came in one truck from Murdock Point to sing "Shall We Gather at the River" at Aunt Janes' Bay: Joan and Dave Flint, Carol and Ronald MacDonaId (No relation to!), Frank and Nancy Aquadro and the Flints; guests, the Fitzsimmons.
The Marras also have guests: Verna and Peter Crabb of Florida.
There is to be a pancake breakfast beginning at 9 a.m. next Sunday, Aug. 11. Come one! Come all!
On Aug. 18, there will be a sandwich swap after church in the parsonage! So we all have a chance to see it, to be guests of Mary and Phil and Sarah and Jesse.
Next weekend, Aug. 10-11, Gananoque will celebrate the Festival of the Islands. Debbie Donaldson's dance class will dance at noon in the Gananoque Park on Saturday.
Golf carts are good for more than golf. Anne Binhammer and Bob arrived at the Aunt Jane's Bay service in style, and had comfortable seats through the ceremony!
Correction to last week's article: the Churchills' house is on Cement Point at the Head of Grindstone! It's my writing that is at fault. If anyone is updating a computer, I'm looking for one that is compatible with my little SE2 Apple that stays in Princeton. I'd need a printer too! That would solve lots of problems -- for me, and for the T.I. Sun typists.
So it is.