On Saturday night, the stars were so bright that every star in the little dipper was clear. Cassiopia shone overhead, the milky way arched across the close- to- midnight sky, and the swan stretched out on the horizon.  It was warm but not hot.  The day had been just as beautiful; the water was comfortable and gentle; there hadn’t been many boats on the Saturday river; and  everything had seemed restful. At the dance everyone, in the language of the youngsters, felt “mellow”.  What a nice word…like ripe peaches. Erma and Brenda, in the Dodge Hall kitchen were cooking hot dogs and burghers, and making everyone feel at home. The children were dancing while the adults just watched for a while and listened to the Kopy Kats’ lyrics, not really trying to fathom the words. Robert, (pronounce it as they do in Quebec) as if the rhythm had caught him in its net and wouldn’t let him go, his feet stepping faster and faster as the tempo increased, his arms flagging the sky above the roof, his face one big round smile danced in wide circles around the floor. Katie Carlyle and her two friends did little circle dances in his wake, and Mary Bazinet twirled in her bathing suit until she decided it would be more fun to don her black shiny jumper. Bobby, her brother, came to borrow the flashlight we had brought so he could go over to the carriage house to get the rock he had painted for Buck’s memorial.  He wanted to keep it with him at home and to bring it himself to the memorial service on Sunday morning. Buck was his dear friend, his harbinger of adventure in an animal kingdom unknown to most of us.


Later, the young men gathered out by the road behind the red truck, quietly talking, -contentedly.  I sought Frankie Slate out there. I knew he was Frank Moneau’s namesake and might want to present a “memorial minute” for him in church on Sunday.  He almost decided to do it, and his friends thought he should, but when Yuvon came a little later, Frankie asked her to do it.  He is a wonderful wood carver and wanted to take the only chance he had to go to the decoy show.  I’m sure Frank Moneau would have been pleased that he made that decision.  Not only did he want to see the work shown there, but he needed to buy some tools. I’ve asked him to make me a little puffy, friendly duck, like one I saw that he carved a couple of years ago.  It will keep the mallard I bought from him when he first started carving, from feeling lonely.


We met Frankie at Northern Marine last week as he was putting gas into Ken Deede’s  fine wooden boat.  The boat is kind of like the duck I’ve asked Frankie to make.  Frankie and his cohort were getting ready to test-run it, to check their repair job, and Frankie sat at the wheel of the boat just as comfortably as he sat behind the wheel of his first truck when I painted him many years ago. A copy of that portrait (the original on Erma’s wall) is now on one of Audrey’s mugs at Remar. The boat left the dock with the even gurgle of an engine tuned just as it is meant to be tuned. 


I realized, though, in talking with Frankie and his friends at the dance, that we have not made many opportunities for our young men and women to speak to a formal gathering, though they all have pleasant, easy voices like Frank’s, and a way of speaking directly that is lovely to hear in an era when voices are often sharp and strained.  I’m suggesting here, writing my suggestion, audaciously, that one of them come to the Sunday service each week to invite the congregation to the next week’s dance, and tell them something about what that week’s plans are, the band that will play, the food to be provided, and who will be in charge of those things for the next dance. They can report the winners of the fifty-fifty, and who did best in line-dancing, and whatever else there is to tell. Bubby Bazinet usually just gives me some of the information, but it would be nice to have the church people know more about the Hall, and join in the festivities more often. When there is a band that will call squares, for instance, lots of us like to come. And seeing the lithe young people do the Limbo is a sight to behold!  Besides, it’s nice to sit in the kitchen and talk, and it’s fun to watch Sis sitting in her chair of honor   enjoying every minute of the dancing.  The “kids” never forget to make sure she is where she can see and be comfortable, and they do it, not patronizingly, but making her feel like a “somebody”.  The parties are good fun; the hall is a nice place to spend Saturday night. The young people treat all of us seniors the way they treat Sis, helping us to hear, helping us to a position in the square dances, watching us on bumpy roads…They keep us part of their life.


The young people probably have some good thoughts to contribute to the committee gathering ideas for the refurbishing of the sanctury.  So it would be helpful to all of us if some of them made sure to tell us the thoughts they have about it.  Carolyn Bazinet and Bubby, Nancy and Chris  Carlisle, and Mary and Mark Boss, and all their friends have children who come every Sunday to Sunday school, and surely have noticed some things about the way the building works for the children that would help us in deciding what changes, if any,  we want to make. I think I said once that I was enjoying watching Chris Williams out the back door of the church as he worked on the parsonage roof while Jane was preaching. I thought perhaps it was a bit distracting? ? … But today the open door was handy when Nancy Carlisle noticed that the Sunday school teachers needed some more adult help, and simply   slipped out that door to help get the kids lined up to come in to the memorial service. There are all sorts of things to consider now that we have a bare bones church.


That barebones church was full to overflowing on Sunday morning for the annual memorial service. Families who are usually busy at 10:30 on Sunday morning, came to honor those members of their families who died during the year 1997-1998. The children had gathered rocks and painted the name of one of the people we were remembering on each rock. They brought them in  great dish pans, and as Minister Jane read the name of each person, Robert Smith lighted a candle for each.  Then either Jane or a family member told something about that person, that “rock” who is part of the foundation of the Grindstone Island Methodist Church. We were all reminded of the print of the church Judy Bacci made for us all in 1990,  the church formed by the names of all the families who built and have worshipped in the Grindstone Island Church for more than a hundred years.  When Jane Wagner saw a small reproduction of the print, she thought each name was a granite cobblestone. In the case of Buck Slate, that slate rock metaphor seems to me to stand for the roof of my house, or the sidewalk I’ve walked on, and lived by, for  seventy-five years. Marjorie Rusho, people remembered, had put a monumental effort into rebuilding the foundation of the building in 1990. Her rock surely stands for a foundation rock. These are the people we gave thanks for, and the children who brought the rock to the candle for each person:

            Robert Smith brought a rock celebrating Elizabeth Haxall.

            Melissa Boss brought a rock celebrating Ruth Heineman.

            Megan Parker brought a rock celebrating Andrew MacDonald.

            Brian Parker brought a rock celebrating Harold Waterson.

            Bobby Bazinet brought a rock celebrating Frank Moneau.

            Sadie Faust brought a rock celebrating Marjorie Rusho.

All the children brought rocks celebrating the neighbor-friend of all those children, Irwin (Buck) Slate.

            Trisha Faust brought a rock celebrating Arthur Sullivan.


Helen Ingerson came over the river to sing “In this place there is quite enough love for you and me.”, and we even had two choirs to sing about  the lovely people we miss, the people no longer with us, whom we are grateful for having known. The children sang a “round”, and Brian Parker, Robert Smith and Megan Parker maintained their part without a flaw while the littler folk sang with Jane.


After the service, the whole group of children walked up the road to the cemetery and planted a little fir tree on Buck’s grave, to say they’d loved him very much.


We welcomed Robert back from Aldersgate, and one of these days he is going to sing some of the songs he learned there so we can learn them too.


In our prayers of the people, we remembered Helen Parker who is entering the hospital in Syracuse on Monday for surgery, and   Marie Moore who has cancer and can’t be with us this year. Milton Rusho will be with Helen help her keep up her courage and muster the strength to recover.  Many of us spoke to Marie on a tape recorder Helen Ingerson had brought. We hope she can hear on it the love we have for her.


There are yet a few notices: 


On August 23rd, there will be a service of music at the 10:30 a.m. service, and if you want to request a special hymn or other piece of music, call Jane Wagner at the parsonage, 686 3113.


On that same Sunday, August 23rd, there will be a pot luck lunch right after church to celebrate the opening of the schoolhouse museum! Everyone is invite to come see the old classroom.


Don’t forget!…






serving begins at 12:30 p.m.

(Please, everyone, bring the deserts --pies?  cakes?-- you usually bring)


Next Saturday night, the Mystery DJ will bring the music to Dodge Memorial Center.  There will be hot dogs and burghers and dancing and good friends to give you a good time. So we’d love you to come!


So it is.

Aminta Marks