GRINDSTONE ISLAND NEWS - August 9, 1998
Sunday morning, Son Pom and I left our dock at about eight o’clock to go meet Audrey Lashomb and Mary Curtis Emerick at the Remar office to go over the next to last proof of Audrey’s book, Going Home, a story of Grindstone Island. This is Audrey’s story, but she thinks of it as a story told by all the islanders who have given her pictures, reminiscences, and stories they have been told by their ancestors. It is the story of all her school friends who have unearthed their long ago memories. It is the story of all of her island relatives who love Grindstone’s woods, its trees, now nipped back by the ice storm, who love the river, even the river made dangerous by ice, who love the boats they’ve built for just the circumstances the river presents, who love its church, its old schoolhouse, its dancehall, and its celebrations. It is the story of islanders who like to remember the cheese factory, the quarries, the old homesteads, the beaches, the docks, the silver mine, and especially their schooldays in the one-room red schoolhouse or in the lower school at the end of the road. They even take pleasure in remembering the cold ride to school made warm and comfortable by the secret ways their mothers had to keep them warm. It is the story of a generous people who, by helping each other, rafting their boats and their lives together, made a good life in a hard-to-get-to, hard-to-leave granite island. There is a new story by Jessie Matthews Newberry. There are stories about the Patriot War. It is a kind book, a book filled with Audrey’s love for her people, and her home.
The book should be out by the end of August, and you can now order it either from Audrey or from Mrs. Corbin at Corbin’s River Heritage, 686-2275. Audrey’s address is: Audrey Lashomb, 510 Theresa Street, Clayton, NY 13624, and her telephone number is:686-3579. Mike Mole says people should order a dozen copies each to give for Christmas presents.
Don’t forget the grand opening of the schoolhouse on Sunday, August 23rd. There will be a potluck lunch. Audrey’s book will be in the schoolhouse collection when it comes out, and proofs of the 209 photos in the book will be a treasure to store there.
When Pom and I came back to our dock, we were met by a multitude of pleasures. A mink scurried over the rocks as we came in, letting us watch him for several minutes as he made his way along the granite ledge, and finally into the scrub juniper brush. We thought perhaps it was an otter, but the tail seemed not “meaty” enough according to Pom who got acquainted with the genus in the streets of Cairo where weasels “rubber-band” in the night streets. We didn’t think “weasel” because he was too dark-colored. “Mink” seems to fit just what we saw. A new Thurso Bay resident was enough to make the trip a great adventure for Pom.
But, besides that, The Work Boat lay quietly at the dock along shore. That boat is an unassuming, lovely creation to look at. It was built by “Captain” Bob Thiebeau’s father, Henry, with the help of his two sons, Bob and Benjamin, in 1928 to carry the coal, and later gas for the stove to the island. That’s why “the poor dear” never got any fancier name. It cuts across the river from Long Point like a snake, its mahogany bottom painted a clean, plain white. Shepard Holt used to do all the work on it, but this summer Ken Larson, who with Craig Holt, inherited it from “Granny”, Mrs. Craig Wright, has worked hours and hours to put it into such elegant condition. Another summer Craig was the chief workman. He installed new seats that “maybe take away from its antique value, but the old wicker chairs used to tip over,” says Emily Holt, “and these new ones hold more people”. It was docked in Thurso Bay while Ken, Carolyn, Anna, and her friend, Joan Flint went to church.
Pom and I were too late for the service, but we were told all about what we missed. Anna and Joan played two flute duets, one for a prelude, and one for an offertory. Organist John was enchanted with their music. Two tiny girls, Katie Carlisle and Melissa Boss, sang the children’s song all by themselves with all the hand action to make it, also, into a kind of dance.
Besides that, Debbie Donaldson’s “girls”, Jacey Donaldson, Chloe Allin, and Bill Murray interpreted the story of the vines and branches in dance. It was our Phoebe and our Anna and Eliza who were enchanted then, all wide-eyed and delighted. Organist John was wide- eyes watching all of them!
Obviously, Pom and I missed SOMETHING!
But there were lots of people in the pews to watch and hear. Beverly Verne, Carol Faust’s sister was there. Carol Davison Turnbull and Paul were there – 2 and 1/2 people!
The baby will be a Christmas baby, and Grandpa Andy and Grandma Beverly are delighted.
Irene Orvis brought a whole pew full of guests: Ruth Orvis Sanders and her nieces, Irene Mageary Consta, Edith Mageary Adkins, Ellen Mageary Reeves, all daughters of Jessie Orvis Mageary, and Margaret Pond, daughter of Madeline Orvis Fisher. It was Doreen Meeks who found me to report their presence.
And shortly before that, Manley Rusho asked me to report that, beginning Sunday, August 16th, any one who wants a ride from the Clayton dock on Sunday mornings to the Grindstone Church, should meet Steve Dorr, who will be the captain of the boat that will leave Clayton at 9:30AM., and return to Clayton about 1:00 PM. Call Manley Rusho at “Boat or Land Transportation”: 686-4093 for more information. All of these guests made Manley’s plan seem a wanted service.
Saturday was a full day. First, in the yard by the carriage house, the Barnyard Olympics took place with even more adults with games than there were children, which meant that everyone had a very active time…and fun! Doc says a heartfelt “thank you” to everyone who heard his plea. It’s a good, kid-centered, simple tradition worth keeping on the calendar.
And, of course, the dance with The Bandits in charge of music made the Thurso corner jump. All the usual events took place: Harry Slate won the 50-50. Bill McCarthy, who was back for the first time in a LONG TIME, won the T-shirt, Chris Carlisle, won a hat, and Debby Garnsey won sunglasses. Debbie is here from Florida, so it’s nice that she also has something useful from us to take back with her. Next week, the Kopy Kats will be the musicians.
Down under the hill and way out on McRae Point Weazie Ford and Eddie Wilson threw their annual Purple Martin Party. Ken Deedy, of course, came in his purple, Abbie Rand wore a purple martin house hat, and lots of other costumes dotted the point. The setting sun was dramatically red, the food was scrumptious, the conversation flowed, and, finally, as the old folks hummed home in their boats, the young things, roared their way up the hill to the dance.
And while I was proof-reading Audrey’s book, on Sunday morning, others were devouring blueberry pancakes, sausage, and Canadian bacon, in the carriage house. People were already there at 8:00 AM and the cooks served until 10:30! Communion takes place on the island in many forms.
The Aquadros are becoming an international house. This last week, they entertained 7 guests from Switzerland. The father was German, and the children, 3,6,and 9, as they sat around the dining table, amazed their hosts by speaking German to their father, English to their mother, and Swiss German dialect to the young seventeen year old boy who accompanied them! This isn’t unusual for a Swiss family. I wonder if our grandchildren will become multi- lingual as more and more languages are spoken in the United States. The father was considering taking a job in Geneva where French is the home language. When, however, the parents suggested they would have to learn French, the children said, “Let them speak to us”! Next week 3 guests from Italy will spend the week with the Aquadros.
Others of us celebrated birthdays this week. Debbie Donaldson spent a quiet celebratory day with her family on August 8th, and Pom and John Marks enjoyed the ease of a noon campfire to celebrate their August 6th birthdays. Belle made it a real celebration by arriving at 10:00 PM the night before. It’s lovely to watch how children rejoice and relax when Mom joins them in their fun.
Mary Lou Rusho is going to have a good week too. Two teacher friends from Florida are going to be here from Monday to Monday. Neither of them have ever been north before! So they will be introduced to our North Country ways for the first time. We’ll enjoy their soft accents. They will be able to enjoy the new well Pat Patch drilled for Manley and Mary Lou. Bob Bazinet and August Frazier did the witching! Mary Lou chose the well in lieu of a diamond bracelet!
Ken Larson has another message of good news. The church reconstruction committee is making solid progress on its task of gathering the thoughts of the congregation to finalize the church’s interior design. The congregation has been very helpful and creative in their suggestions. The decision should be reached by August 23rd!
Sis Matthews couldn’t be with us for any of the events. But she is on the river. She is now in the hospital in Alexandria Bay, right beside her blue St. Lawrence. She loves to watch it. We all prayed in church that her ankle will heal faster than any one could imagine because we want her back among us! We miss you, Sis.
So it is.