“Dearly Beloved, on the first day of Bass Season, we are assembled here in the presence of God, for the inaugural service in our newly refurbished church sanctuary, to join Harry Slate and Eileen Balcom in holy marriage.” So it was that the Rev. John Marks, at three o’clock in the afternoon, on Saturday, the nineteenth of June, 1999, began the wedding of “Urch” and Harry. The church was bright with sunlight and fresh yellow walls. The stained glass window in the front of the sanctuary shone with the pleasure everyone was feeling, every one of the, (could it have been two hundred guests?), many many of them Urch’s family, mother, father, brothers, sisters, cousins, aunts, uncles. People, Slates, mother, brother, cousins, aunts, uncles, Grindstone Islanders, Clayton friends, Watertown friends, stood in the center aisle, stood in the nooks between where the curved pews of the church angled out from the walls, stood outside in the grass trying to hear as the couple repeated their vows of faithful love to each other, as Patricia Ferguson held the flowers for Urch during the ring ceremony, as Frank Slate gave the ring to the minister who, symbolizing the circles of the Trinity, gave it in turn, to Harry to place on Urch’s ring finger, and finally as Mr. Marks pronounced them man and wife, and Hanna, the pretty flower girl, strewed flowers in the aisle so the bride and groom could walk on sweet-scented petals..
Then all of that crowd came out into the churchyard and into the carriage house yard and into the Dodge Hall yard, and began to greet the new bride and groom and each other over hors d’oeuvres under the shade of the poplar tree and three tents. And the greetings went on and on and on as people moved from one friend to another all day long.
The night before at the spaghetti dinner cooked by Peter Epolito, using the home canned tomatoes Urch herself had done in the fall, Erma, Harry’s mother looked back at the sinks and the stoves in the carriage house where all the young friends of Urch and Harry were busy preparing and cleaning up and serving the wonderful meal. Amazed, she said, “Well, Aminta, I guess I’ll have to untie my apron strings. Remember when we were the ones out there doing all the work? Look at all those young folks now.” Urch, herself, that evening before we began to eat, said the Catholic grace she had learned as a child, and, thanking us all for coming, wished for us all much happiness in celebrating their marriage. We saw, that evening, a new era beginning.
Next day, Hor d’oeuvres gave way as the afternoon wore on, to chicken broiled by Richard Branch, Rick Lavesky, of the Depauville Fire Department, with the help Chris Williams, gave way to tables laden with the pot- luck wonders of Grindstone Island guests, until late in the day, Harry and Urch cut the cake baked by Patty Ferguson, Urch’s matron of honor. The spectacular cake was topped with a lighthouse constructed by Greg Lago especially for Patty’s many-layered cake. As evening approached, people began to go their own ways about the island, some to the beach, some for walks on the country roads, some to their homes, some to their tents, some to coffee at Erma’s!
And on Sunday, breakfast was served at the schoolhouse, lunch was served at Harry’s and Urch’s little white farmhouse at Midriver farm, and I’m sure bass fishing started at dawn. Two men in a fishing boat trolled by the rock I was sitting on after swimming on Saturday evening. I was entranced by a Canada goose who was bringing her three gosslings right up on the rock where I sat, so I didn’t call out to them, but Ed Dobihal, sitting on the next-door dock, asked them if they were here for the wedding, and, sure enough, they were. One said he was on the island with his wife and children, who were, undoubtedly as pleasantly employed elsewhere, maybe. as I was, swimming in the exceedingly refreshing water!
Actually, the new era was already well under way. Chris Williams and Aleatha had been working all winter to get the church ready for summer, Chris doing the construction, Aleatha doing the housekeeping in the building and around the grounds. They were working until late the night before, and even on the day of the rehearsal dinner. Several other young men helped Chris with the venture. Aleatha asked me to especially thank Rick Lavesky, Chuck Lawrence, and George Karpel, Kitty’s brother, for the many hours they gave to the project. Myron Swarts was the dry wall man who helped get the odor of bat dung out of the walls. Even Kayla, Chris and Aleatha’s little girl, painted all the six-footers in the ceiling! Aleatha planted the tulips, the lots and lots of tulips along the walls of the church. Chris’s parents, Robert and Jean Williams of Rochester, gave them to the church last fall. There were enough to plant a few on the cemetery graves of Marjorie and Aunt Polly Rusho, of Ina and Earl Garnsey, their twins, and of Uncle Joe Wright. Aleatha and many of the young women cleaned the carriage house after the pews were moved back into the church. And the day after the wedding, Aleatha got up very early to clean the carriage house and Dodge Hall after the party. To her surprise, a whole contingent of wedding guests was there already to help! This is a new era we can welcome with joy.
Kitty Paxton produced the invitations for the wedding on her computer. Last week, I described the photographs that under laid the words, a picture of the church, and a picture of Potter’s Beach. On Saturday, she was busy again with her digital camera, and by Sunday morning, she had ready for the TI Sun the wedding photograph of a very very happy Harry and Urch and a wonderful picture of Erma, Harry’s mother, her lovely aqua dress matching her river, her even lovelier smile reflecting her happiness in the newly married couple’s.
On Sunday, there was more celebration. Many of us boated over to Gananoque to the Waterfront house of Steve and Debby Donaldson to congratulate their daughter Jamie on her coming graduation from Regiopolis Notre Dame in Kingston, Ontario, on June 20. Once more, a feast was spread before us by Debbie and her mother, Yuvon Marra, and Jamie’s whole family. Jamie will work at the Gananoque Inn this summer, and next September, will be off for Western College in London, Ontario to study art.
To catch you up with Jacie, Jamie’s sister who graduated last year, Jacie will spend the summer as a counselor in Algonquin State Park working with children who need some summer help. She will be a sophomore next year at Waterloo College north of Toronto.
At the party, I asked Stub Lashomb about Sis Matthews, his mother. (She, along with Leon Rusho, who regaled us with countless tales at the wedding, and Annie Couch, who looked markedly beautiful at the wedding in a new pastel dress, is one of the much loved and revered Honorable Ones of Grindstone Island. It takes a lot of years to attain the status of Honorable One!) Stub said Sis is better than she has been for several years. “When she got over to the island, I called and said, “What’s your name and where are you?” “You don’t need to know my name”, Sis answered, “But I’m home.” Later, Stub brought Sis over to his house for supper because Josh, his son had caught 18 bullheads. Stub cooked the bullheads, and, as they snapped and popped in his skillet, Sis watched him make some potato salad. When he got it all ready, he started to put some plastic wrap over it, and Sis, still the gourmet cook, said, “I like some onions in my potato salad, Stub.” When Stub had added the onions, they had one fine meal! I remember going early one spring to Sis’s house when Charlie was alive and Stub and their boys were younger. Someone had caught a mess of bullheads. They were spattering and spitting in Sis’s pan, and the house was full of young sons and their wives and children lounging in the chairs hungrily pining for the spring feast Sis was about to present.
Over the winter, though, some sad events occurred among our Grindstone community. Bob Sorth died in April, reminding us all of our fragility. Emmie, his wife, is planning a memorial service at their camp in July. Years and years ago, Emmet Dodge squiring our family on a walking trip to the foot of the island, stopped for a drink of water at the Sorth house the first spring after Bob had built it. It was an “umbrella house” that had begun to “close”. The Sorths had bought the plans from a magazine for $35, even some extra copies, but it turned out that Bob was, finally, the designer. The house now is solid and true, many years later, and Emmie’s flowers are one of the island “sights to behold”, a peaceful and colorful place for a memorial service. The island has been blessed with steady and loving marriages. The Sorth’s was one of them.
Marjorie Garnsey also lost a good friend who had given her much comfort after Frances died. In April, Herb,died in Florida where they were spending the winter. We and Marjorie will keenly miss his kindly company.
And, to the great distress of all Grindstone Islanders, Doc Schwartz who has guided the church for so many years, and made it financially stable through his careful shepherding of our funds, is suffering from a debilitating disease. Unfortunately, the medication for it wrecks havoc with his diabetes. All of the people in the congregation are praying that the doctors will finally manage to stabilize his condition and find medication that will bring him back to health. To our joy, he managed to come to the wedding and to celebrate the church’s first gathering of saints and sinners with all of us.
Norvin Hein was here with Jeanne and their son, Chris, in late May, but Norvin, who had not been able to restrain himself from helping Chris with gardening for four whole days straight, suffered a sudden illness which is keeping him home until early July. Jeanne can hardly give praise enough to the emergency service in the North Country. When she called 911, she got knowledgeable and skilled help. Though she was hesitant about calling out the fireboat at 10 o’clock at night, woman who took the call and listened to what Jeanne described about Norvin’s attack, told her the boat was already on the way. Though the fireboat had trouble, a boat was sent, with the emergency crew, from Wellesley Island and arrived in Thurso Bay in an unbelievably short time. Meanwhile, Bubby Bazinet had heard the emergency call on his system, and burst through the Hein’s back door ready to help. And, Darrel Hayes also got Doc Withington to the spot in short order, The convergence of aides soon had Norvin onto a stretcher, into the boat, and safely in Good Samaritan Hospital where he got the immediate care he needed. More than that, all of the records from the diagnostic care at Good Samaritan were sent immediately to Norvin’s doctor in New Haven. The medical attention was seamless. Norvin has been advised by his own doctor at home that although he had no obstruction, he had a serious warning of heart attack or stroke, and MUST not engage in strenuous activity. After eating he must also rest for 11/2 hours. Because of the wonderful care of the emergency services, Norvin will be back at dayspring in early July. But his neighbors will be tending his garden. Jeanne wants to add one more Thank You to everyone who came to Norvin’s rescue with such friendliness and concern and skill.
On Sunday, June 27th, regular church services begin. The hour is 10:30 AM, and it is fun to chat for a while with all the people we haven’t seen since last September before we go into our fine newly restored sanctuary! The Rev. Richard Petry and Mary will arrive on Tuesday to take up residence in the parsonage. Aleatha and the whole crew of Grindstone women are at the parsonage as I write to have it clean and ready for the Petry family. They have been visiting their cousins Al and Pat Taylor for a few days before coming over to the island. We’ll be glad to welcome them.
On July 11th, Wendy Rhodehamel, the district superintendent will be at the Grindstone Island Methodist Church. After the service, she will preside over a meeting of the congregation. Put the date on your calendars.
Reggie Carpenter, who will be back on the island in August, sent this short review of Audrey’s book. I thought it would remind us to look for it at Corbin’s! (Please insert the attached review)
Summer has begun. We are grateful.
So it is.