GRINDSTONE ISLAND NEWS - June 27, 1999
It has been a pretty quiet week after the wedding. But everyone has been enjoying the afterglow. John and I stopped by the Augsbury house last Friday to find Junie and Frank peacefully enjoying lunch with Urch and Harry Slate, and that brought the whole fine celebration back to our minds. The two of them had managed an administration job of major proportions without a flaw. They had thought and planned each detail but they still seemed able to relax in carrying the whole plan out, and to know how to accept, even ask for help, without being demanding. Erma said to Phil Marra, “You and I plan everything, Phil, but we get nervous. Urch didn’t seem to get all excited and harried the way we do.
She could enjoy the whole weekend.” That’s an unusual art.
We stopped at their dock because on our way home from Clayton we saw, first: an enormous black column of smoke coming out of the woods and then, a huge fire which even John, who usually won’t worry as much as I think he should, thought we ought to tell someone immediately. We picked a good place to stop. Harry had been told that Clara and Milt Carnegie’s house had been knocked down and into the old cellar, and that it was to be burned that very day. The rain had finally come that made it not too dangerous a project. It’s always sad to see the old houses come down. We finally had Emmet Dodge’s big house torn down and burned when none of the members of the Thurso Bay Association, each of its five members having tried to rejuvenate it, had the time or money to manage all the repair that needed doing. I’m sure it was the same for the Carnegie house. Clara now lives on the south shore right near the town dock and near Sis Matthews. I miss her on the north shore. As I have recounted many times, she used to snatch the Grindstone News from my hands as our boat pulled to a neighboring dock, and deliver it to the TI Sun every Sunday evening. Faxing is not nearly so much fun.
Before I wander far from the wedding and last weekend’s events, I should apologize for having left Richard Branch’s name off the list of the men who worked with Chris Williams to get the church ready for the wedding. He was a faithful volunteer many, many days, and Aleatha wanted him especially thanked, (along with the other workers, Rick Lavesky, Chuck Lawrence, George Karpel, and Myron Swartz). Last June 22, I wrote, “Thanks to the ardent labor of Chris Williams and Richard Branch, …the Grindstone Island Methodist Church opened its doors to an eager congregation…”Thank you, Richard. After leaving out Rick’s name, I was happy to find that it was the typist for the Sun who had to get that long article into print on Monday morning, ( it was a lot to ask!) who forgot the names of Chris’ parents, Robert and Jean Williams. It was they who gave the church all of the tulips Aleatha planted this spring.
We all thank them, too.
This June Sunday is graduation Sunday for the students of the Thousand Islands Central High School. Jada Lashomb couldn’t come to church on Grindstone and still get back to the mainland for the festivities, but we all thought of her, and most of the north shore islanders headed off to celebrate at the party her parents were giving for her this afternoon. Jada will go to Potsdam College in September to study dance. All of us old-timers remember how her dad liked to cut a rug, and how her grandfather, Charlie Matthews broke into an Irish jig every Saturday night, even when he was in his eighties!
The dances at the Dodge Memorial Hall begin next Saturday night. We have to be in Plattsburgh because John is to be minister at our daughter-in-law’s grandmother’s memorial service. I hope all the news and stories of the evening will be delivered to our mailbox so I can relate them next week!
And before I turn to this Sunday morning, I want to tell you of the many poets who are represented in Audrey’s book, Going Home. Betty Haxall’s Night Time is one of my favorites:
Soft falls the night
Dimming the light of day,
Making colors fade into grey,
Now the night sounds start:
The squawk of the heron,
The croak of a frog,
The pulsing throb
Of a lake-bound ship like a
Heart beating deep within the body
Of the night.
While you sleep, night lives
Its unseen life until
Robert Lashomb wrote a longer poem called “The Island”, and Renae Lashomb wrote one called “Grindstone”. Audrey likes poetry, and also included one by Rachel Field called “When Once You Have Slept on an Island”. In fact her whole book is rather like a poem. Rebecca Lashomb wrote “Take Me Back”; the Lashombs all talk poetry.
And now to the first church service of the year! Of course the first words were Doc Schwartz’ words of introduction and welcome to The Rev. Richard Petry and his wife Mary who are going to be our pastoring family for the summer. Then we all said thank you again to Chris Williams and Aleatha and their crew for our fine new sanctuary. But the most heart felt appreciation of all we gave to Doc and his wife, Phyllis, to Phyllis for being the architect of the remodeling, and to Doc for his years and years and years of faithful and enthusiastic, sometimes a bit grumpy, but always sensitive and sensible guidance of the church, of its finances, of our carnivals, of the calendar, of the changing ministries, of the transportation, and on and on and on. And for his continuing relationships with the former pastors of the church. Next weekend the Hoyt Olivers (Hoyt was minister 25 years ago) are going to be guests of the Schwartz family. Everyone is invited to come say “Hello” to them at the Schwartz home. Many of us remember them with great affection.
After all that, the congregation rose to sing the first hymn, and I, who have been coming to these first services for nearly 37 years, was startled once more to hear the grand sound we made. Even the organ sounded like a big organ. In the restoration, it was turned so the sound comes toward the congregation, and it makes a remarkable difference. But the singing is the most remarkable event. Almost. Mr. Petry, new to the church, asked the congregation to greet each other after the first hymn ended. We did. And we did. And we did. As we do each time the new minister each year asks us to do. We haven’t, after all, seen each other for many months. But our minister this year has a big voice and many years of experience, so the service soon resumed. All of the business and greeting and thanking and hugging and soloing we had to do, however, did make him forget the collection until Doc went up and whispered in his ear in the middle of the last hymn.
Helen Ingerson and Nancy Waterton, Jane Wagner’s sister, sang two duets with the congregation joining each one on the last choruses. Helen said she had been coming to Grindstone to sing ever since Nellie Dodge was organist, and she remembers that while she was singing at Nellie Dodge’s funeral a dandelion somehow landed one her nose!
This is going to be a good year. Mr. Petry came right down to the front pews of the congregation to preach and managed to hold his sermon without a lectern between him and us. More than that, he made Paul’s letter to his congregation seem surprisingly relevant to ours, for don’t we, too, like to be appreciated as Phoebe was and don’t we like to have our deeds mentioned one by one as Paul mentioned those of his congregation. And for once, we had the feeling we had been doing the right thing for more than a week, thanking each other over and over and over for the miracles that had happened since last September. And the new “Reverend” laughed when Sis said “It would be nice if we could pray for a couple of fans.” (It WAS a hot day!) It’s good to have a minister who laughs.
After church we all wended our ways out to the carriage house for lemonade and coffee and more greetings, during which time, Emmie Sorth told me she and Bob paid only thirty-five CENTS for the house plans they bought back in the 1960’s! Lolita Pfeiffer was there Mariah and Kavin. They all start soon for Colorado and a family wedding. So it will be almost August before they are back at the river. Karen Pickett (Polly Cole’s daughter) told me more good news, Marie Moore is coming to the island this year. Last year she couldn’t make it. Conversation goes on and on. Margaret Taylor told me about the trouble Elaine Brooks took to refresh the flower baskets from Urch and Harry’s wedding: some of the bouquet came from her garden, but she had to add to it by going to the Big M for more, and the orange day lilies scattered petals all along the road to the church.
Laura Pickett was with her mother, Karen, and sister Kirsten, -and somewhere-her father. She has been in Basic Training on Paris Island but was sent home because she dislocated her knee. When it heals, though, she will go back.
There was also sad news for us all. Horace Custis died on June 22nd in Washington D.C., and Beulah Raymond, Belva Lember’s twin sister, who grew up on Grindstone, died at 97 in Walcott, NY. Both sisters had gone away and gotten jobs taking care of families. Beulah’s family grew so fond of her that they looked after her in her old age and even made the funeral arrangements for her. Belva also lived near Rochester, but came back to Grindstone for her last years.
Grindstone has lovely family memories.
So it is.