GRINDSTONE ISLAND NEWS - JULY 18, 1999
As the Clayton Yacht Club promised, today the elegant Gadfly and its companion fine “old boat” processed in to McRae Bay at the same rate that an armada of Canada geese had processed in a few days before, and like them, they were seemingly aware of the beauty they bestowed. They were carrying their passengers to Weezie Ford’s just- in- time- restored- by- Eddie dock and to her pruned and tended garden. Their unhurried approach, the leisurely way the passengers walked out to the tip of the point was much like the way this week has seemed to go for Grindstoners, no pressing activities to prepare for. Old Homes Day was a week off. We could just enjoy the river and our island. And our gardens.
Bubby Bazinette stopped us on our way home from getting our mail, and invited us to enjoy his garden by presenting us with luscious, ripe, fresh- picked tomatoes and cucumbers. Doreen Meeks invited us to enjoy her garden by sharing her tender green, green lettuce. We’re trying our best to entertain the deer down here, and keep our berry bushes and wild scrub bushes green enough to feed her and her fawn well, to make her content to stay away from those two prosperous vegetable gardens!
It’s been a catch-up restful week. John finally got to his Hebrew. He agreed to teach “Rapid Reading in Hebrew” at Princeton Seminary for the fall term, and hasn’t taught the language for forty years, so he was glad for catch- up time! I’ve spent the week working on a map showing all of the residences on Grindstone and gathering as many of the names of residents as I can, children, and even grandchildren. There are a lot more houses than I ever imagined, and that makes a lot more people. On Sunday, Bruce Brooks and Rex Ennis offered to pitch in and help me because they, too, think it will be useful. So the map and list for the summer minister, Dick Petry will be in shape for use when I get a new inkpot for my Lazer Jet shortly after Tuesday. But with help, maybe we can do a more precise and widely valuable map. There are more people with uses for it than I imagined. It has been a friendly task, and I’ve visited with people I hadn’t seen all summer, Emmie Sorth, Emily Holt, Beverly Davison, Joan Rueckert, Carolyn Bazinet, Clara Carnegie, and of course, Erma Slate. The women seem to be the best source for people inside the cottages, the men are the ones who are good at the precise locations and the winding of the roads.
On Monday I invited some of the north-shore people to come eat pecan pie and check the map in some of the locations they know better than I do. They came, they ate, all the Marras and Donaldsons, Brenda Slate, Erma brought Josephine Murray, Leon Rusho drove over himself from the south side, and Dick and Mary Petry came from the parsonage. And they lingered until at dusk, to escape mosquitoes, we all came inside. There the organ reminded us of how we used to gather here when our teen age children all played guitars. Each Sunday night they’d come to sing hymns, camp songs, oldie-moldy sentimentals, whatever. So, although we didn’t have the teen agers, we old folks sang and sang and sang. A wonderful way to begin a week!
It has been a restful week, but the river has been busy. There must have been a flock of active grandparents like the Bob Edwards who had their six(?) teen- age grandchildren and parents with them. McRae Bay was busy with boats and rafts and swimming. And the zillion boats out in the channel told me there were many other energetic guests here for high summer.
Saturday night there were lots of young people on the dance floor. In June and early July, they seemed to stay outside and talk. But this week they were rocking and rolling in fine fettle. John Morrow was DJ, and as he always is, was particularly responsive to what the group that was right there wanted to do that very night. He also has a huge repertoire of records to draw from. Karen Lashomb won the 50-50, and the party turned into a celebration for Patsy and Brian Parker’s 14th anniversary. Norma and Fred Thompson proved to be the couple who came the farthest to the Grindstone Island dance, all the way from Alberta, Canada. Fred is one of the old Grindstone Sturdevants and he and his wife came back to see his ancestral home and visit a few relatives.
I rejoiced that Debby Smith must again be in residence when Robert hurtled onto the dance floor rocking, rolling, twisting, leaping with all the young heart and boyish energy he has!
Next week is OLD HOMES DAY! So even more ancestors will be ashore at Potter’s Beach. For the Saturday night dance, Tim & Franny Purcell are getting a Blue-Grass band for the occasion. Last I knew they were looking for a fiddler! I, for one, am longing for a square dance. It’ll be a hot time on the old island. So join us Saturday night at the dance in the Hall, and stay for the big dinner at the beach on Sunday!
In this catch-up week, we took time to remember all those who have died in the last year. This Sunday morning we held the annual Memorial Service. Cavin Pfeiffer called us to worship. Debbie Donaldson, Stephanie Donaldson and one of Debbie’s pupils, Bill Murray, interpreted in dance, the scripture reading that was read by our minister, Richard Petry, before he preached his sermon. Debbie and her family have danced every summer for many years, but this time, the choreography seemed particularly sensitive and their dancing newly intense and expressive. The new space in the front of the church may have given them more freedom than they have had before. Finally Mr. Petry called the names of the people we were remembering.
Caroline Larson remembered Dr. Horace Custis as “Uncle Hatch” who was the family doctor – healer for all the ailments and wounds around the perimeter of Aunt Jane’s Bay during the many, many years he came to the Custis family camp. The last of the old Custis family, he is already mightily missed.
Margaret Taylor remembered Mary Ingerson as one of Emmet and Nellie Dodge’s children. No child of their’s was just anyone. Each of them was memorable, with some special genes carrying something of Emmet’s and Nellie’s humor and talent and individuality.
Manly Rusho remembered John Keeslser’s presence at breakfast at the Koffee Kove every morning And we all knew that that meant he was one of the true men of the town and island!. One of the Koffee Kovers, a good man; that was enough for Manley-of- few- blunt- words, who deemed John his friend. No need to explicate that.
Rex Ennis spoke about his stepson, Joel B. Lamb, who had been welcomed into Rex’s family in his last year. Joel’s great, great grandfather was Orlando Potter, and loving this untamed island himself, he married a Grindstone Island girl. We all know how hard it is for the young people of this generation to find joy in their work and pleasure in being able to do it. Our bounty of new knowledge leaves most of us fearful of putting it to some even unintentionally destructive use. Young ones seem to trust their bodies to return to earth something not harmful. For some, perhaps the keenly perceptive, that is the most they dare.
Aleatha Garnsey spoke of the happiness Herb Lucas, a kind and compassionate man, brought to Marjorie Garnsey after her husband, Francis’s, death, and of how her family came to love him. Marjorie is very lonely now. Aleatha suggested we all stop by to visit Marjorie whenever we pass her house on the Cross Island Road.
Norma Frazier talked about her mother’s twin sister, Beulah Raymond, who came to be a loving foster mother to scores of children who lived in the town near Rochester where she spent much of her adult life. Norma had remembered her only for the good cherries the island children picked from her cherry tree, and the pennies she gave them then. But when they went to her funeral, they learned of the whole other life she led, and of her constant caring for her neighbors.
Carolyn Bazinette spoke eloquently from the back of the church about her mother, Margaret Schultz.. She was an old fashioned, lovable, good woman, one who made her house home for each member of her family If you came in to visit you were one of the family, and a meal was set before you to enjoy at a moment’s notice. Surely it is she who showed Carolyn how to be, first of all, a loving wife, and cheerful, attentive, and responsive mother, yet keeping her home open to whoever comes to her porch. The Schultses have camped in Rusho Bay on the south shore of Grindstone for the better part of this century, so Carolyn is a river rat by nature, as generous with herself as she says her mother was..
Minister Dick Petry spoke about the hardest death to understand. Harrison Slate died at his birth to Urch and Harry Slate, before we had a chance to know him. We grieve because, loving his parents as we do, we know how much we would have loved him. We all longed to take Urch in our arms to comfort her.
Emmy Sorth spoke of her husband, Robert. Bob was part of the very being of Grindstone, and now is part, surely, of its earth, of the garden Emmie tends so lovingly, of the wind in the leaves of the trees, the song of the waves lapping the rocks on their shore. We will all share with Emmy in a memorial service for Bob on July 24th at 3:00 in the afternoon at their camp at the foot of the island.
And, last, John Marks spoke about David Boyer, who came to our shore one day long ago with Mimi, his mother. He wanted to buy our old windmill for his cabin. His wanting a windmill told us a great deal about how serious he was in wanting to save the river he loved so passionately. We remember his rowing long distances in his quiet skiff, which left no mark on the water. Lolita Pfeiffer remembered that the beautiful St. Lawrence gave David both great peace and deeply troubled sorrow. He loved its purity. He was, perhaps, the Don Quixote minister Dick told about in his sermon, who dared seek perfection in this very world with all his heart.
So, we bowed in prayer and benediction.
Notes: Ken, Caroline, and Anna Larson have arrived a little late this summer. They returned from New Zealand where their son Carl was an exchange student during the last six months. Carl heads for Middlebury College in Vermont next February.
Shep and Emily Holt celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary this summer. They are enjoying having all three of their children, Caroline, Craig, and Alison and their families here this week.
Dorothy Carnegie goes to Brockport for surgery this week. We will all be thinking of her and hoping her back soon,
Rebecca Conally called last Tuesday to say that she is working at the schoolhouse every Tuesday, working to turn it into a real museum, the school she knew when she was a student there. Audrey Lashomb’s collection of photographs from the island will be housed at the school and Renee Lashomb will return from her European trip to make a video of island life. She can use any photos you give her in creating her video. Becky said that on the very first day she had five visitors, Salt Garnsey, Mike Paxton, Josh Lashomb, Urch Slate, and Erma Slate. I have heard that the Marra family has also visited. An artist named Judy might also come visit you this month. She is painting Island scenes and has been seen as far north as the beach and Webster’s Point. So look for her.
Renee Lashomb is spending her summer with “Sound of America”, an honor band and chorus that is singing and playing in many of the cities of Germany, Austria, Italy, Switzerland, France, and Luxembourg, often in the great cathedrals. She is also dancing with the group. In her last telephone call, Jackie related, she told her mother that just the visit to Germany was worth all the work she did to get accepted for the tour. She also said she is learning not only what she studies in her humanities course, but she is learning about herself. She is “independent, self confident, and a great navigator!” We are anxious to hear what else she has learned by the time she gets back to Clayton.
So it is.