GRINDSTONE ISLAND NEWS - JULY 25, 1999
The height of summer has arrived, and everybody who can is escaping its heat. So a lot of summer people have arrived, and the houses are full. Grindstone is running over with vacationers. But, on Wednesday, Elaine Brooks and Janice McPhail gave a Bon Voyage Party for Mary Lou Rusho (Manley’s wife) and Helen Rusho (Milton’s wife) who, with their husbands, are escaping Grindstone’s heat and heading out to Alaska to tour yet more northern climes. They’ve flown to Seattle, and are going up the inland waterway to Anchorage, then further inland to Fairbanks. They even intend to do some river rafting! It was a lovely ladies’ lunch and all of us enjoyed every minute of our chance to talk among ourselves, and laugh! I’ve promised not to tell what we laughed about.
More pure fun and lightheartedness: Eddie Wilson, all by himself, threw the annual Purple Martin Party. Weezie Ford arrived back on her dock the night before from a sales show she had attended in New York, and everything was waiting, ready for Saturday evening. When the time arrived, there were purple balloons waggling up into the trees. There were prizes wrapped to give for all sorts of talents …even being who you are(!) Ken Deedy arrived in his usual martinesque outfit. And, once again, everyone enjoyed just sitting in the breezy yard, eating, and talking, sort of “ratty-like”.
Then most of us went on up to the Saturday night dance. It being the night before Old Homes Day, this night was special. Tim and Fran Purcell had brought the St. Lawrence River Grass Band to provide us music so we could do some real country dancing. Chet Slate played his fiddle and Clara Carnegie told me she could remember going to his house to dance when she was young.. When John and I first came to the island, Clara told us that she and Milt held dances in their house down on the south shore. By the time we arrived, 1962, the Hall had just started having Saturday night parties, and John and I, finding a very small congregation on Sunday, decided to go over to the hall to see who was there and what was going on. The first night we came to Grindstone, after our children were tucked into their new beds in the parsonage, Trudy Lashomb knocked on the glass window of the front door. She needed to use our bathroom,and she told us that Buck and Brenda had been married that very day, and their reception was being held in the Hall across the road.
The next week, we went over to the dance, and there we found a congregation. In fact, after we’d gone about five times, Sis Matthews said, “Well, I think if John is willing to come to our dances, we ought to be willing to go to his church.” And they did. A little later, a whole group of the islanders decided to join the Grindstone Island Methodist Church as full fledged members. And they did. And they have been working hard at every turkey dinner, every coffee hour, every pancake breakfast, every cleanup ever since. Until Aleatha and Chris became a professional maintenance crew, the north shore islanders mowed the church and parsonage lawns, cleaned the parsonage, and, in preparation for the minister’s coming, put food in the refrigerator. Jesse Brooks from the south shore did all that for several years too, but the younger crew, Buck and Brenda and Erma, the Marras, and the Meeks finally took over. Annie Couch’s young teen-age daughter, Alice, used to come as a volunteer every Saturday night to clean the church, dust the pews, and have everything in shape for Sunday in 1962 and 63.
It was in those days that the old-timers made the music, Bob Bazinet on the gut bucket, Leon Rusho on the fiddle, Jim Carnegie on the guitar, John Marks “a-cording It” on the piano, and Phyllis Schwartz also “a-cording it” on the piano. There were other musicians on other nights. Charlie Matthews called the squares, and it was from him that Bubby, a little boy then, learned to call the squares he called for us on Saturday night. It was wonderful to have the hall reeling again to the Grapevine Twist. Mary Taylor said on Sunday, “ I love to square dance. It is such a social scene. Everyone in rhythm with everyone else.” When we have four squares at once, each couple following the calls with his and her own style, but always responsive to the other partners, the hall seems to roll like the river on a north east breeze day--bright and sunny and blue blue blue. We hear the group will be back again this summer. We hope so, many times.
And morning came. And the church was full. I sat by Ann and Bob Binhammer. Carl Larson came with his parents fresh from his New Zealand adventure. Old Homes Day at Potters Beach, called back many of the folks who grew up on the island for the celebration, and, first, they came to church. They came to see what all the work we’ve done on the old church had wrought. Of course, they were pleased. One of the things announced at that appropriate time is: If you would like to add your name to the affiliate member list, call or see the minister, Richard Petry. We are trying to get the list more up to date. Some who live here and belong to no other church might like to become full members, as Sis suggested so many years ago! Mr. Petry would like to hear that.
After Church, just about everyone who could went on down to the beach for the Old Homes Day Picnic where Junie Brown’s beautiful stove was put into service again to roast the hot dogs and the ham, where the Brown family gathered as usual under the great oak tree they always sit under, Madgel in the center as she is every year. Toward the water, under another big oak, the truckers, Bubby and Chris and Dan and Josh and, Tom and, and,-- had placed Sis Matthews’ fine upholstered chair where she could sit and see and talk to every one of the people she hadn’t seen since the last Old Homes Day.. Erma and Clara and Dick and Yuvon and Brenda served us all generous proportions of good healthy food, and down at the end of the table,. on the truck bed, each one of us chose the best pie, each of us being quite sure which one to chose! Jeff called the winners for many, many prizes donated to Doreen Meeks by the merchants of Clayton for the picnic raffle. Erica Luce spent at least half an hour trying to find the person who would sell her a children’s raffle ticket. She won a box of good cookies! Finally, as we left to walk the pleasant roads home to write the Grindstone News, Bubby Bazinet was bringing a load of baseball bats from some unknown source for the annual baseball game. It was a good day.
One event separated itself out from the annual and sure to be repeated events of the weekend. Many of the same people of all ages who were at the dance, at the purple martin party, and at church and the Old Homes Day picnic, were, on Saturday afternoon, at the foot of the island celebrating Robert Sorth’s life and mourning his leaving Emmy and us. Emmy had written much of the service herself, and Kitty Paxton had prepared the program on her computer, with a lovely photograph of moonlight shining on their bay on the front and a photograph of Robert, his wondrous smile shining from the last page to go with us as the ceremony ended and we gathered about Emmy to eat the feast that had gathered itself from the full hearts of all the friends of Bob and Emmy. Emmy said that some time after Bob died, in her arms, she sat down and asked herself where she should look for her complex husband, listen for his deep thoughts, seek his keen honesty, where she could find him. In this anonymous poem she had read, I think she must have found part of her answer:
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond in the snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you wake in the morning hush
I am the swift updrifting rush
Of quiet birds in circling flight.
I am the soft starlight at night.
Do not stand at my grave and weep.
Dan Sorth’s eulogy let us all know Bob in ways we hadn’t before, and Ken Sorth and Carolyn Sorth brought him to us in music, much of it jazz, improvisational, alive accompaniment to our meditation. River Song began and ended the ceremony on the shore of the St. Lawrence, where, after the Marine guns had stilled and the flag had been folded, we watched Emmie scatter Bob’s ash free on the wind and the water.
Notes: Bobby Custis, everybody on Aunt Janes Bay and Grindstone Island is missing you. The old camp is lonely without you. Please come. It’s been a long time since you’ve been here.
Uncle Hatch’s daughter, Rinnie Fasinski, is going to come to Camp Virginia later this summer.
Bob Bazinette is very ill. Ada and Bob,we all think of you every day, and send you our love.
The Church-Hall Task Force had, we are told, a good meeting and will report at the annual conference. The nominating committee is also hard at work.
On August 15, we will dedicate the two new stained- glass windows in the sanctuary.
Carolyn Bazinete’s dad is getting much better, and is already wanting to go back to work. His doctor says, “Not yet!”
Yukon and Phil Marra will celebrate their 47th anniversary on Tuesday! May they celebrate many more.
Happy Birthday, Mary Margaret Bazinet!
In the refrigerator in the Carriage House, there is produce from the many overflowing island gardens. Please take some if you would like it. It’s left there for you!
NEXT SUNDAY IS THE AUNT JANES BAY SERVICE: 10:30 at the traditional place, on the front lawn of the old Brooks house which is now occupied by Dan & Janice McPhail.
So it is.