I can tell by the scattered bangs and cracks that this has been a good Fourth of July here on Grindstone.  I am writing just as the sky has darkened, and down toward Potter’s Beach some fireworks are being set off.  I can’t see them from here, though.  Last night we were in Plattsburgh and as we looked out over the water, we could see displays in at least five towns up and down Lake Champlain. I’m sure the sky was just as active along the St. Lawrence.


We were on those foreign shores for the memorial service to celebrate the life of Belle Potter Marks’ grandmother, Zaidee Tillinghast Potter, who died  May 16th in Florida at the age of 96.  It has been for all of us a wonderful gift to have “Missy” with us for so many years. She was a lovely and wise great grandmother to Belle’s and Pom’s three children, and a friend John and I delighted to be with whenever we could manage it. We are grateful to Mary Lou Rusho who played the organ this Sunday on Grindstone while John Marks led the service for Missy.


I am indebted for my news this week to Debbie Smith, who has been on the island with her son Robert since Thursday, and who knows the island well since she spent her teen age years in the parsonage while her father, Bob was summer minister, and her mother, Posie, cared for all of the island parishioners as if they were her own.


Debbie reports that Potter’s Beach was a very, very busy place this weekend, but that she and Robert found a shady spot, and with a place to get into the water and cool off a bit, they had good time there with their many island friends even with so many boats  from off the island crowded into the bay.


The first Saturday night dance, she says was a great success.  John Morrow, an old timer now at Dodge Hall, was the disc jockey.  Sis Matthews was there in her place of honor and pronounced it a good party.  So it must have been.  Diane Jordan won the year’s first 50-50, and Saturday was Caroline Bazinet’s birth day so some of her friends came over the river and celebrated with her.


One not-so-good bit of news saddens us. Bob Bazinet had to be taken to the hospital early Sunday morning because he was having trouble with his breathing.  He had gone in on Saturday, but was discharged. By early next morning, however, he had to go back. We all send him and Ada our love and our prayers for his return to good health.


By ten-thirty o’clock on Sunday morning people were arriving from every direction to come to the Fourth of July morning church service.  Latrelle and Hoyt Oliver , who were guests of Doc and Phyllis Schwartz, were welcomed with open arms by all of those who had known them back when Hoyt was summer minister.  He presented the church with a white oak bud vase from a very very old tree in his hometown of Oxford, Georgia. He had whittled it himself from a branch that fell off in a storm, so we will especially cherish it and keep its glass lining filled with a bud each Sunday for us all to enjoy. Hoyt and Latrelle have restored a lovely pre-Civil War house in Oxford where they have lived for many years, and where their children have grown up.  Erik is now in the Peace Corps in Nepal, and Laurie is a massage therapist.  Everyone, Debbie says, crowded around to see the photos Latrelle had brought along from their summer here in 1974 on Grindstone.


Alvin Taylor from Clayton sang two solos during the patriotic service, America and Battle Hymn of the Republic. He brought along Pat, his wife, Nancy, his daughter, who once taught in the Grindstone school, Fred Schmitt, her husband, Lou and Lee Smith from Washington Island, and Riggs and Nan Smith from Fisher’s Landing.  They all came in one of Lee’s collection of beautiful wooden boats! Pat Taylor is the cousin of Mary Willis Petry, our minister’s wife. Perhaps a tour of the islands for Dick and Mary was part of the day’s celebration.  I’ll have to ask about that!


Janice Brooks Bice was also glad to be in church this Sunday, but regretted that she can never be on Grindstone for the Aunt Jane’s Bay service that is held each year on the Brooks lawn overlooking the south shore and Aunt Jane’s Bay.


Gardens on Grindstone are becoming more and more remarkable.  John and I visited Emmie Sorth at the foot of the island last Thursday and were astonished at the number and variety of flowers she has brought forth on their point!  Emmie is inviting all of us islanders to the   memorial service for her husband, Bob, who died in March, and what a glorious setting she has prepared for the three o’clock in the afternoon celebration on July 24th. As they taught school together during all their married life, Bob and Emmie built their island house together, and carved out of the overgrown fields around it an architecture of flowers, all colors of flowers, all kinds of flowers, in every niche of rock, in a border surrounding the old silo floor Emmie unearthed herself, flowers in long stripes of planters to remind you not to fall off the porch beside her front door, clouds of flowers to lead the eye far out across the mowed lawns. 


Her vegetable garden is equally amazing, with an electric fence around it powered by a little battery (that, she announced, is no longer manufactured). She tills it using a magnificent   light-weight Mantis cultivator.  She demonstrated not only how it grizzles out a deep pocket of powdered soil in no time at all, but how you can change the direction   the blades turn and the job the machine will do by simply flipping them to go the other way.  And finally, she picked a wonderful bunch of basil for me to take home to season our salads, our sauces, whatever.  It welcomed us, fine and green when we returned to our steaming house after leaving it closed up for the weekend. Once more, I’m determined to have a garden again next year. That means, I think, beginning to plan immediately!


Weezie Ford also described the garden-house tour that is to be sponsored by the Clayton Yatch Club this month on Sunday, July 18th.  Look for the announcement elsewhere in this paper. A mahogany boat stars in the show and Midriver Farm, Les Roches, MacRae Point and “A charming farm” are all on the Grindstone Island itinerary. Find the announcement. Don’t miss the fun.


On June thirtieth Brenda and Buck would have celebrated their thirty-seventh anniversary. We do awfully miss Buck. Brenda, though, is as faithfully strong as all island women. Her strength, however, isn’t only fortitude and character, which  is what I was thinking of when I wrote the sentence  remembering Buck; the shelf above our kitchen cupboards is a constant source of pleasure this year because Brenda’s strong arms lifted down each oil lamp, each vase, each treasure lined up there,  washed them, with Erma’s help, and put them back up on the high place.  I broke my wrist doing that job several years ago and they hadn’t been washed since. Erma said they could see that!


Notes:  Saturday, July 10th at 5:00 o’clock in the Carriage House, there will be a church supper and auction.  Dinner is $6.00 for adults and $3.00 for children.  Please bring pies or other desserts for the supper, as usual, and good “old and new articles” for the auction.


Sunday, July 11th, the church congregation will celebrate communion.  Then immediately after the 10:30 AM service, the congregation will remain for a meeting conducted by our District  Superintendent, The Rev. Wendy Rhodehamel to elect a new church Council, and “to address any other appropriate Church matters”. This is an important meeting, so come ready to contribute to a kindly and thoughtful discussion about the life of our old new church and our whole old new Grindstone family. 


So it is.

Aminta Marks