GRINDSTONE ISLAND NEWS - August 15, 1999
This week Grindstone Island’s history is becoming the stuff of films. Renae Lashomb has returned from her exciting choir tour of European cities and is living at the schoolhouse while she puts together a VCR of island people, their stories, and their homes and farms. If it is as successful as the one she made for her grandparents’ fiftieth wedding anniversary, it will be a treasure for the schoolhouse museum. Her grandparents are Audrey and Bob Lashomb, Audrey being the author of “Going Home, Grindstone Island”, and Bob being the one who, good sailor and captain that he is, kept that project holding its course. Robbie and Jackie Lashomb are Renae’s supportive parents. Renae has written an account of her trip, and an account of her work here on the island, which will be part of next week’s column.
On August 21st, we will, perhaps have a glimpse of her work-in progress. The new museum is having a pot luck picnic at the schoolhouse, where the Baseline Road crosses the Cross Island Road , at 4:00 in the afternoon; so come, bring a covered dish and enjoy reminiscing at the original teacher's desk that Marjorie Garnsey donated, at the benches for the little tots, or examine the possibilities in the ink wells we all remember as the pits of temptation for little boys who sat behind little girls with braids. Coffee, tea and cold drinks will be provided.
The winner of a Grindstone Island Throw, donated by Audrey Lashomb, will be drawn at the picnic. Raffle tickets are on sale now.
We are looking for alumni of the Grindstone Island schools. Did you, or anyone you know go to Grindstone Island schools? Please let us know the years you attended, who was your teacher, where you lived, and a story or two about your life. Please send this information to: Renae Lashomb, 541 Theresa Street, Clayton, NY, 13624.
If you would like transportation from the mainland on August 21st, a boat bound for Grindstone will leave the Mary Street Municipal Dock at 3:30 p.m. If you have any questions or want to make reservations for the boat, call Frances or Peter at 686-4388.
On Wednesday evening a cavalcade of island vehicles, cars, some old, some not quite so old, four wheelers, some old, some quite new, made their way down the snake-like road that turns off to the left at the “lower schoolhouse” to a baby shower for Emmy Paxton. We kept Mama Betty busy a long long time opening Emmie’s gifts, warm winter bundley things and pretty summer outfits, bathing suits and little tiny leotards, and diapers, and a beautiful silver christening bowl from Emmy Sorth which will be used next Sunday, August 21, for Emmie’s baptism at the Grindstone morning service. (There will be a reception afterward at Kitty’s and Salt’s house where the baby shower took place, and the congregation is invited.) (There is a lot of celebrating going on down there on the farm these days. Kitty and Salt are celebrating their tenth anniversary, too!) The cake was chocolate at one end and white at the other, and in the middle, a baby angel slept comfortably unaware, its wings atilt, that its bed was being eaten away. Through it all, Hazel Berlieu, Kitty’s cousin, took wonderful photographs with her amazing digital camera.
On Friday evening, another cavalcade of many of the same cars, four wheelers and such, of varying vintage, made its way toward the head of the island to the Squash Court where Mike Mole greeted a throng gathering from every direction to hear what we all hope will become the annual “Squash Court Musical”. Last year Celina Moore began the tradition singing, with her daughter Elisa, a memorial program for Tom, her husband. This year she and Elisa sang, but they also gathered others to sing and play instruments along with them. Lauren Bloch, dressed in the pretty white dress she made from an embroidered bed sheet, played a Rachmaninov piano prelude, Elisa played a Swedish Fiddle Tune, and Robin Berkely sang an aria and joined Elisa in a duet from “The Magic Flute”. Elisa Moore sang two Faure songs and one of Saint Saens’. Accompanied by her long time accompanist, June Morse, Celina’s beautiful soprano voice wove the evening together, beginning with a group of Mozart arias and, periodically, a duet with Elisa. We were all delighted with Sean Brabant’s singing a solo, “This Nearly was Mine” from South Pacific , and also a duet with Elisa from the same musical, “Sun and Moon”. On Sunday, Sean sang once again, for the Grindstone Church service. This time, “Ave Maria” , a Capella, his voice clear and lyrical in our new sanctuary. All of the musicians together ended the musical with Offenbach’s chorus from “The Tales of Hoffmann”. So Grindstone has had a week of lovely song!
On Saturday, three contestants sailed in the annual Harold Herrick St. Lawrence Skiff Race, Clee Dodge, with granddaughter Julia Berkely as crew, Clinton Rueckert, with Sally Mole, and Clinton’s brother, Morgan, with Rori crewing for him. The 18foot skiffs sailed in a steady northeast wind around Wild Goose Island. Coming between Hickory and Goose, their progress was a bit tricky because they could get themselves becalmed in the lee between the islands. Nevertheless, the little boats all teetered themselves around looking like butterflies on a gray, chilly day. Clee Dodge won the first race, but Morgan Rueckert, coming in first in the second and third races, won the Harold Herrick St. Lawrence Skiff Race Cup this year. This race is a reminder each year of the quiet and graceful beauty of the river before motors and fast boats invaded the calm. Their fragility makes us nostalgic for our ancestors’ more leisurely life.
Hugo Berkeley is home from a summer of filmmaking with his friend, Chi, in Kosovo. You will remember that he wrote about Celina’s concert last year for this column. I hope some of us will get a chance to see the images they have brought back from Pristina, even though I am sure they reveal horrors we can hardly bare to contemplate. Hugo graduated from Princeton University in June.
This lovely place of respite is surprisingly closely connected to the not-so-pleasant world. Debby Smith, whose home until the war was Burundi, asked us, in church, to pray for her friends there who are trying to come to the United States in November. We forget, in our security, how hard it is for many people in the world to find a home where they, too, can be secure.
The dance on Saturday night was a quiet, friendly party. Music was provided by two members of the Ray John band, and they were just right for a group of us who had been well entertained all week , who were ready to enjoy just a relaxed evening. Next week the St. Lawrence Riverrat Country Band will be back . We’ll welcome them, and maybe we’ll even dance a few square dances as we did the last time they were here.
On Sunday, we dedicated the newly restored and renovated sanctuary, the memorial windows honoring the Emmet Dodge, Slate and Garnsey families, and the Leon and Marjorie Rusho family, and the bud vase given by Hoyt Oliver. Before we all shared the sandwich swap in the carriage house, at a short Charge Conference after the morning service, we also elected the following people to a new church council: for the term expiring in 2000, Andy Davison, John Marks, Caroline Larson, for the term expiring in 2001, Aletha Williams, Mary Lou Rusho, Margaret Taylor, for the term expiring in 2002, Erma Slate, Kitty Paxton, Doc Schwartz.
Three trustees were also elected, Bruce Brooks to serve until 2000, Phil Marra to serve until 2001, and Fred Jackson to serve until 2002. Now the real work of the year begins. The regular charge conference will be held on August 29. The district superintendent, Wendy Rhodehamel will lead that meeting.
The congregation is concerned every day about John Dower and Maggie Ennis. John is very ill, and Maggie is recovering from a serious automobile accident. At the moment, both of them are in stable condition, but they both have a long recovery ahead of them.
On Monday evening, Muhammad Khadija, a Jordanian archeologist, showed us slides of the magnificent rose-red city of Petra, an ancient trading city in southern Jordan. Muhammad worked for 24 years for the Department of Antiquities in Jordan, during which time, for almost 14 years, he was inspector of antiquities for the southern part of Jordan, and supervisor of excavations and conservation work at Petra. He had gotten his training in preservation techniques in Germany, and had worked at the Henry Ford Museum and Greenfield Village in Dearborn Michigan for 10 years as a conservator. He is now at the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor, where he received his BA and Master’s degree from the Near Eastern Studies Department, and is writing his doctoral dissertation on the Nabataean rock carving techniques at Petra. He was another connection for us to a world troubled by ongoing instability. We were glad Beverly Pope was here to run the projector that had been lent by Pat and Alvin Taylor. We were also glad that Beverly could relate some of the adventures she had visiting Petra when she was a teen ager, sleeping in the caves, climbing the rocks, marveling at this mysteriously inaccessible city carved into the red rock north of the Red Sea. John had some stories, too, of his impromptu tea party with a Bedul, a member of the tribe that lived in Petra then.
A few days ago, Castle and Frankie Brown, brought a gift for us from Lizzie Meirs, Emily Holt’s sister, and a boatload from the south shore delivered it to us. In the box they lugged up from the dock, was an outrageous toad sitting under a lily pad which now graces our equally outrageous overgrown rock garden, and amuses us every time we come into our door. It has been a long time since Lizzie has been on Grindstone, and we hoped she, herself, would come this year, but the frog-toad for Toad Hall is at least a reminder of how much fun we would have if she were here in person! There are so many people we all would like to share our island with.
And Whoa! Doreen Meeks just arrived with tomatoes, string beans and the apple pie left over from our spur-of-the-minute celebration at her house last evening before the dance. It’s a wonderful island!
So it is.