GRINDSTONE ISLAND NEWS - JULY 23, 2000
This has been a week when wonderful, puffy cumulus clouds, gleaming white, pink, gold, blue gray, slate- colored, and sometimes almost black, have floated in loose bundles over Grindstone. And it has been a week when islanders have kept an eye on them, and run between the rain-spurts some of the clouds carried, to do all the fun things the week brought forth. For our family, the nicest thing the week brought was the arrival of our youngest son, Pom, with his three girls, Phoebe, Eliza and Anna. But for the first time in years, another of the crowd of children Pom grew up with was here at the same time, with his three children.
Chris Hein brought Nina, Paul and Laura to their grandfather Norvin’s home that overlooks Thurso Bay. Norvin is here, but Grandma Jeanne is recovering from an infected knee and can’t come to the river until August. I have, however, thought of her very often, because we have done so many things this week that the families used to do together. When we were baking pancakes, I remembered the day when Jeanne and I baked pancakes for all thirty or so of us here on the bay. It has been lovely to have so many children swimming and canoeing and polka-dotting the rocks with the colors of their bathing suits, and swimming to the cliff. The last thing we did this clear Sunday evening was go to the Heins house for an informal “musical”. Three of the young girls played their violins and Lois Edwards sang Irish folk songs, accompanying herself on her very, very little, and sweet sounding harp. We were joined by Bob Edwards and Phyllis, (who are no relation to Lois, but who live on McRae Bay between us and the Heins for a month each summer). Their son came along with his four children. They were also here on the bay with him for a week at their Grandma’s and Grandpa’s house. Those four children, too, have been with ours swimming from the rocks in front of our house.. The Cummings children swim mostly at their beach. But it has been good to hear their voices in the field next to us. And Nicky Grant has been here with his father, Wayne, at Nick’s mother’s house out on Mac Rae Point. So Weezie Ford’s dock has been even busier than usual this week
I’m sure every point and every bay on the island has been equally lively when suddenly we have warm weather, and blue skies, and the play time the middle of July gives us.
Another of the gifts of the week was the presence of soprano Celina Moore, her daughter Eliza, and their pianist. They have been singing all up and down the island, making the gorgeous clouds ring with their tunes. On Wednesday a group of islanders came from every quarter of the island to “The Squash Court” where Mike Mole and Peggy live, to hear Celina and Eliza sing love songs with Mary Jane Austin accompanying them on the piano. Peggy Mole and Lauren, her daughter joined them in some pieces, and the whole group of us dedicated the evening a gift to Christopher Mole and Stephanie Rosata who were to be married on Saturday. Marty Kenner sat next to Erma Slate, the “mayor of Grindstone”, and Josephine Murray smiled peacefully as the songs played over the room she has kept for just such pleasantness.
Wednesday noon a different group of islanders had trouped over to the Clayton Museum to patch together a few more pieces of the puzzle of our mythical Grindstone Island Church: Who was the Rev. Shorts, the French Canadian missionary who brought this church he had built on some other island, to rest at the crossroads at Grindstone? Was he really from Quinte bay, as I surmise? From what other island, from what nook did he bring our church? Then, thinking about today’s, problems, what was “The Lodge” that Jesse Calkins, Lyle Nunn’s uncle used to go “up to” on Grindstone? Could it be a forerunner of the present “Hall” that Emmet Dodge left to the young people of Grindstone for recreation and loosely governing the island? Was it a Free Mason’s group, a Fils de la Liberte group? A Freres Chasseurs or Hunters’ Lodge? All three embraced the ideals of liberty, equality and peace, and seem to have passed their philosophy down to all present Grindstone Islanders. If any reader knows something about either the original location of the church that I think Van Slate and the Rev. Shorts brought to the island on the mammoth barge Van built in 1888, or about the Lodge, please bring us the big or little puzzle piece you have. I received from Elaine Brooks a wonderful article Mrs. Corbin printed in June, 1999 about “Aunt Jane” who blesses us once every year at the church service we hold looking out on the bay where she once lived. Janice Bruce McPhail now is keeper of her grounds, and thought to clip the 1890-1891 article for her scrapbook.
Many of the people at the concert were again together at the rehearsal dinner at the squash court on Friday evening when Mike and Peggy entertained the wedding party and all the guests who came from far off, first with more music by Celina, Eliza, and Mary Jane, and then with a dinner on the banks of the river just as the sun was going down among the lovely clouds that lit up our week. It was like saying grace before the wedding.
On Saturday, (with the help of Aleatha and Chris Williams, who coordinated the fetching and carrying, and joined us at the party later) all of the loved ones of Christopher and Stephanie came in boats of all shapes and sizes to Wild Goose Island. Chris’ mother, Sally Mole grew up there, where Chris’s grandparents, Cleve and Phyllis Dodge, still spend every summer, as Cleve did when he was a child. All of the loved ones came to celebrate Chris’s and Stephanie’s Christian wedding service out on the west shore of the island. The wind blew, laughing, straight into our faces, and yet more billowing, pink and gray clouds hurried over our heads. There the strains of the wedding march brought Stephanie to Chris together to say their marriage vows. It was a day just right for a wedding. The waves broke, leaping up over the rocks in a spray of joy, and the clouds seemed playful as they let down a bit of rain, perhaps just to change things bit, maybe to pull people into the boathouse where the raw-fish bar kept everyone enjoying the wait for dinner in a soon-dry yard, or to push people to the porch to watch the rainbow, but finally letting them sit down at tables with flowers that matched the colors of the week’s clouds, then dance to the music of a swing-jazz band long after the wedding cake was cut.
But, of course, some of that group made their was back, as darkness fell, to the crossroads of Grindstone, and the Hall where the wonderful Garlock Bluegrass group played gentle country music well into the night. The Dodge Hall kitchen was like new after a group met on Friday and carried off the old stove and refrigerator that no longer worked, scrubbed the floor, and left the room, spic and span. John and I inspected their work and talked a bit. We hugged and thanked the group who had come to our house on Friday night to celebrate our 49th anniversary with two cakes and songs and lots of love. Sad to say, they found only a very lonely dog at the window. Yuvon and Phil Marra and Debby Donaldson, and Brenda Slate, told us that they, with Carol and Bruce Faust and maybe a few more had had a very happy time celebrating our big day. Bruce came to sing to us even though I didn’t get his name on the list of people who carved turkeys last week! It’s nice when people are so forgiving. John and I had found an hour or so at noon to have our little party with the kids, and had not even guessed there had been a party for us while we were at the Squash Court! By Saturday night, however, we were almost partied out, so, two old folks, we listened for a short time, and wended our way “down under the hill”. The younger ones in the family stayed to dance and enjoy once again catching up, with all their old friends, on the news of the island. The littlest ones came home radiant from such a day. Next week a local band, “THE MINUS MIKE” will play!
Baby Emmie Paxton walked down the isle to hear the children’s sermon today! She is growing up. Our island child. As always, church was full. Families all over the island had gathered as ours did.: There was a whole row of Danos, relatives of Carolyne Dano Archambeau, who was remembered in the memorial service, Doc and Phyllis Schwartz’s daughter, Donnie, was there with her family, Junie Augsbury’s “Howard-Smith” family filled two back pews, the Petrys had family visitors staying with them in the parsonage, Mary Lou and Manly had grandchildren, and I can’t begin to tell you all of the familiar and unfamiliar faces! Michael Paxton is home, too, but this was too sunny a day for him to spend under cover! (a bat did, though, spend the morning on the hanging lamp in our newly decorated church.) In the old days, Sally Mole reminded me, how, just a few minutes before one church wedding a few years ago, twelve bats had hung happily from three corners of the sanctuary, while the flower arrangers finished their decorating,. Tom Slate came to the rescue, however, saying. “Oh I should think they’re pretty dormant now.” He asked his brother, Jay, to get the ladder and a plastic bag. When we three got into the church, Tom climbed the ladder, then, taking his pencil out of his shirt pocket, he touched the one hanging from the bottom of the first clump. It simply dropped right in to the bag Jay held. Tom took down twelve bats that day. Since the belfry was cleaned, though, during the reconstruction that Chris Williams engineered, the bats seem to have found another home. Surely the new home will suffice them. But we’d better keep the church doors closed at night!
This Sunday we remembered those who died during the past year. As we named them, and told a little about each one of them, Dick Petry, the summer minister, lighted a candle for each. Here are the ones we thought about with such nostalgia, and love: Carolyne Dano Archambault, Kevin James Deedy, John Morley Dower, Richard H. Ennis, Richard H. Ennis III, Olavi Heitakangas, Robert Wilbur Williams, and Valerie Murray. We miss them and know that those they have left here with us feel a great loneliness on the paths where once they walked. The childrens’ choir sang “He’s got the whole world in His hand” and comforted us with that knowledge. And, as they do every Sunday, Margaret Taylor’s flowers brought the outside in.
The Schoolhouse celebration today had beautiful weather, and couldn’t help but be a wonderful picnic: We couldn’t be there because our daughter, Fleur came to lunch with all of her family. But Fran Purcell has written an account of the good time:
Hi Aminta, here is some info for the picnic yesterday it was a great success. 75-100 people attended the Grindstone Schoolhouse picnic Sunday. The weather cooperated perfectly and 30 people had a lovely ride in an antique boat from Clayton, many attended church and then were transported to the schoolhouse by Manly Rusho. Much appreciation goes to the Antique Boat Museum and to Manly for transporting everyone. Franny Purcell gave a brief welcome and history of the Schoolhouse project. Two interns are staying at the Schoolhouse this summer; Renae LaShomb who is working on a video of the island and Travis Reed who is doing a mammalian study of the island. The children enjoyed old fashion games lead by Urch Slate where eggs were tossed and many were broken! A delicious meal was had by all and many people enjoyed a tour of the schoolhouse and the church. An alumni picture was taken with 12 former students from both the Upper and Lower Schoolhouse present. Anyone interested in joining the Schoolhouse or receiving more information about our programs and genealogy project write 41591 Cross Island Rd Grindstone Island, Clayton, NY or www.grindstoneisland.org
More Notes: From Fran Purcell
Thurs. Aug.3 at 7pm Renae LaShomb will have a viewing of her video on Grindstone Island.
Fri. Aug 4, There will be a speaker, Dr. Ellie McDowell-Loudan, a professional archeologist and professor at the State University of NY at Cortland. She will present an informative slide talk on the prehistory and history of Upstate New York, and particularly, Grindstone Island. After the lecture, if you would like to bring any of the artifacts you have found on the Island, there will be an artifact identification period.
Thurs. Aug 17, Travis Reed will present his findings on his mammalian study of Grindstone.
Kitty Paxton invites everyone in church, or not, to come to a party on July 29th to celebrate Michael Paxton’s graduation from his first stint in the navy. He will be home, then, and ready to celebrate with us all. Save the date.
Old Homes Day will be held Sunday, July 30th. David Sheppard will sing at the morning worship service, and Debbie Donaldson will dance. Then the potluck picnic will begin about noon. Call Erma Slate at 686-5237, or Karen Lashomb 686-2979 to see what is needed for the menu to be perfect!
Again, Carolyn Larson will train the Children’s choir in Sunday school.
Adult choir rehearsal Sunday morning at 10:00 am.
Sunday, August 6th, we will celebrate Doc and Phyllis Schwartz’ 30 years of service as chairman of the board and best-of-helpers of the Grindstone Island Methodist Church. Celina and Eliza Moore will again sing, and flutists Anna Larson and Joan Flint will also play. There will be a potluck lunch after service, and a great day is promised!
So it is.