I always forget what busy days we plan for late in July and early in August. So, once more, I was surprised by the run-on of events that filled this week. The weather has been a run-on too, as it often is around the end of July, but it only seldom spoils any of the parties and celebrations. Just now I thought I smelled rain, and sure enough the west window is splashed with drops. But Old Homes Day is nearing its end. 


An enormous crowd gathered at Potter’s Beach for the traditional picnic with Junie Brown and his wonderful stove, both Junie and Stove, very hot and working feverishly to feed us all. And Brenda and Erma and Clara and Yuvon and Phil and Jeff and Doreen, and every year the list goes on and on of those who help make this a real homecoming event.  The beach is crowded with children and boats and parents, the picnic ground is crowded with cousins and sisters and brothers and aunts and uncles and kith and kin. And dogs. Once more we’ve hugged and kissed and talked and talked and talked.  Audrey and Bob Lashomb,  enjoying their first year of retirement, came along with Becky and John leaving Remar to their sons and daughter -in- law.  Ada and Bob Bazinet sat at their table too. It was their first time on Grindstone this year. Josephine Murray  with her dog and two nurse-friends, Mary Taylor and Debbie Donaldson,  sat across the table from Dick Petry, and enjoyed his joke, “If  you want to stay young, stay around young people; if you want to die young, try to keep up with them!”


Magel Brown, who hasn’t been well, was where she always is, in the center of her family circle under the same big tree, but this year, an umbrella shaded them from the heat. Chris Hein and Nina, Paul and Laura kissed us goodbye just before they left to go, first on a trip to Europe and then home to California. Grandpapa Norvin will return on August 5th with Grandmama Jeanne.  We’ve missed her this month. Bubby and Carolyn Bazinet were just pulling away from their house as we started up the hill, pies in our basket to go to the Beach, so we hopped gladly into the already well  populated truck bed, Robbie and his friend, Richard, riding on the tail gate, for a ride to the picnic. We arrived cool and only pleasantly dusty.  Now the rain has almost stopped but surely the cleanup after so many people have trampled the grass to dust is more pleasant with the ground “wetted down” a bit.


The raffle is over, the dinner is eaten, the quiet rain has turned the sky dove-gray. Danny, Dick and Mary Petry’s grandson, may still be swimming at the beach where Grandma Mary was keeping watch.  But, earlier, we saw him climb safely down from high in the big cottonwood tree in front of the church, swinging, agile as a monkey, from a limb the rest of us never dreamed he could put to use. So soon, at least, even Danny will decide that it’s time to go home. It is too bad for such a day to end.


It’s too bad for all of the Condons who were having a reunion at Erma’s house, to have to go home. It’s too bad for  all of the Karpels who were visiting Kitty and Salt Garnsey, to have to go home. Maybe it’s even too bad for the ATV owners to break up their camp on the base line road, though many of the real Grindstone Islanders decided their roads are too narrow and twisty for so many adventurers who are not familiar with the dangers. Mary Taylor was unnerved when one of the cyclists  sped dangerously close to her daughter who was walking along the shoulder of a sharp curve.


Moving backward in our chronicle of the week, on Wednesday, July 26th  the Lindley Bay Incorporation held its annual meeting, and on the same day, shortly afterward, there was town meeting in the schoolhouse with some of the village fathers of Clayton.  We met Jeremy Slate on his way to the meeting to find out when his tractor was coming back to the island.  It must have come back almost immediately because the edges of the roads have already been neatly trimmed by Jeremy. Islanders also asked for a once-a-year pick-up of large items (refrigerators, stoves, old trucks, etc.). When trucks come to the island on the barge to grade the roads,  those same road trucks could  carry off the hard-to-manage trash when they go back on the barge.


On Thursday, Eliza and Celina Moore, who have been singing, and are going to sing at Doc’s party on the sixth, sang at Thousand Island Park.  This time we couldn’t go to hear them, bu it’s lovely to have so much of their music this summer. On Friday, after a reception at the Craft School in Clayton, for the “Along the River” exhibit, John and I came home to celebrate Yuvon and Phil Marra’s 48th wedding anniversary.  Jeff, their son had invited a  crowd of comfortable old friends, children, grandchildren, and relatives, to share their anniversary cakes and memories. That quaint hollow just down the North Shore Road from the church is one of the friendliest places you can imagine.  Robinson and Slate relatives have created a little green village there above Thurso Bay, and it has become almost as dear a place to “gather round” as Erma’s house which is a little way west, on the same road,  past the church.


Saturday, was a day bursting with parties for north shore islanders. Toward the foot of the island, Joseph Moynahan, son of the Patrick Moynahans was christened. I know that many, many friends came to bring their many, many wishes for a good and happy life for Joseph!  The island, itself, as it always does, must have brought its own particular beauty and hope to the family, to the day, and to the occasion of Joseph’s baptism.


There was a wedding, too, in Clayton, and many of the young islanders went over the river to celebrate the marriage of Amy Zanoni and Darin Barton at St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church.


And at their home, Kitty Paxton and Salt Garnsey had a grand and gala affair to celebrate Michael Paxton’s homecoming from his first stint in the Navy, and Baby Emmie’s first birthday.  There on the beach, Frank Towner, a clown, not only painted the faces of anyone who wished to change his or her persona, not only wore a fine red nose and baggy bloomers, not only juggled bowling pins, not only juggled three or four or five knives, at one time, but fearlessly juggled three or four or five flames of fire at one time!


 The food was scrumptious, the day was blue and not too hot, the water was warm for the swimmers,  the Karpels (Kitty’s family) cavorted happily about in their many Karpel T-shirts,  and all of us had a lovely time, dancing on the grass to the DJ’s music and talking and eating, and talking and eating, and talking and eating until late in the afternoon. I watched with pleasure as Josh Lashomb  sat idling on a log near the river waiting for things to begin, coiling a rope as beautifully as old Gerald Hayes always did whenever he left his boat at our dock. That care always seemed to me to be a sign of  the peace of the river.


As darkness fell, young things, active young things who don’t tire, ever, ever, began to gather at the hall to dance to the music of “Minus Mike”.  There were crowds of teenagers outside the hall talking, inside the hall dancing, inside the kitchen eating, having a wonderful time. But it was no place for old folks like John and me who do tire, and for at least one of us who wears hearing aids! So we two trotted ourselves contentedly back down under the hill for a quiet evening and a long night’s sleep.


At ten-thirty on Sunday morning, perhaps a slightly different crowd gathered at the church door.  We have a wonderful reunion every Sunday morning with people who come from all the reaches of the island. Bronwyn and Noel (who is reading the “new Harry Potter book”) came up the hill from the Edwards house, the Marra grandchildren came from their little Thurso village, Cindy Garnsey and Marjorie brought granddaughter  Morgan and Sis Matthews, Bob and Ann Binhammer were there for the first time this summer, and, besides, there were lots and lots of guests here for Old Homes Day.  It took a long time to introduce everyone! Barbara Garnsey was there with her daughter, Karen Lashomb. Barbara lived on the island when we came to Grindstone in the sixties, but the family moved off about the time the children outgrew the island school. It was hard to send your little ones to Clayton  for seventh grade.  That’s pretty young. How good it was to see Barbara back. Construction companies were, observed Doreen Meeks, well represented:  Jimmy Schnauber and his family were there, and Walt Perry and his. Both men have, at one time or another,  worked on Grindstone  church construction projects. And Baby Emmie again walked up to join the other children  listening  to Mary Petry’s children’s sermon. When they left, the children learned a spiritual in Sunday school which they sang to us after the sermon.  The Marra children, you could see, loved the rhythm!


A little later, their Mamma, Debbie Marra impersonated in dance The Lighthouse as David Sheppard sang about it. It’s hard to believe such a little island can bring us so many gifts, so joyfully. As David sang a second song, he went up to Sis Matthews who was sitting in the first row, and taking her hand, did a little dance around her.  Sis said after church, “O,  I wanted to get right up and dance with him!  But I couldn’t get up.” We all knew she tried to. We used to love to watch Sis and Charlie dance on Saturday nights. She still is as happy as she can be sitting in the armchair reserved in the hall for her, watching all of us dance.  She doesn’t seem to mind loud music at all. 


 Our adult choir sang too.  It was even an  expanded choir this Sunday with houseguests of  the regulars singers joining in. You can hardly believe that our minister, Dick Petry can find time for his sermons, but he does.  This Sunday was a real island sermon introduced by an interpretation of being “under the weather”.  Dick always reads the texts with an earthy understanding.  This Sunday he told us that God is as practical as any mother, seeing,  when Elijah got blue and crotchety, that it was time to feed him and tell him to get some sleep. When the prophet woke up, he saw a different world, and got to work again. So, hungry, we all wandered on down to Potter’s Beach and the Old Homes Day Picnic.


Notes: Again, Carolyn Larson will train the  Children’s choir  in Sunday school.


Adult choir rehearsal Sunday morning at 10:00 am.


Dodge Hall is doing well, Jeff Marra reported, on its membership drive. If you want to join, send Jeff Marra or Urch Slate $25.


Caroline and Ken Larson will celebrate their 25th wedding anniversary on August 2nd.  Together, they are another gift to all of us at the Grindstone Church, and to Aunt Jane’s Bay!


Caroline brought us the sad news that Fred Wehrly from Virginia and Watson’s Point on Grindstone died this week in the hospital in Watertown.  We all send our deep sympathy to Inez, his wife.


David Sheppard was ordained this very Sunday morning in his own church just before he came to us to sing.  We all rejoice with him.


The music at next week’s dance will be provided by DJs Debby and Steve Donaldson and some live local music, a guitar and a couple of violins.  If anyone with an instrument wants to join in, come along.  We’d love to have our own country music again, as we did in the sixties and early seventies.  Bring a gutbucket, a keyboard, whatever you have.


There will be two skiff racing dates this year.  The first will be sponsored by the Antique Boat Museum on Saturday, August 5th at 2:00p.m. at Wild Goose Island.   These are the Ellis Cup and the Cherokee Cup races.


On Saturday, August 12th, at 2:00p.m.  there will be a second racing date, the Harold Herrick Memorial Cup Race will be held, also,  at Wild Goose Island.


We’ve all looked forward to it and it’s finally about to happen. This Sunday, August 6th, we will celebrate “Doc” and Phyllis Schwartz’ 30 years of service as chairman and best-of-helpers of the Grindstone Island Methodist Church.   Celina and Eliza Moore will sing, and flutists Anna Larson and Joan Flint will play.  After the service, there will be a grilled chicken dinner.  THIS IS NOT POT LUCK! Transportation for those with reservations will be from Gar Wood’s Restaurant at 9:15 a.m.  The return trip will leave the church at 3:00 p.m.


Over at the American Legion Hall in Clayton, on Friday, August 4th, a group of friends will celebrate the   70th birthday of Mary Brown Garnsey  (Junie Brown’s sister) who grew up on Grindstone. We all know her other two brothers, John and Bob who used to come every Saturday night to the  dances when Leon was fiddling and Charlie was calling the squares.  Her husband, Harold Garnsey died a few years ago, and Mary now pals around with her friend, Leo Lynch who is giving the party for her.  Mary is a Brown. And Leo says, Mary is “a dancing gal”.  I often reminisce about watching the Brown girls’ dance at the Grindstone Saturday night parties. Both Mary and Leo had big families, so it has to be a big party.  And it is “open house”. If you are a friend of Mary’s you are invited. Leo promises that Manley Rusho and Bob Lashomb will give us the news of the party on the Sunday after.


So it is,

Aminta Marks