GRINDSTONE NEWS - AUGUST 13, 2000
We’ll all remember this summer for its unpredictable weather, its beautiful clouds, its intermittent sun and rain, its sudden claps of thunder and bursts of lightening, -- and its kindness to our parties. Most of the time just as we are anguishing over where to set up the tables for the big event, not a minute before, but just as, --lo, the sun comes out, with that lovely lavender radiance dark clouds lend it, and at the end of the day, the hosts and hostesses rejoice with all their guests in the golden pink light of a beautiful evening sunset.
Leon appeared a little later than I had been ready for on Wednesday, because he had lent his truck, and had to call Erma and Brenda for a ride. But they were all here well before three o’clock, and I began to paint, and Leon began to tell his stories. John joins the group around the table, and we all have a few hours of relaxed pleasure, an afternoon with no pressures tugging at us. Brenda and Erma are so busy in summer that an hour of rest is a gift, and an hour of Leon’s stories is an even bigger gift. Imagine a treasure chest of 92 years of stories of Grindstone Island. I suppose we should record them, but it wouldn’t be the same as this simple spontaneous telling. It’s good in this era of libraries swelling with the computed history we’re saving for our children’s children to throw away a pleasant account or two, just for the pleasure of the here and now.
But on Thursday, we went down to Emmy Sorth’s “estate” to raid her treasure of photographs for the T. I. Sun. We knew she had been busy with her camera at “Doc’s” celebration. We brought a very few of them for you readers to enjoy. And while we were there we delighted in Emmie’s garden, the masses of gloriosa daisies, the beds of impatiens, the corn she had carefully coaxed to standing straight again by weaving, so it scarcely shows, twine between it and the fence that also keeps the deer out. The acres of mown grass, the trees giving shade, make it all look designed by some famous landscape gardener. And Emmie does it all herself, with just a bit of help from Anna Larson.
Surely someone recorded the concert that Eliza Moore and her friends from the Graduate School of Music at Indiana University put together for us at the Squash Court. (The “Squash Court” is Michael Mole’s summer home at the head of Grindstone, and Josephine Murray’s gift to the island.) I think the names of all of the young musicians bear recording because we surely will want to remember that we were there at their joyous beginnings. Eliza Moore, whose warm soprano voice has been falling over us throughout the length of our singing summer, brought together for us on Friday evening a whole fount of blessings, eight young people making music. That sounds a bit too rapturous, but with the setting sun glinting the windows of the room, it did seem that wonderful, (though maybe less pretentious). (The “kids”-- “mountain goats”, students- were having too good a time to be “rapturous”).
Mary Jane Austin at the piano accompanied all of the players with the same sensitivity she has given Eliza’s and Celina’s singing all summer long. The solo Brahm’s “Intermezzo” she played confirmed the talent we sensed behind her accompaniment of each musician. When Lauren Bloch played “moonlight Sonata” I realized, in her concentration, how much confidence this summer with Eliza’s crew has given her.
Joseph DiSalle’s tenor voice singing Schubert duets blended tonally and sensitively with Eliza’s soprano in the first half of the program. It was lovely to hear the tenor and soprano voices bringing the love songs to life! By the time Joseph, himself, sang a group of Francesco Paoli Tosti’s love songs, he had learned enough about us to be fully at home among us, so he could bring the liveliness of Italian opera all the way to granite Grindstone Island.
The two Marks brothers, David with his viola and Theo (who will enter Indiana University Graduate School of Music this fall) with his cello, brought us two new instruments to enrich our summer’s sound of music. The low tones gave the music a ground we didn’t realize we had missed until David and Theo played their Beethoven duet. They also joined Mary Jane playing two Brahms’ Trios. Three Brahms pieces seemed quietly attuned to the gentle setting sun reflected in the windows above the heads of the players.
After a short intermission for nibbling on goodies in the kitchen, Sean Brabant, from our own Thousand Islands High School, displayed for us the wonders he ascribes to the talent of one of his teachers, Catherine Ingerson. Sean’s baritone is remarkable in a sixteen-year-old, clear and strong and rich. He sang a bit of opera from “Martha”, and in English, the song for the dying soldiers from “Les Miserables”. Sean is going to sing again next Sunday at the Aunt Jane’s Bay outdoor service.
Finally, Debbie Donaldson, Grindstone’s own dancer, joined the singers and instrumentalists, interpreting in dance: first, Eliza’s violin piece, and then, the singing of Debbie’s prayer, “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing”. The whole group of Indiana students and Sean and Lauren joined the song as they all lit candles while sunset faded and darkness settled over our evensong.
We thank Eliza and all of her friends for their summer benediction. Eliza is off to London soon, but we hope she will be back next summer to work on a history of the variety of music Grindstone Islanders have shared in their many years making music.
On Saturday, the Harold Herrick Memorial Skiff Race took place at Wild Goose Island That race preserves another of the arts of the islands. St. Lawrence sailing skiffs, as I marvel every year, have no rudder. So the steering is done by shifting the weight of the two people in the boat. The pretty skiffs, therefore, remind me of butterflies quivering over the water the way butterflies flutter over a blossom. Yesterday the course was around Wild Goose Island, and the island itself kept its western side in the lea. It proved tricky to find wind for the sails when the boats rounded the southern shore. But the sailors were all ingenious, patient, and knowledgeable about watching for ruffled water, and they all finished the course, their colorful sails sometimes in a clump, sometimes spread far apart, sometimes seeming to square dance, crossing over, passing each other, then returning to cross over again, and pulling apart yet again.
The annual Harold Herrick Jr. Memorial skiff races were held on August 12, 2000 at Wild Goose Island. There were three races around Wild Goose Island, with five skiffs racing. The five skippers and crews were as follows: Morgan Rueckert and Rorie Litos; Quentin Rueckert and Theron Rueckert; William D. Rueckert and Cleve Rueckert; Clee Dodge and Sally Mole; Caroline Larson and Anna Larson.
The overall winners this year were Morgan and Rorie.
The results of each race were as follows:
1. Morgan and Rorie
2. Clee and Sally
3. Bill and Cleve
4. Quentin and Theron
5. Caroline and Anna
1. Morgan and Rorie
2. Quentin and Theron
3. Clee and Sally
4. Bill and Cleve
5. Caroline and Anna
1. Clee and Sally
2. Bill and Cleve
3. Quentin and Theron
4. Morgan and Rorie
5. Caroline and Anna
Using a 5-4-3-2-1 scoring system to determine the winner, Morgan and Clee ended up tied with 12 points. Normally, a sail-off would be used to break the tie. However, that was not possible under the circumstances and after considerable discussion among the sailors, the race committee decided that Morgan should be declared the winner because he beat Clee in two of the three races.
The races next year will be held at Mid River on the 11th of August. We had three splendid races at Wild Goose. It is an ideal location for skiff races both in terms of the course, the absence of boat traffic, and the accommodations for skiffs. We will certainly race there again but thought it would be good to return to Mid River where we will try to lay out a course that minimizes the boat traffic to Potter’s Beach.
Caroline Larson and her daughter Anna who sailed this year for the first time in the skiff they have just restored. They finished the course and were hailed heartily by both the other sailors and the spectators. I heard each of the other sailors in turn urging them to keep on coming to the races because it is much more fun with lots of boats. If anyone out there has a sailing skiff stored away in a loft, get it out, get it seaworthy, and join in the contest next year!
I promised to announce the winners of last week’s race held in conjunction with the Boat Show: Quentin Rueckert, crewing with Mary Lee, won the Ellis Cup and Clee Dodge, crewing with daughter Alice, won the Cherokee Cup. Keep track of the schedule next year and join in the fun.
After the race the Dodges and the Berkeleys spread tables covered with good food and drink for the contestants and their many friends. So once again, we watched heavy, gray clouds disperse just before tables were set out, watched the low sun light, to almost magical brilliance, the rock where sea gulls stand-in-waiting. Then everyone joined, in awe of that light, and in the joy of friendship.
While the skiffs were butterflying around Wild Goose Island, over at the crossroads at Grindstone, other contests were enthusiastically entered! In the churchyard, “Doc” and Phyllis Schwartz, Phil and Yuvon Marra, Kitty, Batty Paxton, and Hazel, and many more faithfuls were scoring the Barnyard Olympics for the children of the island. The most popular event, I’m told was the hayride Chester and Margaret Taylor provided. Around and around it went loaded with passengers. But the ring-toss, the “rain-trough”, the ball-shoot, the balloon-shoot, and the lollypop tree provided lots of pleasure for the little ones. It is really the only thing planned all summer just for kids, and the kids love it. They love the delicious pizza, too! . Kitty is determined that the islanders will work this winter to build some permanent props for next year’s event. That’s good news, because it always occurs when everyone has just about run out of steam with all the celebrating we do.
As we all know, Saturday just doesn’t end until we dance. Jay Goldburg’s “Salt City”, a disk jockey from Syracuse provided the music, and the dance went on. The little tots were not the only ones who joined in the limbo contest. Nicky Grant and Aubrey Hackman managed to get under the pole until it was pretty low! But finally, they had to yield the field to the ones who can scrunch under a little easier. It looked as if all of the young folks joined in the Macarena. The hot dogs and the Burghers were going well out in the kitchen where Yuvon, Pastor Dick, and “the others” were doing the cooking. Sis, of course, was on hand as she always is in her easy chair right beside the music. The music last night was nicely modulated for Sis, for all of us oldsters, and for little ears. Thank you someone!
This morning Elaine and Bruce Brooks, Milton Rusho and a few others, who offered a hand, baked pancakes for the congregation before church. You know that what Elaine cooks is good. Everyone knows that, so a lot of hungry people came to breakfast. It is one of the homey times in the carriage house. Breakfast is one of the traditional times on the island for gathering together, --most mornings, over coffee at Erma’s house-- but this one time of year, over pancakes at the carriage house.
Church was not quite as crowded this morning as it has been.. You can feel that summer is winding down. Teachers are leaving for the work shops we seem to feel they need. (I did appreciate Dick’s sermon this morning though. He reminded us that pulling off from the crowd and measuring our busyness, keeping our lives in balance, is as Biblical as doing good works. We all need to hear that. The children’s choir reminded us that “ all God’s kritters got a place in the choir”. And Helen Ingerson sang for us. She is a favorite Grindstone soloist, and we all look forward to her coming every year. We welcomed her particularly this year because she has been sick, and making the journey across the river is harder than it usually is. Bless you, Helen. And come back!
This week Margaret Taylor had a huge bouquet of black-eyed susans in one vase, and as big a bouquet of Queen Anne’s lace in the other vase. She always tries to use wild flowers from the fields. And they are beautiful, like the lilies of the field we are told to consider.
Next Sunday, at 10:30 a.m., the Aunt Jane’s Bay service will be held in the yard overlooking the river, at the old Brooks residence where Janice Brooks Mc Phail now lives. Sean Brabant is going to sing. If it rains, the service, will, of course, be held in the church.
There was a church council meeting after church in the parsonage in preparation for the Charge Conference.
The Annual Charge Conference will be on August 27th.
Wednesday, a platoon from Fort Dix is coming to Grindstone to practice water survival. They will jog across the island, and spend some time at Potter’s beach practicing and also having a cook out. If you would like to watch them at their work, come to Potter’s around noon.
Frances Rossmassler announced that there will be two meetings at the schoolhouse this week. On Thursday, at 7:00 p.m. Travis Reed will talk about the mammals on Grindstone. We’ll learn more about the minks, I’m sure.
On Friday morning, from 9:00 until 11:00 a.m. Rex Ennis will be there at the schoolhouse to help people who want to do research in genealogy. Jim Adamson will also be on hand..
Michael Marra had an eye operation last week, and, Grandma says it hasn’t even slowed him down. He is coming along well. And we are glad!!
So it is.