GRINDSTONE ISLAND NEWS - AUGUST 6, 2000
The beginning of the week was so gray for so long that only the most optimistic of us thought the sun would ever again shine. On Grindstone, however, we needed a rest from all of last weekend’s activity, so the heavy weather was almost welcomed by some of us. But Renae Lashomb and Kitty Paxton and Erma Slate and Brenda Slate, and a good many others kept hard at work. It was on Tuesday, that we found Renae, in the Thousand Islands High School computer center, hard at work on the video of Grindstone Island that she has spent the summer preparing. All day islanders had come to record snippets of their memories of the people they were particularly fond of, people who have given the island the flavor of friendliness and fortitude and fun that it has today. Renae had carefully recorded all of the photographs she had been given, and all of the written accounts of people she wanted to include, and was, by late afternoon, recording readings to go along with the portraits. It was a monumental task, but she was on the last stretch toward finishing before she leaves for Greeley, Colorado and college next week. Kitty was at work on the celebration for Doc. Erma was making cinnamon rolls that Brenda was eating and declaring “They were delicious!…Those she made for .breakfast this morning were good, but the ones she made on Round Island were the best.” Erma, later in the week shared one of her secrets about making them. She mixes the brown sugar in the bottom of the pan with a tiny bit of butter and with heavy cream. I intend to try that! Brenda has been busy all week keeping the houses clean and shipshape.
On Wednesday, Erma and Brenda took some time off to come down to our house to visit with Leon Rusho who was sitting to be sketched for an oil portrait. Annie Couch has been painted. Sis Matthews has been painted, and now, even Leon, thought it was time for him to be painted….”Are you going to use Barn red?” he asked. It was a great time for reminiscing. Leon told at least a few of the stories he has tucked in his head, and the onlookers around the table encouraged him by adding some snippets of their own, but mostly taking a lot of pleasure in his.
Renae had finished her video by Wednesday night. Thursday evening at seven o’clock a group of about fifty people had gathered at Dodge Memorial Hall to watch the finished product. We talked and waited, and talked and waited. Then Renae quieted us so she could make a telephone call on her cell phone. She explained that she had gone to the school that morning, opened the screen, and found everything scrambled, all the pictures out of place, all the text mixed into the wrong sections. So she had spent the day putting it back in order. But then, on Thursday evening there was no sound track coming over
So, with amazing poise and calm, she called her teacher and mentor, Mr. Epolito. We watched Renae check each connection as he told her to, then go over it once more, with still no sound coming on. And then, to the amazement of us all, as we sat in our chairs waiting, Mr. Epolito was on his way over to Grindstone! So we changed the order of our evening, and went to the cake and lemonade in the kitchen before the video. As it always happens, two people had birthdays, and sure enough, as it always happens on Grindstone, there were two cakes to celebrate them after we had all sung “Happy Birthday” to Norma Frazier and Bob Meecham. .
Shortly after we had eaten all we wanted of the birthday cakes, and visited to our hearts’ content with our neighbors and folks from other parts of the island who had gathered to see Renae’s film, Mr. Epolito arrived in a truck from the town dock on the south side of the island. Renae had connected all the wires as they should have been connected. But the teacher managed to find a hidden problem in just a few minutes, and we were able to watch all the islanders we came to see on film, with a wonderful sound track that could make the photos come to life. Emmet was there and the Rev. Gabriel, and Buck and Marjorie Rusho, and even, vivacious as ever, Dick Petry, who is our minister this summer. It is a wonderful record of the island’s history, told as it has to be, through its people. I’m not sure whether the video she had made, or Renae herself impressed us more. It was a remarkable evening.
On Friday morning, Foos went home with Bronwyn and her grandparents, Bob and Phyllis Edwards. Foos is Wayne Grant’s marvelous black Lab who was not welcomed into her home by Weezie’s “Pumpkin”. Foos, had made all of the homes on MacRae Bay her home. She slept wherever she found a friend in residence, and showed each of us her fine mannerly ways and her gentle lovable qualities. Wayne, right now is finding it impossible to keep two dogs. So we all began to think perhaps Foos could come home with one of us. But which one? Bronwyn settled that. And last we heard, Foos is as fine a pet off the island as she was on. At a rest stop, Bronwyn wondered what Foos would do if she saw a deer. No sooner were the words out of her mouth, than Foos saw a deer and started chase. But when Bob and Bronwyn called, she turned and came back to them, wisely as always, knowing she belonged with the people who wanted her, and had room just for her.
On Friday evening there was a lecture at the schoolhouse that I apologize for not announcing last week. I know many people would have liked to know about it. Dr. Ellie McDowell-Louden, a field archeologist and professor of archeology at New York State College in Cortland, talked about the archeological pre-history and history of northern New York State and Grindstone Island, and showed three tables full of artifacts found in this area over the many years of Island farmers’ turning up the soil on our farms and shores, identifying them, placing theme into their place in our history, and in turn, placing the farms and shores where the bits and pieces were found into their place in our history. I’m told that Harry Slate has a good collection of these artifacts.
Frank Slate has been busy this week finishing the beautiful canvasback duck he carved for a birthday present for Pom Marks. Canvasbacks, Frank told us were nearly shot to extinction back in the 1950’s, until Ducks Unlimited finally set a limit on how many could be shot by each hunter. Now they are beginning to appear again on Grindstone shores and throughout the country. Pom’s is a handsome brown and black duck that will go back to Bethlehem Pennsylvania with a new owner as happy as Bronwyn is for Foos. Frank is a very talented wood worker who knows the ducks on the river intimately. That shows in his work.
The dance on Saturday night was a new thing. Debby and Steve Donaldson were the DJ’s and they tried an experiment that, for the first time, gave us hope that we can again gather a Grindstone Island band for the Saturday night parties. We had a square dance, early in the evening, with Jeff Marra playing his guitar, Eliza Moore playing her violin, and Brenda Slate and Debbie Marra calling. There were four or five squares with, as it used to be, some of the older people helping the little ones to follow the calls, and everyone having a rollicking good time. We all realized that once again we could bring back to the Hall the special Grindstone country dancing that we knew when Leon was fiddling and Charlie was calling. It would, of course, not be quite the same. But our parties would again come out of our own life and history, and every single one of us would be part of the fun.
Someone this morning said, “ I loved the dance last night. The music was not so loud, so we could carry on a conversation without screaming.” Just before we went home, the DJ’s started a limbo contest. The little kids loved trying to go under the bar, and many invented their own ways of managing it. The older teen agers, however, were very good at doing back bends that would get them under. So we’ll undoubtedly have more limbo contests this year, and Brenda is going to practice calling all winter! Get out your instruments. Once more, there’s going to be the friendly kind of party on Grindstone on Saturday nights that you can’t find anywhere else.
The Ellis Cup race for 18 foot St. Lawrence skiffs was held as scheduled, Saturday, 5 August at 2”00 p.m. in connection with the Antique Boat Show. Next week we’ll have the news of who won The Ellis Cup .The Cherokee Cup Race for 22 foot skiffs was also held on Saturday afternoon. And next week, we’ll know who won it.
To: Skiff sailors and interested spectators
The annual Harold Herrick Memorial Skiff Races, Saturday, 12 August at 2 p.m.
The annual Harold Herrick Skiff Races will be held on Saturday at 2:00 pm at Wild Goose Island. There will be a presentation of the Harold Herrick Memorial Trophy to the winner immediately after the races.
Sunday was the day the congregation of the Grindstone Island Church celebrated “Doc” Schwartz’ more than thirty-one years of service as Chairman of the Board of the Grindstone Island Methodist Church. We gathered first in the sanctuary to give thanks, especially with the music of flutes played by Anna Larson and Joan Flint, violin music played by Eliza Moore, and the lovely song “Be Thou by Me” sung by Celina Moore. The congregation added our hymn singing, our prayer and Dick Petry’s preaching.
After the service, we feasted first on delicious chicken donated by Leon Rusho and grilled by the famed Depauville Fire Department. After we had delighted in the good food, Andy Davison, the new President of the Board rose to thank both “Doc” and Phyllis for their years of loving and faithful service to the people of the Church. After Andy thanked Kitty Paxton and Lolita Pfeiffer for the idea of the party, and Leon Rusho for making it his mission, and a long, long list of people who made the whole day happen, he asked “Doc” to introduce his whole family, Donnie and her husband, Bruce Ross, with their children, Jonah, Benjamin, Nathan and Eli, from Pittsburgh, Mark and Dreamer Schwartz who lead work at the Nature Center on Wellesley Island, and Jodi, a San Franciscan, “Antioch-trained”. Donnie told how her whole family had contributed to the work “Doc” did.
The Centennial Celebration continued for “Doc” . It was during Bob Smith’s pastorate that Frederick (“Doc”) Schwartz became the chair of the church board and a sort of elder and trustee and deacon combined. It was Doc who was appointed to coordinate the summer festivities, with the help of Karen Lashomb and Yuvon Marra. And both the work and the festivities have been coordinated ever since by “Doc”, still with a lot of help from Yuvon and Karen, and many, many, many others over the last ten years. But, since the early years of Bob Smith’s long pastorate, “Doc” has been the link between the Grindstone people, the North Central Methodist Conference, and the Grindstone Church. He has coordinated all of the ideas and the work, he has kept in touch with all the people, he has seen to it that the summer schedule is in place and that workers are appointed to carry out the plans, that the annual turkey dinner is always delicious and well publicized, that there is transportation to get the hungry there, that the auction is fun. He has seen to it that we have a minister, that the minister has transportation so he or she gets to the island and that Aleatha knows when the parsonage has to be ready for him or her.
He has done a monumental task. Establishing a special building fund, and sending out Christmas letters to a wide, wide group of people with connections of one sort or another to the Grindstone Island Church, “Doc” has put together a fund large enough to do the amazing amount of reconstruction that has been done in his time as President of the Church Board. And there is fund left over. Under “Doc”, who, for many years, was an officer in the Syracuse Savings Bank, the church has become a newly prosperous church, especially, since its hundredth anniversary. The people, have become enlivened, and proud of their accomplishments.. Best of all, most of the time “Doc” has enjoyed us, enjoyed his life in the Grindstone Island Methodist Church. Certainly we have enjoyed him and his whole family, and appreciated the labor of love he has accomplished. We on the north side of the island are especially pleased when he and Phyllis join the folk who live in Thurso for the Squatters’ Picnic that the Marras host on their lawn the last Sunday of every year. He lives on the south side, so we don’t see him as often informally as we see the people walking the north-side roads. “Doc’s” and Phyllis’s making the effort to join us in that last informal celebration makes the last picnic seem like a real Grindstone open house..
Once again, Celina and Eliza sang, and, of course, we all sang together “Shall We Gather at the River”. After a group of children served the beautiful cake baked by Urch Slate, after Dick Petry had read a poem reciting the long list of the accomplishments “Doc’ and his family have brought to fruition, after Lolita Pfeiffer presented “Doc” and Phyllis with a book of memories started by Kitty Paxton and edited by Donnie Schwartz, after the presentation of a plaque commemorating his service that was framed by Kitty and Salt Garnsey using wood from the black walnut tree the Schwartz’s had lost in the ice storm, after other gifts, a fine granite block from the Chester Taylors, a lighthouse from a group including the Bruce Brooks’s had been presented by Elaine Brooks, and after a benediction by John Marks, the congregation reluctantly wended their various roads home, the tents were taken down, the dishes and tables were cleared, and the church yard returned to its every day appearance.
Notes: Next Saturday, August 12th, “Barnyard Olympics”, 5:00 p.m. on the church grounds. Prizes, pizza, fun and games for young and old, Grindstone style.
Sunday, August 13th, 8:30-10:30 a.m. “Before Church” Pancakes, sausage, juice, coffee, conversation, and conviviality in the Carriage House. Free will offering.
Church Council Meeting in the parsonage, following worship.
Sunday, August 20th, Aunt Jane’s Bay Service and Holy Communion. at the McPhail-Brooks residence- Aunt Jane’s Bay, at 10:30 a.m., weather permitting.
Sunday, 10:00 a.m. Adult choir practice.
One note of sadness: Hank Borman, who gave the church a lovely little organ to use for hymn sings in the parsonage or carriage house, died in February, 2000, in Blufton, S. C. His wife Ann Borman is now on Ramsden Island where the couple spent so many happy summers together. Ann was at church this morning with their son, and wanted the congregation Hank loved to know of his death. We share her sorrow at our loss.
So it is.