The peepers are sounding a little raspy. The weeds are all brown, dragged out, and dying. Thunder rumbled a few times this week, but no rain fell. We’ve had cobalt blue skies, the grass on our rock is like cut hay, and the ants have become increasingly persistent as they look for moisture and shade. There were those who were mighty glad to have such a pleasant, even reasonably cool weekend, though. At Midriver Farm, with the large family gathered to celebrate Freddy’s eightieth birthday, no one was wishing for rain. And wherever there was a family reunion or a celebration (August birthdays fill the calendars of a lot of Grindstone houses) the good weather has added pleasures to the joy of being together. Boats have plied up and down even this north side of Grindstone all week, and jet skis have jumped up and down on the waves.
But the regular, scheduled activities continued in spite of the lure of the beach. Robert Bikwemu reports once more on the weekly Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday morning classes at both the Grindstone schoolhouse and the carriage house:
“We did have a speaker on Tuesday at the Schoolhouse. She was Urch’s niece. She is a member of one of the many Native American tribes. She talked of their tribal beliefs about how the world became like it is today. She told us about this person who lived in the spirit world and her husband who was a keeper of the big tree. It grew all fruits, vegetables, and any kind of growing food. One day when she had a baby, she was so hungry that she wanted the roots of the tree, but her husband would not allow her to eat them because she was bearing a child. So she dug a hole to get at the roots, and fell through the ground into the water. Birds swept down and saved her. Then they called a turtle so she could rest on its back. And the story goes on and on. We asked questions
about all of these happenings.
“At Wonderful Wednesdays, in the church carriage house, we were making stars to remind us about the three wisemen following the star to Jesus and also about Abraham who got a message from God that the number of stars in the sky would be the number of his descendants. Stars
are really hard to make. Even the adults could not get it at first. I threw mine away because it did not look like a star.
“At arts and crafts, Thursday, at the schoolhouse, we made T-shirts and necklaces for the concerts next Wednesday and Friday. We made the T-shirts to symbolize where we live on Grindstone Island and the necklaces to show that the people on the island come from one clan. We also practiced songs that we are going to perform to get ready for the concerts.”
On Thursday afternoon, John Marks talked about the development of the Grindstone Church from a mission church established by the circuit rider, Alexander Shorts, in 1883, to the present active church today. He called our attention to the short tenures of most ministers, one or two years, and wondered how the island had been able to support them. Reminding us of the value of records of birthdays, weddings, anniversaries, deaths and burials, and of church policy, he pointed out the need for church records to be written regularly and stored safely. It makes a world of difference, John said, when pastors serve the congregation for several years and can establish some continuity of worship and activity, as Robert Smith did, and Dick Petry has. Elaine Brooks thought we surely could establish a way to keep the records safe from year to year, and that in itself would be some insurance of that continuity. (This weekly history program is at the schoolhouse)
On Saturday, we all began to run, run, run, as the wildebeasts did in the Sunday Sermon Pastor Petry preached. But enough of the runners managed to keep cool heads so the weekend sped on to a happy conclusion. Up at Midriver Farm, a group of sailing skiff owners gathered with their crews and their faithful onlookers for the annual Harold Herrick Memorial Skiff Race. These sailing skiffs are the pretty little boats I talk about every year. Without rudders, the narrow mahogany crafts are steered only by the set of the sail and the distribution of weight. The crews get a lot of exercise, therefore, shifting themselves about in the boats! The short course is laid out to keep the delicate boats safely out of the way of speeding motor boats while still challenging the skippers’ ability to get them close around each buoy, without one colliding with another, and without losing the wind, to cross the final winner’s line. On Saturday, the wind was otherwise-minded, and it took some clever sailing to catch it and go whipping in the direction the sailors wished. I don’t think either the Ellis or the Cherokee races were run because there was no wind on the earlier scheduled days.
Here is a report of this year’s race written by Cleveland Dodge Rueckert: “ The Harold Herrick Skiff Races were held on Saturday at Mid River Point. Six St. Lawrence sailing skiffs participated in the day’s three races. Quentin Rueckert and Ashley Knight were victorious with finishes of first, second, and third. They were followed closely by defending champion Morgan Rueckert with his brother Theron as crew. Bill and Fleur Rueckert “snuck” in a first in the third race only to finish third overall. Rounding out the field were Peter Moore with his young son Ian, Caroline and Anna Larson, and Clee Dodge with Eliza Moore crewing. All tied for fourth place. The races took place just off the dock at Mid River and there was a large and enthusiastic crowd supporting the racers.”
After the skiff races, a few of us, driven by Erma Slate, came on down to the church where the Barnyard Olympics were in full sway, with children trying their skills in the various games invented by various and sundry church members and parents. Chet Taylor ran rides for happy kids around and around the grounds in the little hay filled trailor he hitched to his fourwheeler.
And the climax of that event was the ice cream social. The ice cream was well frozen and rich, the chocolate and strawberry sauces, sprinkles and nuts, M&M’s, and whatevers were much desired, and sent everyone home contented, to get ready for the dance that would start about 9:30 p.m. in Dodge Memorial Hall across the road from the church.
At the dance, the four Bandits, a rather mellow group, sang everyone’s favorite songs, and Bubby Bazinet called a few squares (sometime after midnight, according to Debby Smith’s report) (certainly after the old folks, John and I, had trudged down the hill to fall gratefully into bed.) By then a good crowd had come in from the beaches and the boats to join the party and the hall had cooled a bit from the heat of the day, so there were four circles dancing the quadrilles.
On Sunday morning we were all at church listening to a different music. Eliza Moore sang Bist Du Bei Mir, a lovely Bach aria, Joan Flint and Anna Larson played their flutes in duet, and the church choir sang a hymn new to the congregation. What more could we ask of a beautiful blue-sky day? But there was more. After the service, the whole congregation gathered for a pot luck lunch in the carriage house to celebrate the fiftieth wedding anniversaries of Andy and Beverly Davison and Aminta and John Marks. Kitty Paxton , saying she is usually paid not to speak, congratulated the celebrants with her wonderful good-natured wit, and Dick Petry read a long poem congratulating the two couples’ long and happy marriages. There were presents and cards and hugs and kisses and all sorts of good wishes given --and received with gratitude for the wondrous generosity of all of these good friends on Grindstone Island.
But there will be more wonders next week!
On Tuesday, August 14th, there is to be a rehearsal at the Squash Court. Everyone who is to perform in the week’s concerts should be there at 3:00p.m.
On Wednesday, August 15th, at 7:00 p.m., the first performance of a concert prepared as the culmination of the Grindstone schoolhouse summer music program will be given in the Opera House in Clayton. It promises to be wonderful, well worth the fee of $6.00.
The proceeds from that performance will go to the support of the opera house.
On Friday, August 17th, the same concert will be presented in the Squash Court at the head of Grindstone Island at 7:00, p.m. There, there will be a pot luck desert afterward, and a free will offering to help support future schoolhouse programs. Eliza Moore, her mother Celina Moore, and Sean Brabant are among those who will sing in both concerts, and the children of Grindstone have prepared some wonderful music of their own. The whole performance has been written and directed by Eliza who is directing the summer’s program at the schoolhouse to study the history of music in the islands. We all look forward to a real treat on both evenings.
August 18th, there will be a spaghetti supper to support Dodge Memorial Hall at 5:00 p.m. The Marras stand among the best of Italian cooks!
August 19th, Pancake Breakfast at 8:30 a.m. This before church “feast” brings fellowship, and conversation, as well as pancakes, sausage, juice and coffee, all for a free will offering. At 10:30 a.m. the Church Service and Sunday School begin.
August 19th, Sunday, the annual Charge Conference. (The date has been changed to this coming Sunday because of a conflict in dates at the Methodist Church Center.) After the church service and Sunday School, we will gather in the sanctuary for the annual church business meeting that is chaired by our St. Lawrence district superintendent, Wendy Rhodehamel. At this meeting we will discuss what we want to do about repairing or rebuilding the Carriage House behind the church. There are copies of a report and a recommendation from the church council about the state of the carriage house that people interested in the project can pick up any time this week in the entrance hall of the church sanctuary. It also states the options for making it both more useful and more sturdy. The congregation will discuss this project at the Charge Conference this Sunday. So it is.