Thursday, October 25, 2007

Tubby the Boat, By Harold, as told to CB

Nobody has scarlet fever twice, but both Harold and I did! His turn came in 1942, when at twelve years old, he repeated the illness he’d “enjoyed” a year previous. This time around he wasn’t feeling sick at all, although Dr Allen said he was, so he was faced with no school for three weeks and spare time, a precious commodity, especially since it coincided with a wallet which housed a laboriously saved $20 bill.

It didn’t take him long to come to a decision. He’d long wanted to build a boat. He drew up plans, knew just what he wanted, but needed to figure measurements. His pre-planning included a visit to Long Pier, on Seneca Lake, where he obtained permission to moor his boat in a far corner near the land. The next trip was to the lumber yard on Lewis Street. Finished wood was beyond his pocket book, box lumber, although coarse and wide, would have to do. Carefully he inspected all the boards for knots, discarded those, and chose what he needed. Three one-foot wide, 10-foot long planks for the bottom, two for the sides and a third for the ends, then another to be cut to length for seats, great! What else? A couple of 2x2's for oars, with a piece of board on the end, they’d do nicely after the handles were rounded for easier rowing. And for this purchase they’d deliver! Straight to 30 West Street.

It took him the better part of a month. One of the hardest parts was bending the bottom boards, ever so slightly, and meeting the curve with an end board. The end result looked a little awkward, but it was the best he could do. He’d made a trip to Montgomery Ward for oarlocks and nails, but badly needed something to plug gaps between the boards, gaps which he knew would only grow larger with use. Ever the inventive mind, he rummaged through Mamma’s rag bag. Just the thing! Using a screwdriver, he pushed the strips of rags into every crevice he saw—but knew he’d need more. What to do? Then inspiration hit! Tar! He’d use heated tar like they used on the road! Where did he get it? Well, that’s his secret, but it seemed to do the job.

Next was how to get it from our house, in the west, to the lake side, two to three miles to the east. A cranking noise, a sputtering, and running footsteps on the road caught his attention, and he knew what to do! George Devine running to his truck. Our neighbor across the street had an old model T truck that he picked up trash with. I suppose he was a “rag-bag” man, but a grand fellow, and he was happy to transport the boat to the Seneca Lake mooring spot.

It was a thing of beauty, painted green, and christened “Tubby”. Harold was very proud of it and rightfully so. The appointed day came, and he and Mr. Devine carefully lifted it into the back of the truck and set off. The only place available for him to put it into the lake, where the truck could come up close enough to the water to easily disgorge the boat, was way down at the far side of the lake, past the swimming and play ground area, near where the road curves to the east side. Long Pier is on the west side, two to three miles across the foot of the lake, but it couldn’t be helped, this was where it had to be set in.

Carefully placing it on the beach edge, they pushed it in, and Harold got in, sat on the middle seat, and just glowed for a minute! The thing floated! With no chance to let the boards swell, for he couldn’t stay there, he set off, rowing with his make shift oars. Leaked? Yes, it did a bit, but he’d used plenty of tar over tightly wedged rags, and all he had to do now was row across the foot of the lake and around the bend to Long Pier. If you go today, and stand by the lake side of the Ramada Inn, look to your right and away up the lake you’ll see a pier. That was this twelve year old’s destination! Took all day, and long before he arrived, he’d raised blisters on his hands, his arms were tired, and he was hungry, but he continued on and made it, tying his rope securely to the far corner of the pier near the land. Wobbling slightly, he crawled out and sat looking at HIS boat, resting on Seneca Lake!

He rowed that boat around all summer, investigating every cove he could see, and one time picked up a bit of money, rowing some sailors to a deserted spot to spy on a buddy with his girlfriend. Fall came, and Mr. Devine once again helped him out. They brought it home to rest for the winter, tipped up against the back of our garage. In the spring, “Tubby” was rolled over, to display shrunken boards, slats big enough to put your fist through on her bottom, her days done. But no one could ever take away her glory days, the days they’d had together. He’d built a boat!!

Tuesday, October 2, 2007

From Sue Kinsella

Thank you for all the Family Reunion pictures! It has always been important to me to stay in touch with cousins and extended family, and it’s so wonderful to see you all!

If I ever needed reminding of what a gift cousins are, I got it this summer when Julie was one of the blessed people who dropped everything to fly cross-country to take care of me when I was incapacitated by a shattered ankle. (Slipped on a magazine and fell down the stairs – go figure!) I also heard from many of my cousins and deeply appreciated your notes and cards. I still have a lot of recovery ahead of me, but I can get around better now. I’m out of my cast (beautiful though it was) and into a walking boot now, using crutches, a walker, and a wheelchair, depending on the need. I just stood on my foot for the first time yesterday in two and a half months!

Here are pictures of Julie with me and with my son, Alex. I’ve been surprised to learn how many other people have broken their ankles at one time or another. I hear that one of Ted Lochner’s sons came to the Family Reunion this year in a cast, and Diana told me that she broke BOTH ankles – AT THE SAME TIME (tripped over a dog) - several years ago. It is totally miraculous, I’m finding, that ankles can heal themselves and bones can regenerate. I say – revel in your ankles! Walk, run, jog, hike, dance, and celebrate! Love to you all (and especially Julie)!

Monday, October 1, 2007

30 West Street, Geneva, NY--By CB

The house we Taylor Kids grew up in was a large old house, paint long ago worn off, its inner workings (pipes) as old and cantankerous as the outside looked. The house itself was set near the road and was bordered by lots on either side as well as in back of it. Like a shabby well worn lady, tired, who’d settled down with her skirts all awry about her, she sat in the midst of empty lots. Upstairs the four bedrooms opened onto a large hall running from the front to the back of the house allowing for a front and back stairway. Downstairs, an entry hall opened into four rooms, parlor, living room, dining room and kitchen, all tied together by the marvelous stairways (we thought everyone had such a convenience!) Which allowed for grand games of “catch me if you can!” (Poor Mom!)

Way behind the house, a good 50-75 feet or so, sat the garage, one corner of which had been made into a chicken house. The hens had daytime access to a wired yard outside, but roosted each night in the garage. A side door leading into the area where the car was kept also held two large metal bins filled with chicken feed. Always one of us was responsible for feeding the chickens daily. This time it was Doris’ job, and she had forgotten to do it until after supper. It was fall, and when she remembered, it was dark outside.

“Come with me, CB,” she coaxed, “I’ll scratch your back 10 minutes tonight when we go to bed if you will.” (we shared a bed) Now I have to tell you that I was a real “scaredycat”, and walking all the way back to the garage in the dark even with a flashlight, was definitely not my thing, although I hesitated because I was terribly tempted. Usually to get my back scratched I’d have to scratch hers–and she was bigger than me and it took longer she always said, as she timed it.

Finally, I decided, “No, I think not, but I’ll stand by the back steps and wait for you while you go feed them.” Not able to persuade me differently, she scuffed off, making sure I’d wait for her outside by hollering “yoo hoo!” all the way down the driveway to which I’d have to answer “I’m here!” Then there was a pause and I heard the creak of the side door opening in the garage and the clang of the scoop against the metal bin.

Suddenly the night was rent with a blood curdling scream, and I saw what seemed to be an apparition appearing over the raspberry bushes between the garage and the back of the house. In one leap (honest!) she made the distance and slammed down beside me, grabbing my arm! “A rat–there was a rat on the step”– and we both ran into the house! No chickens were fed that night!

I'm sending 2 pictures-the one of the Taylor kids are from left to right, Arnon, Ruth, Esther, Doris, CB, Harold, Ethel in back. Picture taken 1936?
30 West Street, Geneva, NY taken from the south side 1942