Thursday, March 27, 2008

More Center Lisle Pictures

Cousin Diana started all of this by sending this terrific picture from 1924 and remarking, "I think that little guy in the big hat might just be my dad, Arnon."

Aunt CB/Mom replied:

Yep, that’s a picture taken on a June 1924 visit to Center Lisle and the beloved Baker farm!

Ruth was 6 and a half, Arnon was 4 and a half, and Esther was 2 and a half. Doris was born that September and Byron Baker died in April, 1925, less than a year after this picture was taken. As you can see, the Taylor kids loved the barn cats! (We all did and were shocked to realize that Grandma gave the hundreds of kittens that they produced an opportunity to learn to swim!)

In a letter to Ethel that year, Grandma Baker includes $2, writing that Pa (Byron) wants you to buy Arnon a pair of barn boots (see picture) like his, as he so admired his. Byron’s eyes had been failing for some time (macular degeneration). Ethel used to read the paper to him when she was home from Cortland. He’d gone to Cortland and lived with a cousin who was a church janitor, while taking a “mercury cure” for his eyes. This, I think, was in the fall of 1924. Ethel always thought that this had contributed to his death. He was 66 and a half when he died.

Picture One: Ruth, Arnon, Byron, Esther plus cats
Picture Two: Front porch of farm

Thursday, March 20, 2008


On March 21st, Lucille Kate Taylor Kinsella turns the young age of 81!!!

Her grand-children--and one great grandchild--came up with these tidbits about Grandma:

From Kristin (Tim’s daughter), age 27: One of my favorite things about Grandma is how caring she is. I know she is thinking about me - from the letters, newspaper clippings, little notes and holiday cards that she sends us. Grandma sends emails, packages with little gifts, cookies and other things that let me know how much she cares. They are small gestures, but make me feel so loved!

I love you, Grandma - Happy Birthday!

From Paul (Tim’s son) age 25: I have a lot of great memories of Grandma, so it’s hard to pick just a couple. I love all of the times at the cottage that we get take out food in town (KFC mostly) and take it to the park to eat it there. I remember sleeping on cots in the screen porch at the old cottage when I was there on my week alone and it was way too hot to sleep inside. I also love the fact that when it rains at the cottage, we're never bored because Grandma is always there to put together a puzzle with you or play a game of Monopoly.

Grandma is also one of the smartest people I know. She has all sorts of amazing creative ideas, some that only she thinks will work, but once everyone else sees them in practice, they admit she was right. One example of this that comes to mind is the old trailer that is now at the old cottage. Everyone else thought the thing was too old or would fall apart on the way to the old cottage. Everybody thought we needed to throw it away and that it would look ugly in the yard. Some electrical wiring, a bit of cleaning, and a new paint job later - and it became a perfect extra room next to the buggary. Only Grandma knew the entire time that it would work, it wasn't until it was all finished that everyone else finally wised up!

Another great story about Grandma was from when I was younger, it’s a lot funnier now than it was then. When I was much younger (definitely less than 10) we were in 2846 and I was playing with Matt. We eventually found our way into the bathroom and started mixing a bunch of stuff up to make a "potion." This essentially meant taking all of Grandma's makeup and mixing it together in the sink - I think we even cut off part of her lip stick as part of this science experiment. Then Grandma walked in right in the middle of this. Grandma immediately turned to me and started yelling: "Paul Christopher, what are you doing! I know this was all your idea because your brother is not old enough to know what he is doing!" Matt pretty much got off scott free; I probably had to sit alone in a room with nothing to do for a while. Of course Grandma was right - it had been all my idea, you can't sneak anything past her!

I love you Grandma, Happy Birthday!

From Matt (Tim’s son) age 22:
1) My favorite thing to do with Grandma when I was young was always making, and then eating, peanut butter fudge.

2) Doing puzzles at the cottage with Grandma

3) Doing little chores and jobs at the cottage (moving rocks/sand, picking up sticks/ branches, etc.) but them not seeming like work because Grandma was doing just as much as you were

4) Watering all the grandchildren's trees and plants around the cottages which took a long time since there were so many

5) Taking "baths" in the lake and being shown the proper way by Grandma

6) Grandma's wimpy burgers

From Brian ( Pat’s son), age 20: I'd have to say my favorite time with Grandma was the first time she took me grocery shopping at college. I remember trying to not go all out and buy everything that looks delicious to a starving college student and Grandma busy dropping every good bargain into the shopping cart. Maybe some bargain stocking-stuffers came out of that trip?

From Alison ( Pat’s daughter), age 18: Grandma and I used to work on all sorts of projects at the cottage. I remember taking old half-eaten curtains from the buggery and turning them into clothes, making pillowcases, quilting mini blankets for little cousins...and Grandma never questioned Brian and I when the cookie mix we were baking mysteriously didn't make as many cookies as it was supposed to.

From Nick ( Pat’s son), age 16: I remember doing latch hook after latch hook, and Grandma would take them and magically make pillows out of them; now, latch hook pillows are everywhere!

From Alex ( Sue’s son) age 15: I remember that when I was little, Grandma showed me Tubtown, so whenever I went to 2846, I HAD to take a bath and play with it. She would show me the things that all of the people did and accompany me in playing with it. Every once in a while, when I thought that I had figured out everything on it, Grandma would show me some part of it that I hadn't discovered yet and I'd be fascinated with it for endless hours. What would I have done if Grandma hadn't introduced me to the wonder that is Tubtown?!

From Maggie (Chris’ daughter), age 10: I like catching frogs and fish at the cottage.

From Bridget (Chris’ daughter), age 7: I love the crawl space at Grandma’s new house. I also like the doll house at the old cottage.

From Maddie ( Jim’s daughter), age 7: I like how Grandma Kinsella teaches me how to do things like sew and bake cookies. I also like reading with her. Last weekend we made clay figures with Grandma and she let us take them home! (I made a horse and Grandma and Kelly made a dog and a cake)

From Patrick (Chris’son), age 4: I like playing with the train on your basement table.

From Kelly ( Jim’s daughter), age 3: I like the cookies and candy Grandma has. I also like all the doggie things she gets me, like my doggie book. Last night we watched the Rat movie (Rattatoie) with Grandma and Grandpa and ate popcorn!

From Joe (Chris’ son), age 2: I was trying my best to climb into Grandma’s crawl space to look at those cool rusty pipes and dusty glass jars, but those big cousins playing Risk next to me kept pulling me away; I heard them say ‘Just in the nick of time’, or ‘Paul, YOUR turn to get Joe’.

From Cameron ( Kristin’s son), age 4 months:Great Grandma came and met me just a few days after I was born. I think she was very happy to hold me and cuddle me! Since then I have gotten to spend more time with her. Just last weekend I was at her house and showed her how I eat my cereal and play with my toys like a big boy. I was a little bit of a stinker and wouldn't show her my new trick. I showed Great Grandpa and Daddy how I could roll over, but when Great Grandma came over to see my trick, I wouldn't do it again. I will show her next time! I love my great grandma!!

Ma—Hope this day, and this year, are good to you-- We love you!!

Picture One: The Birthday Girl
Picture Two: Back row: Kristin, Dan, Tim, Pat, Nick, Brian, Chris, Alex, Rose, Glenn
Kneeling: Ali, Jim, Tom, Matt
Next (sitting in chairs): Liz, Jen (holding Maggie), Mom, Dad (holding Joe), Jill (holding Kelly)
Floor: Sue, Patrick, Maddie, Bridget
Picture Three: Ali, Matt, Nick, Brian, Paul

Picture Four: Great-Grandma and Cameron

Wednesday, March 12, 2008


Aunt CB writes:

We Taylors didn't have any cousins to spare! Four on the Baker side, all girls, and six on the Taylor side, all boys. The ones we saw most often of the Taylors lived in LeRoy, NY and were sons of Floyd Taylor, Lloyd Taylor's twin. Rexford, same age as Ruth and Arnon, was the older one. Bryant, the younger, was Esther's age. We loved to get together with them as they were full of fun.
Rexford married Dene Chadwick in 1941, and they now live in Ohio. At 89 years, they are still active and healthy and enjoying their two children and four grandchildren.
Bryant married Evelyn Laufer in 1942 and they have three children and five grandchildren. Sadly, Bryant died in 1994 of cancer of the colon. Evie still lives in LeRoy very near where this story takes place.

Eve writes:

Bryant Taylor comes from a family who were farmers in the Oakfield area, but he only knew the fun that kids have on Grandpa's farm. It is a totally different experience to be the farmer.

His first experience with milking a cow was hilarious, but could have had serious consequences. The cow had been delivered during the day and was put into a small pasture next to the house because the stall in the old barn next door had not been fully repaired.

When it came time for milking, Bryant chained the cow to the wire fence, sat on the stool, and started. The Cornell farming books and his dad had given him some instructions, but this was his first hands-on attempt. A thunderstorm came up, and Bryant was still slowly struggling and concentrating on what he was doing. Suddenly, the cow jerked violently, and Bryant was knocked backwards off the stool. All turned out well, except the cow did not give milk for two days! Our herd never became more than two, but they gave us more than enough milk to keep me busy as I will tell you later.

After a large chicken house was cleaned, white-washed, straw put on the floor, and brooder tent and watering troughs delivered, we were ready to have our baby chicks delivered. We picked up two peeping boxes of fluffy,yellow chicks at the post office.

Back at the chicken house each one was gently picked up, beak dipped into the water dish, and placed under the brooder canvas which was warmed by a light bulb. They could freely go in and out. We spent lots of time watching our family of chicks.

A couple of days after arrival, one looked sick, so Bryant sought his dad's advice, which was that it had to be killed. To Bryant's. "How?" was the reply:
"Wring its neck. Hold the head and swing the body around."
I thought Bryant was going to be sick, for the thing he loved most about farming was the livestock. That was the first of many he had to do, for at one time we had 1000 chickens, but he never really got used to it.
Bryant also enjoyed plowing and fitting the land. With Cornell book in hand and his Ford Ferguson tractor, he learned how to plow, disk, and plant straight corn furrows. However, his dad did not think they were straight enough. Eventually, he cut and baled hay, harvested corn and peas, combined wheat and buckwheat, and threshed the grain in the barn with the help of the neighbors and Harry Paul's threshing machine. In return for the thresher's help, he threshed and helped fill silos for them.

In the 1940s West Main Road, Le Roy was still a small farm community and a true neighborhood of people who annually got together for a big picnic, who helped one another at harvest time, and who had a committee to take charge of collecting money and sending flowers for funerals of the immediate neighbors or close family members; The farmer was not an "island unto himself."

As Bryant had his special jobs on the farm, so did I. As was mentioned before, having chickens, cows, and a large vegetable garden naturally led to my special jobs. We could not use the eggs from so many chickens, so I had to clean and grade them as to size and pack them carefully into shipping crates. We sold two crates a week to the wholesaler who picked them up by truck.

Nor could we use all the milk produced. I made butter in a small glass churn, turned by a crank handle, which I recently saw in an antique shop for $155.00.Cottage cheese was made by putting milk in a large pan and slightly heating until the curds were formed. The final liquid, after squeezing the curds through a cheesecloth bag, was the whey. Remember the nursery rhyme?

"Little Miss Muffet
Sat on a tuffet,
Eating her curds and whey.
Along came a spider
And sat down beside her,
And frightened Miss Muffet away.”

Another time when a couple of pigs were slaughtered, I "rendered lard." The excess fat was cut up into small pieces, put in a large roasting pan, and placed in the oven on a very low heat. It took hours for the fat to melt, but then it was strained into 3 lb. Crisco cans, and became beautiful white lard, which I used for my pie pastry.

On a farm one can be self-sufficient as far as food is concerned. The large vegetable garden and fruit required extensive canning and/or freezing and making of jams and jellies. All of these things, with the help of booklets from the Cornell Extension Services, advice from and hands-on working with my mother, grandmother, and mother-in-law became part of my new life.

In addition to our special jobs, Bryant and I also worked together as a team. I learned to drive tractor when bales of hay were being picked up for storage. On one occasion I tied bags as Bryant combined buckwheat. That evening we decided to go into Rochester to the movies. Outside of Caledonia my eyes began to burn and water so badly that we turned around and went to Dr. Knoll's; the dust from the buckwheat had given me conjunctivitis. As a result, I spent a couple of very miserable, painful days and nights.

Every farm in those days had a horse. As Goldie and Floyd Taylor were horse lovers, I had become interested during the war period when I lived with them while Bryant was overseas. My interest led to my purchasing a Morgan mare named Peggy. Unfortunately, she turned out to be very stubborn with a mind of her own. Since I knew nothing about riding, I never rode her after she reared up with Floyd on her back, refusing to cross the railroad tracks. This really hurt his ego for he had said that he would get her to behave. It just did not happen.

Therefore, when Bryant came home and we were living at the Greystone, we had her bred to Curate, a half-brother of Man 'O War, the famous Kentucky Thoroughbred. Curate was stabled at Pete and Hugh Hanrette's farm next door.

These bachelors were excellent horsemen. They literally took us under their wings and walked us through the whole process from breeding to delivery twelve months later. When Pete and Hugh felt that Peggy was due to foal, she was put in the same pasture where the cow-milking incident had taken place.

Bryant and I were determined to witness this miracle, so we pulled the car up next to the fence. Supplied with coffee and snacks, we were prepared for the night watch. Peggy kept walking around and around the pasture, whinnying and snorting for hours. Finally, this vigil proved too much for us, and we dozed off to sleep. At dawn, we woke up to see a copper-colored foal running around. It was all over! We had missed it all!

Twinkle Toes had the sorrel color and build of her sire. Peggy, although not cooperative for riding, was an excellent mother and let us share her foal under her watchful eye.

Bryant and I only farmed for two years -- long enough, however, to appreciate the hard work farming is, as well as to know the satisfaction of a hands-on life, close to nature. Along with its “chores”, farming has its “rewards.”

Picture #1-- Bryant and Evelyn, taken in 1992
Picture#2 --Standing, L-R Floyd, B.W. his father
Kneeling, L-R Rexford, Bryant, sons of Floyd, taken fall of 1938

Monday, March 3, 2008


What did you do in the “Old days,” when you lived in the country on a farm and worked very hard to survive, to have fun? If you were a Taylor, you turned to music! You either played an instrument or sang, and as social times were few and far between, you combined all this with your religion.

Bryant W. Taylor, the oldest of the three boys, had grown up singing with his brothers as a trio, while their older sister played the piano for them. They became well known in the Genesee County area , especially since they seemed to enjoy it so. At the drop of a hat they’d launch into three part harmony, at home on a Sunday afternoon, or at a church popcorn party. They knew all the old hymns, but then they grew up, married and moved away.

Yes, when they returned to visit they still entertained their parents with “Beautiful Threads of Gold,” or “Will We Meet on the Shore?” but those times were fewer. However, there was a solution. Bryant, who married and returned to work the home farm, in the Oakfield area, raised a family of three boys and two girls. As they grew up, the girls took piano lessons and each boy played an instrument. Leon, the oldest, played the cornet. Lloyd, next oldest, played the violin. Floyd, his twin, played the cello and their father played the clarinet. As well as forming an orchestra, they also sang as a quartet.

Lead tenor was Lloyd, second tenor , Floyd. Leon sang baritone and their father, Bryant, carried the bass. One of their sisters played the piano. They spent many a Sunday afternoon perfecting their craft and thoroughly enjoying themselves. This, of course, carried over into church, and their fame soon spread.

The Taylor quartet was in great demand in all the upstate New York churches for revivals, regular services, and as an added attraction with a speaker or in addition to the pot luck supper. It was a practice that they never out grew. At every family get together, throughout their lives, the men sang a portion of their time together. They even had a record made during which Lloyd had to sing into a hat as his voice overpowered the rest. It was wonderful harmony and I never hear a quartet but what I think of them.

Picture: (left to right) D. Floyd Taylor, W. Lloyd Taylor, Leon C. Taylor, Bryant W. Taylor

WANT TO LISTEN TO YOUR ANCESTORS? CLICK at the right under, you guessed it, Taylor Male Quartet Songs. My son, Nick, listened and felt that at least some of these are recorded too high in pitch--perhaps recorded a bit faster than originally sung-- for two tenors, a baritone and a bass ( 'Follow the Cross of Light' in particular), so he used software to bring it down in pitch, and it does sound much more realistic, I think. Listen to both and see what you think!

Let us know what you think! And, did the musical gene get passed down to YOUR side of the family?!