Saturday, September 27, 2008

Aunt Nell, daughter of Leonard and Nancy Baker, sister of Byron Baker (and thus, Aunt to Ethel and Lil Baker), By Aunt CB

Nell, or Nellie Baker Barrows, was as different from her younger sister, Florence Baker Young, as salt is from pepper. Small, quiet and loving, extremely capable, she was married to big, boisterous, good natured Delbert Barrows. He was eight years her junior and was 22 years old when they married.

Dell drove a steam roller and worked on road construction. For a while they lived in Elizabethtown, a community way up in the northeast corner of New York State. They also lived and worked all around in the Adirondack area. Here they often lived in a tent, heated with a pot bellied stove, until the other workers had time to throw up a shack for their use. A picture shows them sitting in front of the home, Nell with arms folded across her chest, as I remember her sitting so well.

She cooked for “the team” as the men were called and an excellent cook she was. Adept at frying and stewing squirrels and ground hogs as well as all wild game, she could make them taste like chicken with never a strong taste (so they said!). I can vouch for her baking. Her doughnuts were mouth watering. Her cookies, sugar and molasses, were big, fat, toothsome confections with a big seeded sultana (raisin) smack plum in the center of the top.

Dell also worked on road construction in Dansville, NY. We have another snapshot of his house there, taken in 1913--a very simple unpainted box-like square (maybe 12 feet by 12 feet?), one step up from the ground and perched on corner posts. Nell, here, sits on a keg as does Dell, with 14 year old Merle standing between them, arms folded, just as his mother always did! In the back of the house shows a tent, where perhaps the rest of “the team” slept.

Adin Baker’s letters (Nell’s nephew) speak of working as a brakeman on the dirt train there for awhile in 1913, working 280 hours a month, unless the rain held them up, and being paid $2.20 per day. He and a friend boarded with Aunt Nell, so I assume they slept in the tent also. Maybe they all did and just used the house for living and eating.

Their only child, Merle, was born twelve years after my mother. He was a very smart boy, mechanically and electronically inclined and was as opinionated as his father, but in a quieter way, like his mother. He married Viola Jackson, a large, loud and good-hearted woman, but one who was narrow minded and boastful. Now maybe that’s unfair. She was no better educated than Dell and because they both spoke out on any subject, it seemed as though they were narrow minded because they were usually misinformed. However, it may be that they were merely unaware of another viewpoint and it was impossible to get another one across to them. They were not dumb, nor were Merle and Aunt Nell. The latter were just quieter.

Nell and Dell, as well as Merle and Viola, at some point, settled down for what they thought was their lifetime in Manningville, a small cluster of homes down a road which led off Route #79, halfway between Center Lisle and Lisle. This area was known as “the flats” because it lay in a level spot alongside a small creek, Dudley Creek, which fed into the Otselic River near the town of Lisle.

Merle had a garage where he did all kinds of metal work, had a forge and according to Arnon could fix almost any mechanical problem. He also took up well drilling. Merle, during these years, wired his Aunt Kate’s house for electricity (the Baker home on Caldwell Hill road).

Sometime in the late 1920's Nell and Dell, for whatever reason, perhaps “too many cooks in the kitchen’”, bought a small house in Center Lisle behind Lil and Elmer’s store. This was also on the same creek, but on somewhat higher ground. In the summer of 1935, that little creek overflowed its banks in a disastrous flood. Lil’s store had water in it as did Nell’s home. In fact, big old Uncle Dell had to hoist little old Aunt Nell up on his back carrying her “piggy back” up the street to Lil’s house which was on the side of a hill and therefore dry.

Their house, although filled with mud and water which ruined most of their furniture, (there was an 18 inch mark on its walls) stayed put. Dell’s barn and wood shed in the rear of the property were moved completely off their cement base and split into two pieces. Merle and Viola, still in the lowland in Manningville were not so lucky. They got out but lost everything.

I can remember going down there with my parents and wondering where the house, whose wooden sides lay about in confusion, minus the roof, which was long gone down the river, had stood as I watched Merle in his hip waders, pointing a long metal crowbar into the black muck, trying to locate his forge! He did eventually and moved to Pitcher, NY (near Cincinnatus) where he built up a new and successful business. Merle eventually died of lateral sclerosis (Lou Gehrig’s disease). He and Viola never had any children.

The magnitude of this flood and the number of deaths attributable to it as well as homes lost, convinced the Federal government that something must be done. The Army Corps of Engineers came in and after much consultation, built a dam near Upper Lisle on the river and straightened the course of Dudley Creek. This solved the flooding problem.

Nell and Dell’s house was directly across the road from the back of Lil’s store, or across what had once been a road before they built a new bridge (because of the flood) and moved Rt. #79 to what became the front of the store. So now, the “main street” of Center Lisle (I use the term loosely) was dead ended right there at their house. It was a lovely little old home with a porch across its full front which was glassed in so it was useable at least six months of the year.

Here we spent hours, sitting with Aunt Nell in one of her rocking chairs, basking in her unconditional love. She never made us feel awkward.. We knew she was fervently interested in our every word, or at least we thought so. Behind that porch and across the front of the house was a small living room and a smaller bedroom, both of which opened into a tiny dining room and a larger kitchen. The sink was served with a pump and hot water was heated on the cast iron stove in a big kettle. Nevertheless we had wonderful meals there, chicken and biscuit (the chicken having been roaming the backyard shortly before) and more of her marvelous cookies. She also made a grand parsnip stew. She would take a few slices of salt pork, dice them and fry them up crisp, add onion, sliced parsnips and diced potatoes, a little water to cover and cook until soft. Then drain partially, add a little milk, butter, salt and pepper and voila! It was a dish fit for royalty.

There is a story about Uncle Dell, who was a prodigious eater, and pancakes. It seems that Nell stood at the stove, baking pancake after pancake for some time until Dell, as he pushed back his chair, said, “that’s enough, Nellie, turn off the griddle!” completely oblivious to the fact that she’d not eaten a morsel yet! This was not a deliberate slight, he was a good man and good to Aunt Nell, just thoughtless and had very little patience.

Leona tells of the time that she, sixteen years old, went deer hunting with Uncle Dell and some of his cronies from around town. One of them had an old house on a farm near Speculator (in the Adirondacks up above Northville). His wife came along and did the cooking. Leona soon found out why she was included, as she did most of the deer driving (walking behind the deer to make them go in the direction towards the shooters) but she says it was worth it to hear the tales they told around the stove each night.

Going out of the back door of the kitchen you turned left in a covered walkway to reach the two steps to the ground and the garden. Turning to the right in the same walkway brought you to a woodshed and then the privy, or outhouse. It was a two-holer as I remember and boasted the usual catalog, newspaper or corn cobs. I never liked corn cobs!

In later years they used to drive to Geneva to visit us, usually in the muskmelon season. Dell used to love to eat them. The last time I saw them was in August of 1955. Grandma Baker (Kate Youngs Baker) had died and I went to her funeral. The service was held in the Congregational Church next to Lil’s store and across from where Nell lived. She was too ill herself to attend but Dell did and I remember well his sotto voice (like a huge bell tolling) “whispering” some bit of gossip to the one next to him during the service, too deaf to realize that the minister was praying. Grandma would have been provoked and said, “the old fool” but Nellie would have just smiled; she knew her Dell.

Afterwards I went over to see Aunt Nell, lost as she was in the big bed which took up most of the bed room. She was as quietly glad to see me as she had always been. Tim was due to be born that November, and she was pleased to note that I was again “carrying” as she termed it. Within two months she too had died at 92 and joined her sister-in-law, Kate, (who died at 91) her brother, Byron, and their parents Leonard and Nancy in the cementary on the hill behind Florence Young Leet’s house. Two years later Dell followed her. I like to go and sit in that quiet little spot midst the family buried there.

An added commentary—I found Nell listed as Olive C. Baker in the census notes. Interestingly, I never heard her called such.

Gail Wood Kinney, daughter of Gladys, grand-daughter of Lillian, great-grandneice of Nell, adds this picture taken in 1955 on the joint birthdays of Nell, aged 92, and Gail, aged two. She writes, “I love this picture, I just know something sweet is in the bag.” Gail also keeps many of the hankies that were Aunt Nell’s, and she has been using them for years and “the tradition is going on to another generation, because my granddaughter is a hanky person so we share.”

Picture One: Dansville, NY 1913
Nellie, Dell and Merle Barrows
Picture Two: Northern NY 1915?,
Nell and Dell
Picture Three: Nell 22 in 1885
Picture Four: Nell 27 in 1890
Picture Five: 1955, Nell age 92 and Gail Wood Kinney

Thursday, September 25, 2008

More Taylor Reunion Pictures!

Picture One: Eating Great Food
Picture Two: More Great Food
Picture Three: Great-Grandma CB Kinsella and Cameron Walker (son of Kristin, daughter of Tim)
Picture Four: Uncle Harold, of course!
Picture Five: Perfect End to the Reunion

Look for the Family Reunion Group Photos AFTER this Saturday's Story about Aunt Nell. AND, if you are asking 'WHO is Aunt Nell?', then tune in on her 145 th Birthday, September 27th. You'll see a picture of her from 1955, along with other great pictures of her earlier life, and read SOME of her life story.


Cousin Pat

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Taylor Reunion 2008

Just the first of the pictures from this weekend!!

Great weather, which I hear is a rarity for this grand event. It was sunny and almost hot here, and the young fishermen lined up on the dock to try to catch fish for us to eat. Not sure that happened, but it kept them busy and happy.

LOTS of cousins!! Nancy from Florida, the Maneys, Cindy and Charlie Hawkes and families, Julie and Wes from Colorado (with their two dogs), Rick and Laurie, Charlie Lochner, Kathy and Gordie, Annie and Dennis and families (daughter Jessica has a wedding coming up October 4th which you will see more of later on this blog), and plenty of Kinsellas. And, of course, Aunt CB and Uncle Jack and Uncle Harold.

It was so wonderful to see everyone. I have not been to a reunion in ages, and this was so much fun. Rick brought his 'toy', his potato launcher, which launched potatoes, tomatoes, grapes and whatever, at unsuspecting jet skiis. Later, he tried to reinact WWII bombs that skipped several times before finding the perfect angle to take out German dams near industrial towns....apples DO skip on water when angled correctly!

Lots of goodies to take home--Concord grapes by the bunches, apples felled courtesy of Hurricane Ike, butternut squash, tomatoes. Reams of paper and pens from our drug lord, brother Chris, and pens, carabiners and squishy brains (as in stress balls) from our coroner, Wes.

The Food!! So much of everything!! Next year, I will know to bring lots of leftover containers--there were so many of the main dishes that I wanted to take home--sauerkraut, fruit salad, beans, veggies, tomatoes straight from the vine, deviled eggs.

And, you knew there were desserts! Several of our cousins (or were they brothers?) went right to the desserts, bypassing the salads and main dishes. Lots of pies--elderberry of course, cookies, brownies of all types, cakes, bars, shrimp....Just checking to see if you were reading or skimming....Yes, the ring of shrimp was with the desserts. Perhaps so that the shrimp lovers would not find it TOO early?

As I left, the fire in the firepit was going strong, and marshmellows were making an appearance. SO GOOD to see everyone and catch up, at least for a hug and smile. Stay safe, and we'll see everyone next September. As always, thanks to the Harold Taylor families for hosting.

Stay tuned for many more pictures! And, please send your pictures to me ( if you took some on Saturday! Thanks.

Picture One: Rick with white potato launcher, as the assorted crowd watches
Picture Two: Kristin, Cameron and Grandpa Tim (again, HOW can Tim be a grandfather?? So handsome, so young)
Picture Three: Gina (girlfriend of Brian), Brian Herdeg (son of Pat, grandson of Aunt CB), Pat Kinsella Herdeg (as in 'me'), background, Annie and Kathy (daughters of Uncle Harold)
Picture Four: Matt Kinsella (son of Tim), Brian, Gina, Tim Walker, Cameron Walker, Kristin Kinsella Walker (daughter of Tim, granddaughter of Aunt CB)

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Uncle Dick Lochner, by Tom Kinsella

Dick Lochner wasn’t a father to me—he was a father to his own children—but he was my uncle, and a man who populates my earliest and warmest memories, a man who sometimes watched over me and with whom I shared many enjoyable experiences. In ways, he was only a step removed from my father, and I first loved him in that role.

My earliest memories of Uncle Dick are wrapped up in the parties we held for Fall and Spring birthdays. He and Aunt Esther would bring the family to Irondequoit to celebrate one season; Dad and Mom would bring us to Spencerport the next. I remember the house in Spencerport well, especially the basement. Uncle Dick would set up the movie projector and next thing I’d know Abbot and Costello would be drinking water while under water or we’d be watching Apollo moonshots.

Uncle Dick worked at Kodak. This made sense to me in a Kodak town when my Dad worked for Xerox. One time Uncle Dick took me and some of the other kids to a movie at Kodak Park auditorium. I probably wasn’t more than eight years old. In the middle of the movie ( some Disney cartoon, I think), I got violently sick all over myself and the chair next to me. It smelled horrible! Uncle Dick just cleaned me up a bit, gathered the other kids, then got me out of the auditorium where he cleaned me up some more and took us home. He made me feel there was nothing to be ashamed about, although I still feel bad for the people sitting next to us.

Another time Uncle Dick took me and Ted (and maybe Jim) to a Scout Jamboree. We had a great time, met lots of other scouts, and laughed the night away by the fire. Half the place seemed to know Uncle Dick and that added to the fun. It was the first and only jamboree I ever attended.

Very early memories of the cottage include Uncle Dick returning from fishing trips. He always seemed to have a stringer full of fish ( which would attract the snapping turtle). I had a special bond with him when I was younger because I too liked to fish. When I was old enough, he and I would head out early in the morning and late at night. We’d fish until the sun was hot or the lake was dark. It was during one of his fishing trips that he named White Birch Bay, years before we bought the lots in that same bay. One men’s weekend he and I drove up early and got into trouble because the fishing was so good. We stayed on the lake all afternoon, forgetting to drive into town for beer. Dad and the other Uncles weren’t too excited about the “great fishing” when they found out they had no beer.

Somewhere there’s a 16 millimeter film of Uncle Dick and me fishing. We had walked down to the Church’s point with camera and poles and were throwing in our lines. He took some film of me, then I shot him working the shore. After a while he decided to let me keep fishing while he napped a bit. You’ll know the reel. He’s lying on the hill, asleep and I’m busy turning the camera sideways and upside down trying to adequately catch his napping skills.

For a few years we were also golfing buddies, but it wasn’t much fun to play a round with Uncle Dick. I’d head up to the tees and hit the long ball somewhere into the woods. He’d head up to the tees and dink it down the middle of the fairway. At the end of the round I’d have a 72 or so (not bad for 18 holes, too bad we only played 9). He’d have a 45 or 50.

Uncle Dick was also an Algonquin stalwart, attending several years and making all sorts of literary history. Amidst the beauty of the park I came to know him as a man. He was no longer my fishing buddy ( I knew better than to dip my rod in Algonquin waters—he didn’t) or the Uncle who took me off on some day trip. He was the guy in the middle of the canoe who didn’t paddle that much. He didn’t sleep well at night and had a tape player in his tent to listen to Lake Wobegone tapes. He was one of the oldsters, with Dad, Uncle Harold and Uncle Ken, who showed me how to enjoy triscuits and Balderson’s cheese under a fir tree and how to properly self-administer paddle-pain reliever. I listened to his stories around the campfire and he listened to mine. It was at Algonquin that I came to see Dick Lochner the man.

As it turns out, I’ve been blessed with an extended family of loving aunts, uncles, and cousins. Like a photo album stuffed with pictures, they’ve filled my head. Uncle Dick stands tall in my album. He’s the guy with the smile, the gravelly Lochner voice, and the great laugh.

Picture One: Uncle Dick, August 1954, 'Old Man and the Sea'
Picture Two: Uncle Dick, May 1952
Picture Three: Uncle Dick, Tom Kinsella and Ted Lochner, July 1968
Picture Four: Uncle Dick, June 1967
Picture Five: Uncle Dick, May 1969

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Sept. 11, 1924--Aunt Doris' Birthday, By Aunt CB

Today, Sept. 11th means much to all of the U.S.A.—but as Doris and I sat, watching the event unfold on her TV, she could only moan, “and on MY birthday! How could they?”

How could they indeed!—unload such a horror on the birth date of Aunt Dot, everybody’s sweetheart! Well, she and I knew one another pretty well and as she spilled some beans on my kids, I’m going to spill some here—this is only one of many such scenarios in our growing up years!

I’d just finished my Sophomore year in high school, and she was home on vacation from R.I.T. The fellow that I was currently dating had invited me to his parents' cottage for an overnight stay, and as he knew Doris and we’d double dated a time or so, she was included in the invitation.

We arrived, swam, ate a meal and swam some more and presently bedtime came. The cottage was a simple one, living room and kitchen combined and 3 bedrooms, and like many summer only homes, the walls of a room only stood eight feet or so, leaving the rafters exposed and all air free to circulate throughout the cottage. Now Doris and I, at this juncture, were pretty close and we’d worked up several themes that we were collecting word pictures for. One of these was a toilet and the manufacturer’s brand or name printed on them. Therefore, collecting our tooth brushes and toothpaste, we went together into the simple bathroom, readying ourselves for bed. Suddenly, Doris grabbed my shoulder, ( jarring my toothbrush) and whispered forcefully, “LOOK!”

Just as forcefully she turned me in the direction of her pointed finger, and covered her mouth with her other hand. What we both saw, big and bold, printed on the back wall of the inner toilet itself sent us into convulsions of laughter, peal after peal, and of course, all trying to be shushed up—for every creak was heard throughout the entire cottage.

There, stamped for all to see, throughout the life of many flushes, was a single word, THUNDERER! For the rest of our lives when together, the mere mention sent us into gales of laughter. Never did take much to get us going!

Picture One: Doris, Charlie, Cindy (it was her birthday), Steve and Michael
Picture Two:Esther, Doris, CB
Picture Three: Doris
Picture Four: CB, Julie, Doris

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

The Home Front---World War Two, by Evelyn Taylor

Living in Le Roy and working at Taylor’s Superette was an experience for a Rochester girl, gone “rural.” We had to deal with ration coupons, shortages in food and gas, price freeze, and black market.

Once a week a few very scarce items such as cigarettes, chocolate bars, coconut, and Jello would come in. Yes, even in the “Hometown of Jello” those Jack Benny six delicious flavors (strawberry, raspberry, cherry lemon, orange, lime) were scarce and much sought after.

Our regular customers were the ones who got those items, but the problem was to keep everyone happy. The limit on cigarettes was two packs to a family per week. That must have been a real hardship on most families.

Meat required the greatest number of ration points. I do not know the details of how that worked between supplier and merchant. I just remember how scared I was when my mother-in-law and I made a late night run in a “36 Ford wood- paneled station wagon to the Tobin Packing House in Rochester to get meat. No ration points were required!!!