Saturday, November 25, 2017

Cats, Winston Churchill, Eaton...Me...

Thanksgiving time is always a time of reflection and remember and for me.  I saw a news segment that reminded me of London, it also reminded me of my latest present from some friends.. a poster.   The poster was a copy of a historic poster put out just before Britain’s anticipated entrance into WWII in 1939.  Humorously, the poster was never publically displayed and recently was found and has become a new symbol...one I love… “Keep Calm and Carry On”.  What could be more British...perhaps only thoughts of Winston Churchill!

That brought me to Churchill’s mother who was Jennie Jerome, a beautiful American who actually has great ties to CNY.  The Jerome Family farms were in CNY and the land that my family built its house on was part of the Jerome Farm…home of Jennie’s grandmother.  

Thoughts of the Jerome farm led me to ponder the fact that for Christmas one year I gave my brother the gold watch dad had given me...he had found the old gold watch in the family garden as a young man...a garden that would later become the family compound of homes.  Repaired and running, I thought it was a great family history piece and a great present.

Picture I took on a trip to London
of Churchill's statue with
Big Ben in Background
Churchill was supposed to come to speak at a family reunion in Syracuse once, but had to turn back because of the presence of U Boats...he did send a telegram to the family group assembled…a piece of history I learned from the Wood-Eaton sisters who visited me years back in Eaton.  They were relatives and were to be at the reunion and remembered the trip.   They had come to Eaton to visit their great grandfather Allen Nelson Wood’s house, the house I live in.  Isn’t it strange how life is full of so much serendipity?

Mr. Wood was named Allen Nelson Wood...Nelson for Lord Nelson a hero his family honored with the name for many generations…and then suddenly my grey cat Rascal jumped in my lap…hint …one o f Winston Churchill’s most famous cat’s  (grey) was named Nelson to honor Lord Nelson.

Churchill was a cat lover, actually an animal lover.  Winston and his wife Clementine signed their love letters to each other with little drawn pictures…he a dog (Pug) she his cat...and their daughter the PK or puppy-kitten.

His cat stories are famous and many can still picture him speaking with a drink in one hand and the grey cat next to him. One story I love is... after one of his famous speeches (he had a lisp as well as drank) a woman MP in Parliament said, “Sir, you are drunk!”  His replay was “Madame that may be true, but in the morning I shall be sober whereas you will still be ugly!”

His favorite cat in later life cat was a ginger-marmalade colored cat he called  “Jock”, named after Sir John Coville his secretary who gave it to him.  Churchill loved the color and the cat so much that after giving his home Chartwell to the National Trust… he stated in his will that it should always have a ginger colored cat in residence…and to this day it does…and always named appropriately “Jock”.

Here is one of his most famous speeches....


Thursday, November 23, 2017

Something to think about...on this Thanksgiving!


Summer glances should not be lightly thrown,
For winter waits in grim disguise
To take the gleam from Summer’s eyes.

I was writing a bit of poetry this week and realized that the lines seemed to apply to a blog I was thinking of writing.  We have so much to be thankful for on this week of Thanksgiving and yet do we think about our water...

As I was contemplating all that has transpired in my time, which is a speck of dust in the progression of time, I became aware of how little we have progressed morally in so many ways.  As I looked around me... I am & I was appalled that the progress that we have made as humankind has gone forward and yet it has regressed globally.

Like a new love that brings hope we reach for the future and try to forget the problems of the past.  We forget wars, we try to enrich our heritage by making ourselves the victor of our struggles, yet somehow failing to use that knowledge as a base to gauge what lies in the future.

Few of us come to understand the struggles of foreign cultures that have not progressed.  Yes we say that we care… we say that we are conserving energy; we say that we are trying to save the planet for future generations, but in reality I ask... are we? 

We here in the north have an abundance of water… in most places our water tables are filled by Winter in its somber white suit.  We are lucky.  Today the World in summer attire thanks to Global Warming awaits its future to unfold, a future that has loomed for sometime…a future that nobody seemed to want to recognize…the lack of one of our most precious commodities…WATER!

Today clean water, which is a staple of life, has been afforded us in a good part by our wealth and our past forward thinking, although this thinking may in fact be at fault.  As we strive for more agriculture we dammed our streams that filled with mountain snow runoff and delivered it to land below in doing so we have allowed agricultural waste to enter our water tables. In our quest to beautify our homes and take our many showers we are depleting our precious supply of clean water, and we are failing to realize the implications of pollution... whether it be by pesticide, liquids like petroleum, by hydro fracking, or by poor management… For money, pleasure and supposed progress we have turned our heads away from water conservation.

As a historian I can tell you that in the past in our little area distilleries were one of the first businesses to be opened because early settlers drank and cooked with distilled goods to prevent illness.

Seeming plentiful in the past, we fail to see that the earth and its globe are filled with 90 percent of water, however today only about 10 percent of that water source is clean enough to drink.

My own house has a drilled well and yet I filter it because of runoff from the hills that have been sprayed with liquid manure. Both detergents, animal and human waste have all been named as the culprit in the algae bloom contamination of our ponds and lakes. In flood times it is more than prevalent in the wastewater that flows to our local streams and enters our watersheds. 

I was visited by Rev. Wheeler this week and he brought to my attention a program that has great promise for underdeveloped countries and perhaps in the future for our very own.  The company is called “Water Step” and it provides a simple safe water filtration system solution attainable global wide.

The funding for this some of this particular project uses shoes… Yes water step supporters use shoes to raise money to purchase systems to distribute as a missionary effort to underdeveloped countries.  The simple premise is that collection boxes are place to collect worn serviceable shoes that are in turn sold to companies that resell them… the money raised is used to buy these chlorinating units. (Old shoes, are another commodity that our society is rich with.)

Waterstep is a not for profit company that has managed to successfully distribute these water saving devises through churches and missionary outreach and I suggest you take the time to read about it and take the time to understand how important water conservation and ecology go hand it hand for not only the outside world, but for our future as well.

Rev. Wheeler is supplying a collection box and information on the program to our local Community via the church and if you would like to help collect some serviceable shoes for the project (which has donated many water purifying units to Puerto Rico recently) you can contact FBCSyracuse@gmail.com.

For more information go to....www.http://waterstep.org 


Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Eaton's Annual Pie, Bake, & Gift Sale is coming!!

Michele Kelly and Barb Keough Have been workg on the apples for our sale.
The Annual Pie & Bake Good & Gift Sale is set for the Saturday before Thanksgiving…November 18th from 10 until 2 pm or so and gives the museum an opportunity raise funds to keep it going.

The little museum has been striving for 19 years to preserve the history of this historic town. Eaton has its roots stepped in New England and the Mayflower and so I thought I would include a bit of history in our publicity to try and entice everyone to visit us or to support us on Facebook.

Few people realize The ties between the Stowe family, Harriet Beecher Stowe... and Eaton’s founders.  The museum helps preserve these links with displays and remembrances of the traditions from Natick … “Old Town” and Eaton.  From the book Old Town Folks by Harriet Beecher Stowe….

     On holiday food: “The pie is an English institution, which, planted on American soil, forthwith ran rampant and burst forth into an untold variety of species.  Not merely the old traditional mince pie, but a thousand strictly American seedlings from those main institutions to new uses.  Pumpkin pies, cranberry pies, peach pies, huckleberry pies, cherry pies, green-currant pies, pear pies, plum and custard pies, apple pies, Marlborough-pudding pies, pies of fanciful flutings and architectural strips laid across and around and otherwise varied, assisted the boundless fertility of the mind, when once let loose in a given direction.”

     The piece goes on to describe hundreds of pies put into an open back room that allowed them to freeze an be bought out throughout the holiday season and sometimes up until April.”

Sure enough we have tons of pie recipes here in Eaton and the museum put out a cookbook with tons of pie recipes and pictures from Eaton’s past that will be on sale from our Thanksgiving Pie Sale... along with pies of every variety that you can bring home and freeze today… in a modern freezer.  To give you a sample of old fashioned pies I thought I would include a recipe here….

PORK APPLE PIE

 8 to 10 tart apples, peeled, cored and sliced
 20 pieces of fat salt pork, cut the size of pies
 3/4 cups sugar (maple sugar preferably)
 ½ teaspoon cinnamon
 ¼ teaspoon nutmeg
 ¼ teaspoon salt

     Fill a deep dish with apples.  Mix salt pork, sugar, spices and salt and sprinkle the mixture over the apples.  Cover with pie crust.  Cut slits for steam to escape.  Bake in a hot oven (450 degrees F.) for 10 minutes; then reduce heat to moderate (350 degrees F.) and bake 30 or 35 minutes longer.  If crust becomes brown, cover with foil so that it will remain a golden brown.     While pie is baking blend a package of cream cheese with 1 tablespoon thick cream and allow to become firm in refrigerator.  Serve pie warm with slice of cheese.

Seems Old-time New Englanders used salt pork from soup to dessert.  This recipe is said to have made first by an old fisherman who used dried apples, salt pork and molasses.  His wife improved upon it, using fresh apples and maple sugar.  It became a popular dish, often served in Vermont homes for the Sunday evening meal.  Calvin Coolidge, in the White House, extolled its goodness. Pork pie has a more succulent flavor than ordinary apple pie. So we may not have Pork Apple Pies but we do have local pies made with local apples calling them rightfully... “Heirloom Apple Pies”. So come down and buy one!!!








Sunday, November 5, 2017

Our Historic Ties to Thanksgiving... from the Mayflower to Eaton!

Many of our original settlers in Eaton date back to the Mayflower and the settlers of Natick especially the Morse, Leland, Kent and Stowe families.  Eaton followed much of the tradition of Natick so I thought I would include some wonderful history on Thanksgiving and Governor Bradford who Grandma Clark was a direct relative of. 

  The first Thanksgiving was truly different from what we see portrayed today on TV and in the movies.  In actuality, the Pilgrims who had invited the Indians over to thank them for their help in cultivating corn, in fishing and in hunting, and for basically keeping them alive for the first year, were stunned when the Indians arrived for the feast in numbers far beyond what the Pilgrim’s could feed.  So, the Indians left and hunted for deer and fowl and returned with the food necessary for the feast to last three days…yes, three days.

     This occasion was unusually frivolous for the stern Pilgrims and comprised of continuous eating, the marching of Myles Standish’s little band of soldiers, bow and arrow competition etc…  The feast meanwhile was tended to by five of the eighteen women who survived the first terrible winter.  Imagine trying to fix a feast for 140-150 people over an open fire, and then stretch it to three days.

     The great Governor Bradford delivered this prayer on the first Thanksgiving and I thought I would include it for us:

     Oh give thanks unto the Lord; sing unto him; sing praises unto him, for the precious things of heaven for the dew, and for the deep that couches beneath, and for the precious fruits brought forth from the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon, and for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the everlasting hills, and for the precious things of the earth and its fullness.  Let everything that has breath praise the Lord, Praise ye the Lord.

     Of interest, I think, are a number of passages from “Of Plimouth Plantation” by Governor Bradford, which mention the colony’s success only by acts of what he referred to as “God’s divine providence”.

     Bradford mentions windfalls of corn from unexpected quarters, a mysterious voice that warned the colonials of a store-house fire, showers that came just in time to save the crops, even the turning back of a ship that would foreclose on the colony.  These quotes show the success of the colony having been squarely laid on the cornerstone of faith.

     This faith led Bradford to guide the colony through all of its terrible trials and gave him the moral capacity to do what was right for all without wish for personal gain.  From his first election in 1622 until 1639, he received nothing for dining the court during their monthly sessions.  One comment I received after the piece on the “Common Good” read “too bad things could not be like that today!”  To this I say, “Amen!”  The word “altruism” is too seldom used to describe our modern leaders.

     The key word in our pursuit of the history of the Pilgrim’s is DEMOCRACY.  Democracy, is the basis for the Pilgrim’s government, carried through both the church and the state, something we need to concentrate on today I think.

More to come and please remember our Thanksgiving pie sale on Saturday, November 18th from 10 am until 2 or so...help support our vast history and our museum.



The Morse House today and before!


Saturday, October 28, 2017

Ghost Stories & the Thanksgiving Pie Sale!

The Old Town of Eaton Museum is closed for the winter season...with a special "thank you" to those who turned out..I enjoyed seeing you.  Some fun visitors included relatives of the Morse-Motts.  Thank you Dan it was fun to talk and listen to the stories, Sad the way the old stone house is in such limbo!

Our members are gearing up for our Annual Pie & Bake Sale set for Saturday, the 18th of November from 10 am until 2 pm.  We hope you will come done and join us,,,pick up a pie or bake good to have on hand for the Thanksgiving Holiday.  The sale will be held at the Old Auction Barn next to the US Post Office on Rt. 26 in Eaton.  Thank You... Jim Monahan for the use of the neat little historic building. Lots of parking!

This year you can get update information from the Facebook page Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum.  Visit the page and friend us, leave a message, and look forward to a wonderful upcoming holiday!

I thought I would include a history story from my new book that with other gifts will be available on the Pie Sale Day!

As Halloween approaches stories of Ghosts, Ghouls, and Goblins make their way into the spotlight.  Eaton like any other old community has its share of ghoulish tales.  One such tale involves the Historic Eaton Cemetery.

Many years ago people were laid to rest with their jewelry and favorite personal belongings, this coupled with the common method of filling wealthy people’s teeth with gold made grave robbery a profitable thing.  A story of one such robbery is famous in the Eaton Hamlet.

Years ago a very famous Eaton minister was laid to rest in a well-attended service in the Eaton Cemetery.  This minister was renowned for his preaching and his assortment of gold teeth.  A few days after the service the Sutcliffe family of Landon Road went to call on the nearby Cary Road.  To the horror of the visitors and the chagrin of the host the Sutcliffe’s arrived and found hanging on the old woodshed a body that was being stripped of its flesh.  On a second look at the skull they saw a set of familiar shiny gold teeth.

The grave robbers explained that they were paid $100 dollars by a college in Syracuse for the skeleton, which they said was used by students to study anatomy.  The gold teeth were just a bonus!

The cagey thieves removed the bodies from the coffins by digging down, breaking the wooden lid, inserting a hook, and then pulling it out!

After that, to thwart their efforts, the equally cagey Eaton Cemetery sextant hauled huge slabs of stone off of a local farm and placed it over each coffin at burial, to prevent robbery using this method.

So truthfully, when writing stories about the Eaton Cemetery, I should say...“most likely buried in the Historic Eaton Cemetery.”  

Be sure to support our sale that the ladies work so hard at each year.





Sunday, August 20, 2017

Tales of Old Eaton, the Confederate Flag in Eaton and old Mr. Leach!

Leach house to the left of museum.
I realize that I have been tardy in getting some new blogs out...but I have also been struggling along trying to beat cancer.  Yes, modern medicine may be able to cure you, but the side effects of the drugs effect every part of your body...including your ability to think and write.

This week has been good for me and my brain and while watching the hullabaloo on TV about the Civil War statues I was reminded of an old story about Eaton.  The story actually revolves around the house next to the museum on River Road, the road that was once called Water Street. The building is one of the oldest in town and was owned during the period before and after the Civil War by the Leach family. It is "Henry" I believe who served in the Confederate Army while the rest of the town for the most part was pro North.

Small towns in those days stuck together in a more cohesive way than today I guess... and after the War had past, it is said that on all holidays and during parades old Mr. Leach would don his Confederate uniform and march in the parade with the many members of the GAR.  Both sides it is noted paraded up and down the streets with pride. As a matter of fact... it wrote Mr. Leach into history and he has become part of the "Tales told of Old Eaton"... ones that you can enjoy.

Curiously, when redoing the museum we held a very large opening day celebration... and Chris Staudt and I who bought the building and refurbished it as the museum for Eaton... invited friends and family down for the occasion.

Chris' dad came down and toured...after the crowd had gone home and as he was leaving, he looked up at the American flag flying over the door, he glanced across the yard to the Leach house and said... "You really need a Confederate Flg flying here also".  To this day I wonder if old  Mr. Leach was around giving us a hint of his past... could be I guess.... after all it was Memorial Day!

I hope everyone will come out and visit what has become the Old Town of Eaton Museum currently owned and run by the not- for- profit museum group Old Town Folks.  Of great interest... a new group has formed to help support it...Friends of the Old Town of Eaton Museum. The group has officially become a recognized charity so all donations to it are are tax deductible. The museum is open on the First and Third Sunday's until October or by appointment.

The "Friends of the Museum" will be hosting a special event in September... "Fall History Day" and if able I will be speaking to help raise money for the group and to tell more "Tales of Eaton"  and its rich historic past.  Please join us then.



Sunday, May 28, 2017

Memorial Day always makes me think of my Dad!

Memorial  Day always brings thoughts of my dad who I worked with as a helper as a child and who worked with me when he retired as an adult.  He never really swore in mixed company using his famous “NUTS!” as the expletive if something went wrong.  He was an ‘officer and gentlemen” as the old saying goes.

He had actually been with Patton at the Battle of the Bulge time and I guess he picked up the phrase “Nuts” from General McAuliffe who was the acting commander of the 101st Airborne at the siege of Bastogne.  The general had quite a history..he had flown in on a glider before D Day.  When asked to surrender by the Germans who had his troops surrounded,  he sent back one of the most famous WWII replies…one word…”NUTS!” Some say it was because he didn't want to be remembered for a swear word..but whatever...

Dad taught me everything about construction and electricity - I remember his saying, ”If you are going to learn to drive a car, you should know how it works and how to fix it”.  If I had and older model truck I could still do it today.    I even rebuilt an engine in the dead of winter and repaired anything I could.

His motto was...”IF YOU CAN READ AND HAVE THE TOOLS YOU CAN DO ALMOST ANYTHING!”  You can!

My favorite story was the time I bought a house in Syracuse and we had to jack up the basement in one part because of a broken beam.  I came home from a job…contracting…and dad was in the basement.  He told me to hold this timber in place and he worked the jack.  We could not lift it…the timber came loose and hit me in the head. 

After much effort and two jacks we got it sort of up there.  One day I decided to hang a shelf on the wall above the bad area and “bam” I found the reason why we had such a hard time.  A former owner had taken a chimney out in the basement and on the outside but not in the middle…. He or she had walled it off! 


P.S.   The word he used when 
the beam came loose and hit me was “Nuts”.  I said something 
different!