Written by Doreen Meeks
posted on September 13, 2015 12:00
Editor’s Note: On Sunday August 23rd the Thousand Islands Land Trust’s Annual Birkhead Lecture was held at the Zenda Farm Preserve, in Clayton, NY. Those attending were asked to relate their River Stories in celebration of TILT 30th Anniversary. Doreen Meeks provided this special memory and we look forward to publishing others over the winter months.
From Memory to Modern Day
Most people never realize or appreciate 100% - the God-made resourcefulness and beauty, of the great area in which we live. Living on Grindstone Island from birth until age 14, I was no exception.
My Dad was away from April to November sailing on the Great Lakes. During the winter months, while he was home, he cut firewood, hunted, fished and trapped, while Mom, despite the inconvenience of no electricity, water or vehicle stayed home 12 months of the year ------- gardening, canning, sewing, cooking and birthing (at home) 6 of 9 children.
My Mom formed a 4-H club, that required at least eight members to be registered with the Jefferson County Office. No problem ---- with enough siblings in our little home, we could have had a private club. However, others joined and we were always, very active.
The one project that stands out vividly in my mind, took place about 1942. Each club member was issued burlap bags and sent out into the fields to collect milk weed pods. These were shipped off to a company that utilized the Kapok (as it was called) for the construction of life jackets for our service men.
Many a potato-bug or tomato worm was plucked from the vegetable plants by using hands or 2 sticks as grippers. We did not have access to chemicals or fertilizer unless a farmer might drop off a wagon of manure. The farmers delivered milk daily to the cheese factory that was located about a quarter mile from our house. On their return they would take the whey for feeding their pigs with the excess flowing into a ditch which ran alongside the road. Not only did it expel a rancid odor, but it provided a feeding station for those pretty little butterflies that were always present. To this day in the heat of the summer, if you travel down that same road, I guarantee you will come upon a sizeable cluster of descendants of the same butterflies. Very seldom do you find such abundance anywhere else.
You will never know how very proud and honored I am to be a member of TILT ------ preserving our natural resources of land, water, and wildlife.
By Doreen Meeks, Grindstone Island and Clayton Center.
Doreen Meeks was born and raised on Grindstone Island in the Thousand Islands and has lived on the river her entire life. From an early age, she has been active in the river communities, contributing much; she is considered the "Volunteer of the Century". She shares her enthusiasm and love for the river with everyone to include her great grandchildren. Her smile is contagious and her wit unmatched. Her energy is coveted by all that know her along with the 5 gardens she maintains each year.