Postcard by William Terzian
In June of 1911, on the verso of this postcard published by H.R. Hulett of Ticonderoga, “M.E.C.” writes, “Friend Fulton, Feeling fine; feting friends from far-away, foregathered for fine fun. Fear for friend Fulton, on fearsome (?) favors for five puppies (sorry, it doesn’t being with f) — also family.”
Back in August I mentioned finding another Koeber card, and knowing that at least one more existed, the elusive 1224, and here it is. I now have 1223 through 1228, taken at Silver Bay; I know that 1221 is a card of Paradise Bay on Lake George, so I’m curious to see if 1222 is a Silver Bay card, or another Lake George scene, and I wonder about 1229. The thrill of the hunt continues.
Robert Vose, 16, and Irving Tier, 17, were classmates at the Silver Bay School, the private boys school that Silas and Mary Paine had established in 1918 in memory of their son, Harrington Spear Paine. In May of 1922, as the school year was coming to an end, Vose was interested in selling a revolver he owned to Tier, and was showing it to him in his room. He handed the gun to Tier and said, “Try it. It isn’t loaded.”
Taking the revolver, Tier asked Vose if he was sure the gun was empty. Vose reassured him it was; Tier pulled the trigger; the gun exploded and a bullet shot into Vose’s abdomen, piercing his intestines. The stricken boy was given hurried treatment at Silver Bay and rushed to the hospital in Ticonderoga.
Vose’s parents came from Boston, and it at first appeared that he was improving. Awake and alert, he told the story of how he came to be shot, took the blame and exonerated Tier. But two days into his recovery, he began to weaken, and soon died. His parents were at his bedside. After an autopsy, they returned to Boston on the train, with their son’s body.
“A cloud of gloom” descended over the school, Silver Bay and the surrounding community.
The local newspapers made no more mention of Irving Tier, but you can piece together his life from later accounts. An inheritance made working unnecessary. A family member noted that Tier “tinkered” through life. He dabbled in photography and film-making. He collected guns, apparently the interest that brought the boys together that day in 1922, and one he did not abandon. He learned to fly. He owned a plane. In 1931, he married Nancy Hopkins, a pioneer in women’s aviation, whose accomplishments eclipsed his own. The couple had three children. For a time they kept a summer cottage at Silver Bay. Irving Tier died in 1978.
Shortly after the 4th of July, 1895, young Harrington Spear Paine was preparing a colossal surprise for Silver Bay and Lake George: a kite fifteen feet tall, which he intended to fly, attach to a boat, and be pulled up or down the lake depending upon how the wind blew. A New York newspaper noted that Paine “expects to astonish the natives.” (Perhaps he did not, as there was no further report of the kite.)
The son of Silas and Mary Paine of Silver Bay, Spear Paine was summering after his freshman year at Princeton, and enjoying the fruits of his father’s labors as a highly placed executive with Standard Oil. In the autumn, he would return to Princeton, where he dined with “The Navajos,” served as secretary and treasurer of the University Gun Club, was tapped for Cap & Gown as an upperclassman, and graduated in 1898. His classmates would later remember him for his “fine character, manliness, cheerfulness, generosity.”
Summering at Lake George in 1898, he competed in the Sagamore Regatta, taking first prize in the swimming race and Gentlemen’s Singles rowing, and second in the “Ladies’ and Gentlemen’s Doubles.”
In the years that followed, Spear Paine remained active in Princeton alumni affairs, joined the University Club in New York City, the Amateur Billiards Club, and the Fox Hill Golf Club on Staten Island, and was “connected with Standard Oil.” He lived at New York’s Ansonia residential hotel, where the living quarters featured multiple bedrooms, parlors, libraries, formal dining rooms, high ceilings and bay windows with sweeping views north and south along Broadway. The hotel also had tearooms, restaurants, a grand ballroom, a Turkish bath and a lobby fountain with live seals.
At Silver Bay, Spear Paine enjoyed piloting his steam launch, the Oneita, and in all ways, it seems, he enjoyed the good life. However, it was a life cut short. In 1918, at the age of 42, he died suddenly at the Ansonia in New York City.
To honor Spear Paine’s memory, his parents established the Silver Bay School, a private boys school, with a gift of $100,000 in 1918. The school remained active until 1935 when the financial pressures of the Great Depression forced its closure.
But another legacy of Spear Paine lives on. When Mary Paine sold off the last of her Silver Bay property, she used the money to create the Harrington Spear Paine Foundation, which endows a Professorship in Religion at Princeton. (There had been at least one previous religious donation in Spear Paine’s name: In 1885, while living in Cleveland, Ohio, the nine-year-old lad donated $1 to support the Pacific voyages of the Morning Star missionary ship.)
Today, Princeton’s Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion is Elaine Pagels, a teacher, scholar and author of several books, and most notably an authority on the Gnostic Gospels.
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Note: The kite story comes from “At Placid Lake George” in The (New York) Press, July 7, 1895