The postcard above was just put up for bid on eBay, at a price which reflects its rarity. The gentleman in the white shirt is Ernest Thompson Seton (1860-1946); he founded the Woodcraft Indians in 1902, and was instrumental in founding the Boy Scouts of America with Dan Beard and Lord Baden-Powell. Here we see him in the Woodcraft camp at the first Boy Scout gathering in America, held at Silver Bay in August of 1910. Seton was the first Chief Scout, and liked to be called Black Wolf. He was an important influence in scouting, emphasizing the lore of the native American and the importance of the animals of the forest. He eventually differed with other scout leaders, who objected to his British citizenship, his wife’s activities on behalf of women’s suffrage, and his lack of enthusiasm for a more militaristic vision of Scouting. By 1915, he was gone from Scouting, but continued to write books about nature, woodcraft and animals for the rest of his life.
An easy drive today, a trip from Silver Bay to Fort Ticonderoga required a little more patience and stamina in 1902. Shown above, embarking on the journey, are George and Ida Hepbron and their children, George II and Adele.
Perched on a wall, George, Adele and Ida Hepbron at Fort Ticonderoga.
Abandoned in 1781, and used by the locals as an informal source of building supplies, the fort was a ruin in 1902. But seven years after the Hepbrons’ visit, restoration was begun by Stephen H.P. and Sarah G. T. Pell. Attending a dedication ceremony in July of 1909 was President William Howard Taft.
Taft joined a colorful list of visitors that included Ethan Allen, Major John André, Benedict Arnold, Benjamin Franklin, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, George Washington, and “Mad Anthony” Wayne. Plan your visit at the Fort Ticonderoga website and you can join the list as well.
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My thanks again to Susan (Hepbron) Tantum for sharing these early Hepbron family photos.
In August of 1905, the editor of The Hudson Valley Times asked YMCA official Walter J. Carter to write a few words about Silver Bay. Here are two excerpts from Carter’s letter that give us a glimpse of an earlier time.
“Last night the [YMCA] Institute, which is quartered in a separate building from the hotel called ‘Forest Inn,’ being all robed in spotless white, gave the guests of the hotel a midnight serenade, about 75 participating in the parade. Tonight we are to enjoy a corn roast. No time for the blues at Silver Bay.”
“Every time a fellow of the Institute or one of the faculty takes the boat for home, the whole Institute gathers on the dock and amid yells, songs, good byes, prayers, and songs again, he steps aboard. Then he is given another favorite yell and as the boat pulls out we all join in and sing ‘Blest be the tie that binds’ and ‘God be with you until we meet again’ and our friend who we have only known for a few days but whom we all have learned to love, has gone from our view but is not forgotten.”
The “yells” of which Carter writes would be described as “cheers” today. The first documented yell came during the first intercollegiate football game, Princeton vs. Rutgers, 1869. The Princeton “rocket cheer” went “Siss, boom, ahhh!” followed by “Princeton!”
Every college had its own yell. Yale’s yell was fairly simple: “Rah” nine times followed by “Yale!” Students at Colgate chanted, “Yell high! Yell great! Rah! Rah! Colgate!” (Within colleges, each class had its own yell. For instance, the class of 1892 at the U. of Rochester yelled, “Rah-rah-rah. Zoo-zoo-zoo. Hi-yi-yi. Ninety-two!” and the class of 1893 replied, “Boom-a-la. Boom-a-la. Zip-ra-ree. Whoop it up for Ninety-three!”)
But to get back to the dock at Silver Bay, there were YMCA yells. Two yells from the Washington D.C. chapter went as follows:
Washington, Washington, Washington
Boom ! ! ! ! !
Here are three from the Cleveland YMCA:
Oska wow-wow, wisky wee-wee
Olay muck-a-la Cleveland Y.M.C.A. – – – – WOW.
Slap jack – cracker jack – switch back – clear the track;
Tub of mud, bucket of blood, ka thud, ka thud, Gypsy WOW.
With a vim, and a snap, and a sparkle, and a bubble,
And a rubble, rubble, rubble, and a sis, sis, boom,
And a boom, boom, bah,
Cleveland, Cleveland, Rah, Rah, Rah!
And a generic YMCA yell:
What’s the matter with ‘Father Cook’?
He’s all right!
He’s a lulu! He’s a Cook-oo!
He gets there every time!
We all rejoice with a hearty voice,
To see him get there!
Who says so?
One can only imagine the din at the dock as a departing official attempted to leave.
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“Silver Bay,” The Hudson Valley Times, September 7, 1905
YMCA yells from Social Activities for Men and Boys (1916) by Albert M. Chesley, YMCA, Washington D.C.
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An afterthought: When it was Bryn Mawr’s turn to cheer on a YWCA College Day at Silver Bay, one wonders if they sang out their sports yell, which goes as follows:
“Anassa kata, kalo kale. Ia ia ia Nike. Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr, Bryn Mawr!”
Translated from the Greek: “Queen, descend, I invoke you, fair one. Hail, hail, hail, Victory.”
As her cake said on Adele Hepbron Day in August of 1981, Adele had 80 years, and more, at Silver Bay. She first came as a child and as an adult taught generations of Silver Bay visitors the fine points of watercolor painting. I was fortunate indeed to hear recently from Adele’s grandniece, Susan (Hepbron) Tantum, who has shared family photos of Adele and Silver Bay so we can enjoy them here.
Early photo of the Hepbron family at Silver Bay, which includes Adele, her mother and her brother.
Adele painting in 1967 (love the shoes) and below, at a showing of her students’ work.
Below, photos of Adele and her family the week of Adele Hepbron Day, in 1981.
Her own parade!
Watching, family members Sandy, Dana, Matt & Andrew
With nephew George T. Hepbron III…
…who also paints…
…as does Dana Woods.
Matt and Dana on the path
In 1986, the Hepbron family gathered at Silver Bay for a reunion. Below, Adele on the porch, and on the lawn with her great-grandnieces and nephews.
In 1992, Adele’s art appeared on the cover of Expressions.
My thanks to Susan for these images. For my earlier post on Adele, click here.
“Re: valuable nut trees I have seen: A butternut tree 25 years old, 2 feet in diameter, 6 feet from the ground, yielding an immense crop of nuts every year for the three years that it was under my observation; the nuts are very large and grow in ‘clusters’ of ten or eight or seven as the clusters recede from the outside center-wise. This tree is at Silver Bay, Lake George, N.Y., and grows out of the veranda of the post office. There are numbers of butternuts around Silver Bay that grow in the cluster form of ten-to-the-cluster but none of the other trees have such large nuts.”
— G.H. Corsan in American Nut Journal, March 1915
James Adams, postmaster, with wife and daughters; butternut tree to the right.
George Corsan, who wrote of the butternut tree, taught horticulture at the University of Toronto but was better known as a swimming instructor, the vocation that called him to Silver Bay. He was especially famous for giving mass classes using the Corsan Method (which began with water wings) and turning his students into swimmers by the third lesson. He also gave demonstrations, showing off the Australian crawl, the Trudgen stroke, the English overarm, and various dives, rolls, tumbles, spins and sculls. For armchair swimmers, he wrote At Home in the Water (1914), published by the YMCA (with an introduction by George Fisher, for whom Fisher Gymnasium is named).
At Silver Bay, he spent three summers instructing others in how to teach swimming, diving and life-saving. Also, without a doubt, he spoke on the benefits of confining one’s diet to fruits, vegetables and nuts only, a lifelong passion. And he observed the butternut tree at the post office.
Later in life, Corsan had a farm in Islington, Canada, where he planted trees and eventually grew more than 400 varieties of nuts, and developed part of his land as a bird sanctuary. On a second farm in Kendall, Florida, he grew avocados, coconuts, bananas and macadamia nuts. He remained youthful and healthy into his eighties, until the moment he was run down by a car in Miami.
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Photo of the Store, post office and butternut tree from the Detroit Publishing Company; Adams family by Jesse Sumner Wooley; swim class from At Home in the Water.
In the summer of 1907, at the end of her freshman year at Bryn Mawr, Marianne Moore went straight from campus to Silver Bay for a conference of the school’s Christian Union. There she developed a crush, probably of a chaste nature, on a classmate named Katherine. In a letter, she wrote, “I have liked her ever since last November, but never would have said as I can now, ‘She can have me any time she wants me.’” Perhaps it was the Adirondack air.
Moore’s archived letters number more than 30,000; it was said she could write 50 in a day. But she is remembered primarily as a poet. She began writing verse at Bryn Mawr, thrived in New York City’s literary circles, and in time became a favorite of many other poets, although the public never really embraced her work.
In 1958, she had a brief flirtation with commercial endeavors. The Ford Motor Company was going to bring out a new automobile and sought a name. Perhaps too poetic, her submissions included (and it’s best to read these out loud) the Intelligent Whale, the Mongoose Civique, the Pastelogram, the Turcotingo and the Utopian Turtletop. Ford politely declined, and went with “the Edsel.”
Late in life she became a friend of George Plimpton. (His chauffeur, after overhearing her description of a wet musk ox, said she was the best passenger he’d ever had in his car.) Never one to be predictable, Moore wrote the liner notes for a spoken word album by Muhammad Ali and went on the Tonight Show to discuss baseball with Jack Paar.
Tossing out the first ball, opening day 1968 at Yankee Stadium, photo by Bob Olen
She was truly one of a kind. And in 1990, she even got her own postage stamp, certainly a fit tribute for someone who wrote so many letters.
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My thanks to Holding on Upside Down: the Life and Work of Marianne Moore (2013) by Linda Leavell