We are saddened to receive word of the passing of Franny Barnard. Her obituary describes a full life and family tree with many new branches. I always enjoy hearing of the earliest years of a person’s life. Without knowing all of the details we can still gain a perspective on Franny’s youth by reviewing a few of the events of those days.
The moon was full on July 29, 1920, the day that she was born. Prohibition had been in place for six months and her parents were probably wondering about the effect that it would have on the country. I imagine that her mother would have felt grateful that just as she was bringing a daughter into the world, the 19th Amendment gave women the right to vote.
Franny would have started kindergarten in the fall of 1925. I am sure that she knew all about Charles Lindbergh flying solo across the Atlantic Ocean when she was in first grade. The stock market crashed when she was in fourth grade. The Empire State Building was constructed while she attended fifth grade. Amelia Earhart flew solo across the Atlantic when Franny was in sixth grade, but then disappeared in the Pacific when Franny was a high school junior. Pearl Harbor was attacked four months after her 21st birthday. Two months later she was married to George and the rest is history. Franny’s smile remains with us on the faces of her sons.
Almost a week of below freezing temperatures gave us a few days of ice skating. Usually we gather on Brine’s Pond, but the Slip Away Farm pond froze up first. Lily Walter’s farmers and neighbors swept off the snow, uncovering a nice smooth surface. Some people zoomed around the ice chasing after a hockey puck, while others performed graceful twirls. I considered dialing 911 before I put my skates on just to shorten the ambulance response time to my expected fall. But after a few minutes of stiff-legged hobbling, it all came back to me. The warm fog on Tuesday softened the surface. Here’s hoping for another cold snap.
We believe that Bob Marshall dug the pond out of the marsh in the early 1940s. Because of its size, location and orientation, this pond is more sheltered from the sunlight and wind than Brine’s Pond just across the road. I’m thinking that’s why it froze up first. So we will probably get to do more skating on it. With the farmhouse and parking so close by, this is a very easy spot to take the kids skating.
Brine’s Pond always has a few thin spots due to the springs seeping into it from the uphill side. You may recall that when it was first dug out in the early 1970s, there was a concern that it would need a supply of well water to keep it full. So Bill Brine put in two wells; one had an electric pump and the other a windmill. Fortunately these both proved unnecessary. Twenty years
later the water level was so high that an overflow pipe was installed at the far end to keep the beetlebung trees on the island from drowning. The water level varies with the seasons of course, but even in August there still seems to be enough.
I have a very small pond in my yard. It is actually a fiberglass satellite television dish eight feet in diameter and only one and a half feet deep in the center. I got it from Jude Bishop about 20 years ago. It came into his possession when the smaller dishes appeared and the great big ones became obsolete. He only kept it in his yard because the sight of it annoyed his mother in law. He actually had quite a few objects on display for that purpose.
Each spring I take the kids around to the nearby ponds to try to catch frogs to stock our little pond. Brine’s Pond never seems to have any but Bob Marshall’s pond is always hopping with them. Some years we are unsuccessful in getting any. Even so, during the summer my little pond magically becomes inhabited by dozens of frogs. My granddaughters have become adept at scooping them up with nets. By summer’s end the frogs are quite tame and will tolerate a lot of handling. Once in awhile the snake that lives in our rock pile will appear and attempt to abduct a frog. The girls aren’t the least bit shy about chasing after him to get their frog back, grabbing at his tail as he slithers into the tall grass.
A shallow pond and a cold winter spell disaster for a frog. So every fall, before they start to hide in the mud, we gather them all up and take them back to a big pond. One year I decided that I should put them in Brine’s Pond since it seemed frogless. I thought that this was such a clever idea and Mother Nature would certainly appreciate my help. I mentioned this to Captain Bob Gilkes. He pointed out that the pickerel in Brine’s Pond must certainly have appreciated the frog dinner that I served up to them. Now I know why I never saw frogs in there.
Make time for a visit to the Wasque opening. Interesting developments occur weekly. Norton Point is advancing eastward at an accelerated rate. A funny little triangular swirl of sand has formed a tiny pond right against the beach in about the previous location of the western end of the swan pond. Woody Filley continues to provide GPS traces of the changing shoreline. Young Bill Brine took aerial photos of the Wasque opening and the bluff protection efforts in front of the Schifters’ house a few days ago. You can see it all on the Chappy Ferry website or Facebook page by googling Chappy Ferry.
I recently found a 1961 USC&G survey chart of Chappy showing on opening at the south end of Poucha Pond running through East Beach into Muskeget Channel. The ground is still very low there. I also came upon a nautical chart published in 1855 that shows two openings through Norton Point between the Atlantic Ocean and Katama Bay, labeled West Opening and East Opening. The chart-makers often place a note in that area: “Shoreline and hydrography subject to frequent changes.” That’s for sure.
The next CCC potluck supper will be hosted by Nancy Slate and Dennis Golden on Wednesday, Feb. 6. Gossip starts at 6 p.m. with dinner at 6:30 p.m. As usual we will be discussing Chappy current events. If you aren’t there we’ll just have to make our own assumptions regarding your side of the story.