While walking at Onondaga Lake Park many years ago I discovered hundreds and hundreds of broken pottery pieces along the water's edge a few hundred yards west of the Onondaga Yacht club. Most are still there today. How and why I wondered?
Most of the pieces were off-white in color and lacked any glaze. I found rims of saucers, plates and cups as well as the finger rings of coffee and tea cups. Over the years as I returned to the shoreline, I began collecting the pieces that contained solid colors, stripes and detailed patterns.
Dale Grinolds, Onondaga Lake Park superintendent, was familiar with the pottery pieces on the shore.
"I don't know for sure when the china pieces were put there, maybe sometime in the 1950s," Grinolds said. "The park was established in 1933. They may have been around then."
He also said some large trees along the shoreline were uprooted a few months ago and "around the root balls we found two complete cups."
I understood the significance of what he was saying. Finding a whole piece of pottery anywhere in the park is rare.
Bill Calnan, the process engineer supervisor and "keeper of the archives" at Syracuse China in Lyncourt was intrigued by what I was telling him and invited me in for a visit. He asked me to bring the pottery shards I had collected.
When we met, he took me down a hall into the archive room of the Syracuse China Company -- a room few outsiders ever get to see. Along the walls of the room and back-to-back in the center of the room were large antique wood and glass display cases. They held pottery pieces dating back to the late 1800s and spanning the life of Syracuse China and its former namesakes, such as Empire Pottery Company and Onondaga Pottery.