Feb 15, 2011 Joseph Spalding Uncategorized
This week has been a bit snowy since Saturday night. On the water, we had a large group of 60 to 70 Redheads reappear, or perhaps they were a new group that came south in anticipation of the new cold front. Sunday there was a group of 12 Mergansers, mostly males, diving and zipping along.
By Wednesday, more than 100 Redheads appeared at sun up. There were about a dozen Common Mergansers with the flight. I have been told that there is a perch bed off shore and they may be feasting on perch minnows. There is no unusual amount of vegetation growth to attract such a large crowd.
I have not seen any eagles myself, but I have been told of three sightings in the last week – one from the south end of Bentley Cove near Greenfield Lane, one from TOPS parking lot, and lastly on the east shore in the Pork Street area. In November, there were lots of eagles on the western shore of Otisco Lake. They were fishing and harassing ducks.
I have also been told that there is a nesting pair in the uninhabited cliffy area at the south end of the lake and I have had continuous reports of eagles taking fish from Borodino Landing south throughout the summer and fall.
Lodge Meeting on Middle Ages
Last week I went to Lodge Hall 522 of the F&AM for a presentation by Mr. Thomas M. Savini, the director of the Livingston Masonic Library in New York City.
He brought exact duplicates of the “Processus Contra Templarios,” which are transcripts of the Vatican’s case against the Knights Templar. The content of the case has been hyped by several movies and novels, notably “The Da Vinci Code” by Dan Brown.
This was very interesting, as most of the 65 people present knew very little about the history of the Middle Ages. It was also explained that “Free Masonry” evolved from the Mason Craft Guilds and Savini confirmed that there is no connection between the Free and Accepted Masons and the Knights Templar.
A visit with Scoop Baker
I stopped in to visit John “Scoop” Baker to chat. It amazes me that he built my house at the same age I am this year. I can hardly get out of my own way and never would have taken on a project of that magnitude.
Scoop was sorting out some old photos that he had uncovered. Most interestingly, he had pictures of himself with John Guled and Warren Surdam as teenagers. They were testing a diving helmet that they had crafted from a small water tank about the size of a 20 lb LP tank. He mentioned that it was very difficult to drill all the holes and then file them smooth to rest on his shoulders. There were no electric drills or power jigsaws that we might use today. They did have a stationary drill press in the basement of the former Skaneateles Press Building, which facilitated the project. (Scoop is the son of former Press editor Cannonball Baker and worked as a pressman there).
They got everything together and gave it a try behind the Press building where the water was not deep enough, so they moved on to the outlet. Scoop said he was standing about halfway up to his knees in ooze and the water came up to his chin in the helmet, but no higher, as this was about the level of the shoulder cutouts. The hand-powered auto tire pump was configured to pump air down to the top of the helmet and it was set up so that you could sit next to the pump and move the lever back and forth. This is how it was always shown in movies of the day.
Scoop was doing well; he could hear the whoosh, whoosh of the air on each stroke until suddenly the sound stopped because somebody sat on the hose.
Scoop dumped the whole mess and went ashore. The whole contrivance had so much typesetting metal (borrowed from the Press) weighing everything down that you could hardly get around. Further experiments were conducted and the apparatus was passed on to the slightly younger Hoffman-Wellman age group.
Scoop also had pictures of the Snow Cruiser that was built in haste to go on Admiral Byrd’s adventure to the North Pole. For some reason, the engineers thought smooth tires were the way to go. The beast could hardly get off the boat and was a flop for lack of traction. A good set of tire chains would have saved the day. This wheeled monster toured across New York State on Route 20 on the way to the ship. Its passage through Skaneateles was documented on W. G. Allyn’s movies and can be seen on a DVD at the Skaneateles Historical Society. A DVD player and TV set are in the meeting room at the Creamery. There is no charge to visit and look at any of the archived material that is on disk.
More on the historical society
Programs are presented on the fourth Tuesday of every month, and these have been videoed since the 90s, preserving not only the presentations, but also images of the folks who did these programs, many of whom have moved on. These are also available for viewing.
Winter hours at the Creamery are 1 to 4 on Fridays. If you have particular research needs, an appointment can be made to use the archives at another time.