Notes from the Island
May 1997

Spring Workfest Report

As anyone who was here knows, this was a well attended and fun Workfest. Much was accomplished and the Island seems very ship shape going in to the new season. Attendees in approximate order of arrival were:

Phyl Taliaferro, John Matthews, Nell Hennessy, Fred Daspit, John Stapko, Bill Eichbaum, Susan Garbini, Gerry Barton, Peter Cannel (with Oliver and Louisa), Dave Holdridge, George Malusky, Mark Brenneman (with David), Amanda Cannell, Bill Bays, Ann Kip, Kirk Renaud, Wayne Limberg, David Winer, Margaret Herring, Ellen Kennedy, Al Brown, Sue Super (with James), Holly Syrrakos, David Lyles, Norm Metzger, Johnna Robinson, Cam and Lafe Soloman (with Catherine), Ann Cooper, Warren Brown, John and Peggy Thomson, George and Martha Loeb, Tryon Wells, Amy Salzman (with Tilly Milch), Trip Reid, Ann Satterthwaite, Betty Burchell, Rich Lodish, Steve Safatti, John and Ann Marie Cunningham, Pat and Margaret Barry, Jerome Cramer (with Andrew and 7 other scouts), Maria Stenzel, Tove Elfstrom (with Susan and Miriam) and Sally Strain.

This list does not include three names on the ferry logon sheet that I could not decipher or find... perhaps because partners and children do not always have the same name on the membership roster. And if you came across on the ferry and did not sign in, you are very naughty and should call me immediately so that you can get due credit and an admonishment to never do it again. There are three names above that in fact did not sign in but I just happen to remember. You will note that among the first to show up were Frank Daspit and Nell Hennessy, who subsequently hosted a birthday party at the downriver end of the Island that afternoon... which went so smoothly that few of you even noticed. And special thanks go to Jerome and Andrew Cramer who showed up with extra scout vigor and hands just when needed the most.

Your Caretaker had a list of tasks ready, but in fact never looked at it. Things moved so very fast... and it was amazing that folks seldom needed to be told what to do but just knew. Of course, the main priority was the team effort and heavy lifting that was required to get the canoe and swimming floats out in to the water and positioned, under the supervision of John Matthews and John Stapko, and lifting by George Malusky, Bill Eichbaum, Dave Holdridge, Mark Brenneman, Wayne Limberg, Kirk Renaud, Peter Cannell, et. al. So many things happened when I was not around that many deserving people will not get recognition. For instance, John Matthews is responsible with unnamed others for the new steps on the river side of the screened porch. You can now walk out that screen porch door without tripping because Al Brown rebricked the entrance as well as other problem areas of the porch. David Winer laid out the new form for the new walkway that will run along that side of the Clubhouse. Tove Elfstrom took on the task of repairing the upstairs screens. Peter Cannell and his crew cleared many of the leaf piles on the Island, and Oliver helped reseed. Bill Bays and Sue Super moved a mountain of leaves from the area of the Caretaker's garden. Warren Brown inspected and sorted the life preservers for safety and age. Trip Reid, Tryon Wells, and Phyllis Taliaferro ascended to the workshop, and soon uncountable years of junk came flying out the windows. Bill Eichbaum, Dave Winer, and John Matthews dug up and moved the memorial hawthorn tree by the new canoe shed, and later Frank Daspit gave it a professional pruning. Dave Holdridge and Gerry Barton repaired the rotting boards on the walkway, and Gerry salvaged the wheels off of a ruined lawnmower so that John Matthews can make a new canoe carriage. Tryon Wells led the charge to move the several junk piles to near the ferry landing, and then the effort to collect the ancient metal up Island. James Super set the pace for us junk movers and supervised the disposal of burnable trash. I never got close enough to recognize and thank the gentleman who fixed the door from the deck to the woman's bathroom. And it was several days later before I noticed that some unsung hero had cleaned, neatened, and artfully arranged things in the men's locker room.

A very special mention should go to Susan Garbini and her crew that worked on the Clubhouse upstairs. Did any of you notice that Susan actually took down and washed the screens? Unfortunately I was not around and hence am not qualified to give mention in the dispatches to the individual efforts of her team, but the result speaks for itself. Frankly, it was quite depressing from the Caretaker's point of view to witness the excellent job being done, as in: ( Oh my gosh, what are those people doing dusting the top of the metal braces near the ceiling and I hope they don't expect me to do that.!!) or (Look how clean that is... maybe I should yell "FIRE !" ... to get them to stop before they set an impossible standard!!) The next week a Member came downand was absolutely astonished at the view out the windows... and by this I mean clarity. So... kudos to the House Committee.

Nor did the Workfest effort end that Sunday. Tryon Wells came back the next day to scour the upriver end of the Island for even more metal junk, and then helped the men from Remar get it across the river. Betty Burchell came down to leaf moving and yard cleaning duty. Dick Roth showed up with a dozen students from the Edmund Burke School and they spent a half day combing the Island and clearing fallen limbs, picking up trash, and filling another 11 large bags with mainly metal trash that they then took up the hill. They also cleaned up the path on the hill and raked out the water run off ditches. Pat Barry was substitute caretaker the next weekend and repaired many of the screening problems on the porch, as well as starting the new brick walkway between the back door of the Clubhouse and the shower. Blair Bower came down the following week and spent a damp, cold day rebricking the walkway that runs beneath the Caretakers quarters.

Those of you who departed the Island while the pile of junk and metal near the ferry were growing were probably fretful about whether or not it would still be there when you visited again. You should not have been. The next day the gentlemen from REMAR showed up promptly and carried it all off. It took many hours and a good hack saw blade to get it all in their truck. I felt bad for them because they were only supposed to take the scrap metal and old toilets, but in our anti-junk frenzy many things were put on the pile that exceeded the arrangement. But they took it all cheerfully with the promise of an unspecified donation, and worked hard and professionally. We should all be grateful for their special contribution to clean our Island. Those of you who do not know of them, they are a international Christian outreach organization, active in the Latin community here, specializing in social and drug rehabilitation. Recommended by John Krasny, the people I met were impressive on a personal level, performed professionally, and I certainly recommend them. They will pick up trash or donations, and also will help with moving, painting, landscaping, or home improvement.

In other notes about preparing the Island for the season, the canoe shed should be completed by the time you read this. John Matthews has been working that magic we all take for granted, and good weather permitting, the carpenters can finish in perhaps two workdays. As a participant I can assure you that the logistics of doing such a project on an Island are daunting and rely heavily on innovation and manual labor.

Susan Garbini went to Circuit City to get a great deal (alerted by Gerry Barton) on an institutional refrigerator, which is now sitting in our kitchen. Of course, getting down here was a matter of strange luck. They said they could deliver it in a small truck, but of course put it on a large truck and started to our MacArthur address before calling first as directed. Fortunately, John Matthews was alerted, found them wandering around on MacArthur, arranged for them to drop it off in the parking lot, and then for son John Jr. to load it in the back of his pickup and bring it on to the towpath. Also fortunately, the carpenters were here to help bring it across and upstairs. Ain't life amazing!

During the day on two Saturdays, the rangers descended on the path coming down the hill with about 35 volunteers, some from the Justice Department. They are putting a major effort into getting the path in good shape... and were somewhat surprised (and impressed) that we had already restored the trail and put in waterboards. Still, you will notice a new and much improved path. And certainly the Caretaker and his wife are grateful.

So there you have it: The Island is ready!! New canoe shed. New pool table. New lawn. Clean Clubhouse. New steps. Repaired walkways. New hill path. Junkless workshop. Junkless Island. New refrigerator. New decking on the canoe float. New screens. Many of you have worked hard to put this Island in such good shape. So now come enjoy it!!

-- Doc Taliaferro, Sycamore Island Caretaker