Monday, April 1, 2019

Stumbled Across this Historical
Article while Traveling the Web

SILVER LAKE INSTITUTE
It was 1937.  Rev. Charlie Williams was the pastor at Seneca [Street] Methodist Church in South Buffalo.*  My Grandfather, John Heather, was an active layman in the church. He and his wife (of 27 years) Etta, had spent their summers since teenaged years along the Niagara River in Canada with her family. They decided that somewhere on this side of the River would be a better place to spend hot summers.

Rev. Williams told them that a cottage at SLI next door to his was for sale. They came, saw, and bought for a great sum of $500. It was the fall of 1937, and by spring of 1938 they had begun preparing it for the years ahead.

My parents were married in June of 1937, and so they too were in on the venture. My Dad and Mom had each chaperoned youth camps for the Epworth League in cottages at SLI, and so they were already familiar with the area.

*Rev Greg Franklin served Seneca Street UM Church  as pastor from July 1, 1978 thru October 15, 1981.
*Rev Dee Finch, a Perry UMC Alumni, was appointed as current pastor July 1, 2018

By the time I came into the picture in 1946, Mom’s aunt and two cousins and their families had also purchased cottages on SLI. My childhood was dotted with Saturday evening card parties for the family, Sunday Church at Epworth Hall where Mom played the music, and later in my teen years, Saturday evening talent shows organized by Miss Margaret Bush – of local artist fame.

Growing up here was a quiet life. No noise after 11 P.M.; no swimming or boating on Wednesday evenings during the hymn sing/prayer meeting on the dock; no loud parties and certainly no alcohol.

It was safe enough for a little girl to walk alone all the way to Lounsberry’s store for candy, coke, and maybe a newspaper for Dad. The lake had only rowboats, or very small motor boats for fishing.  We all took baths in the lake with bars of Ivory Soap, or had antique Pitchers and Wash Bowls in our bedrooms. We rushed to meet the train when the bell rang, and put pennies on the track; or in later years tried to walk only on the track itself with our boyfriends holding our hands.

Mr. Martin’s drive-in movies were easy to sneak into as the old baseball diamond backed right up to the car parking lot. In my teen years there were burros living in the area where the film notices were posted; sometimes we tried to ride them bareback, or jumped on the big trampoline in front of the movie screen. We often walked to the drive-in, carrying a blanket for sitting. There was $1/car load nite, and once about 10 of us tried to walk in as a car with the blanket stretched over our heads.

Our cottage was across from Linda Bergstrom’s and next to the former postmaster’s widow, Maud Curtis. Mrs. Curtis had beautiful flower gardens, and did not like children messing around near them. The Bergstrom family had a great garage made over into a kind of den – though I was not old enough to participate, I always watched the “big kids” have their fun across the way.

My Dad loved to fish and prided himself on the big northerns and walleys that he caught. There was a row of fish heads mounted on the tree behind the cottage showing off their sizes.

Eventually Dad bought a motor boat with a “big” 32 horse Evinrude engine. We all enjoyed riding down the inlet while Mom tossed iris bulbs along the banks. Some days we ventured down the outlet and tried to catch turtles, but we never succeeded.

I was about 4 when the cottage next door was rented by a family with two little boys. My neighbor friend and I loved to play under the bushes between our cottages and watch as those boys ran around playing cowboys and Indians. I married that cowboy 23 years later. Who could have guessed?

Here at SLI I learned to swim, clean a fish, pump a player piano, and counsel a camp. SLI was the place I received my call to ministry. Here I met my first boyfriend.  Here I found the love of my life who became my mate. SLI made my life into something it would never have been had I not been privileged to spend summers here. Now that we are retired, it makes my life full of pleasure and good times. I am so glad that now our daughter and her family can enjoy this blessed place, as well – a very special inheritance. I would truly not be the same person without dear old Silver Lake in my life.

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