Saturday, January 24, 2015

Bakers Mills: Remembering Earl And Daisy Allen

668-47 Earl AllenIt was during the late 1980’s that Paul Schaefer introduced me to Daisy and Earl Allen in Bakers Mills. Earl has passed away this past month, and his wife Daisy died some 14 years before. But the memories of Daisy’s warmth and kitchen, and Earl’s legend as a teamster, maple sugar maker, artisan, maker of hay rakes, and master of old engines remain strong. Both would do anything they could for people.

Paul and his fellow hunters relied on Earl for some twenty years or more to hitch up his team of work horses to a wagon and bring there gear into hunting camp and out again. Rev. Daisy Dalaba Allen was pastor of the Sodom Community Church and president of the Pentecostal Holiness Association.

Just before she died, Rev. Daisy Allen’s memoir An Adirondack Farmer: Ranger Bowback was prepared and published with the help of summer neighbor Ed Zahniser. It tells Daisy’s stories of her father John Dalaba, “The Ranger,” her equally hard-working mother, her sisters and brothers, and neighbors, including sheep, cows and work horses at their 200-acre Hillmount Farm.  It’s a very interesting book for anyone interested in the Adirondacks, or rural mountain husbandry and farming and Christian living in all seasons, and how people learned, loved and cared for each other and did what needed doing anywhere in the Northern Forest during the early-mid 20th century. For example, everything was recycled. “The ways we recycled things at Hillmount Farms are too many to list,” Daisy recounts. Then she goes on to recount many of them.

Daisy AllenI encourage anyone interested to acquire a copy of An Adirondack Farmer: Ranger Bowback by contacting Daisy and Earl’s daughter Kjerstia Schilinski (write P.O. Box 47, Bakers Mills, NY 12811).

It’s a particularly interesting book for those of us who like the Siamese Ponds Wilderness or who visited Paul Schaefer at his camp above Daisy and Earl, and wanted to learn more about history and life there. For a come-from-awayer like myself, it is hard to imagine this densely wooded, canopied hardwood hillside as laid open to the sun, variously undulating or pitched, rocky sheep country. Knowing a bit of the wilderness that is growing there now, I look at the book’s cover photograph of the Dalaba Farm less than one hundred years ago in wonderment.

I would occasionally visit with Daisy and Earl, talk while eating a piece of Daisy’s pie, buy a quart of Earl’s maple syrup, or stop by during his annual old engine festival in August.  Dan Plumley and I stopped into this year’s old engine festival in August. While Earl was not feeling well enough to be outside, his grandsons provided expert tours of their grandfather’s mill that, with their engine and other tinkering and know-how, can still produce hay rakes.  Earl’s sold his rakes for many years, including to the Farmers Museum in Cooperstown.

Of Paul Schaefer’s hunting party founded in the early 1930s, known as the Cataract Club (and still in existence today), Daisy writes:  “The hunters were very good to our family. There were times when some of their extra supplies found their way to our table. How welcome. Mama counted them a godsend, over and above what we needed for survival.” Both Daisy’s father and her husband Earl knew horses and how to work with them in all kinds of terrain. They guided, and as teamsters they brought the hunting party, tent and food into and out of the woods each fall. There is footage of Earl and his team of horses bringing Paul’s party into the woods in the documentary film made by Paul Schaefer and the nonprofit Couchsachraga Association, The Adirondack – The Land Nobody Knows (1980).

Photos: Above, Earl Allen (courtesy Dr. Dan Wray from his 2004 book All in a Day’s Work); and below, Daisy Mavis Dalaba Allen from her book Ranger Bowback: An Adirondack Farmer).

Related Stories

Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for over 30 years as executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and currently as managing partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest PreserveDuring Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history. Currently, Dave is managing partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.

4 Responses

  1. Glenn L Pearsall says:

    Good people.

  2. Kjerstia says:

    Thank you, Dave, for these great works about my parents. They both loved doing for others. I sure do miss them both.

  3. Fred Allen says:

    This was nice to see pop up on Facebook. Daisy and Earl were my mom and dad. I went hunting with Paul and Cataract Club when I was 16 great guys.
    I can say that Ma and Dad have given me a legacy and I live by that. Training that can’t come out of books.

  4. Jim Schaefer says:

    Remember both Earl and Daisy as Dave describes them. Warm, helping folks. My first trip back to my Uncle Paul’s hunting camp in my early teens (1955-1957) is etched in my memory by the clunk, squeak and HAW of Earl driving the horse drawn wagon filled to the brim with supplies. It was a steady expedition leaving from Camp Cragorehol at dawn. My late cousin Cub Schaefer and I were lock step with our gear behind Earl. The sounds echoed against Eleventh Mountain and were from an heretofore unscripted musical score.
    Daisy loved the Schaefer clan and always had nice memories to share of goings on in the area — generously shared. Lip smacking rolls.
    Thanks Dave.