Posts Tagged ‘Baker’s Mills’

Saturday, May 11, 2019

Ed Zahniser: Part of Your Barn Is on Me

Howard Zahniser Cabin Bakers Mills Johnsburg NY photo by John WarrenBig John Dalaba spoke of his land as himself. A few years before he died in 1951, he and my father Howard Zahniser stood looking out at the view of Crane Mountain from our cabin that his daughter Pansy and husband Harold Allen built on the part of the family farm Big John and his wife Hester had deeded to them as a wedding gift in 1938.

A corner of the cowshed built onto Pansy and Harold’s barn still sat on the Dalaba farm, not on the gifted part, which my father and mother Howard and Alice Zahniser had bought in 1946. Harold and Pansy then sought to move downhill to a larger, flatter farm with far better road access for the long, cold, snowy winters. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 20, 2019

My First Trout and The Rainmakers

My advice to nine-year-old wanna-be trout anglers is: “Do not wear a sweater.” Repeat: “Do not wear a sweater.”

My earliest trout fishing days in and around Bakers Mills in today’s Siamese Ponds Wilderness Area were frustrating because my own fishhook invariably caught mainly my sweater. And we mostly used night crawlers not artificial flies then. Better to wear something less adept at snagging stray hooks. Try thick vinyl, maybe. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 25, 2018

Poetry: At Sodom Community Church

At Sodom (NY) Community Church

“Restoration can follow”
says the preacher of our litanies of loss.
His name is Oliver, no ordinary guy.
Of the gift of tongues he will allow
an incident in Desert Storm, glossed
by Holy Spirit wind. A Bedouin came by
by camel with a child needing–needing
what!? “One of our Assemblies of God boys
prayed that someone understand.
And God said ‘Why don’t you?'” Heeding
which he did, reducing Babel’s noise
to apprehend the need at hand.
At hand today: Oliver’s stated theme:
“Except the Lord build, we build in vain”
–from Ezra’s ancient Hebrew book.
Grief and loss can blossom as a fruited plain
and compost be more and sweeter than it seem.
Lift another rock; take another look.


Thursday, August 9, 2018

A Partnership For Wilderness, 1946-2018

In July 1946, Howard and Alice Zahniser drove with their children to the Adirondacks for the first time. Howard had started work as the first executive of The Wilderness Society in Washington D.C. the year prior. Howard would begin drafting the federal Wilderness Act of 1964 (66 drafts in all) from a cabin he acquired in the Adirondacks.

Howard kept a journal of his first trip to the Adirondack Park.  The rest of us know about it thanks to his son Ed Zahniser’s small book, Where Wilderness Preservation Began – Adirondack Writings of Howard Zahniser (Ed Zahniser, Editor., North Country Books, 1992). For 72 years the extended Zahniser family, now including the fourth generation, has returned to the same place in the Adirondacks. This August I held a cook-out to welcome them back. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 19, 2018

Ed Zahniser: A Shepherd’s Tooth Expedition

Howard Zahniser Cabin Bakers Mills Johnsburg NY photo by John WarrenAs we made forays out from Mateskared, our family’s cabin in Baker’s Mills, most often Schaefers were the way-showers and Zahnisers their eager followers. On their 1946 backpacking trip to Flowed Lands and Hanging Spear Falls on the Opalescent River in the High Peaks with Ed Richard, Paul Schaefer went so far as to carry my father on his shoulders across one difficult and hazardous approach by narrow ledge to the falls themselves up through the boulder-strewn canyon of the Opalescent. Paul’s accounts of the trip never mentioned that fact, gleaned from my father’s journal. But it set a suitable tone for our families’ joint wildlands outings. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mateskared: The Zahniser Cabin in Johnsburg

Howard Zahniser Cabin Bakers Mills Johnsburg NY photo by John WarrenIn the mid-1990s Harold Allen reminisced about my father Howard Zahniser: “He bought the place, and he never had seen it,” Harold said. “Paul Schaefer was the one who told him about it.”

Pansy and I were sitting at their kitchen table. Her parents, John and Hester Dalaba, named their girls for plants—Pansy, Daisy, Blossom, Fern, and Carnata — and their boys for trees — Oliver and Linden.  Harold, Pansy’s husband, sat in his favorite easy chair, next to the door to their closed-in front porch. “We even tried to give it away,” Harold said of their first attempts to sell what became Mateskared to our family, “because we didn’t want to pay the taxes on it.” They paid $3 school tax and $8 land tax. Harold knew exactly what they paid, because he was the collector for school taxes then. “Here now school and land taxes are $2,000 a year,” Harold said of their present home just down the hill from Mateskared. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tapping A Spring and Tipping Outhouses at Bobcat Ranney’s

Photo of Archie “Bobcat” Ranney courtesy of Adirondack Museum.In the Harold and Pansy Allen family’s e-mail newsletter Dogtown News, Harold once recounted how they got the water from the spring — which lies across the road — into their first house, now our cabin named Mateskared.

“Ranney was the proprietor of the Paul Schaefer Club property, the old club,” Harold began, invoking the land directly across our road.

“I asked Archie Ranney if I could go over and pipe that water into the house. Ranney said ‘Oh no. You can not do that.’ So I ignored what he said. I bought pipe and a pump from Ernest Noxon [in North Creek] for $19.50. A week’s wages then were $20. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ed Zahniser: Lilac Time in Bakers Mills

lilac bush courtesy wikimedia user JjronA favorite snippet of British poetry my father Howard Zahniser sometimes quoted was “Come down to Kew in lilac time, / It isn’t far from London.” His intense delight in the piece showed in how he would dip one shoulder and lean headlong into his audience — even if only one person — during a recitation. He used his body to punctuate his public speaking about wilderness, too, with his bob-and-weave guided walk-through of rhetorical emphases. “Come down to Kew in lilac time…” There are certain words a lifetime loads with meaning. Lilac was one. Whitman’s “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed …” Its poignancy suggesting spring but, too, its heavy nineteenth-century scent of death and dying. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Fence Full of Car Parts in Baker’s Mills

Paul Schaefer c. 1960The late Adirondack wilderness advocate and conservation leader Paul Schaefer (1908-1996) had loads of stories to tell about his life and the people he came to know in the Adirondacks.

Now that Adirondack rivers are starting to flow again and trout season is about to open, it may be an appropriate time to relay one Paul told me at his fireside. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, August 13, 2016

Bobcat Ranney and Howard Zahniser: An Exchange of Letters

Bobcat Picture from Adirondack MuseumIn Summer 1946, at the invitation of Paul and Carolyn Schaefer, Howard and Alice Zahniser and family made their first trip to the Adirondacks, from their home in Maryland where Howard had begun work with The Wilderness Society. Zahnie, as he was known, had met Paul Schaefer and Schaefer’s mentor John Apperson that February at the 1946 North American Wildlife Conference in New York City. There, Schaefer and Apperson showed their film about dam threats to Forest Preserve wilderness in the western Adirondacks.

It was Wilderness Society policy that any threat to wilderness must be considered a national issue. Accordingly, at the Conference Zahnie offered Schaefer the Society’s help to fight the series of dam proposals in what became known as the Black River Wars. Paul had suggested then that Zahnie and family visit the Schaefer family and their Adirondack camp off Edwards Hill Road out of Bakers Mills, New York, the coming summer. It was there that he met Archie “Bobcat” Ranney.  The day the Zanhisers left Washington, D.C., a letter arrived from Ranney, addressed from Bakers Mills: » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 30, 2016

Ranger Bowback: Recycling Long Ago

Ranger Bowback Cover - Adirondack FarmHow fashions do change. Years ago we were thought to be the oddballs because of the togs we wore. We were taught to wear long sleeves. Many dresses coming into style in our younger days had short sleeves, so we wore shirts or blouses with long sleeves under our dresses. Maybe we were not in style then, but with today’s layered look many women are wearing similar outfits. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, July 2, 2016

Life With Horses, And Hunting Parties

Ranger Bowback Cover - Adirondack FarmThe Ranger’s brother Charlie did most of the horseshoeing and set many a shoe. Uncle Charlie was a little harsh. He expected obedience and may not have believed in ”horse lib,” but he could make and train a horse.

Nellie and Topsy were young horses Papa bought from his brother Wilber, who had a mare name Mabel and had raised these colts, a beautiful pair. Prince was a lovely horse Papa liked very much. We were a large family, and many times cash was not plentiful. Papa would get his supplies on credit at the Frank Thissell store in the village of Bakers Mills. Papa wanted to get the bill paid and made some arrangement for paying them $100 and the horse Prince. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, June 25, 2016

Ranger Bowback: Stone Boats, Snowdrifts, and Church on Sundays

Ranger Bowback Cover - Adirondack FarmUncle Charlie Dalaba was one of the helpers many times for sugaring. He was a bachelor for years. Then he married a lady preacher, pastor of the Bakers Mills Pentecostal Holiness Church. Esther Thomas was a city girl from Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, and before her conversion and ministry she had played in theaters. One name she mentioned was Helen Hayes, who was a child. When the opportunity for a part in a movie came, she listened. The child must have curly hair, which she did not have. Her mother thought her daughter would make a good actress and carefully curled her hair. Esther got the part and a movie career.

In the country, Aunt Esther Thomas Dalaba decided to learn what she could about her new way of life. One of those experiences led her to go watch the making of maple syrup. Aunt Esther was so large that walking was impossible. The men helped her onto the lumber wagon box and gave her a joyride to the back roads. Over the bumpy roads and swaying on the seat as the wagon wheel hit a stone, she laughed with pleasure and some alarm. What a good sport. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 19, 2016

Ranger Bowback: His Horses and Labors

Ranger Bowback Cover - Adirondack FarmHillmount Farms on Edwards Hill Road was made of many rolling hills. The Ranger’s team of horses was his companion for many days of labor. The team drew the plow over the hilly terrain. There were several kinds of plows used by the farmers, such as the side hill plow, flat land plow, and sulky plow. The Ranger used the side hill plow most, for plowing deep furrows, turning the sod to the right as he went up and around and down a field. The next furrow overlapped, falling into the path of the one just plowed.

Long wooden curved handles were fastened to the plow for the farmer to hold onto. It was difficult for the teamer to hold the lines, so he tied them together and threw them over his shoulder. They dropped to his waist, leaving him in control of the plowing. The horses were well trained with “gee” to turn to the right and “haw” to turn to the left. The horses understood these words. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 29, 2016

Bobcat Ranney: The Hermit Of Tombstone Swamp

Bobcat Picture from Adirondack MuseumIn this digital age, it’s hard for anyone to escape entirely from the eyes of the world, and that goes for Adirondack hermits, too. Even dead ones.

A case in point is Archie “Bobcat” Ranney, who lived in a cabin near Bakers Mills, sometimes surviving on porcupine meat.

I learned about Ranney from Dick MacKinnon, a native of Schenectady, who in turned learned about him from Jim Osterhout, a childhood friend who once met the hermit. Dick sent me a bunch of emails with articles about Ranney as well as a few photos. I then stumbled across more articles about him on my own. Everything was online.

» Continue Reading.