Poor Willie Did Not Catch a Darn Fish All Day

25 Aug

1903 trip 1

Charleston Lake Inn
Charleston, Ontario
Sep 17, 1903

From: William A Gray
To: Ruth (Barrell) Gray

My dearest wife Ruthy, Billy and little sister Ethel:

First of all some hugs and kisses for all of you from Mama Ruthy down to sister
Ethel, and from little sister Ethel up to Mama Ruthy.

Well, here I am at the lake and not much the worse for wear. Mailed you a letter at
Carthage where we stopped half an hour for breakfast. I told to some extent the incidents
of the trip up to that time, and shall now relate what has occurred since. 

Leaving Carthage our next stop was “Philadelphia” — rather a large name for such
an insignificant place. It is a junction of two branches of the railroad. We had to wait there
about an hour for a train over the Rome and Watertown branch. I didn’t tell you in my other
letter that Mr Balch came with us to Odgensburg. He was enroute to one of the Thousand
Islands where he is going to superintend the construction of a summer home for one of the
Rubsamens. His Pullman ticket called for a berth in our car and another man came along
with a ticket calling for same berth and section. The difficulty was finally provided for by
fixing up Balch in another car behind ours. I told you about shifting us at Utica and we
were surprised to find in the morning that Balch’s car was not attached to our train. They
switched him off and sent his car over another division converging at Philadelphia. He
came in there on the train we were waiting for and we had a reunion on the station. We
finally got out of Phil. and about 11:30 A. M. arrived at Morristown, N. Y. There appeared
before our eyes the magnificent St Lawrence in its broad expanse of beautifully clear
water, spotted here and there with countless islands, which are part of the ‘thousand
islands” group. Here we took a peculiar looking ferry boat for Brockville. Our baggage was
inspected on this boat in a very thorough manner. The inspector was a little bleary eyed
bewhiskered Canadian who didn’t look as tho he had as much intelligence as “Mac.” He
first examined the effects of a party of Hebrews, who also were bound on a fishing trip to
Charleston Lake. He asked what the trunks contained and whether there was anything
dutiable in them and upon receipt of a negative reply seemed quite satisfied and passed
along to the next party. I don’t believe he looked at out baggage and he seemed too tired
to ask any questions, so we passed over the line without putting up any deposit on any of
our stuff. Arriving at Brockville we took a “Victoria” (about 100 years old) to Hotel
Strathcona where we had dinner. I was pretty hungry and everything tasted very good and
they all made much of the amount I ate. I enclose copy of “menu” which shows by
checkmarks what I managed to put away. The dinner being over at 1:30 we had 2 ½ hours
to kill before train time. So armed with camera we started out to see the town. Our first stop
was on a bench in the park which surrounds the courthouse. Facing the court house on
three sides there are as many churches the most imposing of which is the “First
Presbyterian”. This edifice I will show you later on paper as it was the subject of my first
picture. I next snapped the court house from the green in front and next took a picture of a
large and antiquated cannon, having Walter and Chester on either side.

1903 trip 2

From there we went to the City Hall which overlooks the river. This building has an
unfinished portion, not being any farther advanced than the rafters inside. We climbed up
these, and ladders, until we reached the highest, which commanded a good view of the St
Lawrence with Morristown on the opposite shore and here I took two pictures. We then
returned to the hotel where we waited for our “Victrola” to arrive and take us to the depot
en-route for “Athens.” This came along in due course and at 4 o’clock we found ourselves
on the train and in motion. 50 minutes ride over an uninteresting country brought us to
Athens, and then a five mile ride over a rough and hilly course landed us at the lakeside
and the “Inn.” We immediately reversed the usual order of things and “undressed for
dinner.” You can imagine me at home in my blue flannel shirt and corresponding togs and
doing the third meal if the day the fullest kind of justice. After sitting down awhile I retired
to my boudior and commenced this letter, going to sleep once over it and giving it up as a
bad job and with eyes half closed shook my clothes off and fell into bed. Where I went to
sleep at this letter is the point marked thus *, and what has come after I am writing on
Sunday evening at nine P. M. after having spent my first day on the lake. The lake is
certainly magnificent and I won’t try to describe it as it would be utterly beyond my ability to
do so, but the fishing, it might be better. “Poor Willie” did not catch a darn fish all day long,
and it wasn’t his fault either as they didn’t do any biting. We had a grand day however the
weather being elegant and we hope for better luck tomorrow. We found Dave, his boss
Howell, and three other railroad men at the hotel. These five and our four all went out two
to a boat and one odd, expecting to do some great stunts in fishing. We all met at a certain
island at one o’clock and the guides prepared dinner in true camping style. While they
were at this, the party broke up, some laying down to sleep, and others going off to
explore. Walter and I started off for a walk, I taking my rifle to see what we could find. We
didn’t see any game so did some target practice at 50 and 100 yards. I find the rifle an
excellent little arm in every way and had no trouble hitting the mark. I finally succeeded in
hitting a small stone on a neighboring island at least 700 feet away. I saw a black squirrel,
but couldn’t get at him as fast as he got away. Our dinner on the island consisted of broiled
fish, chicken, corn, potatoes, coffee and pumpkin pie. After putting this away we laid
around awhile, did some more shooting at “any old thing” and when guides had eaten the
leavings and cleaned up the dinner things, we resumed fishing with luck already
mentioned. I finally gave up the fruitless task and rowed the boat home. I don’t know why I
am writing you all this nonsense but the deed is “did” and guess I’d better send it rather
than tear it up. So my dear sweet babies and my lovely, noble precious wife I am going to
stop now and mail this epistle so it will start or tomorrow morning’s train. I just wish I had
you all with me, then the holiday would be complete. (black ink gave out here) for you
three are so involved in my life that I find myself very much lacking in lifes necessities
without you. But to be fitted to take the best care of my dear ones, I must be well and
strong and will try to come back to you more able than ever to fill the responsible, but
delightful, position of husband and father. So precious ones some more kisses and hugs
and heaps of love and then to bed for a good nights rest to prepare for the arduous duties
of the morrow, and with last thoughts of Ruthy, Billy, and sister Ethel.

Ever your loving husband and father

P. S. Chester just tells me that mail does not go out until morning so will hold this
letter open for a few nice Monday morning kisses and some more chunks of love.
W. A. G.

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Posted by on August 25, 2013 in Family History


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