By Wild Harmony
What brought you to Cranberry Lake? When?
My mother started coming here in 1919 when she was 9. She came to the Narrows in Wanakena with a family that owned the house there. They brought my mother along to be a playmate for their daughter.
Years later in the 1960’s, her brothers the Englerts (Jack and Ray) bought camps and so my mom decided she would spend a few weeks every summer at Watkins cabins. Finally she decided to buy a place and in 1972 she bought what was originally Dr. Sutton’s place and is now our home. Dr Sutton was our beloved painter Jeanne Reynolds’ father.
We been fixing it up ever since.
I was married in front of our camp in 1973 and I’ve been coming here ever since. Father Ruddy helped officiate – he did summer masses at the Cranberry Lake Inn. I came up for weekends while working and then for summers when I retired in 1997.
When you first came, did you think you’d end up staying here?
I really liked it when I came in ’72 to see my mom. I like water and boats and wilderness. I’ve been hiking since I was 6 all over the wilderness outside of Rochester. So this place made sense and I liked the camp she picked. I expected once we owned the camp that I would spend a lot of time here – as much time as I could put in while working and then full summers.
I was married here on our lawn. At our wedding, which was supposed to be a family gathering we looked out and the island in front of the house was full with about 50 people. At the time I didn’t know who they were….our wedding became a big wedding through word of mouth.
What was your first volunteer activity?
I joined the fire department at home in Irondequoit in 1968. I was active on the ambulance and fire fighting – worked my way up to chief.
I always enjoy helping people when I can.
I joined the The Cranberry Lake Boat Club Board – and was even Vice Commodore one time. I was Vice when Allen Splete was Commodore.
I helped out with events like the Poker Paddle. First year I ran the stop at Hawk’s Next and I still do that today.
I helped with the Cardboard Boat Races. I helped build the pavilion. There are certain things I’m not good at like paperwork but I am good at hands on projects.
How many volunteer jobs have you had here?
I already mentioned the Boat Club.
Founding Member of the Cranberry Lake North Shore Hub Board, still active today.
Why do you volunteer here?
In such a small place, you get to know everybody. Volunteering is a great way to meet people. I like interacting with people.
Who Inspires you here?
My mother was in the Boat Club and on the board. I became a member because she was a member. Then, Clint Farnsworth asked me to be on the board somewhere in the 2000’s and it was natural to say yes.
Clint Farnsworth asked me to be on the HUB Board.
I don’t know really know who inspires me now. I”m kinda old to be inspired. I just do what I can do. I enjoy doing it. Don’t hand me paper. Give me a job.
I was an engineer for Kodak and I retired from paperwork when I retired from Kodak.
What are the best memories you have of Cranberry?
Obviously the old days when the Inn was open and it was the place to go.
All the best memories go with the lake destinations that don’t exist now – the Inn, Chair Rock Lodge run by Sarge Boss’s mom- she only cooked one thing each night, we’d call up and if you wanted to she would send out her boat to get you; Wildcliff; The Emporium;The Evergreen; the Pine Cone.
When we first came in 73, it was the last year of mailboat delivery.
The HUB is important. The docks there are critical. How can you have a successful lake town without a town dock? It’s really important for people who only have lake access. The HUB docks were a big accomplishment.
While on the board of The Boat Club. I was on the docks and navigation committee. We had a dock at the Emporium and a dock in Wanakena that had to be maintained. The Boat Club gave the money for the docks in Wanakena when needed. I made sure the buoys were in the right place – I can do them everywhere on this lake. I don’t have that job anymore but I still check the buoys and call the DEC Navigation Aids Dept in Lake Clear. They work out of an old sawmill and they head down to put them back in place. They are responsible for all the buoys in the Park. I haven’t talked to them since last year but if I see a buoy out of place I will call. SUNY ESF biology station calls in the wandering buoys too.
Where is your favorite place to go?
I love the hike to High Falls. You walk across the log, across the beaver damn and to the falls. It’s a great hike.
What do you hope for the future here?
I have been here 50 years. Tuesday the 18th of July is my wedding anniversary.
I hope the destinations open up again. The Emporium could be a beautiful marina. The Lodge was a critical destination year round – a bar is critical, the restaurant was great. We used to hold events there. It was also a destination for snowmobiles. They also provided boat storage.
I don’t want things to get any worse here for businesses. I want the HUB to be a huge success – it will be a real community center. We built something great and I hope it flourishes.
One thing to say to future people…
Enjoy it the way it is, don’t try to modernize it. What’s nice about Cranberry is you can still be alone in wilderness…. don’t ruin the wild nature of Cranberry. Leave your city and suburb notions of place back there. Cranberry is special. Leave it that way.