By Wild Harmony
Ron and Kay Dimon
What brought you to Cranberry Lake? When? Tell me some stories…
Loyd and Helen Davis ( my grandparents) started in the area in Piercefield in a tent, during the depression, there weren’t any houses. He leased a building at Sevey’s corner, running a gas station. The lease ran out and he moved to Cranberry Lake where he worked for Emporium Forestry. My mother, Lorraine, grew up here, went to school at the one room schoolhouse in Childwold, lived in a cold water flat, the second story, over the parsonage next to the former church / Hub. Prior to WW II, Loyd and Helen left the lake for work at Bel Air Aircraft in Buffalo. He earned enough money to buy a boat shop to return to Cranberry Lake – in 1947 where the Bio Station is now.
My dad from Maple View, New York looked at a yearbook picture of my mom — circled her face in a school picture from nursing school. Dad proposed to Mom in a rowboat off the dock where the Bio station is now. Swam across the lake for fun and the parents went nuts on them. They got married at that HUB/church in 1948.
My grandparents were playing cards with MacAleese’s Park Restaurant over town and the furnace malfunctioned at home and it was gone. They lost everything, everything in 1955. Family pictures, Antique guns. Food. Clothes. They continued to run the boat shop out of tiny single wide trailer until ’57 – and then they bought the place on Matilda Bay
The taxes here are now more than his Grandpa paid for the original camp. It sat on a different place on the lot — they moved it and fixed it up and retired here. Bathroom was under the stairway including a bathtub that you had to roll into because of it’s position under the stairs. There was a vinyl folding door for the bathroom. Everybody could hear everything everyone was doing. We’d turn on the radio to loud static and that covered up any bathroom noises. My grandfather Loyd smoked heavy and I loved the smell. He died right here in 1969 – Doc Pearson was a dear friend and here when he died.
This same camp is now our heritage to so many memories and is filled with grandchildren – the fifth generation to fall in love with Cranberry Lake.
Members of my father’s family took a train to Newton Falls and took a stagecoach to Cranberry. My mom told stories of walking the lake on logs and catching trout between the logs.
There was a moose head on the wall of Doc Pearsson’s camp and my grand father convinced us that the moose ran into the house and we kids would run outside looking for the rest of it…. Over and over again. He would say it must have run away
I jumped in the boat one time and my grandfather pulled to start the motor and clocked me in the head.. hard! HIs response; “why did you put your head there kid?”.
It was a generation of tough people. “Walk it off!”
There in that little place in PIercefield my grandmother was pregnant and so excited about the baby. My mom wanted a baby boy so she would have someone to do the work of trapping, stacking firewood, etc. My mom always said she was never sad. Her mom lost five babies, her siblings. RH factor that wasn’t known about at the time. When she realized her mom’s baby was blue and dead grandma said to my mom…. this baby has done nothing to make me angry, done nothing to make me love him but I love him anyway and I have no reason to be sad. Just like your father in heaven loves you no matter what!
My mom died fiver years ago in a Memory Center. She told us stories till the end.
When you first came, did you think you’d end up staying here?
No question about it. We taught school out in Indiana. All I could think about was moving back to the Syracuse area and being close to family here. We taught in an inner city school in Hammond, Indiana.
The people next door from our camp, John and Joan Baker inherited Maudina Lane’s camp. Over a camp fire John offered me a teaching job at Jamesville – DeWitt School District . We moved to Fayetteville. Came up to Cranberry Lake every chance we could.
Kay – I was brought to Cranberry before we were married I think I needed to pass the Cranberry Lake test. I did not grow up around boats and living in the woods. There were no neighbors and so many nature sounds. I’ve gained roots here. I love swimming in the lake and appreciate everything and more that I didn’t in the beginning.
It’s the same now but different. Town is smaller. 17 boats in the bay but only one boat was out fishing last night. We seem to take turns not to overpopulate the lake. People don’t realized this is the 3rd largest lake and 80% of it is Forever Wild.
Memories of the little snippet of time when the trout were in the lake and hunting was fabulous. Bumper to bumper cars and trucks parked by the side of the road. Deer hanging the whole length of the hotel at Merchant’s. It still has the same flavor to this day. Wilderness remains. Access to wilderness and quiet is rare elsewhere. Few boats on this lake — what a gift that is…
What was your first job? Have you had other jobs while living here?
My grandfather worked here – Davis Boat Shop. My grandmother helped Dr Pearson deliver babies.
On the day my mother was born, the sled tipped over twice trying to get home to deliver her.
My mom got a phone call that a trapper up the lake had died. Doc Pearsson called over and asked for help. 1930’s… they go up the lake and then they find the dead person sitting on the porch in a rocking chair. They go in the door and Doc asks why is he on the porch…. The answer – because he smelled. They put him on the back of the sled and they hit a crack in the ice, bounced and the body came up between them and Doc said, “good to see you again, George”.
What was your first volunteer activity?
Every fourth of July, I would volunteer with my grandma to bring a cherry pie to the ranger on duty on Mount Arab. She would walk up there with her Dr Scholl’s, stockings and a cotton dress. My sister and I would carry the basket.
Then the church (now HUB) was important for my grandfather and mother – they would help out with potluck dinners or whatever the church was sponsoring. My grandmother attended on Sunday. My grandfather always had an excuse to not go to church. One of his standbys was I have a hole in my sock!
The HUB is really our first active involvement.
Why do you volunteer here?
Our attachment to the church… the whole idea of having a place to dock to access playground, the library, ice cream and the tennis courts.
Honoring family connections throughout the generations.
The idea of driving through and seeing the churches decay or turn into micro breweries or houses… we didn’t want that here. Everything else is falling down. It was the right thing to do. We attended church here and our daughter was baptized at the church in 1983.
Who Inspires you here?
The example of my parents and grandparents – my grandfather supplying people with venison to bringing the pie up to the Arab Mountain.
Paying back all the beauty here.
Where is your favorite place to go?
Our camp, the screen porch, dock and swimming across the bay.
Fishing in all the different bays. Just caught four or five large mouth bass on the flow at Brandy Brook. Every summer I find a bay I haven’t fished.
What do you hope for the future here?
I would want the hamlet to be upgraded a bit – more business. We don’t want much to change too much. Preserve the natural calm and beauty of the place. Don’t change this special small place. Love will be multigenerational. Trails are beautifully marked. Retain those things. Our grandkids are the 5th generation. If the taxes don’t drive us off the lake, we’ll be here forever. As our grandkids and kids take it over, can they afford it? We hope so!
One thing to say to future people…
Lots of concern about the drug and alcohol abuse we see here. Time off is about slowing down not partying. We want all to experience a better future and understand the beauty around them. That God will always offer hope… one has to accept it. We all have to work on these issues for the future of our place.