The letters in reminiscent mood recently appearing in the Gazette have proved of much interest to me, particularly those pertaining to the Old Pine Woods district of Conesus. I, too, taught there and I have a very clear recollection of some of the old timers, early settlers on the Marrowback hills. I was still in my teens, when Albert Daniels hired me to teach the school, which numbered about twenty pupils. My term of service was probably about midway between that of Mr. McDonald and that of Mr. White, the present teacher. Even then, much of the pine growth had been trimmed out, but there remained slight windbreaks on the south and west of the school building.
It was not a difficult school at that time, but evidently one boy felt that he must uphold the traditions of former days. In this, however, the fates were against him and in an attempt to trip his teacher, he fell, striking the sharp edge of the platform and receiving a severe scalp wound, the scars of which he bears to this day. If he learned nothing else that term, he must have realized the truth of the old saying, “The way of the transgressor is hard.”
Storms arose very suddenly on “the hill” and I was trapped at the school house one night by an especially severe one. There were in reality two storms, one from the east and one from the west, and they met directly over Hemlock lake. The lightning flashed and the thunder rolled and reverberated between the hills. I watched the wonderful display from the built-in porch of the school building and I recall that in my thought I likened the cannonading of the storm to Henry Hudson and his men playing at ninepins in the Catskills.
Another afternoon, shortly after school was dismissed, I heard the shouts of children, and looking out saw an excited group in the road a few rods south of the schoolhouse. Upon reaching the spot, I found Charlie Taylor, a lad of eight, engaged in despatching a pair of large blacksnakes. The other children stood by and lent him their moral support. When measured, each snake stretched across the road from track to track. In after years, Charlie went to the World War and, I understand, acquitted himself with the same fine courage that he had displayed as a boy.
Of my former pupils, one died a number of years ago and of the others I have knowledge of but two, Wells Daniels, who is located somewhere in New England, and May Swartout, who later became Mrs. Henry Sharp. A few years after at South Livonia, I taught Mrs. Sharp’s son, whom Eva Nash, now Mrs. Sam Jenning of Geneseo, somewhat facetiously called my grandchild.
Roy and Jim Cole were then living in the district, as were also the Edsons and Jon Ryan and his mother. I spent many a pleasant evening visiting with “Al” and “Sue” Lockwood and their little granddaughter Susie. When I wasn’t there, I could usually be found at the home of my great-uncle, Seymour Daniels. He was what would be known now as an “old-time fiddler” and had taught violin to a number of people. He gave me lessons throughout the winter and said some nice things about my ability with the bow, but as I left Marrowback at the end of the school year I did not keep up my practice. Seymour Daniels was a man for whom I felt a deep respect and affection.
These reminiscences may not be of the slightest interest to others, but it has been a joy to me to recall the old friendships and I feel deeply indebted to those who awakened such a train of thought.