You just never know when a great story for Grist will land in your lap.On Sunday afternoon, on the heels of a wonderful Saturday of skating on Mecox Bay with my sister and her husband, I was on my way back to Mecox with my own husband and a son in tow, when I decided to see if anyone was out on Mill Pond skating. To my delight, a crew of Whites, Wilsons, Halseys and others were there offering a comfy chair in which to change into my skates. Once my skates were on, Jeannie White and two of her daughters, Meredith and Kristin (daughter Jami was there but happily stayed in her seat since she was just recovering from the nasty fever illness going around), invited me for a skate around the perimeter of the pond. Along the way, I learned that the small holes that dotted the ice were not from ice-fishing but from the hundreds of underground springs that feed the pond. I learned that the dark blobs in the center of the ice were not sitting birds but goose poop (a lot of it), and I learned how once upon a time, Jeannie White, then Jeannie Muller, came to live in the little house on the pond. It’s a love story and perfectly fitting for this column, which publishes the day before Valentine’s Day.
While we were skating around the pond, and talking about the huge houses that now front it, Jeannie asked me if I had ever heard about Roses Camps. The camp, a hodgepodge of an old chicken coop, an old hot dog stand, a corn crib, and a Chinese laundry and a diner was a scruffy summer paradise for those who came to visit from up the island. Artie Muller, who at the time lived in Baldwin, would rent there in the summer and one carefree summer day, a few locals were invited to attend a party on the lake’s shore. One of those locals was Irene Corwith, Jeannie’s mother, who grew up across the lake on the Corwith farm. At the party, she met Artie. A few years later they married when he was on a weekend leave from his service in the U.S. Navy.
Irene had been saving her money for a fur coat but decided instead to purchase a piece of property, which is now Muller/White central and, on the shore of Mill Pond for the princely sum of $500. She mailed Artie—who was serving in Philippines at the time—a small envelope with a bit of dirt from the property, as a way to tell him about her purchase. The house that is there now was once on the Corwith Farm up the road, and Irene and Artie had it moved to the shore. At one point, a sign proclaiming the property the Mill Pond Yacht and Country Club, was nailed to a tree, a joke that has fooled more than one person, including yours truly.
Every year, Artie and his Irene would take canoe and row across the lake to Roses Camps on Bastille Day, the day they met, and visit whomever was there to commemorate that wonderful day. Since his wife died in 1988, of cancer, Artie has continued the tradition, canoeing across the lake by himself, sitting on the shore for a drink, thinking about that cherished day.
I thought hitting two skating locations in two days was pretty good, but I was certainly topped by a crew of Water Mill skaters who challenged themselves to see how many frozen ponds they could skate on in one afternoon. Starting at Mill Pond, Cindy Corwith, Ricky Muller, Mosey Muller, Jill Raynor and Maud Seaver (from Springs) took a lap around the entire pond, unlaced their skates and then piled into Ricky’s truck and began a five-hour journey, taking them to seven ponds. Exhausted but excited by the accomplishment—some hiking was involved to reach some of the ponds—they hit Round Pond in Sag Harbor, Kellis Pond, Crooked Pond, Little Long Pond and Long Pond, and Poxabogue.
The Water Mill Community Club hosted its annual Soup and Game Night on Saturday, February 8. It was a huge success and the perfect way to beat the winter blues, said event co-chair Pat Sliwienski. Those in attendance enjoyed a delicious dinner consisting of appetizers, salads, bread, homemade soups—including Italian wedding, shrimp and kielbasa jambalaya, butternut squash, vegetarian chili, split pea with ham, cheddar cheese, and clam chowder. Following dinner, everyone enjoyed an old-fashioned evening of fun by playing board games with family and friends.
Co-Chairs Pat Sliwienski and Teal Squires Vella wish to extend a special thanks to the committee members John and Faye Andreasen, Donna and Bob Liehr, Mary Maran, Tim and Cyndy Maran, Marsha Kranes, Erin and Danny Morris, and Kristina and Mosey Muller. The co-chairs also wish to thank Panera Bread and Hampton Coffee Company for exhibiting a wonderful community spirit by donating bread, dessert, and coffee for the event.