Betsy took over the second floor bedroom at the end of the hall across from the bathroom. A large window looked out at the baseball diamond and the Papworth’s property. Two narrower windows looked out at the shipping channel over the same porch that ran in front of Deb’s room.
Mom and Dad stayed in the room with the upstairs fireplace and a covered porch facing Alexandria Bay, but Mom’s true niche was the front porch. I wonder now if a plaque should be placed there in her memory. She was content to sit and read for hours, all the while keeping track of who was coming or going and in which direction.
I came to regard this porch as one of several features that distinguished Comfort Island as an extraordinary setting. I thought of my tree houses that never offered a better vantage point or a more comfortable place to sit and relax. I’ve never tired of the bird’s eye view of boats and wildlife that comes into focus from that site. It is simply spectacular. Wicker furniture, convenient tables and a railing with a story to tell are among the accouterments that made this venue more like a nest than simply a place to sit and rock a while.
Mom thrived on company, a martini, and conversation when the “porch opened” at five. A cornucopia of fun and interesting personalities came to enjoy a libation and frequently stimulating conversation. Those demonstrating a strong attendance record included Deb and I, Peter “Salad,” George Gerhardt, Bouie Arnot, Tom Folino, and notably, Trey Vars. Trey gets extra credit because at one time or another, he brought along a cast of characters th...
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...sland history. I hadn’t noticed until he pointed it out, but one section of the rail was flat. Apparently one evening in 1883 Great Grandfather Clark placed his martini glass on the peak of the rail in front of his rocker and it toppled off to the ground below. Dad continued by saying, “The next morning the story was that Grandfather Clark instructed one of his workers to plane that rail flat, and that he didn’t care a hoot about the danger of rot.”
I found it reassuring to hear that Mom was doing her part to uphold the tradition set by the first wave of Comfort Island martini drinkers, and it became a curiosity for me to test that flat section for soft spots each summer thereafter by rapping on it with my knuckles. The railing is now 130 years old, and despite decades of neglect I have yet to find an area where the wood has even the slightest amount of give to it.
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