The Unpaid Help

1074 Words5 Pages
Comfort Island was designed to operate with a staff. When Great Grandfather Clark and his family came for their first summer in 1883, they brought along a butler, a maid, and a cook. Locally they hired a captain for the steam yacht, an engineer, a caretaker, and laborers as needed. When Dad married Natalie in 1974, his dedication to Comfort Island declined. Ivan Ford was a retired Adirondack Park Ranger who became a security guard for the Stillwater Hunting Club after that. He took over caretaking duties in 1968 after Ronald Shutler resigned to buy a dairy farm, Ivan did a little mowing and some cleanup, but we generally thought of him as a carbon copy of Dad, who liked to putter around and reflect on the past. They were more like brothers or buddies rather than employer and employee. His role in shouldering a significant share of the upkeep of Comfort Island diminished with each passing year. When Dad died in 1981, Ivan was possibly more relieved than worried about what he would do next for employment. Ivan was the last paid caretaker at Comfort Island. Kira, Deb and I shared the chores and maintenance for the years that followed. Deb became less involved in island activities as the years passed, and she eventually moved back to California in 2006 and has only returned a couple of times for short stays. Kira and I lived close enough to commute for just the one year we managed the racquet club. All other years we came and stayed for whatever length of time we could allot. By default we assumed the majority of the duties associated with maintaining the grounds and house. What the uninitiated don’t realize is that island living has a romantic image that doesn’t always align with reality. The Clark property on Comfort Island was app... ... middle of paper ... keep the legacy alive for so many decades. His cousin, Alce Ann Cole, rented the Papworth boathouse next door to station her large contingent of family and friends connected to the Edwin Clark branch of the family. Scores of our friends from the river and neighboring states attended. It was an afternoon affair complete with a small band that played mostly background music. The weather was sunny and warm, which seemed fitting for such a special occasion. Bunting adorned the tower railing and bright colored signal flags were attached to the front porch soffits. I remember asking Deb, “Do you think we’ll make it to one-hundred-fifty years here?” She thought for a moment and then said, “Maybe one-hundred-and-twenty-five years is more realistic.” I’m here to say we did make it to one-hundred-and-twenty-five and beyond, but one-fifty was proving to be too optimistic.
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