Welcome to the History Corner!
Celebrating the rich history of Port Byron, New York, an old Erie Canal village in the Town of Mentz. This site is dedicated to the legacy and heritage of our community as well as a variety of regional historical tidbits. I hope you enjoy your visit and will stop by again.

Monday, December 20, 2010

The Eccentric Farmer

The Syracuse Standard, Saturday Morning June 27, 1886

In the Port Byron Column appeared:

"Howland's island is to the front again with a circus all its own.  In addition to the bucking mustangs, which give a variety entertainment every time they are hitched up, the inhabitants have lately discovered that they have an accomplished tumbler or "man serpent" in their midst.  D.B. Harrington, who works farm No. 8, the largest on the island, engaged his wife's brother, Peter Moffitt, to work for him through the summer.  Mr. H. soon noticed that in going between the house and the barn, Moffitt, instead of walking erect, as a man who had done a hard day's work or was expecting to do one is supposed to do, would turn cart wheels and somersaults, single and double, backwards and forwards, the entire distance.  He also astonished his fellow workmen, who were not used to seeing one of their number stop his plow team for a rest and go whirling around the field like a hoop-make, or to see one coolly lean over backward and scratch his ear with his heel.  The young man was in the village Saturday, and by request of a number of the boys, gave an exhibition that would have been a credit to any circus ring.  "Pete" was raised in Auburn, where his father keeps a grocery store.  Barnum never saw him, or they would surely have him."

Old Cleaning Tip

In a publication called "Moore's Rural New-Yorker" is a cleaning ad that reads:

"REMOVING IRON RUST—Somebody's wife asks how to take iron rust out, and I will give my way. I choose the warmest and sunniest day, and dip the spot in lemon juice, then dry in the sun. I have always succeeded thus without damaging the article. Some dilute oil vitriol, but as that is injurious, I have never tried it. 
MARY, Port Byron, N. Y, 1864"

Note: Oil of Vitriol is also known as sulfuric Acid.  Smart move Mary!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

A Christmas Poem

Courtesy of LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN

The embers glowed softly, and in their dim light,
I gazed round the room and I cherished the sight.
My wife was asleep, her head on my chest,
my daughter beside me, angelic in rest.
Outside the snow fell, a blanket of white,
transforming the yard to a winter delight.

The sparkling lights in the tree I believe,
completed the magic that was Christmas Eve.
My eyelids were heavy, my breathing was deep,
secure and surrounded by love, I would sleep,
in perfect contentment, or so it would seem,
so I slumbered, perhaps I started to dream.

The sound wasn't loud, and it wasn't too near,
but I opened my eyes when it tickled my ear.
Perhaps just a cough, I didn't quite know,
then the sure sound of footsteps outside in the snow.
My soul gave a tremble, I struggled to hear,
and I crept to the door just to see who was near.

Standing out in the cold and the dark of the night,
a lone figure stood, his face weary and tight.
A soldier, I puzzled, some twenty years old,
perhaps a Marine, huddled here in the cold.
Alone in the dark, he looked up and smiled,
standing watch over me, and my wife and my child.

"What are you doing?" I asked with out fear,
"Come in this moment, it's freezing out here!
Put down your pack, brush the snow from your sleeve,
you should be at home on a cold Christmas Eve!"

For barely a moment I saw his eyes shift,
away from the cold and the snow blown in drifts,
to the window that danced with a warm fire's light.
Then he sighed and he said "Its really all right,
I'm out here by choice. I'm here every night."

"It's my duty to stand at the front of the line,
that separates you from the darkest of times.
No one had to ask or beg or implore,
I'm proud to stand here like my fathers before.
My Gramps died at Pearl on a day in December."
Then he sighed, "That's a Christmas Gram always remembers."

"My dad stood his watch in the jungles of ' Nam ',
and now it is my turn and so, here I am.
I've not seen my own son in more than a while,
but my wife sends me pictures, he's sure got her smile."
Then he bent and he carefully pulled from his bag,
the red, white, and blue... an American flag.

"I can live through the cold and the being alone,
away from my family, my house and my home.
I can stand at my post through the rain and the sleet,
I can sleep in a foxhole with little to eat.
I can carry the weight of killing another,
or lay down my life for my sister or brother,
who stand at the front against any and all,
to ensure for all time that this flag will not fall."

"So go back inside," he said,
"Harbor no fright, your family is waiting and I'll be all right."
"But isn't there something I can do, at the least?
Give you money," I asked, "Or prepare you a feast?
It seems all too little for all that you've done,
for being away from your wife and your son."

Then his eye welled a tear that held no regret,
"Just tell us you love us, and never forget
to fight for our rights back at home while we're gone,
to stand your own watch, no matter how long.

For when we come home, either standing or dead,
to know you remember we fought and we bled
is payment enough, and with that we will trust,
that we mattered to you as you mattered to us."

LCDR Jeff Giles, SC, USN
30th Naval Construction Regiment
OIC, Logistics Cell One
Al Taqqadum, Iraq