"Indian Summer" Film Discussion - interview

Discussion following showing of "Indian Summer" at Walton Theatre, 6/14/18

DISCUSSION AFTER FILM INDIAN SUMMER   (ZOOM0001 24:45)            6/14/18

0:00:11  Helen Zandt

For those people who don't know me, I'm Helen Zandt; used to be Helen Scribner. [. . .] I was born in Cannonsville and raised in Rock Royal, and I lived Mr. Gregory's story. It's hard to watch; it makes the tears flow. I wrote two books out there [Memories and Memories 2], and I cried more writing those books than I've cried all my life.  [. . .] I've often thought, if this happened today would the environmentalists let this happen? Would they let this tragedy take place? And it's just…it's hard. It's hard. [. . .] I say the story is [. . .] a true story. Bob Gregory walked, rafted, logs down the Delaware to Philadelphia and walked home. There [were] no roads, no paths. He walked home, and he did it many times. There's another one, Pierre [. . .] Angelo, that also [. . .] did it. [. . .] It was their life, and for him to have to give up his life, his home, his farm, and just like the rest of us when it come time to move out, it was hard.

0:02:07 Helen

[Are] there any questions anybody has [. . .] about the movie that maybe you didn't understand or [want] a little explanation or anything?

0:02:21 Question

What about the cemeteries? They moved, tried to move, some of the cemeteries' stones [. . .]?

0:02:29 Helen

They were all moved. Many of the plots they just dug down in and took up a small [bit of dirt].

0:02:45 Robbie Jean Rice

They moved a lot of the graves to Walton. There's a whole section of the cemetery over here that's xxxxxxxx Cannonsville and all that xxxxx. There are people in other places.

0:03:00 Helen

[. . .] [For] my family, my mother was in charge of the Backus', and she moved one whole section of the Cannonsville Cemetery, as Robbie said, [to] the Walton cemetery. You can go back on the first road, clear to the back end, and you'll find where that whole section is. Anybody that had anybody that [. . .] was buried there could request they go anyplace. Many of them took them back to their home [. . .] cemeteries back where they were gonna be buried. [. . .] They were all moved and a little box of dirt was taken from those that didn't have any vaults or anything. Now, there's a little cemetery in Rock Royal. Many a Sunday afternoon my girlfriend and I would just walk down and walk through that cemetery and read the roll of little kids that died from some disease that come through. [. . .] There they [were] buried. They were all moved, all moved.

0:04:15 Question

Do you know what happened to Mr. Gregory?

question repeated

0:04:26 Robbie

[. . .] I had a woman call me Sunday morning before I went to church named Mary Gregory. [. . .] She's from Deposit and her father was Robert Gregory. [. . .] So, she talked, and talked, and talked, and talked about that whole time, and we want to get together with her at some point.

0:04:49 Helen

I was hoping she would be here tonight.

0:04:51 [Robbie]

She said it was too far to go in the evening and everything, so, I don't know what happened to Mr. Gregory himself. [. . .]

0:05:04 Helen

I don't think he lived too long after that.

0:05:08 Question

How long did the whole business take from when they started clearing the land to when it was filled with water?

question repeated

0:05:21 Helen

About 4 years, all told. [. . .] Now, they came to my dad, he had a farm, my brother had a farm, my other brother had a farm, and they came to them in, like, September and gave them 30 days to get out. I mean, we were fighting them at that point. [. . .] They came to my house. I set there on the couch and they come in with all their papers, and they were going to serve them. I stood up to take the papers, and I was pregnant. I'll tell you, they got out of that house so fast it was pathetic. They cannot move a pregnant woman at that point. [ . . .] My dad also [. . .] went to court in Binghamton, and that was Judge Terry you saw. He gave them a stay because he says, these farmers can't move their crops. They got the hay all in, they got their silage in; how are they going to move it all? [. . .] They were given until [. . ], I think, August. [. . .] We moved, I think, in August or September, finally, but that was it. [It] took four, five years from the time they started 'til they got everything built. [. . .] You've probably been down by the reservoir, down by the dam. It was quite an involved process.

0:07:04 Question

I had a question for people. How many people here had to move their homes? xxxxxxx but how many of you actually moved their house? xxxxxxxx

0:07:26 Helen

That involved a little story, too. Our house sat right in the road contractor's right of way, and it was a fairly new house compared to a lot of the other farmhouses. [. . .] He come to myself and my dad one day, and he says, it's killing me to have to burn these houses. [. . .] They didn't take all my dad's property. He said, have you got a place you can put these houses? I'll sell them to you cheap, and he did, and we moved them, and I live in that house yet today.



0:08:11 Helen

Up on Marvin Hollow, on his property there, and he moved his up on the other side of the road on Marvin Hollow. [. . . ]Karen here grew up in that house with her family, her folks. My dad sold it to them. [. . .] There was a lot of them moved. My house would have went to Trout Creek 15 times if they could have got it there, but there was a barn and a big old stone wall, and [. . .] our house was built as a T, it had a T on the end, and the T wouldn't go through that wall. So, they backed out and that's when the contractor come to us to buy it, and, I mean, it wasn't very cheap. [. . .] Of course, then we had to get it moved [. . .], but we did. It was an experience. One I hope I never have to go through again. [. . .]

0:09:18 Question

What year did you move? [. . .]

question repeated

0:09:26 Helen

We moved out in [. . .] 1960, late '62, maybe, but then we moved back in in '63. [. . .] We had to put the foundation back under the house and all that, but we moved back in in 1963. Any other questions? I'm here. I can answer them. I was in Deposit Wednesday. I spoke when they shut the movie down there. A lady come to me afterward, and she says, you have no notes. How do you remember all this? I said I lived through it, and when you live through something you don’t forget. You don't forget, and I can sit down and cry today over things that went on back then, and how we had to move, scatter, everywhere. I mean many, many, many generations of these families had lived on these farms and [. . .] the kids took over, and kids took over, and kids took over [. . .]. I've seen a lot of places where there's reservoirs. [. . .] I have my husband pull over, and I'll sit there, and he'll say, what are you looking at? [. . .] I say, I'm thinking about how the people lived under that water. How they had to move. They had to get out. [. . .] You was one of them. [. . .]

0:11:26 Helen

[. . .]  It was a hard time, and it's still a hard time. You never forget it. I praise the Lord that my mother passed away before she had to move out of that valley. My dad moved. He was strong man. He could move. He moved his cattle, moved his machinery, but I don't [. . .] think my mother would have lived through it.

0:12:04 Question

What were they dynamiting in that movie?

question repeated

0:12:10 Helen

Probably where the reservoir is now and also in the tunnels. [. . .] They had to move mountains, and I'll tell you a little story. Charlie Cook, [. . .] probably a lot of you don't remember him, he was our state senator, and he was my [. . .] stepbrother. He and I commiserated with each other [. . .] many years before he passed away that we should never have let New York City tear that stone barn down. It was one of a kind, and if you'd have took the doors off, and took the windows out, there's nothing. [. . .] They had to blow it three times in order to get a little piece out of it. I didn't go down. I lived right up the road, probably half, maybe a mile from it, but I wouldn't go down and watch them blow it up. [. . .] It took them three tries to try and get that down. When David Lewis built that barn--the old barn burnt. It was a wood barn like most of them were--he says, I'm going to build a barn that won't burn. [. . . ]He had all these railroad ties--he was always going to put a railroad into Rock Royal--and he built the barn with concrete, stone, railroad ties, and there was two huge concrete silos in the middle of that barn. [. . .] I say [. . .] it could have been fenced in, and it would have been there for people to see.

0:14:02 Helen

Any other questions? Yea.

0:14:06 Question

Years before, what tribe of Indians would have lived in that section, there?

question repeated

0:14:19 Helen

The Ganawassia. Rock Royal was originally named Ganawassia. Don't ask me how to spell it; G a n a w a s s i a, I think, but that was what it was.

0:14:35 Audience

[. . .]

0:14:38 h

I don't remember any of the Indians.

0:14:42 Question

Were they a part of the community? They were probably all gone.

0:14:45 Helen

Oh, I have no idea. There's probably books and stories out there about them, but I don't know. [. . .] If you walk around that reservoir, you can see a lot of things that are still there, the stone walls, and when the water goes down you can see where the houses were. [. . .] They're filled in with dirt and silt and all that now, but [. . .]  the stones are still there from the foundations. [. . .]

0:15:19 Tiffany

I remember my grandfather lived in Stylesville and he was going with a girl here in Walton, and, so, they sent postcards back and forth. So, I have postcards from all of the small post offices up and down the reservoir, there. So, yea, there's a lot of memories in that chest I have of their communication [. . .].

0:15:45 Jim Haggerty

And your name?

0:15:47 Tiffany

Tiffany. Their name was Dicks and Ostram. [. . .] We had the old farm on Pines Brook, and the grandfather's is under water down there in Stylesville. [. . . ]

0:16:07 Helen

Never heard of that one (Chinatown Road).

0:16:13 Question

What were the special things you packed?

question repeated

0:16:17 Helen

Everything. We took it all. [. . .] Well, of course our house. We were going to move it up the road. We bought it from the government contractor. So, we took what was in the basement--the water heater, furnace, and we stuffed them upstairs, but you could not leave a home. Somebody had to be in it every night. If you didn't, you'd come back in the morning [and] the doors were gone, the windows were gone, everything in the house was gone. The [. . .] last night we were there, I slept in our house and my husband slept in my dad's house, just to keep the doors and the windows. [. . .] We were all jacked up on wheels and everything else, but you still could not leave. My brother had a farm, and he moved his family to Delhi. [. . .] One night he was just so tired he couldn't go back to [. . .] Rock Royal, so he stayed in Delhi and come back in the morning. They'd took all the windows, all the bathroom fixtures, all the doors. He had a card table and a cot, they took that. They took his folding chair. They cleaned it. [. . .]


[. . .]

0:17:55 Question

Who was taking stuff? The people [who] were moving?

0:17:58 Helen

Oh, they had a little racket going, and we knew it. That's why we [. . .] stayed there. [. . .] They were black marketed. There were many houses built around the area from materials from these homes. Lot of it went down to the city. Truckloads. It was not a nice [. . .] time. Not a nice time at all.


[. . .]


Do you know where they had that farewell party? Where that was held?

question repeated

0:18:57 Helen

That was held in Rock Rift, in the bakery. There was a bakery, and the top of the bakery was a [. . .] music hall, and they used to have dances there all the time. They said, like, every Saturday night there were dances there. So, that's where that was. [. . .]


That's Sherry Jackson.

0:19:35 Helen

[. . .] I was in that movie, too, if you seen me. I was just a tiny little, probably, 15 year old. I was tiny then. My sister, my brother-in-law, myself, his two sisters, girl up our road, Ellen Webb, we were all lined up on the wall there looking pretty for the movie, which we really didn't know what we were getting into.

0:20:07  Robbie

When we interviewed Loppy Fisher before he died, Loppy Fisher told us he used to go [there].  You know, they lived there, but they played up there all the time. Yea, the Fisher brothers. [. . .] They were big there. [. . .]

0:20:23 Question

Well, I wondered if anybody knows who the guitar player and the fiddlers were.

0:20:30 Helen

Well, one fiddler was Grant Rogers. He was the one [. . .] who played the fiddle [. . .]


She said that the other two were Fishers. Pat knew them. [. . .]


One of them was Louis Hulse.


Keith Alby was the one band that was in there, too.


I might have missed it….where did you find this film?

question repeated


It was at the New York State Library [State University at Albany]. Yea, we tracked it down and they sent us a digital copy of it.

0:21:24  Robbie

[. . .] Probably 25 years ago we had seen a video of it, oh, a 16 millimeter film of it, and my husband tried to video that from [it, but it] did not work, did not turn out at all. So, we knew there was a copy in Watertown at a library, but we didn't know anything more, and Jim was able to track it down. So, the library, the William B. Ogden Library, let me put in a plug for the library, has a couple copies of this and they will have it catalogued so you can take it out.

0:22:03 Helen

They also have the other reservoir.



0:22:06 Helen

It's a very good film, too.


Shavertown and all of that, yea.

0:22:13 Helen

I want to say something more about Grant Rogers. I didn't know the man, but [. . .] he and two or three, if you read Perry Shelton's Recollections of Tompkins, Mr. Scofield wrote several long stories in there, and they would go out on Thursday night, drive up to somebody's house, hi, we're here. Ok. So, they'd roll up the carpets, push the furniture against the wall, start up the music, and dance 'til midnight. Impromptu. [. . .] That's where they got their entertainment from, and this shows it here, in this film, a little bit, but not the real not the real thing. So, [. . .] I'm sure the library has got a copy of recollections of Tompkins, and take that book out and read it. There's a lot of good stories in that. That's all I really know about Grant Rogers.

0:23:25  Question

The young boy in the film, is he still alive?

0:23:28 Helen

Ralph Mederlin, yea, he comes to our reunion every year. The Cannonsville reunion is held the last Sunday in July, and it's over in the Town of Tompkins at the Town Hall. Come, bring your lunch, bring your drink, bring your memories, and as I said up here earlier, oh, I remember, oh, I remember, I remember, and that's what prompted me to put these books together. I wanted those memories in a book. I wanted them written down someplace. I didn't want … peoples' memories that are going to be forgotten once they're gone. [. . .] Many people have passed away since we did those books, but their memories are in the books. [. . .] I guess that's all I got to say. I've said enough.