This picture was taken the day my oldest sister Helen Irish married John MacKenzie on August 30, 1943—so you can see how old this is! I was only seven. From this photo I have many memories to share.
First of all, I must say my parents were amazing and complimented one another…who would have believed that my Mummy, a high-class city-girl from London, England, would marry a farmer from Vermont? My Dad at that time showed prized cows all over the country receiving many ribbons; I remember seeing his beautiful ribbons in his keepsake trunk. My parents met when my Mummy sailed across the pond to visit cousins in Montreal and both attended the same party. When they were introduced, it was love at first sight. Her Dad was not happy and did not give his blessing, which broke her heart, but she went on to marry and raise us five Irish girls!
My Dad also managed big farms, but ended up in Essex because it was soooooo beautiful. My Mummy learned to do all the duties of a farmer’s wife and my Dad took great care with the garden and farm, and they did so well together. The summer people loved our homemade pies, cream, butter, milk, eggs, and vegetables.
Who is in the Wedding Photo?
Starting in the front row of the wedding picture is Dr. & Mrs. Morch (I am in the middle of them—not happy because I wanted to be with my Daddy & Mummy). They rented the cottage on our farm. The Irish girls would take turns getting their mail because it was way down the hill and Dr. Morch would always give us a bag of candy or take us for a boat ride. They were such nice people…they’d have my parents over for cocktails and we would give them vegetables, pies, and do chores for them. When Dr. Morch died he left my Dad monies and with that my Dad bought his first brand new car!
Next in the front is my sister Betty (Sid Couchey did a great painting of her seen left). Then my Dad Aden E. Irish; my sister Patricia; my Mummy Louie Webbe Irish; and cousins from Vermont, Richard & Raymond Whitten.
Next row: two MacKenzie girls; Mr. & Mrs. MacKenzie; my sister Marion; and the new bride my sister Helen and her husband John MacKenzie; then Dr. Spiers—who when my Dad had a kidney stone attack came to the rescue! He loved my Mummy’s pies so that was the payment. Next in that row is Jim MacKenzie and at the end my grandmother Etta Irish.
Back row is Louise Spiers and her daughter L. Beatty who I used to pal around a lot with when I was older along with my friends Bruce and Ellin. We would go boating, sailing, swimming and sail in the regatta…on that beautiful Lake Champlain! I remember playing with Olive Kirkby too from the Albee Farm and her Mummy who assisted Dr. Stafford with delivering me at the house! Small world….
Next in the picture is Ruth Kobel who was the daughter of Barney Kobel from Port Henry who had a store that sold our farm produce and meat. He had another daughter Frieda and two sons Izzie and Sam Kobel….Next are the Hurlbuts who had the cottage down the hill and they would often stop by to get milk from us. Finally in the back is my Uncle Hervey & Aunt Hazel Whitten from Vermont.
Now you know everyone in the photo! But I did want to also mention that when Dr. & Mrs. Morch left the cottage it was rented out to the Slakin family, which was good for me as they took me to NYC to stay for a few weeks at their apartment. Many days I took the two Slakin girls to the park and museum and helped take care of them which was a good experience for me. I remember they had a French nanny Adell (not sure of the spelling).
Oh, and the special wedding cake that day was made by Lillian Morse, famous for her baked goods in Essex.
Why Did We Leave Whallons Bay?
By 1953, three of my sisters and their husbands had moved to Auburn, NY and started a trucking business there, so they wanted us all to come live there as well. My other sister Marion by then had finished college and was an art professor; she married Dr. Gerald B. Austin and lived in Albany. My Dad got a super job offer in Auburn and the decision was made…
I was not happy as it was October of my last year of high school. I did not want to go from a class of 30 into a class of 300! My principal even offered to have me stay with his family until I graduated, but I knew I would miss my family too much, so off we went.
But before we left I had already taken Drivers Ed and needed to take my driver’s test. I thought I would rather take it here than the big city. My Dad’s car was old with floor shift and the emergency brake did not work. The instructor told me to park the car on a very steep hill, which I did perfectly, and I pulled the hand brake up but kept my foot on the brake and he said to take it off…I had to tell him…I was so sure I failed, but he passed me!
Well anyway, I was sad for two months while learning to adjust to the big school and making new friends, but people were so nice. Of course where did I go to college in the end? Plattsburgh State—where my sister had gone—and I stayed with lovely family friends Dr. & Mrs. Fee. I worked helping them with their three children for my board and room.
It’s been many years since then, but my heart still belongs to Essex!
- Whallons Bay Painting by Barbara Irish Smith (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Remembering Essex Cartoonist, Sid Couchey (rosslynredux.com)
- Vintage Photo: A Bit of Shore at Whallons Bay (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Remembering Sid Couchey (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- A Local’s Look at The Dirty Life (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)
- Gastro Tourism in Essex, New York (www.essexonlakechamplain.com)