Visit with my Aunt Helen on Owasco Lake
Posted January 17, 2013on:
My Mom’s older sister Helen was born in 1911 in Batavia and was 10 years older than my Mom. Helen was the second of six children born to Andrew Jackson McWain and Nellie VanValkenburgh. In 1935, she married Harold Kelly who was born in 1895. Helen and Harold lived at 367 Owasco Road in Auburn, very near the northern tip of Owasco Lake and about a two-hour drive east from Batavia where the maternal grandparents lived. In 1944, the Kellys moved to RD#2 on Sunset Beach Road off Rockerfeller Road on Owasco Lake. Their home had a big yard and fronted on the lake.
Owasco Lake is the sixth largest and third easternmost of the eleven Finger Lakes of New York. The lake is eleven miles long with Auburn located at the northern end. Its width ranges from one-half mile at its southern end to one mile near the northern tip.
The Finger Lakes are a pattern of lakes in the west-central section of upstate New York. The lakes are long and narrow (resembling fingers), and are oriented roughly on a north-south axis.
The Finger Lakes region was a central part of the Iroquois homeland. During colonial times, many tribes moved to this region since the Iroquois were one of the most powerful Indian nations and were able to prevent European colonization of the Finger Lakes region for nearly two centuries after Europeans first arrived in the area. After the Revolutionary War, the Indians of the region were assigned reservations and most of their land, including the Finger Lakes region, was opened up to settlement by white folk.
My parents and our family visited my Aunt Helen and her family on Owasco Lake probably in the summer of 1952. My brother was born the previous June which would have made travel difficult for my folks then. My Mom’s older sister Ruth had married Al Ostlund and their three boys and one girl were also there, along with Helen’s children Betty, Penny, Nancy and Bobby. My Mom’s brother Dick had one son Jack who was also there. What I remember was the front of the house with the big windows across the front. We ate our meals outside on the grass on the front lawn. I remember sitting down and a dog coming over and eating all my food off my plate. I was too young to do anything other than sit there and helplessly watch my lunch disappear down the dog’s throat.
I remember going swimming in the lake and my Mom pulling blood suckers off me. These were big black soft slimy things that had attached themselves to my legs. I was grossed out. Some of these pictures are from a home movie that my Dad had taken.
It was a great visit, and the only time that all of us cousins got together.