Guy Mitchell Sandy Pt

Yes, it’s Sandy Point, but the message on this postcard was the treasure, taking us back to a time when television was a novelty: “Sunday evening at Skaneateles, tonite saw last of ‘Toast of Town’ Guy Mitchell guest M.C. He sang his new disc hit, ‘Too Late‘ at 8:55. It’s bouncy. Then at 8:57 ‘When You’re Smiling.’ Tune him in Tues at 8. Love, F.T.C.”

Guy Smiling

Indeed, Guy Mitchell did guest host on Ed Sullivan’s “Toast of the Town” on July 24, 1955, and he had many bouncy hits including “Heartaches by the Number” and “Singing the Blues.”

This aerial photo of Sandy Point, meanwhile, was taken by photographer, author and lecturer Herbert Lanks, who in the 1940s and 50s traveled all over North, South and Central America by auto, ferryboat and airplane, taking photos and gathering material for his many books.

George Radford at Rest

At the age of 21, George H. Radford of Syracuse, N.Y., was making his way in the world. With the help of his relatives, he had purchased the saloon of Frank X. Woods at the corner of Mulberry and Cedar streets; he had a good reputation and many friends. But, the Syracuse Standard noted, “being of a convivial nature, [he] began to associate with dissolute characters.”

One such character was Emma Atkinson, who “had rooms” on Cedar Street. On a Monday evening in January of 1888, the couple went for a drive and then returned to her rooms, where Radford was taken suddenly ill with pneumonia. Dr. Leonard A. Saxer was summoned, as was a priest, the Rev. Father Quinn, the assistant pastor at St. Mary’s of Syracuse. Father Quinn said Radford should be taken from “this disreputable place” to his mother’s home, less than a block away, but Dr. Saxer said the young man was too ill to be moved.

Radford’s condition worsened, and on Thursday night, Father Quinn administered the last rites. Friday morning, the young man died, and his body was taken to his mother’s. She wanted a high mass said for her son, but the Rev. James A. O’Hara, the pastor of St. Mary’s, Syracuse, refused. The Syracuse Standard reported, “The priest expressed profound sorrow for the mother, but said the funeral could not be held in the church, for the reason that the young man had died in a house of prostitution. Tendering the honors of the mass in the church to a person who had died in such a place, would, he said, give rise to scandal.”

Mrs. Radford appealed to the Bishop of Syracuse, the Rt. Rev. Patrick Anthony Ludden, but he sustained Rev. O’Hara’s decision, saying that the position of the church was that “Catholics, especially the young, should be impressed that they must always keep aloof from places, the character of which, in case they died there, would prevent their receiving the honors of Christian burial.”

George Radford Stone

Although not allowed inside St. Mary’s of Syracuse, George Radford’s body did find a resting place, in Skaneateles, at St. Mary’s Cemetery on Jordan Road. His stone can be found in a Reagan family plot, just north of his aunt Ellen Flynn Reagan’s memorial, and next to that of his mother, Mary Reagan Radford, who was buried next to him 24 years later.

Radford Graves


And what became of Emma Atkinson? Unlike the movies, the death of her lover did not inspire her to seek a better life. The newspapers reported her repeated arrests as “a wanton.” In 1892, she did thirty days at the Onondaga County Penitentiary for public intoxication and breach of the peace. In 1900, she died at the age of 35.

Richard Wilson

Richard Wilson

Thank heaven for people who write names on the back of photographs, particularly this one. Not only did someone record that this was Richard Wilson, but they added that he was “Mrs. Webb’s butler.” Without that, this photo of a gentleman of color on the bridge over the Outlet would have remained a deep, deep mystery indeed.

“Mrs. Webb” was Mary Thayer Webb, daughter of Joel Thayer, wife of Henry Tiffany Webb, with the fortunes of both at her disposal. With her daughters, May Webb and Eva Webb, she lived in New York City but often summered in Skaneateles, at the Thayer house, which they called “Lake Verge.”

The U.S. Census of 1900 showed Richard Wilson, with his wife, Louisa Palmer, as servants of the Webb family in Middletown, New Jersey. And the New York census of 1905 showed Richard Wilson as a servant with the Webb family in New York City.

We know that Richard was born in Virginia in July of 1859, and married Louisa on June 1, 1892, but we don’t know who took this photograph. Cameras were not common or inexpensive in the first years of the 20th century.

We can only be grateful that the photo was saved, by someone, and ended up in a file at the Skaneateles Library, helping us to remember a member of our Village family who might otherwise have been forgotten.

The Bird’s Nest

Bird's Nest Motel

“The Bird’s Nest Motel,” a motel of distinction, located on U.S. 20 one mile east of Skaneateles, N.Y., the gateway to the Finger Lakes, 21 luxurious rooms, television, all conveniences. Restaurants nearby. Open all year. Phone: Skaneateles 341. Your hosts: Mary Rita and Robert Bird.”

And overprinted: “Swimming pool. Tel. Skan. OV5-5641. Your host: Eleanor & Verne Tucker.”

Published by Del King, Cazenovia, N.Y.