The Prince

Stockwell 1

For three summers in the 1950s, a prince walked among us, and although his proper name was Harry Stockwell, he did not go by “Prince Harry.” He was, in fact, the voice of the Prince in Walt Disney’s 1937 film Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, singing “One Song” in his regal baritone.

Stockwell’s first appearance in Skaneateles was actually in 1935, on the screen of the Huxford Theatre in Here Comes the Band. In the 1940s, Stockwell was on Broadway, playing the lead role of “Curly” in Oklahoma. In the following decade, he toured the country in summer stock.

In 1952, he came to the big, blue tent of the Finger Lakes Lyric Circus on the edge of Skaneateles to portray The Red Shadow in “The Desert Song,” John Kent in “Roberta,” Prince Danilo in “The Merry Widow” and Captain Warrington in “Naughty Marietta.” The following year he was Tommy Albright in “Brigadoon,” and the summer after that he reprised his role in “The Desert Song.”

I would love to know if he ever did “One Song” as an encore, or perhaps after dessert at the Sherwood Inn or Krebs.

Stockwell 2

Handsome, 1819

“Skeneateles, a handsome post-village of America, in the state of New York, in Marcellus, Onondaga county, at the outlet of the lake of the same name; 163 miles N. of W. from Albany. It has 60 houses, a handsome Presbyterian church, several mills, &c. on Skeneateles creek; and it has a brisk trade.

“Skeneateles Lake, a lake about fifteen miles long, and from half a mile to a mile and a half wide, principally in Onondaga county; six miles at its north end being in the township of Marcellus. Its trout and salmon are very large. The outlet is at the north end near the village of the same name, and the creek runs north, through Marcellus and Camillus, about ten miles to Seneca river, affording many fine seats for mills. Skeneateles, in the dialect of the Onondaga Indians, signifies long; and hence the name of the lake.”

The Cyclopedia; or, Universal Dictionary of Arts, Sciences, and Literature (1819) by Abraham Rees

Busted

ferret man

“The possession of ferrets shall be presumptive evidence of their illegal use.” – The Auburn Citizen, August 28, 1909

The practice of sending ferrets into burrows, to flush or “ferret out” the rabbits within, was brought to the U.S. from England circa 1880, but it sparked outrage and was eventually outlawed in most counties of New York State. However, in September of 1914, the Skaneateles Free Press reported:

“Hunters in this and other towns in Onondaga county are divided on the question of allowing the use of ferrets in the bagging of rabbits. Some declare this method is unsportsmanlike in the extreme—others claim it is the only way to insure a good bag after a hard day’s tramp. Farmers have made complaint to the State Conservation Commission that the animals [rabbits] have become so numerous that they are proving a nuisance which should be abated. Commissioner Moore had a hearing on the matter in Syracuse Wednesday and took under advisement the application of the Hunters’ Club for permission to use ferrets in this county. Such permission was given in several counties of the State last year. The rabbit season opens October 1st.”

In time, the more sporting individuals prevailed; rabbits were once more safe in their homes, and the practice of hunting them with ferrets is today illegal across New York.

Wine & Cheese

Snowed In

I’m not sure what is stranger about this novel set in Skaneateles: Is it that men can get pregnant, or that Skaneateles has a great little Indian restaurant? We do learn that Austin Baines, owner of Skaneateles Vine & Rind, smells like sun-warmed grapes on a hot summer’s day, that Skaneateles school teachers duck into his wine store on their way home, and that “Greek wines weren’t a big seller in Skaneateles,” but only further reading – which I do not plan to undertake at this time – will tell if more startling revelations about life in the village remain.

Tape

Dog Tags

About 10 years ago, I was helping friends downsize; they were moving out of a house filled with decades of memories and my job was to fill my car with stuff to be donated and cart it over to the St. James’ Thrift Shop. In the course of emptying closets and sorting, the man of the house came over to me and held up his dog-tags. I knew he had served in World War II, as a Marine, and had seen combat on Guadalcanal in the South Pacific.

“Do you know why these are taped together?” he said.

“So they wouldn’t make noise,” I replied.

“That’s right,” he said. And he told me he’d been a Forward Artillery Observer. From my reading (but certainly not from my own experience), I knew this was a formal title for someone who crawled as close to enemy lines as possible, watched when the artillery opened up, and then radioed back directions and yardage to the artillery men to help them zero in on the target.

“You had to get pretty close to their lines,” I said.

“Oh, I could hear them talking.”

“That must have been pretty scary.”

“Yes, it was.” He paused, and then his eyes kind of lit up, and he added, “but when those rounds came in, it was pretty darned exciting.”