In 1934, in response to a request from the American Legion post here, Assistant Secretary of the Navy (and owner of Roosevelt Hall) Henry “Harry” Latrobe Roosevelt sent two guns to Skaneateles for the World War I memorial in Shotwell Park. The guns came from the deck of Admiral George Dewey’s flagship U.S.S. Olympia, and had opened fire on the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay in 1898 in response to Dewey’s command to the ship’s Captain, “You may fire when ready, Gridley.”
Before the guns could be dedicated, Harry died suddenly in Washington, D.C. He was remembered here for commuting via a Douglas Dolphin amphibious airplane — Potomac River to Skaneateles Lake — and with at least one landing causing a startled fisherman to duck, robbing him of a year’s growth.
A few short years later, in September of 1941, a few months before America’s entry into World War II, village officials saw that the guns were being “stripped of brass handles, bolts and other pieces of mechanism.” They blamed youthful ‘saboteurs’ and asked that the handles be returned since they could not be replaced. However, the attack on Pearl Harbor, on December 7, 1941, doomed the guns in their entirety. During a scrap drive in October of 1942, the guns were carted off to an Auburn scrap heap to be melted down, contributing five tons of scrap to the war effort.
I never saw them, but I miss them.