Chewing Gum in Skaneateles, circa 1850

“Gum Tragacanth was obtained from the drug store when a half dime was available, and this, with the result of a raid on mother’s cake of beeswax (then an adjunct of every housewife’s sewing kit), made a glorious wad of chewing gum for diversion among the household lambs. Of course, many were left out in the cold because they could not obtain the materials. So the girls used to visit the mill and get a small quantity of wheat grains which, when chewed up, made a fair substitute, while the boys would peel off the rubber coating of carriage tops, and this made equally good jaw-working material.”

— William Lawrence White in a letter to the Skaneateles Democrat circa 1910, reprinted in the Skaneateles Press, August 13, 1937, gathered in Sedgwick Smith’s unpublished Skaneateles history, transcribed by Beth Batlle, Town of Skaneateles Historian

Joe Bonamassa in Skaneateles

To the list of our famous visitors we must add Joe Bonamassa, the world’s preeminent blues-rock guitarist, who played Skaneateles High School, where he and his band, Hot in the Shade, shared the bill with Charlie Bertini and Randy Morris, on October 27, 1990. Below, a more recent photo of the master, at The Royal Albert Hall in 2010, where he was joined by Eric Clapton.

The Anson Lapham Place

Found in a house in Connecticut, an original, signed pencil sketch by William M. Beauchamp, entitled “Residence of Anson Lapham, Esq., Ska.” This is today’s Roosevelt Hall. Anson Lapham bought the house in 1858, and lived in it from 1861 to 1876. The Rev. William Martin Beauchamp (1830-1925) was an Episcopal priest, artist and ethnologist who grew up in Skaneateles. I would guess the sketch dates from some time between 1865 and 1870; I wouldn’t be surprised if Beauchamp put himself in this sketch, sailing the boat in the foreground. My thanks to Sue Spalding for sharing this treasure.