Eleanor Roosevelt’s Trifecta


Eleanor Roosevelt and Sgt. Earl Miller, her bodyguard

In August of 1932, the First Lady of New York, Eleanor Roosevelt, visited Skaneateles and hit three of the high spots. She and a friend, Ethel Bellinger, arrived on a Saturday afternoon and checked in at the Kan-Ya-To Inn (today’s Sherwood Inn).

That evening, the women dined at the Krebs where they were joined by Earl Miller, who had served as Mrs. Roosevelt’s bodyguard since Franklin Roosevelt became Governor of New York. (Mrs. Roosevelt refused to ride in a limousine, preferring to drive herself, so the Governor assigned Miller, a New York State Trooper, to accompany her; to add to her security, Miller taught her how to use a pistol.)

On Sunday morning, Eleanor and Ethel went for a swim at the Skaneateles Country Club, before returning to Albany, Mrs. Roosevelt driving her own car.

Grace Parcells

Grace Parcells

Grace at the Athenaeum

I loved Grace Parcells. We were never formally introduced; we never had a conversation. But when I moved here in 1998, I used to take walks down West Lake Street on weekend mornings, and I often saw Grace riding her bicycle. I would wave; she would smile back. One day I shouted, “You are an inspiration to me!” She laughed and rolled her eyes. She lived in a little brown Dutch Colonial on the lake shore, a humble but lovely house that has been there since 1901.

Grace died last month at the age of 91, and the Vice President of the United States came to her calling hours at the Robert D.Gray Funeral Home. Grace was the aunt of Joe Biden’s first wife, who died in a car accident in 1972. On the Web, one anonymous poster said his visit was just politics. No, I’m sure it was Grace.

Dump Gleanings


This morning in the Swap Shop, as frail as autumn leaves, two prayer cards with lacework edges. The one on the left is from J. Turgis & Co. in New York; the one on the right is from Bouasse-Lebel in Paris, France. One wonders about their journey to arrive here.

Parties of Pleasure

In March of 1831, the Broome Republican of Binghamton, N.Y., ran this article picked up from the Skaneateles Telegraph (our first newspaper):

Steam Boat on Skaneateles Lake. It is in contemplation to have a neat and commodious steam boat plying on the Skaneateles Lake the present season. This will give an increasing interest to our thriving and pleasant village. Parties of pleasure and the fashionable tourist will be delighted to take a trip up and down the lake, viewing the beautiful and highly cultivated fields and the truly sublime and picturesque scenery which is presented to the eye along its borders. The inhabitants of the village and vicinity have liberally contributed towards this desirable object.”

Indeed, that summer the Independence was launched. William Beauchamp wrote:

“On July 22nd the Steamboat Independence made her first trip, and tradition relates that the village fathers had a specially jolly time on board, expecting wonderful results from the boat, which did not follow.”