A Tale from the Colonial Lodge

Russ and the Pig

Moravia is not Skaneateles, you might tell me, and you’d be right in some ways, but the Colonial Lodge is in Bear Swamp, and that’s on Skaneateles Lake, and that’s close enough for me. The walls of the Lodge are full of stories, and the one that first caught my eye was a photo of a hunter standing by a very large pig, a trophy pig to be sure, nothing Charlotte’s Webby about it. I was told the wild pig was shot near Locke, on State land.

After the fact, one man whined that the pig had been his pet, but that was never the case. The would-be pet owner had tried to buy the pig from some Mennonites who’d used it for breeding. The pig had grown too big, so the owners were willing to part with it, but when it came time to make the exchange, the pig proved impossible to catch and vanished into the woods.

For the next two years, the pig was his own man, a feral fugitive. Given his size, he prompted 911 calls whenever he got too close to civilization, picked up some bird shot when he got into gardens, and was the secret object of desire for at least two local hunt clubs. But for one so large, he was stealthy.

Until that fateful day in the woods when Russ ended the pig’s rambling with one shot and brought him out, not to the scales of justice, but to the scale of Doug’s Custom Meats in Scott, where he rang up at 700 pounds. “He ate good,” noted Russ.

Fritz Kreisler at the Krebs

Fritz Kreisler *

In July of 1918, Fritz Kreisler dined at the Krebs. An Austrian-born violinist and composer, he was one of the most famous violin masters of his or any other day, and regarded as one of the greatest violinists of all time, with a sweet, expressive tone that was his alone.

Just four years earlier, Kreisler had been caught up in World War I, on the Eastern Front, as an officer in the Austrian army. His time there was brief, and he described its conclusion in Four Weeks in the Trenches: The War Story of a Violinist (1915):

“The Russians by this time evidently had realized our comparatively defenseless condition and utter lack of ammunition, for that same night we heard two shots ring out, being a signal from our sentinels that they were surprised and that danger was near. I hardly had time to draw my sword, to grasp my revolver with my left hand and issue a command to my men to hold their bayonets in readiness, when we heard a tramping of horses and saw dark figures swooping down upon us. For once the Cossacks actually carried out their attack, undoubtedly owing to their intimate knowledge of our lack of ammunition. My next sensation was a crushing pain in my shoulder, struck by the hoof of a horse, and a sharp knife pain in my right thigh. I fired with my revolver at the hazy figure above me, saw it topple over and then lost consciousness.

“Upon coming to my senses I found my faithful orderly, kneeling in the trench by my side. He fairly shouted with delight as I opened my eyes. According to his story the Austrians, falling back under the cavalry charge, had evacuated the trench without noticing, in the darkness, that I was missing. But soon discovering my absence he started back to the trench in search of me… He revived me, gave me first aid, and succeeded with great difficulty in helping me out of the trench. For more than three hours we stumbled on in the night, trying to find our lines again. Twice we encountered a small troop of Cossacks, but upon hearing the tramping we quietly lay down on the wayside without a motion until they had passed. Happily we were not noticed by them, and from then we stumbled on without any further incident until we were hailed by an Austrian outpost and in safety.”

I trust that Kreisler’s dinner at the Krebs was far more restful.

Upon Arriving from Scarsdale

“It seems like a new world up here — a beautiful town with broad streets — in beautiful farming country — rolling and rich. It is quite Victorian, but Victorian stripped of its heavy walnut furniture, stripped of its ‘what-nots,’ its cluttered wall spaces — and recalling some of the security we felt back in the days when we were not so desperately trying to assimilate foreigners of all creeds and races — and when life was more leisurely and secure.”

— A letter from Mrs. L. to her son and daughter-in-law; Skaneateles, October 13, 1941

Volume Two

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The companion volume to Skaneateles and St. James’ has arrived, a book on the memorial windows of the church, including the 1901 Tiffany window shown above, illustrated with color photography throughout by Lauren Mills Wojtalewski. Both books will be on sale at the Creamery on Tuesday evening, November 25, at 7:30 p.m. when I will be speaking about some of the stories of the windows, their creators and those they call us to remember.

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