Irving Noakes

Noakes Girls BBall

I could not help but wonder about the elfin character who appeared in vintage photos recently shared by Bill Hecht. A girls’ basketball coach who appeared to be shorter than his players, a scout master who was smaller than some of his scouts. As it turns out, this dynamo was Irving Noakes, a tireless organizer and physical training advocate, for many years the athletic director of the Skaneateles schools and coach of just about everything.

Noakes Scouts

Born in a log cabin (really) in 1886, on the shores of Lake Erie, Noakes grew up in Niagara Falls, N.Y. Among his many youthful occupations was a stint as a cabin boy on the Maid of the Mist. When he was 15, his family moved to Cleveland; he played basketball and baseball, worked odd jobs in the Midwest, attending the nearest college or night school along the way. In 1915, he returned to New York to become the physical director at the Auburn YMCA.

In 1917, he came to Skaneateles. He coached both the Skaneateles and Marcellus football teams, giving each one 2 1/2 days of the week. I have no idea what he did when they played one another, but, as of 1925, Marcellus had won five of their nine meetings, and the 1921 league championship. On the diamond, Noakes’ Skaneateles baseball team won the 1929 county championship.

In 1930, Noakes left Skaneateles to head the Athletic Department at Phoenix High School, but continued to summer each year at his home in Mandana. He retired in 1952 and the following year was honored by 150 of his former players with a banquet at the Skaneateles Country Club.

Noakes died at his Mandana home in 1958. His obituary noted, “Mr. Noake’s ability as a coach and his congenial and friendly manner as a person added a luster to his name that will long be remembered among followers of sports in Skaneateles.”

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Photos courtesy of the Skaneateles Historical Society, scans by Bill Hecht. Scout photo by E.L. Clark. Back row, left to right: Thomas “Toby” Rice, Kent Bradford, Francis “Mearsey” Mear, John “Johnnie” Rice, Donald “Spider” O’Neil. Front row: Robert “Bob” Horne, Donald “Don” Torrey, and Mr. Noakes.

“Noakes Is Coach of Two Schoolboy Football Teams,” Syracuse Journal, October 31, 1925

“Noakes Rites Held. His Varied Career Recalled Here.” Skaneateles Press, September 3, 1958



Gordie Howe

On the 4th of July, 1959, hockey legend Gordie Howe played golf at the Skaneateles Country Club. He was accompanied by his good friend Dr. John “Jack” Finley, the team physician for the Detroit Red Wings, a Syracuse native who did his pre-med studies at Syracuse University.

On the ice, Howe played 32 pro seasons, won six MVP awards and four Stanley Cup championships. He also spawned the term “Gordie Howe Hat Trick” (goal, assist, fight). His injuries included more than 300 stitches, most of them put in place by Dr. Finley.

On the links, Howe was a good golfer, generally within a stroke or two of par. As a boy, he worked as a greenskeeper at a course in Waskesiu, Saskatchewan, so he could play golf all summer. And as an adult, he sponsored an annual charity tournament at Detroit’s Plum Hollow Golf Club.

When asked by a Syracuse reporter if he thought about becoming a pro golfer after he retired from hockey, he said, “No, I like golf but I want to keep it fun.” Below, he is shown with his Northland putter.

Gordie Howe

Thanks to “Keeping Posted with Bill Reddy,” Syracuse Post-Standard, July 6, 1959, via Fulton


SCC Ladies

Postcard photo by G.W. Scott of Rochester, N.Y. “Golfing at Skaneateles Country Club. One of the large variety of summer sports available in this pretty eastern gateway to the Finger Lakes. The Country Club also sponsors many sailing regattas annually.” Bonus points for identifying the foursome and the hole.

Rob Howard Rarities

SCC Deckle Edge copy

Some time in the early 1980s, photographer Rob Howard received a call from Dick Schemeck, owner of the Hitching Post gift shop at the corner of Jordan & Genesee. Dick was placing an order for Skaneateles postcards in a day or two, but had no photos. This was not Rob’s usual subject matter, but Dick was a friend, and had a list of about a dozen subjects in the village that were postcard-worthy. The next day, Rob shot half of the sites on the list in the morning light, and then the other half in the late afternoon light. He recalls that the oddest request was for a picture of the social hall at St. Mary’s of the Lake; Dick explained that visiting Catholics liked to send postcards to show where they’d gone to Mass while on the road. Rob little imagined that one day his cards would show up on eBay, and be sought after by collectors. Printing by Plastichrome, Boston; love the faux deckle-edge.


SCC at the Creamery

Three Weeks

My thanks to everyone who came out to the Creamery this evening, for a brief history of the Skaneateles Country Club, with references to the Elinor Glyn trophy, Eleanor Roosevelt, an English lord, Gene Sarazen, Otto Graham, the slot machines, sailing, golf, chocolate pudding and more. Especially grateful to those who shared their own stories.

Aim High

Now that spring is upon us, it might be well to consider the sports of summer and how we might excel, what goals we might set. With that in mind, here is some valuable information:

The Skaneateles Country Club record for one hole was set in 1938 and is held by Robert J. Meredith of Brighton, N.Y., who carded “a neat 18” on the fifth hole. It was reported that he had to rest for 30 minutes before moving on to the sixth.

And for those of you who sail, the record for Most Boats Passed While Airborne was set at the Country Club in August of 1964 by a visiting sailor named Pete Bone. Frustrated by a poor start in the first race of a meet, Bone chose to unfurl his Lightning’s spinnaker in 40 m.p.h. winds. The boat began to fight its crew, planed, then left the water and soared past the boats of ten (10) awestruck skippers. The epic flight ended abruptly and poorly when the boat returned to its accustomed medium, but it is a feat that may never be duplicated.