Lone Oak Encore

Lone Oak

I have always been intrigued by this postcard, but only yesterday learned that it was published by the Paul C. Koeber Co. (PCK) in New York City.

PCK Peacock

The Metropostcard site notes that Koeber, “Published national view-cards and illustrations in chromolithography and in black & white. Much of their color work has a dark heavy feel to it because of the many thick layers of ink they used.” Koeber postcards were printed in Kirchheim, Germany; this one was published for The Smoke House in Skaneateles, and posted in 1907.

Click here for a history of Lone Oak.

The Ziegfeld Girl

ACJ Christy Sloan CU

In the summer of 1931, young Howard Stagg III hit the jackpot. He was summering at his family’s cottage on the east shore of the lake, next to the cottage of Mrs. Emily Sloan, who was hosting her daughter: Christy Sloan, of the Ziegfeld Follies and the Folies Bergère.

Imagine being a 17-year-old boy in the presence of such a worldly beauty. I would have been a tongue-tied idiot, but Howard Stagg asked her if she’d like to go sailing (or perhaps she asked him), and off they went. So far, so good.

But the skies did not cooperate. A sudden storm brought down torrential rain and raised six-foot waves which swamped and then capsized the boat. For the next hour they clung to the hull, first on opposite sides, then Stagg swam around to keep Miss Sloan, who had been hit in the head by the swinging boom, above the water. John Wiles, 17, son of Mr. & Mrs. Ben Wiles, attempted to reach them in a boat, but was unable.

New Christy Scan

Finally, the wind blew the boat closer to shore and the two swam to safety. The newspaper account noted that Miss Sloan’s age was 19, but she was actually 29, and had packed a lot of living into those years.

Christine Purcell Sloan was born on May 8, 1902, in Lebanon, Pennsylvania, the daughter of Morris and Emily Sloan. The family moved to Liberty, N.Y., and at the age of 17, Christine went to New York City to study dance. Her teacher was Ned Wayburn, who had been working with Florenz Ziegfeld since 1915, both as a choreographer and as a talent scout. The author of Your Career: How to Win Health-Beauty-Fame-Popularity-Independence, Wayburn told his would-be pupils:

“I have literally helped thousands of good girls and boys to make millions of dollars for themselves, in the aggregate… Profit by my experience; let me help you with my knowledge. This will make your experience easier for you, and the more quickly fit you for the lofty position that a perfectly worthy ambition prompts you to seek.”

Dancing alone cannot make you a beauty, but Christine had that covered. In August of 1924, at a pageant on the resort island of Long Beach, N.Y., Christine was “selected as the most beautiful woman among 100 selected beauties.” (She won the contest as “Christine Morey,” having in 1920 married Howard Morey, a cab driver and amusement park employee. The union did not last.)

Shortly after the pageant, Christine was off to New York City and the life of a Ziegfeld Girl, as “Christy” Sloan. Then to Paris, in the spring and summer of 1925, ’27 and ’28, where she danced in the Folies Bergère. When not on the stage, she was posing for commercial photographers, including Alfred Cheney Johnston, the premier photographer of Ziegfeld Girls in New York City.

And then in 1931, she visited her mother in Skaneateles. The Syracuse Journal gave her age as 19; the Skaneateles Press said she was 21. Given that youth and beauty were at a premium in her line of work, the fudging of dates is understandable. And then Christine dropped from sight, until 1949, when she caught the notice of the U.S. State Department.

Emily Sloan, Christine’s mother, had died in 1948. Perhaps Christine received a small inheritance that enabled her to travel again. In 1949, she picked up a new passport on May 18th, flew Pan American from La Guardia to Venezuela on May 20th, and died in Caracas on May 24th.

The U.S. State Department file notes that she was found in her room at the Waldorf Hotel and was taken to the Centro Medico, where she died “of unknown causes” at 8:30 a.m. She was 47 years old. In accordance with Venezuelan law, she was buried the following day in the Cementario del Sur (plot 2200, Row 3, Section 2, North).

The file included an inventory of her personal effects, including $350 dollars in cash. Her occupation was listed as “cosmetologist.” Her passport was destroyed at the American Embassy. Her personal effects were shipped to George Sloan, her brother, in Middleburg, N.Y.

Also in the file, referencing a conversation with a “Mr. Carrigan,” the American Consul, George R. Phelan wrote, “He intimated that there had been some unusual circumstances in connection with Miss Sloane’s death which he was unable to discuss on the telephone, but of which he would inform the Department in writing.” Alas, the file contains no further reference to those circumstances. No one knows why she went to Venezuela or what happened to her there. It’s a mystery.

But I don’t want to leave you with that. Let’s go back to better days, in the 1920s, when she was young, happy, posing in the studio of Alfred Cheney Johnston.

Christy Better

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Selected Sources

“Sullivan County’s Beautiful Woman”
Republican Watchman, August 1, 1924

“Actress and Syracuse Youth Near Death in Lake”
Syracuse Journal, July 31, 1931

“Follies Dancer Poses for Local Artist”
Skaneateles Press, October 26, 1932

“Reports of Deaths of American Citizens Abroad,” Ancestry.com

Early Images of St. James’

St James' Rough

The present home of St. James’ Episcopal Church was built in 1873 and the sanctuary was enlarged in 1901, which dates the photo above as pre-1901. What will become F.C. Austin Park is still wild, with no breakwall.

St James' plus Legg Dock

The church after the sanctuary was enlarged, with the Tiffany window facing west. In the foreground, two men on the dock behind Legg Hall, with the roof of Joel Thayer’s boathouse visible on the left.

St. James' Back After 1901

The back of the church. There are power lines, but steps still lead to the carriage entrance on the northeast corner of the church.

St James' plus Weeks House

The land to the west has been cleared, but there is still no breakwall (built in 1935). The Weeks House, built in 1902, is visible across Genesee Street, and may have been occupied by the Hawkins family when this photo was taken.


The Deering Parade

Deering Parade 1898

On Saturday, June 4, 1898, the Deering Co. of Chicago, manufacturers of harvesting equipment, with the aid of their local sales representatives, hosted a display of Deering farm machines in the village park across the street from the Packwood House (today’s Sherwood Inn) and then treated buyers and other guests, 130 in all, to lunch at the inn. The Borodino Band provided “several airs,” and the day was capped by a parade, described in the Skaneateles Free Press of June 7th:

“Promptly at 2 P.M. the street parade took place. There were forty-four teams in line… headed by Marshal George Van Etten, followed by the Borodino Band, and the forty-four teams, drawing wagons on which were loaded mowers, binders and rakes. Many wagons were trimmed with flags, and all bore on their sides a large placard on which was printed in red ‘Deering.’ The line was over a quarter of a mile in length. The parade was witnessed by a large number of persons. The line of march was from Genesee-st. to Leitch-ave., to Academy-st., to Jordan-st., to W. Elizabeth-st., to Griffin-st., to Genesee-st., to the outlet bridge, where it was photographed by Artist Hummel and then disbanded.”

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Photograph by William Ellsworth Hummel, courtesy of the Skaneateles Historical Society, scan by Bill Hecht, Press account from fultonhistory.com.

The West Cove

Lakeside Studio

Friends received this photograph as a housewarming gift and it raised a number of questions: who took the photo, where and when was it taken, and who was sitting on the breakwall.

The “where” was easy; the photo was taken at the Cove, or the West Cove as it is also known, on the lake side of West Lake Street.

The “who” and “when” is a little more difficult. In the lower right-hand corner is the imprint of the “Lakeside Studio,” a part of the firm of Livingston, Williams & Hunt (later just Williams & Hunt), dry goods merchants who sold postcards of Skaneateles they had printed in Germany. This narrows the search down: the date to between 1899 and 1930, and to two photographers, Izora N. Cayvette and Manford Lindon Shattuck.

Earlier, in 1885, the Lake Shore Studio was established by Frank Lincoln Harris, upstairs from the store of Herbert A. Livingston. In June of 1895, Harris left the village and moved his studio to Cortland, N.Y., where he was assisted by Izora Cayvette between 1896 and 1901.

After working in Syracuse as a photographic retoucher, Izora “Zora” Cayvette came to Skaneateles in 1907 and became the house photographer for the Lakeside Studio.

Zora 1

In July of 1918, Zora Cayvette left Skaneateles, moving to Florida, and M.L. Shattuck took her place. Whereas Cayvette was primarily a portrait photographer, Shattuck also had artistic leanings.

Shattuck 1

American Photography, August 1921

My best guess is that Shattuck took the photo of the West Cove in the 1920s and, going out on a limb, I would suggest that the young man on the breakwall is Sedgwick Smith. His family had the wherewithal to commission a photo, and he is seated not far from the Smith family home, just across West Lake Street, where he spent most of his life.

For fans of the West Cove, here are a few more images:

What Is It 1884

The Cove (and Charles Poor’s “What Is It”) in 1884, photo possibly by Lindsay Poor

Dog in Boat LS Studio

A dog in a boat, which became a postcard in 1905…

Dog in Boat 1905

Shore Dog 1907

Dated 1907, but I’ll bet it’s the same dog.

Harry Pierce Sunshine Fitch Boathouse

Harry Pierce’s “Sunshine,” photo courtesy of the Skaneateles Historical Society

The Cove Early

Cove and Fitch

West Cove Pano

Panoramic postcard by Williams & Hunt

West Cove Tinted

Tinted postcard by Williams & Hunt