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Between the Lakes

A Newsletter of the

Interlaken Historical Society

The first issue of the newsletter appeared in July 1974. Each year since then the Society has published quarterly issues with an occasional special issue. Two often asked questions relating to the newsletter are 1) are there copies of back issues, and 2) can we get copies of those issues and articles. The answer to both is yes. We have copies on file both at the Interlaken Public Library and in the Society files.

Each newsletter has announcements about upcoming programs, library news, new members, recently acquired items as well as historical features. These historical features have included reprinted early diaries, letters from many sources and new research and/or writings on topics of interest.

We invite you to revisit some of the Historical Features through this archive page. The beginnings of the article will be shown here, if you want to read the entire article, click on the "click here for More" link for the full version. If you have favorites you would like to see here, please use the contact form link at the bottom of the page.

“Grandma’s House”  July 2005 Volume 31, Issue 1

(A story by Bob Dickerson and his time with his Grandmother, Ida May Stout Wixom of Interlaken)

      Part of the good old days for me was the time spent with my Grandma Wixom. My Mother was sick for a time and I lived with Grandma for quite a spell during that time.

      Grandma lived alone, as Grandpa Ogden Wixom had died at a young age and before I was born. She made her living as a seamstress in her home, as in those days there was no help for a widow, like social security or welfare. She worked hard to keep her home and pay her bills.....click here for More


Garrett Nevius, April 2004 Volume 29 Issue 4 and July 2004 Volume 30 Issue 1

(Research by Bill Waddell, when a local headstone provides the final piece of information on the life of a local youth whose life ended during the Civil War)

         In 1859, a 21-year-old Lodi boy left home to make his fortune and find adventure in the west, little knowing that he would brush greatness and return to Seneca County to be buried as a hero within a few short years. Garrett Voorhees Nevius grew up near Lodi, the son of John and Rachel Nevius. After his father died, an older brother took over running the farm and Garrett developed wanderlust. The story of Garrett Nevius actually began earlier in Malta, New York when Elmer Efraim Ellsworth was born. Neither could know that their lives would dramatically intersect in far away Illinois on the verge of the Civil War.

....click here for More


Lodi to Florida Via Automobile  1920’s Style   January 2006 Volume 31 No. 3

        As Bill Gates was reading the older copies of the Interlaken Review he found the following items that tell a very different story about traveling to Florida from the one we all know today. We get in our cars and head south along a very similar route to the one described below. The difference being we can leave Seneca County at 7:00 a.m. one morning, and with relative ease be in any part of Florida sometime the following day or days as our plans allow. What follows are the reports from the Interlaken Review concerning a group from Lodi who left that area on November 3, 1920 and arrived in Florida on December 1st.  (Editor’s note: spellings, grammar and punctuation are from the originals.)

October 29, 1920 Interlaken Review  On Wednesday morning next at 7 o’clock there are seven cars that will leave Lodi bound for Florida. The party will include Herman Smith and family, Halsey Covert and family, Alonzo Egan, wife and daughter, Charles A. Farr, Geo. Rose, Fred Spear, John Rollins, Charles Harris and wife, Geo. Burr and family. Perhaps others may join. Geneva, Florida, is the destination. The Review will report the trip.

November 5, 1920 Interlaken Review George Crisfield and family left Thursday morning for Florida, by auto with the others, making 6 cars in the party.

....click here for More


Visiting May Wixom, and my early recollections of Interlaken

By Bruce Clark January 2006 Volume 31 No. 3

          Reading Bob Dickerson's story of "Grandma's House" in the historical society newsletter brought back many fond memories of his grandmother, May Wixom, and my early years in Interlaken. In my estimation May Wixom was one of Interlaken's finest citizens. I remember her exactly as pictured in the photo: volume 31, No. 1.

For a bit of history: In 1900 my grandparents lived in Rochester. Their next-door neighbors were Anna Dickerson, her husband, and family. Anna was mother of Joe, Floyd, Adrian, Carleton, and Charles Dickerson. After Anna's husband died, Anna moved to Interlaken and my grandmother Rae Metcalf visited Anna often, usually boarding the Lehigh Valley train from downtown Rochester and arriving at the Interlaken train station.

....click here for More


Dairy Farming and InterlakenContributed by Eric Hunt

 Volume 31, No. 4 April 2006 & Volume 32, No 1 July 2006

Editor’s Note- This research paper by Eric Hunt was written for his anthropology course at Cornell University. Eric chose a community, identified a number of questions, researched and analyzed the questions and finally constructed the paper. It is presented in two parts, the second part to appear in the July, 2006 newsletter.

The decline of dairy farming has forced Interlaken, New York to evolve as a community. Where dairy farming once existed as the “tie that binds”, other communal institutions have had to rise to fill the void. In the past, dairy farming served to bring people in the community together, whether farmers discussing something over breakfast or community members meeting up at the now closed Agway. The community was very interconnected since each member had a tie to dairy farming, and therefore everyone knew everyone. However, people have taken up many various unrelated professions since the move away from dairy farming, resulting in less common ground between the people. In response, many other smaller communal institutions exist, such as the school, churches, and the Interlaken Historical Society. These institutions have replaced farming as the focus of community life but do not include everyone.

....click here for More


The calf-path By Samuel Foss

July 2006 Volume 32, No. 1

Editors note: This little poem was clipped from the Country Journal by the Howard Hunt family and included with several other items given to the Historical Society by their son Gary. It appears to demonstrate the ability of our ancestors to relate an everyday observation to an abstract concept that governs our lives


One day through the primeval wood

A calf walked home, as good calves should.

But made a trail all bent askew,

A crooked trail, as all calves do.

Since then 200 years have fled,

And I infer, the calf is dead.

But still he left behind his trail,

And thereby hangs my moral tale.

The trail was taken up next day

By a lone dog that passed that way;

And then a wise bellwether sheep

Pursued the trail o’er hill and glade,

Through those old woods a trail was made.

And many men wound in and out

And dodged and turned and bent about,

And uttered words of righteous wrath,

Because ‘twas such a crooked path;

But still they followed-do not laugh-

The first migrations of that calf.

And through this winding wood-way stalked

Because he wabbled when he walked.

This forest path became a lane,

That bent and turned and turned again;

This crooked lane became a road,

Where many a poor horse, with his load,

Toiled on beneath the burning sun.

And traveled some three miles in one.

And thus a century and a half

They trod the footsteps of that calf.

The years passed on in swiftness fleet,

The road became a village street,

And this before men were aware,

A city’s crowded thoroughfare,

And soon the central street was this

Of a renowned metropolis.

And men two centuries and a half

Tread in the footsteps of that calf.

Each day a hundred thousand rout

Followed the zigzag calf about;

And o’er his crooked journey went

The traffic of a continent.

A hundred thousand men were led

By one calf near three centuries dead.

They followed still his crooked way,

And lost 100 years a day;

For this such reverence is lent

To well establish precedent.

A moral lesson this might teach,

Were I ordained and called to preach.

For men are prone to go it blind

Along the calf paths of the mind.

And work away from sun to sun

To do what other men have done.

They follow in the beaten track,

And out and in, and forth and back,

And still their devious course pursue,

To keep the path that others do.


Movies and Popcorn at the Lakes Theater

October 2006 Volume 32, No. 2

Reprinted from the Interlaken Alumni Newsletter with permission.

           It hardly looks like a theater now, but next door to the Interlaken Public Library on Main Street was a favorite meeting place for townsfolk for decades: the Lakes Theater.

           Built about 1920, the Lakes Theater first showed silent movies. Pauline Knight and her sister, Marian Burr, played the piano as an accompaniment.

Marvelous Melville, who performed at the Boyer Opera House on Cayuga Street, built in 1853, moved to the Lakes Theater after the Opera House burned in 1913 and had a hand in its operation.

In the 40’s, Ray Pashley owned the theater. Dorothy Wickes (wife of druggist Charles Wickes) worked there for years selling tickets. Roy Covert worked there, too, running the projector. In the 40’s Ray would take Roy and Dorothy with him to Willard State Hospital when they showed movies to the patients. Dorothy’s daughter Phyllis sometimes went with Dorothy to watch the movies.

Floyd Dickerson and Bill Ganoung also worked at the theater. There was always popcorn to sell.

In 1955 Spike and Iris Wilkins and Bob and Therese Elliott bought the Lakes Theater for $7500. It was titled in all four of their names.

At first the two couples took turns running the theater. Soon they realized that this required babysitters, so the teams changed to Bob and Iris and Spike and Therese. Bob Elliott says that Therese can’t face popcorn to this day as the girls sold tickets and ran the concessions.

Tickets in those days were 35 cents for adults and 15 cents for children. Normally Bob and Spike ran the projector, but they used Willard Georgia as a backup and paid him $1.00 an hour.

Double features were common. Because the Lakes Theater had been in business so long, it got the pick of many first run movies.

Bob said that owning the theater was much harder than they had anticipated, but there were funny times, too. One was when he was in the projection room looking out the little observation window. Probably tired from burning the candle at both ends, he rested his forehead against the glass and, surprise, the glass pushed out. He rushed downstairs, fearful that a patron had been cut by the falling glass, but found nothing. Eventually, he found that the glass had only slipped into the partition and had not fallen into the crowd.

Many of us remember how cold it could get in the winter in those days. Bob admitted that they had to close in the winter because they could not keep the theater heated. He said one of the catastrophies involved six cases of Ginger Ale that froze and burst. 

Around 1963 the Wilkins and Elliotts sold the theater to Jerry Brewer, who converted it to a laundromat. School Superintendent DV MacDonald asked Bob if they had gone bankrupt. Bob answered that they had not. They had sold it for “enough to pay the taxes.” MacDonald replied, “I see. You didn’t lose your shirt, but you have a considerable rent in your jacket.”

Those of us growing up during the ‘50’s will always have a fondness for that old Lakes Theater. Many a box of popcorn or package of Jujubes was consumed on Friday night movie dates.

by Art Thompson and Nancy Booth DeMarte, class of 1960

Information from Bob Elliott and Naomi Craft Brewer

Editor’s note: we know there are many more stories of Lakes Theatre experiences that need to be told. We would love to print them.



Kerosene Lamps Burn Clean If Used Properly

By Bruce Clark  October 2006 Volume 32, No. 2

   I have been familiar with kerosene lamps for over 50 years. Most people that I have observed today have very little experience and do not know how a kerosene lamp burner should perform. Poorly maintained or adjusted lamps can cause many problems, and have brought a bad name to lamps. Incorrectly adjusted or maintained lamps can lead to dangerous overheating of the burner, smoke, strong kerosene odors, blackened or broken chimneys, and black soot on ceilings and walls.

All of this is completely unnecessary if one knows the proper way to use a kerosene lamp.

There are different kinds of lamp burners, but I refer to the simple brass burners found on standard household kerosene lamps. The wick should not exceed more than 1/8 of an inch above the wick tube under the hood (never above the hood). Once it is lighted, allow the flame to remain low, to slowly warm the glass chimney and avoid breakage from rapid change in temperature. Once the chimney is heated the flame can be raised to a clear and steady flame. If the flame smokes, something is not adjusted properly. Some modern lamp burners are so cheaply made and lack the refinements of older burners. They will not burn properly no matter how carefully lighted. Many are cheap tin that are brass colored. Many lack the necessary amount of ventilation holes that allow a flame to burn clear and odorless. Solid brass older burners are a better choice.

Strong odors from kerosene lamps is a result of several things: improper combustion, old kerosene, or commercial scented lamp oil, which can damage lamp burners by corroding and covering the burner with an unpleasant gummy substance. Buying refined lamp oil is wasteful, at $4.95 a quart, verses kerosene at about .69 cents per quart.

Good kerosene should be almost clear as water. Some grades have a slight yellow coloration. If the kerosene you have is deep yellow or orange, do not use it in a lamp, because the kerosene is either old, or contaminated with furnace fuel oil, and will cause major problems.

Starting with a very clean lamp, clean burner, clean chimney, clean wick, and fresh kerosene, a kerosene lamp will provide satisfactory light.

Black soot on the chimney is a signal that the wick is not adjusted properly, or the lamp is adjusted with too high a flame. After about eight hours of use, a lamp chimney will show signs of light fogging, and should be washed and thoroughly dried. Before washing the lamp chimney, it must be at room temperature. Trying to wash a hot chimney will cause it to break.

 If the lamp burner and wick are dirty, they can be cleaned by boiling them in ammonia, water, and liquid dish detergent.

        Kerosene lamps should be dismantled and thoroughly cleaned every six months. A very dirty lamp bowl can be cleaned by using nail polish remover. In addition, a mix of tepid water, liquid dish detergent and ammonia are useful. Do not use hot water, because the temperature change can break a lamp. I recently discovered a new product called "Power Dissolver," made by Dawn dishwashing detergent Co., is excellent for cleaning old lamps and burners. Spray it on the lamp and allow it to remain for an hour. The majority of old grime will rinse off. Should any accumulation remain, it can be removed by repeating the process.

Wicks should be initially trimmed straight across the top of the burner tube. Then, the corners should be trimmed so that the wick has the shape of a thumbnail. (Slightly rounded) This prevents a jagged flame which might break the chimney, and cause smoke.

Once the wick is trimmed, it will not require trimming again for several days or weeks.

Black carbon deposits are wiped off each day, lifting the hood, using a soft cloth, or simply pinching the black residue on the wick between the fingers, then wiping the fingers on a paper towel. The wick only will require trimming when it becomes ragged or the flame is uneven.

Kerosene lamps should not be filled to capacity. Leave a little room for expansion, or your lamp might overflow on your furniture. If there is any doubt, place the lamp on folded newspaper, or folded towel.

If the lamp is not used regularly, the kerosene should be emptied from it and stored in a cool dark place away from sunlight until needed, but not stored longer than a year. Otherwise, kerosene stored in a lamp will deteriorate, rot the wick, and cause the burner to become gummy.

In an emergency, charcoal lighter can be used in a kerosene lamp. It is basically highly refined and deodorized kerosene, however it will not burn quite as well as a good grade of K-1 Kerosene. Never use gasoline or camp stove fuel.

As a final word, use caution in the placement of your Kerosene lantern, allow plenty of space between the top of the lamp chimney and the ceiling. To be safe, four feet from the ceiling. The heat from the chimney is intense. If a lamp were placed on top of a high cabinet the heat coming from the top of the chimney could cause a fire.




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