The Natural Spring on Grindstone Island

By: Manley L. Rusho

Volume 18, Issue 4, April 2023

I first saw the spring some 80+ years ago, when I was about 8 or 9 years old. I was assigned to fetch drinking water for the schoolhouse, along with an older female classmate. We walked out of the school yard at the Lower Schoolhouse, through the hand-gate on the northwest corner of the school fence. From there we proceeded northward along the familiar gravel road. The road provided enough stones that were the perfect size for throwing at hundreds of targets – some moving, some not – trees, leaves, posts, anything could be a target as we walked along.

At this time, there was a big hill on our path, with the road cut through it, and on the left was a pit of just sand. The perfect place to stop and play, even for a few minutes, and then onward to the spring with the other student. My companion kept me moving along and reminded me of our mission with the threat of “I’m telling the teacher,” which was enough for me. I disliked the girls in school. Most of them were bigger than I was, and even the smaller ones would tell on you if you picked on them. As for the bigger girls, they were usually faster and stronger.

The photo is Manley on the left - second row about the same age as this story - 1938-39 is our best guess. The photo is his class from the Lower Schoolhouse 1938.

Part way up the next hill there was a fence that ran eastward; we climbed through the fence, dragging the empty water pail, then followed the fence until it stopped at a cross fence. A short walk down a small hill, and there below was a place of magic – a natural spring. A wooden barrel surrounded the flow of the water, and at the bottom, the sand gave the impression that it was boiling as the cool, clear water pushed its way up from deep below.

I was trying to take in the beauty of this magical place and all that it included – the little stream that exited the old barrel formed a small water fall about 4 or 5 inches high, and from the pool of water there was green moss, about 2 or 3 feet long – waving side to side with the steady flow of the clear water.

There were no frogs, fish, turtles, or snakes inhabiting this magical domain – perhaps they were stunned by the cold water. About 30 feet away, the marsh grass grew in profusion and seemed unaffected by the cold water. It was the middle of the day when most birds were silent. Toward the bay in the distance, we heard an occasional duck quack, but otherwise it was mostly silent.

My companion finally got my attention, breaking my thoughts completely. Our task was to fill the pail with water and carry it back to the schoolhouse to the thirsty students. I quickly removed my shoes and climbed down to the barrel, where my feet sank into the cold, wet, mud up to my ankles. As I dipped the pail into the clear water, a cloud of algae filled the barrel. No matter, the pail was now full of cold, clear, water. As I was attempting to step back to the bank, my feet sank even deeper into the wet mud. My classmate was babbling on, telling me to hurry and that I was spilling the water out of the pail.

Afterwards, we back-tracked through the fields and the fences, with both of us carrying the now heavy pail of water by the handle – trying desperately not to spill it. Along the way, my classmate stepped in a soft cow patty and somehow it was my fault. All I could do was endure the rest of the walk back to school. Up the road, there was a woodchuck, just sitting in the middle of the road. A perfect target for my stone throwing efforts, but my hands were tied up helping to hold the bucket of water.

We finally reached the schoolhouse gate, put down the pail, and both of us took a drink of the cool water. Arriving inside the school, we were accused of taking too long, spitting in the pail, and not bringing enough water for all the students. Another complaint was that seeds had fallen in the open top of the pail. At this point, I was grateful for my companion, since she was older than me and could take the criticism and dish it out when necessary.

The Lower Schoolhouse. The Rusho's bought and renovated this building and used it as a guest cottage for several years. Today it is the Heritage Center Museum on Grindstone and will be open this summer for visitors with exhibits about the education system on the island.

Over the years, I must have visited that spring hundreds of times, perhaps more. The spring never lost its magical spell over me, and the scenery never changed. Nature was always abundant along the way: birds, fish, frogs, and pine trees on the bank. A small piece of paradise that remains completely free of man’s presence, except for the broken, rusted fence and the wooden barrel in the spring. The existence of the barrel remains a mystery and I asked my Aunt Eleanor (Calhoun) if she knew anything about its origins – but she did not. I have searched the area for signs of a one-time dwelling on the property and found nothing – no rusted nails, no broken dishes – no sign of man being there except for that barrel. A mystery that was never solved, at least by me, and I know that I will never see it again.

End Note:

This piece of property on Grindstone Island was known as Klock’s Point, or Clark’s Point on some tax records, and is near the Grindstone Island Winery and the Lower Schoolhouse (museum).

By Manley L. Rusho

Manley Rusho was born on Grindstone Island nine+ decades ago. Back in 2021, Manley started sharing his memories with TI Life. (Manley Rusho articles) This Editor and his many friends wish him continued good health - winter is a tough time so we are thinking of you Manley. We thank you, most sincerely, for sharing - as the life and times on Grindstone Island are special and should never be forgotten.
As you can see by the last line on this article, Manley is unable to return to his beloved Grindstone, but somehow his not being there makes no difference as Manley Rusho and Grindstone Island will always be linked!

Posted in: Volume 18, Issue 4, April 2023, History

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