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After receiving one persons memories of Sugar Island, I felt compelled to publish it. The letter details how three weeks out of a lifetime can make impression. This is the magic of Sugar Island.  The island remains basically unchanged in its friendliness, and warmth it gives to all who spend some time there, not to mention environmentally.

The Following passage is from Dale E. Jeffers, as it speaks very well for itself, I offer no further introduction.

As a boy I was the bugler at the Sugar Island meet in 1958 or 1959 and for the next two years.  I grew up in nearby Watertown, N.Y. and came to the island when the American Canoe Association (ACA) asked the local Boy Scout council to supply the meet with a bugler.  My duties were to play for the daily flag raising and lowering ceremonies, and to play reveille in the morning and taps at night,  I also maintained three kerosene lanterns which were red, white and red to signify the ACA flag.  The lanterns  were raised up one of the three flagpoles at night for what I believe were largely reasons of tradition as they were not particularly visible from the river.  There was also an ice house which I opened for an hour or two each day to supply the campers with blocks of ice.  The concept of an ice house was a fascinating anachronism to me as I had heard about them from my grandparents but I had never seen one.  The ice blocks were packed in sawdust and handled with old fashioned ice tongs, washed off with river water,  broken into manageable pieces with an ice pick and hauled by wheelbarrow to the campsite of the purchaser.  There were a number of outhouses which I swept clean and kept supplied with toilet tissue and lime. I believe that I was the last live bugler at Sugar Island.

In return for my services I was provided with a campsite and took my meals with the Commodore's family.  That first year the Commodore was Richard Vogel and I shared a campsite with him and his wife Evelyn and their daughter Marilyn. At first Dick Vogel seemed like a crusty old guy with a trace of an Austrian accent in his voice and, being a young boy away from home on his own for the first time, I was pretty intimidated by him.  I soon noticed the ever present twinkle in his eye, the subtle sense of humor and he was extremely kind to me.  He saw that I was formally introduced to just about everyone on the island.  The people were marvelous,  The adults treated me as their equal and the other kids treated me as a kid.  It was great.  Dick Vogel taught me one of life's little lessons which I still carry with me.  The adjoining campsite was occupied by an elderly couple, Mr. & Mrs. Thomas Zuk, Sr.  Upon arising the first morning Mr. Vogel asked me if I had said "good morning" to the Zuk's.  Since I was a real shy kid and they were adults who were strangers to me it was pretty intimidating to think that I would actually have to reach out and speak to them.  I guess I picked the least intimidating route and waived and said "good morning".  This was a good ice breaker for me as soon the Zuk's would be inviting me for ice tea and talking to me as a young friend.  The real dividend from reaching out was the great big hug that Mrs. Zuk gave me on the last day of camp.  You know, I still can't eat pancakes with jelly without thinking of Mrs. Vogel and her great breakfasts.  There was a red Old Town w/c canoe raffled off as a fund raiser.  Dick Vogel won the raffle and immediately donated the canoe back to the ACA. Another life lesson for a young man.

These days my paddling is pretty much in the backwater areas of the Adirondacks.  My camping and paddling companions are two Old English Sheepdogs and an occasional human buddy.  My mode of transportation is a cedar strip canoe which I built a few years ago.  We make quite a sight on our trips and people are always coming up to me when they see my non-paddling companions.  It has always seemed to me that I would have encountered some ACA members that I could share Sugar Island recollections with but so far I have had no luck with this.

Dale F. Jeffers