Silas L. Griffith’s Lake Retreat


Silas L. Griffith


A Party of Elderly Gentlemen Enjoy the Hospitality of Our Townsman, S. L. Griffith, at His Mountain Lake Retreat.—An Annual Occurrence in Which the Host Finds Much Pleasure, and Which the “Boys” Look Forward to With the Most Pleasing Anticipation Each Year.

For several years it has been the custom of Mr. Silas L. Griffith to entertain for two days a party of elderly gentlemen at his club house situated just over the top of the mountain to the southeast of this village, where nestles one of the prettiest little lakes of the Green Mountains, and where Mr. Griffith has beautified the natural scenery by the erection of a commodious house, barn and other buildings, the cultivation of flowers and the installation of other improvements to add beauty and comfort to the scene. As many of our readers well know, Mr. Griffith does nothing by halves, and therefore his guests at this beautiful mountain retreat are always entertained in a manner that it would almost seem impossible to equal amid such wild and rug-ged surroundings.

The time for holding the outing this year was somewhat earlier in the month of June than in previous years but although the weather was rainy and threatening for several days previous to the appointed time, the day upon which they were to start for the scene of operations dawned bright and comfortable, and during the whole two days given to the occasion there was nothing more unpleasant than a heavy frost during the night spent on the mountain. This served to keep away the mosquitoes and flies, and thus proved a blessing—though somewhat in disguise. Wood fires made all comfortable within the club house, and the evening was pleasantly passed by all the guests in playing euchre and other games of cards, smoking and social conversation.

In accordance with the invitations sent to the guests of the occasion, all assembled at the Griffith store at the appointed time, where special teams provided by the host carried them on their journey mountainward as soon as Mr. John Belden could secure a snapshot with his camera—and to whom the MIRROR is indebted for the photograph from which our picture was made. The invitations which assembled the “boys” were all worded as the one which follows :

DANBY, VT., May 29, 1902.
Mr. A. S. BAKER, Member of the Boys Club:

DEAR SIR —A anther year has come and gone since we had our last meeting at the Lake, and that our Club has lost but one of its members–A. T. Colvin—since that meeting is cause for rejoicing, although we mourn his loss and will miss him at our gatherings. At our next gathering I am in hopes to have as many present as there were when we last met. I have decided to ask the boys to meet at Buffum Pond, in Mt. Tabor, for roll-call and various other purposes too numerous to mention June 5th, 1902. Would like to leave Danby Borough at 8:30 a. m. If we leave at this hour we will arrive at the Lake in time to enable the boys to catch trout for their noon-day meal. We will return to Danby Friday afternoon. Will you accept this invitation? An early reply will oblige the junior member of the club,

Owing to being obliged to attend the funeral service of a relative, which was held at East Dorset, Mr. Griffith was unable in the morning to accompany the party to the mountain, but promised to join them at the lake at seven o’clock that night. It can be said that he kept his word to the minute, for at exactly the appointed time the team bearing himself and some others of the party who had stayed behind to accompany him came into sight of those who were waiting on the spacious piazza of the lake house to welcome him. As the team neared the house the waiting party broke forth into cheers for their popular host, and the woods echoed and re-echoed their hearty greeting.

The first contingent of the party arrived at the lake in ample time for the appetizing dinner that had been prepared for them by Mr. and Mrs. Frank Benard, who have charge of this mountain retreat and live there continuously during the season. Mr. C. H. Barnum, who was in charge last year, also accompanied the party to the lake and assisted in providing for the inner man. Dr. Whipple got out his fishing rod and flies immediately after dismounting from the wagon which bore him, and taking one of the boats moored to the wharf, rowed to the upper end of the lake to lure forth the gamy trout, with which the lake has been so abundantly stocked by Mr. Griffith from the fish hatchery which he formerly maintained at the “South End,” and where is located one of Mr. Griffith’s large lumber mills. The Doctor, however, is met with misfortune at the start by losing his reel in the lake, which prevented him capturing any fish before dinner was announced. Re-equipping himself after dinner with rod and reel from lite able stock of the club house, he again went up the lake and brought back with him a large “string” of the speckled beauties of the required length—eight inches and over. Other members of the party found pleasure in fishing from the shore and boat landing, with the result that there was an abundant supply of trout for the night meal.

After a social evening spent at cards, a night of peaceful slumber and a substantial breakfast, several of the more active members of the party sallied forth to the various fishing points upon the trout streams of the vicinity with the purpose of catching the smaller fish which abound there to replace those taken from the lake on this occasion. In each party was one man who carried a receptacle for conveying the fish alive to the lake, and the total result was nearly as many fish—though smaller—returned to the lake as were taken out and eaten during the party’s sojourn there. Fishing from the lake was also indulged in again by some of the “boys” who did not make the fish-ing trip to the streams, and a trout dinner was the result.

To show that the “boys” fared well, gastronomically, we print here the full menu of each meal partaken of during their stay at the lake:

Pot Roast of Beef, brown gravy
Green Peas
Boiled Potatoes
Cucumber Pickles
Wheat Bread
Apricot Pie

Cold Beef, brown gravy
Boiled Potatoes
Preserved Cherries
Wheat Bread
Marble Cake
Sweet Cookies

Fried Ham
Fried Eggs
Boiled Potatoes
Wheat Bread
Wheat Cakes, with hot syrup

Fried Lake Trout
Cold Boiled Ham
Cold Beef
Mashed Potatoes
Green Corn
Cucumber Pickles
Apricot Pie
Coconut Cake
Sweet Cookies

Not only was the quantity of food set before the party abundant, but the quality was most excellent and the variety surprising, considering the great distance and tedious journey from the “base of supplies.”

A pleasant feature of the occasion and which came somewhat in the nature of a surprise, was the reading of a couple of poems written for the occasion by Judge A. S. Baker, At the request of the host, after all had done ample justice to the trout supper, they remained seated while the first of the Judge’s poems was read, and the full text of which follows:

Away back in the ages,
Ere the footsteps of men
Had pressed the soft earth
On the mountain and glen,
Where the primeval forest
Had for ages withstood
The break winds of winter,
The tempest and flood;
And the tall, nodding spruces,
With their wealth of green leaves,
Stood like sentinels guarding
A phalanx of trees;
And no voice broke the silence,
Save the wild mother’s call
To her brood as she wandered
‘Neath the forest’s dark pall;
Where no foot of human
Had ever yet trod,
And no hand of mortal
Had turned up a sod.
It was here that Dame Nature,
In her exquisite robe,
Made longest and fullest,
Her constant abode.
It was here that these beauties
Had in their majesty stood
Just as they came from
The hand of their God.
In this landscape of beauty
A bright spot is seen,
Which shone like bright silver
In a background of green.
It was a fine little lake,
The tall mountains between,
With forests on either side
Encircling the scene.
Now, the old town of Bromley,
As of ancient record,
Spread all over this region,
But above, and beyond,
And the name it was a called
Then was just “Bromley Pond.”
Now, the time was approaching—
Had already come, perhaps—
When the old town of Bromley
Must go off the maps.
And as Uncle Cale Buffum
Lived nearest on the west,
to call the pond by his name
The people thought best.
Hence, “Buffum Pond” is the name
By which it has been known
rom that time onward, at least,
For fifty years gone.
It became the fisherman’s mecca,
At whose shrine he must appear,
And pay there his devotion
At least once every year.
The pilgrim’s journey began
Just at Uncle Cale’s door,
Led straight over the mountain,
To the little pond’s shore.
The pilgrim made his journey,
And with his outfit he bore
Some cold tea in a bottle—
And maybe something more.
Now, when he arrives at the pond
And has thrown off his load
He looks around for a site
For a camp in the wood;
In his bark-covered shanty
He lies down for a drowse,
And to rest his tired body
On his bed of spruce boughs;
His slumbers are unbroken,
No disturbance is there,
Save the gnaw of the hedgehog,
Or the growl of the bear.
When awake, he may listen
To the scream of the loon,
Or count through his roof-tree
The glints of the moon.
And so it has continued
Until now, very late,
When Silas got hold of it,
And dubbed it a lake.
He built here a club house,
And furnished it well—
’Twas the mecca of Mt. Tabor,
Had its pilgrims as well.
Now, Get yourselves ready, boys,
Make the old mountains ring;
Three cheers for S. L.,
The prince of good fellows,
Of entertainers, the king.

The second poem was read after the noonday meal of the following day, a short time before the party left on their return trip home. In explaining his request that all remain seated after the meal had been partaken of, Mr. Griffith said Judge Baker had come to the lake’ “loaded for bear,” and had brought a double-barreled gun with him; he had discharged one barrel the night previous and would then let off the other one. He concluded by proposing as a toast “The Boys of 1902,” and called upon Judge Baker for a response. After a few preliminary remarks by the Judge, the following poem was read :

“Should auld acquaintance be forgot,”
And never brought to mind?
Should auld acquaintance be forgot”
In these days of later time?
Give me your hands, my ancient friends,
And here’s a hand of mind ;
Full four-score years you’ve journed here,
Now live on borrowed time.

Should strength of limb and strength of mind
Enable you to keep along
Till four-sore years and ten you find
‘Ere death shall call you on,
Oh, then you’ll need a friend indeed
To guide your failing steps.
To hold the cup of friendship up
To wet your parching lips.

Here’s a kind who are just behind;
At three score years and ten
We’ve lived the span vouchsafed to man,
And still are active men.
Remember well that time will tell
On us as well as them.
For no one can escape the plan
Laid down by God to man.

Should strength be thine to pass the time
Till four-score years are gone,
Remember then that younger men
Have Joined the passing throng.
May God forbid that we forget
The friends of early days,
And in our lot remember not
The good old friendly ways.

And here’s a set, though younger yet,
Are active business men;
May fortune bless you with success
In all your deals with men.
Remember still that friendship will
Many a blessing bring;
A broken work will not afford
A confidential ring.

Though on your kind the sun has shined
With bright effulgent ray,
And you obtain your need of grain
That crowns the patient way:
Though it may shine on plans of thine,
And leave no cause for sorrow,
Though its warm ray is bright today,
It may not shine tomorrow.

Now, friends, we all will not forestall
The fate of any man,
But this we know, that we must go
The way of other men.
When we are gone—it won’t be long
Our faces will be known—
Some other face will fill the place
We proudly call our own.

Good friends of mine, we’ve had a time,
And spent a pleasant day,
Allow the bard to say as word
Of those who’ve gone away.
For Edwin was as jolly Wight,
And Daniel was sedate,
And Albert trod his even road,
But death has found him, late.

Farewell, my friends, for we must part
And go our diverse ways,
Each carry with him in his heart
Remembrance of this day.
Our hair is thin, our eyes are dim,
Our legs refuse to run,
We carry yet a heart within
Chock full of youthful full.

The journey to the lake was made by the way of Griffith, quite a large settlement, composed entirely of Mr. Griffith’s employees, where one his principal mills is located and where he maintains a general store for the convenience of his employees, principally. The first stop was made at this store, where a round of soft drinks was dispensed at Mr. Griffith’s expense. In fact, everything any of the party would want from the time they left this village till their return—even to chewing and matches—was generously provided the guests by their host, “without money and without price.” Cigars—good ones, too—were plentiful both while on the road and at the lake house, and pipes and tobacco were scattered about the house as free as the mountain air they breathed.

The return trip was made by way of the South End, over a road that abounds in steep grades and beautiful scenery. The journey ended at Mr. Griffith’s store about four o’clock in the afternoon, and Mr. Risdon again grouped the party and took another snapshot with his camera. We are pleased to show in this connected reproductions of both the picture taken before starting and the one taken on the return. If somewhat larger pictures could have been taken of the party, they would have compared very favorably with the “Before Taking” and “After Taking” pictures of some of the patent medicine advertisements so frequently to be seen in the newspapers. Everybody surely returned in better spirits and as good health as when they started; and if there was need for it, the trip was a sure cure for melancholia.

Nearly all of the old gentlemen making up this year’s party were present on the same occasion last year as well as the year preceding. The new faces in the part” were Messrs. Milo G. Remington of Bennington, J. B. Nichols of Asbury Park, N. J., and D. W. Maxham of South Wallingford. Mr. Griffith remarked that as these gentlemen had joined the ”Club,” as he terms it, there is only one way for them to get out of it—by death—which he hoped would not be the case with any of them, and that all would be on hand to repeat the trip in 1903. The following is a complete list of the members who participated in the “Boys’ Club” outing of 1902, with their residences and date of birth:

Stephen W. Phillips, Danby, – Oct. 14, 1814.
Charles . Griffith, Danby, – July 28, 1834.
Frank Bromley, Danby, – Jan. 18, 1833.
Charles Hebert, Danby, – April 14, 1833.
James Edwin Nichols, Danby, – Oct. 20, 1829.
M. E. Maham, Danby, – Aug. 16, 1829.
O. B. Hadwen, Danby, – Dec. 18, 1818.
Edward J. Read, Danby, – Sept. 19, 1835.
James Bowers, Danby, – Mar. 15, 1830.
E. O. Whipple, Danby, – June 20, 1831.
A. S. Baker, Danby, – Mar. 16, 1824.
E. N. Streeter, Danby, – Mar. 3, 1837.
Hiram Perry Griffith, Danby, – June 1, 1824.
D. W. Maxham, S. Wallingford, – July 17, 1826.
Daniel C. Risdon, Mt. Tabor, – Feb. 14, 1830.
J. B. Nichols, Asbury Park, N. J., – Dec. 22, 1828.
Milo G. Remington, Bennington, – Oct. 23, 1827.
S. L. Griffith, Danby, – June 26, 1837.

It will be noticed that Mr. Stephen W. Phillips was the oldest member of the party, and bears his eighty-six years remarkably well. Mr. Obadiah Hawden is but two years younger than Mr. Phillips and is particularly active for a man of his years, and probably performs more labor almost daily than any other of the older members of the “Club.” Judge Baker and Mr. Perry Griffith rank next to Mr. Hawden in point of age, each being seventy-eight years old; and with the exception of the Judge’s almost departed eyesight both beat their ages well, retaining their mental faculties unimpaired. And so on through the list of names we have printed down to Mr. E. N. Street, who is the youngest member of the “Club,” with the exception of Mr. Griffith himself. The editor of the MIRROR made up one of the party this year, but is still considered a little too youthful to become a member of the “Boys’ Club” of Lake Griffith. Mr. Griffith is also a little “under age,” but is looked upon more as an honorary member of the body, though the most active in its interests of them all.

The fishing facilities that were provided on this occasion, with so little physical exertion, were greatly enjoyed by many of the party who have been great lovers of piscatorial sport, particularly Dr. Whipple and Mr. Perry Griffith. We noticed too, that Mr. Daniel Risdon greatly enjoyed the sport and was so eager to catch the speckled beauties that he did not wait for them to bite but hooked them in the most convenient place that presented, on one occasion the hook being found inserted in a trout, from the outside, about midway between the head and tail. When fish can be caught in that manner, it speaks louder than words for the fishing advantages of the lake. Incidentally, we observed that Mr. Risdon was quite as fond of eating the fish as he was in catching them. Of the whole party, Dr. Whipple probably spent more time with the road and line on this occasion than any one else, and it was sometimes difficult to get him to abandon the sport when meals were ready.

It gives us much pleasure to be able to print in this first number of the MIRROR an excellent half-tone engraving from a late photograph of Mr. Griffith and a view of a little of Lake Griffith and the lake house, as well as the “Before Taking” and “After Taking” pictures of the “Boys,” which we have before referred to. It was out first intention to print a brief biographical sketch of Mr. Griffith in this connected, but on account of his serious illness as we go to press have decided to withhold the sketch for a future member, when perhaps we will tell our readers more about Mr. S. L. Griffith personally and the immense lumber business which he has built up from the small beginning and maintains as one of the most extensive in the United States. May he recover his health and arrange for and participate in another outing a year hence is the wish of all the “Boys”—and also the people generally of this section of the country—while the MIRROR hopes to again tell the story of the pleasurable occasions it is sure to be.