When I returned to Three Oaks, aged sixteen, after finishing
school the problem of recreation was acute.
I was a member of the Junior Tennis Club and
had contracted for the club with George Burhans to construct a clay
court on a lot which the club purchased on the Whitehouse property.
Our members felt that the Poughkeepsie Tennis Club, of which the
youngsters were junior members, did not treat them fairly. So we
formed our own club, built our own court and were beginning to
enjoy the court, the small club house and our freedom when I returned
to Florida. I had taken part in
dramatics, was a member of the Riverview
Glee Club and enjoyed neighborhood social and athletic activities.
social events then at the Point were occasional dances
over Paines or in Folsom's packinghouses which had ceased to be used
after the '95 freeze killed the orange trees back to their trunks
There was a duplicate whist club which
met in the homes Thursday nights
and occasional readings of Dickens or other authors by George Wllkinson
with his English accent. These
did not satisfy the exuberance of youth
for the many young people of the Point nor the social urges of the
interested six or eight Tenney, Wilkinson and other boys and
in learning to march. We used the book of military tactics which I studied,
as sergeant, at Riverview Military Academy. We marched by fours, single file,
executed, squad right, right oblique, to the rear and all the other manoeuvres.
As the twilight faded on Tenney's pasture
the full moon gave light enough to
still read the very fine print of the manual.
This was the period when physical exercise was the rage. We
ordered wooden dumbells for the community, made racks for them on the
wall of Folsom's packing house and I drilled the assembled neighbors,
aged from ten to seventy, in dumbell exercises until excess energy
was exhausted. We then played games
**spin the platter, going to
Jerusalem_and others. One New Year's eve it was decided to see the
New Year in. Meeting at eight,
by eleven we were weary and had pretty
well run out of ideas. There was
no music-no radio, no phonograph,
no band or piano to dance to. The
freeze, two years before, had cut
off nearly all income Only
northern winter residents and boarders
had spare cash. Finally midnight
struck. A wild burst of noise
greeted the New Year. Then we soon
went to rest our weary selves.
It became evident to all that a suitable building was needed---
a club to organize its financing and construction and the social
activities of the community. And so, the Federal Point Literary and
Social Club was formed. Tenneys,
Browns, Hubbards, Wheelers, Atkin-
sons and others were elected trustees.
I was its first president
drew up plans and, with Frank Tenney, superintended
and helped with the construction. The
work was done by the men of
the community. The lumber and fixtures
were bought with money con-tributed,
largely, by our winter friends and from the proceeds of
entertainments, food sales and the usual money-raising schemes. The building
was about 25 feet by 60 feet with
a stage and dressing
rooms at one end. The floor, on
which my father spent many hours of
hard, meticulous work planing and sanding by hand, was glassy-smooth, a
fine dance floor. The dark blue
stage curtain drew up at the sides into
draping folds. The room was heated
in winter by an air-tight, sheet iron stove.
When the drafts were opened it roared, glowed red and threw out great heat.
Its attendant adjusted the draft for safety
while heating the hall for the meeting. It could be safely left if the draft
was nearly closed.
need of culture, as well as fun, was planned for in organ-
izing the meetings. Originally,
the programs provided for readings,
recitations, music, drama, games and dancing.
This plan provided
interest for the adults, good literature and fun for the young folks;
an experience in planning and taking part in programs; an opportunity
to meet together. Young folks were
with their parents were properly
chaperoned. Federal Point had the
reputation of having the best times of any river town.
took ingenuity to plan and stage suitable programs. Squire
Tenney played violin or cello, his son, Frank, the violin, as well as
singing solos and bass in a chorus. My
mother sang and played the
organ and the piano that the club purchased.
My sister sang operatic
selections and ballads. I played banjo to accompany my songs and the choruses.
We all took part in plays, charades and in group games.
used to sing a college song-Dunderbeck. It went something like this:
was a fat old Dutchman and his name was Dunderbeck
the neighbors sausages, sauerkraut and speck,
He kept a great big butcher shop ,the finest ever
And he studied up and built -himself a sausage meat machine.
Oh, Dunderbeck, Oh, Dunderbeck, how could you be
sorry you e'er invented that wonderful machine
For pussy cats and longtailed rats shall never more
For they'll all be ground to sausage meat in Dunderbeck's
One day a little boy came a'walking down the street,
Sent by his mother to the shop to buy a pie"e of
And while he stood a'waiting, he whistled up a tune
And the sausages began"to hop"and dance around the room.
(Chorus, Oh, Dunderbeok)
But something got the matter, the machine it would not go,
So Dunderbeck he crawled inside, the matter for to
His wife she got the nightmare and came walking in her sleep,
She gave the crank an awful yank; and Dunderbeck was meat.
(Chorus, Oh, Dunderbeck- ---------".
One day it dawned on me, "what a theme this song is for dramatic
acting". So I took a big dry goods
box, bored holes in opposite sides, made
a crank from a broom handle, made
link sausages from brown dress lining
and sawdust,' chose a plump boy, a small boy and a tall girl to enact the
scene, while I sang the song with banjo.
The stage business of the shop,
assembling the machine; toy dogs, cats and rats tossed into the grinding
mill while links of sausages were pulled out the side; sausages attached to
invisible thread leaving the counter to dance about quickly retrieved by an
irate butcher; a starry eyed, nightgowned
figure turning the crank, while the
plump butcher slowly slithered, kicking his legs, over the edge into the machine
while sausages came out the side:
all accompanied the progress of the song
in realistic action. The act made
My sister adapted Shakespeare's Pyramus and Thisbe to the boys
of the neighborhood. Some of its
passages, occasionally, come to me, still.
The stage business of wall, moon, lion and Roman costumes all called for
ingenuity, making and doing.
Grandma Louisa found a cute dialogue sketch in Harper's or a similar
magazine. My sister directed its staging. It called for
Gertrude Wheeler, sixteen, to impersonate a ten year old miss who
dined, formally, in a hotel with me, a young bachelor. Evening dress
with tails, corsage and flounces, dignified waiter, brown roasted
chicken (bouncing off the platter when I attempted to carve) and appropriate
efforts at correct social conversation and deportment, all held the attention
of the appreciative audience.
The dancing was mainly square dance figures all in one big
set. The dance floor was often
filled, two or three couples at each
head, six or eight couples on each side.
Everyone danced, from gray bearded
Squire Tenney to ten year olds. For
music, the Tenneys and my mother, or a
ired colored pianist or a three piece colored band with harmonica, banjo
and guitar played lively tunes that made feet and skirts fly when twenty couples
swung partners. There were occasional
waltzes and two steps, a grand march,
the Virginia reel and a short Home Sweet Home waltz.
were popular at that time. So we gave several
with the many ingenious figures which brought the diffident boys and
girls, bachelors and wallflowers, together regardless of age or pref-
erence. One popular figure had
the men kneeling before the stage.
The girls stood on the stage. Each
girl, with a fishpole, line and
marshmallow tied on for bait, angled for the man of her choice who
attempted to catch the bait in his mouth.
Powdered noses and cheeks
resulted. One morning our young
house girl, Matilda White,
enthusiastically told of a party the colored folks had the night before.
She said, "De gals had poles an' fished fo de mens wid dose
candy owls, yo' has in de sto', tied by dere necks to de lines.
It sho was fun to see dose big moufs tryin' to catch dose owls".
musicians had, evidently, adapted the latest in
social style to their party, where only marching, no dancing, was
permitted by church discipline.
on, an ample kitchen was added along the north side
of the building. The potato crop brought good times. So many barrels
of potatoes, so many bags of fertilizer and boxes of oranges were
piled on the Federal Point dock that even with enlarged head, it
could not hold all the incoming or outgoing freight. Agents of
Commission merchants, fertilizer salesmen, winter guests from the
North filled the hotel, run by the Tenneys.
Shad fishermen lived
at the Point. The club house was
the center of social activity and
interest for miles around.
When the streets and roads were paved and autos replaced
horses and mules, people from a
distance could come, more easily to the Point.
The people of the Point could, also, go elsewhere. Then the highway bridge
was built across the St. John's at Palatka; the school at the Point was closed
-children drove to the Hastings central school.
The older generations passed
on; the younger generation grew up
Local leadership could not compete in
interest and amusements with the movies, the radio and the commercial
entertainments of the towns, and with the automobile. The hotel was closed.
The dock was no longer needed **rail and trucks carrying freight and mail.
ceased to hold meetings; society tended to stagnate.
The club house badly needed repairs. So
little interest in its use
was shown that it was sold and torn down.
The Point was without a
years ago this lack of a place where the people of
the Point could meet became so critically evident, especially to the
women of St. Paul's Mission Church, that a strong campaign was organized
to raise $4000, for a parish house for the church. Equipped
with a history of generous support of the Church and the Women's
Auxiliary and with the heritage of cooperative accomplishment in the
Social Club, the families of the Point, in two years, raised the
money, built and equipped the parish house, even to a quick freezer
"When the last board was nailed on, it was paid for". This was done
by the hands and through the spirits of the people of the Point.
America is rich in the possession of communities like Federal
Point where the people crave the finer things of life for themselves
and their children; where they pull together and earn and build and
achieve for themselves. The hope
of our nation, in this era of
government giving, lies, largely, in the leadership of the youth from
such communities whose self reliance and pride in accomplishment act
like a leaven in the helpless, spiritless populations of so** many of
our towns and cities.
To me, the club provided invaluable training in social actvities
and leadership as it did to so many of the youth of Federal Point.