Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Adirondack Attic: Noah John Rondeau and his Aunt Maggie’s doll

(Editor’s Note: The following is a sample of an “Adirondack Attic” story, by Andy Flynn, originally published in newspapers in 2005 and re-printed in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 3.” See a photo of the artifact on the cover of the book.)

When Adirondack hermit Noah John Rondeau decided to write his “Recollections of 60 Years” in 1943, he chose to document some of his earliest memories at “A French Wedding in a Log House” near Au Sable Forks. He authored four poems that year along with this manuscript at his Cold River City encampment in the high peaks.

Author Maitland DeSormo fit the “Recollections” on 48 pages in his 1969 book, “Noah John Rondeau: Adirondack Hermit.” Rondeau (1883-1967) was 6 years old at the time of the French wedding on New Year’s Day in 1890. His aunt, Margaret “Maggie” Corrow, was to marry Henry Miner Jr., of the village of Au Sable Forks. Rondeau and his parents, Peter and Alice Corrow Rondeau, arrived at his grandparents’ home before breakfast. Gramp and Gram, Charles and Marie Antoinette Corrow, were born in Canada and settled in the log house near Au Sable Forks, where they raised eight children. As young Noah explored the log cabin that New Year’s Day, he looked at a few photographs in the living room.

“Then I stood before a Niche that hung on the Wall and I made a careful Visual Survey of the little doll,” Noah wrote. “Then I moved to the next and the next and so I made the Stations of the Dolls.”

One of those dolls in the “niches” belonged to his Aunt Maggie, who was 24 when she married Mr. Miner, too old to play with such toys. But it certainly caught this 6-year-old boy’s attention before he apprehensively moved on to the green plush-covered photo album.

“In time I dared to touch it and nothing happened,” Noah wrote. “Even the Dolls on the Wall kept Mum.”

One of Maggie’s dolls is now artifact No. 2004.69 in the Adirondack Museum’s collection. It was donated by Kathryn Lanigan, of Morrisonville, in the memory William A. Calhoun Jr., who died in his home in March 2004. Margaret Corrow Miner (1866-1963) was Calhoun’s grandmother and the donor’s greatgrandmother. They affectionately called her “Little Gram.” At the time of Calhoun’s death, the doll was hanging in a shadow box on the wall of his Au Sable Forks living room, in the same house where he was born. A picture of Maggie in front of his house is on page 143 of DeSormo’s book.

(Read more about this artifact in “New York State’s Mountain Heritage: Adirondack Attic, Volume 3.” Buy online @ the Hungry Bear Publishing Bookstore. $18.00)

Copyright 2005 Andy Flynn/Hungry Bear Publishing

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