All posts by JoAnne Little

In Memoriam – The Lore of Lake Frederic, by Denny Moore

2016 was a hard year for our River Rat community,  among some other personal family losses, we lost a few of our “River Legends”  Dale Gruff, Kate Rhodes, Karen May, Connie Sill. We weren’t actively blogging here at that time, so we’ll make sure we come back at some point to post a tribute to each of those individuals as well.

Now in 2017….This past Monday we lost another beloved River Legend, our own Lake Historian, Mr. Denny Moore. As a tribute, and with permission from his daughter,  we’re reposting his unedited and not quite finished version of The Lore of Lake Frederic below. as posted on our original Shelly Island River Rats group on Facebook

Details of his obituary and Celebration of Life services can be found here. http://duganfh.funeralplan2.com/obituaries/2017-dfc/kurt-dennis-denny-moore.aspx

The Lore of Lake Frederic

 

Foreword

Following are excerpts of my memories, knowledge, conversations, and opinions from/of the past 50 years I’ve been enjoying Lake Frederic. I believe all to be factual. Geological, Anthropological, and Archeological info is current science. My opinions and logic are just that, mine. Welcome are any/all questions, criticisms, or corrections. I’ll try to keep this narrative filled with facts, but to have it follow a story form, I’ll be including personal material. My typing limitations will dictate how often I add to my story of Lake Frederic.

Global Warming!

The Susky River Basin we love and enjoy was created by Global Warming. Think about that as the Politicos and Enviro-nazis are reaching into your wallet and trampling constitutional rights under the pretense of curbing it! Thru many Ice Ages, lasting tens of thousands of years, the earth has entered warming periods that caused the glaciers world wide to recede. From the erosion of melt waters, the grinding, gouging of glaciers growing and flowing southward, the Susky became the only river in N. America to carve its way over, across, and thru a mountain range.

11,000 to 13,000 years ago, give or take a thousand or so, the earth entered into this period of global warming we are enjoying today. As the glacier encompassing the Susky River Basin we know today melted it left layers of rounded rock, polished stone, sand and silt deposits behind. In some areas, these Alluvial Deposits were 100s of feet deep. I.E. Hill Island.

Lake Frederic occupies an Alluvial Fan. A fan is created by a single stream of water flowing thru loose material that is slightly elevated at its upstream end. As the stream flows into and thru this material it seeks paths of least resistance creating branching channels. Spread the fingers on your hand. Imagine your wrist is the single stream, between your fingers are mounds of material, and your fingers are the channels.

At one time Hill was probably connected to Muddy and Beshore, Goodling to Battery, Goosehorn to Poplar, Core to Beech and Three Mile extended up past Tri County. Before some of you neophytes ask, “Where’s Muddy”? The answer is “GONE”! A couple of Shoal Buoys in front of the Goldsboro Marina mark where it used to be. In 1961 it was about the size of the playing area on a footballfield. Its center was cleared and mowed by Y.H.P.C. or Goldsboro, I’m not sure who. It had some trees around its banks with a rope swing. There were picnic tables, an outhouse, charcoal grills, and a volleyball court on it. It was the only Island open for public use then. It’s a real witch but it’s a fact that alluvial deposits began washing away as the glaciers began melting and will continue to do so until the next Ice Age comes! One will, trust me. For those that may doubt that the islands are washing away, where do you think those slabs of concrete 150 yards upriver from Beech Isl. came from? Here’s a hint. CONCRETE DON’T FLOAT!

Expansionists & Opportunists

The Ice Ages had carved wide channels thru the Appalacians. I believe the flow of the Susky was quite small then compared to today. As the glaciers slowly melted,the flow increased as the drainage area became exposed. I can imagine the annual melting was only a month or so to begin with.The Geological historians of today believe the glaciers melted very rapidly. Of course in Geologic time 500 years is like snapping your fingers. I believe it took a couple of thousand years or so for the glaciers to melt completely. Why? Natural laws & invasive species told me so.

During the last Ice Age the Susky river basin, north of the maryland line, had been frozen solid for about 15,000 years or so. When the water started flowing again, there was absolutely no aquatic life in it. No vegetation or insect life. No crayfish, chubs, shiners, bullheads or rockbass. Don’t even consider channel or flathead catfish, crappies, carp, largemouth & smallmouth bass, yellow perch, walleyes, bluegills, sunfish, or muskies. They were all introduced later by Homo’s, Sapiens that is, (an invasive species by the way. Anyone wanna talk about bamboo’s current status?)

Anthropologist’s & Archeologists have established that “Native Americans” (my ass) had inhabited the Eastern Shore 13,000 years ago and had been there for about 2,000 years. I ask myself, “Why did they show up on the Susky only 8,000 years ago?” It sure as hell didn’t take them 7,000 years to walk from Chincoteague!

What are the 3 basic needs humans need to survive? Ans. water, food, & shelter, (clothing). Let’s see ,Shelly 8-15,000 years ago, water? plenty, food? none, shelter, none. Kinda hard to live on an ice cube!

As insects & critters spread seeds and vegetation northward, the anadromous (fresh water spawning , salt water fish) expanded their spawning areas upstream. Native freshwater fish moved northward as their preferred food became available year round.

Larger land & aquatics critters moved north following desired food. Ergo, a 2 legged invasive species followed the fish & critters to Lake Fredric, (which wasn’t a lake yet). If the glaciers started melting 12,000 years ago, and the invaders show up 8,000 years ago, 8 from 12 = 4.

Here’s a fact, If water is too cold, fish can’t spawn in it, insects can’t lay eggs & vegetation wont germinate. The glaciers had to be gone for the Susky to harbor sustainable populations of any species! I guess that it would take about 1,500 years for sustainable populations of life to expand northward as far as Shelly Isl. once the climate was favorable. Subtract 1500 from 4000 = 2500 years for the glaciers to disappear.  My opinion.

Settlers.

During William Penn’s governorship in the 1600’s he gave land grants to German immigrants whose last names may have been Baer & Shelly. Those grants encompassed the Lake Frederick area. These individuals farmed the islands, harvested fish, waterfowl & furs as they built family communities. Y’all are welcome to do the research to add to this info or correct it. I’m not gonna.

Let There Be Light!

The 1st commercial hydroelectric plant in the U.S,A. went on line in Appleton, Wisc. in 1882. It was a direct current Edison plant.By 1886, 45 of these plants were operating in the U.S.A. & Canada. By 1889 there were 200 in the USA alone. In 1896 the Niagra Falls alternating current hydroelectric plant started generating A.C. for the masses. This plant was designed & constructed around Tesla’s proven, patented mechanics for producing A.C. electricity. Because A.C. was cheaper to provide to the public due to less transmission lines & field Maintenance it was a huge success. This fueled many investors to open their wallets & jump on the wagon. Strangely enough, Edison had been the 1st to develope A.C. generation but failed to see it’s full potential and insisted D.C. was the way to go. Good thing for him he patented his light bulb!

By 1898 YHPC  had purchased property and secured the Riparian Rights to start construction of the York Haven dam and plant.

PERMITS? What permits, it wasn’t until 1920 that the Federal Power Act established a commission to oversee the regulation & operation of electric utilities.

What about the saltwater, fresh water spawning fish like Shad, Herring, Eels, Striped bass, and the thousands of people that harvested them for commerce & food on the table? FUGGEM!, Lights to and from the outhouse was more important! Here’s a question for ya. Other than monitoring water pollution, what was the main purpose for establishing th Pa. Fish Commission on Mar. 30, 1866? Fishing limits? Boating regs.? Nude Beaches perhaps? Nope. The commission was tasked with trying to protect & restore the anadromous fishes spawning runs and areas from the Md. to N.Y. state lines. What year was the white shad finally able to travel to & past the N.Y. line? 1999, when the shad ladder on the Red Hill side of 3 Mill was opened. My Dad had tears in his eyes as he told me the history of the commission that spring and how proud he was was to be one of the Commissioners that made it happen on their watch! 133 years to reach success on the shad alone.

When the YHPC dam was completed and the plant went on line in 1904, it was the 3rd largest dam in the world! It had the 1st Kaplan Turbines to be installed in the USA. One of those turbines is still in place at the plant and is noted as a “National Historic Engineering Landmark” (Note how long the dam’s been in place.)

Frederic Floods!

In 1904 on Feb.9 & 10 the Susky flooded. The river even flooded areas on 3 mile. Herr Baer, who owned most, if not all of the island, had his tobacco seedling beds flooded and ruined. He filed a lawsuit against YHPC for damages.YHPC lawyers dragged the case out for several years until a judgement was decided for Mr. Baer. The judgement only gave him the cost of the seedlings. He did not get the cost of a lost crop, or the cost of growing a different crop for that year, or his court costs. Herr Baer was PISSED!

Thru the years the islanders had intermarried between the families and stayed separate from the mainlanders. As the generations had passed and the families had expanded the elders shared the land with the ones that followed. In essence they had become a clan that shared different surnames. On Sundays, like the Amish & Mennonites today, church would be held in one of the farmhouses. The next Sun. it would be at a different family’s house on perhaps a different island. The islanders had built & maintained stone fords, (underwater causeways) between the islands & to the east & west shores. In the early 1800’s the islanders contributed money, materials & labor to build a schoolhouse which was centrally located on Shelly Island. The kids would ride horses. mules, pony carts, or buckboards across the fords to attend school. I’m going to cover the school house in depth later so hold your questions please, I gotta get back to Herr Baer.

Mr. Baer was pissed! He was a patriarch of the island clan! It stands to reason that every Islander was pissed! They all started preparing for the next flood because the Susky had a history of floods coming about every 15 years. They made improvements to areas that had flooded even before the dam was put in. Ramshackle sheds, wharfs, & crop fields showed up where there had never been stuff before. They all planned to file a class action suit together after the next flood, rather than have one person stand alone! Being honest people, they made it no secret that they were gonna get even! This is when YHPC tried to buy as many of the islands that they could. As they approached the landowners with offers, they received a collective ” Fug You! You’re gonna pay big time next time!” or a similar profanity free answer.

Now the “Clan” had made it well known that they would never sell to YHPC. Here’s a question. How did YHPC get what they wound up owning?

YHPC secretely contracted with a real estate corporation from New Jersey, I believe, that was quite well known for developing & selling vacation properties. The Corp. was to be YHPC’s secret purchasing agent for getting the islands they wanted thus making the “Clan” go away. The Corp. offerd the owners far beyond what the “Real” value of the land was. So much so that the Islanders could buy much larger, better developed, mainland holdings that they would never have to worry about getting flooded again. The Corp. then threw in the deal clincher. The told the owners that by the next flood, the Corp would have all the islands developed into vacation lots with resort homes on them. YHPC would be facing hundreds of suits running into hundreds of thousands of dollars! The clan would really get revenge then!

Baer sold 3 mile but kept the bottom end of Shelly for some reason. All the other larger islands were sold. Some of the smaller islands that were showing significant erosion weren’t even given an offer. YHPC would purchase most of these smaller islands in the years to come.

At this time I am going to tell y’all where this info came from. Some of it came from an article in the Phila. Enquirer Pierre showed me years ago but the Clan and their actions came from Geary Hunsberger. Geary told me that he and 2 other individuals on Hill Island were the only people on Hill & Beech that had deeds to their properties! I know this may upset a few people but I believe Geary was a truthful man. Tell me I can’t stir some feces up! After all, I don’t want y’all to get bored! It gets better, so hold your horses!

Turds For All! YHPC settles up!

By prior agreement, YHPC & the Corp. divided up the islands. YHPC got all of 3 mile, Beshore, & most of Shelly. The Corp. got Hill & Beech as payment for their deceit. The Corp. then surveyed & recorded the lots & parcels on their 2 islands. Next they sold 99 year leases on those islands to interested parties. Geary told me that those leases stipulated that the holders could never file a flood damage claim against YHPC! Although this is hearsay, it has a truth ring to my ear, and it gets uglier!

In the late 40’s or early 50’s the real estate corp. went belly up and/or dissolved. In order to liquidate their holdings they had to resolve the 99 years leases they had sold on Hill & Beech. At that time Geary held leases to at least 3 lots and the center field acreage on Hill. The corp. offered all the lease holders the opportunity to convert their leases to a deed. For the sum of $300.00 to cover the legal costs & registering per deed the owners would be deeded the land. Geary said that he an 2 other lease holders on hill were the only ones that came up with the cash & got their deeds. The Corp. still had to resolve the remaining 99 year leases. Supposedly they contacted the Pa. State Forest Dept., whom already had established 99 year leases on state land, and asked if they were interested in the leases on Hill & Beech. It is my understanding that some kind of deal was made and the state gained the stewardship of those 99 year leases. If this is the case, what do y’all think is gonna happen when 99 years have passed? How many of you think that the state will renew them? HHHMMMMM!

It is not my intention to anger islanders from Hill or Beech. Please prove this wrong if you are able to. I’ll recant this part of my tale in a heart beat.

*Dec. 31, 2011. Nick Moss from Beech sent me a copy of a 99 year lease. It is a self-renewing in perpetuality lease able to be transferred to the next owner or heir. The lease was sold in 1986 by the Garmans who had owned Beech. The Garman’s had bought Beech from Met-Ed. Chad Rettew from Hill has assured me that his lease, which was drawn up/issued in the early 70’s also is self-renewing. At this point I can’t state that Penna. was ever the steward of leases for these islands. Happy New Year!

PAY UP or GET OFF!

I don’t know when YHPC started charging for lots on the islands. I know that for many years employee’s only had to pay $1.00 per year per lot! Old timers had told me that after YHPC had bought the islands that many people just squatted for years. There were still squatters on Shelly when I first came down in “61” & ex squatters who had ponied up $25.00 per year & become legit to YHPC. Through the latter part of the 60’s all of the squatters on Shelly were told “No more free rides!”

Stand By, Shelly Island!

By 1961 Inky Moore had moved from truck driver to dispatcher for Daily Express Inc. I was 8 years old. The dispatcher was the one person in the co. that was blamed by drivers for everything that went wrong with work. Bad paying loads, multiple stops, long deadheads & even bad weather got pinned on the dispatcher. Regardless of this, Dad had maintained a friendship with Paul Showers, the Maint. Shop Foreman. That  spring, P.C., Paul’s nickname, invited Dad & I to spend the opening weekend of bass season with him at his place on Shelly Island. Bass season always started the 1st weekend in June & closed after the last weekend in Sept. back then. With a daily limit of 6 and a size limit of 9”, there was an abundance of large bass in the Lake Frederic area. There weren’t any Fish Comm. ramps, parking lots, or bass tournaments on the pool either. People parked along the road between the R.R. & the river or paid Whitey $5.00 a weekend to park in his yard behind his store. The only public ramp was Goldsboro’s main street extension.

P.C. ferried Dick, Dad, & I across using his 8’x20’ barrel raft on which the pontoons were 30 gal. steel drums, welded end to end, with steel cross members from semi trailer sides, sheeted with plywood decking salvaged from trailer floors. Two 50# blocks of ice from Whitey’s, gasoline, kerosene, coleman fuel, lanterns, food coolers, beer coolers, cases of beer & soda, Old Grandad, sleeping bags, duffle bags,  fishing rods & tackle left just enough room for 4 folding chairs. Dad, P.C. Dick & I felt like rich migrants on that old barge.

P.C.s shack was on what is now lot # 19. His tarpaper clad shack was about 12’x24’, built with pallets stood on end nailed together, sheeted with salvaged plywood & a dirt floor. There was a 12’x16’ pavilion he called his cook shack about 20’ from the front door. A 3/8’ thick steel plate with BBQ racks on one side, in a steel angle frame around both, setting on top of concrete blocks were his cooking facilities. Scavenged driftwood was his fuel. An 8’ picnic table with a couple of extra folding chairs completed his ensemble.

Most lots only had an army tent, pup tent, shack, outhouse, pavilion, school bus, pop-up camper, volleyball net, or only a fire ring on them. I am guessing now that there were only 60-75 YHPC approved lots then & they were of varying width, 100’-150’, not the standard 80’ found today. The appearance of the Island was much different compared to what we see now. Nobody cleared the growth along their banks. It was wisdom passed on to every newcomer that if you removed the scrub & trees, your bank would start washing away. Unfortunately in the years after Agnes some new folks learned the hard way! The road across the center of the island was called the lane. It was bordered on both sides by beautiful 60’-70’ white pines, from east side to west side, whose long, soft needles padded the path in a deep layer, like a soft pile carpet. The lane was an oft used retreat for couples, young & old, to sneak off to in the dead of the night. (<;) The downriver side was under cultivation by Geary Hunsberger, the farmer, who was in the process of clearing the upriver side. He had already bulldozed the brush & stumps from about half the distance between the lane & schoolhouse. Roofless, floorless, 2 story, brownstone,  poison ivy clad farmhouse walls remained standing in the field behind where Hobo’s & Redneck’s lots are today. A German sided, 2 story framed house with a collapsed roof, stood in the field next to where the little cemetery is today. According Glenn Kopp, who had owned the cabin upriver from the large cemetery, this building was last used in the early 1900s as a Girl Scout Camp. The cemeteries weren’t where they are today either. (A later discussion.) I believe YHPC lots started from Baer’s ground on the downriver end, ending at the lane on the east side & the schoolhouse on the west side. The rest of the upriver end was a scattering of improved shore sites that I believed were used by squatters. One shack/army tent/pavilion combo was inland about where the middle of the 1st circle on the west side is today that belonged to Mitzi & her beau Paul, who were squatters at that time. There were 3 operational wells that I knew of at that time. All 3 had hand pumps on them. I know that 2 of them are still in use today.  There was no road around the island, thru the wooded ends, or any fences either. In the absence of riding lawn mowers, lot owners pushed mowed paths from yard to yard that we used by riding a bike or walking. If a lot owner didn’t want neighbors walking thru their yard they let their borders grow up. If we came to a lot like that, we circled around it thru the cornfield. I only knew one anti-social A-hole that did that! He also staked out a huge, mean, slobbering, killer German Sheppard on a 30’ logging chain! That dog was a scary S.O.B., just like his owner. The guy died a few years later of a brain aneurism. You wanna talk about karma. If there is/was ever such a thing deciding fate, that damned dog shoulda kilt him instead! Waste of meat, them two were.

P.C. had an older buddy who was a retired merchant marine that was introduced to us as “One Eyed Dick”! No schmidtt! Schmidtt’s was P.C.s beer of choice by the way. Dick only had one eye and an empty socket where his other eye should be. He’d grown up in the coal regions & lost his eye playing with blasting caps when he was a kid. He had possessed a glass eye for about 35 years or so until he’d lost it. He told me fantastic stories about his travels while visiting foreign ports. When his ship hit port, he & his mates would go on a tear, bar to bar, whorehouse to whorehouse and back again. When he ran out of money, he’d hock his eye to whichever bar owner, hock shop, or madam, where ever he happened to be at & keep on “steaming”. The last time he saw his eye, he had gotten so drunk, that when he sobered up, neither he or his mates could remember to whom he’d hocked it too. He claimed it had been a damned nuisance anyway. He’d had chronic sinus problems most of his life, due to the blasting cap injury, that led to uncontrollable fits of sneezing. When he’d start sneezing, his eye would pop out and start rolling across the deck. He said he’d run like a S.O.B. to catch it before it went over the side! When it popped out below decks, his mates would kick it around like a soccer ball, playing “keep away”! He had been married one time for about 6 mos. until he got back aboard a ship in Michigan and never went back to her. Claimed he’d really only worn it when he was looking for love and that didn’t work out! Besides, the whores didn’t care how many eyes he had!

I can remember meeting a lot of older guys back then who were blind, missing fingers, or had scarring on various body parts, that came from them screwing around with blasting caps when they were kids. Dem was the good ole days when anyone over 18 or had a note from an adult, could buy a case of Red Trojan dynamite with caps from the local feed & hardware store. Kids didn’t even need a note to buy Cyanide crystals, Arsenic, Carbide, cigarettes, rifle, and shotgun shells. Alas, along came the B.A.T.F. and saved us all. (Bureau of ARSONISTS, TERRORISTS, & FUG THE SECOND AMENDMENTALISTS) Ain’t no wonder people in this country have lost their sense of individual responsibility! LOST HELL! They’ve had it stolen from them! Excuse me if I’ve offended you. You need to be offended by the loss of our freedoms instead! My opinion.

Ole “One Eye” was a hell of an outhouse hole digger. People who were close friends of his called him “One Eye”. For a case of Schmidtts & a ½ gal of Old Granddad he’d dig a 6’ deep hole for an outhouse from Mon. thru Fri. He’d also do any odd jobs like mowing, painting, or patching a roof. He stayed on the island all season long, fishing & shooting various critters with an old single shot 22 cal. rifle. I don’t know of any fish, fowl, or critter he wouldn’t at least try to eat. (Remind ya of anyone?) A neighbor would fetch him a hand of burley tobacco from Lancaster County that he’d hang in the pavilion, packing a twist in his cheek a couple times a day. In the evenings he’d crumble some into his pipe for a goodnite smoke. Neighbors would ask him if they could bring anything for him the next weekend. It seems to me that I can remember some one like him being on Shelly off and on during all of my years there! I guess some things never change! Nature abhors a vacuum!

There was another colorful individual on the island then that is still there. I don’t know of anybody else still on Shelly today that was there then. The 1st time I saw him, we’d been hearing what sounded like a today’s stand-up jet ski coming up river. Ying, aYing, aYing, aYing, aYing, skipping over the river chop. P.C. chuckled & said, “Here comes Gruffy”. Shortly, a small plywood box, about 4’x8’ with an upturned bow, came into view. It had a 20-25 hp. Outboard on it, a blonde haired teenager sitting on what could have been a milk box hanging on to its handle , grinning from ear to ear, going like a bat out of hell! Probably 30-35 mph. Later that weekend we heard a boat siren start coming upriver before we heard the aYing, aYing. Sure enough, here came Gruffy with the “Carp Cops” about 1 min. behind him, falling further behind in their pursuit. P.C. said that the wardens didn’t have a boat on the river that could catch him. Did I mention that there wasn’t any nos. or registration sticker on it? Just about 3-4 years ago I asked Dale Groff if the law ever did manage to catch him on that death trap & he said no.

Becoming a fixture.

Personal Letter to Dr. Kristina Johnson of Cube Hydro when this started

April, 2016

Dear Dr. Johnson,

I’m one of the seven elected Board of Directors for our recently formed Lake Frederick Homeowners’ Association. As you may know by the many recent media stories, we represent the lessees of the 300 some lots your company now manages.

In the grand scheme of things, I’m sure we are nobody to you and you have highly paid and brilliant attorneys and strategists at your disposal who will advise you not to worry about us, Still, I wouldn’t feel I had done everything I could do if I didn’t make some kind of impassioned plea to you on our behalf.

You see, we were very blindsided by this, and still continue to scramble and look for hope wherever we can. So when we heard a couple weeks ago that you had contacted one of our team, we were very excited.  We read up on as much of what we could find on who you were, and everything we read led us to believe you would be someone who might work with us. We thought you would see the potential in what we wanted to do. We were absolutely looking forward to meeting you and showing you what a community like ours is capable of getting done.

And then we heard you had come out to our area, taken a tour, and without meeting any of us, or getting the view the way we see it, decided against working with us.

I think I’m writing because I’m hoping the last part is not true and that you are simply just a very busy person who was unable to meet with us.

I am hoping to appeal to your humanity in this sea of corporate entities and government bodies. I know you have vast experience in both of those arenas, and I think if we could reach out to you with some of our ideas on how to save our islands, you might actually be interested in at least working with us, and maybe even helping us achieve some of these goals.

At a high level – we’re hoping to propose the nation’s first “model green community”  in a floodplain/floodway. One where we can address minimal impacts to the environment if there is a major flood every 50-100 years. One where we live up to our reputation as mindful custodians of our environment. One where we use new ideas and technologies to solve graywater and blackwater issues, energy consumption and storage, waste removal, and more. It could make a great PR story right? One where in this age of divisiveness, we have so many instances of people vs. corporations vs. government stories out there that this could be one where federal & local government work together with corporate entities with and for the people, instead of against and without them, as is the norm. With your expertise, knowledge and passion in the areas of STEM and alternate energy, we saw you as someone who might not only support us in this endeavor, but join us.

Maybe all of it is wishful thinking on my part, but we really don’t have anything else to lose. As it stands now, we lose everything: our history, our community, our property, our investments, our serenity. I may be an idealist, but that’s where the best ideas start, right? With something someone else sees as an unattainable dream.

So to put a human face to this, and mine is only one story of many…

I am a single mom of two teenagers. My ex-husband left us 20 days before Christmas in 2001 when my children  were only 3 and 1 years old. At the time I worked an entry level job in customer service and unbeknown to me we were 3 months behind in rent, car payment and all utilities. Within days of him leaving, I had utilities shut off, my car repossessed and was served with an eviction notice…all in the weeks just  before Christmas.

Thankfully I managed to climb my way out of that hole. It took years of hard work, taking classes when and where I could, a little at a time,  and working like crazy at a career I could maintain while raising two young  kids and going to school. I’m in a much better position now than I was back then because of it. I made choices I may some day regret with regards to time I could have spent with them that I will never get back. A lot of their early childhood years are a complete sleep deprived blur for me. I did the best I could with what I had.  I raised them in a city I could afford to live in, but the trade off there meant they were bullied, didn’t fit in well, and with few friends. Vacations were out of the question. There really wasn’t ever any money for extras of any kind.

So after 2 summers in a campground on land on the west side,  we had the opportunity in  2009 to buy our lot on the island. Being at the river is in my blood. After retirement from 20 years in the US Navy, my father continued his career in service to our country by working in the State Department, Foreign Service and I got to grow up overseas. When we came back to the US every couple of years between posts, I spent my days at my Uncle’s place on Shelly Island. All of my best memories have always been here. I’ve literally lived all over the world and found no where else quite as special as this place. But, I digress, back to 2009.

A friend of ours was willing to sell our current lot to me on a payment plan.  We had met him while we were staying in the campground for a summer, and as I mentioned before I had always dreamed of having my own lot out here on Shelly Island because every fond memory of my childhood is tied to our visits to it.  As a single mother I had very limited means, so I had to be very careful about my purchase. It never occurred to me that license agreements would eventually not be renewed, even with the changing verbiage in the agreements we had to sign. They’ve always been there as far back as I can remember. Even the FERC application EIS published on the old Olympus site indicated that the lots would be continued for “decades”. I trusted we were in “compliance” when we purchased it  because when we finished paying off our cabin to the original owner, YHPC came out and did an inspection for the transfer.

What this purchase meant to us is that my two kids, who never had vacations, finally had a place they could enjoy recreation all summer long. My kids didn’t  learn to swim until they were almost 10  because in our city, there isn’t a place for them to swim that didn’t involve driving somewhere and paying a lot of money.  They didn’t learn to ride a bike until later because they were often stolen and we lived on streets with a lot of traffic. But they learned to swim and ride a bike at the river. And they learned how to make friends, avoid poison, jump off a dock into the water with abandon for hours, cook a meal over a fire they started themselves, and sleep under the stars. It’s not for everyone, our river way of life, but it worked for us.  My kids are older now and we’re financially much better off today. We could go out of town for vacations….some day we may…but this is how we choose to spend our summer,s now, supporting the local economy.

I have so many other things I’d like to share. Like the history of our island and Daniel Shelly who was hanged there as a traitor in 1802, the schoolhouse, the graveyards, the people and community who take care of those things and are the mindful custodians of the river environment. There are so many families out there with history, so many more stories just like  mine. There are probably over 500 different stories of how we got here and why this is important to us and they all have the same theme. It’s not just the place, it’s the community we built. We would love nothing better than an opportunity to meet you or anyone on your team and show you who we are.. Please come meet us, spend a little time with us and give us some time to help you understand why this is so important to us. There just has to be a way we can stay.

This compliance agreement cannot be the only solution. I want to appeal to you on a human level, person to person. I have hope that while you represent a huge corporate entity, there is a person behind the title who will at least hear us out. I believe the information you receive from your legal staff is an inaccurate representation of the full situation. You’ll find we’re a people of multiple skill sets, we work really hard and we come together in crisis like no one else you’ll ever meet. Just as I worked hard to pull myself out of the hole I was in, I’ve seen these people do this over and over.  I saw this happen after Tropical Storm Lee and again when my uncle’s cabin burned down. Every one of us is willing to work to try to address any concerns anyone has, but to unilaterallly terminate all of our lot licenses without at least giving individuals like me the chance to address floodplain concerns is so unfair. We desperately need your help. Please just hear us. Please give us a chance. I’m not above begging, as you can see. Please.

Very truly yours,
JoAnne Little, Shelly Lot 128