Interviewed by Barbara Wilford
Huletts Landing, Lake George, NY
August 17, 2011
Barbara Wilford: This is Barbara Wilford and I’m at the home of Marion Gregory on Route 6 on the mountain going to Hulett’s Landing and we’re going to talk about her memories and time here, around Hulett’s, and the people she knew.
Marion Gregory: Yeah, you see I married Bernard Gregory in 1955, I think. Yeah and that’s when I moved down here.
Barbara: From Ti.
Marion: From Ti.
Barbara: And he lived here on the mountain or where did he live?
Marion: He lived next house over.
Barbara: Oh, right over here?
Marion: Yeah, and that’s how I got in touch with Hulett’s Landing because I used to work with his mother down in Eichlerville, well Eichler’s.
Barbara: Do you remember about what year that would have been?
Marion: That would have been probably about, I’d say about ’60, 1960. I worked there with her for, I don’t know 2 or 3 years, but I got tired of going down. People that rented the cottages, you know, they would, of course they’re supposed to be out at 11 o’clock because you’d have five or six cottages. Okay, so you’d get down there, all their baggage is in the front room, they’re down at the beach taking their last swim, so that puts you way behind schedule, you know, you never got anything done right. So I said to myself, I think I’m gonna get my own customers and I started with Alfred Emerson.
Barbara: And where was their place?
Marion: You know the White House on Bluff Head Road? You know where Goldsmith’s is? Okay you got past Goldsmith, you come to a dirt road, you follow it down and on the left hand side is a big White House and they call it the White House. Helena Wilkening owns it now, his daughter. And from there I went to the Goldsmiths and everybody heard about me, I had about 10 or 15 people that I worked for down in there.
Barbara: And your job was primarily to clean and take care of the house itself? What was your job particularly?
Marion: I went down once a week to clean the house and just to, you know, cleaning woman. Then I got in with the Goldsmiths and, of course, there was a Boathouse, a Library and the Mansion. I cleaned and Sylvia Stragnell’s place. Of course, then there was Amy Bassett, she was a sweet heart, I’ll tell you. You know who she is.
Barbara: No, I don’t.
Marion: Right, you go past Emerson, the dirt road, you go right to the end, she had a cottage way, way out on the end, she called it the Home Base, because you see right up the, beautiful view, and I even know, I worked for Harrison. After Harrison sold the property over there Helen Froelich’s sister let his place, and I used to clean there for her sister and of course Helen, God love her, she was a sweetheart I’ll tell ya. I worked for her a long (time), but we were more or less a companion because we didn’t climb Sugarloaf, we just wanted to be out in the wild.
Barbara: She liked that.
Barbara: And so did you.
Marion: The Goldschmidts they were the greatest I’ll tell you, Helen and Carl. And the last year that she was here she said to me before they left, she says, “Marion, will you walk around the porch with me?” So I walked around and she never came back. She passed away. Of course Carl, he did the boathouse all over but he never lived to enjoy it. Another one I really enjoyed was Ed Mann. He knew everything about Hulett’s Landing.
Barbara: How long was Mr. Mann here for? He was here as long as I remember.
Marion: Oh God, he was there, he used to have the post office down there. It started up in the firehouse, in the old firehouse. Yeah, he had the post office there, and then he moved it down to his house, and from his house it was where it is now. He knew everything about Hulett’s Landing, I used to love to talk to him.
Barbara: What kind of stories would he tell you? Did you have a favorite story that he told you?
Marion: Well, he told me the history of Taft’s Point. You know where Taft’s Point is. He told me that it belonged to Amy Bassett. Amy Bassett gave it to Harrison Bird because Harrison Bird is Amy’s cousin. From there it went to Carl Goldschmidt and Helen Froelich’s hands. They bought it because when Helen came up to visit Ann, she fell in love with Lake George, in love with it, so she bought Taft’s point and put a house up on it. And then Jim Corbett bought the property next door. He built a house there. So he said Taft’s point, and everybody used to go down there swimming, but then, let’s see, then, oh, on Land’s End there’s the Reillys. I worked for them, for years, Lynn and Herb, and what’s his name, he just passed away, Bert and Audrey, they were there for years, nice people, the best. And then there’s Katherine Hanson I worked for her. Bill Beach, I worked for him. Remember, what was her name, Iijima’s, I helped them out too, and then there was Day McBane. You probably didn’t know her. And then the Starrs. That was a big place, oh boy.
Barbara: So there’s very few of these big old houses that you don’t know about.
Marion: From Bluff Head to Land’s End I know all the places because I was contact for all of them, but I tell you, they were the nicest bunch of people that you’d ever want to get in contact with. I loved every one of them. They treated me like their own, you know, they didn’t consider me as a working woman, and I just admired that, that they’re awful good to me. In fact Ann, right now, I can’t help her any, she’s awful good to me.
Barbara: That’s nice, she’s a good lady. So you obviously worked in all these places on the landing, did you ever socialize on the Landing or did you ever go to the Casino?
Marion: Well, when the Goldsmith’s had the 100 years of the Mansion I went to that and, of course, Amy Bassett when she’d have like a get together I’d go there, of course Alfred Emerson, I was there whenever he’d have anything going on. And I guess, the Reillys I was always there for the Reillys. The Starrs, I wasn’t too…, I was friendly but I wasn’t friendly with the Starrs. But I say Bernard and I had a lot of good memories from that place, from the people, but as I said to you before, they’re all gone, there’s not hardly any of them left. It is sad.
Barbara: Now, you raised your children, did you live here when your kids were little?
Barbara: Did they go down to the Landing?
Marion: Oh yeah.
Barbara: Did they have friends on the Landing?
Barbara: So they went to the water from here?
Marion: Oh, yeah. In fact, along the Bluff Head Road there used to be like a swimming place. I’d go down on a Saturday or a Sunday and have picnics down there with the kids. It’s sad to say it’s all in the past now.
Barbara: But memories are wonderful. What place sticks out most in your mind as being unique? Which one of the homes sticks out in your mind?
Marion: The Mansion. I just kind of fell in love with the place you know? Helena never had to tell me how to open because I always had it done by the 19th of June because Helena always said, “I’ll be here on the 19th,” and it was always ready for her, and she never had to call me or anything because it was always done.
Barbara: So that was your favorite place.
Marion: Yeah. The Mansion.
Barbara: Was there something that came in a close second? Was there another one that sticks in your memory as well?
Marion: Well, I remember all the…, the boathouse that goes with the mansion and the library, they’re all connected, and then there was Reilly’s, I always loved that place, the Reilly’s.
Barbara: That grew. That new house, after the fire, the new replacement, but they still have their little cottages over there.
Marion: Yeah, see there’s Litchgate, Robin’s Nest and they call it the Nook. I cleaned all those, too. In fact, I used to take care of the loans.[?]
Barbara: It must have taken you hours and hours to clean those big places.
Marion: Yeah. Well, the Mansion used to take me about a week because you had the drapes and all that and wash the windows and all that, so it would take me just about a week to do the Mansion. Then I had the Boat house, which I loved that because you got such a beautiful view of the lake you know, it sits right on the water. Then the Library that was another nice place, but that’s all done over now.
Barbara: It is, yes. Ann and Ely live there now.
Marion: Yeah. So I mean as I say, I have got a lot of good memories.
Barbara: You’ve watched a lot of changes. How do you feel about some of the changes?
Marion: At the Landing? Gosh, I don’t think I could say, because everything is…
Barbara: Were you here when the hotel still existed?
Marion: Oh, yeah. I can’t remember the year though.
Barbara: I think it came down in the fall of ’59 or ’60.
Marion: I know it was early. Ed Mann always said he loved the Hotel. He said when you went there for dinner you dressed up. Bow tie, you know. Ed loved that place down there, loved it. Hulett’s.
Barbara: What else did he tell you about it?
Marion: Oh God, he’d talk the whole time about it (laughs) I can’t remember. But I do remember him telling me about Taft’s Point and then he told me about the Boathouse and you know across the road from them there used to be a big pavilion.
Barbara: Oh, yes. Where Franny Borden now has the house?
Marion: Yeah, and he said they used to have dances there and everything.
Barbara: How, was it a big place?
Barbara: I remember the old falling down structure from my childhood.
Marion: Yeah, but he said they used to have dances there and everything.
Barbara: Who ran that?
Marion: Oh gee, don’t ask me, I don’t know.
Barbara: That’s okay.
Marion: And then there was Neil Cooper. I cleaned the Catholic Church, the Protestant Church, in fact I did a latch hook in the Protestant Church of that window up in front. They made, I think, when they had the fair, I think they made about $200-$300 on it.
Barbara: Really? How wonderful.
Marion: I painted the church. I done everything down there, and that’s when I told Jim Corbett, because that big picture window, in the front, it was starting to deteriorate, because that’s a beautiful thing you know, and I said to Jim Corbett, he was the head man, I don’t know, and I said, “You know Jim, you can get a big plastic thing to go over it to protect it.” So he got somebody up there and they protected it because it was getting pretty bad.
Barbara: They had some work done on it a few years back because they were afraid some of the glass would fall out of it.
Marion: I used to wash that inside; I used to wash the window, climb the ladder, wash the window.
Barbara: Do you remember the little stores that were over there, the Scott’s store or Benjamin’s store?
Marion: Oh God, yes, I remember that.
Barbara: What do you remember about them? Did you ever have to shop there or did you always go to Whitehall?
Marion: When I ran short I’d go there instead of going in to Whitehall, you know bread, milk or whatever you needed. Of course, my kids loved that store because they’d go in and get a lot of candy and stuff and then I had to pay for it.
Barbara: They ran a little tab for you, for the kids?
Marion: Yeah. But as I say, my kids enjoy it here as much as I did.
Barbara: Wonderful. You have the two children?
Barbara: Boy and a girl?
Marion: Boy and a girl.
Barbara: And they have families now?
Marion: Well, Patty, that’s Patty there, she’s got two, one’s a trooper and the other one is, the girl is a school teacher. Johnny’s got three and they’re all married and they work in these nursing homes you know.
Barbara: They’re not local?
Marion: Yeah. No. She lives in Long Island. Johnny lives in the town of Hartford, NY. Michael, that’s the trooper of Patty, he’s got two.
Barbara: So you’re a great grandmother?
Marion: Seven times. I told them, I said, “It’s time to put it up. I’ve had enough, I’ve had enough.” Yeah, they’re a lot to be thankful for, so many nice people down there, they’ve been awful good to me. And I’ve got two more kids, grandchildren, great grandchildren, what the hell more could you ask for?
Barbara: And you still go down to the Landing and help out people and work with people?
Marion: Just Ginny now, I can’t do no more work because I had a lung operation and I only got a half lung on the one side and, of course, it’s the humidity, it knocks you right out, so after 84, last year I said, “Ann, I gotta give it up, it hurts my feeling” and Ely wrote me a nice note and he says, thanks me for all the hard work I did, he said, “I know how you feel because,” he says, “I’m a lot younger than you are and I’ve slowed down a lot.”
Barbara: We don’t think we will but we do.
Marion: But you do. I just thought I’d keep going and going and going and going, you know, but you have to say it’s time to retire. Oh, I’d love to be down there working every day but I can’t do it anymore. I work for Ginny, you know, because she can’t see and I just, I like talking to her and I’ll take her shopping and get everything.
Barbara: Now you spend your whole winters here?
Marion: Oh yeah.
Barbara: But there aren’t very many people around in the winter?
Marion: Well, there’s one there.
Barbara: Across the road.
Marion: And that’s about the only one. Which they, they used to, the people that bought that place over there, he got in trouble, and that’s up for sale. It’s going down the drain, but you know, look at the places on the mountain that’s for sale. Bess[?] for sale now. So I, going down the hill is one, two, three places for sale, but you see the people can’t afford the taxes, the taxes are high. Very high.
Barbara: Now there are a lot of folks that stay in Hulett’s during the winter, more than there used to be, so you still have a lot of traffic by here in the winter.
Marion: Yeah, I see it a lot more traffic in the winter than I used to. Used to be pretty dead but it’s not too bad now. I don’t mind, I like the solitude anyway. You know, I like to do what I want to do. So I could go down and stay with my daughter in the winter but New York’s not my cup of tea, let’s put it that way.
Barbara: It’s very, very different from being on the mountain.
Marion: Oh, it’s too fast, everybody’s in a hurry, I said to, when I did go down, I used to go down, I haven’t been down this year, I said, “How come the people down here never smile?” She said, “Mom, they’re stressed out; they don’t know what they’re doing.” You know, I mean, it’s too fast a life for me, let’s put it that way, after having an even keel up here.
Barbara: Yes. Now your husband has been gone a long time?
Marion: I divorced him. Well, it’s one of those things, where, you know, didn’t get along so we split up and I had two kids, no place to go, so I had to clean all the trees out from here.
Barbara: You had this piece of land?
Marion: I got five acres. No cellar, if I had a cellar I’d have a swimming pool.
Barbara: Even on top of the mountain there’s a lot of water.
Marion: It was a hard road, but something you had to do and you do it.
Barbara: So, I would say that Hulett’s was how you made your living.
Marion: Yeah. Well, that’s where I got the money down there to bring these two kids up. See Johnny was, I think Johnny was 4 and Patty was 6, somewhere around there. But we made it, you know.
Barbara: All these years of working on the Landing though, that’s a long time, a lot of history. You’ve seen a lot of changes.
Marion: Yeah, it is. Oh God, yes.
Barbara: What do you think is the biggest change?
Marion: Now when I go down to Hulett’s it’s not like I remember it because it’s so different.
Barbara: Describe how you remember it.
Marion: I remember when the houses were just simple places. Now they’re great big monstrosity of places you know. Well, look at that, out on Bluff Head, way at the end, my God, that thing is a big thing. I remember the, the silo, that was another small building out on Harrison Bird’s place and that’s where he and Harriet would stay in the wintertime because it was smaller.
Barbara: Oh really? That originally was a barn wasn’t it?
Marion: No, well, they called it The Silo; it sat just where that new place is.
Barbara: And they stayed there in the wintertime?
Marion: They stayed there in the wintertime. I used to go down and clean that place too for them. So, I’ve been around.
Barbara: You liked it, you think, better when there was all those little cottages?
Marion: Yes. That is no, I guess the people down there now, they’re nice to me, I liked it better with the older people because I was more used to them. As I told you Barb, they’re all gone.
Barbara: And the people there now, most of them own their places, so they’re not short term.
Marion: They’re okay, but I remember back, ‘cause I used to love to go down and talk to Amy Bassett. In fact, I have a book here that she wrote, Red Cross Reveries, and she signed it for me. She was in the Red Cross during World War II and she used to tell me a lot of stories. I can still see her to this day. She had her great big coat, one of those old fashioned coats, with a lamp sitting here made from a porcupine. And I used to bring her mail down to her when I went down to go to work for her.
Barbara: That’s a nice location, that house, with that big lawn down to the water, overlooking Agnes Island.
Marion: Then I remember Dan Olney, her son. Half son, I don’t know what it was. Related to her. You know where, what’s her name, they have the horses.
Marion: Right across the road was where Dan Olney owned a place. It was a cottage there and when I got done working for Amy she said on the way out, “Stop and clean up Dan’s,” and I said, ‘Okay, I will.’ So I stopped there. And then it’s all changed down through there. Like where that big house is, there used to be an open field. Nothing there. And you go across the bridge and there was another big cottage over there. That was all Gillette Bird, Gillette, no I can’t remember his name. But boy, that’s gone, I mean that’s there but it’s different. And another thing too that kind of hurts my feelings a little bit. You know where Helen Froelich lived? Well, all that property she left it to Ann, and she always wanted it to be wild, and, of course, Ann sold property off, and sold three lots I think.
Barbara: But the rest of it she left forever wild.
Marion: Yes, some of it, but not much; it’s all building up. You see the younger people don’t care about beauty, you know?
Barbara: They care about their beauty.
Marion: And Helen had a beautiful place there. Beautiful place there. So, but anyway, good things always come to an end.
Barbara: And so must our interview. Thank you so much for visiting with me.
Marion: Well, I’m glad to tell you, I just wanted everyone to know what nice people they all were.
Barbara: Thank you.
Transcribed by: Robert Stragnell
Edited by: Arnie Galbraith and Marian Knight