We had done a prodigious amount of structural work by the time the third century of the Clark tenure at Comfort Island began in 2000. We had invested eight years in our restoration program, and most of the work didn’t do much to improve the outward appearance aside from the new dock and cement work. Kira was a catalyst in strongly suggesting that it was time to initiate a few projects that would make the place look better.
We painted the porch walls, ceilings, decks and the white trim on the window moldings and railings. Peter replaced the dilapidated lattice that enclosed the areas beneath the porches with pressure-treated wood that he sawed into narrow strips and stained at home. The second story windows were on life support and added to the shabby appearance. I asked Peter, “Can you build new windows?”
He said, “I think we should go see if the Amish can make replacement windows for us instead.”
We removed two of the most decrepit window frames and carefully extracted the wavy, antique glass. Then we covered the vacant window casings with plywood, and loaded the frames into Peter’s prized work vehicle: a brown 1981 Ford Econoline van without air conditioning or interior lining. Off we went one Friday morning in search of an Amish craftsman that could duplicate the custom sizes and shapes.
I had been wearing a traditional Amish straw hat when I taught tennis since the early 1980s. Peter had bought a fine hat of his own when he came to work for me in 1986. The hats were handmade, very durable and inexpensive. I paid eight dollars for my first one. The main Amish population in this region was northeast of the 1000 Islands between De Peyster and Heuvelton, New York.
Kira, the kids and I took Sunday drives through the rustic farms the Amish owned on occasion. It is a different way of life these people live. It was so different to see one-room schools, no motorized vehicles, men and children plowing their fields with draft horses, people wearing dark purple or black clothing and the use of a horse and buggy for transportation. The little kids would excitedly wave as we passed by in our car. What struck me the most was how...