The Silver Birches opened on July 1, 1929 with 13 bedrooms. Eight rooms were on
the second floor with two bathrooms and the third floor had five bedrooms and no
bath. I wanted a bathroom on the third floor, but Chancey McLain insisted that
the two on the second floor were enough. By the third year we had a dormer put
on the top floor of the roof and a bathroom installed.
The laundry tubs were installed in the basement. It was impossible for me to do the
laundry in the basement as well as the upstairs work so the second year an extra
room was added and the tubs were moved to the first floor. An extra bath was put
in this area and and a refrigerator was moved there from the kitchen. Also a room
was built above this area for the hired girls. Before the room was added, I had
to get up at 5 O’clock and do the wash so George could hang it before going to work.
We heated the water by pipes going through the fire box and a place on the stove
to save water that was heated. This was not very satisfactory. We also had what was
called a “Bucket a Day” stove that was heated with coal. I timed the hours and
would go down to shake the ashes down and and put on more coal. Doing this I kept
hot water for the house.
There was a fireplace to heat the living room and the kitchen stove was burning
all the time, By leaving the dining room door open, that room was always warm.
There was an additional small stove for the office and dining room. When Dolly was
11 months old in 1932, we had a large furnace installed in the basement. Several
years later we had a coal stoker attached to the furnace. This would feed coal as it
was needed and a coil over the coals and attached to the hot water tank supplied all
the hot water that we needed. There was a wood stove in the kitchen for cooking and
baking and a large stove top gridle for when I served pancakes. Most of the time we
had oak and cherry wood and it didn’t take long for the stove to become red hot,
so I had to be careful. Our last year there (1940), we had a large gas stove installed.
It was a great help and saved a lot of time.
Our second year there, George had the barn made into a cottage, but cottages were
not much in demand. The Singer house also had five rooms which were rented to us where
people stayed by the week. In 1933 we built a 4 bed room Log Cabin above the highway.
We rented it more by the room than as a cottage.
We also had a tennis court to accomadate a group who wanted to paly. That group
came every year from 1933 through our last year and were very disappointed
that we were leaving.
When we first opened there was a chicken house near the inn where my sister
Marjorie’s hous now is. George’s brother Herman had a saw mill in the field above
the inn. The second year, the mill and most of the lumber was sold. Ggeorge
bought the property, cleaned up the place and planted a lawn on it. In 1932, I
planted spruce and maple trees up in the field. I also planted lilac bushes and a
willow tree that is now full grown.
On our opening day we took in 35¢ for a sandwich. By the end of July we were filled
up and busy and buy August I had to hire two waitresses. Then the Depression put
a lot of people out of jobs. But we still had a busy time and YMCA frequently sent
people to me. Weekends we had all rooms the cottages and Singer’s rooms filled.
Many of the parents would come for a week and one group from Philadelphia
stayed for a month. Because of Polio, one year they didn’t start the private schools
After the Depression business picked up and there was no time to let down. George
worked all day at his mill and also had a lot to do around the inn. We never hardly
had any time to talk to each other and did not have much time for our three children.
The sawmill business had also grown and George traveled to New York to cruise a tract
of timber, looking for ash for a baseball bat mill. He found a beautiful tract of oak,
maple and beech as well as ash. He came home and said. “let’s give up the Silver
Birches and move up there”. Since winter was about the only time I ever had for
the children, I agreed with this plan. We sat down and wrote letters to all our
regulars and said “the Silver Birches is closed”.We kept the books with all the names
so when we sold the place they would have the contacts and our regular people were
happy when the new owners reopened the inn.
* I believe the point she is making is: Due to the Polio epidemic, parents who could
afford to, sent their children away from the city for the summer. The schools even
opened later than usual in the Fall and parents would come up the lake to visit
the children who were at camp.