Chapter 2

Berby Hollow

My older brothers were always interested in the Bristol Hills

and around 1927 they rented a small house on the Egypt Valley

Road which we called a cabin. It had a kitchen, living room,

pantry and two bedrooms. There was a porch on the front. The

cabin was heated by means of a wood stove. we used to get our

wood by dragging in limbs with a rope, sometimes for quite a

distance. The painting business was very slow in the winter

and sometimes Clarence would stay over there for more than a

week. He wouldn't want to spend all of his time gathering

wood. Halfway down the hill into the valley there was an old

man who lived alone on top of a ridge beyond a deep gully

that ran beside the road. He sold firewood, delivered for

$3.00 a cord. Sometimes we would buy wood when we had enough



The nearest house to the west was one half mile away and to

the east there was one a mile beyond us. The roads were dirt

and were never plowed in the winter time. Most days in the

winter, the only car to come by was the mailman. In the deep

winter he might only make it once a week. In the spring when

the snow melted the roads were bad and we would simply drive

in the ruts that were not too deep. I spent all my Christmas

vacations and weekends with Clarence, and sometimes Gordon,

at this place.


If the roads were very bad in the winter, my father would

take Clarence and I as far as the main road went and we would

pull a toboggan, loaded with our food and supplies, about six

miles to the cabin. We would have set a time and day for him

to pick us up when we were ready to come home. The corner on

the main road where he met us was at the top of the hill that

goes down into Honeoye. There was Jones' gas station there

where we would wait. When we were at the cabin and the

weather was good, some of the family would come over for

Sunday dinner. My older sisters and their husbands would

sometimes join my father in coming. Clarence's friend would

often come over to hunt. The rabbit hunting was very good.


When I was old enough to have a gun, Clarence, Gordon and I

would start out about 11:00 am to hunt for dinner. We would

go in opposite directions and try to get a rabbit then beat

the others back to the cabin. I remember one time we got a

rabbit and were back in less than an hour, but Gordon was

already back and had one ready to start cooking.


The cabin was interesting because we were told that a man who

had lived there some years before had sat in the kitchen in a

chair and blown his head off with a shotgun. The bullet holes

were all there in the plaster in the ceiling so we supposed

it to have been true. Clarence was always interested in fox

hunting and had a trap line too. I guess at this time I had a

BB gun and just followed Clarence around. When I was about

twelve years old Clarence bought me a single shot 22 and I

used it to hunt fox with him. I don't remember what we ate in

those days at the cabin, but Clarence did the cooking. I do

remember one time Gordon made a raisin pie. He made the crust

and put in a box of seedless raisins then put it in the oven.

When he took it out it was just as when he put it in, so we

poured the raisins back in the box and ate the crust. Across

the road about a quarter mile up in a field there was an old

chestnut tree that was killed by blight that eventually

killed all the chestnut trees in the East. This tree still

had a few green limbs coming out of the trunk and we used to

get the chestnuts and roast them. The remainder of the tree

was dead and we used it for firewood.


The cabin was on the edge of a deep gully and the creek ran

down the gully in back of the cabin. It went on to Honeoye

Lake. We used to set traps in the creek for muskrats.

Sometimes we would hear wildcats scream in the middle of the

night down in the gully. The stove we used for heat had a big

ornate top that slid to one side to expose the cooking top.

we took this off and had it hanging on a nail in the pantry.

One night Clarence and I were there alone and the wildcats

were down in the gully. Just about midnight we were awakened

by a terrible crash somewhere in the cabin. Between that and

the wildcats it made our hair stand on end and the chills go

up and down our spines. We finally got up enough nerve to get

out of bed, get a flashlight and investigate. The heavy iron

stove top had come off the nail and knocked down all the pots

and pans. After a couple of hours we got back to sleep again.

Down the road, not far from the cabin, a church had burned

down at midnight under mysterious circumstances. All these

happenings made the place very spooky to someone only ten

years old.


During these years I used to tag along behind Clarence while

he was hunting and taking care of his trap line for fox and

muskrat. Fox pelts were worth about $20 then, which was a lot

of money. In all the years that we hunted them, I can not

remember getting one. It was fun setting and baiting the

traps and finding where the fox had gotten the bait without

springing the trap.


One winter Leon stayed at the camp and worked for Tony Miller

on his farm down the road. This is where he met Louise as she

was the school teacher at the school the other way from the

cabin. At that time teachers would board near the school and

she stayed at the Miller's. Leon said he worked very hard

there, from sunrise to sunset, cutting wood and doing chores

for small wages and one meal a day.


For a change sometimes in the summer, we would go down about

two miles toward Honeoye and there was a place you could

drive a car along the creek away from the road to where the

banks got steep. There was a nice point by the creek where

the ground was level and there were lots of tall pines.

Clarence had a panel truck and there was a mattress in the

back to sleep on. We would set up a canvas cover to cook and

eat under. It was a beautiful spot where we could stay for

the weekend. Sometimes I would take Ray Smith or Chuck Spears

with me. There were places where the creek was a couple of

feet deep and we would go skinny dipping. I often think of

all that I would have missed doing if it had not been for



About 1930 or shortly there after, Clarence and Gordon bought

five acres of land from Tony Miller along the edge of his

farm. They paid $30 an acre for it and about four and one

half acres of woods, then the creek with a clearing beside

it. After we had it surveyed we put up some markers at the

back corners which were up the hill. It was level for about

1/2 to 1 acre at the bottom and the woods went up the hill

fairly steep. About two months after buying the land we were

walking around the property line and found that Tony Miller

was cutting down the big trees, 2 to 2 1/2 feet in diameter,

and dragging them onto his property. He had cut about ten of

the big trees and didn't think we would be over there to find

out. We went down to Bristol Center and got the local Sheriff

(big deal) and had him serve papers of some sort on Tony

Miller. We never got any of the big trees back, but he didn't

cut any more. There was one big oak about 3 1/2 feet in

diameter that had been cut down and still on our property. I

would go up there and sit on it and hunt squirrels. We never

did cut it up for firewood as we never had a saw big enough

to do it. The knowledge of trees that I learned in Boy Scouts

gave me an interest in the trees that were on our property.

There were pine, oak, maple, beech, basswood and a very hard

wood. The ironwood did not grow very big and had a twisted

trunk. The bark was slate grey, smooth and it was properly

named because it sawed like iron.


We bought the lumber for the cabin at Davidson's Lumber Yard

on West Avenue in Canandaigua and they delivered it for us. I

remember being over there and waiting for the truck to get

there. The driver got lost and it took him half the day to

find us. After we had unloaded the lumber, he sat and visited

with us the rest of the day. I was about 12 or 13 years old

so could help my brothers saw the boards and nail them up. I

recall putting the wood shingles on the roof. We even had a

front door that we could use when we had company. Gordon was

good with mason work so he put in the cement block

foundation and built the big stone fireplace at one end of

the cabin. We had a lot of good fireplace fires and used to

sit around it by the hour. Sometimes we would find a piece of

apple wood to burn, which makes a beautiful fire. We also had

a wood burning stove which we used for cooking. The cabin had

one large room and two bedrooms partitioned off at one end by

six foot high partitions. The walls were just the clapboards

on the outside so it was not very warm in the winter. Just

about like Horseshoe Camp I imagine. It was nice and warm,

however, if you kept the fire going.


We had a wood bin in the back of the cabin that came out into

the room a couple of feet and had a cover that lifted up. On

the outside we had a door on hinges that would raise up and

thus we could fill the wood box from outside. One time

someone broke in through that woodbox and stole a couple of

my brother's guns, but that was the only time we were ever

robbed. We used to drink the water from the creek even though

there were cows pastured not far up stream. We thought that

if the water ran five hundred feet from the cows that it

would be pure again. It never hurt us but we soon found

another way to get water. There was a small gully next to the

cabin that was wet most of the year, so we drove an iron pipe

back in the shale three or four feet and put a pan under it

to catch the water that dripped out. In the summer it would

drip about a gallon a day which was enough for drinking.


I forgot to mention that the first thing we had to do before

we built the cabin was to build a bridge across the creek. We

cut two trees about the size of telephone poles and nailed

boards on top. At least twice during our years there, the

bridge was washed out by the spring floods. Usually it was

found not very far downstream so we would drag it back and

renail the boards down. I mentioned before, the Scout trips

to Camp Woodcraft which usually took place on a Saturday. It

must have been nice to have all the energy that we had at

that age. After running all day at Scout Camp, Ray Smith and

I would walk to Berby Hollow after the rest of the troop left

for home. We followed the edge of the big gully down into

Bristol Valley and then walked south on the road until Mud

Creek passed under the bridge to our side of the road. It was

too deep to cross anywhere else. Then we would climb the hill

to the west, which is about where Bristol Mountain Ski Area

is now located, then cross the top of the hill, which was

fairly flat, and Down into Berby. We Couldn't get lost

because I knew this area very well and when we came to the

Berby Hollow Road I knew whether to turn right or left to get

to the cabin. It was about a six mile walk and we could make

it there by dark. We only did this when Clarence was planning

to be there and we could spend the night and come home with

him the next day.


After we got the cabin built we planted some pine trees in

the yard along the creek. I remember getting six pine trees

from a nursery. They were so small that I carried them inside

a small cereal box. The last time I was by there they were

all living and about fifteen feet tall. We named the camp

"Hunting's End" and we had a sign on a post out by the road

near the gate we made to keep people from driving in. When

you crossed the bridge we had three stone and concrete steps

up the bank and Gordon cemented a sundial on top of a three

foot high stone and concrete base. It was accurate and we

used it to tell time.


This area of Bristol was sparsely populated in those days and

there was no house between the cabin and Honeoye. Sometimes

we would need extra groceries and would go to Treble's store

in Honeoye for them. After high School I went with his

daughter Althea for a while. We bought most of our groceries

in Canandaigua before we left for camp and could get enough

food for two of us for a week for $5. We bought them at a

little grocery store on South Main Street owned by Ernie

Watts. Most of our meals consisted of boiled ham, Pancakes

and jello. We probably had other things but these are what I

remember. Most of our meat is what we got hunting. We often

had fried squirrel, rabbit or partridge. We used to start

hunting partridge right from the back door of the cabin and

once Gordon got a bird about 100 feet up the hill. At times

in the winter we would get up in the morning and see deer and

fox tracks in the snow within ten feet of the cabin. The

cabin was in a valley with a hill to the west so it would be

almost dark by 4:30 PM so we would start a fire in the

fireplace and eat our dinners early. We would heat up the

sliced boiled ham and eat it with pancakes. We had a large

round cast iron griddle and cooked with it on top of the wood

stove. Clarence would make his pancake (always about one foot

across) and then sit at a table in front of the fireplace to

eat. While he ate his, I would cook mine and he would be done

when mine was ready. We took turns like this until we were

full and then we would eat our dessert together. We didn't

have to hurry any as the evenings were long.


Sometimes in the summer we would go up the Lower Egypt Valley

Road to where the spring was (I'll tell more about that

later) and there was a lane that went up the hill to where a

farmhouse once stood. There were found a lot of blackberry

bushes which we called thimbleberries because they were big,

over 1 1/2 inches long. We would have them for dessert with

sugar and evaporated milk. We had a concentrated flavoring

mixed with water to drink. It was called HO-MIX and came in

flavors. Whenever we got thirsty we'd stop for a glass of HO-

MIX. It was probably the forerunner of KOOLAID.


The only lights we had in the cabin were Coleman gasoline

lanterns and we would read by it at night. We had an outside

"john" about 30 feet up the hill in back of the cabin with

stone steps cut in the bank. It was a one holer surrounded by

blinds we took off an old house somewhere. You could sit

inside and run the slats up and down to see out. Sometimes we

would take a gun with us and watch for partridge while we



One weekend we arrived at camp to find a dead partridge on

one of the beds. It had flown through a window and couldn't

get out again. Another time a red squirrel got down the

fireplace and really made a mess of the cabin. He even chewed

off the wood around the glass in the windows. He didn't get

out and we found him in there dead.


We built a dam in the creek to make a place for our Saturday

night bath and it was about two feet deep with a nice smooth

rock bottom. We had an overflow in the dam to raise or lower

the level by inserting or removing planks. We took the planks

out during the spring floods. The level area between the

creek and the road was large enough so we could have softball

games and park cars there.


In those days we often hunted squirrels as I have mentioned.

There were many pure black squirrels then and we would hunt

for them just because they were different. One place up on

top of the hill there were fox squirrels but we never killed

one of them. Fox squirrels are much larger than gray

squirrels and they have a long bushy tail like a fox. We

could see them in the woods but were never able to get close

to one. Most of them were up on top of the hill on posted

property belonging to the Sanetarium in Clifton Springs. It

was called the Sanetarium Farm and they raised farm and dairy

products for use at Clifton. It seemed strange that they

would have a farm so far away.


You can check the map for the location of some of the places

I write about. We were told about a spring on the Lower Egypt

Valley Road where we could get water that was really pure.

Just down the bank at the side of the road there was a pool

of clear water about three feet across with the water

bubbling out of the rocks at the bottom of it. This water was

so cold that it didn't even freeze in the winter time and on

the hottest summer day it was so cold that you couldn't hold

your hand under it. Eventually, Stuart Caves of Caves Lumber

Company in Holcomb, built a lovely summer home on the lot

including the spring, but they always allowed people to get

water there.


There was an intersection in the road just down from the

cabin with a telephone pole. We made arrow signs with cities

and mileage painted on them and nailed them to the pole. They

pointed towards Honeoye, Naples, Rochester and Canandaigua.

They were still there for years after the camp was sold.

Several times Clarence and I walked home to Canandaigua just

to see how long it would take us. It was about 15 miles

distance and we always made it in about four hours and

fifteen minutes. One time when it was snowing I was wearing a

heavy pair of overshoes and about halfway home they got too

heavy for me, so I took them off and hid them under a large

rock beside the road. The next time we went to camp I picked

them up.


We had a black and white cow hide for a rug in the cabin.

Across the road and up on the hill was a berry patch and in

the spring there would be berry pickers up there, when they

looked our way, I would put the cow hide over me and chase

Clarence around the yard. They were just far enough away that

it may have looked real to them. At least they used to stand

there watching us.


One of Clarence's friends had a fox hound that we would keep

with us for fox hunting. His name was "Shimmer-boo" and he

was large. One Christmas vacation we got snowed in and the

fellow who owned the dog came after us in a truck. I lost

three days of school which was a treat. We slipped and slid

around in the snow on the hill, but finally made it up the

hill, on to home and back to school. We all rode in the front

seat of the truck with that big smelly dog on my lap all the

way home. You know how big and gangly those fox hounds are.

I'll never forget that ride home.


We had a trapdoor in the floor of the cabin with a four foot

square pit dug out beneath. We would store foodstuffs down

there where it was cooler. There were all kinds of nut trees

around and at one time we had two bushels of butternuts, one

of walnuts and two of hickory nuts (all shucked) down under

the floor. After they were there a couple of years we took

them out and burned them in the fireplace. Two bushels of

hickory nuts would be worth a fortune now. Halfway up the

hill on our property there was a pine tree about three feet

through the trunk and very tall. The limbs came straight out

of the trunk so you could climb up it just like you were

climbing a ladder. About forty feet up I built a platform and

used it for my secret hideaway. I could see down to the road

and when we were expecting company, I would go up there and

watch for them.


We used to do a lot of partridge hunting and there was an

older man by the name of Bill Brooks who went along with us,

without a gun, just for the joy of walking in the woods. He

carried a flask of whiskey and every so often would stop to

sit on a tree stump and have another nip. He never bothered

our hunting and was nice to have along. He was the father of

one of the girls Gordon used to go out with.


We had to cut all our firewood with a two man crosscut saw or

a one man crosscut saw about three feet long. Our only

problems were when we went over to camp for a weekend, we had

to spend the first day cutting wood and the second day

hunting. We never got very far ahead with our woodpile. We

would cut trees one to two feet in diameter. At the back

corner of the cabin there was a gully that went up the hill

but it never had any water in it's six foot deep depression.

After we cut the trees into chunks we would roll them over to

the gully and start them down the hill. They would bound up

in the air and sometimes jump out of the gully where trees

would halt their flight. They would go about 40 feet and then

we would start them out again. At the bottom they would be

traveling quite fast so we made a barricade of chunks about

the size of a cord of wood, to protect the cabin. It was an

easy way to get the wood down the hill and the chunks ended

up right by our wood pile for splitting. We would cut the

basswood chunks about a foot long as it was a very straight

wood, soft and wonderful to split for kindling. I would sit

on one chunk of wood and split another with my scout hatchet.

It would split almost down to the size of a pencil and I

always kept a big pile of it to start fires with. When we

were cutting down trees we would put all the brush into piles

so that there would be places for the rabbits to hide. When

we were hunting rabbits, we could kick the pile with our foot

and scare them out. We had a basswood tree with a nest of

honey Bees in a hole about 10 feet up the trunk. One day when

it was about zero degrees out, we cut the tree down and when

it hit the ground the bees flew up in the air about ten feet

before the cold got them and they fell to the ground. We got

out all the beeswax comb and took it back to the cabin and

made honey.


On top of the hill in back of the cabin there were a lot of

open fields and in one we found a big old wagon wheel that we

could roll way up to the top and start it down into the open

fields. It would roll a long way before it came to the woods.

Next time we came up we would bring it with us. Sometimes we

would carry our skis with us about two miles up the hill and

then ski down criss cross all the way back to the cabin. Once

I was sitting on top of a brush lot hunting fox and I heard a

noise behind me. I turned around very slowly and there were

three deer eating grass about ten feet behind me! One moonlit

night at midnight we went up there and sat watching for foxes

to cross the open field. With the moon light on the snow you

can see for a long ways and it was very quiet. It is amazing

how you can do something like that just once in your life and

never forget it--the sight, sound and feeling. I can close my

eyes right now and see those open fields and trees just as

clearly as fifty seven years ago.


We did not have anti-freeze for the car in those days. We put

alcohol in the radiator to be safe at about zero degrees. You

couldn't put anymore than that because every time the car got

warm it would boil over. On very cold nights we would drain

the radiator into a large pan and take it into the cabin. One

night it went down to 26 degrees below zero and I believe

that is still the record for this area. We took the mattress

off the other bed and put it over us and a big wooden chair

on top of that to keep it from sliding off. Clarence always

got up first in the morning and I still hear him crumpling

newspapers to start the fire again if it was out. We had a

trap line to see to as we were leaving home later in the day.

I put on every piece of clothing I could find and was so

stiff I could hardly walk. We had to go around the whole line

and spring the traps as we would not be back for a week. We

then put the anti-freeze on the stove and melted it as we had

left it outside all night and it was frozen. We put it back

in the radiator and headed home.


Halfway down the road into Berby Hollow was an old dirt road

to the right that went along the hill through the woods. It

crossed a deep gully with a sharp S turn and crossed an old

wooden bridge. Just on the other side was an old abandoned

house whose basement windows were covered by iron bars. It

was all grown up with brush and vines and we speculated that

slaves or prisoners had been kept there in the basement. It

was a very interesting spot to a boy. Near the back of this

house we found the remains of an old wooden railway track. It

went from the top of the bank alongside a deep gulley and

down to the creek in Berby Hollow. The ties and rails all

made of wood and rails were about 18 inches apart. It was

very steep and ended at the top of a cliff down by the creek.

We never did find out what it was used for. It was still

recognizable as a track however. It may have been used to get

logs down to the creek and a sawmill when the water was high



We had a 22 rifle that was probably purchased in the 1920s by

one of my brothers. When he needed money he sold it to

another brother for $1 less than he paid for it. Whenever the

owner needed money, he would sell it again with the one

dollar loss. I finally bought it for $5 and still have it.

It is a very good gun and shoots straight. I used it to hunt

woodchucks for many years up to the 1960s when I hunted with

Harold Kennedy and Brownie. It is the rifle I taught Lynn to

shoot with.


My time at Berby was from age 9 to the end of high school in

1935. After that I used to go there with the fellows I played

ball with and we would have parties and go hunting. After

high school I never spent a night there. When I was in the

Air Corps, Clarence and Gordon sold the camp for $1000. If I

had been home at that time I think I would have bought it. It

would make a beautiful summer camp even today. Goodbye to a

lot of good times.

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