Visiting The Roycroft Campus
In East Aurora, New York
(Part 1)

Dateline: 23 October 2016

Today, Marlene and I returned from a two-day trip to the Buffalo, NY area (which is 2.5 hours west of us). Our plan was to rendezvous with our old high school friend Peggy, her husband  Dick, and another high school friend, Ann, who drove up from Lancaster PA. Peggy and Dick live in a suburb of Buffalo and they offered to take us for a day of sightseeing in the Buffalo area. Our main objective being to tour the Roycrofter Campus in East Aurora.

The picture above shows the three girls (no matter how old they are, they will always be girls to me) in the back seat of Dick's car as we were pulling out of their driveway Saturday morning. Marlene is on the left, then Ann, then Peggy.

Our first stop was Our Lady of Victory Basilica in Lackawana. Here's a picture from the back parking lot...

This church is probably the closest I'll ever come to visiting the Vatican in Rome. Very impressive architecture. It's especially impressive when you consider that the building where Marlene and I go to church is a converted agricultural pole barn. Here's a picture from the inside...

The Basilica is cavernous and I commented to Dick that it must cost a fortune to heat the place. He then informed me that the church has its own gas well. 

From the Basilica we headed along the Lake Erie shoreline on our way to Forest Lawn Cemetery, which happens to be a popular destination spot.

Our objective was to visit the grave site of Millard Fillmore, 13th president of the United States. Millard Fillmore was born in Moravia, NY (in 1800). Well, he was actually born in Summerhill, which is just a few miles up out of Moravia on Skinner Hill Road. For all practical purposes, Summerhill is now Moravia. 

Marlene, Ann, Peggy and me know this better than most Americans because we graduated from Moravia High School (class of 1976) and our Social Studies teacher was Bob Scarry, who literally wrote The Book on Millard Fillmore.

Here's a selfie of the five of us at Millard Fillmore's gravesite...

Much of our day was filled with a long rolling discussion about history (Mr. Scarry would be proud of us!) and far ranging trivia. For example, while tarrying at President Fillmore's grave, Dick and I were having a discussion about It's a Wonderful Life, Donna Reed, and The Donna Reed Show. Then Dick told me that Buddy Ebson was originally chosen to play the part of the Tinman in the Wizard of Oz movie, but the tin-colored skin coating gave him a rash. I never knew that. It was around that time that Marlene wanted to get a picture of me and Dick...

As we were walking back to the car, I reminded Marlene of what our fellow Moravia classmate, Ty St John, owner of St John Memorials told me at the class reunion last summer, when I asked him about getting a stone for our grave site (which we bought a couple years ago). He said the best thing to do is look around a cemetery for a stone design we like and take a picture to show him.

What a great idea. I found just what I'd like, Ty....

As we were exiting Forest Lawn Cemetery, on our way to the Roycrofter campus we were all momentarily stumped by a trivia conundrum... 

We could only remember three of the four Monkees. Peter Tork, Davy Jones, and Michael Nesmith. I knew that Michael Nesmith's mother, Bette, invented Liquid Paper, but I couldn't remember the 4th Monkee. 

Then, after a rare moment of quiet in the vehicle, Ann said, "Was it Mickey?" 

Well, of course it was. Mickey Dolenz! How could I forget? I'm A Believer , Steppin' Stone, Mary Mary (I had the album).

We were scheduled for a 2:30 tour at the Roycrofter campus and got to East Aurora in plenty of time to have a casual lunch at a coffee shop named Taste. If you're ever hungry in East Aurora, NY, Taste is the place to go. I had a Millard "Fill-Me-More" wrap and a pumpkin-spice latte. Excellent!

Over lunch we all talked about General Green, who lived on Main Street in Moravia, across from the entrance to the high school. Ann remembers General Green because she lived a few houses down from him when she was little. I never knew the General (he died a couple years before I moved to Moravia) but I knew all about him from my barber, Claude Richards, who used to cut the General's hair (back in the day). Here's a picture of General Green (before he was a General)...

I also knew all about General Green because Marlene used to stay nights with his widow, Ruth Green, when Ruth was getting old and senile (Marlene was going to community college at the time). Then, after Marlene couldn't do the job any more, my mother took over, and she did that for many years. Mrs. Green's house was like a history museum.

General Green was in Pearl Harbor when it was bombed. He used to have an old car that was riddled with bullet holes from the Japs. He would drive it in parades. During the war, Hawaii was under marshall law, and General Green governed the islands. 

After a long lunch, we had some time yet before our Roycrofter tour and walked down the street to Vidler's 5 & 10 Store. The old store is jam-packed with all kinds of things that I would have loved when I was a kid. 

But there wasn't a single thing there that I needed or wanted at this point in my life. Then Marlene suggested a shiny metal Sheriff badge for our 4-year-old grandson. I realized that was a downright good idea, and I bought it...

I showed the badge off to everyone when we got back to the car, and I think it was Peggy who suggested it might come in handy if Dick was to get pulled over for some sort of traffic violation. Hmmm. Good thinking, Peg.

With just a few minutes more to spare before our Roycroft tour, we drove by Millard Fillmore's House in East Aurora. No time for a tour there.

The future president was actually born in a log cabin and there is a replica of his cabin at Fillmore Glen State Park in Moravia. 

Mr. Scarry, our Social Studies teacher, was instrumental in getting that cabin built a long time ago. As I understand it, the logs for the project came from an old building on the Rouse Farm up on Long Hill. Here's a picture of where Millard Fillmore got his start in life...

(photo link)

Well, I sure have rambled on here, and I haven't even gotten to the Roycrofter part. 

Stay tuned for Part 2....


  1. Ok Sheriff O'Kimball
    Mr Scarry was not the only influence...kudos to your English teachers for a well written essay. Holding our breath for part 2. Dunking oreos as a symbolic gesture to Roycrofters!

    1. Thank you, Anonymous Ann. Yes, we had some good teachers. And I do think my English teachers were more of an influence on me that Mr. Scarry But they all played their parts in each of our life stories. I will have to mention the Oreo and Roycrofter story in Part 2. Thanks for the reminder. :-)

  2. I have "Yerkes" family buried in the Forest Lawn Cemetery going back to 1884. Eugene L. Yerkes & William Yerkes. Thanks for sharing your photos!

    1. Nice.
      According to the literature we got there, nearly 200,000 people are currently buried in the 269 acre cemetery.
      I'm curious about the origins of Yerxes.

    2. Sheri Putnam-ClineOctober 26, 2016 at 2:38 PM

      From what my granddad (my mother's dad) "Howard K. Yerkes" has found,he was a Bishop in the Mormon Church and spent years on this stuff, the name traces back through Russia and eventually to Persia (Iran) where it was changed from Xerxes. Xerxes I the Persian king identified in the biblical Book of Esther.

      My dad is a PUTNAM. My name is Sheri Putnam-Cline, Cline being my married name. So your posting friend "Joe Putnam" & I are most likely related.

  3. Hey Herrick,
    Enjoyed learning a bit about your part of New York. That is a cool day trip, and an connection to Millard Fillmore.
    My mother's family have lived in southern Indiana for over a centruy, with a few going back almost 200 years. I live a few miles outside of the "twin cities" (population about 3,000) of West Baden Springs and French Lick. Mineral springs, resorts, and Larry bird are about all we are known for. I never met Larry, but I have seen his wife go thought he drive through of a restaurant that I used to work at. But if we go waaay back, we had one famous resident here.- Dr. William Bowles. Dr. Bowles was a veteran if the Mexican-American War, doctor, and high ranking official in the Knights of the Golden Circle -a pro-South organization during the "Civil War". He was arrested by Lincoln, and tried under martial law. Eventually, the post war case of "Ex Parte Milligan" -a cornerstone decision in defense of Habeaus Corpus- freed him. I wrote the 18th essay of my March 2016 book "Putnam Liberty Notes" book about this. Sorry for the length of the comment, but I felt like sharing this morning.

    1. Hi Joe—

      I got an order from Larry Byrd for some bucket irrigation kits the other day. Not the same Larry Bird. But it made me think your man, of course.

      I found your book on Amazon and looked inside to read a little. Very interesting. So I bought a copy. The price was right and shipping was free with Amazon Prime. Now I just need to find the time to read it. Not sure when that will be, but I'm looking forward to it.

    2. Wow, thanks Herrick. I was not expecting to sell you a copy with my comment. Thank you. I assume the book you bought was "Putnam Liberty Notes" -which had my KGC and French Lick essay- not "As America Fades". I think you will also enjoy me Homestead: Pillar of Liberty essay in PLN.
      I just read part two of this post about your trip. I know how you feel about how sad it is when an openly ungodly man who does something carnally good -like the artisan movement. I am an admirer of Thomas Jefferson, and several other great American men, who were brilliant but not Christian.

  4. Elizabeth L. Johnson said,

    Oh, I had a good laugh seeing your picture of the "head stone" you'd like!! And, I was ever so grateful the Lovely Marlene thought of little Futureman to purchase a gift for him at the five and dime. Your friends must be amazing folks to be your friends through all these years. In other words, I'm sure they are as wonderful as you and Marlene. I enjoyed this blog and seeing folks having a good, wholesome time. It's good for the soul. Remembering you all in my prayers.