The following interview with local apple farmer Harold Teeple, by Huron Historian Rosa Fox, was written for the Spring/Summer 2016 issue of the Sodus Bay Historical Society magazine Flash. This is part 1 of a 2 part interview. Part 2 now appears in the Fall/Winter 2016 issue of Flash and will be made available on this website upon issue of the Spring/Summer 2017 issue of Flash. Sincerest appreciation to Harold Teeple, Mary Teeple Anjo, and Eugene Teeple for assistance with this interview material.
An Interview with Harold Teeple
By Rosa Fox
Harold Teeple has been a long time resident of Sodus Bay’s east side. Born November 12, 1922, Harold was originally from Deckerville, Michigan. The Teeple family moved to New York State, settling in the Newark area when Harold was 3 1/2 years old. At eight years of age, Harold connected to Sodus Bay, saying he “fell in love with Sodus Bay” and “loved to fish more than eat.” When Harold wasn’t in school, he “was playing along Sodus Bay.”
Answering a 1930 ad in the Newark Courier, Harold’s dad came to work as a chauffer for Lake Bluff resident Henry K. Hess. Hess earned a sizable fortune in the late ‘20s, for his invention of the repeating mechanism for the phonograph record machine. Hess purchased a substantial parcel of land at Lake Bluff. The Teeple family resided in a house located in the valley east of the Bluff. The house in that valley is now long gone. Willow trees and a beaver pond now give little clue that there was once a residence and fertile crop land here.
Harold’s childhood memories provide a story of life on the east side of Sodus Bay during the early 1930s – a time before Connelly’s Cove, the two-lane LeRoy Island Bridge, or even the Boy Scouts on Eagle Island. Children had a playful connection to the bay, the outdoors, and simpler means of entertainment. This was a time when children still walked to school. Children living on the northeast side of Sodus Bay attended school at the south end of Sloop Landing Road.
Harold and his older brother, Arnold, walked the two-mile distance to and from the Sloop Landing School House each day. The boys had the good fortune to walk to school with their teacher – Gertrude Correll – better known to many on the east side of the bay as Gertie. Joining Gertie and the Teeple boys on the walk to and from school were the O’Neil children from Eagle Island. The O’Neil family lived in the Eagle Island farmhouse, and traveled across the bay to the mainland through wind, waves, and ice to go to school.
Gertie and her husband Ed owned what we now know as Connelly’s Cove Restaurant. Ed constructed a good sized building in which he had a shop where he built some of the best wooden rowing boats on the bay, rented out boats, had a dance hall, a small restaurant, and a store. Gertie helped Ed with all aspects of his business, especially during the summer months. The couple lived across the road from the commercial building in the small house on the hill.
The Teeple and O’Neal children usually met Gertie at her place to walk to school. One day, Gertie was not there to meet her students. Apparently she had gotten a ride from a neighbor. The Teeple boys, figuring their teacher had not gone to school, decided they would not go to school, but would spend the day hanging out around the bay. When the mailman stopped by the school, Gertie handed him a written letter addressed to the boys’ parents, requesting the mailman deliver it promptly. The letter informed Mr. and Mrs. Teeple that Harold and Arnold had not been in school. The boys “caught it” when they got home that afternoon. For punishment, they were not allowed to go “over the hill to play around the bay!” The Teeple boys didn’t miss any school after that.
As a teacher, Gertie was tough in many ways. Harold remembers she would never break up a “good fight.” She would let the children get their energy out during recess, and then they would come in ready to learn.
Harold recalls his connection to this special teacher. Years later, when Harold was trying to figure out how to layout his orchards, he called upon Gertie to help him with the formula for figuring out how to make the corners square – and she told him how to do it.
Harold was a hero to his older brother Arnold. One cold February day, the bay iced over, the boys were walking along the approach to LeRoy Island Bridge from the east. Arnold picked up a long pole – maybe a fishing pole. Arnold then started to walk on top of the steel wall with the pole – poking it at the bay ice below. Arnold fell off the wall, pole and all, and couldn’t get out. Harold was too small to pull him out, so Arnold told him to go get help. Only a few feet away, Arnold called to Harold, “Come back, I can’t hang on!” So Harold returned to the scene, and, somehow, put forth all his might to haul his big brother out of the bay and over the wall. Hero Harold walked the mile trek home with his soaked and freezing brother who was dressed in a sheepskin jacket.
As stated earlier, Harold loved to “fish more than eat.” He recalls heading out to that special place on the bay in front of LeRoy Island with his dad and Arnold. Using minnows and a bamboo pole rigged with a cork bobber, they would fish for pan fish – sunnies and perch. Every once in a while, they would hook a pike. “Pulling that pike in was like catching a whale.”
After only a year at the bay, in 1931, the Teeple family moved from Lake Bluff to North Rose. They stayed connected to Sodus Bay, coming back to the Bluff on weekends to go fishing. Eventually, the Teeple family returned to Sodus Bay in 1945, buying a farm on the bay. Part II of Harold’s story – The Farm – will be forthcoming in June 2017.
Note: When the Sloop Landing Schoolhouse closed in 1935, instead of moving to one of the new and larger consolidated schools at North Rose and Wolcott, Gertie decided to go into the Real Estate business. Passing the Real Estate exam, Gertie ran a successful realty business for many years on the east side of Sodus Bay.