Leon Borden: The "Bugler" of Garnet Lake

It also helped that he had the horns, along with the training. From his grandfather, he had inherited a well-used baritone horn, more than a century old; from his father, he had an ancient trombone. And from his own boyhood in Johnson City, New York, he still had the cornet he played in his high school band. Over time, he has used all three for Taps, though he prefers the baritones resonant sound.

Of course, Taps is primarily a military piece, composed during the Civil War, and Borden heard it daily during World War II, while he was in the Naval Air Corps training on single-engine aircraft, sea planes and multi-engine patrol bombers. He was scheduled to ship out to the Pacific on August 14, 1945: V-J Day. Miraculously, the war was over, and he could come home.

He and his wife, whom he had first met in a Johnson City kindergarten class, went on to raise seven children. In 1957, some friends invited them to Maxams, which was then a lodge on Garnet Lake. The next year, the Bordens returned to Maxams and came back every summer until 1962, when they discovered that one of the early camps on the lake, built by railroad men from Schenectady, was for sale.

That started our long association with Garnet Lake, which has meant a lot to us, he says, recalling happy times with the large families that used to live nearby. We think its a wonderful place for our kids to have grown up in the summer.

Today, he plans his evening appearances with the precision of a former engineer.

It turns out, because of the shape of Ross Mountain, the sun sets at about five minutes to seven when I get here at the end of June, he says. Then it moves south and, at the end of August when I leave, it sets at about 10 to seven. So it is almost constant.

Vote on this Story by clicking on the Icon


Use the comment form below to begin a discussion about this content.

Sign in to comment