Celebrating hard work and dedication to service

MOOERS In March, the North Countryman ran the first article in a series celebrating the contributions of selected individuals who have had a significant impact on the Mooers community. This time the focus is on residents who all have ties to the Mooers Fire Department. Leonard Rascoe Leonard Rascoe, 87, was born in the Adirondacks in a town called Onchiota. One of six children born to Moses and Edith Rascoe, he attended elementary and high school in Saranac Lake. Asked what activities he took part in there, he said, I dont know what it would be except chasing girls. I didnt do any sports in high school. My mother wouldnt let me play football. Id get hurt. While attending Oswego State University, he studied industrial arts, played soccer, and was a member of several fraternities, including Psi Phi Gamma. He and his wife, Violet, now 83, married in 1944 and have five children. They moved from Saranac Lake to Mooers in 1947 when Leonard accepted a teaching position at Mooers High School. He was a shop teacher there for 27 years, spending the last 10 years of his teaching career at Northeastern Clinton Central School. He also volunteered for the special education class. He retired in 1984. I like kids, he said. Ive never met a bad one yet. Theyll get so theyll tax your patience but as far as being vindictive or intentionally doing things mean, I havent found any. Charles and Eva Drown Charles Drown, 87, was born in Mooers Forks to Leonard and Fannie Drown. He was the only boy in a family of six children. He was 9 years old when his mother died. His father re-married, adding two step-brothers to the family, and the couple had two boys as well. He attended Fernwood School in Cannons Corners before switching to Ellenburg at 15. He went to school there for one day. I came home and said thats not for me and Im not going back, Charles said. I grabbed my axe, went to the woods and been there ever since. He met Eva Nephew at a birthday party. We were only four miles apart and we never knew each other until just before we were married, Eva said. They celebrated their 66th wedding anniversary in February. Eva, 83, was born in Mooers Forks to Albert and Emma Nephew. Thirteen of her 16 siblings lived to adulthood. Like Charles, she attended country school at Cannons Corners. She completed two grades each year until, at the age of 11, she started Mooers High School. When I started school at 7 years old, I couldnt speak a word of English and my teacher couldnt speak a word of French, she said. But because we were all in one big classroom, I learned from my older brothers and sisters. She left school at 15 when she met and married Charles. The couple moved to Canaan Hill in Ellenburg where they farmed until 1963. They then moved to the Fee Farm in Mooers. I would have liked to have been a school teacher, Eva said. But once I got married, I never thought of it again. I had the children and I was helping Charles milk cows by hand, and picking stones, helping out on the farm. The Drowns had three children. Farming is a good life because youre a family together, Eva said. When Stephen was just a baby, Id put him back of the cows on some hay in the wheel barrow and Id go out and milk the cows. We worked hard. We didnt have machinery very much. They retired in 1976, turning the farm over to their son Leonard Drown. To celebrate, they took a three-month trip to Alaska. Shortly after returning home, they headed for Florida, spending the first of 31 winters (and counting) there. Memories Leonard Rascoe grew up loving the outdoors. Any spare time I had I got the fish pole or the rifle and went hunting and fishing, he said. Wed get a canoe and wed go out on the water, Violet added. One of the fondest memories the Drowns have of living in Mooers is joining the Wesleyan Church in 1958. Those of former pastors and friends now passed on and welcoming new faces into the church family. Whenever you need anything theyre there for you, Eva said. Many of those congregants are French-speaking Canadians. Because I speak French and Im the only one in the church that did, they got acquainted with me and I kind of drew them into the fellowship, Eva said. The Drowns also remember fondly their neighbors, Kenneth and Rachel Fee. They helped Charles keep track of transactions and taught Eva how to keep the books. In return, Eva would cut Rachels hair and take her places since Rachel didnt drive. Fun for the Drowns was work. Thats what people did then, Eva said. You didnt travel way off to Florida or California or Alaska. But they did take a break now and then to visit Reverend Ray Morgan, former pastor of the Canaan Hill church, and his wife, after they moved on to Long Lake. They were wonderful friends, Eva said. Wed take the kids there, wed stay on the lake, take picnic lunches and stay in a tent. Memories of times of crisis are vivid as well. During the Depression Leonards father was a carpenter. He seemed to find work no matter where he went, he said. And, of course, when I got old enough to help, that was my job, too. Every day, every hour that I wasnt going to school or doing something more important, I worked with him. We shared a lot, Violet added. She also remembers the day Pearl Harbor was bombed. She was 17 years old, sitting on the floor listening to the radio as her mother hosted at family get-together. So then the party broke up. They listened to it and that was the end of it, Violet said. That was a sad day. I remember that like today. For the Drowns, Christmas still brings back memories of their 1948 house fire in which they lost just about everything. They stayed with one of Charles sisters at first, and he rode back and forth to the barn from there in -40 degree weather to milk the cows. Soon, Charles father helped move and remodel an old grainery for the family to live in until spring came and their house could be rebuilt. Were just thankful we came out of it alive and that were living comfortably now, Eva said. But when our son Leonard lost his home during the ice storm, we relived that all over again. You have to buckle up your belt and go ahead, Charles added. The Rascoes have similar memories now on their wedding anniversarySeptember 11. On that day in 2001, they hadnt heard the news yet when their oldest son came running in the house. It just died out, Violet said. We didnt feel like doing anything the rest of the day. Even now it bothers me. Every September 11 you cant forget, they wont let you. And I dont think we should forget it. So we just go along. The Drowns suffered a devastating loss a couple years later. Their daughter, Judy passed away due to illness at the age of 55. Losing our home and everything was bad, but losing your own daughter, Eva said. I still hurt down deep and you cant get over that, but you cant live in that. Im just thankful we had her that long. These events changed lives, and Mooers has changed as well. Store fronts switched hands, the train stopped coming through, businesses left. It seems as though every year we come back from Florida its a whole new group of people, Eva said. Theyre coming and going all the time. When we came here there was just a little tar road down the middle of the road, Violet added. It was muddy all the way to the sidewalk, and we had to hop, skip and jump to get across the street. Civic Involvement The Rascoes and the Drowns have all been involved with the Mooers Fire Department, Leonard Rascoe being one of its pioneers. Leonard started with the fire department in 1948, helping to build it. He came home from school one day and then after dinner that night Floyd Dragoon asked if he wanted to help build a fire truck, Violet said. We bought an old chassistwo of them, really, a Chevrolet and a GMCand made a hose truck out of one and a pumper out of the other one, Leonard added. They were really proud of it, said Violet, a charter member of the Auxiliary. None of the other towns around had fire trucks. It was an improvement over what they previously usedone panel truck with a motor and a bunch of hose. Over the years Leonard has held several positions within the department, including Fire Chief in 1952 and 1957, Assistant Fire Chief in 1950 and 1951, Chief of the Fire Police, and served on various committees. He retired from the department in 1963. Even though he jokes that the work interfered with his fishing now and then, he enjoyed the work. He is the last surviving charter member and was honored at the Christmas banquet last year. He finally was recognized for what he did for the department, fellow fireman Ken Hawksby said. He did quite a bit of extra work. The Drowns involvement in the fire department includes helping prepare the food for the firemens Labor Day celebration each year, then on the day, they help with serving and clean up. They also support the Mooers Wesleyan Church. Ive been here for 9 years and next to Paul and Elizabeth Vogan, they are the patriarchs of the church, said Pastor John Gillette. Theyre just wonderful leaders and inspiration. A family of stability which speaks to all of us. Im so thankful to have them part of our church. They also are involved in Mooers Camp, helping to open and close it every year. Both the Drowns and the Rascoes encourage others to be civic-minded. If youve got the know-how and the skills, you ought to share them, as far as Im concerned, Leonard said. No matter how little you think they are, theyre good for some people. And some people are looking for them. Eva added, Theres always time to do something good for other people. Your time is increased if you do for others. The Present Both the Drowns and the Rascoes still live in Mooers. Leonard enjoys woodworking. He makes birdhouses, tables, rocking horses and other items. Eva enjoys canning, reading, gardening, shuffleboard, and going to garage sales. Former members of the Golf View Club and Blue Mountain Club, both she and Charles go hunting, although he isnt as enthusiastic about it as she is. Im going to be there this fall, Eva declared. Despite hip surgeries, she still climbs tree stands, one rung at a time. Where theres a will, theres a way. She has a 10 point buck mounted on the porch at home, which her sons try every year to outdo, but they havent yet. She hunts on the family farm with a Winchester 32 and hauls the deer home behind her Honda 3-wheeler. She guts her own deer, too. I have to do my own cleaning out, she said. They say its your deer, you do it. Pastor Gillette admires Charles work ethic. I just saw him out at a wood pile chopping, splitting wood, and hes got his lawn all raked out already, he said. What an example of a work ethic we all need to emulate.

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