Sycamore Island
Meeting Minutes

January 14, 1998

Tryon Wells, Bill Eichbaum, Bill Bays, Jane Winer, David Winer, Gerry Barton, John Thomson, Peggy Thomson, Johnna Robinson, Brad Coolidge, Jinny Jones, Susan Garbini, Peter Winkler, John Noble, Jessie Bakeman

New Sycamore president Tryon Wells called the meeting to order (over steaming cups) at 8:05 p.m. Minutes of December meeting approved as printed in Islander.

Islander Report
Editor John Thomson has folder/stuffer/mailer volunteers for February and March. Volunteers welcome thereafter.

Canoe Supervisor's Report
David Winer, reporting on the previous week's high water that got well into the first row of canoes, called it a "pretty good little flood." Two days before the "big slug of water came crashing down," he and Tryon moved out the first layer of canoes. "We had to ask ourselves, Why are we doing this -- with the water level at only 4 and 1/2 feet?" It was the pulse of the water -- how fast it was rising -- that got them moving. "When the river rises this way, you don't get much warning." Tryon explained to the meeting he goes by the Paw Paw level. "So, the level reported at Paw Paw is 21 feet. Divide by two and you have the level Sycamore will get some 24-32 hours later." Winer reported that the new lines Captain John Matthews and Caretaker Doc had put on the canoes worked out successfully for this drill. "We took over the chain on the reel, hooked it to the tree, unreeled it down to the canoes, dragged the canoes up to the 150-foot chain and snapped them on, then hooked the other end of rope to another tree downstream. I propose accolades to those who designed the chain, bought it, set it up!"

Adventure #2 followed when in the course of the flooding itself --ferry cable having been raised -- a sizable tree traveling downriver snagged itself on the pull-rope for the ferry. Debris was building up, and the load was exerting major pressure. To the rescue came the crew of John Matthews, Tryon, Dave, Johnna Robinson, and Frank Daspit assisted by Frank's dog Lucky. Frank and Tryon paddled to the trouble spot for securing a line to the tree, the onshore crew pulled. Success! In the mopping up work, Lucky (wearing custom-made life jacket) snatched sticks from the debris and deposited them in the canoe. Says Dave, "We then gave ourselves a victory run over to the Island." And as for relief caretaker Katie Hoffmann -- whom we'd expected to want to be evacuated -- well, she was something to see -- standing up and saying confidently she'd stay. "I can handle this." Tryon's words: "responsible, stalwart and calm in an anxiety-provoking situation!" (See Notes from the Island for day-by-day account.)

Archivist's Report
Jessie Bakeman confirmed the surprising lack of 1989-1997 islanders at the Washington Historical Society where, by prearrangement, copies have been regularly sent for safekeeping. A suggestion was made that Peter Jones may have a full set from his caretaker days. (Jinny Jones as parent said on a positive note, "He never throws anything away, I can attest to that.") A further suggestion was that, instead of the monthly mailings, the archivist in future bring a year's batch of the Islanders to the society at one time.

Main Business of the meeting had to do with the matter of Large Parties on the Island. Presented to the president but not read aloud at the meeting was Holly Syrrakos's study of the current situation as reflected in the Club's By-Laws and Standing Rules. Discussion focused on the Large Party Application form and the Steps for Scheduling a Large Party as well as the proposed substitute form as offered by Tryon Wells, all of which appeared in the January Islander. Early on, the alternatives came to be dubbed the Doc/Eichbaum form (sometimes the Parental-Tone Form) and Tryon's Friendly Form. Point by point discussion and revision (are two large Large Parties at the same time too many? Yes; Must camping parties leave by next-day at 11 am? It depends) led to Bill Eichbaum's withdrawing his form and Tryon's agreeing to make the agreed-upon changes in his form.

Other business of the meeting
Unanimous approval of a tree planting in honor of member Phil Stone whose eight-decades-long association with Sycamore, from age 9 to age 91. was described in the January Islander. Suggestion was made of a river birch tree, to be planted complete with chicken-wire wrap against beaver chewinqs.

Gerry Barton proposed attention be paid to the dam-warning signs which now seem to be. pretty much covered by tree growth. He saw one of the "Dam Ahead" buoys in the Anacostia.

Relief caretaker Katie Hoffmann had reported on our runaway picnic table -- that it was gone again with the recent flood. Fortunately, it turned out, the table had just traveled a modest distance on its tether.

A Vote of Thanks went to meeting hosts Susan Garbini and Ian MacGregor for the welcome at their home and the cookies/coffees against winter's chill.

Host for February's Off-Island Meeting: Tryon Wells.

Peggy Thomson, Substitute Recording Secretary