Nonagenarian Recalls Family’s Love For Chautauqua Lake
Ninety-three years ago, on September 12, the world was made a better place with the birth of Barbara Forbes. A few days later, Ray and Theo Forbes took their second child, born in WCA Hospital, home to their dairy farm on the Falconer-Frewsburg Road to meet her brother, Jim. The Forbes Family grew to five with the addition of Marjorie. Forbes’ uncle and family, also dairy farmers, lived across the road. Later, Jim took over his parents’ farm when the older Forbes moved up the road. Marnie, as Marjorie was referred to, lived nearby until she moved to Fredonia.
Forbes and siblings had a short walk to a one-room schoolhouse near Quaint Road. The students who were not fortunate to live nearby, would stand around the large register in the middle of floor to heat themselves after their winter treks.
In the warm, dry season, the Forbes children played Kick the Can and other games for entertainment. They also rode their family’s pony. Their father raised and showed Great Danes and had a “nice kennel.” The oldest daughter often mixed the canines’ food.
“Summers seemed so long,” said the 93-year-old. “I had a flower garden. My dad plowed me up a nice little place.”
Seeming a little embarrassed, she told about going to the local cemetery with her cousin in tow, to collect a few slips from the plants on the graves, which were used to start new plants for her garden.
“My grandfather had a cottage on Chautauqua Lake and I would swim in the lake,” she said. “My dad bought a house from the neighbor and hired someone to remodel it.”
She went on to tell about rocks the family had collected for a fireplace for the house. Her cousin rented the home, only to lose it to a fire.
Young Forbes played violin in the Falconer High School orchestra and participated in competitions in Fredonia and as far away as Canandaigua.
She remembers her grandfather providing transportation to and from the Finger Lakes area city all in one day, a lengthy trip for the 1940s.
After graduation in 1944, she began nurse’s training.
“I always wanted to be a nurse. My mother was a nurse. My aunt was a nurse. They sent me to Bellevue Hospital in New York City,” she said.
She enjoyed the early weeks when she worked with babies, but was not happy when she was transferred to a ward where there were 48 men. The country girl decided to leave Manhattan when the demanding male patients began to insist she, a non-smoker, had cigarettes she could share with them.
“I packed up and went home,” she said.
After arriving in rural New York, she was hired by a dentist who trained her to be his assistant and where she remained for two years until she married.
She met Ronald Breed after seeing him pass by several times in his friend’s blue convertible. After a while, she and her cousin accepted a ride to the ice cream parlor with the young men. The couple was married on Oct. 11, 1947, after a two-year courtship.
The dentist asked Forbes to return for a few weeks until he could hire and train a new employee after her first replacement didn’t work out. Breed worked at Blackstone Corporation and Dahlstrom Manufacturing Company. He later worked for A1 Pest Control before purchasing the business.
They resided for a while in cabin in Bemus Point while they were having a home built on Merz Avenue. While in that home they made many wonderful memories with their children. They took advantage of the lake rights that came with their property by picnicking on the shore and swimming in and ice-skating on Chautauqua Lake.
Breed so enjoyed ice skating that he made several attempts at building a rink on their lawn by flooding the yard and leaving it to freeze, one layer at a time. Unfortunately, a thaw always thwarted his plans. Aside from the lake, he took his family to three outdoor rinks that were once located in Jamestown.
“We had a fireplace in Bemus Point and we would roast hotdogs and have a picnic in the living room,” Forbes said.
The family moved to Westman Road in 1961. Forbes had a vegetable garden and canned the bounty of her harvest.
“She always had flowers and I remember she belonged to the African Violet Club,” said her daughter, Valerie Johnson.
Forbes babysat the children of several of the Maple Grove teachers. She enjoyed crocheting and sewing and made clothing for her daughter and was an Avon Lady for several years.
Breed’s three sisters each had a cottage at Magnolia. He knew by the number of cars waiting in line for the Bemus Point-Stowe Ferry if it would be faster to drive around the end of the lake or wait for the ferry.
“We were there every weekend. We always had a picnic with hotdogs and hamburgers,” Johnson said. “My dad water-skied until he was in his sixties. I love water skiing. He instilled that in us.”
The family went on annual camping trips to the Adirondack Mountains, always towing a boat behind the car.
The couple downsized in a move to Route 430, after their children left home. In another downsize, they moved to Greenhurst Mobile Village, before a move to Carlson Towers in Jamestown. Forbes resided at Hultquist Place assisted living in the Lutheran Complex and is now a resident of the Lutheran Home. She belongs to Bemus Point United Methodist Church where she was once active with United Methodist Women.
Breed passed away 21 years ago.
“They had a lot of good years,” Johnson said. “He retired at 55 and they bought a place in Nokomis, Fla. They went there for the winter for 18 years. She continued until about seven years ago.”
After spending many Christmases in Florida, Forbes has been staying overnight on Christmas Eve at her daughter’s home for the last few years. This year she was able to watch from her daughter’s window while her three great-grandchildren, ages four and under, slid down a little hill and played with a machine that made giant bubbles.
She has three children. Dan Breed retired as a director of assisted living homes and resides in Youngstown. Michael Breed, a retired probation officer, lives in Greenhurst and Valerie Johnson, a retired Director of Children’s Ministry at Bemus Point United Methodist Church lives in Bemus Point. There are 14 grandchildren and 21 great-grandchildren.