This is a letter from John A. MacGahan, a well-respected Twilight resident who was well-liked by both the Twilight community and the community of Haines Fall. It is a letter of appreciation about Ed France, Park Superintendent in Twilight for many years.
A Personal Appreciation
In Longstreth’s book on the Catskills, a savory description of the France’s and their cottage in Twilight Park coincides with many of the memories that some of us older Park residents have of Grace and Ed France. This passage stresses the kitchen and Mrs. France’s legendary culinary genius. My own recollection is more masculine, and more specifically of Ed.
At the age of five or six, I can distinctly remember trotting along beside or probably behind, Mr. Ed France as he walked through the Park tending to the many duties that were associated with his responsibility as Superintendent. The inevitable pipe smelled delicious, and Ed’s strong and straight stride revealed the man of the woods and the mountains in all its healthy strength. I might or might not be sucking on one of Mrs. France’s cakes of maple sugar; the best a lad of five could do to ape Ed’s fascinating black briar “stove.”
Even then, Ed had been Park Superintendent for twenty-five years or so, and had been directly involved in Park affairs from the earliest possible time. Part of the original lease of the property the Park is on was that ten log cabins to be built in the first years, at the time a rather steep proposition. Ed France and his father “Hank” France, a carpenter, built those cabins which assured the future of Twilight. From that time on, and until his retirement in 1955, little that was important in the development and the healthy maintenance of Twilight Park did not have some very significant part of Ed France wrapped up in it somehow.
Following his retirement, Mr. France continued to advise the Park fathers on matters, some of which only he could know about. Until his illness this spring forced a termination to the practice, Ed frequently came over to “walk the line” between properties, or to sharpen the memories of those of us who could not agree on various historical matters.
While we mourn his passing, far more that this, we appreciate his life and are grateful for what he gave us all; for even more recent Twilighter’s who did not know him are none the less in his debt. He came from rugged, sturdy stock, and I cannot help but associate him with my own father, who was born slightly more than a year earlier that Ed was. Others in the same vintage were Winston Churchill and Herbert Hoover. It was a good time to be born.
In his eulogy, the Reverend Reid commented that Ed’s spirit would never be far from the hills and the valley that he loved so well. I hope it isn’t presumptuous to be sure that Twilight Park will remain a perpetual, living monument to Ed, and that his spirit will indeed forever be “walking the lines” and keeping watch over us, season after season, and winter upon winter.
I WAS PROUD TO HAVE KNOWN HIM.
From the Twilight Owl Summer – 1965.
By John A. MacGahan
Thank you to Susie and Patti MacGahan for their willingness to share their father’s thoughts with the community. People don’t always get the opportunity to hear the “good things.” After reading this gentle note from your dad he became even more special than he always had been. Thank you.