Mrs. May Irving Hooper of Arkell Hall, Canajoharie is 89, and vividly remembers the early days of the Martyr's Shrine.
As a child she lived in a house on the hill in back of the shrine and later moved into the Putman House, now the Shrine Inn, by the intersection of what is now Rt. 288 and Rt. 5S.
Her mother and father owned and operated the Putman House which held up to 100 boarders for the night.
"I especially remember the bell that called the priests to supper," she said in an interview with the Recorder. "Those Catholics were such good people."
Mrs. Hooper in her youth would run down to the canal from her home to greet a group of pilgrims coming for the day. She explained, "They always brought their lunches and hoped for a good day. The canal boats were open and if it rained, well. My father (Jay Irving) always used to say, 'The Lord was always with the Catholics'."
Mrs. Hooper recalls the wedding of E. Sara Irving, her sister, to George Arlington Rynor at the Putman House in 1896.
"I was the only attendant for the wedding. At the time there were 12 steps on the porch of our home, and at the stroke of noon, Sara and her new husband took a step for each chime of a large clock nearby."
The Putman House was moved back from the canal when the West Shore Railroad was put in. The pillars seen on the house today were acquired from an old house in the way of the railroad.
Mrs. Hooper can remember the days when there were three houses in Auriesville and a blacksmith's house to the east of the station.
In 1905, Mrs. Hooper's father was offered a temporary position at the Fultonville National Bank because the president's son was going on a trip to Europe. He took the position, leaving behind his boarding house, and remained at the bank until his retirement. The president's son never came back to work.
A twinkle came to Mrs. Hooper's eyes when she was showed pictures which date back to 1896. She donated them to the shrine about ten years ago when she entered Arkell Hall. "I forgot what I did with them," she said. "Now I remember. I'm glad they're being put to good use."
Source: This text was transcribed from the original newspaper
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