A Landmark Passing
Announcement of pending liquidation of the ship chandlery business of John S. Parsons, in settlement of his estate, cannot but bring sentimental regret to thousands of residents of Oswego, and other communities, to whom the chandlery and its contents presented reminders of the Oswego of long ago, that is no more.
Within its confines, many an Oswego youth smelled the haunting incense of oakum for the first time; and saw arranged on its walls, various items of equipment and utility that whispered of actions of men who go down to the sea in ships; of sails, hempen and tarred lines; and the thousand and one things that make the romance of water-borne navigation. In its office, around a stove that glowed dull-red in winter, there gathered during the years, when frigid blasts shrieked up the Oswego river, men who had conned schooners up and down the Great Lakes in storm and fair weather; and who later piloted steamship and tugs, all members of the fraternity speaking a language of their own, and friendly critics of the sea-faring faded and its various arts.
On the walls were memories, too: pictures and paintings of square rigged barkentines of early lake trading eras; ships that sailed and never again knew a safe haven; ships that were built in Oswego, and carried its name and Oswego crews to all the ports of the inland seas. These relics of an Oswego gone forever, fortunately have been deposited in the archives of the Oswego County Historical Society. But no setting of the future, will enhance as much their value, as the chandlery walls where they were so long a source of pride to their collector.
With the chandlery there will pass something that was bound, sooner or later, to go with the old-time business it so long had served so well and so efficiently. The ship chandleries elsewhere are passing, even as wooden hulls, and tapering spars, and white clouds of canvas, wind-filled have definitely passed. The lake trade now is in steel hulls, and connected with boilers and Diesels, and science has taken much of the hazard out the sea-faring trade, and taken, alas, too, for sentimentalists, much of the romance.
The Parsons chandlery was a spur to imagination for those who loved truly its link with the past, and it will be treasured in memory by those who knew its familiar fittings, and the man who guided its destinies so long.