Four Became Three – A Tribute

Our family has been maple sugar producers for at least five generations, going on both sides of my (Dana’s) family. Up until this past weekend, we were fortunate enough to have four living generations to share the stories and experiences of the wonders and frustrations of the maple season with.  Ernest Batchelder, my maternal grandfather, who gave us our first pan we used to make syrup with in NY, passed away quietly at the wonderful age of 99 ½ years old.

 

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Grampy Batch, as he is known in our family, was born in a very different time in 1915.  Some of the earliest pictures of him being in a horse drawn carriage with his mother. He was always fascinated with technology and in particular, radio.  As a boy he used to share messages with a friend on the telegraph, this grew to having his own radio license and radio, to becoming a radio engineer.  He eventually become Chief Engineer for a local radio station, helping that and other radio stations with setting up transmitters and towers and in the evolution into FM radio.  His fascination with technology extended well beyond his retirement, as he had one of the first personal computers that was available, and just a few short weeks before his death, ordered a new microwave from Amazon and was reading and sending emails on his iPad.

 

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Grampy Batch was also one of the finest sugarmakers I have ever known. Many people can make good syrup, he made excellent syrup.  There was a time where he took a hiatus from being Chief Engineer to farm full time, and had a fairly large for the time sugarhouse.  It was like ours, truly a family business and my mother tells of working in the woods during sugaring and having to scrub the syrup pans before going to school during the season.  He often made a very light syrup, which is part due to the trees and weather, but part due to his craftsmanship.  He told of one store returning his syrup as its customers did not believe that real maple syrup could be so light in color.

 

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After going back to engineering and eventually retiring, he continued to make syrup in his backyard from a handful of huge sugar maples on his property. It was always amazing in color and taste and reflected the talent that he had.  One year, about ten years ago, we were in his basement and he pointed to a jar of beautiful syrup on a shelf.  It was some of the best looking syrup you could imagine.  He said look at the date. It was from the early 1960’s.  He said it was the last batch of syrup he had made in his large sugarhouse and there it was, some 40 plus years later, still pristine, still something that many sugarmakers will never achieve in their day to day operations using all of today’s modern technology.  He was both a technician and a craftsman and his balance of organization, determination and studiousness never left him even as his body began to fail.

 

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He never saw our sugarhouse, short of pictures as we lived too far apart, but from those, he could quickly grasp what we were doing and ask incredibly detailed questions.  Although we use some technology that was not available in his time, he said that our setup resembled his in many ways. I certainly like to think so and hope in some manner we begin to approach the level of craftsmanship he achieved.

It’s impossible to do justice to what a special man he was and all that he meant to our family.  Just know that we are fortunate in our family to have had many wonderful role models in our family to look up to. One of them was Mr. Ernest Batchelder, Chief Engineer, maple sugarmaker and the one of finest grandfather and great grandfathers one could ever have.

 

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Thank you for reading,

Dana

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39 thoughts on “Four Became Three – A Tribute”

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  1. Dana and family – it almost doesn’t feel right to say “sorry for your loss” when reading about a man like your great grandfather. He lived an amazingly long, rich life and you were blessed to have him as part of your family. His craftsmanship and love of the syrup have clearly been passed on to you. I’m sure you will all miss him greatly and will continue to honor him with your wonderful syrup making. May he rest in peace…Helen

  2. Condolences on the passing of Grampy Batch but how fortunate your family had him in their lives for 99 1/2 years!

  3. Great story, great man. You are blessed. His legacy continues thru you and your family. I know he must have been very proud.

  4. What a sweet tribute story and a nice surprise to see it was written by Dana.
    Maybe you could make a small batch of “Grampy Batch” limited edition light colored syrup to honor his legendary crafted syrup.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  5. Dana:
    Sorry or your loss. Thank you for sharing about your grandfather. What a wonderful legacy he has left your family.
    Lisa

  6. A fine tribute to a fine man.

    I barely remember my great grandmother, she died when I was a child. My sister really doesn’t remember our grandmother on mom’s side since she died when she was a small child. Any child my niece has will never know her great grandmother. However, my roommate’s niece and nephew not only have still pretty able great grandparents (3 of them), but their great, great grandmother on one side is still alive, in her 90’s.

    I’m sure that you will keep Grampy Batch alive for your children, not only because they are older and probably remember him now, but as you have so many great stories and photos of him as they grow.

  7. Sorry to hear of the loss of your extraordinary grandfather, someone to be so proud of! What precious memories you have to savor until you meet again.

  8. Laura, I loved reading about the history of your family today! Thank you for that! My family had
    Pecan groves. I was never a part of that but I loved driving thru the groves with my dad and grandpa when we would visit and listen as they would talk about grafting trees, production of the pecans, prices and etc. Your blog today certainly brought back some very fond memories. Thank you!

  9. What a great story . I can tell he was a very very special person , don’t we hate losing our family and all the history they were able to give us.

  10. What a touching tribute to your beloved, Grampy Batch. May his memories warm your heart and your sugarhouse forever.

  11. Tender thoughts and sweet memories of a life well lead. Even though words seem hollow when grievng, please know we’re all sorry for your loss. <3

  12. So sorry to heard about your Grandfather. My hope for you and your family is, with all the wonderful memories you have of him and with him that in time those memories will help to heal some of your sadness.

  13. Dana, Laura and family,

    Thank you for sharing this wonderful tribute to your grandfather. 99 years is a long, full life and so rare – the changes he has seen! I am sorry for your loss but happy that you have such fond memories of him. May he rest in peace. -Laurie

  14. Thanks for sharing the touching tribute to Grampy Batch. His legacy is an example of a life well lived. You and your family are blessed to have had this wonderful man in your lives. I can’t even imagine how it must have been to live to almost hundred and to have seen all the transitions that took place in our world since 1915. I now understand how it was unavoidable for you to have ventured into making maple syrup. It runs as deep in your soul as does the sap of a maple tree. I know he was delighted to see you start your venture in the maple syrup business. I also know you will perfect your maple syrup to equal his best. Make sure your family holds on to that jar of syrup he made in the 1960s so you can put yours beside it and know you too are a true craftsman. Cheers to Grampy Batch and know he is in good hands. MaryAnn

  15. Thank you for this post. That was a beautiful tribute and very inspiring and encouraging. I will show this post to my husband (as I have been showing him your sugar mapling ones). My husband is an engineer as well, and has done the radio engineering for our church’s radio stations, and last year he tapped two maple trees we have and tried to make maple syrup for the first time. It was a primitive set up but it came out pretty good. I appreciate your family’s work ethic and creativity.
    God bless you,
    Christine Irvine

  16. So very sorry for your loss. Quite a man….love his willingness to learn new technology at his age – remarkable! Memories are forever.

  17. I am sorry for your loss of Grampa Batch. He left his family with so many memories ; May you find Peace, Comfort , knowing God’s Love surrounds you and your family during this time of lose. Linda

  18. He was obviously an amazing, wonderful man, to have such a lovely tribute written for him. To leave such a legacy of love and accomplishment is everything any one can ever hope for. He lead a full, rich life, and flights of angels have sung him home.

  19. What an amazing and beautiful story. I am very sorry for your loss, but hope your memories will give you much comfort at this time.

  20. So very sorry to hear of your loss and with all of your wonderful memories you have of such a great man I hope the emptiness you feel in your heart will be eased.

  21. What a beautiful tribute! You were truly blessed to have such a special man in your life, someone who could share your interests and passion for syrup making. You have such great memories and a great legacy to pass down to your children.

  22. What a beautiful tribute to a very special family member. Thank you for sharing his life with us. My condolences on your loss.

  23. What a long, interesting life he lived! You were so fortunate to have him for 99 1/2 years. So sorry for your family’s loss. 😉

  24. You and your family are so blessed to have had such a wonderful grandfather and mentor! I can only imagine how much he enjoyed looking over the photos of your operation ~ and being so proud of what you are accomplishing. Take care.

  25. Thank you for sharing the story of your amazing Grampy Batch. The photos you shared are incredible, and I smiled right back at him in the last picture. He watched as a whole century passed by, and from your description, kept up on every step! May his memories continue to comfort you and your family.

  26. I read your post as I was traveling back from a visit to New England. Most of my weekend I walked the gardens and workshop of my father-in-law. Since his passing I find I am so very grateful for his presence, influence and the way he continues to speak to my days. In these drive through days, we are blessed with the treasured influence of great men.

    Thanks for sharing.

    I wanted to add how our generation is also given the opportunity to make impactful differences in the lives of others. The story of your sugar journey is far reaching. Together as a family you all are inspiring others to follow their passion and make a difference.

  27. What a sweet and wonderful tribute to your great grandfather! Alive in your heart and living through all those who came after him. What a great legacy!