Across a century and a half, the progeny of two presidents — Mary Sheldon Barnes 1868, daughter of Oswego’s Founder Edward Austin Sheldon, and Paige Stanley, daughter of current President Deborah F. Stanley — connected in their love for Shady Shore and their homesickness for the old homestead.
Mary wrote in Sheldon’s autobiography about times the children would accompany their parents out to work on the family farm in Perry, N.Y. “Yet we were always glad to get back to our ‘dear old Lake’ Ontario, with its murmurs and its thunders — last sound at night and first sound in the morning — with its world of changing color and its glorious sunsets. That lake and sky have often seemed to bear us up, away from the common world into realms of purest aspiration. Some of us, when away from home, have been stricken with actual, serious homesickness for them,” Mary wrote.
In law school in Washington, D.C., Paige felt that same homesickness. While searching the Internet for information about her home, she came across a piece Mary had written and felt compelled to answer her. “I wrote the letter to Mary in a bout of homesickness for the house and the lake to remind myself that the goal isn’t to remain in the same moment that first ignited in me a desire for learning and knowing more about the world, but it’s to take that desire out with me into the world to be that spark for others,” Paige wrote.
“Knowing how Mary felt about the house and about Oswego, and also knowing that she did most of her life’s work far from home helps to remind me that though my roots are planted firmly on the shore of Lake Ontario, I have a responsibility to take what I’ve learned here with me out into the world and contribute my voice to the marketplace of ideas.”
Here are the letters of the two presidential daughters.