Sunday, October 31, 2010

Maude Agard's Dream

In October 2001, Carol Kammen of the Ithaca Journal highlighted in her column the family business oral history I had produced with my mother. The title of her column was, “Now is the time to record the history of our institutions.”  She encouraged local businesses and historical societies to document those operations before their participants were no longer around to ask.

Taughannock Farms Inn
Maude Agard's "tea room"
My grandmother, Maude Agard, loved to cook. Her dream was to have her own “tea room,” and on her 40th birthday, May 16, 1946 she realized that dream with the purchase of a summer home, owned by a Philadelphian Robert Jones, that overlooked Taughannock Falls State Park. According to the oral history my mother recounted, “The first night they were open to the public…they served less than twenty people and ran out of food! Mother had no idea how many people to prepare for. But, word got around, so Taughannock Farms grew and grew.”

There were no printed menus; the extensive list of appetizers, main dishes, and desserts was recited by the waitresses. Dinners were served family style. The rolls were made on the premises each day, as were the salads, pies, and other desserts. Soon after my parents became partners in the business and so that is where I grew up.  Anyone growing up in a family business knows that everybody works. And we did. But we, including our employees, were all “family,” and that is a special attribute of a family run business. 

Taughannock Farms Inn - The Early Years is archived and can be accessed at the Ulysses Historical Society in Trumansburg, NY. I encourage everyone who is part of a family business to document its history; it is too precious to lose. 

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