With the excitement of hopeful lottery players, folks in the past have swarmed the mountains and lowlands at word of supposed gold discoveries, or silver, or other metals, all of them precious in terms of financial value to the finder. But rushing to find radioactive materials — the stronger the better — in the Adirondacks? Really? [Read more…] about An Adirondack Uranium Rush
While we often look back fondly on the Roaring 20s for a number of reasons, it was a very dark period in the North Country in at least one regard: bigotry. For several years, the region was a hotbed of Ku Klux Klan activity during a high-profile recruiting effort.
The assumption today might be that the effort failed miserably among the good people of the north. But the truth is, the Klan did quite well, signing thousands of new members to their ranks. [Read more…] about 1920s KKK Recruiting Efforts in Northern New York
Yet during the last world war (let’s hope it was the last), followers of Hitler and Mussolini populated the North Country. [Read more…] about Adirondack World War 2 POW Labor Camps
Among the finest Christmas seasons in America’s long history took place in 1945. We’re constantly bombarded with how special the holidays are, so it’s tough for any one year to stand out as extra special, but 1945 makes the list.
Events across the Adirondacks that year epitomized the nation’s attitude. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all about celebrating, even though the most destructive war in history had just ended a few months earlier. We often mumble mindlessly that we’re proud to be Americans. But the first post-World War II Christmas was the real deal, worthy of the word “pride.” [Read more…] about Remembering The Christmas of 1945 in Northern NY
Remember that long-ago weekly ritual, the trip to the dump with Dad? I’m talking about the 1960s, and maybe in some cases the 1970s. If you’re not old enough to look back that far, you’ll be amazed (appalled) to see how trash, garbage, and another-man’s-treasures were disposed of by most folks.
It was a part of small-town life that we can now look back on and be thankful it has largely vanished. From a child’s perspective, the dump was a mysterious and somewhat scary place that you couldn’t wait to visit, and soon enough couldn’t wait to leave. [Read more…] about Remember Adirondack Dumps? And the Bears?
The most popular genre by far on nighttime television through the 1960s? Westerns. While children were allowed to watch some of them, several shows specifically geared towards the younger set were shown on Saturday morning. Watching heroes — Roy Rogers, the Lone Ranger, and Zorro, three of the best — escape tense situations and catch bad guys was unforgettable.
Among the skills of any cowboy star (or stuntman stand-in) worth his salt were the hurried mounting and high-speed dismounting of horses (usually their own faithful steed, of course). It’s an impressive feat when you consider that horses are pretty high off the ground — which brings us to our main subject: how to get down off a horse. [Read more…] about Once Common Horse Blocks Weren’t Just for Horses and Carriages
Babe Didrikson’s visit to the North Country in 1934 was historic, especially for Plattsburgh, where it was acknowledged as one of the greatest moments in the city’s history. She was an American hero (thanks to a startling performance in the 1932 Olympics), undeniably one of the world’s top athletes, and a phenomenon because of her high levels of talent in various sports. Plattsburgh’s remote location in New York’s northeast corner makes it difficult to get noticed, so Didrikson’s visit was regarded as a major coup.
Coincidentally, she wasn’t the only Babe from the stratosphere of sports fame to visit Plattsburgh in the 1930s. Even more unlikely is that both Babes were among the most famous athletes in America, and both were able competitors in sports other than the one that brought them the greatest fame. Didrikson, a track-and-field gold medalist, brought her basketball team to Plattsburgh, while Babe Ruth, a baseball giant, came north to play in an international golf tournament. [Read more…] about Golfer Babe Ruth Played at Plattsburgh’s Hotel Champlain
For a long time now, my youngest son has operated a research laboratory in Singapore. Moving there from America was quite the culture shock, but he was clearly impressed with how clean everything was, a result of many laws that we in the US would consider overbearing. He remains very respectful of the culture there and wouldn’t joke about some of their laws, including one reinforced by signs in and near elevators: No Urinating in Lifts. For me, it instantly begs the question: was this common enough to merit a statute?
But before we scoff at the rules in other countries, consider a few of our own from right here in the Adirondacks. A foray into my vault of odd items culled from the pages of old regional newspapers yields a few similar gems. [Read more…] about A Look At Some Old Adirondack Laws
Bucking the odds is a common theme of Walter-Mitty-type fantasies — overcoming daunting obstacles to become a winner, or a hero at some level. Few of us actually live the dream, but sometimes it happens, and during Women’s History Month, an incredible North Country example comes to mind: Rhoda F. Graves of Gouverneur in St. Lawrence County.
The extreme unlikelihood of her becoming a historic figure in state politics makes her story all the more compelling. And the details are amazing. [Read more…] about Gouverneur’s Rhoda Fox Graves, NYS Political Trailblazer
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. inspired a national movement and remains a catalyst for peaceful change after he was martyred for the cause. He was hardly beloved by all: many felt threatened by him, and when he protested against the war in Vietnam, many criticized him for losing focus and supposedly deserting the primary goal of addressing racial inequality.
Millions supported his efforts, but it was a chaotic time, filled with uncertainty about the future. With the bitterness, hatred, and violence that was revealed, even on the nightly TV news, it sometimes seemed doubtful that true change could ever be achieved.
But Dr. King wasn’t alone as a leader. Others took up the mantle at all levels of society, including in Clinton County. [Read more…] about Jackie Archer: A North Country Civil Rights Inspiration