The word Muffet conjures different things for different people – the nursery-rhyme reference, of course, and perhaps furry little creatures, maybe because it sounds like Muppets, only smaller, like Smurf-sized. Muffets are actually something that most of us have eaten (if not a Muffet, then one of its close relatives). They’re the round version of shredded wheat biscuits, and who among us hasn’t tried some type of shredded-wheat cereal at one time or another?
Trout season opened on April 1st, so it seems like a good time to review a few interesting fish tales (and truths) from the North Country’s past. Just like tall tales are an Adirondack tradition, fish stories are told wherever anglers are found. The most common are about the big one that got away, which just about every dedicated fisherman has a version of that includes at least some truth. What follows here are interesting and unusual fish-related stories from the past 90 years.
In 1983, Rita Labombard began to address the needs of a New York City shelter for street youth that sometimes served 200 children on a single night. Routine items were needed—soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, socks, etc. These were collected by a Plattsburgh group and brought to Champlain, where Rita arranged for their delivery to New York City.
To fund the costs of trucking and overseas shipping, the center constantly sought help from donors and area carriers. In 1985, to help cover those expenses, the Mission Center added a thrift shop, offering second-hand toys, books, clothes, and household items. Those in need, including welfare recipients, were encouraged to visit.
St. Mary’s Mission Center in Champlain was named as the clearing center for Catholic charities in the entire Ogdensburg diocese. But it’s important to note that although manager Rita LaBombard was Catholic and worked closely with many Catholic charities, St. Mary’s was an independent, non-denominational entity from the start. Volunteers from several faiths had long been lending a hand.
Civic organizations also chipped in with materials and labor. Private citizens purchased materials, made clothing, and donated it all to the center. Children folded clothes, sewed buttons, and moved boxes. And always among the volunteers was Rita’s mother, Delia, nearly 80 and still washing, ironing, and mending clothes several hours a day. It » Continue Reading.
Women’s History Month this year finds me pondering the death of an old friend back in early February. When I first saw her obituary, it struck me as a second major loss for my hometown in a very short time. You see, fire in mid-January destroyed much of the school I attended through ten grades. I was raised in Champlain, north of Plattsburgh and just a mile from the Canadian border. During those growing-up years it was a typical village, where most of us knew most of us in one way or another. For a century, St. Mary’s Academy was the heart and soul of the community. The fire’s toll was felt by many.
Just » Continue Reading.
Last week’s coverage here of Albany’s first Episcopalian Bishop, William Croswell Doane (1832–1913), focused on his opposition to women’s rights, particularly the suffrage movement. There’s much more to his story, including humanitarian works, but the intent was to address his role in thwarting those battling for women’s rights. This is, after all, Women’s History Month.
Although he was a famous man of the cloth, Doane’s comments on suffragettes were sometimes described by the media as caustic, hostile, and vitriolic. But as I discovered, like many other components of his life, they were hardly original. This was an extreme case of the apple not falling far from the tree.
William’s father, George Washington Doane » Continue Reading.
“Woman cannot do man’s work. There is not, in my opinion, any mental equality between the sexes…. Women are just as bright as men, but they are less logical, more moved by impulses and instincts…. Each sex must confine itself to certain sorts of occupation, men being unable to do much of women’s work, as women are unable to do much of men’s.”
What a great quotation to open with during Women’s History Month. As you may have guessed, those words were spoken long ago—1909, in fact. The statement alone was disturbing enough, even back then, but what made it worse was the source: not an illiterate, but one of the most powerful and influential men » Continue Reading.
In 1891, at age 73, Cornelius Carter was still providing justice and attorney services to the town of Edwards. His name was highly respected across the North Country as a public servant and a knowledgeable outdoorsman. That reputation made state officials take notice when he chimed in on important issues, which Con did for the next ten years despite his advancing age.
In June 1893, responding to a newspaper account of a Lewis County hunter’s claim that deer in the region had wintered well, Carter wrote, “Never was there a time in my remembrance when the forest presented such a luxuriant growth. Every living shrub and tree is robed in living green; the scene is » Continue Reading.
Two creations of Jefferson County’s Edward Shortt were very successful in the 1880s, but like most inventors, he was always thinking, always innovating. Commercial success was important for funding future projects, but his steam pump and award-winning duplex engine, along with the backing of wealthy men like Charles Emery, ensured Edward of a comfortable living standard.
In the early 1990s, as Shortt’s duplex engines began mass production, he delved into designing a better braking system for trains. Other than for financial profit, there were many reasons to do so. Frequent and horrible rail accidents involved great loss of life, particularly in collision situations. The inability to effectively slow and stop such large, moving vehicles » Continue Reading.
Among the most notable from Jefferson County is a man whose work had a tremendous impact on products used widely by many industries.
One of his inventions is credited with preventing many accidents, thus avoiding an untold number of deaths and injuries.
Edward G. Shortt was just one year old when his family emigrated from Ireland to the United States in 1847. John and Esther Shortt settled in Redwood, about 20 miles north of Watertown, finding work in several nearby communities. Edward, the oldest of about a half-dozen children, attended schools in Redwood and Philadelphia. At about the age of 14, » Continue Reading.