Almanack Contributor Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence Gooley, of Clinton County, is an award-winning author who has hiked, bushwhacked, climbed, bicycled, explored, and canoed in the Adirondack Mountains for 45 years. With a lifetime love of research, writing, and history, he has authored 19 books and more than 150 articles on the region's past, and in 2009 organized the North Country Authors in the Plattsburgh area.

His book Oliver’s War: An Adirondack Rebel Battles the Rockefeller Fortune won the Adirondack Literary Award for Best Book of Nonfiction in 2008. Another title, Terror in the Adirondacks: The True Story of Serial Killer Robert F. Garrow, has been a regional best-seller for four years running.

With his partner, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. They have published 65 titles and are now offering web design.

Bloated Toe’s unusual business model was featured in Publisher’s Weekly in April 2011. The company also operates an online store to support the work of other regional folks. The North Country Store features more than 100 book titles and 60 CDs and DVDs, along with a variety of other area products.



Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Johnny Prindle: The Funnyman’s Last Lines

JP 04A Ad1888SyrExpectations were high for Johnnie Prindle‘s newest production, “Reuben Glue, or Life Among the Bushrangers”, about the adventures of a Vermont Yankee farmer in the wilds of Australia, but if anything,  he exceeded them.

As the reviews rolled in from packed opera houses and SRO theaters in Syracuse, Buffalo, Cleveland, Indianapolis, Cincinnati, and elsewhere, it was clear that Reuben Glue as portrayed by Johnnie was a tour de force.


Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Johnny Prindle: The Joy of Laughter (Part 3)

JP 03A Ad1885IowaSince the Beedles & Prindle tour of 1883 wasn’t scheduled to begin until May, Johnnie Prindle performed Reuben Chandler and other favorites on the western circuit with the Oakes Brothers, who were more than happy to have one of the biggest traveling stars for the tidy sum of $500 per week ($12,000 in 2015).

The Beedles & Prindle Pleasure Party toured again that summer, reaching a wide audience, but also visiting their fans back home. A show was held for appreciative audiences in Plattsburgh at Palmer’s Hall, where Johnnie’s career began, and at Ticonderoga, where the Sentinel noted: “They are meeting with greater success than ever. Houses crowded every night, twelve star » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 5, 2015

North Country Funnyman Johnny Prindle (Part 2)

JP 02A B&PColorAdIn March 1877, Johnnie Prindle left the troupe and joined wife Carrie at home for the birth of their first child together, daughter Vincentine. Family was important, but due to scheduling commitments, he rejoined the company before too long. After all, so many others were counting on the show’s star to help produce their income.

Tours lasted six to nine months, and sometimes a year, after which some performers took a break. Others, like Prindle often did, signed with different traveling shows and carried on. Earlier in the year, while on the road in Ontario, Johnny had begun advertising his pending availability. Before the tour ended in May, he had committed to » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 27, 2015

Johnny Prindle: The Joy of Laughter

JP 01A HeadThe recent loss of Robin Williams, whose death felt deeply personal to many who never actually knew him, reminded me of a North Country entertainer who shared a somewhat similar fate long ago. Although the man’s passing was not by his own hand, it was the suddenness of his “not being there” that was stunning and difficult for many thousands of fans. For like Williams, he had brought decades of laughter and great joy into their lives.

Johnnie Prindle was born in Plattsburgh, New York. The year? His gravestone says 1845; several census records say 1846; his marriage and death certificates say 1847. And age was only the first of many vagaries regarding his life » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 20, 2015

The Birthplace of Muffets (Conclusion)

B1Perky MuffetsQkrOatsScott Perkys’ first year living in the village of Keeseville was a busy one. He became involved in community activities, and in July his daughter Melissa was born in Plattsburgh. A short time later he applied for a patent application for a new food product that would become known as Muffets, a round version of shredded wheat biscuits.

Scott’s knowledge of his father’s patents on the cereal and the machines to make it, which had expired in 1912, allowed him to recreate that work with major modifications.


Monday, April 13, 2015

The Adirondack Birthplace of Muffets

1APerky NiagFallsFactoryThe 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?


Monday, April 6, 2015

A Few North Country Fish Stories

1 1925TroutWatchHdlineTrout 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.


Monday, March 30, 2015

Rita LaBombard’s History of Giving (Conclusion)

P3 StMarysSignIn 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.


Monday, March 23, 2015

Rita LaBombard: A History of Giving (Part 2)

P2 1967 HdlineMissCtrSt. 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.


Monday, March 16, 2015

Rita LaBombard: A History of Giving

P1 RitaLabombardWomen’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.


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