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 21 books and more than 200 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 75 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.



Monday, December 3, 2012

Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Plattsburgh

The anniversary of the Battle of Plattsburgh passed recently (it was fought September 11, 1814), and this week, the anniversary of another famous American battle is noted: the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Within the military, both battles are held in the highest regard as critical moments in American history, and oddly enough, the two have an unusual link of sorts.

I discovered this several years ago while working on one of my earlier publications, The Battle of Plattsburgh Question & Answer Book. It’s not earth-shattering stuff, but instead more of an “I’ll be darned!” moment that happened during research.

The book’s unusual format led me to several similar discoveries. I wanted to cover the entire story of Plattsburgh’s famous battle, but in a way that might be enjoyed by children as well as adults. When my children were young, I often made a game of things to keep their minds active and teach them when they didn’t realize they were being taught. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Catamount Mountain’s Brush With Hollywood Fame

Catamount Mountain (now doesn’t that seem redundant?), the one rising from the shores of Taylor Pond north of Whiteface, has always been one of my favorite climbs. Exposed rock can be so alluring, just one of the many elements that draws in people who love the outdoors. And Catamount has it all for the average hiker/climber―beautiful woods, a conical peak with great views, a dike to climb through, and lots of open rocky expanses.

We visit such places for our own personal reasons. For me, at the beginning of more than four decades of hiking, the most powerful attraction was the rocks―ancient and bare, and preserved in their natural state, allowing a glimpse of undisturbed wildness. Only they weren’t as undisturbed as I thought.

Solitude, peace, and oddly enough, danger, were also elements that drew me to Catamount. Every time I ascended the steep, open rocky areas or skirted cliffs and drop-offs, it struck me how dangerous the place could be. I wondered how it was that more accidents weren’t reported over the years. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Private Property:
Oliver’s War, Brandon Park and Paddling Rights

If New York State’s highest court issued a ruling tomorrow that said, “We are mindful that this interpretation deprives the public at large … of the pleasure and profit of fishing and hunting in a very large portion of the Adirondack forest, and gives to men of great wealth, who can buy vast tracts of land, great protection in the enjoyment of their private privileges,” what would your reaction be? Indignation? Outrage? Rebellion? Would you march on Albany? (Or here’s a novel solution … secede!)

Well, relax, there’s nothing to worry about. That ruling was issued 109 years ago and has been in place ever since. The story comes to mind for two reasons: the recent offer for sale of Brandon Park, and the lawsuit against Adirondack Explorer Editor Phil Brown for trespassing. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Lessons from Chronicle Book Fair

The Chronicle Book Fair was held last Sunday at the Queensbury Hotel in downtown Glens Falls. Kudos to the Chronicle for once again hosting one of the region’s premier book events. It was educational, entertaining, and even lucrative for some.

Most important, it offered support to new authors who are seeking exposure and opinions on their work. This marked the event’s seventeenth year, but as indicated in an informational email from the folks at the Chronicle, it almost didn’t happen. Thankfully, this was because they are overwhelmed with work, and not because e-books have taken over the world.

Printed books, in fact, are faring quite well despite dire predictions across the Internet. After reading the latest statistics, a number of online writers have been quick to pronounce the death of printed books (what some are now referring to as “p-books”). Yes, e-book sales are said to have eclipsed hard-cover sales for the first time, but it’s also important that printed books still encompass about 65 percent of the book market. That’s critical information for local writers. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 5, 2012

19th Century Elections: Clinton County Vote Fraud

Election fraud! It makes headlines, and it has many faces. When I was a young boy growing up in Clinton County near the Canadian border, I overheard stories from adults talking about election fraud in nearby towns. With a wink, it was mentioned that so-and-so, an annual candidate, would once again be standing by the door at the polls all day long to greet the electorate―that’s just how dedicated he was to representing the interests of locals. He was, it was said, “greeting” them with $5 bills.

I never forgot the image that placed in my head―votes for sale at five bucks a pop. Years later, when I neared voting age, I assumed those stories were exaggerations, but as it turned out, they were right on the money (an excellent choice of terms, as we’ll see). » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Politics And History: ‘For The Children’

Public endeavors that bring huge benefits to the participant (we’re talking state-level and national politics here) can be a tricky thing when you want people to know that you’re in it for them and not for yourself. A popular way for politicians to demonstrate their intentions (altruism) is to invoke the children, as in “our children and our grandchildren.”

I can’t help but laugh when it’s used today because it should be worn out by now. Yes, I know … it really means a concern for the future, but it’s so much more poignant and meaningful when it’s “for the kids.” The term has been used so much, it should be considered child-phrase abuse. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Massena Earthquake of 1944

Twice within a week recently, earthquakes were felt across the North Country, and just a few minutes later, folks were chattering about it on social media. Mainstream news outlets quickly picked up the story and posted it on their websites. That’s quite a contrast to the early morning hours of September 5, 1944, when the Associated Press agent in Albany received information about an earthquake in northern New York. “Anybody killed?” he asked. When informed no one had been hurt, he showed little interest.

Likewise, when the state geologist in Albany was notified that a whole lotta shakin’ was goin’ on, he said, “There is no need to be alarmed. It is improbable they [the quakes] will be anything but quite small.” You win some, you lose some. In this case, both the reporter and geologist lost―big-time. They missed the call on what still stands as the most destructive earthquake in New York State history. » Continue Reading.


Monday, October 15, 2012

Commentary: Lawrence Gooley On Google Books

Remember Napster and the legal cases against individuals who used it to obtain copies of songs without paying for them? Citizens were pursued relentlessly by huge companies and eventually made an example of in court, getting hit by fines in the thousands of dollars. I’m not defending what those individuals did, but when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s an entirely different story. A large company has been brazenly stealing from thousands of citizens, and they may well get away with it.

In this case, instead of music, it’s books, and instead of citizens, it’s a gigantic company, Google, that has completely ignored longstanding law and violated the rights of thousands. On their own, they redefined US copyright law in order to suit their business plan, copying millions of books without bothering to seek authors’ permission.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 8, 2012

George Chahoon: Reconstruction Era ‘Carpetbagger’

George Chahoon, a man who lived in the North Country for 60 years, mostly in Ausable Forks, was the focus of two of the most remarkable incidents in the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. When the South seceded, it had named Richmond, Virginia, as its capital city. During the post-war years, appointees chosen by the military were placed in power to guide the recovery, and in 1868, George Chahoon, a native of Chenango County, New York, but a Virginia resident for most of his 28 years, was installed as mayor of Richmond, replacing a popular leader who had served in the position for 15 years.

On January 26, 1870, President Grant signed the official act allowing Virginia’s readmission to the Union. Among the new laws passed by the Virginia legislature was one known as the “Enabling Act.” This law allowed the governor to appoint councilmen in any city (there were no town or city governments in place after defeat), and the councilmen were in turn tasked with appointing municipal officers, including mayors.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Commentary: Disgraceful Reporting on Invaded Privacy

Thousands of untraceable searches, some of them into the personal information of family members and people with whom they had personal relationships, were made by employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Plattsburgh. The NYS Inspector General’s Office a few days ago released the full report on the violations occurring at that office, and an article in last Friday’s Press-Republican (Plattsburgh) has left me livid.

I both enjoy and work hard at researching stories. Like most writers, I hate making mistakes, but when I make them, they are honest mistakes. I don’t attempt to distort or embellish―my preference is for interesting or unusual stories that stand on their own merit. It’s embarrassing and downright mortifying to publish an error, but it happens to most of us at some point. But we don’t blame anyone for honest mistakes. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Ethel Dale’s ‘Most Perfectly Formed Legs’

It’s not often that a person is the focus of a sculptor’s attention. In the mid-1920s, a North Country woman found herself in just that position. The sculptor’s name was Pompeo Coppini, a noted artist who won several awards and whose works were featured from coast to coast. Many of his 128 principal creations are prominent in the state of Texas, including The Spirit of Sacrifice, the large monument at the Alamo, honoring those who died within the fort’s walls. It has been viewed by millions.

Coppini sculpted many historical figures of great accomplishment, including Robert E. Lee, Woodrow Wilson, Stonewall Jackson, Sam Houston, and George Washington. Add to that list Mrs. Ethel Dale, chosen as a sculpture subject for her great achievement in the field of … well, doing nothing.

Mrs. Dale’s family was living in Ticonderoga when she was born in 1895 as Cecille Dukett, daughter of Clayton and Lena Dukett. (The spelling of the family name in the media varied: most common were Ducat and Dukett.) A few years later, they moved to Crown Point. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Changes in E-Book Retailing

Regional booksellers and other North Country retailers who began selling e-books to earn profits and stay afloat will soon be faced with a big challenge in the online arena (as will stores across the country). The battle of the e-readers will soon break out once again in grand form, just as it did last year in the months prior to the holidays. It led to fantastic profits for Amazon in 2011: they pushed hard to sell Kindles, knowing that the real money was in e-books. Once a customer bought (or was gifted with) an e-reader, they were sure to make use of it―and the strategy worked. E-book sales went through the roof.

Due to a recent court decision, the company will once again bombard us with fantastic deals on readers and e-books. They were going to do that anyway, but the situation has taken a sudden, dramatic change in Amazon’s favor (and perhaps other large online retailers, like Barnes & Noble). I mention Amazon because they once controlled 90 percent of the e-book market. While that number has dropped to about 60 percent, it is likely to rise again with the recent court ruling. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Watertown’s Leonard J. Farwell: Wisconsin Governor

A few weeks ago, I wrote here about Joel Aldrich Matteson, a Watertown native who became governor of Illinois―and among other things, established a level of corruption perhaps matched by recent governor/inmate Rod Blagojevich. To balance the scale, here’s a look at another Watertown native who, during Matteson’s tenure, served as governor of Illinois’ neighbor to the north, Wisconsin. Though there was plenty of corruption in Wisconsin’s government during that time, the governor was not believed to be directly involved.

At worst, the wrongdoings of others may have soiled his good reputation, but he left plenty of accomplishments behind as well. He also became tied to a pair of signature events in American history. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Authorship And The New Book ‘Paradigm’

If you write books or read them, prepare to be amazed (I certainly was), and if you shop online for books, the information below is important to you. Somewhat of a fraud has been perpetrated on the public in the world of books. While it doesn’t meet the legal definition of fraud, it violates what we might call “the spirit of the law” in providing information (in book form) for resale.

Yes, if you write a book, you can write anything you want, but the fact that you’ve written a book doesn’t mean anyone is reading it. Feedback in the form of sales, comments, and media coverage will eventually let you know if anyone is reading your work. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Joel Aldrich Matteson: We Report, You Decide

If one were researching the careers of highly accomplished New York natives, you might encounter the glowing, capsulized review of Joel Aldrich Matteson’s life as offered on a website titled, “National Governors Association: The Collective Voice of the Nation’s Governors.” Matteson was born in Watertown, New York, in 1803. As the website notes, he “taught school in New York, and built railroads in the South.”

Moving to Illinois, he “established a career as a heavy contractor on the Illinois and Michigan Canal [the canal connection will be key to this story], and opened a successful woolen mill.”

After attaining financial success through business endeavors and the sale of land to the state, Matteson became an Illinois state senator in 1842. After a decade in the senate, he took office as governor in 1853. » Continue Reading.


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