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.



Thursday, July 28, 2016

Erastus Hudson and the Lindbergh Baby Case (Part 2)

2A LadderLindberghHouseOn March 13, 1932 Erastus Hudson of Plattsburgh was asked to visit the crime scene in the Charles Lindbergh home to secure whatever evidence he might produce. First using the standard dusting process, which was best for solid surfaces, he found no prints in the nursery on any items that had already been checked, confirming Kelly’s results, but he did find thirteen on the baby’s books and toys. These were extremely valuable because the baby had been born at home, and thus no fingerprints had been taken. Those gathered by Hudson were the only means of identifying the baby for certain—if he were ever found.

Turning his attention to the ladder that had yielded no prints to police experts, Hudson spent a couple of days applying his innovative process. He estimated collecting “more than 500 fingerprints and fragments, some of which were sufficient to be of value.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plattsburgh’s Erastus Hudson and the Lindbergh Baby Case

1A EMHudson“Trial of the Century” is a term frequently bandied about in the media to define extremely high-profile court cases. In the 1900s, twenty or so sported the moniker—the Scopes Monkey Trial, Nuremburg, Charles Manson, and O. J. Simpson among them—but always in the running, and at the top of many lists, is the Lindbergh Kidnapping in 1935. (The crime was committed in 1932; the court case began three years later.) At the center of one of the main issues during that trial was a North Country man, whose testimony spawned doubt among observers that justice was achieved. Many books have been written about the case during the ensuing 81 years, addressing the controversy as to whether the final verdict was justice or a travesty thereof.

That North Country man was Erastus Mead Hudson, born into a prominent Plattsburgh family in March 1888. (Hudson Hall at Plattsburgh State University is named after Erastus’s father, George Henry Hudson.) He attended Plattsburgh High School, and after graduating from Harvard in 1913 with a bachelor of science degree, Erastus attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, graduating in 1917 with specialties in bacteriology and body chemistry. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Equal Pay for Women in 1870: The Charley Warner Solution

1928 HdlineCWarner01Unequal pay for women ably performing the same jobs as men is unfair and idiotic. Why the sex of an employee reduces their pay should be a mystery to all, especially when most men can relate stories of male co-workers receiving equal pay despite being underperformers, shirkers, or just plain lazy. But the issue is nothing new. Faced with a need for self-supporting income in the 1870s, a northern New York woman didn’t wait for society to grant her equality. She instead chose her own path: going undercover in a man’s world. In doing so, she may have also found more happiness than anyone realized at the time. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why We Celebrate the Fourth the Way We Do

1876 ODJ4thJulyFRFourth of July celebrations across the Adirondacks and foothills are rooted in regional and national traditions. The principal components — parades, social gatherings, feasts, and fireworks — have endured since the early 1800s. They’re actually based on suggestions by one of our Founding Fathers.

During the first century of the nation’s existence, memories of the revolution remained strong, spawning several customs that have since disappeared. Besides parades, food, and fireworks, it was common during that time to skewer King George in a variety of ways. Some towns presented plays with characters from the revolution, generating boos and hisses when the king’s character appeared on stage. All events of those days featured speeches that were widely anticipated, including at least one mocking King George for his treatment of the colonies. Another highlight in every city, town, and village celebration was a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Each July, newspapers recounted the festivities held in communities large and small, from Albany and Troy to Plattsburgh, Ogdensburg, Watertown, and scores of small villages. Reading of the Declaration of Independence at each location was a revered tradition and truly the heart of every celebration. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Gordie Little: The Passing of a North Country Legend

P1 Gooley&Little20151125Folks in Essex and Franklin Counties, but in Clinton County most of all, are mourning the death last Wednesday of beloved historian, author, and media legend Gordie Little, undoubtedly one of the North Country’s best friends ever. Media legend? How else does one define the impact of 36 years on the radio, followed by nearly two decades of newspaper columns for Plattsburgh’s Press-Republican and recent columns in Denton Publications, while also hosting weekly programs on cable-access television? And through it all, he promoted the entire region at every opportunity.

Gordie wasn’t just on the radio: for thousands every day, he was radio. Shortly after joining WIRY in Plattsburgh back in the early 1960s, he was voted the top DJ among 12 competitors from area stations, earning for him a Golden Mike award. The fans had spoken, and he never looked back, making radio his life. The morning birthday show on WIRY became a regional classic. Many of us heard our birthdays announced back then, and heard Gordie do the same for our own children decades later. Families woke up to his voice daily, learning all the local news as we readied for school or work. (And he was always there, working more than 30 years before throat surgery forced him to take his first sick days.) Listeners will never forget his humorous, self-deprecating catch phrase: “Gordie Little – Who’s He?” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The North Country Man Who Threatened A President

P1JosephDoldoWhen presidential historians and scholars rate America’s greatest leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the few who nearly always appear among the top five, along with Washington and Lincoln. While others certainly served admirably, those three achieved elevated status by facing stern tests of leadership during great crises in our history: the battle for independence, the fight to preserve the Union, and in FDR’s case, both the Great Depression and World War II.

It’s less well known that Roosevelt very nearly didn’t serve as President due to assassination attempts prior to his first inauguration. One of those stories brought ignominious headlines to the North Country over a period of several months.

Roosevelt first won the presidency in November 1932. The 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, officially establishing January 20 as the new inauguration date for all future presidents, and making FDR the last President to be inaugurated on March 4. He very nearly didn’t survive the waiting period. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 13, 2016

The Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum

BabMus01In the northeast corner of New York State, the first weekend in June features Museum Days, during which 16 facilities in Clinton County offer free admission. We were among many who appeared as special guests on both days, offering our books for sale and visiting with attendees, which meant talking a lot about “the good old days.” From that experience, I can assure everyone that a trip to the Babbie Rural & Farm Learning Museum in Peru, where we spent Saturday, is a great idea from several perspectives.

As a museum, it’s a real pleasure, and for children and adults alike, it’s fun and entertaining. But it occurred to me that it’s also a priceless gift to people in their sixties or older, and to the offspring of those folks who have heard stories about childhood chores, tools of yesteryear, and appliances that preceded modern devices. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 5, 2016

Sweat And Matt Deja Vu: Another Dickinson Center Manhunt

1SweatMattEarly June marks the one-year anniversary of one of the biggest crime stories in the Adirondack region during the past century. The final days of the manhunt for Richard Matt and David Sweat played out in northern Franklin County, focusing mostly on Malone and the large forest south of the village. By coincidence, one of the biggest crime stories of the 1800s unfolded in the same area and shared some key components: murderers on the loose, a manhunt, and Dickinson Center. Both stories rocked a sparsely populated region, where little of consequence ever seemed to happen. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 31, 2016

Dannemora Escapee Jack Williams: At First, Too Big to Succeed

DannPicketWall1880As the one-year anniversary of the infamous Dannemora prison break approaches, here’s the story of an inmate linked to a pair of unusual breakouts, excerpted from my book, Escape from Dannemora.

Despite media stories claiming early on that Richard Matt and David Sweat were the first-ever escapees from Clinton Prison, some in the past did it in even more spectacular fashion, and overall, hundreds managed to escape under various circumstances. Among them was Jack Williams, a participant in two Clinton exits involving unusual components featured in no other Dannemora escapes. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 23, 2016

Losing a Dear Friend and Valued Historian

LyMtMuseumLyon Mountain is mourning the loss of an important community member, one who also meant very much personally to me and my wife, Jill Jones. Rita Kwetcian, 85, passed away late last Thursday. Recently, when caring for her home became too difficult, she moved to 260 Lake Street: A Senior Resort Community in Rouses Point. Otherwise, her entire life was spent in Lyon Mountain, which happens to be the subject of my first book published through our new company twelve years ago. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Two Jefferson County Men Who Made Good in Illinois

P1RockfordMfgCo1889A pair of North Country men, born just a few miles apart in Jefferson County, left New York in their adult years and settled about 65 miles apart in Illinois, where each left his lasting mark. Together, their names were also attached to an institution in Arkansas that lives on nearly a century and a half later.

John Budlong was born in February 1833 in Rodman, New York, about eight miles south of Watertown. The Budlong family has many historical connections dating back to the Revolutionary War. John attended several of the best schools in the region: the Rodman Seminary, the Jefferson County Institute at Watertown, the Adams Institute, and Falley Seminary at Fulton in Oswego County. At the age of 18 he began a wide-ranging teaching career, working in North Carolina, Texas, and Missouri before returning to Rodman, where he continued teaching and began studying law. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, May 8, 2016

Aviation History: Air Marking The North Country (Conclusion)

AMP2A 1951CiceroNYShortly after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, it was realized that airmarks could be used by enemy planes, so the order was given to remove 2,500 airmarks that stood within 150 miles of the nation’s coasts. Six weeks later, those marks were obliterated, undoing six years of labor—but shortly after, the blanket order was modified. Why? The absence of airmarks was causing military pilot trainees to become lost. The new order allowed airmarks within 50 miles of flight training airfields.

The national program resumed after the war, with improved methods (including government-supplied plywood templates for lettering) and greater participation, but it’s truly remarkable that despite historic advances in communications and airplanes, the airmark system remained in use into the 1970s.

If you’re old enough to have flown locally back then, you might recall some North Country rooftop markings, some of which are listed below with their year of origin. Most were maintained until the system became outdated. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Aviation History: North Country Airmarks

AMP1A AMPromoWe take navigation for granted today, what with Siri, GPS, radio communications, radar, and services like Google Maps. But imagine you were a pilot in upstate New York back in the 1920s, when aviation was first coming into its own. If you took to the air, as many citizens did, how would you avoid getting lost?

The answer quite often was — you probably wouldn’t, and with potentially fatal consequences. Many pilots died in crashes after running out of fuel while trying to find a destination. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 28, 2016

POW Labor Camps in the Adirondacks

PineCamp1942The word Adirondack calls to mind many things — natural beauty, family playground, sporting opportunities, colorful history — but nothing so dark as prisoner-of-war host.

Yet during the last world war (let’s hope it was the last), followers of Hitler and Mussolini populated the North Country. Volumes have been written about the suffering endured in POW camps, but for countries adhering to the Geneva Conventions, there was a clear set of rules to follow. Among them was that prisoners must receive adequate provisions and supplies (food, clothing, living quarters), and if put to work, they must be paid. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Land of the Heathens: The Wildest Adirondacks Ever!

BishopRHNelsonFervent pleas for aid to missionaries around the world are common, and by no means a recent phenomenon. Take, for instance, the effort led by Episcopalian Bishop Richard H. Nelson in the Albany area in 1913. Said the Glens Falls Daily Times, “It is the intention of Bishop Nelson to organize a missionary league in the diocese for the purpose of raising sufficient money to carry on the work of building up parishes in the neglected sections.” Nelson displayed a map of those neglected sections, where, he said, “The condition is almost unbelievable.”

When I was much younger, one of the most beloved and respected teachers in our local school left to work in the missions in Africa. She described many of the same problems voiced by Nelson: poverty, illiteracy, poor spiritual condition, and a disturbing lack of morals. In both cases (Nelson’s and the teacher’s), the viewpoint was from a devout Christian perspective (our teacher was a Catholic nun). » Continue Reading.


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