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.



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 Most were maintained until the system became outdated.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.


Monday, April 11, 2016

Sally James Farnham Sculpted A Beautiful Career (Conclusion)

P3A SJF FarnhamHoovBustDifficulties and setbacks arose during the creation of the huge Bolivar piece, but excitement prevailed as the end neared. Ogdensburg native, sculptor Sally James Farnham, “I’ve worked more than four years on the statue and I’ve enjoyed every moment of the time. I like to do big things anyhow, and in working on this I had a tremendous personal feeling. I have great reverence for the subject, General Bolivar, and for the people of all South America…. I have been working from 16 to 18 hours a day for the past few weeks. And altogether, on General Bolivar, I have lifted over three tons of plastilene [oil-based modeling clay]. You’ll have to agree that the life of a stevedore has been mine.”

Prior to the unveiling, thousands gathered to watch as the statue was installed on Bolivar Hill in Central Park. There were luncheons, banquets, and other gatherings leading up to the big moment. The contingent representing the United States was topped by diplomats to Latin America, members of the cabinet, Supreme Court justices, Secretary of State Charles Evans Hughes, and President Warren Harding himself. A parade viewed by about 50,000 onlookers proceeded from the Waldorf-Astoria to Central Park, where a crowd estimated at 20,000 was in attendance. As part of the day’s ceremonies, a similar celebration was held simultaneously in Caracas, Venezuela, in honor of George Washington. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 4, 2016

The Career Of Ogdensburg Sculptor Sally James Farnham

P2A SJF OgdS&SMonumentWith a career in sculpting a real possibility, Sally James Farnham began bidding against the best in the industry, sometimes vying for selection from among thirty or more competitors. In 1904, for a project near and dear to her heart, she submitted two design proposals — Defenders of the Flag, and the Spirit of Liberty — to the city of Ogdensburg for a soldiers-and-sailors monument, which were quite popular around the country. Of the 16 designs considered, Farnham’s Spirit of Liberty was selected—a combination of bronze and Barre granite, with a female figure standing atop a single column, in all reaching 37 feet high.

Present at the unveiling were an estimated 20,000 visitors, with dignitaries that included Senator George Malby of nearby Canton, and the keynote speaker, Vice-President Charles Fairbanks. As the shroud was lifted to reveal the monument, cheers erupted, a 21-gun salute began, and a band played the “Star Spangled Banner,” creating a moment hometown girl Sally James Farnham would never forget. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Ogdensburg’s Sally James Farnham Sculpted A Beautiful Career

P1A SJF FarnhamDiscovering one’s passion, the driving force that permeates and defines a life, derives from no single formula. Depending on opportunities, it may happen in early childhood, or during one’s college years. And sometimes, much later, as in the case of Sally James of Ogdensburg, the convergence of life experience with a dose of serendipity spawns an awakening — the revelation of a hidden but prodigious talent.

Sally led a privileged life, having been born in 1869 into one of the North Country’s prominent families. (Her given name was Sarah, but she always went by Sally, once a common nickname for Sarah.) Indicative of the James family lifestyle is that many decades after her uncle’s home was built, it became the luxurious Crescent Hotel, with 18 guestrooms.

Sally’s grandfather, Amaziah James, was an attorney, a New York State Supreme Court judge, and later a member of Congress. Her father, Edward, was a colonel during the Civil War and became one of the best-known attorneys in St. Lawrence County. After Edward married Sarah Welles in 1864, they lived in his father’s opulent home, which was tended to by a staff of four servants. Daughters Lucia and Sarah (Sally) were born there, but in December 1879, when the girls were 13 and 10 respectively, Mrs. James died after a lengthy illness. » Continue Reading.


Monday, March 21, 2016

Pioneering Nurse Linda Richards (Conclusion)

LRichardsP3After a few months’ stay in France, Potsdam native Linda Richards arrived back in the United States in March 1891. With the best credentials in the world for training nurses, she developed new programs or redesigned existing ones at many facilities during the next two decades.

Among them were the Philadelphia Visiting Nurses’ Society; Kirkbride’s Hospital for the Insane (Philadelphia); the Methodist Episcopal Hospital (Philadelphia); the New England Hospital for Women and Children (Roxbury, Massachusetts); and the Brooklyn Homeopathic Hospital (New York City). In 1895, during her tenure at Brooklyn, she was elected president of the newly founded American Society of Superintendents of Training Schools for Nurses. Describing the changes she had seen since the early 1870s, Richards called it a “revolution of feeling toward training schools and trained nurses.”

While working with the society, she continued building and improving programs in facilities that included the Hartford Hospital (Connecticut); the University of Pennsylvania Hospital (Philadelphia); the Taunton Hospital for the Insane (Massachusetts); the Worcester Hospital for the Insane (Massachusetts); and the Kalamazoo Insane Asylum (Michigan). » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Pioneer Nurse Linda Richards Was Potsdam Native (Part 2)

LRichardsP2After completing the training program and becoming America’s first trained nurse, several options lay before Potsdam native Linda Richards: head nurse at either of two hospitals, operating a nurse’s training program at another, or night superintendent of the Bellevue Hospital Training School in New York City.

While the others appeared more inviting, she chose Bellevue, with clientele from the slums: the poor, sick, mentally ill, and addicted. In her estimation, it was where she could learn the most and at the same time do the most good. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Potsdam Native Linda Richards Was A Pioneering Nurse

LRichardsP1We all affect the lives of others, but the sphere of influence for most folks is limited. Relatively few among us substantially impact multiple generations, but the innovative work of a pioneering North Country native has affected nearly every American and Japanese citizen, plus countless others, for the past 125 years.

Malinda Ann Judson Richards, self-described as Linda Richards, was born in 1841 near Potsdam in St. Lawrence County. Her father, a preacher, named her after one of America’s first female foreign missionaries, Ann Judson. The family left Potsdam and moved to Minnesota when Linda was four years old, but just six weeks after arriving there, Sanford Richards died of tuberculosis. His widow, Betsy, moved the family to Vermont to live with her father. Linda later recalled fond memories of the relationship she shared with her grandfather during this time. They lived with him until he remarried in 1850, at which time Betsy purchased a nearby farm. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Women of WWI Laid the Groundwork for Rosie the Riveter

WomenWWI AIn observing National Women’s History Month 2016 (March), the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) has adopted the theme, “Working to Form a More Perfect Union: Honoring Women in Public Service and Government.” Among the women specifically cited is Judy Hart (1941–present), whose 27-year career with the National Park Service included a stint as the first superintendent of the Rosie the Riveter/World War II Home Front National Park in Richmond, California, a facility she helped create.

As the NWHP notes, “over 9,000 Rosies have contributed their stories to the park, and more than 2,000 have donated their personal items and mementos.” It’s fortunate that the Rosies are so well represented, but unfortunate that their World War I counterparts, who laid the groundwork for the Rosie movement, are largely overlooked. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Livingston Stone: Leading 19th Century Fisheries Expert

01LSLivStoneThe American shad is a native fish of East Coast waters like the St. Lawrence and Hudson Rivers, and yet the largest shad population in the world is in the Columbia River on the West Coast, an east-to-west migration of three thousand miles. Humpback whales migrate the same distance in water each year, and caribou do so on land, but the shad of the late 1800s made the trip in style: they took the train. Accompanying them was a man who spent a decade as the leading fish culturist in the North Country.

Livingston Stone was born in 1836 in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and graduated from Harvard with honors in 1857. He attended theological school and became a church pastor, but ongoing health issues resulted in an unusual prescription: spend as much time as possible in the outdoors.

A career change was in order, and in the late 1860s, Stone pursued his interest in all things fish. With the intelligence of a Harvard grad and a chess expert, he proved far more capable than most men in his field. In 1871, he helped found the American Fish Culturists Association (which later became the American Fisheries Society), commissioned by the government to restore America’s depleted rivers. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 15, 2016

An Ausable Forks Man’s Dramatic Wilderness Crash Landing (Story Conclusion)

P3A LoonLkCrashSiteHaving endured incredible hardships since leaving the site of their crashed Douglas B-23 “Dragon Bomber” nearly two weeks earlier near the Oregon – Idaho border, Ausable Chasm native Adgate Schermerhorn and his two partners were growing more and more weary. “Late the next night we sighted buildings, but were so tired we crawled into a culvert for five hours of sleep. It was pretty snug in there. Water and stone are both warmer than a snowbank, and it felt good.

“At daylight, we dried our leggings and shoes over a fire and trudged on to a little building. This turned out to be a false alarm, as it was another empty shack. Then we found another room with a window open and crawled in. This turned out to be a CCC camp shower room. There were slats piled up here, and they were pretty soft compared to tree boughs, so we piled them up and went to sleep again for a while. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 8, 2016

Adirondack Roots Saved Adgate Schermerhorn’s Life (Part 2)

P2A IdahoMapDuring the first few days, planes had been seen and heard overhead near the site of Adgate Schermerhorn’s crashed Douglas B-23 “Dragon Bomber.” Flares launched by the men had gone unnoticed, however.

On the third night, realizing they were trapped in what could well become a wintry mass grave, the men decided on a plan: Lieutenant Schermerhorn and two others, Staff Sergeants Ed Freeborg and Ralph Pruitt, would undertake a literally do-or-die effort to find help. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Adirondack Roots Saved Adgate Schermerhorn’s Life

P1A AdSchermerhornAdgate Schermerhorn was born in 1918 in the hamlet of Ausable Chasm, about a mile northeast of Keeseville. A horseman (he started riding at age five) and outdoorsman who loved the Adirondacks, he graduated from Keeseville High School in 1935 and worked as a lumberman in the North Country. He then attended the St. Lawrence School of Agriculture at Canton, earning a degree in 1939 from the Division of Technical Engineering. He worked as a refrigeration service man in the Plattsburgh area, but moved to Pennsylvania in December 1940 after securing a position with GE in Philadelphia. » Continue Reading.


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