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, January 25, 2016

Censorship: The Great Comic Book Crisis

ComicCover01History can be entertaining, educating, and eye-opening. For example, read the next two paragraphs, and insert the same term (singular or plural as appropriate) to fill in every blank, choosing one of two options: video game or computer.

“Give a child a ________ and he will sit with his nose in it instead of getting out and playing with other children, or entertaining himself by tinkering, building, or joining the family group at whatever they are doing. You can’t even make a dent on the consciousness of a child engrossed in a ________. He may hear the sound of your voice, but the words don’t sink in. He’s off in a dream world, where he isn’t learning anything or doing anything. And you can’t get at him.

“Sure, he’s quiet—and that seems to be enough for a lot of parents. But what is a boy or girl going to be like when he is grown if the greater part of his formative years is spent in a ________ dream world? The experts seem to differ on whether or not ________ are bad for children. But this much any parent knows. Give a child all the ________ he wants and he won’t be much interested in anything else. Like the satisfaction of any other appetite, overindulgence can lead to ill effects.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 18, 2016

Charles Redfield: Newspaper Ink Ran Through His Veins

MaloneTelBldgThe Malone Telegram, recently passing the 110th anniversary of its founding (December 9), was the brainchild of Charles M. Redfield, who was cautioned back in 1905 that starting a daily newspaper in a small city with two established weeklies (the Palladium and the Farmer) was foolhardy. But Redfield forged ahead, confident that the response received in advance from advertisers would support the venture — and he was right.

For those who probe newspaper archives while researching historical topics, people like Charles Redfield are important and much appreciated. In that regard, Redfield’s efforts were vital in a number of communities prior to his tenure in Malone.

Redfield was born in December 1859 in Woodville, about 20 miles southwest of Watertown in Jefferson County. The family lived in different locations, and at age 12, Charles became a newspaper delivery boy for the Watertown Times. While still in his teens, he joined the Times as a “printer’s devil,” an apprentice, which meant helper, trainee, and all-round go-fer. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 11, 2016

Yellow Jackets Beat the Cold — Without Jackets

WaspNest01A naked, living critter fully exposed to below-zero temperatures for 24 hours – with a pleasant, stiff breeze tossed in for good measure – should by most reckoning be dead. We know there’s science behind surviving such conditions, and that some creatures manufacture their own anti-freeze, which lowers the freezing point of their body fluids and allows them to survive. Still, seeing it happen firsthand is sort of like watching a good magician: the eyes and mind are saying, “I see it, but I don’t believe it,” even though we know there’s a rational explanation behind it all. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 4, 2016

Harvey Kane: Newspaper Editor With A Poet’s Touch

Hermit_thrush_qmnonicNewspaper articles and poetry are two quite different styles of writing. It’s probably not a common thing to be well-versed (pardon the mild pun) in both, but a century ago, a North Country man enjoyed a regular following in both arenas. One of his poems struck me as capturing nature with beautiful prose, while at the same time recalling a great pleasure that so many Adirondack folks have experienced. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Recalling The Warm Winter Of 1932

“Is our climate changing? This is a question heard often these days. Some are inclined to believe it is, but others are inclined to believe it is just one of those unusual open winters. The weather has been so mild that pussy willows are showing buds, woodchucks are out, and caterpillars were found crawling on the ground.” Those aren’t my words. They’re from the Norwood News, January 20, 1932.

While reading about years past, it struck me how this mild winter parallels those of 1932 and 1933. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 28, 2015

A North Country Doctor Provides the Breath of Life

IsaacPatchenOf the many great stories about old country doctors, one of my favorites happened in the North Country just a few minutes south of Plattsburgh. The doctor’s name was Isaac Hutinac Patchen. His grandfather, Claude Hutinac, married a woman whose surname was Patchen. Their son, Stephen (Isaac’s father), fought in five Revolutionary War battles and endured the terrible suffering at Valley Forge. Following the war, he assumed his mother’s surname, and family members henceforth were known as Patchens.

Isaac Patchen was born around 1793, and at age 20 he began medical training. At the time, he lived in Vermont’s Lake Champlain Islands and in northern New York, where war was affecting locals on both sides of the lake. On September 11, 1814, during the Battle of Plattsburgh, he joined a militia force and volunteered to pursue fleeing enemy soldiers. More than twenty men were captured, and years later, Isaac received a land grant of 160 acres in return for a job well done. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Gooley: Foot Traffic Is Key To Selling Local Books

FootTraffic02PDRecent events (record sales numbers for our company) have helped confirm that practices I’ve shared with self-published authors selling their own work apply to both small-scale and larger-scale situations. You must, of course, have successfully gauged the sale-ability of your book, designed a pleasing cover, applied a price that works for both you and your potential customers, and have at least ballpark accuracy in predicting your audience. With those factors in place, it’s time to sell. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 14, 2015

Bear Grease: Adirondack Slickum

BearGreaseRicksTrivia question #1: Can you identify the source of the following song lyrics snippet?

“Pearl, Pearl, Pearl, come be my loving girl; Don’t you marry Lester Flatt, He slicks his hair with possum fat, Change your name to Mrs. Earl Scruggs.”

Trivia question #2: What is the term applied to doilies that once appeared so often on the backs of chairs and sofas? (Or for you old-timers, on the backs of davenports.) Trivia question #3: What was the purpose of those doilies?

The three questions and two of the answers are tenuously related to last week’s piece on Allen’s famous bear fight up in Keene, and are linked to a world-famous product that was widely touted for preventing baldness, restoring hair growth, softening leather, cooking, hair styling, predicting the weather, thwarting attacks by all manner of biting insects, preventing frostbite, treating and healing skin injuries, sealing out the elements, and a bunch of other uses. » Continue Reading.


Monday, December 7, 2015

Allen’s Bear Fight Up in Keene

SketchFromPaintingIf you love Adirondack legend and lore, you’ll love this gem of a poem that first appeared in 1846. Since then it has appeared in print several times, often with revisions, and with the removal of certain stanzas. It’s the exciting story of a man-versus-bear encounter. The man was Anson Allen, whose colorful past included a fifteen-year stint as owner/editor of the Keeseville Herald, the village’s first newspaper. After moving to Westport in the early 1840s, he edited the Essex Co. Times and Westport Herald for four years.

He later published a monthly titled The Old Settler, covering stories and reminiscences from the region’s earliest history. The paper literally defined him, for Allen became known widely as “the old settler.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 3, 2015

A Tidy Scam: Cats + Rats = Profits

1936CatRanchHdlineIf you’re obsessed with cats, you might not find what follows very funny – but I thought it was pretty amusing, and I’ve been owned by cats before. It has to do with a very efficient business plan offered periodically to folks around the country, including the readers of several North Country newspapers. Entrepreneurs sought financing for a slam-dunk proposal, the 1918 version of which targeted northern New York investors for a company based in Ontario.

The plan was to establish a Cat Ranch to supply furs for market. Clothing made from cat pelts?! Decidedly insensitive in modern times, but not so unusual when a single advertisement of the day in the Ogdensburg Republican-Journal offered coats using skins from beaver, seal, raccoon, muskrat, opossum, marmot (woodchuck), caracul (sheep), viscasha (chinchilla), fox, mink, skunk, panther, calf, and gray squirrel. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 23, 2015

William Anderson: Troy Newspaperman, Adirondack Booster

GraftonFreshAirHomeAt the age of fifteen, William Anderson of Troy was a busy boy. Besides working as a messenger for the common council and handling desk clerk duties at a local library, he had toiled as a newsboy for the Troy Times since he was twelve years old. Newsboys were once a critical part of operations for most newspapers. Instead of being hired, they were independent, which was good for the newspapers but not so good for the boys. They purchased papers and hawked them on the streets, earning a tiny amount of profit for each one sold, and taking the hit for papers that went unsold. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Dazzling Drummers: The Clarks of Lewis County

UnidentifiedDrummerBoyLOCLong ago, in the Lewis County town of Denmark – just a few miles south of Fort Drum, coincidentally – lived a family famous for its drumming skills. The Clarks’ unusual abilities began with the father, Orrin Clark, who served five years as a militia drummer.

Among his many children were sons George (born in 1844), John (1853), and Hiram (1856). Less than three weeks after his seventeenth birthday, George enlisted in the army, joining an infantry regiment. Displaying a musical talent similar to his father’s, he served as a drummer (the official military rank was Musician) for the next three and a half years. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 9, 2015

Two North Country Men Linked By Death Coincidence

WalterEMurphyOn January 7, 1933, the lives of two North Country men converged briefly nearly 300 miles from home in the Jamaica section of Queens in the City of New York. By odd coincidence, without ever meeting, they were fatally wounded within a few feet of each other. The older of the two was Walter Murphy of Ausable Forks, who joined the New York City police force in June 1926. The following year, he was cited for bravery after stopping a runaway horse (the cause of many deaths and injuries in those days), and in early 1933 he made headlines for a murder arrest. He frequently visited family in Ausable Forks, and had just left there nine days earlier after spending Christmas in the Adirondacks.

On the fateful day, Murphy was off duty, and with a friend had stopped at a service station for gas and to make some minor repairs to his car. While cleaning up in the washroom, they overheard a commotion outside. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, November 3, 2015

The Chronicle Book Fair’s 20th Year

ChronicleBookFair2015No matter what type of book you prefer, you’re almost certain to find something you’ll like at the Chronicle Book Fair, which celebrates its 20th anniversary on Sunday, November 8, at the Queensbury Hotel in downtown Glens Falls.

You’ll meet authors, publishers, booksellers and other folks – more than a hundred will be set up with displays – so there’ll be plenty of chatter going on throughout the day.

Tables featuring hundreds of book titles will be laid out in different rooms, providing great shopping opportunities for yourself or for the holidays. Strike up a conversation with an author about his or her work, they love to talk about what they’ve done or what they’re working on next. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween Pranks of Old

halprankThe night of mischief surrounding Halloween seemed to often get out of hand when I was a child. While we were out collecting candy and anticipating the pleasures to follow, fire trucks and police vehicles were constantly on the run. It forever warped for me the definition of mischief. I could only guess that for children it meant rascally behavior like soaping windows, and for young adults it meant burning barns and vacant houses.

I didn’t know at the time that it was nothing new. The region’s old newspapers are filled with articles about Halloween arson, often referred to as mischief, dating back more than a hundred years. » Continue Reading.


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