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, July 6, 2015

Baseball King George Kissell’s Big Season

GK2A GeorgeKissellLast week’s recounting of North Country native George Kissell’s remarkable 69-year career in professional baseball touched only on some highlights.

Including all the details would surely require a hefty tome, but a look at one particular season provides insight on who he was and where his baseball wisdom was rooted. For that, there’s no better year than 1950.

Prior to that time, George, who hailed from the family farm in Evans Mills, northeast of Watertown, was an excellent athlete. At the age of sixteen, he was playing shortstop for a men’s team in the local Adirondack League, rapping out a double and triple in the team’s first playoff game. At seventeen, he led the Evans Mills High School basketball team as a guard. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 29, 2015

George Kissell: The King of Baseball

GK1A GeorgeKissellGeorge Kissell, a native of Evans Mills, about eight miles northeast of Watertown, is one of the most famous sports figures you’ve never heard of – unless maybe if you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Conversely, here are some baseball names you might be familiar with: Earl Weaver, Tony LaRussa, Steve Carlton, Joe Torre, Whitey Herzog, Sparky Anderson, Don Zimmer – and to go way back, let’s include Branch Rickey.

For a bit of perspective, listen to what they had to say about George Kissell (who is in no way related to the recent troubles in the Cardinals organization). Hall of Famer Earl Weaver called him one of the biggest influences on Weaver’s career. In Tony LaRussa’s first press conference after being voted into the Hall of Fame, Kissell was mentioned as a primary influence in his baseball life. Another Hall of Famer, Joe Torre, did the same, having noted earlier that, “Kissell taught me more baseball than anybody I’ve ever met in my life.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jim Barry: King of Death Penalty Reprieves

JJBarry2A1918It was Keeseville native Jim Barry’s reputation as a top-rated lawyer, fighting relentlessly and effectively against great odds, that led to his role in an infamous New York City murder case. In November 1918, four young men robbed a 68-year-old subway-ticket agent, Otto Fiala, and when the man resisted, he was shot dead.

The four included James “Bull” Cassidy, 25, an amateur boxer; Charles McLaughlin, 21; Joseph “Lefty” Milano, 19; and Joseph “Onions” Usefof, 20. Three sailors saw them flee the scene (netting only $61 from the robbery). Ten days later, detectives found them in Syracuse, where they were arrested after Cassidy fought a four-round bout. Willie Kirk, driver of the getaway car, was also taken into custody.

While they were locked up together, a deal was proposed by McLaughlin whereby one of them would assume blame for the murder, allowing the rest to avoid a death sentence or life in prison. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

James Barry: Friend of the Working Man

James J Barry of Schenectady and KeesevilleNearly a century ago, a North Country man played a role in one the most remarkable murder cases in New York State history. Attorney James J. Barry was a Keeseville native, born there in late 1876 and a  graduated of Keeseville’s McAuley Academy in 1898. In 1901 he moved to Schenectady where he worked for General Electric. He later attended Albany Law School, graduating in 1908 and setting up shop in Schenectady, his adopted home.

The Adirondacks were his real home however, and he maintained strong ties here. To share with others the joys of spending time in the mountains, he helped form the Northmen’s Club, of which he was president in 1907. Many times in the ensuing decades, he took club members, friends, and public officials on visits up north. Jim Barry was never away for very long. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Notes From The ACW Publishing Conference

HeavenHill01On Saturday we made our first-ever visit to Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, where the Adirondack Center for Writing Publishing Conference was held. My wife and business partner Jill Jones served with me on the panel of self-publishers that included Gary VanRiper and Jamie Sheffield. We shared different experiences and answered a variety of questions. Hopefully it was helpful to some of the attendees. After the panel’s portion ended, we visited with some of the authors and answered more questions. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Current Events on the Local Book Scene

BooksImageJW01There’s a lot going on in the world of books at this time that will affect writers everywhere, including the Adirondack region. BookExpo America and BookCon, held at the Javits Center in New York City, ended on May 31, the same day that regional book awards were presented at Blue Mountain Lake by the Adirondack Center for Writing. On June 6–7, the ACW’s annual Publishing Conference is being held in Lake Placid. From 2:45 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, my partner, Jill Jones, and I will be serving on the self-publishing panel, along with Jamie Sheffield and Gary VanRiper. The hope is to offer useful advice on things that have worked for each of us, thus helping others to avoid pitfalls and use resources wisely. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Early Baseball: Golden Age of the Silver Ball

SilverBallTrophyIf you’ve ever been to a professional baseball game, you’ll recall certain things: the food, the camaraderie among like-minded fans, exciting plays on the field, and the overall feeling of enjoyment. And remember that professional doesn’t necessarily mean major league. It also applies to the minor leagues, where, at least in my opinion, all those things are even more enjoyable, especially in Single-A ball. Watching the Geneva Cubs and other teams back in the 1980s in the Finger Lakes region is one of my all-time favorite baseball experiences. » Continue Reading.


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. » Continue Reading.


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 specialty artists, silver band and classic orchestra, and headed by the greatest of them all, Johnny Prindle.” » 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 a summer run with the Witherell Brothers’ Variety Combination, starring the locally famous siblings from Chateaugay, New York. For the remainder of the year they performed in towns and villages across Vermont. » 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 in Plattsburgh. Little has been written about him, but two books purporting to provide the basic facts of his life are rife with errors. » 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. » Continue Reading.


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? » Continue Reading.


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. » Continue Reading.


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. » Continue Reading.


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