Monday, January 16, 2017

Hal Smith, Massena’s Shining Star (Part 4)

Hal Smith‘s heavy workload was more than paying the bills, and in 1952 he began building a home in the San Fernando Valley. Bit parts in so many TV shows led to appearances in multiple episodes of popular programs like Broken Arrow and Have Gun, Will Travel, and countless opportunities in the world of commercial advertising. For several years he was too busy to get away often, so in late 1959, instead of visiting his parents in Old Forge, he flew to Detroit to buy a new Dodge, drove to the Adirondacks, and brought them back to California for a six-month stay. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Peggy O’Shea Appointed Interim Executive Director at View

Fritz Messere, president of the board of directors of View arts and community center in Old Forge announced the appointment of Peggy O’Shea, former president & CEO of The Community Foundation of Herkimer and Oneida Counties, as View’s interim executive director as of December 31, 2016. O’Shea succeeds Jennifer Potter-Hayes, who retired in December after leading View for six years.

View, founded in 1951, has evolved into an art and community center, housed in a green-certified 28,000 square foot gallery, theater, workshop and studio facility on Route 28. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Hal Smith, Alias Otis Campbell, Massena’s Shining Star (Part 3)

In early January 1938, Hal Smith, described as an “impersonator, vocalist, and musician,” left WIBX in Utica to sing, do impersonations, and perform production work for stations WGR, WKBW, and WEBR in Buffalo. Without missing a beat, he was soon serving as master of ceremonies at high-profile events, and leading a band known as Pop Martin and His Boys while hosting a radio show by the same name. He was also regularly featured on WEBR with well-known Buffalo singer Joan Hutton, on a pair of shows titled “Music is My Hobby” and “Linger Awhile.”

Despite doing well in Buffalo, Hal returned by mid-year to WIBX in Utica. One reason for the move may have been his relationship with the station secretary there, Vivian Angstadt. In early August 1938 they applied for a marriage license, and were wed in Utica on the thirteenth. After a stay at Lake Placid while touring the Adirondacks, they returned to work at WIBX. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Duck Decoy Collection Being Showcased At TAUNY

jerry lincoln and swan decoysTraditional Arts in Upstate New York (TAUNY) will hold an opening reception on Saturday, January 14 from 10 am to 12 pm for an exhibition of selected decoys from the collection of Jerry Lincoln of Ogdensburg. Lincoln will be in the gallery to answer questions about his collection, and to share stories about his duck hunting experiences over many years. The decoys will remain on display at the TAUNY Center through the end of February.

The exhibit of Jerry Lincoln’s decoys is the first installment of TAUNY’s 2017 Personal Collection Series. This year, TAUNY will showcase personal collections from individuals around the region. Each collection has a special connection to the North Country; most of the items were originally produced or utilized here. These collections represent a diversity of interests related to the folk life and ongoing traditions of the region. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Baskets and Birdhouses Exhibit at the Old Forge Library

“Baskets and Birdhouses,” an art exhibit by mother and daughter artisans Barbara and Bernie Green is currently on display at the Old Forge Library through February 18th.

There will be an opening reception on Friday, January 13, from 5 to 7 pm to provide an opportunity to meet and talk with the artists and view their work. Light refreshments will be served and acoustic music will be provided by guitarist Dan Vellone. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

Hal Smith, Alias Otis Campbell, Massena’s Shining Star (Part 2)

For Hal Smith and his siblings, there always seemed to be a new act in the works. When she was 18, Hal’s sister Bernadeen presented the Follies of 1932 in the local opera house in January, a show that included the Smith children singing and dancing. In April of the same year, the PTA sponsored a circus act as a stage production, with dozens of cast members led by Hal Smith as ringmaster. In two different shows presented in June, including a band concert, he sang solos.

In September, at the beginning of the next school year, Bernadeen and Kathleen directed, acted, and danced in a four-act play. Just three weeks past his 16th birthday, Hal sang a solo in scene two, and between acts he sang with Joe Calipari and his orchestra.

While still directing plays and shows, the Smith sisters enrolled in Potsdam Normal School in the fall of 1932. Hal continued taking acting roles, but more and more was performing as a singer. He joined the newly formed Massena High School choir, and in November, when the school band played on radio station CFLC (in Prescott, Ontario, opposite Ogdensburg on the St. Lawrence River), Hal was the solo vocalist. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 3, 2017

First Friday Jam at The TAUNY Center This Friday

November 2016 Jam at The TAUNY Center. This Friday, January 6th, from 7-8:30 pm TAUNY invites musicians and friends of all ages to their first First Friday Jam of 2017 hosted by fiddler Gretchen Koehler and singer/guitarist Barb Heller, host of NCPR’s String Fever. TAUNY’s traditional music jams are open to people interested in gathering with North Country neighbors to play old time fiddle tunes and songs from American folk traditions.

Participants are invited to bring an instrument, singing voice, or just yourself and come to The TAUNY Center for this fun monthly jam. Fiddles, guitars, percussion, and/or other traditional instruments as well as all levels of musicians, singers, and step dancers are welcome. To help all players feel comfortable, tunes will be played at a variety of speeds throughout the evening. Players will be invited to pick tunes from the set list–round-robin style–and begin the tune at their speed. Sheet music, words, and chords are provided for those who would like to read along. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 2, 2017

Colton Getting Ready for Winterfest January 26-29

The town of Colton is getting ready for its annual Winterfest Weekend scheduled for January 26-29, 2017. The 2017 theme — Get in Gear — invites people to stay active in winter through a variety of indoor and outdoor activities.

A preliminary schedule of activities being organized and supported by the town, Colton-Pierrepont Central School (CPCS), and many others has been posted on the town website by the Winterfest Planning Committee. The festival begins on Thursday, January 26 with the CPCS Class of 2020 hosting a spaghetti dinner from 4 to 7 pm in the school cafeteria. At 5 pm during the dinner, the town’s Citizen of the Year will be presented. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 30, 2016

First Night Celebrations To Ring In The New Year

There are so many different ways to ring in the new year. Each Adirondack town has special celebrations from Lake George cruises to Long Lake’s Little Bus festivities. There are even ski mountain extravaganzas like Oak Mountain’s Torch Light Parade or Titus Mountain’s free 1st Tracks Bash.

My family has always chosen to bring in the new year with a First Night Celebration in Saranac Lake or Saratoga Springs. Both events offer an alcohol-free, family-friendly tradition for welcoming in the new year. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

North Country’s Hal Smith, Mayberry’s Affable Town Drunk

For millions of people, holidays are all about going home, returning to one’s roots of family and friends. That concept was epitomized by a North Country man who attained great fame in Hollywood, but to his great credit never forgot the home folks — and to their credit, the home folks never forgot him. Whenever he returned to the North Country, or old friends visited him in California, there was always an exchange of love, admiration, and deep appreciation.

He was born in northern Michigan in 1916 as Harold John Smith, about as anonymous a name as one can imagine, and likely one that stirs no sense of recognition. But if Otis Campbell were mentioned, many would instantly recall Mayberry’s affable town drunk from The Andy Griffith Show. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Saranac Winter Carnival Accepting Nominations for King and Queen

The Saranac Lake Winter Carnival Committee is currently seeking nominations from the public for the 2017 Winter Carnival king and queen.

The king and queen selection is based upon volunteerism within the community. Candidates should demonstrate a long-term and broad-based commitment to making life more livable, pleasant, and enjoyable – both for the people who live there and for those who visit. The volunteer activities can be organized or completely self-motivated. They can be as diverse as organizing a major community event or as seemingly minor as shoveling a neighbor’s sidewalk. The committee is seeking people who help others independently, not people who are in professions that help or care for others. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Long Lake Winter Carnival Events Announced

On Saturday, January 14th at noon, the Long Lake Winter Carnival will be held at Mt. Sabattis Recreation Center in Long Lake, located at 6 Pavilion Way off of Deerland Road, NYS Route 30.

The day-long series of events begin with a bonfire, snowmobile parade, and coronation of the King and Queen. The popular Cardboard Sled Races start at 1 pm. Prizes are awarded for speed and overall award for first place, Best In Show Decoration. Sleds can be made with cardboard, paint, wax and tape only. Categories are broken up by age group and teams.

Other events throughout the day include a Wackiest Hat Contest, Town-Wide Photo, Men’s Feats of Strength, the Ladies Frying Pan Toss and fireworks at 6:30 pm. New for 2017 will be the introduction of the Long Lake Snow Kayak Races. It’s a combination of sledding, snowboarding, speed-riding and kayaking. Participants must provide their own kayaks and paddles and will be required to wear helmets. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, December 28, 2016

Martin Luther King Coffeehouse Features Standing Rock, Crowfeather

crowfeatherSaturday, January 14, 2017 at 7 pm in the Presbyterian Church Great Hall, the words of Dr. Martin Luther King will ring out, civil rights songs will be sung, stories of indigenous youth today will be told, along with music by the six-piece band Crowfeather. Coffee, tea and baked goods will be served.

This event is sponsored by the Peace with Justice Workgroup of the Saranac Lake Ecumenical Council. The event is free, donations will be accepted to mail refugee hygiene kits and to support indigenous nonviolent civil action.

In addition to civil rights inspired music and the words of Dr. King, Birk Albert and friends will share experience of today’s nonviolent civil rights movement with indigenous youth and Standing Rock. Birk Albert, 17, is a Lake Placid High School senior. He grew up in bush Alaska and is Athabascan Indian. He is a United National Indian Tribal Youth Earth Ambassador and one of “25 under 25” honorees. He serves as a UNITY, Earth Ambassador and was a Youth Delegate to the 2015 White House Tribal Nations Conference. He has been closely watching the situation at Standing Rock since July. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Letters to Santa from a Simpler Time

pa1922-xmasadChildren’s Christmas wishes and expectations years ago were much different from what they are today. I was so struck by this—the simplicity and innocence of children hoping to receive some sort of gift—that while researching a book back in 2010, I included a chapter entitled Letters to Santa (in History of Churubusco). The sample letters below are excerpted from that book, and were published in North Country newspapers between 1920 and 1940. They reveal a sharp contrast to the modern holiday, where expensive gifts have become the disproportionate norm.

Like hundreds of other small villages and towns in the early twentieth century, Churubusco (in northwest Clinton County) was a farming community. Families were often self-sufficient, and everyone, including small children, had daily chores. This fostered teamwork, family unity, and gave children a firsthand understanding of the value of goods, services, and hard work. Those lessons were conveyed in their missives to Santa. And some of the comments in the letters are just plain cute. » Continue Reading.


Friday, December 23, 2016

Adirondack Explorer Names New Publisher

Tracy Ormsbee, a senior editor at the Albany Times Union, has been named publisher of the Adirondack Explorer, effective March 1, 2017.  Ormsbee will succeed Publisher Thomas Woodman, who announced earlier this year that he planned to retire in 2017.

Ormsbee currently serves as Senior Editor/Features and Sports at the Times Union as well as Executive Editor of Times Union Magazines. She leads a team that creates the newspaper’s features and sports content and two magazines. She also acts as the lead editor for the Sunday newspaper. Ormsbee heads the Time Union’s Women@Work magazine and professional network and manages the Women@Work Executive Board, which consists of top businesswomen in the Albany area. Long active in state and national journalism organizations, she serves as president of the board of the New York State Associated Press Association. » Continue Reading.


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