On August 9, 1903, Helen and Frank Markowski had a baby boy in Port Henry they named Vincent. Like many fathers and brothers in the area, Frank and Frank Junior, Vincent’s older brother worked in the mines for the Witherbee Sherman Company.
Around 1924 at the age of 21, Vincent moved to California and changed his name to Tom Tyler. He found work in the film industry as a prop man and an extra. His appearances as an extra lead to his first starring role in “Let’s Go Gallagher” (1925). Tom became the King of B-Westerns during the silent era and into the talkies of the 1930’s. Over his entire career, he acted in more than 180 movies and TV shows from 1924 to 1953. » Continue Reading.
We have taken our family to the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train since my children were little tykes. Not only is the event a fun way to dance off that Thanksgiving meal, it is a community-wide opportunity to give back.
It is always important for my kids to remember while making that second turkey sandwich; some families may not have had enough food for firsts.
Since 1999 the Holiday Train has offered free concerts and a festively decorated train to help raise food and cash donations to local food banks. This year Tracey Brown, formerly of award winning country bank The Family Brown, has taken on the US section of the tour. Each stop is about 45-minutes where communities can put on their own unique twist. » Continue Reading.
Celebrities always seem to have some kooky thing happening to them, and Helen Redmond’s best story was a doozy. There’s nothing funny about someone being stalked, and there’s nothing new about it either. Helen’s adventure describes something funny that happened because of a stalker, one who so resembled Redmond physically that she was often referred to as Helen’s double. The woman became obsessed with Redmond and even followed her performances on tour.
When The Ameer was performed in New York, Helen’s double booked a room in the same place where Redmond was staying. She sat in the front row for each show, and apparently began to believe that she was actually Helen Redmond. This behavior had long been of great annoyance and concern to Helen, but it now escalated to the point where the woman showed up at rehearsal as the show’s star, demanding that she be allowed to sing (her voice bore no resemblance to that of the prima donna’s). » Continue Reading.
We are the Adirondacks, with a rich history of mountain lore, guide stories, Great Camps, and Olympic glory. But our mountain history tends to overshadow elements of the past that can serve as great attractions for both locals and tourists alike: fame and achievements by regional natives and residents in non-mountain endeavors. Among the dozens of examples I could cite, how many of us knew that one of the most popular songs ever written was penned by a native of the North Creek-Wevertown area? Or that two world-champions―a beloved cyclist, and one of the greatest of all North Country athletes―were both based in the Glens Falls area?
Learning about the unusual talents and accomplishments of locals is highly entertaining, which makes it virtual gold for local museums. But so many of these stories are overlooked. Take for instance, Port Henry’s Helen Redmond. Though you’ve never heard of her, her talents were once celebrated from coast to coast. » Continue Reading.
In days of yore (pre-internet times), I once subscribed to more than a dozen different magazines. Further back, in the 1960s and 1970s, there seemed to be a magazine for just about any subject that anyone was ever interested in. I was reminded of this recently when a saw a cover titled TWINS. The subject matter was everything related to twins: having them, being one, doctoring them, parenting them, and so on.
What really surprised me was the subtitle: The Magazine for Multiples Since 1984. I’d never heard of it, but it has been around for nearly three decades. It also reminded me of some twin-related North Country stories I’ve collected over the years. Here’s a sampling. » Continue Reading.
If you ever climbed Mount Marcy from Lake Colden, you probably drove up the narrow road from Newcomb to the Upper Works trailhead, past an odd but massive stone structure near the southern entrance to the High Peaks. You might have wondered about this relic from the American industrial revolution, how it worked, and when it was built.
In a few months, the Open Space Institute (OSI), which bought the site from NL Industries in 2003, will install illustrated interpretive panels explaining the fascinating history of this important Adirondack site. I’ve been working on the team preparing these panels, and I’ve learned far more about 19th-century iron smelting than I ever thought was possible. » Continue Reading.
During Prohibition my grandfather’s brother Denis Warren, a veteran of some of the bloodiest American battles of World War One, was left for dead on the side of Route 9N south of Port Henry. He was in the second of two cars of friends returning from Montreal with a small supply of beer. Going through Port Henry local customs agents gave chase and the car he was in hit a rock cut and he was badly injured in the accident. Figuring his was dead, or nearly so, and worried he would go to prison, one of Denis’s best friends rolled him under the guardrail, climbed into the other car, and sped off.
Joe Kennedy, the father of President John F. Kennedy, had a rather different experience with Prohibition – he got rich. Never really enthusiastic about World War One, he spent the war as an assistant general-manager of Bethlehem Steel and used the opportunity to buddy up to Franklin D. Roosevelt who was then Assistant Secretary of the Navy. During Prohibition Kennedy went to England and with the help of FDR’s eldest son James Roosevelt secured the exclusive American rights for Gordon’s Dry Gin and Dewar’s Scotch. Contrary to rumors, Kennedy wasn’t a bootlegger, he imported his British booze legally under a permit to distribute medical alcohol.
The story of these two Irish-Americans serves as a kind of microcosm of the story of Prohibition, when all of America seemed upside down. “In almost every respect imaginable, Prohibition was a failure,” Daniel Okrent writes in Last Call: The Rise and Fall of Prohibition. “It deprived the government of revenue, stripped the gears of the political system, and imposed profound limitations on individual rights. It fostered a culture of bribery, blackmail, and official corruption. It also maimed and murdered, its excesses apparent in deaths by poison, by the brutality of ill-trained, improperly supervised enforcement officers, and by unfortunate proximity to mob gun battles.”
The medical exemption to Prohibition, along with the sacramental wine exemption, and the fruit exemption for homemade wine and cider, meant that Prohibition was fairly doomed from the start according to Okrent. In fact it’s a wonder that Prohibition even got started. In the late nineteenth century drinking was at an all time high, a central part of American life. But immigration was also at an all time high, along with the Protestant Christian reformers, xenophobia, and racism. An unlikely alliance emerged to battle “Demon Rum” that included racists (including the Klan), progressives, suffragists, and populists.
Okrent lays out the story of this coalition in a readable way, avoiding much of the political minutiae, while still illuminating the personalities – people like Mother Thompson, Frances Willard, axe-wielding Carry Nation, bible-thumping Billy Sunday, William Jennings Bryan (who helped bring the Democratic party on board), Wayne Wheeler (the long-forgotten man considered the father of Prohibition), and Mabel Willebrandt (the Assistant US Attorney General despised by the nation’s drinkers).
The usual suspects are all here: the rise of organized crime from scattered minor street gangs, the rum runners contributions to boat design, the rise of Sam Bronfman’s Seagrams empire. The most interesting parts of the book however, detail how leading suffragists sought the vote after being denied leadership positions in the temperance movement and then used that vote to secure first the income tax (considered crucial to weaning the government off the alcohol excise tax teet) and finally Prohibition. Okrent also clearly presents the brewers’ failure to band together with the distillers, and their lack of action against the Prohibitionist until it was too late. Mostly German-Americans, World War One sealed their fates.
Also illuminating is Okrent’s telling of how the Eighteenth Amendment, which along with the Thirteenth Amendment outlawing slavery is the only constitutional amendment to deal with personal property and the only one to have been repealed, came to be reversed. Last Call chalks it up to a few primary factors. The ease of access to booze which was no longer regulated, and so could be found everywhere, not just at bars (the old joke went “Remember before Prohibition? When you couldn’t get a drink on Sunday?”). The presidential campaign of solidly wet New York Governor Al Smith (defeated by mostly dry anti-Catholics) that changed the political mood of the country’s immigrants [video]. The Great Depression, and the need for the billions in excise tax (which helped fund the New Deal) that gave Repeal a push. But the biggest factor was perhaps the right-wing wealthy anti-tax (and future anti-Roosevelt) Pierre S. DuPont who believed so profoundly that Repeal would mean an elimination of the income tax that he bankrolled the fight himself. Fundamentally though, it was the Democratic title-wave that swept FDR into office [music] that changed the make-up of the Congress that allowed the crucial Repeal vote.
Okrent avoids the obvious comparisons to today’s Drug War, but even the causal reader, can’t miss them. The seemingly limitless supply, the institutionalized hypocrisy of legal tobacco and alcohol while pot smokers go to overcrowded prisons. The overzealous and expensive enforcement on the one hand (particularly in the inner cities), alongside marijuana buyers clubs and lax enforcement that amounts to a defacto local option.
It took about 10 years to understand that Prohibition only increased lawlessness, corruption, greed, and violence. Last Call leaves the astute reader wondering how long it will take us to come to the same conclusion about the War on Drugs.
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The Albany regional Small Business Development Center (SBDC), an affiliate of the University at Albany’s School of Business, is establishing the Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center, an “emergency outreach office” to assist small businesses that have been adversely affected by the closing and demolition of the Champlain Bridge. The Center opened Feb. 18, at 3259 Broad Street in Port Henry. The Champlain Bridge Business Assistance Center will help interested business owners plan how to transition and maintain the viability of their businesses during construction of the new bridge. The SBDC, along with strategic partners, will offer assistance to dislocated workers who cannot afford the long commute around Lake Champlain to jobs in Vermont and may be interested in starting a business. The Albany SBDC is collaborating with the North Country SBDC located at SUNY Plattsburgh to provide staff for the counseling and outreach efforts.
Services offered will include assessment of impact, identification of NYS Champlain Bridge Relief Programs, application assistance for these programs, market research, cost analysis/financial management, identifying sources of capital and business growth strategies.
The bridge, which crossed Lake Champlain between Crown Point, NY and Chimney Point, VT, was demolished in December, cutting off a vital connection. Construction of a new bridge is expected to be complete in late summer 2011.
The SBDC program is funded through the Small Business Administration, New York State, and the State University of New York.
In a mad rush of holiday cheer, too many side dishes and the turkey/tofurkey debate, it is easy to forget that some people will not have an argument over the necessity to recreate meat-shaped products out of tofu. Those and many others will be wondering where their next meal will be coming from.
For the 11th year the Canadian Pacific Railway (CPR) Holiday Train will be pulling into over one hundred towns in seven states and Quebec raising awareness for local food pantries.
The northeast sector of the tour starts Thursday, November 26 at Rouses Point at approximately 11:00 pm. Each stop is a little over a half hour. Crowds will be treated to live entertainment as well as a festively decorated train, free of charge. All that is asked is a donation to the local food pantry. In addition, to providing the gaily lit-up train and live bands CFR donates funds to each stop’s food bank.
The US portion of the tour is hosted by Prescott a brother (Kaylen) and sister (Kelly) duo hailing from the Canadian musical legacies Family Brown (award winning country band formed by their grandfather, uncle and mother) and later Prescott-Brown (their parents’ award winning band). Prescott’s own style has them performing at such venues at the Ottawa BluesFest and welcoming their first cd, “The Lakeside Sessions.”
Singer/songwriter Adam Puddington will take the stage with his own unique brand of music lightly influenced by Gordon Lightfoot, Neil Young, and Blue Rodeo. Other musical guests will be Sean Verreault best known as part of the blues rock band Wide Mouth Mason and Milwaukee native Willy Porter’s blending of folk music rounds out the program.
Local food banks will be collecting non-perishable food items and donations at each location so all the audience has to do is stand back and enjoy.
Each event does take place outside so dress warmly. Some locations have vendors set up to sell hot refreshments but it is not something to count on. The focus is on the food pantries and making sure their shelves are stocked for winter.
So for whatever reason you are thankful, take an opportunity to kick off the holiday season with a lively concert and a contribution to a food pantry.
Northeast Schedule Thursday, November 26 Rouses Point – 11:00 p.m. to 11:30 p.m., Rouses Point Station
Saturday, November 28 Binghamton – 8:45 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., CP East Binghamton Rail Yard, Conklin Ave.
Sunday, November 29 Oneonta – 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., Gas Avenue Railroad Crossing Cobleskill – 6:15 p.m. to 6:45 p.m., Cobleskill Fire Department, 610 Main Street Delanson – 8:00 p.m. to 8:30 p.m., Main Street Railroad Crossing Schenectady – 9:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., Maxon Road Monday, November 30 Saratoga Springs – 12:00 p.m. to 12:30 p.m., Amtrak Station Fort Edward – 1:45 p.m. to 2:15 p.m., Amtrak Station Whitehall – 3:15 p.m. to 3:45 p.m., Amtrak Station Ticonderoga – 5:00 p.m. to 5:30 p.m., Pell’s Crossing, Amtrak Waiting Area, Route 74 Port Henry – 6:30 p.m. to 7:00 p.m., Amtrak Station, West side stop Plattsburgh – 9:15 p.m. to 9:45 p.m., Amtrak Station
About eight months ago the Adirondack Almanack noted a Wired story on James Cawley of Ticonderoga who transformed the historic Wheelock Garage in Port Henry into a Star Trek movie set in order to kill off Chekov. According to Lohr McKinstry at the Press Republican, Cawley is back with another installment –
Ten actors from the five “Star Trek” television series are in the show, including Nichelle Nichols, Uhura on the original “Star Trek”; Gary Graham, the Vulcan ambassador on “Star Trek: Enterprise”; Walter Koenig, Chekov on the original show; Garrett Wang, Ensign Kim on “Voyager”; Grace Lee Whitney, Yeoman Rand on the original; and Alan Ruck, Capt. John Harriman in the “Star Trek: Generations” movie.
This time Cawley’s troupe is taking on terrorism:
Once they finish shooting interiors in Port Henry, some location scenes will be shot in California, [Star Trek: Voyager star Tim] Russ said, including a desert sequence.
“It takes place at two different times, and we’ll use two different starship bridges. We aren’t experiencing any deep-seated character issues, but we will experience themes that take place now. For example, terrorism.”
The original “Star Trek” did it the same way, covering contemporary issues like war and racism that would have been taboo on TV if they hadn’t been set in the future.
“People remember the original series because it broke so much ground,” Russ said. “It was the first of its kind.”
Which part of the terrorism story will they tell? The Captain encounters a border road black 75 miles from the border? Or the crew have their financial and phone records monitored by an alien overlord? Your guess is as good as ours.
Students trying to get home from college after the fall of local Greyhound service have about as much chance as James Cawley of Ticonderoga has of getting his transporter to actually work. Wired magazine has a feature on Cawley, who lives in Ticonderoga and who has recently moved his exacting replica of Star Trek’s Enterprise from his grandfather’s garage to a old car dealership in Port Henry for the third installment (of an expected five episodes) of his fan film series New Voyages. And what a cast!
At the car dealership in upstate New York, [Walter] Koenig’s colleagues try to act like professional filmmakers and not gushing fanboys. As they eat pizza between takes, the actor [who played Chekov on the original series] regales them with stories about that scene-stealing jerk Shatner. But there’s an awed hush when he staggers onto the set as the rapidly aging Chekov to play his final scene. His skin is spotted, his hair nothing but a wisp. As the Enterprise navigator lies down in his quarters for one last rest, his captain comes to bid him farewell. “Who would have thought I would live so long,” Chekov wheezes, “in such a short time?”
Koenig has given James Cawley one piece of acting advice: Captain Kirk does not cry. But the cameraman is crying. The dolly grip is crying. The boom-mike operator is crying. And as he walks off the set, Jack Marshall’s face is streaked with tears.
Chekov is dead. Star Trek lives.
Further proof that what the Adirondacks needs is a focus on new media technology – a truly non-polluting growth industry.
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