Saturday, April 16, 2011

Cracking Noah John Rondeau’s Code

On Saturday of Easter weekend, April 23, Dave Greene of Johnsburg and Syracuse will present a power point program in North Creek about how he broke the secret code of Noah John Rondeau (1883 to 1967), the Adirondack hermit who lived ten miles back in the wilderness for 30 years. Rondeau was sure no one would ever decipher his journals, which was written in a code simple enough for him to write in every day but which had some diabolical variations.

Like many hermits, Rondeau was very sociable and was well-loved by many mountain hikers and sportsmen who were glad to carry in food and other supplies for him in exchange for colorful stories and scratchy fiddling. They tried to avoid having to partake of his “everlasting stew”, however. Game wardens were definitely not welcome visitors.

At the age of 22, when Greene, just out of college, was living pretty much as a hermit himself at the foot of Crane Mt. in his family’s primitive cabin, he had time to focus on the puzzling “hen scratchings”. After just 22 hours of work, he had the gist of the code, though some problems and meanings of words remained mysterious. For a good description of Rondeau, the code and Greene’s work, see the February issue of the DEC Conservationist magazine, though the time frame given for breaking the code is not accurate.

The program, in which Greene will explain how he deciphered the code and also teach the audience how to do it , will be held at 7 p.m. in Tannery Pond Community Center, opposite the town hall/library on Main Street, North Creek. Donations will be accepted for the support of the Adirondack Lake Assessment Program (ALAP), a volunteer water monitoring project of Protect the Adirondacks, in partnership with the Adirondack Watershed Institute (AWI) of Paul Smiths College.

Photo courtesy Wikipedia.

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