Monday, March 19, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Stories of North Country Twins

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.

The odds would seem stacked against these “twin coincidences,” and even more so since they happened when twins made up only 1 to 2 percent of all births. (The modern rate is about 3 percent.)

On January 17, 1931, seventeen-year-old Frederica Edwards of Port Henry died a week after contracting rheumatic fever. Her burial was postponed because Frederica’s twin sister, Marion, appeared near death after suffering from a “throat disorder” for more than a month. Three days later, Marion passed away. A double funeral service was held, with the pair leaving life as they entered it―together.

On Memorial Day 1931, twins Richard and Hugo Franz (14) were fishing from a canoe on Saranac Lake with 16-year-old John Dukett. When the canoe flipped, he and the Franz brothers (both of them Boy Scouts leaders with Red Cross rescue training) were submerged. When the three of them surfaced, Dukett, 16, a non-swimmer (and much heavier than the Franz boys), was grabbed by Richard. In the ensuing struggle, both boys again went under.

When they re-surfaced, Hugo, who still gripped the canoe with one hand, grabbed Dukett. The twins followed protocol, holding him there while clinging firmly to the canoe and calling for help, which arrived soon. Their coordinated efforts (one holding the canoe and the other diving for their friend) saved Dukett’s life, and their own as well.

In 1932, the oddest of circumstances surrounded the birth of twins to Mr. and Mrs. Henry Legault of Massena. Their daughters were born minutes apart, with Cecile arriving shortly before midnight on September 16, and Lucille arriving just after midnight on September 17. Twins, but with different birthdays.

In April 1943, Edward Hatch of Crown Point died at the age of 66. He and his twin brother James had led separate lives, but were joined in death. Edward died just eleven days after James passed away in Tarrytown, New York.

Unlike the Hatches, the Wright brothers of Jefferson County, twins Leander and Lysander, shared identical life stories. They lived on the family farm, never married, and worked in the cheese factory with their father. Both then entered the Jefferson County Home in Watertown. After twenty years there, Lysander died on December 4, 1947. Leander passed away 49 days later. Both deaths were attributed to coronary thrombosis.

In January 1948, 81-year-old Addie Van Orman of Crown Point died from injuries suffered in a fall at home. Fifty-five days later, her twin, Mrs. Abbie Chase, also of Crown Point, died following a heart attack.

In February 1952, at Brady Maternity Hospital in Albany, 23-year-old twins (Mrs. Edmund Rogan and Mrs. Arthur Grant) gave birth on the same day, just a few hours apart. Seems like the odds would be pretty high against that happening to any siblings, let alone twins.

In 1967, Westville native Daniel Rogers died in Pawling, New York, at the age of 94. Until his passing, Daniel and his twin, John, were said to be inseparable. Dan operated a deli in Pawling, down the street from John’s business, the Pawling Drug Company. Together they were frequent visitors to Franklin County, reuniting with family and old friends (John did the driving well into his 90s). They were among the oldest twins in the country. John died in 1973, just a few months shy of his 100th birthday.

I’m not a twin, but I do have double vision, so I’ll end by saying, “That’s that’s all all for for now now!”

Lawrence Gooley has authored ten books and dozens of articles on the North Country’s past. He and his partner, Jill McKee, founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004. Expanding their services in 2008, they have produced 19 titles to date, and are now offering web design. For information on book publishing, visit Bloated Toe Publishing.

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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 22 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, was a regional best-seller for four years running.

With his partner, Jill Jones, Gooley founded Bloated Toe Enterprises in 2004, which has published 83 titles to date. They also offer editing/proofreading services, web design, and a range of PowerPoint presentations based on Gooley's books.

Bloated Toe’s unusual business model was featured in Publishers 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.

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