Saturday, March 31, 2018

A Fence Full of Car Parts in Baker’s Mills

Paul Schaefer c. 1960The late Adirondack wilderness advocate and conservation leader Paul Schaefer (1908-1996) had loads of stories to tell about his life and the people he came to know in the Adirondacks.

Now that Adirondack rivers are starting to flow again and trout season is about to open, it may be an appropriate time to relay one Paul told me at his fireside.

Folks living where Paul had his Adirondack camp were, and still are, very resourceful people and equally ready to help someone in need, so this story has the ring of truth. (Paul was not always comfortable being recorded, so I tried to capture his stories in a small tape recorder in my car on the way home).

Paul split his time between the Adirondacks and his family’s home and his home construction business in Schenectady County. He was known as an able Adirondack guide for “sports,” men from the city who wanted to fish or hunt. One day in the 1940s a Schenectady neighbor said “Paul, I have a real hankering to go fishing. Boy, I’d love to get a creel full of fish. I hear the East Branch of the Sacandaga has beautiful brookies, and boy it would be great if you would bring me there to fish.”

“Well, how about now?” answered Paul, and off they went to Bakers Mills. From there they hiked through the woods to the East Branch of the Sacandaga River where they caught creels of brook trout, one of the most successful days Paul ever had.

Loaded with fish, they hiked out, got in Paul’s car and headed toward Bakers Mills. They only made a few hundred yards when they heard a grinding sound at the back axle. Paul’s friend determined they had broken a critical gear on the rear axle, a small gear seemingly made just for that car.

Just then George Morehouse came over with a “what’s the trouble boys?”

“This critical gear is broken and these fish are going to spoil if we don’t get them home. We’ve got to get home tonight,” Paul’s friend said.

“Well, hold on boys,” answered George, going to a fence along the road where all sorts of radiators, hoses, fan belts, gears and such which he had picked off the road for decades were hanging. In a trice he was back with the particular gear. “This what you’re looking for?” Paul’s friend’s jaw dropped. The gear fit perfectly and they drove on back to Schenectady.

Ever since, Paul’s friend would remark about George Morehouse and this event as two of the great wonders of the world. Even Paul’s father, Peter Schaefer, would remember it and ask Paul about it. It’s true, Paul would tell him.

Paul Schaefer ca. 1960s.

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Dave Gibson, who writes about issues of wilderness, wild lands, public policy, and more, has been involved in Adirondack conservation for over 30 years as executive director of the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks, executive director of Protect the Adirondacks and currently as managing partner with Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve

During Dave's tenure at the Association, the organization completed the Center for the Forest Preserve including the Adirondack Research Library at Paul Schaefer’s home. The library has the finest Adirondack collection outside the Blue Line, specializing in Adirondack conservation and recreation history.

Currently, Dave is managing partner in the nonprofit organization launched in 2010, Adirondack Wild: Friends of the Forest Preserve.




5 Responses

  1. Harv Sibley says:

    Great story…no foolin’

  2. Greg Keefer says:

    Great post – who would have thought?

  3. Paul says:

    Nice, sounds like a junkyard next to the road!

    Does come in handy I guess.

  4. Adam says:

    I believe it was Doug Morehouse… the story is recounted by Paul in Adirondack Cabin Country pages 157-159. It was one I too remembered (along with the car door and window… but I’ll you all search that one out rather than re-tell it here).

    There are still lots of parts gathered by old fences, and it is occasionally helpful to know where they are!

  5. Martin says:

    My Dad took me & my brother for a ride near West Canada Creek when I could not see above the window. I remember the car loosing power and coming to a halt against a sandy embankment. It was exciting, there was not a hint of worry on Dad. The hood was popped and I remember a truck with 2,3 men stopping. Conversation escapes me but it was a cracked distributor cap that put us on the roadside. A short time later those men return with the part and all was fair. Not sure if Dad knew those men but it seems like he did. Should of asked him before he met the Creator…I learned then that things work out. It was a happy time…

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