Standards are important when writing something for public consumption. If the material is based on an actual event (rather than an opinion piece or commentary), the writer carries the burden of getting it right, a responsibility that should not be taken lightly. We all make mistakes, and though it’s not my role in life to criticize others, books are important to me, and when I see slipshod work passed off as factual, it’s very irritating. It diminishes the efforts of regional writers when poorly researched and error-filled regional books are offered to the public. » Continue Reading.
Today is Martin Luther King Day, and if you lived through the 1960s, you’ll never forget that turbulent decade. Even turbulent is putting it mildly: weekly classroom drills for nuclear attacks (Get under my desk? What the heck is this thing made of?); riots over race, poverty, the draft, and the Vietnam War; the assassinations of JFK, King, and Bobby Kennedy; and so much more.
Martin Luther King was a leading figure of those times, beloved and hated nationally and internationally. Love him or hate him, he was remarkable. Against the worst of odds, he effected change through peaceful protest. The impact was clear, even here in the North Country.
A series of events during the 1960s proved that peaceful protest and the purity of King’s motives were strong enough to convert critics and naysayers. Plattsburgh offers an example of King’s effect over the course of a decade. » Continue Reading.
Climate change; global warming; superstorms; extended droughts; the hottest year ever; December tornadoes; on and on it goes. Changes are happening everywhere. Even here at home this year, worms and bugs on our sidewalk in mid-December! There have been so many devastating storms and floods and fires. We do benefit from modern forecasters using the most advanced technology to predict the weather, helping us to avoid any big surprises, or to at least prepare.
The same was true of weathermen seventy-five years ago: they did their best to predict what the weather would bring―days, weeks, and even months in advance. But they weren’t alone in doing so. Competing against them were country prognosticators who sometimes did better than the latest technology. » Continue Reading.
With so many successful self-published books in the Adirondack region, it was disturbing to hear the recent news so close to home that police in Hinesburg, Vermont (south of Burlington), discovered what they have termed a Ponzi-style publishing scheme. The case first came to light in June 2011 when it was reported that Peter Campbell-Copp, former president of the Manchester Historical Society, had allegedly defrauded individuals and businesses to the tune of $170,000.
According to media reports, Campbell-Copp contracted to handle the editing, printing, and marketing of clients’ books as a publisher. Apparently, some of the printing was done by at least two firms, and Campbell-Copp was known to have served at least fifteen authors. Except that the allegations are he served them nothing but bitterness.
According to police, taking the biggest hit of all was Print Tech, a Burlington company for more than three decades. Around January 2010, they began producing print jobs for Campbell-Copp, receiving several scheduled payments. The work continued, but the payments stopped, and the work eventually stopped as well, by which time the company was owed about $100,000. » Continue Reading.
During the holiday season of 1945, a most unusual conversation was taking place in the Adirondacks. It was a pivotal year in the twentieth century―history’s worst war had just ended, and an effort to prevent future wars had resulted in the formation of the United Nations, which officially came into being on October 24. The groundwork had been laid earlier in San Francisco, where delegates from fifty governments joined forces and drafted the original UN charter.
The next order of business was to find a home for the new alliance, referred to widely then as the UNO (United Nations Organization). Since San Francisco hosted the charter conference, it was considered a favorite in the running. But as the process played out, northern New York was abuzz with the possibility of being chosen as permanent host. » Continue Reading.
Among the finest Christmas seasons in America’s long history is the year 1945. We’re constantly bombarded with how special the holidays are, so it’s tough for any one year to stand out as extra special, but 1945 makes the list. Events across the Adirondacks that year epitomized the nation’s attitude. Surprisingly, it wasn’t all about celebrating, even though the most destructive war in history had just ended a few months earlier. We often mumble mindlessly that we’re proud to be Americans. But the first post-World War II Christmas was the real deal, worthy of the word “pride.”
To set the scene, consider the events that had transpired at that time. After being mired for a decade in the worst financial collapse in our history (the Great Depression), Americans had begun preparing for what seemed inevitable: joining the war in Europe. And then, between the Pearl Harbor attack and the war’s end four years later, hundreds of North Country boys and men were killed in action. Thousands more were injured or missing. » Continue Reading.
A recent “discovery” brought me great pleasure: a beautifully written book about a very popular Adirondack subject. The book was written more than a century ago (thus the quotation marks), and many are familiar with it. It was a discovery for me because I had never read it and had never seen it among the genres of history or medicine on area bookshelves. In fact, I only came across it as part of a new venture here at Bloated Toe Publishing.
We recently began producing our “Preserving History” collection―physical reprints of outstanding books that are part of the public domain (not copyright protected). As part of the process, I’m required to read through each one. That’s what led me to An Autobiography: Edward Livingston Trudeau.
An excellent perk of producing this collection is being “forced” to read great books that I otherwise might not find time to enjoy. It adds to all the busyness, but what a payoff! Trudeau’s own story is a gem. » Continue Reading.
From April 15, 1976: “As we hiked upstream, we were treated to the view of rocky landscapes and numerous rapids, interspersed with waterfalls and calm pools. We could see the high mountain nearby. Following the stream towards the base of this rocky mountain, we discovered the remains of an old log cabin. Only a few feet of the cabin walls were still standing, and the remnants of an old stove lay scattered about the area. A water bucket lay next to the lines of a beaten path, which led to the stream only 30 feet away. I found a beat-up hatchet with about half of the leather wrappings around the handle still intact.”
What you just read, plus dozens of other details not included here, are lost memories, except for the part about the hatchet. Hmmm … lost memories, but they’re being written about? Guess I’ve got some explaining to do.
» Continue Reading.
The anniversary of the Battle of Plattsburgh passed recently (it was fought September 11, 1814), and this week, the anniversary of another famous American battle is noted: the attack on Pearl Harbor, December 7, 1941. Within the military, both battles are held in the highest regard as critical moments in American history, and oddly enough, the two have an unusual link of sorts.
I discovered this several years ago while working on one of my earlier publications, The Battle of Plattsburgh Question & Answer Book. It’s not earth-shattering stuff, but instead more of an “I’ll be darned!” moment that happened during research.
The book’s unusual format led me to several similar discoveries. I wanted to cover the entire story of Plattsburgh’s famous battle, but in a way that might be enjoyed by children as well as adults. When my children were young, I often made a game of things to keep their minds active and teach them when they didn’t realize they were being taught. » Continue Reading.
Catamount Mountain (now doesn’t that seem redundant?), the one rising from the shores of Taylor Pond north of Whiteface, has always been one of my favorite climbs. Exposed rock can be so alluring, just one of the many elements that draws in people who love the outdoors. And Catamount has it all for the average hiker/climber―beautiful woods, a conical peak with great views, a dike to climb through, and lots of open rocky expanses.
We visit such places for our own personal reasons. For me, at the beginning of more than four decades of hiking, the most powerful attraction was the rocks―ancient and bare, and preserved in their natural state, allowing a glimpse of undisturbed wildness. Only they weren’t as undisturbed as I thought.
Solitude, peace, and oddly enough, danger, were also elements that drew me to Catamount. Every time I ascended the steep, open rocky areas or skirted cliffs and drop-offs, it struck me how dangerous the place could be. I wondered how it was that more accidents weren’t reported over the years. » Continue Reading.
The Chronicle Book Fair was held last Sunday at the Queensbury Hotel in downtown Glens Falls. Kudos to the Chronicle for once again hosting one of the region’s premier book events. It was educational, entertaining, and even lucrative for some.
Most important, it offered support to new authors who are seeking exposure and opinions on their work. This marked the event’s seventeenth year, but as indicated in an informational email from the folks at the Chronicle, it almost didn’t happen. Thankfully, this was because they are overwhelmed with work, and not because e-books have taken over the world.
Printed books, in fact, are faring quite well despite dire predictions across the Internet. After reading the latest statistics, a number of online writers have been quick to pronounce the death of printed books (what some are now referring to as “p-books”). Yes, e-book sales are said to have eclipsed hard-cover sales for the first time, but it’s also important that printed books still encompass about 65 percent of the book market. That’s critical information for local writers. » Continue Reading.
Election fraud! It makes headlines, and it has many faces. When I was a young boy growing up in Clinton County near the Canadian border, I overheard stories from adults talking about election fraud in nearby towns. With a wink, it was mentioned that so-and-so, an annual candidate, would once again be standing by the door at the polls all day long to greet the electorate―that’s just how dedicated he was to representing the interests of locals. He was, it was said, “greeting” them with $5 bills.
I never forgot the image that placed in my head―votes for sale at five bucks a pop. Years later, when I neared voting age, I assumed those stories were exaggerations, but as it turned out, they were right on the money (an excellent choice of terms, as we’ll see). » Continue Reading.
Public endeavors that bring huge benefits to the participant (we’re talking state-level and national politics here) can be a tricky thing when you want people to know that you’re in it for them and not for yourself. A popular way for politicians to demonstrate their intentions (altruism) is to invoke the children, as in “our children and our grandchildren.”
I can’t help but laugh when it’s used today because it should be worn out by now. Yes, I know … it really means a concern for the future, but it’s so much more poignant and meaningful when it’s “for the kids.” The term has been used so much, it should be considered child-phrase abuse. » Continue Reading.
Twice within a week recently, earthquakes were felt across the North Country, and just a few minutes later, folks were chattering about it on social media. Mainstream news outlets quickly picked up the story and posted it on their websites. That’s quite a contrast to the early morning hours of September 5, 1944, when the Associated Press agent in Albany received information about an earthquake in northern New York. “Anybody killed?” he asked. When informed no one had been hurt, he showed little interest.
Likewise, when the state geologist in Albany was notified that a whole lotta shakin’ was goin’ on, he said, “There is no need to be alarmed. It is improbable they [the quakes] will be anything but quite small.” You win some, you lose some. In this case, both the reporter and geologist lost―big-time. They missed the call on what still stands as the most destructive earthquake in New York State history. » Continue Reading.