Almanack Contributor Lawrence P. Gooley

Lawrence P. Gooley

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.



Monday, October 15, 2012

Commentary: Lawrence Gooley On Google Books

Remember Napster and the legal cases against individuals who used it to obtain copies of songs without paying for them? Citizens were pursued relentlessly by huge companies and eventually made an example of in court, getting hit by fines in the thousands of dollars. I’m not defending what those individuals did, but when the shoe is on the other foot, it’s an entirely different story. A large company has been brazenly stealing from thousands of citizens, and they may well get away with it.

In this case, instead of music, it’s books, and instead of citizens, it’s a gigantic company, Google, that has completely ignored longstanding law and violated the rights of thousands. On their own, they redefined US copyright law in order to suit their business plan, copying millions of books without bothering to seek authors’ permission.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 8, 2012

George Chahoon: Reconstruction Era ‘Carpetbagger’

George Chahoon, a man who lived in the North Country for 60 years, mostly in Ausable Forks, was the focus of two of the most remarkable incidents in the Reconstruction Era following the Civil War. When the South seceded, it had named Richmond, Virginia, as its capital city. During the post-war years, appointees chosen by the military were placed in power to guide the recovery, and in 1868, George Chahoon, a native of Chenango County, New York, but a Virginia resident for most of his 28 years, was installed as mayor of Richmond, replacing a popular leader who had served in the position for 15 years.

On January 26, 1870, President Grant signed the official act allowing Virginia’s readmission to the Union. Among the new laws passed by the Virginia legislature was one known as the “Enabling Act.” This law allowed the governor to appoint councilmen in any city (there were no town or city governments in place after defeat), and the councilmen were in turn tasked with appointing municipal officers, including mayors.
» Continue Reading.


Monday, October 1, 2012

Commentary: Disgraceful Reporting on Invaded Privacy

Thousands of untraceable searches, some of them into the personal information of family members and people with whom they had personal relationships, were made by employees of the Department of Motor Vehicles office in Plattsburgh. The NYS Inspector General’s Office a few days ago released the full report on the violations occurring at that office, and an article in last Friday’s Press-Republican (Plattsburgh) has left me livid.

I both enjoy and work hard at researching stories. Like most writers, I hate making mistakes, but when I make them, they are honest mistakes. I don’t attempt to distort or embellish―my preference is for interesting or unusual stories that stand on their own merit. It’s embarrassing and downright mortifying to publish an error, but it happens to most of us at some point. But we don’t blame anyone for honest mistakes. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 24, 2012

Ethel Dale’s ‘Most Perfectly Formed Legs’

It’s not often that a person is the focus of a sculptor’s attention. In the mid-1920s, a North Country woman found herself in just that position. The sculptor’s name was Pompeo Coppini, a noted artist who won several awards and whose works were featured from coast to coast. Many of his 128 principal creations are prominent in the state of Texas, including The Spirit of Sacrifice, the large monument at the Alamo, honoring those who died within the fort’s walls. It has been viewed by millions.

Coppini sculpted many historical figures of great accomplishment, including Robert E. Lee, Woodrow Wilson, Stonewall Jackson, Sam Houston, and George Washington. Add to that list Mrs. Ethel Dale, chosen as a sculpture subject for her great achievement in the field of … well, doing nothing.

Mrs. Dale’s family was living in Ticonderoga when she was born in 1895 as Cecille Dukett, daughter of Clayton and Lena Dukett. (The spelling of the family name in the media varied: most common were Ducat and Dukett.) A few years later, they moved to Crown Point. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 17, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Changes in E-Book Retailing

Regional booksellers and other North Country retailers who began selling e-books to earn profits and stay afloat will soon be faced with a big challenge in the online arena (as will stores across the country). The battle of the e-readers will soon break out once again in grand form, just as it did last year in the months prior to the holidays. It led to fantastic profits for Amazon in 2011: they pushed hard to sell Kindles, knowing that the real money was in e-books. Once a customer bought (or was gifted with) an e-reader, they were sure to make use of it―and the strategy worked. E-book sales went through the roof.

Due to a recent court decision, the company will once again bombard us with fantastic deals on readers and e-books. They were going to do that anyway, but the situation has taken a sudden, dramatic change in Amazon’s favor (and perhaps other large online retailers, like Barnes & Noble). I mention Amazon because they once controlled 90 percent of the e-book market. While that number has dropped to about 60 percent, it is likely to rise again with the recent court ruling. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 10, 2012

Watertown’s Leonard J. Farwell: Wisconsin Governor

A few weeks ago, I wrote here about Joel Aldrich Matteson, a Watertown native who became governor of Illinois―and among other things, established a level of corruption perhaps matched by recent governor/inmate Rod Blagojevich. To balance the scale, here’s a look at another Watertown native who, during Matteson’s tenure, served as governor of Illinois’ neighbor to the north, Wisconsin. Though there was plenty of corruption in Wisconsin’s government during that time, the governor was not believed to be directly involved.

At worst, the wrongdoings of others may have soiled his good reputation, but he left plenty of accomplishments behind as well. He also became tied to a pair of signature events in American history. » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 3, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Authorship And The New Book ‘Paradigm’

If you write books or read them, prepare to be amazed (I certainly was), and if you shop online for books, the information below is important to you. Somewhat of a fraud has been perpetrated on the public in the world of books. While it doesn’t meet the legal definition of fraud, it violates what we might call “the spirit of the law” in providing information (in book form) for resale.

Yes, if you write a book, you can write anything you want, but the fact that you’ve written a book doesn’t mean anyone is reading it. Feedback in the form of sales, comments, and media coverage will eventually let you know if anyone is reading your work. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 27, 2012

Joel Aldrich Matteson: We Report, You Decide

If one were researching the careers of highly accomplished New York natives, you might encounter the glowing, capsulized review of Joel Aldrich Matteson’s life as offered on a website titled, “National Governors Association: The Collective Voice of the Nation’s Governors.” Matteson was born in Watertown, New York, in 1803. As the website notes, he “taught school in New York, and built railroads in the South.”

Moving to Illinois, he “established a career as a heavy contractor on the Illinois and Michigan Canal [the canal connection will be key to this story], and opened a successful woolen mill.”

After attaining financial success through business endeavors and the sale of land to the state, Matteson became an Illinois state senator in 1842. After a decade in the senate, he took office as governor in 1853. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 20, 2012

A Publisher’s Perspective On e-Books and Local Writers

History and storytelling are important to all of us on a number of levels, whether as learning tools, sources of entertainment, or that wonderful, satisfying, nostalgic feeling we get from reawakened memories. All three came into play recently in regional book events held at North Creek, Inlet, and Long Lake. Anywhere from 20 to 60 authors gathered to discuss their work, sign and sell books, and share stories with attendees and other authors.

If you visited any of these―“Rhythm & Rhymes at the Hudson” at the Hudson River Trading Company in North Creek, the Author’s Fair at Adirondack Reader (in Inlet), or the 28th annual “Author’s Night” at Hoss’s in Long Lake―you saw a range of writers spanning the gamut of North Country literature. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Adirondack Media History: The Old Bait and Switch

When modern media is used to brand a product, it routinely addresses the subject matter directly, trying to draw attention immediately to the product. The advertisements found in old newspapers sometimes achieved the same goal in quite different fashion, using unusual or outrageous lines in large print to trick the reader. The blaring lead demands attention, and is followed quickly with odd or unexpected segues to information on a product. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 6, 2012

George Cheney: Recording Pioneer, Crown Point Native

What you see here is one of the most recognizable trademarks ever, a logo that has been used by many companies around the world. The dog in the image is not fictional. His name was Nipper, and a few years after his death, Nipper’s owner sold a modified painting of his dog to a recording company. The rest is history, and part of that history includes a heretofore unknown North Country native.

From humble beginnings, he became famous for his wide-ranging knowledge of recording and his ability to invent. Perhaps most important of all, he traveled the world and was the first person to record the music of a number of countries, saving it for posterity. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 30, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Historic Dog Tales

With a nod to Dog Days of Summer, an event this coming Saturday at the Adirondack Museum (Blue Mountain Lake), here’s a look at a few North Country pooches that made headlines in the 1930s. Many true dog “tales” (technically, “tales” aren’t true, and these stories are, but I couldn’t resist) involve the saving of lives by barking during the early stages of house fires. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 23, 2012

History: Before Water-skiing, There Was Aquaplaning

Water-skiing was invented in Minnesota in 1922, coinciding generally with the surging popularity of motorboats. Since that time, it has been enjoyed by natives and visitors across the Adirondacks. Another water sport, wakeboarding, is cited as originating around 1980. But eight years before the birth of water-skiing, a sport strongly reminiscent of wakeboarding took the nation’s watery playgrounds by storm.

With hundreds of lakes and thousands of summer visitors wealthy enough to own motorboats, the Adirondack region did much to popularize the new sport.

Aquaplaning is sometimes cited as beginning around 1920, but it was a common component of boat shows in the US a decade earlier. In 1909 and 1910, participants attempted to ride a toboggan or an ironing-board-shaped plank, usually about five feet long and two feet wide, towed behind a boat. The boards often resembled the average house door. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 16, 2012

Hindenburg: When Dirigibles Roamed North Country Skies

Many famous ships can be linked in one way or another to Plattsburgh on Lake Champlain in northern Clinton County. There was the Philadelphia under Benedict Arnold’s command in the Battle of Valcour, and the Saratoga under Thomas Macdonough, hero of the Battle of Plattsburgh. There were steamers, like the Vermont, the Chateaugay, and the Ticonderoga. And as noted here in the past, Plattsburgh also owns an unusual link to the largest seagoing vessel of its time, the Titanic.

But there is yet another tied not only to Plattsburgh, but to the entire Champlain Valley, and from Whitehall to Albany as well. And like the Titanic, its name became synonymous with disaster. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 9, 2012

Charlotte Smith’s War on Bicycling Old Maids

Charlotte Smith of St. Lawrence County was a women’s rights activist with few equals. From the 1870s through the turn of the century, she was among the most famous and visible women in America, battling endlessly for anything and everything that might improve the status of women. No matter what the issue―unemployment, unfair treatment in hiring, deadbeat dads, the plight of single mothers―Charlotte was on the front lines, fearlessly facing down politicians at all levels.

In the 1890s, she also staked out some positions that appeared difficult to defend, but Smith’s single-mindedness gave her the impetus to continue. The bane of women in America held her attention for years, but in modern times, it’s unlikely that any of us would guess its identity based on Charlotte’s description. » Continue Reading.


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