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, December 31, 2012

The United Nations In The North Country?

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.


Monday, December 24, 2012

Holidays to Remember: Christmas, 1945

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.


Monday, December 17, 2012

An Autobiography: Edward Livingston Trudeau

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.


Monday, December 10, 2012

Lawrence Gooley On Keeping A Journal

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.


Monday, December 3, 2012

Pearl Harbor and the Battle of Plattsburgh

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.


Monday, November 26, 2012

Catamount Mountain’s Brush With Hollywood Fame

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.


Monday, November 19, 2012

Private Property:
Oliver’s War, Brandon Park and Paddling Rights

If New York State’s highest court issued a ruling tomorrow that said, “We are mindful that this interpretation deprives the public at large … of the pleasure and profit of fishing and hunting in a very large portion of the Adirondack forest, and gives to men of great wealth, who can buy vast tracts of land, great protection in the enjoyment of their private privileges,” what would your reaction be? Indignation? Outrage? Rebellion? Would you march on Albany? (Or here’s a novel solution … secede!)

Well, relax, there’s nothing to worry about. That ruling was issued 109 years ago and has been in place ever since. The story comes to mind for two reasons: the recent offer for sale of Brandon Park, and the lawsuit against Adirondack Explorer Editor Phil Brown for trespassing. » Continue Reading.


Monday, November 12, 2012

Lawrence Gooley: Lessons from Chronicle Book Fair

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.


Monday, November 5, 2012

19th Century Elections: Clinton County Vote Fraud

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.


Monday, October 29, 2012

Politics And History: ‘For The Children’

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.


Monday, October 22, 2012

The Massena Earthquake of 1944

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.


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.


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