Almanack Contributor 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, March 4, 2013

Lawrence Gooley:
Amazon, Collusion, and Local Book Stores

Book House imageSix months ago, I wrote about a major court decision and the negative impact it could have on many regional Adirondack businesses, especially booksellers. The next phase has arrived in a convoluted, “if-you-can’t-beat-’em, join-’em” story, challenged by one of upstate New York’s top independent bookstores. The defendants in the earlier case included several of the nation’s largest publishers―Hachette, HarperCollins, Macmillan, Penguin Group, and Simon & Schuster. Their e-book titles were being deeply discounted by Amazon, and to fight back, the group signed an exclusive agreement with Apple to sell the same e-books at artificially inflated prices.

The government called it anti-trust collusion, and when the courts approved a settlement in favor of Amazon last September, the Justice Department lauded the agreement as “in the public interest, and consumers will start to benefit from the restored competition in this important industry.” » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 25, 2013

The Civil War: Neighbor Against Neighbor

01 1862 Headline Fair OaksA plethora of Civil War stories has flooded the media during this lengthy sesquicentennial. Folks whose roots are in the North often take comfort and perhaps pride that their ancestors were on the right side of the conflict. “Rightness” is still an issue in several former members of the Confederacy, but even if some in the South claims the issue was states’ rights, it was the right of a state to deprive certain humans of their own humanity. And if you’re wrong, you’re wrong. No amount of arguing will change that fact.

However, northern descendants may be a bit hasty in taking credit for the presumed correctness of their ancestors. While the record shows the country was split between North and South, we pay much less attention to the divisive effect the war had on individual towns and villages, even in the North Country. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 18, 2013

Remembering Chestertown Author David Pitkin

David Pitkin Afterworld 3HThe regional writing community lost a well-known member with the recent death of David Pitkin, 73, of Chestertown on February 13. I first communicated with David via email many years ago to obtain copies of his books for our online store. In person or by email, he came across as friendly, kind, and gracious. While I didn’t know him well personally and only met him a few times at book events, I did know him through his writings.

David was the most recognized ghost-story author in the Adirondack region. A native of Corinth in Saratoga County, he wrote his first book of ghost stories in 1998 following retirement from 36 years as a schoolteacher. The subject was ghosts of Saratoga County, which Pitkin called “America’s most haunted county.”  The book was a success, leading to many more similar titles, the most recent of which was released just six months before his death. He also wrote a novel and was working on a sequel at his passing. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 11, 2013

Media History: Chester Sanders Lord

Chester Lord 3 x 4 BModern media includes television, radio, newspapers, and Internet sources, together bringing us news from local to international. But until about a century ago, newspapers did the job. By the mid-1800s, the process of delivering timely news to the nation’s dailies was achieved, courtesy of the telegraph. It wasn’t until the 1920s when other forms of media (radio and newsreels) began carving their own niche in reporting the news.

When newspapers ruled, editors wielded great power and thus bore great responsibility. Ethics were critical but weren’t always adhered to. It took men of courage to do what was right, and among the best of them was Chester Sanders Lord, a man with roots firmly embedded in northern New York State. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 4, 2013

Climate Change: Entries From A 1970s Journal

PPR Headline 19 Apr 1976A few weeks ago, in a piece about old-time weather forecaster Billy Spinner, I mentioned insects on our sidewalk near Christmastime, which is certainly out of the ordinary in my life’s experience. In another piece in December, I mentioned the value of keeping a journal. The two subjects came together recently when I was pondering how the winters of my youth seem so different from those we are experiencing today. Of course, we can’t trust our memories, which again demonstrates the value of a journal.

Now don’t get all excited thinking that I’m trying to prove climate change or global warming. I do know that through my teen years (mainly the 1960s), little time was spent wondering if we would have a white Christmas each year. It was basically a given. » Continue Reading.


Monday, January 28, 2013

Gooley on Garrow: Accuracy And Historical Narrative

Caveat Emptor sign 02Standards 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.


Monday, January 21, 2013

Martin Luther King’s Plattsburgh Legacy

Martin_Luther_King_Jr_ 3HToday 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.


Monday, January 14, 2013

Sportsman Billy Spinner: Famous Folk Weather Forecaster

1938 Nov prediction 4WClimate 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.


Monday, January 7, 2013

Writing: Avoiding Book Publishing Frauds

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.


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 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.



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