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.



Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Adirondack Trivia: The Presidential Mountains

trmountainmwannerwikiNew Hampshire’s famous Presidential Range in the White Mountains has many peaks named after presidents and other famous statesmen. While we don’t have a range here in the Adirondacks dedicated to our nation’s leaders, we do have several mountains that bear presidential surnames. They weren’t necessarily named after White House occupants, but the name is the key if you like trivia games, which I do. Giving it some thought, how many can you name?

The High Peaks by far get the most attention in the Adirondacks, but because I began favoring less-traveled areas many years ago as popular trails became more crowded, I climbed some lesser-known mountains that happened to have presidential names. In the trivia realm, that helped me list a half dozen before I turned to digging up some additional examples. Without revealing their names just yet, here’s a bit of info about each. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, September 15, 2016

Adirondack Surfing, With A Canoe

p2lkchampwaves“Surfing” is popular in many forms in the Adirondack Park. There’s wakeboarding, windsurfing, kiteboarding, kayak surfing in rapids, and other options. One of the greatest thrills I’ve ever experienced on the water is what I’ve since referred to as “canoe surfing,” sometimes riding hundreds of feet on large waves. It’s not a recommended activity, and this is not a suggestion to try it. In fact, the first time I did it was serendipitous: I just happened to be in the right place at the right time to catch a wave.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to watch windsurfers and kiteboarders locally, check out this video taken in June on Plattsburgh’s Cumberland Bay, just outside the Park. As you’ll see, the mountain views from Lake Champlain are spectacular and the boarding action is exciting. (Simple searches will yield more videos.) » Continue Reading.


Monday, September 5, 2016

Discussions Of High Peaks Overuse Are Not New

A1985 AdkCouncilFavorsPermitsAn excellent pair of articles published here recently by Mike Lynch (Beyond Peak Capacity and Group of 67 People Ticketed on Algonquin) resurrected some memories from the 1970s and ’80s, when avid (or zealous, rabid, insatiable … just pick one) hikers like me lived in constant fear that access to the mountains would soon be restricted. That anxiety was based on frequent newspaper headlines touting plans to alleviate trail damage attributed to hordes of newcomers to the Adirondacks.

Like now, the problems back then were intensified by successful efforts aimed at raising public awareness about the wonders within the mountains, and thus boost the region’s tourism-based economy. The result: more people, more spending, and greater profits, but also more boots on the ground, more worn trails, and more poop in the woods. The problems intensified so quickly that organizations and politicians offered all sorts of solutions, most of which left hikers fearful that the freedom to roam would be restricted. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Karl Frederick, Adirondack and National Conservationist

1KTFred1922St2In addition to a remarkable shooting career that included winning three Olympic gold medals, New York attorney Karl T. Frederick was deeply involved in conservation issues. In the early 1900s, through membership in groups like the Camp Fire Club of America, he became involved in national issues as well as regional ones. Foremost among them was the battle to protect the Adirondacks. He supported the club’s stance, recommending the purchase of private land inside the Blue Line for addition to the state Forest Preserve, and advocating for expansion of the Adirondack Park, which at that time consisted of approximately three million acres— half of what it encompasses in 2016.

His law practice was briefly derailed when the company disbanded, but in 1925, the new legal firm of Kobbe, Thatcher, Frederick & Hoar, with offices on Broadway, began handling cases ranging from high-profile divorces to corporate litigation. Besides further enhancing Karl’s profile as a capable lawyer, it expanded his connections among like-minded business leaders who favored protecting the natural world. In time, his respected abilities as an attorney and his deep interest in preserving the nation’s outdoor resources led to an unusual blending of leadership positions on the state and national levels. » Continue Reading.


Monday, August 22, 2016

Chateaugay Olympian Karl Frederick: Literally A Shooting Star

1KTFred1920St1The 2016 Summer Olympics have ended, and as usual, they were quite the spectacle. Folks in the Adirondacks and North Country are perhaps bigger fans of the Winter Olympics, for obvious reasons: the games have been held twice at Lake Placid, and a number of area natives have attained lifelong dreams by earning a place on the podium. But a man born in this region achieved summer Olympic glory long ago, one of many highlights in a very accomplished life.

Karl Telford Frederick was born in 1881 in Chateaugay (northern Franklin County), where his father was a Presbyterian minister, which required a somewhat nomadic existence (five relocations in 14 years). Before Karl was three, the family moved to Essex on Lake Champlain, remaining there until 1888—not a long time, but sufficient to establish a lasting connection between him and the Adirondacks. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Fort Covington’s Big Bill Palmer, Watertown Football Star

P2A Palmer1903HdlineWtownOrangeIn 1903, after winning a national championship with the Michigan Wolverines college football team during the previous season, Fort Covington native Big Bill Palmer was working in Chester, Massachusetts. In subsequent years, homesickness, financial issues, and the supposed need to care for his ill mother were reasons cited by reporters seeking to explain his decision to leave the University of Michigan. The real issue, however, was his status as an amateur athlete. At the time, colleges were cracking down on the use of athletes who were considered professionals, and after winning the national title, Michigan discovered that Palmer, unbeknownst to them, had been paid to play football for Watertown in 1901. By the rules, any type of payment for play changed an athlete’s status from amateur to professional, so Michigan was unable to allow his return to the roster in 1903. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Legendary North Country Athlete Big Bill Palmer

P1A 1901PalmerHdlineLargely forgotten due to the passage of time, Fort Covington native William “Big Bill” Palmer is one of the most successful athletes ever born in the North Country. And yet the period during which he reached remarkable heights at two levels of the same sport lasted just over two years. Even more surprising is that he played on a team still recognized today as legendary in the world of college athletics.

Born in 1875 to William and Catherine Palmer on a Fort Covington farm in northern Franklin County, New York, Bill displayed unusual athletic ability at a young age. At fairs, Fourth of July celebrations, and Field Days, his name was always prominent among those participating in sporting events. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, August 4, 2016

Erastus Hudson and the Lindbergh Baby Case (Conclusion)

3A EMHudsonClothFrom a forensics perspective, Dr. Erastus Hudson voiced his deduction that the Lindbergh kidnapping was an inside job, based on evidence with which he was personally familiar. “A point of great importance rested in the absence of any fingerprints on the nursery window and its remarkably broad sill. Kelly [of the New Jersey State Police] had powdered it a few hours after the kidnapping. No prints were found, although Betty Gow [the child’s nurse] and Mrs. Lindbergh had opened and closed the window that same night. Miss Gow had rubbed the child’s chest with an ointment, the oleaginous base of which would have augmented the secretion of the finger ridges in leaving clear prints.

“Of course, there would have been older prints as well. The reason Kelly failed to get all these prints was because they must have been washed off. Someone with a pail of water and cloth undoubtedly bathed those spots where fingerprints must have been left. They did so between the time Betty Gow put the baby to bed and about four hours later, when Kelly began investigating. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Erastus Hudson and the Lindbergh Baby Case (Part 2)

2A LadderLindberghHouseOn March 13, 1932 Erastus Hudson of Plattsburgh was asked to visit the crime scene in the Charles Lindbergh home to secure whatever evidence he might produce. First using the standard dusting process, which was best for solid surfaces, he found no prints in the nursery on any items that had already been checked, confirming Kelly’s results, but he did find thirteen on the baby’s books and toys. These were extremely valuable because the baby had been born at home, and thus no fingerprints had been taken. Those gathered by Hudson were the only means of identifying the baby for certain—if he were ever found.

Turning his attention to the ladder that had yielded no prints to police experts, Hudson spent a couple of days applying his innovative process. He estimated collecting “more than 500 fingerprints and fragments, some of which were sufficient to be of value.” » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Plattsburgh’s Erastus Hudson and the Lindbergh Baby Case

1A EMHudson“Trial of the Century” is a term frequently bandied about in the media to define extremely high-profile court cases. In the 1900s, twenty or so sported the moniker—the Scopes Monkey Trial, Nuremburg, Charles Manson, and O. J. Simpson among them—but always in the running, and at the top of many lists, is the Lindbergh Kidnapping in 1935. (The crime was committed in 1932; the court case began three years later.) At the center of one of the main issues during that trial was a North Country man, whose testimony spawned doubt among observers that justice was achieved. Many books have been written about the case during the ensuing 81 years, addressing the controversy as to whether the final verdict was justice or a travesty thereof.

That North Country man was Erastus Mead Hudson, born into a prominent Plattsburgh family in March 1888. (Hudson Hall at Plattsburgh State University is named after Erastus’s father, George Henry Hudson.) He attended Plattsburgh High School, and after graduating from Harvard in 1913 with a bachelor of science degree, Erastus attended the College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York City, graduating in 1917 with specialties in bacteriology and body chemistry. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, July 14, 2016

Equal Pay for Women in 1870: The Charley Warner Solution

1928 HdlineCWarner01Unequal pay for women ably performing the same jobs as men is unfair and idiotic. Why the sex of an employee reduces their pay should be a mystery to all, especially when most men can relate stories of male co-workers receiving equal pay despite being underperformers, shirkers, or just plain lazy. But the issue is nothing new. Faced with a need for self-supporting income in the 1870s, a northern New York woman didn’t wait for society to grant her equality. She instead chose her own path: going undercover in a man’s world. In doing so, she may have also found more happiness than anyone realized at the time. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Why We Celebrate the Fourth the Way We Do

1876 ODJ4thJulyFRFourth of July celebrations across the Adirondacks and foothills are rooted in regional and national traditions. The principal components — parades, social gatherings, feasts, and fireworks — have endured since the early 1800s. They’re actually based on suggestions by one of our Founding Fathers.

During the first century of the nation’s existence, memories of the revolution remained strong, spawning several customs that have since disappeared. Besides parades, food, and fireworks, it was common during that time to skewer King George in a variety of ways. Some towns presented plays with characters from the revolution, generating boos and hisses when the king’s character appeared on stage. All events of those days featured speeches that were widely anticipated, including at least one mocking King George for his treatment of the colonies. Another highlight in every city, town, and village celebration was a reading of the Declaration of Independence.

Each July, newspapers recounted the festivities held in communities large and small, from Albany and Troy to Plattsburgh, Ogdensburg, Watertown, and scores of small villages. Reading of the Declaration of Independence at each location was a revered tradition and truly the heart of every celebration. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 27, 2016

Gordie Little: The Passing of a North Country Legend

P1 Gooley&Little20151125Folks in Essex and Franklin Counties, but in Clinton County most of all, are mourning the death last Wednesday of beloved historian, author, and media legend Gordie Little, undoubtedly one of the North Country’s best friends ever. Media legend? How else does one define the impact of 36 years on the radio, followed by nearly two decades of newspaper columns for Plattsburgh’s Press-Republican and recent columns in Denton Publications, while also hosting weekly programs on cable-access television? And through it all, he promoted the entire region at every opportunity.

Gordie wasn’t just on the radio: for thousands every day, he was radio. Shortly after joining WIRY in Plattsburgh back in the early 1960s, he was voted the top DJ among 12 competitors from area stations, earning for him a Golden Mike award. The fans had spoken, and he never looked back, making radio his life. The morning birthday show on WIRY became a regional classic. Many of us heard our birthdays announced back then, and heard Gordie do the same for our own children decades later. Families woke up to his voice daily, learning all the local news as we readied for school or work. (And he was always there, working more than 30 years before throat surgery forced him to take his first sick days.) Listeners will never forget his humorous, self-deprecating catch phrase: “Gordie Little – Who’s He?” » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The North Country Man Who Threatened A President

P1JosephDoldoWhen presidential historians and scholars rate America’s greatest leaders, Franklin Delano Roosevelt is among the few who nearly always appear among the top five, along with Washington and Lincoln. While others certainly served admirably, those three achieved elevated status by facing stern tests of leadership during great crises in our history: the battle for independence, the fight to preserve the Union, and in FDR’s case, both the Great Depression and World War II.

It’s less well known that Roosevelt very nearly didn’t serve as President due to assassination attempts prior to his first inauguration. One of those stories brought ignominious headlines to the North Country over a period of several months.

Roosevelt first won the presidency in November 1932. The 20th Amendment was ratified on January 23, 1933, officially establishing January 20 as the new inauguration date for all future presidents, and making FDR the last President to be inaugurated on March 4. He very nearly didn’t survive the waiting period. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 13, 2016

The Babbie Rural and Farm Learning Museum

BabMus01In the northeast corner of New York State, the first weekend in June features Museum Days, during which 16 facilities in Clinton County offer free admission. We were among many who appeared as special guests on both days, offering our books for sale and visiting with attendees, which meant talking a lot about “the good old days.” From that experience, I can assure everyone that a trip to the Babbie Rural & Farm Learning Museum in Peru, where we spent Saturday, is a great idea from several perspectives.

As a museum, it’s a real pleasure, and for children and adults alike, it’s fun and entertaining. But it occurred to me that it’s also a priceless gift to people in their sixties or older, and to the offspring of those folks who have heard stories about childhood chores, tools of yesteryear, and appliances that preceded modern devices. » Continue Reading.


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