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, August 31, 2015

In Whitehall A Twisted Take On Civil War History

The 123rd New York Volunteer Infantry represented Washington County, New York, in the Civil War. Final casualty totals were about 166 dead (69 on the battlefield) and 158 wounded. Among those were 16 killed and 16 wounded from the town of Whitehall. The dead represent 16 grieving families and great loss for the community, a theme replayed again and again across the country.

Among the key words defining America is union, as in the opening words of the Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in order to form a more perfect Union…,” and as in pledging “allegiance to the flag of the United States of America.” Yes, it’s even in our name—not America, but the United States of America. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 25, 2015

A Little Headline Humor from the Past

1944 HdlineGetGasIf you’re up for a few laughs, here are some more headlines taken from old North Country newspapers. See if you can figure out the real story behind each headline—and don’t be disappointed if you only go one-for-four.

The first one may have been an editor having a little fun with word play, but the headline in the Hammond Advertiser from spring 1944 does make sense in context. If you haven’t already guessed, the year provides a clue to the article topic. The answer: World War II was a time of shortages in America, and the article addressed limitations on the amount of gas available for pleasure craft in the Adirondack region. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 18, 2015

The League of the Kindly Tongue

1916HdlineKindlyLgLodestone’s definition—magnetic, to attract strongly—helps clarify the meaning of the following famous quotation: “A kindly tongue is the lodestone of the hearts of men.” Those are the words of Bahá’u’lláh, founder of the Bahá’í Faith. In more colloquial terms, here’s a very loose translation used by a movie star—Thumper in Walt Disney’s “Bambi”: “If you can’t say somethin’ nice, don’t say nuthin’ at all.”

It suggests that people respond well to kind and friendly words, which is true. That’s the concept behind a movement launched long ago by a North Country man. In this era of routine public rudeness, lightly veiled slurs, and yelling opposing views at each other as a substitute for substantive discussion, maybe it’s time for the League of the Kindly Tongue to rise again.

Yes, the League of the Kindly Tongue was once a thing, born of excessive gossip, rumors, rudeness, and … well, you get the point. It’s hard to imagine such a pro-civility movement taking root, but it did in a very big way. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Bloody Bill Higby of Willsboro

BloodyBillHigbyAs colorful nicknames go, Bloody Bill is tough to beat. It belongs to a number of bad guys, and one very good guy – Bloody Bill Higby, born in Willsboro 202 years ago.

After attending local schools and working on the family farm, he found employment in the iron and lumber business. Higby then enrolled in the Essex County Academy at Westport and went on to graduate from the University of Vermont. After studying law, he began practicing in Elizabethtown in 1847. Three years later, nearing the age of 40, he felt the call of the West amid dreams of striking it rich in California’s gold mines. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, August 4, 2015

Dicker Days in Elizabethtown: Cooperative Economy

1936 DickerDayHdlineRegional traditions, from Authors’ Night in Long Lake to small-town fairs and church dinners, are part of what makes rural life fun. There’s a financial component for sure, but such social gatherings capture a feeling of community that’s elusive in more populated areas. Eighty years ago, Elizabethtown in Essex County hosted the launch of a unique event that fit the mold perfectly: Dicker Days.

Town leaders actually turned down the idea, so it was hosted in Elizabethtown, but was the brainchild of Margaret Adams, whose persistence and resources made it a success. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 27, 2015

When the Compass Says North is Everywhere

Compass BearingsThe recent pursuit of prison escapees near Mountain View and Owl’s Head in northern Franklin County ignited for me a few memories from the area, both related to iron ore. Lyon Mountain, a few miles northeast of Standish, produced the world’s highest-grade iron ore for a century. Standish was home to the iron company’s blast furnace, and the village is linked to Mountain View by an unsurfaced, 11-mile stretch of the Wolf Pond Road.

When I interviewed old-timers back in the early 1980s for a couple of books about Lyon Mountain’s history, they told me of how the blast furnace stood out several decades earlier for residents of Franklin County, south of Malone, especially in the Mountain View area. Across the valley where the Salmon River flows parallel to the Wolf Pond Road, there was a nightly bright glow on the eastern horizon. At times the furnace, which ran 24/7, looked like a giant torch in the distance. The effect was powerful when nights were truly dark, before everyone decided that floodlights were a great idea. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 20, 2015

Arnold Winkler Is From Plattsburgh!

RonDapoArnoldWinklerA recent encounter with an old “friend” resulted in some surprising information, courtesy of my wife, Jill. A few TV buffs might recognize the name Arnold Winkler. Others might not know the name but will recall the character. Arnold was the spoiled friend of Opie Taylor (Ron Howard) on “The Andy Griffith Show,” and in a memorable episode, he provided Opie with some advice on how allowances work and how to negotiate. Some of the dialogue is great, and two scenes are excellent—Opie’s testing of Arnold’s methods, and the finale in the sheriff’s office.

Jill loves many of the old shows that have been revived on different channels. I’m much old … scratch that … let’s just say I’m enough older than her to have seen the shows when they originally aired. It’s common ground for the two of us to watch old shows together. At least in my opinion, they stand up quite well against any competition. While some provide escape, “The Andy Griffith Show,” believe it or not, depicts small-town life much as it was in the 1950s and early 1960s. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Some (Wildlife) Gluttons I Have Known

bass-shinertail-mouthThe recent annual Nathan’s Hot-Dog Eating Contest (really, it’s a sport?) reminded me of a few gluttons from my past – of the wildlife variety. The term is used loosely here to include some ambitious and/or instinctive eaters encountered during a lifetime of hiking and a lot of fishing in my younger days. Had cameras been pocket gadgets back then like they are today, some great illustrations would be accompanying this piece. At least a few would be of bullfrogs. » Continue Reading.


Monday, July 6, 2015

Baseball King George Kissell’s Big Season

GK2A GeorgeKissellLast week’s recounting of North Country native George Kissell’s remarkable 69-year career in professional baseball touched only on some highlights.

Including all the details would surely require a hefty tome, but a look at one particular season provides insight on who he was and where his baseball wisdom was rooted. For that, there’s no better year than 1950.

Prior to that time, George, who hailed from the family farm in Evans Mills, northeast of Watertown, was an excellent athlete. At the age of sixteen, he was playing shortstop for a men’s team in the local Adirondack League, rapping out a double and triple in the team’s first playoff game. At seventeen, he led the Evans Mills High School basketball team as a guard. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 29, 2015

George Kissell: The King of Baseball

GK1A GeorgeKissellGeorge Kissell, a native of Evans Mills, about eight miles northeast of Watertown, is one of the most famous sports figures you’ve never heard of – unless maybe if you’re a St. Louis Cardinals fan. Conversely, here are some baseball names you might be familiar with: Earl Weaver, Tony LaRussa, Steve Carlton, Joe Torre, Whitey Herzog, Sparky Anderson, Don Zimmer – and to go way back, let’s include Branch Rickey.

For a bit of perspective, listen to what they had to say about George Kissell (who is in no way related to the recent troubles in the Cardinals organization). Hall of Famer Earl Weaver called him one of the biggest influences on Weaver’s career. In Tony LaRussa’s first press conference after being voted into the Hall of Fame, Kissell was mentioned as a primary influence in his baseball life. Another Hall of Famer, Joe Torre, did the same, having noted earlier that, “Kissell taught me more baseball than anybody I’ve ever met in my life.” » Continue Reading.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Jim Barry: King of Death Penalty Reprieves

JJBarry2A1918It was Keeseville native Jim Barry’s reputation as a top-rated lawyer, fighting relentlessly and effectively against great odds, that led to his role in an infamous New York City murder case. In November 1918, four young men robbed a 68-year-old subway-ticket agent, Otto Fiala, and when the man resisted, he was shot dead.

The four included James “Bull” Cassidy, 25, an amateur boxer; Charles McLaughlin, 21; Joseph “Lefty” Milano, 19; and Joseph “Onions” Usefof, 20. Three sailors saw them flee the scene (netting only $61 from the robbery). Ten days later, detectives found them in Syracuse, where they were arrested after Cassidy fought a four-round bout. Willie Kirk, driver of the getaway car, was also taken into custody.

While they were locked up together, a deal was proposed by McLaughlin whereby one of them would assume blame for the murder, allowing the rest to avoid a death sentence or life in prison. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, June 17, 2015

James Barry: Friend of the Working Man

James J Barry of Schenectady and KeesevilleNearly a century ago, a North Country man played a role in one the most remarkable murder cases in New York State history. Attorney James J. Barry was a Keeseville native, born there in late 1876 and a  graduated of Keeseville’s McAuley Academy in 1898. In 1901 he moved to Schenectady where he worked for General Electric. He later attended Albany Law School, graduating in 1908 and setting up shop in Schenectady, his adopted home.

The Adirondacks were his real home however, and he maintained strong ties here. To share with others the joys of spending time in the mountains, he helped form the Northmen’s Club, of which he was president in 1907. Many times in the ensuing decades, he took club members, friends, and public officials on visits up north. Jim Barry was never away for very long. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 8, 2015

Notes From The ACW Publishing Conference

HeavenHill01On Saturday we made our first-ever visit to Heaven Hill Farm in Lake Placid, where the Adirondack Center for Writing Publishing Conference was held. My wife and business partner Jill Jones served with me on the panel of self-publishers that included Gary VanRiper and Jamie Sheffield. We shared different experiences and answered a variety of questions. Hopefully it was helpful to some of the attendees. After the panel’s portion ended, we visited with some of the authors and answered more questions. » Continue Reading.


Monday, June 1, 2015

Current Events on the Local Book Scene

BooksImageJW01There’s a lot going on in the world of books at this time that will affect writers everywhere, including the Adirondack region. BookExpo America and BookCon, held at the Javits Center in New York City, ended on May 31, the same day that regional book awards were presented at Blue Mountain Lake by the Adirondack Center for Writing. On June 6–7, the ACW’s annual Publishing Conference is being held in Lake Placid. From 2:45 to 4 p.m. on Saturday, my partner, Jill Jones, and I will be serving on the self-publishing panel, along with Jamie Sheffield and Gary VanRiper. The hope is to offer useful advice on things that have worked for each of us, thus helping others to avoid pitfalls and use resources wisely. » Continue Reading.


Monday, May 25, 2015

Early Baseball: Golden Age of the Silver Ball

SilverBallTrophyIf you’ve ever been to a professional baseball game, you’ll recall certain things: the food, the camaraderie among like-minded fans, exciting plays on the field, and the overall feeling of enjoyment. And remember that professional doesn’t necessarily mean major league. It also applies to the minor leagues, where, at least in my opinion, all those things are even more enjoyable, especially in Single-A ball. Watching the Geneva Cubs and other teams back in the 1980s in the Finger Lakes region is one of my all-time favorite baseball experiences. » Continue Reading.


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