Tuesday, March 17, 2009

John’s Ten Favorite Irish Songs For St. Paddy’s

Mary’s post on local traditional Irish music today inspired this list of “must have” Irish music everyone with Irish aspirations should know. Although these tunes are in no particular order, learn them and you’ll never spend St. Paddy’s alone.

Whiskey in the Jar – This classic tune is believed to have originated in the late 1600s or early 1700s. Since then it’s by been covered by The Dubliners, Thin Lizzy, Peter, Paul & Mary, Gerry Garcia and David Grisman, and Metallica. My favorite line: “I first produced my pistol, and then produced my rapier.”

Wild Colonial Boy – About 40,000 Irish convicts were transported to Australia between 1791 and 1867, many as political prisoners. There they continued to battle the British authorities as Jack Duggan does in this ditty – it doesn’t end well for Jack. My favorite line: “A terror to Australia was, the wild colonial boy”

Whiskey, You’re The Devil –
Whiskey leads our happy balladeer over hills and mountains. The word whiskey is an Anglicisation of the Gaelic “uisce beatha” (pronounced sort of like ishka ba) which translates as “water of life.” Today the Irish word is “craythur”; get The Pouges version. My favorite line: “Oh, whiskey you’re the devil, you’re leading me astray”

Finnegan’s Wake – James Joyce based his book in part on this song which includes the death of Tim – a hod carrier (a mason’s laborer) – and his subsequent wake at which a brawl breaks out, whiskey is spilled on Tim and he is revived. The Dropkick Murphy’s punk version is good craic. My favorite line: “You see he’d a sort of a tipplers way, but for the love for the liquor poor Tim was born. To help him on his way each day, he’d a drop of the craythur every morn.”

I Got Laid on James Joyce Grave – A Black 47 original. The band is named for the worst year of the Famine, Black 47. The song is an homage to Joyce and that says enough. My favorite line: “I Got Laid on James Joyce’s Grave, I was hoping that his genius would rub off on me.”

Wild Rover – A Traditional favorite you will hear on St. Paddy’s almost anywhere. It sounds like a proper old Irish drinking song, but in truth it is a Temperance song from the early 1800s. My favorite line “I’ve been a wild rover for many’s the year, and I spent all me money on whiskey and beer.”

James Connolly – One of my favorite songs of all time about the socialist labor leader, one time resident of Troy, NY, and commander of the Free Dublin forces during the Easter Rebellion of 1916. “With Pearce and Connolly bidding each other goodbye,” he was seriously wounded, captured, and taken to Kilmainham Jail where he was tied to a chair and executed. My favorite line: “So don’t give up your rifles boys, hold on to the dream, of a republic for the working class – economic liberty.”

Come Out Ye Black and Tans – Although Americans typically don’t know it, the half ale and half stout served as a “Black and Tan” is called a “Half and Half” in Ireland, and for good reason. The Black and Tans were a paramilitary group used to suppress revolution in Ireland in the 1920s. Their main targets were the Irish Republican Army, but they were notorious for their attacks on Irish civilians. My favorite line: “Come out ye Black and Tans, come out and fight me like a man, show your wife how you won medals out in Flanders, tell her how the IRA, made you run like hell away, from the green and lovely lanes in Killeshandra.”

Seven Drunken Nights – When The Dubliners play this song, they announce they can only sing five of the nights – the last two verses are generally considered too raunchy for the general public. If you hear them in the pub where you are, you know you are in the right place. My favorite line: “Your drunk, your drunk, you silly old fool, and still you cannot see.”

Irish Men Will Set Them Free – The beginning line – “In the jail that held McSwiney; In the prison where he died” – is all you need here, but there is more to this tale of women imprisoned for their “love of dear old Ireland.” The title is sometimes offered as “The IRA Will Set them Free.” My favorite line: “Twas the love of dear old Ireland brought them to a prison hell, but the ghosts of Pearse and Connolly, filled their lonely prison cell, Clarke and Plunkett stand beside them, McDonagh McDermott and Wolfe Tone, and all the voices of old Ireland, cry for us to bring them home.”


Saturday, March 14, 2009

19th Century Houseplants Program at Adk Museum

Nearly everyone who endures long Adirondack winters understands how important flowering houseplants and a bit of green can be to lift the spirits. An African violet on the window sill or a simple spider plant in the hall can make a difference!

Adirondack housekeepers felt the same need for “green” in a winter landscape a century ago. However, the practical challenges of indoor gardening would have been daunting. Before central heating and modern insulation — water sometimes froze at night, while overcast skies and the expense of window glass made houses perpetually dim inside.

Adirondack Museum Curator Hallie Bond will present “Mountain Greenery” on March 22, 2009 at the Museum, a program on the joys and challenges of keeping houseplants at the turn of the last century. Diaries, historic photographs, and regional literature document how Adirondack women once added cheer and beauty to a long, dreary season.

Houseplants were also treasured because they provided connections to others in the community. Adirondack women cut blooms for winter weddings or funerals and shared cuttings with special friends. “Mountain Greenery” will provide an interesting footnote to the history of nineteenth century rural life and offer tips about hardy heritage houseplants for today’s indoor gardeners.

Hallie E. Bond has been Curator at the Adirondack Museum since 1987. She has written extensively on regional history and material culture including Boats and Boating in the Adirondacks, published by Syracuse University Press in 1995 and ‘A Paradise for Boys and Girls‘ Children’s Camps in the Adirondacks, Syracuse University Press, 2005.

The program is part of the museum’s popular Cabin Fever Sunday series. Held in the Auditorium, the presentation will begin promptly at 1:30 p.m. Cabin Fever Sundays are offered at no charge to museum members and children of elementary school age or younger. The fee for non-members is $5.00. Refreshments will be served. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.


Thursday, March 5, 2009

400 Years of The Champlain Valley Event

Rich Strum, Director of Interpretation and Education at Fort Ticonderoga, will offer a program entitled “Conquest, Commerce, and Culture: 400 Years of History in the Champlain Valley” at Saranac Village at Will Rogers in Saranac Lake on Sunday, March 8, 2009.

Samuel de Champlain first saw the great expanse of Lake Champlain, the Green Mountains to the east, the Adirondacks on the west in 1609. New York State, Vermont, and the Province of Quebec are commemorating the 400th anniversary of Champlain’s explorations this year through a variety of programs and events.

Strum will provide an illustrated overview of four centuries of the Champlain region’s history. He will discuss military contests for control of the vital Champlain corridor, the role the lake has played in economic growth and expansion, the lasting impact of 150 years of French dominance in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The presentation will begin at 2:00 p.m. and is offered at no charge to member sof the Adirondack Museum and children of elementary school age or younger. Free admission will be extended to all residents of Saranac Village at Will Rogers. The fee for non-members is $5.00. For additional information, please call the Education Department at (518) 352-7311, ext. 128 or visit the museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.

Rich Strum has been the Director of Interpretation and Education at Fort Ticonderoga since 1999. He serves as North Country Regional Coordinator for New York State History Day. He is the author of Ticonderoga: Lake Champlain Steamboat, as well as two books for young readers: Causes of the American Revolution and Henry Know: Washington’s Artilleryman. He lives in Ticonderoga, N.Y. with his wife and daughters.


Wednesday, March 4, 2009

A New Blog and Book About Hulett’s Landing

Hulett’s Landing on the east side of Lake George is the subject of a new Adirondack blog, The Huletts Current, and a new book by George Kapusinski whose family operates Huletts-On-Lake-George. It turns out I’m connected by marriage to the Hulett family that established Hulett’s Landing. So I thought I’d offer a little history – one that ties eastern timber rattlesnakes with an early noted librarian and explorer (now that’s a combination!) and at the same time adds a new steamship to the history of Lake George. » Continue Reading.


Monday, February 16, 2009

Presidents’ Day Profile: William Henry Harrison

William Henry Harrison, our abbreviated president. Number eleven. One of only four U.S. Presidents born in February.

Longest inaugural address (about 2 hrs); shortest presidency (34 days); also shortest one hundred-day plan. Battled Native Shawnees in the Wabash Valley to accumulate their land in Ohio and (rather cynically) Indiana.

Connection to the Adirondacks: None direct (he died 51 years before the park was created). However, his nickname, Old Tippecanoe, sounds Adirondack-y and was also the name of early 20th C. Indian River guide & hunter Tippecanoe Knapp.


Thursday, February 12, 2009

Two Adirondack Sites Make ‘Seven to Save’ List

The Preservation League of New York State announced it’s Seven to Save for 2009. As part of New York State’s Quadricentennial celebration, the Preservation League will use its endangered properties program, Seven to Save, to support and enhance the year-long commemoration of the voyages of Henry Hudson, Robert Fulton and Samuel de Champlain. In 2009, all Seven to Save designees are located in the Hudson and Champlain Valleys – in Clinton, Columbia (2), Dutchess, Essex, New York and Rensselaer Counties.

Two are located in the Adirondacks:

Gunboat Spitfire
Lake Champlain, Essex and Clinton Counties (1776)

Threat: Natural, including non-native aquatic species, and vandalism. This vessel was part of the American fleet which held the British at bay for a year and contributed to the American victory at Saratoga in 1777. The Spitfire is not only the most significant underwater archeological site on the bottom of Lake Champlain, it illustrates the interconnected history of the Hudson and Champlain Valleys.

Fort Montgomery
Rouse’s Point, Clinton County (1844-1872)

Threat: Deterioration, need for stabilization. Situated on the border between the United States and Canada, Island Point is where Lake Champlain enters the Richelieu River. It was first fortified in 1818 as the Northern Gateway linking the St. Lawrence and Hudson Rivers. Fort Montgomery was built in the mid-19th century and seen as a crucial fortification by Civil War strategists. This site symbolizes the shared history of these two nations.

The Preservation League will provide targeted support for these seven threatened historic resources throughout 2009, and will work with local groups to protect them. The complete list can be found here.

“We are looking forward to providing strategic attention, extra effort, and new tools to secure the future of these endangered resources for generations to come,” said Erin Tobin, the Preservation League’s eastern regional director for technical and grant programs. “We are delighted to report that through the community involvement and preservation strategies we have created together with local advocates, many significant properties have been saved.”

The Preservation League of New York State, founded in 1974, is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to the protection of New York’s diverse and rich heritage of historic buildings, districts and landscapes. From its headquarters in Albany, it provides the unified voice for historic preservation. By leading a statewide movement and sharing information and expertise, the Preservation League of New York State promotes historic preservation as a tool to revitalize the Empire State’s neighborhoods and communities.


Tuesday, February 10, 2009

A Short History of Lows Lake on The Bog River

Lows Lake (about 3,100 acres) is located in St. Lawrence and Hamilton counties, part of the St. Lawrence Drainage basin (Raquette Sub-Basin). It’s a ponded water on the Bog River Flow, one of 21 over a square mile in size held back by dams in the St. Lawrence Basin. The largest dammed lake in the basin is Cranberry Lake (just north of Lows Lake), which has regulated the flow of the Oswegatchie River since 1867.

The northeast shore of Lows Lake is privately held, but the rest (except a few small parcels) is mostly surrounded by Forest Preserve. Sabattis Scout Reservation owns a portion of the lake, three islands, and a Boy Scout camp on the north side. The western end of Lows Lake lies deep within the proposed Bob Marshall Wilderness.
» Continue Reading.


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Wilmington Historical Society ‘Open Discussions’

The Wilmington Historical Society meets the first Wednesday of each month. “Open Discussions” take place at 7 p.m. (before the business portion of each regular meeting, staying is optional), and last about 45 minutes to an hour. All are invited to relate stories, bring news articles, photos or artifacts related to the topic of each meeting, or you can just come to listen.

Here is a list of Open Discussion topics for 2009:

Feb. 4 (Wed.): “Restaurants in Wilmington”

March 4 (Wed.): “Gas Stations in Wilmington”

April 1 (Wed): “Industry in Wilmington”

May 6 (Wed.): “Contributions of Women in Wilmington”

June 3 (Wed.): “Wilmington Campgrounds”

July 1 (Wed.): “Whiteface Mountain and Wilmington in Literature”

August 5 (Wed.): “Wilmington and Whiteface in Art & Photographs”

September 2 (Wed): “Agriculture in Wilmington”

October 7 (Wed.): “Motels in Wilmington”

November 4 (Wed.): “Stores and Shops in Wilmington”


Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Timber Rattlesnakes of the Adirondacks

The Adirondacks’ largest species of venomous snake will be featured at the Wild Center in Tupper Lake this Sunday (and three more Sundays to come). The Wild Center’s resident herpetologist Frank Panaro will present a program about the timber rattlesnakes found in Adirondacks which are listed as threatened in New York and are only found in limited areas in the region.

This event brings up a little historical note from Flavius J. Cook’s 1858 Home sketches of Essex County: Ticonderoga:

Elisha Belden was a near neighbor of Mr. [Gideon] SHATTUCK’s [at the south end of Trout Brook Valley – presumably in present day Hague near the Ticonderoga town line], . .closely following him in time of settlement [1793], tastes and occupations… Father Elisha was famous for hunting rattle-snakes, which he sent from the Rattle-snake’s den near Roger’s Rock, as curiosities to various parts. The stories of his captures of that reptile with a crotched stick, and of his particular power over them, are no less wonderful than well authenticated. In one of his trips to the den, on a Sabbath afternoon, he was badly bitten, but he said “it was because the varmints did not know him, as he was dressed up and had on white stockings – they thought he was Judge [Isaac] KELLOG.” At last going out one day alone, to fill a basket with this dangerous game, the old man did not return. When found he was sitting upon the rocks, leaning back, frightfully swollen and blackened with poison – dead. A snake, cut to pieces with his jack-knife, lay by his side, with fragments of flesh, thought to be a remedy for poison, which he had applied to the bite beneath his arm, to which, it is supposed, the chafing of his side against the cover of the basket, as he carried it had let out the heads of the reptiles. It was said, as before, that a change of clothes he had lately made put it beyond the wisdom of the rattlesnakes to recognize him, and hence his power over them was lost, but a better explanation was a half empty whiskey-bottle found near the spot whose contents had so fatally palsied the truly remarkable courage and skill of the old hunter.

Rattlesnakes were once a more common sight in the Adirondacks – Elisha BElden was a well-known entertainer with rattlers on the Lake George Steamships (he was on the John Jay when it sunk, for instance). Today we have few opportunities to see these amazing animals. Frank Panaro’s presentation will also include information concerning venomous snakes and venom in general in addition to a snake handling demonstration and a chance for you to ask questions. One of the Museum’s timber rattlesnakes will be in attendance for a close up view on the special live camera that lets you see the snake closer than you would ever see one in the wild.

The Timber Rattlesnakes of the Adirondacks program will also be held on Sunday, February 22nd, March 8th, and March 22nd at 1 pm.


Monday, February 2, 2009

Books: Why The Adks Looks The Way It Does

If you want to consider yourself knowledgeable about the Adirondacks you must own and have read Mike Storey’s Why The Adirondacks Look The Way They Do. That’s not hyperbole – that’s a simple fact.

Storey self-published this guide to Adirondack natural history in 2006 and sold out the first printing in the first year. The reason, no doubt, is that it’s readable and relevant. Storey was the former Chief Naturalist at the Adirondack Park Agency (24 years at the APA!) and he wrote the book we all need to keep in our car, backpack, and back pocket. In fact, my only complaint is the book’s format doesn’t make it easy to pack – it could have been a lot smaller, even with all the info and images packed in there!

This book is more than a guide to our local flora and fauna, more than a wildlife guide, it covers geology, geography, forestry, history, cultural anthropology, environmental politics, from the life cycle of the black fly to the problems of upland development. The diagrams, illustrations, photographs, are illustrative beyond comparison. From “Grenville Continent Rifting and the Lake George Rift Valley” to the illustration of a 50-years of a hemlock and yellow birch growing on a rotting log resting on a glacial erratic rock, this book shows you the basics and backs it up with detailed explanations. The tracks of common animals, identifying common birds, leaves, trees, fish, soils, insects, eskers, kettle holes – its all there and more.

This book will do what it says it will – explain, in vivid and easy-going detail, why the Adirondacks look the way they do. I’ve been thinking about doing a “Ten Books Every Adirondacker Should Own,” and when I do, this book will be on that list.


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Johnsburg to Host Its First MLK Day Event

The Town of Johnsburg and the Johnsburg Central School’s Adirondacks and U.S. History classes are sponsoring a Martin Luther King Day event on January 19th, 2009 at the Tannery Pond Community Center in North Creek between 2:00 and 5:00 PM. The event will feature a screening of the film: “In Remembrance of Martin”, a PBS documentary which includes interviews with former President Jimmy Carter, Congressman John Lewis, Bill Cosby, Jesse Jackson, Dick Gregory, Joan Baez, and Bishop Desmond Tutu, discussing their memories of Dr. King and the civil rights movement. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Camp Santanoni Historic Ski Tour with AARCH

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) will kick-off their 2009 educational series Sunday, February 8th with an interpretive cross-country ski into the 19th-century, Adirondack Great Camp, Camp Santanoni. Participants will learn about the history and architectural significance of the camp that make it a National Historic Landmark. The 10-mile round trip ski, along the preserve’s gently sloping historic carriage road, leads us into the majestic wilderness estate. Those taking part will visit the camp’s three complexes (the Gate Lodge, the Farm, and the Main Camp), and view the massive log retreat at the Main Camp, the work of architect Robert Robertson. Skiers will also see first hand, authentic Adirondack rustic interiors and learn about the restoration of the camp.

Steven Engelhart, AARCH Executive Director and John Friauf, former AARCH Board Member, will lead the tour. The group will depart Santanoni Preserve parking area, off Route 28N in the hamlet of Newcomb at 10AM, returning around 3 PM. This is a remote site. All participants are encouraged to bring a trail lunch and plenty of hydration. The fee is $10 for members and $15 for non-members. Advance registration is required by calling AARCH at (518) 834-9328.

Adirondack Architectural Heritage (AARCH) is the private, non-profit, historic preservation organization for the Adirondack Park region. AARCH works in partnership with the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC) and the Town of Newcomb to preserve and interpret Camp Santanoni. This tour is one of over fifty events in our annual series highlighting the region’s vast architectural legacy. For more information on AARCH including membership and a complete 2009 program schedule contact AARCH at (518) 834-9328 or visit their website at www.aarch.org.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

5 Questions: Ticonderoga Sentinel’s Kimberly Rielly

I asked Kimberly Rielly, Communications Director of the Ticonderoga Main Street Partnership five questions about the reemergence of the Ticonderoga Sentinel, which was published in Ti as a weekly from 1874 until 1982, with a short interruption and a try at daily publishing in the 1880s.

AA: What is the current Ticonderoga Sentinel?

KR: The Sentinel is a community newspaper that serves as both the newsletter for Ticonderoga Main Street Partnership (TMSP) and a forum for articles on topics not typically covered in the conventional media.

AA: Why Sentinel?

KR: The Sentinel is the revival of the former weekly newspaper of Ticonderoga. Also, the local Ticonderoga high school sports teams are the Sentinels.

AA: Who publishes the Sentinel?

KR: The Ticonderoga Sentinel is written, edited, designed and published by TMSP’s all volunteer staff. Ticonderoga’s largest employer, International Paper Co., supports the Ticonderoga Sentinel by generously covering the costs of printing the newspaper.

AA: Who are the paper’s contributors?

KR: There are a number of Ticonderoga residents who contribute current and historical articles, historic pictures, cartoon illustrations, recipes and local bridge results. These contributors include the Town Supervisior, the Coordinator of the Heritage Museum, the Ticonderoga Town Historian, and many others who are interested in both the history and the future of Ticonderoga.

AA: Are there plans for more frequent publication?

KR: The plans for 2009 are to publish The Sentinel on a quarterly basis. PDF files of previous publications of The Sentinel are available on TMSP’s website, www.timainstreet.org.


Monday, January 5, 2009

Lake Placid: Another Victim of Ethan Allen Sinking

From Mark Wilson, who writes the newsletter for the Lake Placid Shore Owners’ Association (founded in 1893), comes news of the demise of the Lake Placid’s Lady of the Lake tour boat. She was on the same service as the Ethan Allen in the Thousands Islands until the 1950s and has suffered from regulations that grew from the tragedy at Lake George in October 2005. Here is Wilson’s full report:

The Lady of the Lake, longtime doyen of the Lake Placid tour boat fleet, has taken to the road. Since late summer the sleek septuagenarian has sat on her trailer at the edge of Route 86 in Ray Brook, looking westward.

Nostalgically, perhaps. Remembering Alexandria Bay and Hutchinson’s Boatworks where she was built in 1929, and where–until the 1950s–she shuttled among the Thousand Islands under the name Commander. According to General Hugh Rowan’s history of sightseeing boats on Lake Placid Lake Placid, Charles C. Grote brought her to Placid in 1958, re-christening her Lady of the Lake, competition for the Doris II, owned by George and Bliss Marina.

For nearly fifty years she served proudly, despite a docking accident which scuttled her in July 2006. According to current owner Michael Arico, statewide tour boat regulations enacted after the fatal capsizing of the Ethan Allen on Lake George in 2005 reduced the Lady’s passenger limit, effectively ending her career.

Arico attempted to sell her on eBay earlier this summer. By the end of August a buyer arrived with a custom-built trailer to tow her down to Eustis Lake, Florida. But the deal fell through at the last minute, ending any hopes the Lady may have harbored of a Florida retirement. And so she sits patiently, if somewhat forlornly, roadside, decked out in white (four months past Labor Day!).

If you have a special place in your heart for this once-proud-now-down-on-her-scuppers plier of Placid waters, and about 44 feet of dock space, call Michael Arico at (914) 456-2550.


Thursday, December 25, 2008

Adirondack Museum Offers Virtual Exhibits

The Adirondack Museum has announced that it will offer a series of online exhibitions created especially for people who are unable to visit Blue Mountain Lake. Web exhibits can be found on the Adirondack Museum’s web site at www.adirondackmuseum.org.

December marks the launch of “Adirondack Rustic: Nature’s Art, 1876-1950,” the first web exhibit. The new online feature offers artifacts, text, and historic photographs from the special exhibition that shared the multi-faceted story of Adirondack rustic traditions.

The web exhibit examines the rich history of Adirondack rustic in three units that examine furniture and designs inspired by wilderness, share stories of local men who hand crafted rustic furniture, and explore the lives and influence of wealthy Gilded Age railroad magnates who designed and built elaborate Great Camps.

The virtual exhibition is lavishly illustrated with images of rustic furniture and historic photographs from the museum’s extensive collections. The museum’s Chief Curator Laura Rice and Web Coordinator Erin Barton developed the content of the online exhibit.

In 2009 the museum will introduce “Common Threads: 150 Years of Adirondack Quilts and Comforters” as a companion piece to the special exhibition of the same name that will open at the museum on May 22, 2009.