Saturday, May 5, 2018

Mateskared: The Zahniser Cabin in Johnsburg

Howard Zahniser Cabin Bakers Mills Johnsburg NY photo by John WarrenIn the mid-1990s Harold Allen reminisced about my father Howard Zahniser: “He bought the place, and he never had seen it,” Harold said. “Paul Schaefer was the one who told him about it.”

Pansy and I were sitting at their kitchen table. Her parents, John and Hester Dalaba, named their girls for plants—Pansy, Daisy, Blossom, Fern, and Carnata — and their boys for trees — Oliver and Linden.  Harold, Pansy’s husband, sat in his favorite easy chair, next to the door to their closed-in front porch. “We even tried to give it away,” Harold said of their first attempts to sell what became Mateskared to our family, “because we didn’t want to pay the taxes on it.” They paid $3 school tax and $8 land tax. Harold knew exactly what they paid, because he was the collector for school taxes then. “Here now school and land taxes are $2,000 a year,” Harold said of their present home just down the hill from Mateskared. » Continue Reading.


Monday, April 30, 2018

Historic Saranac Lake Plans Trudeau Acquisition, Expansion

The E. L. Trudeau home and office, 118 Main Street, c. 1900. The Board of Directors of Historic Saranac Lake (HSL) has announced a plan to pursue acquisition and redevelopment of the former Trudeau home and medical offices at 118 Main Street, Saranac Lake.

The initial conceptual design include restoration of the building’s exterior. The entry level is expected to host museum exhibits, collections storage, and a museum store that will expand upon HSL’s existing exhibits at the Saranac Laboratory Museum nearby. Additional possibilities for the first floor include public space for arts and cultural events, and office space. The second floor will host unique apartments to complement the historic location. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 28, 2018

Tapping A Spring and Tipping Outhouses at Bobcat Ranney’s

Photo of Archie “Bobcat” Ranney courtesy of Adirondack Museum.In the Harold and Pansy Allen family’s e-mail newsletter Dogtown News, Harold once recounted how they got the water from the spring — which lies across the road — into their first house, now our cabin named Mateskared.

“Ranney was the proprietor of the Paul Schaefer Club property, the old club,” Harold began, invoking the land directly across our road.

“I asked Archie Ranney if I could go over and pipe that water into the house. Ranney said ‘Oh no. You can not do that.’ So I ignored what he said. I bought pipe and a pump from Ernest Noxon [in North Creek] for $19.50. A week’s wages then were $20. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 26, 2018

Canoes: Rushton Artifacts Featured In Canton

boat in the Rushton factoryA “White Glove” event featuring items from the Rushton Collection has been set for May 5th, the first day of Canton Canoe Weekend and Rushton Memorial Races, at the Silas Wright House in Canton.

Attendees will be able to don white cotton gloves and carefully handle Rushton-related objects and archival items under the watchful eyes of a curator. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Pilot Betty Pettitt Nicholas: Pioneer in the Sky (Conclusion)

In August 1995, the WASP community suffered a loss with the death of Marianne Verges, a non-member who admired their accomplishments and helped preserve their legacy by authoring the book, On Silver Wings: The Women Air Force Pilots of World War II (1991). The book’s final paragraph captures the spirit of women like Betty who saw possibilities, stood tall in a decidedly male bastion, the military, and fought for the right to make equal contributions to the nation’s future: “As with many others of their generation who forged their characters during World War II, the true legacy of the WASPs is found in their lives, the opportunities they expected and accepted for themselves and others through the years, and their exuberant vision of unlimited human possibility.”

Betty continued to maintain a high level of activity despite a couple of health setbacks late in the year, described in her own words: “… a fall on my face after Thanksgiving, and another fall resulting in a broken wrist. I think that’s enough falls for the time being!” At the time, besides working as historian, she was busy making edits and corrections in a reprint of Byrd Granger’s On Final Approach, one of numerous books covering the WASP story from many angles. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Comments Sought On Lake George Battlefield Management

The Adirondack Park Agency (APA) and the Lake George Park Commission (LGPC) has announced they are holding a joint public comment period to solicit comments for the Lake George Battlefield Park Unit Management Plan.

Public comment will be accepted until May 3, 2018. » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, April 18, 2018

Betty Pettitt Nicholas: ‘A House in the Adirondacks and an Airplane, Too!’

In June 1982, Betty Pettitt Nicholas was awarded the Nicholas Trophy by the Indianapolis Aero Club as the previous year’s “most deserving woman pilot of the year.” It was the second time she was chosen for the honor, and as happened on the first occasion back in 1952, unusual circumstances surrounded the award. The trophy given 30 years earlier was named in honor of Dee Nicholas, who had been the wife of Ted Nicholas, a pilot and TV executive. A year after winning the award, Betty Pettitt married Ted, a union that ended 15 years later, in 1968, when he died of a heart attack.

Since that time, the Dee Nicholas Trophy had been retired, and was replaced by the Ted Nicholas Trophy. Which means Betty Pettitt Nicholas won a trophy named after her husband’s first wife, and another trophy named after him. To mark the occasion, a photograph of the honoree with seven of her good friends, all previous winners, appeared in the 99s newsletter. The Seymour Daily Tribune noted that the award was given “to the most deserving licensed woman pilot for her outstanding achievement and service in the field of aviation.” No doubt she was a good fit on both occasions. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 15, 2018

“Wild Jess” Elliott: Setting the Record Straight

camp elliottJessie Elliott was a unique figure in the history of the Beaver River country in the west central Adirondacks. Visitors to the tiny settlement of Beaver River are still told she went to prison for her role in the bootlegging that was rampant in the lumberjack days of the early 1920s. She is listed among the “lawless ladies” in Niki Kourofsky’s recent book, Adirondack Outlaws. Pat Thompson’s memoir about life in Beaver River claims Jessie rode her steed through the settlement with her long hair flowing and a pistol in a holster on her belt. More fantastic stories about Jessie can be found in Bill Donnelly’s Short History of Beaver River where she is described, among other things, as a good-looking Calamity Jane, a bootlegger, and a prostitute. The truth underlying the legends reveals a much more complex and interesting wilderness woman. » Continue Reading.


Saturday, April 14, 2018

Ed Zahniser: Lilac Time in Bakers Mills

lilac bush courtesy wikimedia user JjronA favorite snippet of British poetry my father Howard Zahniser sometimes quoted was “Come down to Kew in lilac time, / It isn’t far from London.” His intense delight in the piece showed in how he would dip one shoulder and lean headlong into his audience — even if only one person — during a recitation. He used his body to punctuate his public speaking about wilderness, too, with his bob-and-weave guided walk-through of rhetorical emphases. “Come down to Kew in lilac time…” There are certain words a lifetime loads with meaning. Lilac was one. Whitman’s “When lilacs last in the dooryard bloomed …” Its poignancy suggesting spring but, too, its heavy nineteenth-century scent of death and dying. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

Pilot Betty Pettitt Nicholas: Pioneer in the Sky (Part 3)

Betty left the state aeronautics commission when the term of boss and close friend Cap Cornish, director, was ended by a newly elected governor in 1952. But, as Betty Pettitt Nicholas after her 1953 marriage, she remained busy in other aviation-related positions, and took frequent flights in the Cessna 170 that she and husband Ted had purchased. A trip in summer 1955 took them farther away from home than most: they journeyed to Quebec, Canada, and flew over her old haunts in the Adirondacks on the way home. She also took part in flying contests, and earned a bronze-and-glass candy-dish trophy in 1958 for winning a spot-landing competition (extreme accuracy in wheel touchdown).

Such was her life in the 1960s, flying for fun, taking part in air races sponsored by the 99s (in the first one in 1961, she finished sixth), and promoting aviation at every opportunity. She also found employment with the College Life Insurance Company, working as executive secretary to the president and chairman of the board. In 1967, she and Ted bought a new Cessna 150, and that summer enjoyed a trip to Montreal, where they experienced Expo 67 (the World’s Fair), one of the greatest events the city has ever hosted. How popular was it? In a nation of 20 million, and a province of about 6 million, attendance surpassed 50 million, a record that still stands. » Continue Reading.


Thursday, April 12, 2018

‘Imprisoned for the Cause’ Opening at Ti Historical

Suffragettes Picketing White HouseThe Ticonderoga Historical Society is set to open its 2018 season with a free program and exhibit opening on Friday, April 20 at 7 pm at the Hancock House, 6 Moses Circle.

“Imprisoned for the Cause” will look at the arrest, imprisonment and inhumane treatment of women peacefully protesting for women’s suffrage in 1917. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 10, 2018

Buildings on the Forest Preserve: The Historic Classification

The management of historic buildings on the Forest Preserve has been a vexing issue for decades. State management has evolved over the years from a position of building removal to now accommodating historic buildings on the Forest Preserve through the creation of a “Historic” area classification.

The state has since built a policy of retaining buildings for public educational and historic preservation purposes. » Continue Reading.


Sunday, April 8, 2018

Bauer: Buildings on the Forest Preserve

The pressure by local governments and historic preservation groups on the state to keep the inner Gooley Club buildings shows some of the challenges the state has had in organizing a coherent management program for buildings on the Forest Preserve. This is not a new issue.

It’s been a struggle for decades. Different administrations have dealt with the issue in different ways over the decades; some making ad hoc choices with long-term implications for Forest Preserve law and policy, and others trying to sort out durable long-term solutions. This is the first of three articles that look in depth at the issue of buildings on the Forest Preserve. » Continue Reading.


Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Pilot Betty Pettitt: Pioneer in the Sky (Part 2)

In October 1947, pilot Betty Pettitt moved to Indianapolis and joined a staff (for automobile maker Kaiser-Frazer) that included an unusual co-worker: a skywriter who handled the company’s airborne advertising. Skywriting was once expected to prevail as the prime advertising method of the future, only to drop into a steep decline when a new technology, television, provided a reliable method of reaching mass numbers of consumers without having to rely on the whims of weather. But for a few decades, skywriting was a very popular method of advertising and provided excellent employment for skilled pilots.

As luck would have it, Betty’s skywriting co-worker soon opted for a salesman’s position, leaving her as his obvious replacement. Something as complex as creating huge letters high in the sky would surely require extensive training. It wasn’t, after all, the same concept as writing letters by hand, as Betty explained: “When you remember that you are writing so someone below can read it, you find it is just like writing backwards on a steamy window so someone outside can read it…. It’s all done backwards and upside down.” » Continue Reading.


Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Mary Elizabeth Pettitt: High Flying Sky Pioneer

Of all the accomplished women among North Country natives, few if any have soared higher than Mary Elizabeth Pettitt. That is true both figuratively, in light of her many achievements, and literally, because she was an airplane pilot.

When she made the decision to become a pilot in the mid-1930s, it was unusual for the time, and daunting: 97 percent of all pilots were male. » Continue Reading.