Awake! Open your eyes, my friend from that small Adirondack town. Do you hear the distant sound of my car exiting the Northway? It’s me, the young city dweller! I am coming to visit.
My Subaru is stuffed with gear, and I’m listening to a liberal podcast. I’ve started driving at 4AM to snag trailhead parking. I’m coming to AirBnB, to regular BnB, to hammock, to hike, to paddle, to leaf peep, to mountain bike, (even to take Instagram photos!) and to generally hang around in your wilderness. Yes, I know, because a lot of people remind me: it’s your wilderness, and I am but a visitor.
But perhaps you don’t think that last bit is quite right. Since I’ve woken you up, my headlights strafing past your window, I think the least I owe you is an explanation.
Saranac Lake’s tuberculosis economy depended on the labor of many essential workers. In honor of today’s heroes, here are a few favorite stories of brave helpers in local history.
Nurses and doctors risked their own health providing care and companionship to tuberculosis patients far from home. Our museum archive is full of hundreds of photos and stories of these courageous women and men. In her book, Wish I Might, Isabel Smith writes warmly about her doctor, Francis B. Trudeau. He is somewhat overshadowed in history by his famous father, founder of Saranac Lake’s TB industry, Dr. E. L. Trudeau. But Francis was widely respected for his kindness and his fierce dedication to his patients. Ms. Smith described his “inimitable hearty roar of good spirits which, then and always, enveloped me like a blaze of sunlight.”
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