My father was a young high school teacher in Florida on December 7, 1941. Following Pearl Harbor, he joined the Army and made it his career, including in Army intelligence assessing future security threats.
I once asked him what he thought, on the day of the Pearl Harbor attack, were our chances of winning the war. His answer was “not good”. He was confident in 1941 that America would fight courageously, and could build a massive military force, and that our role as the arsenal of democracy could prove decisive. But the key question was whether there was enough time left? » Continue Reading.
The State Department of Environmental Conservation (DEC), U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), St. Lawrence County, and the Development Authority of the North Country (DANC) have announced a public meeting has been set for Friday, July 20, 2018, to provide the public with a comprehensive presentation of cleanup efforts at the former Jones and Laughlin (J&L) Steel Company site (Benson Mines) at Star Lake.
The Magnetic Iron Company began developing the area on top of what they believed would be a valuable ore body in the late 1880s. The Benson Mines Company started open pit mining operations at the site and produced magnetite and non-magnetite ore intermittently until the mine closed from 1919 to 1941.
Holocaust survivor Murray Jaros is set to give a talk at the Hadley-Luzerne Public Library, 19 Main Street, Lake Luzerne, on Thursday, July 12th at 7 pm.
The talk – “My Story from Nazi Germany to the Solace of Lake Luzerne” – looks at Jaros’s days as a young boy in Nazi Germany, his family’s trials and tribulations, escaping the Nazis, his survival during months of hiding and his eventual journey to Lake Luzerne. » Continue Reading.
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.
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.
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.
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.
On Thursday, October 19th, 2017, at noon, the St. Lawrence County Historical Association will host a panel of local residents who will recall their experiences during the 1940 U.S. Army Maneuvers that were held around the North County.
This panel is part of the Brown Bag Lunch Series, lunch time lecture series dedicated to the memory of Patricia Harrington Carson, who founded the series during her 24 years as a Trustee of the St. Lawrence County Historical Association. » Continue Reading.
On Tuesday, October 3 at 7:30 pm, the Whallonsburg Grange Hall will present “Why World War Two Still Matters,” with Andy Buchanan. This is the second lecture in the fall Lyceum series entitled “What’s the Big Idea?” featuring six lectures from authors, educators, journalists, and scientists.
This lecture will focus on the redivision of the world that emerged from the ashes of World War II, new “spheres of influence” reverberate in the present. How US domination was assembled, deliberately and consciously, during this period and its consequences. » Continue Reading.
The word Adirondack calls to mind many things — natural beauty, family playground, sporting opportunities, colorful history — but nothing so dark as prisoner-of-war host.
Yet during the last world war (let’s hope it was the last), followers of Hitler and Mussolini populated the North Country. Volumes have been written about the suffering endured in POW camps, but for countries adhering to the Geneva Conventions, there was a clear set of rules to follow. Among them was that prisoners must receive adequate provisions and supplies (food, clothing, living quarters), and if put to work, they must be paid. » Continue Reading.
Adgate Schermerhorn was born in 1918 in the hamlet of Ausable Chasm, about a mile northeast of Keeseville. A horseman (he started riding at age five) and outdoorsman who loved the Adirondacks, he graduated from Keeseville High School in 1935 and worked as a lumberman in the North Country. He then attended the St. Lawrence School of Agriculture at Canton, earning a degree in 1939 from the Division of Technical Engineering. He worked as a refrigeration service man in the Plattsburgh area, but moved to Pennsylvania in December 1940 after securing a position with GE in Philadelphia. » Continue Reading.
In August 1939, tanks began rolling toward the border. That short sentence should call to mind the beginnings of World War II, as German tanks headed for Poland. The very same thing was happening here at the very same time: tanks preparing for war were rolling towards New York’s border in August 1939. It was the 66th Infantry’s tank battalion out of Fort Devens, Massachusetts, crossing the Crown Point Bridge from Vermont to Port Henry and heading north to the Plattsburgh area for war maneuvers. Included were more than a hundred trucks and motorcycles and thirty-seven tanks. » Continue Reading.
Pay a visit to the Adirondack Research Library (ARL, operated by Union College’s Kelly Adirondack Center) sometime. The Library is located at the former home of wilderness champion Paul Schaefer, where he and Carolyn Schaefer raised their family beginning in 1934. Reading in that library offers me a healthy reminder of the tight rope walked by former defenders of “forever wild.” When it came to standing up for wild country, our predecessors were often up against a wall, just as we sometimes feel today.
I recently visited the ARL to reacquaint myself with the federal government’s 1942 condemnation of a 100-ft Right of Way “for the rail transportation of strategic materials vital to the successful prosecution of the War” from the soon-to be built mine at Tahawus, Newcomb. In the ARL archives, the name Marshall McLean frequently crops up. He was the attorney representing the Association for the Protection of the Adirondacks in court in 1942-43. » Continue Reading.
The Iowa-Pacific rail company took state officials and environmental activists by surprise in July when it unveiled a plan to store hundreds of drained oil-tanker cars on its tracks near Tahawus on the edge of the High Peaks Wilderness.
Ed Ellis, the president of Iowa Pacific, says revenue from storing the cars will help keep afloat its tourist train, the Saratoga & North Creek Railway, which has been losing money. Critics contend Iowa Pacific is creating a quasi-junkyard in the Adirondack Park. » Continue Reading.
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