Born: c. 1907
From a letter written to, Director, Tourism and Management Skills Development Center, Saranac Lake NY 12983, November 30, 1988
Please pardon my delay in replying to your letter of 10/14. We are in the process of selling our house in Mercersburg [PA] and moving to Seattle, and stuff has a habit of disappearing.
From about age 6 to age 8 I lived in the house at 100 Main Street, across from your office, and I went to school in the first grade in the old school building which was torn down to make way for the Hotel Saranac.
I remember the Trudeau Laboratory quite well--a storey-and-a-half brick building behind the residence. I was a bit young to have any professional connection with the lab, but I had one none the less. There were cages full of guinea pigs and these animals were extremely attractive to a small boy living almost directly across the street; the white-coated attendants did not notice that I had infiltrated their sanctum until a scream (from me) indicated that I had been bitten by one of the guinea pigs.
This occasion roused even more of pandemonium than would have been the normal case because (1) it was not clear whether I had been bitten by one of the guinea pigs that had been inoculated with tuberculosis germs, and (2) my parents were staunch members of the Christian Science Society which used to meet in the Loomis Block and would have nothing to do with medical doctors.
There was somewhat of an impasse which was helped slightly by the fact that Miss Nellie Husted, Dr. Trudeau's secretary (his horse, incidentally, was also named "Nellie") had a room in our house, and there was some basis for negotiation if not for action.
I remember being carefully watched, prayed over, surreptitiously examined, and getting out of school for one whole day; I do not know how long I was a celebrity, but my fame passed rather quickly when it was finally determined that prayer (or my immune system) had won the battle and I was non-tubercular.
Please give my regards to Thelma.
Sincerely, Eaton K. Goldthwaite
From a letter written to Barbara Parnass at Historic Saranac Lake, July 18, 1990
. . . [Excuse for late reply and discussion of help to publish a memoir.]
The book begins in Saranac Lake in WWI when my father was publisher of The Adirondack Enterprise and covers a great deal of territory since we moved from Saranac Lake in 1917, when I was ten years old, going to Flushing, where he worked on the New York Sun and thence to Oneonta, Detroit, New Jersey and a lot of other places before winding up back in New York State.
I have a few old pictures, a couple of which were used in the 75th Anniversary Edition of the Enterprise in 1969. There are others I would like to borrow which appeared in a 1989 Calendar published by the Saranac Lake Free Library and sent to me by a life-long friend, Thelma MacDowell Lussi, of Lake Placid. The old Town Hall, the Ice Palace and some others might help liven the book. About 40% of the content is about Saranac Lake and the Adirondacks, and the ms runs to 634 double-spaced typed pages.
Again, I will not know about publication until I receive the final word from my agent. Since all my previous publication (10 books) has been in the suspense field, I can't be too sure about this one. But it has some gems about Saranac Lake, Paul Smith's and our beloved Adirondacks, and who knows, it just might make it.
Again, my apologies for this long delay.
With best regards,
Eaton K. Goldthwaite
From the Centennial edition of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, August, 1994
Shortly after turn of the century, Goldthwaite takes over
(Editor's note: E.K. Goldthwaite — son of Kenneth Ward Goldthwaite, owner of the Enterprise from 1906-1918 — wrote this story for the newspaper's 75th anniversary, celebrated in 1969. Kenneth Ward Goldthwaite died in 1944.)
By E.K. GOLDTHWAITE
My father and mother had been married about five years — long enough to save up $500 — when they bought the Adirondack Weekly Enterprise and moved to Saranac Lake.
Father — Kenneth Ward Goldthwaite — was born in Leonardsville and his first newspaper experience was in Dolgeville where he was the local newsboy for the Utica Saturday Globe; some five months past his 14th birthday, on Oct. 31, 1891, he was awarded a suitably engraved silver hunting case watch for selling 5,332 copies in 22 weeks.
His mother, whom he adored, died when he was 15 and when his father remarried in a few months he left home for Utica, where he wangled a job as copy boy on the Daily Observer and attended Utica Free Academy at night
Mother was Florence Alida Eaton and her father and grandfather were sheriffs of Herkimer County; at that time, New York state law did not permit a sheriff to succeed himself in office, so grandfather and great-grandfather took turns in succeeding each other.
It was great-grandfather's turn during a famous murder trial which father covered as a reporter for the Observer. The sheriff's residence was connected to the jail by the kitchen where the food was prepared for both the prisoners and 'sheriff's family. During recesses in the trial, the defendant, a young man named Chester Gillette, was brought back to the jail and the reporters gathered in the kitchen where they could talk to him through the bars while being served coffee and cake by the undersheriff's wife and her two attractive daughters.
Another reporter at that trial, Theodore Dreiser, came away from Herkimer with the idea for the novel "An American Tragedy." Father left there with a different idea, and after many trips from Utica to Herkimer on the Barge Canal towpath via bicycle, his idea was set to music in a church in Little Falls in 1900. The purchase price of the Enterprise was $1,500, most of which the new owner had to borrow. If the price seems small today, it must be remembered that the paper had been foreclosed on by the mortgage holder, a Saranac Lake businessman, and an indication of the value of the 1906 dollar was father's $9 weekly salary as telegraph editor of the Utica Observer. Also noteworthy is that at about the same time the late Charles M. Palmer thought $50,000 was "too high" for the New York Times.
Mr. Palmer, who lived for many years on Park Avenue in the village, owned a daily in St. Joseph, Mo., was senior partner in a newspaper brokerage firm in New York City, and served as mechanical consultant to the Hearst newspapers. He was a director of the Adirondack Bank and, next to Phelps Smith, was probably father's most important friend.
An absolute essential for the operation of a remote country weekly newspaper was a linotype operator and father solved the problem by bringing Stuart Claire with him from Utica.
Some of the others I remember on the old Enterprise Staff were Hank Bailey and the McKillip brothers in the printing shop, Roy Dalton on the news end, and Esther Perry in the office. Later on, the staff numbered more than a dozen people.
Mother also worked for the paper, both on and off the premises. In the early days, when the newspaper advertising and circulation revenue and the income from job printing weren't sufficient to make payments on equipment, meet payrolls and paper bills and buy groceries, father had taken on correspondence for the New York papers covering the hotels and campers in summer and winter sports in season. Mother moved into this endeavor by extending the range of coverage as far south as Fulton Chain, and she eventually took over all of father's hotels except Paul Smith's, Saranac Inn and the Lake Placid Club. She also acted as model for father's Graflex camera in helping to popularize winter life in the Adirondacks, and was possibly the first white woman to have her picture taken while trekking on snowshoes.
While we were living at 100 Main Street, father bought too much machinery so mother took in roomers to help meet the notes. We had several and I particularly remember Miss [Nellie] Husted, who was Dr. E. L. Trudeau's secretary, and Tommie Moffat, who had been Olympic pole vaulting medalist.
One of father's friends was William Morris, the actors' agent, who built Camp Intermission and brought to Saranac Lake many celebrities, including Sir Harry Lauder. Sir Harry and father hit it off great; both of them loved trout fishing and any number of times publication of the Enterprise was delayed while father and Sir Harry went to Little John Dam [sic: likely Littlejohn, a family name in the Adirondacks] with C. M. Palmer and Squire Botsford.
For two score years across the turn of the century, Saranac Lake was a mecca for the rich and the famous. Some came for reasons of health; some came for recreation. For whatever reason, they came and no one had seen such concentrations of wealth and power as were represented by the families whose "camps" — equipped with plate glass windows, Persian rugs and elevators — were scattered like jewels from the Upper St. Regis to the Lower Saranac.
What these people did was news, and most of it was recorded on an old No. 4 Underwood in the front office on the street floor of the since consumed Harrietstown Town Hall.
That was father's office and from the day he first entered it in 1906 until he finally left it in 1918, the door was never closed. It could not be; removed and carried downstairs to be used as a table for folding papers, it had subsequently been demolished and the fractured wood used to fuel the fire under the linotype melting pot in the basement.
I mention these things because they are important to the story of the Enterprise — and the story of the Enterprise is in large measure the story of Saranac Lake and the Adirondacks. If Trudeau brought world fame, it was the Enterprise that both spread the word abroad and kept the natives from getting restless by bringing in from the outside that most precious and perishable of all commodities — the news.
In this day of instant communication, it is not easy to understand the hunger of an isolated, community for news, or to comprehend the important role played by the agency able, to supply it.
A half century ago, there were few telephones in Saranac Lake; the number for the Enterprise — "one-two" - was something of an indication. A long distance call was to Lake Placid, and if you wanted to telephone New York, it was an adventure that might take days.
The one reliable means of fast communication was the telegraph and messages in Morse Code clacked almost without ceasing in the Enterprise office. Even while published as a weekly, the paper carried telegraph news on page one; when it began twice-weekly publication, and then thrice-weekly, the dot-and-dash items were of increasing importance.
Whenever big things were happening, the paper would publish bulletins, hand-printed with crayon on newsprint, which were tacked up in front of the office.
In particular I remember the presidential election of November 1916. Woodrow Wilson was the Democratic incumbent and Charles Evans Hughes, Supreme Court justice, was the Republican candidate. World War I had been in progress for more than two years and Wilson's supporters had coined some fancy slogans — "The pen is mightier than the sword," and "He kept us out of war." Hughes, however, had waged a determined campaign, the country was predominantly Republican, and it was a horse race.
On election night, a tremendous crowd gathered in front of the Enterprise office, very soon spilling from the sidewalk into the street; at peak, the crowd was so large all street traffic was stopped and turned at Goldsmith's store and the Riverside Inn.
At about five in the morning enough figures were up on the newsprint sheets to make it appear that Hughes had won, so, with dawn streaking the sky, the Saranac Lake Republicans held a torchlight victory parade.
The next night, however, the returns from California came in; a new set of bulletins went up in front of the Enterprise, and the Democrats had their victory parade with the same torches the Republicans had used.
In the years that father was proprietor, the Adirondack Enterprise was one of the tenants of the Harrietstown Town Hall. This remarkable wooden structure clung to the granite slope between Main Street and the Saranac River, making a building four stories high in the rear and two stories surmounted by a clock tower in front.
From Main Street, under the clock tower, one entered a generous doorway leading to a broad hall; immediately to the right were stairs up to the Odd Fellows Hall which, on occasion, doubled as a movie theater. On the right, past the stairs, was the headquarters of the village Police Department; on the left, the editorial and business offices of the Enterprise.
Also to the left — just past the Enterprise office — was the lockup, a frequently occupied place. At the end of the corridor was the meeting room for the town.
The Enterprise part of the building was usually warm and wonderful. From the business office, one descended narrow wooden stairs to where the composing, press and stock rooms occupied the whole floor of the building. The linotype machines were approximately under the jail; the newspaper press was beneath the police department; the composing stones and job printing portion were across the end of the floor looking down on the Saranac River, under the fired smelting pot in which the linotype metal was returned from ink-stained type slugs to a reasonably pure state in the form of pigs.
This sub-basement opened out under the footbridge onto an alley which separated the Town Hall from the Empire Hotel. On numerous occasions, apparatus from the fire house across Main Street in the rear of the Murray Block came down their alley and into the Enterprise alley to extinguish fires generated by the metal smelter in the sub-basement; like as not, the operator of the smelter had been absorbed in reading Wild West Weekly while the fire raged around him.
It was while we were living at 100 Main Street that father bought a 7-by-9-foot wall tent. This was a family Christmas present, and I thought it meant we were going camping in season.
However, winters in Saranac Lake could be difficult and any number of times the plumbing in the old Town Hall froze up — freezing wasn't an environmental problem, but thawing was.
Our Christmas present wall tent spent several winters alternating as waterproof protective cover for the linotype machine and the Michle newspaper press.
In 1915, Saranac Lake was the pre-eminent winter resort in the United States. No one had ever heard of Snow Mountain, or Sun Valley; Lake Placid hadn't yet built its bobsled runs and ski jumps, although it did have skate-and-ski-joring behind fast-running horses and it had produced some outstanding speed skaters, of whom Charles Jewtraw was a prime example.
Saranac Lake, however, had a focal point of Winter Carnival, with speed skating events, championship ice hockey, figure skating, curling, skiing, snowshoeing and tobogganing, and was unrivalled as a center for winter sports. Winter Carnival was an event which occupied every man, woman and child in the village from the first snowfall until the last Roman candle was fired in defense of — or attack on — the Ice Palace built on the hill looking down on Lake Flower. Weeks of research went into designing floats and costumes for the parade; months of construction and preparation honed the production to a fine edge, and lifetimes of skill and experience backed the entrants in the competitive events that brought hundreds of people to the stands alongside the River Street building that in other seasons was used as the armory.
The village had developed an outstanding crop of speed skaters, but none was better known — or more deserving of his title — than Ed Lamy. Not only was Ed World Champion in the one- and two-mile distances; his record of jumping 28 barrels has never, to my knowledge, been surpassed.
In the 1915 Winter Carnival, Lamy was challenged by a relative newcomer to speed skating. Bobby McLean of Montreal. McLean was Canadian champion, but Lamy's backers — and Lamy — were so confident that bets were going across the bar in the Berkeley Hotel in the thousands of dollars, with Lamy the odds-on favorite.
On the day of the race, the course had been made smooth and fast by being flooded with a fire hose. Tommy Daley, who ran the Humidor cigar store, was announcer of the events; Archie Nimmo and the Saranac Lake Band were in the bunting-draped stands, trying with breath and body heat to keep their instruments from freezing so music could be rendered when required.
Father sat at a table on the ice at the starting line. On the table there was a telephone, and occasionally he would talk into it. The people in the stands thought this was some kind of an act because there were no visible wires. For a time, whenever he would pick up the telephone and talk into it, there would be laughter. Then, when the events started, they forgot him. And soon they forgot all else to keep their eyes on Ed Lamy, who was wearing red body tights, and McLean, who was wearing purple.
What only a few knew was that a telephone wire ran down the leg of the table to a trough that had been chopped in the ice and Father was talking direct to the Enterprise composing room, and the events were being set in type as fast as they were received.
The crowd had scarcely recovered from the shock of McLean beating Lamy to win the world championship when they got another, as they were leaving the stadium they were met by newsboys hawking The Adirondack Enterprise with the complete results of the meet.
Now, more than 50 years later, this doesn't seem like a whole lot. Today's radio or television would provide live coverage of the event, and the newspapers would have the in-depth story in the late final editions.
But in 1915 it was something, and this kind of journalism plus a total disregard for the sanctity of timber monopolies, Wall Street tycoons or anything else that was newsworthy, brought phenomenal growth to the paper.
In 1915, the population of Saranac Lake was, as reported at the annual Odd Fellows Minstrels, "Five thousand and one."
Mr. Interlocutor: Who's the one?"
Mr. Bones: K. W. Goldthwaite!"
When the paid circulation of the Enterprise zoomed past 5,000, father decided something had to be done.
A hand-fed Miehle Newspaper press, in good order, will print four pages on one side of a sheet — of a standard-sized newspaper at a rate of 1,500 to 2,500 per hour. Speed of printing is governed by a number of factors: press speed, skill of the feeder, quality of the paper, temperature and humidity, etc. After the one side has been printed, the forms are changed; the sheets are flopped over and fed through the press again to print the other side.
Under optimum conditions, 5,000 copies of a 16-page paper could not be printed in less than eight to 10 hours. After printing, the sheets had to be folded into eight-page sections; after folding, they had to be collated and quarter-folded for mailing.
If business was good and the edition went to 20 or 24 pages, the Miehle was running night and day, and the Cleveland folder never stopped.
Father poured over catalogues, talked to other publishers by long distance telephone, and finally settled on a Goss Comet, press which would print and fold eight pages in one operation.
Under C. M. Palmer's, benevolent urging, the Adirondack Bank took father's note for the press, as it did for the Railway freight charges when the press finally arrived in Saranac Lake.
A man — an expert — came with the press but there was a problem first. There had to be a pit under the press so the paper from the roll could be fed through the cylinders. And it had to be set on a concrete foundation of exact specifications according to the plan supplied.
Father took the blueprints to contractor Joseph LeBeaux, explaining that the new press had to be erected on the site of the old, and that time was of the essence since The Enterprise was now being published twice a week.
LeBeaux, who was undaunted by log jams in the AuSable River — he never erred in finding the key log and cutting it loose with dynamite — wasn't overimpressed by the problem. Since the Miehle and the Goss weren't compatible — that is, if you started printing on the one, you couldn't finish up on the other — it was decided to complete the Friday issue on the Miehle, then move it out of the way and erect the Goss as soon as the cement of the foundation was hard enough.
That gave them from Friday noon until practically any time Tuesday — four days plus — and the man from Goss said he could have the press erected and running a day and a half after Joe LeBeaux gave him the foundation.
I remember the time as being late summer, several weeks before school was scheduled to reconvene. The Friday issue was printed on the Miehle and as soon as the last form was off the press, the machinist went to work.
The Miehle had been sold and was to be shipped as a piece. Large doors opened from the pressroom into the area next to the Walton and Tousley Hardware Store and there was ample room for the press to slide through for loading on a flatbed truck.
With LeBeaux's men supplying the levers, rollers, jacks and muscle and the Goss machinist furnishing the know-how, the old press lifted easily from the oil-soaked plank floor and in a short time was on the truck. No sooner was the press out of the way than LeBeaux's men were cutting through the plank floor to the ground beneath so they could excavate for the pit for the new press.
Right there and then was when the trouble started. When the boards were removed, they found solid granite ledge.
LeBeaux didn't bat an eye. Some of his men he sent the length and breadth of the village, gathering timbers and garnering bed quilts; others he set to boring holes in the granite.
All Friday evening and night and Saturday morning they drilled away and around noon, when they were finished, LeBeaux began filling the holes with dynamite. Then he piled quilts on the perforated granite ledge, and on top of the quilts he piled timbers.
The ceiling of the pressroom in the old Enterprise was somewhere between 7 and 8 feet from the floor; it was a low room, and a tall man up on the step feeding the Miehle had to hunch his shoulders to keep from hitting his head.
LeBeaux's quilts and timbers made a pile more than halfway to the ceiling when, by mid-Saturday afternoon, he was ready.
In 1915, Saranac Lake had approximately one saloon for each 200 people in residence, and by midday on Saturday those foolish enough to attempt drinking these oases dry were usually on their way to the lockup. This Saturday was little different from others; the population of the jail is not recorded for posterity, but the place was full enough for the complaints to be heard through the wall separating it from the Enterprise business office, and the muttering grew as the day advanced.
In the Odd Fellows Hall auditorium on the top floor, Mary Miles Minter was being featured in "The Goose Girl" and a fair-sized crowd occupied the seats as the film ground its flickering course.
At five minutes past three, without bothering to notify the other occupants of the building, LeBeaux thrust home the plunger and the dynamite let go.
Among the eye witnesses, a man being shaved in the barber shop across the street swore that the Town Hall rose in the air nearly a foot; fortunately for him, the barber was stropping his razor at the moment while the shavee gazed out the window.
Whatever the case, the timbers hit the ceiling with a resounding crash, the prisoners in the jail let out bloodcurdling screams, the movie patrons bolted from their seats and poured down stairs and fire escapes, horses going past on Main Street took off dragging their carriages, and C. J. Ayres ran all the way from his office in the Berkeley Building to cancel the Enterprise's insurance.
However, when the dust had settled it was discovered not too many windows had been broken. LeBeaux got his part of the job done, the Goss man finished his, and late Tuesday afternoon the first newspaper in Saranac Lake to be printed on a web press was on the street
The Spanish-American War in 1898 marked the end of an era and the emergence of the United States as a world power. The entry of America in 1917 into World War I marked the decline if not the end of another era of sorts — the "Golden Era" of Saranac Lake.
In between those landmark years, which almost exactly coincided with father's editorship of the Enterprise, the growth and development of Saranac Lake as a health center was front page news everywhere. No city of its size in the country boasted a more distinguished roster of physicians, or finer hospitals and sanitoria, than did the "Little City in the Adirondacks."
If anyone then knew about cancer, one seldom if ever heard of it. Tuberculosis — "TB" — was the scourge which struck fear and its diagnosis was accepted as a death sentence. The disease, no respecter of age or physical condition, claimed equally among its victims prominent athletes and out-of-condition Broadway playboys; it struck alike school children, wage earners, the idle rich, the desolate poor.
The health industry, started by Trudeau around the time of Robert Louis Stevenson's visit to Saranac Lake, grew to immense proportions during and after World War I. Not everyone who came to be cured was rich or famous, but a surprising lot of them were, and so were their friends and relatives.
Between the campers, the hotel visitors and the health seekers, The Enterprise never lacked for news. And its columns probably contributed a larger percentage of items to the wires of the Associated Press than any other paper its size in the state.
It was an incalculable loss to history when the fire which destroyed the old Town Hall and The Enterprise office also consumed the newspaper's files, and the two people who could have helped pin down dates have been dead these 25 years. But there are important news beats which can be attributed to The Enterprise during the period covered here, and the mere fact that we cannot identify them by day and dateline is less important than that they were beats, and big ones.
The Adirondack Enterprise:
(1) Reported from Theodore Roosevelt's camp at Long Lake West the formation of the "Bull Moose" Party. (It split the Republican Party and caused the election of Woodrow Wilson as president.)
(2) Found the wife of a Chicago banker, believed lost and feared kidnapped, it was discovered she'd gone off with a handsome Indian guide.
(3) Forced the timber monopolies to restrict their cutting operations, clean up after themselves and prevent forest fires; and exposed and helped to defeat bills introduced in the state Legislature that would have made wasteland of thousands of acres of prime forests.
(4) Organized in cooperation with the Adirondack Guides Association, the first Sportsmen's Show held in the old Madison Square Garden.
(5) Revealed that John D. Rockefeller Sr. was the purchaser who had been assembling huge tracts of Adirondack forest land and lakes for the purpose of developing a vast park.
(6) Revealed that the Saranac Lake Medical Society had dispatched a delegation of MDs to Austria to investigate reports that tuberculosis cures were being effected by turtle bites.
(7) Found, in the Adirondack camp of a prominent Cleveland banker, Count Von Bernsdorf, German, ambassador to the U.S., who had fled Washington, and was persona non grata following declaration of war on Germany.
(8) Found, in a Saranac Lake barber shop, Thomas A. Edison, Henry Ford and Harvey Firestone who had "disappeared" while on a trip to Vermont; amazingly, no one had recognized them and they in turn were unaware that they were the objects of a search in three states and Canada.
There were other top news stories in The Enterprise, but these I remember because the repercussions from most of them carried the name of Saranac Late around the world.
Not everyone was rich or famous, however, and not all news was of world interest. The village had its local — and "naturalized" — characters aplenty, and their doings made marvelous reading in the smaller stories that helped fill the paper.
Mike Egan had been the champion weight-lifter of Ireland before he came to the U.S. and contracted the lung disease; in short order he was in Saranac Lake, and to support himself and his doctors (as he himself was wont to say), he drove a taxi cab. If Mike didn't cure the disease, he at least neutralized it and his feats of strength became legend. He lifted automobiles, boat engines and front porches all by himself, and once he moved a monument.
One particularly cold New Year's Eve, Mike picked up a fare who asked to be driven to the Riverside Inn; they had not gone 10 yards from Bloomingdale Avenue and Broadway before Mike realized his passenger was changing locations because the St. Regis would no longer sell him a drink. At the Riverside, Inn, the fare blandly instructed Mike to "send him .a bill," whereupon Egan picked the fellow up by his elbows and set him down on his heels hard enough to crack the concrete sidewalk.
That was the wrong thing to do, and Egan's next move was to Fox Memorial Hospital 1 to see if someone there could bring the man to. It being a holiday eve, only an intern was on duty and he, following an examination of the victim, hurriedly consulted by telephone with the hospital chief of staff. Following his description of the symptoms, he was informed that it sounded like a concussion and he was to prepare the man for immediate surgery.
While Egan paced miserably in the lobby, a nurse shaved the passenger's head and the intern prepared the operating room. Finally three doctors arrived and while they were discussing the procedures of a trepanning, the patient suddenly sat up and asked what was going on.
Another patron of the grog shops was Arthur Fuller Golden, scion of a famous New York theatrical producer and theatre owner. Arthur was a sort of remittance man, sent to the wilderness to dry out; when the family discovered Saranac Lake had as many bars per capita as New York City, they cut off all Arthur's money. They permitted him to charge food in the grocery stores and lodging in a respectable house, but money he could have none of because it went for drink. A local doctor prescribed a diet of eggs for Arthur, which the family approved, but when his weekly consumption reached 72 dozen there was a hurried investigation. They found he was charging the eggs at the store and selling them at cut rates from house to house, with the proceeds being joyfully if intemperately distributed.
Sometime around 1914, the faithful Saranac Lake fire horses were replaced by American LaFrance trucks and the instant harness rigs were cut from the ceiling at the fire house on Broadway. There was still a use for the horses, however, they replaced the tired old Dobbins that had been hauling the street-watering carts. The arrangement was fine until the first fire alarm, when the horses took off like the hammers of Hades, dragging the sprinkling cart and decking the driver. This happened several times, and once on Helen Hill, a cart was wrecked and the driver went to the hospital with a broken leg.
There were great days, wonderful days, in Saranac Lake and The Enterprise was in the midst of it. I never quite knew why father sold out. The offer of a staff job with the New York Sun, a paper Father revered almost as much as the Bible, was certainly tempting, but it had to be more than that. He had survived the cold winters, beaten the mechanical problems and had even gotten used to proofreading the menus of the Lake Placid Club — they were in Dr. Dewey's phonetic spelling, and no one else at The Enterprise wanted to be responsible for "is krem" (ice cream). And he loved the woods.
In those days, father had a great sense of timing and I think he felt that with the United States being drawn steadily closer to the World War, a kind of an era — his kind — was coming to an end. The days of easy sociability, of trout fishing, of hobnobbing with the guides, of enjoying full open house at Saranac Inn and Paul's and the Lake Placid Club and the Stevens House — in over a dozen years he never had to pay for so much as a sandwich, and it was a privilege he did not abuse — those days were drawing to a close.
He was restless, too; he'd always been. Before I was a year old we moved from River Street to Academy Street, from there to William Street, then to Circle Street, then to Main Street, then to Shepard Avenue — all this in 10 years! I can also remember attending several different churches; when quite young, I was welcome at two or three different Sunday School Christmas parties each year.
This religion-shopping stopped, however, when C.J. Ayres, Will Leonard and Howard Demarest got father interested in Christian Science. They were forming a Society and I recall the first meetings in Mr. Demarest's rooms in a flat on Main Street. He was the descendant of wealthy people, builders of the Demarest Wagon, and was impoverished by the advent of the automobile. He had a camp on the Saranac River and eked out a living through photography and renting his camp; he was one of the kindest and most refined gentlemen I have ever known. Others in the early days of Christian Science in Saranac Lake were the Weldons — Joe and Rose — who lived out on the Lake Placid Road near Spion Kop, and the MacDowell family. The first meetings were conducted with a half-dozen people and the hymns were played on a wind-up Victrola. From Demarest's rooms, the group moved to a meeting room upstairs on the side street off Broadway opposite the Loomis Block.
Brief though it must be, this report of the early 1900s in Saranac Lake — and of The Enterprise — would not be complete without mention of the movie company.
At the time, Alaskan pictures were very much in vogue — Jack London and Robert W. Service — and it didn't take the movie people long to figure out that the real Alaska was an expensive long way off, while a kind of ersatz Klondike existed in the nearby Adirondacks.
I'm not sure just when "Caribou Bill" arrived in town as the nominal head of a production company, but I do know that by 1915 there was a well-established and frequently used movie set in the village. It was located in the wooded area near where the high school was built, extending toward Lower Saranac Lake.
The set consisted of a "street" filled with the fronts of buildings. Around in back were hotels, stores, saloons, miners' cabins; the front and two walls of each "building" served as the background for the indoor sets.
Befitting an Alaskan camp, several good teams of Huskies were kept on the property, and in winter it was a common sight for dog sleds to glide along village roads and streets, drawn by packs of straining Huskies.
The movie camp was in existence as late as 1921, although by that time movie-making had waned in the village. The most famous movie made in Saranac Lake was "DeLuxe Annie" starring Norma Talmadge and Eugene O'Brien — and featuring Ed Lamy. The picture was made in 1916- 17 and released in 1918-19; Talmadge and O'Brien were among the first rank of stars and the film enjoyed a good run.
Sometimes in these years, The Enterprise had competition. The Saranac Lake News was published as a weekly by a man named Crouse. For a brief time it appeared as a daily in a four-column format, four letter-size pages. It isn't easy to understand why the established paper may be languishing, and when competition appears it begins to prosper, but that was the case.
Father died the week after Christmas, 1944, while I was in the South Pacific; Mother had died the year before. I came back to the States in 1945 and was en route East when the hostilities ceased.
When I returned to Mystic, Conn., where I was then living, I gathered father's books and papers and shipped them to the Saranac Lake Library. Unfortunately, a priceless document about the Opalescent River on Mount Marcy, in the original handwriting and composed by the guide who was the central character in Charles Dudley Warner's "In The Wilderness" was lost in transmittal.
Something else has been lost, too. In the transition of more than half a century, the Saranac Lake I remember no longer exists. Like the disease which brought it fame, it has been phased out conquered, cured, and what remains is far healthier. But I will always remember my Saranac Lake, and on the stage of my mind its ghosts of actors continue to play out their parts. It was a warm, wonderful, mad kind of place, and its warm, wonderful and mad heart was The Enterprise.
1. This odd and unlikely detail (Fox Memorial Hospital is in Oneonta) was preserved in the retelling of this story in the August 1994 Enterprise.