Died: September 7, 1962
Married: Jane "Dottie" Hutchinson on August 6, 1917
Edmund Lamy was an international speed skating champion. From 1908 to 1910 he was the Senior National North American and U.S. Long Track Champion. He also held records for the broad jump on ice. He was elected to the Speed Skating Hall of Fame on May 20, 1961 at Minneapolis, Minnesota. He was the son of Ferdinand Lamy.
Ed Lamy began his skating career at the age of six. In his first race, wearing a pair of hand-me-down girl's skates, he finished second and was awarded a new pair of skates.1 He set his first record in 1907, at the mile distance, with a time of 2:58. From 1908-1912, he dominated amateur speed skating. In 1909 Saranac Lake hosted the International Amateur Outdoor Skating Championship as part of its Winter Carnival festivities. Rivals such as Peter Sinnirud of Norway, Lot Roe of Toronto, Canada and O.B. Bush met at the Pontiac Rink to race distances from 220 yards to three miles. Lamy triumphed in all but two distances; the 220 and the backwards 880 that his father would not allow him to enter. For his winning efforts in the 880, mile and three mile, Lamy received championship medals adorned with diamond chips.2
Mr. Lamy's career as an amateur skater sometimes resulted in controversy. In January 1909 after winning multiple races, the mile, two mile, and the mile and a half, at the International Speed Skating Championships in Cleveland, Lamy was disqualified for failure to register with the Eastern Amateur Skating association. Lamy was ordered to return his championship medals so that they could be awarded to the runner up, W. Granger.3 He refused and was banned by the Eastern Amateur Skating Association. Lamy appealed this decision and when the Eastern Amateur Skating Association refused to yield, his case was brought before the International Skating Union of America. This body not only sided with Lamy, they called for the removal of the Skating Association's leader.4 Again, the Eastern Amateur Skating Association refused to recognize Lamy as the legitimate champion. As a result, the International Union dissolved the Eastern Amateur Skating Association as a governing organization of skating.5 In this instance the International Skating Union supported Lamy, but circumstances were different two years later. In mid-January 1911, Lamy came under scrutiny for his travel expenses and according to Allen I. Blanchard, the president of the International Skating Union, "Lamy is asking exorbitant expenses to attend championships at Chicago, Cleveland and Detroit. Making separate contracts with each."6 Controversy continued to dog him a few weeks later when he refused to re-skate an 880 yard race that was declared "no race" by officials because it was skated too slowly (1:33); heats were run in 1:26 and 1:45, but officials informed skaters at the start that the final must be run in 1:30 or less.7 The International Skating Union took action against Lamy, suspending him for the remainder of the season.
In 1912, Lamy left the amateur ranks behind and, as a professional, reigned as champion until 1917, when he was defeated by Bobby McLean of Chicago. His years as professional skater generated excitement and numerous records. In a spectacular match race against Morris Wood, the reigning professional champion, Lamy was victorious. In addition to his winning ways on speed skating track Ed Lamy soared as a barrel jumper, setting a world record of 14 barrels or 27 feet 8 inches in 1912. This feat earned him recognition from "Ripley's Believe it or Not." 1919 was another record breaking year for Lamy, he set records for the quarter mile (34.8), three quarter mile (1.55) and three mile (14:15). The latter records were set on the ice in Saranac Lake, while the record for the shorter distance was established in nearby Lake Placid. Remarkably these records still stood at the time of his death in 1962.8
Ed Lamy had a flair for showmanship. In races where he held a large lead he was known to skate the final lap backwards. From 1916-1919 he skated in the popular "Hip Hip Hooray" show at the Hippodrome in New York City. His skating act, performed with his brother Ernest, incorporated barrel jumping and a clown routine. While skating in the show Lamy met his wife Jane Hutchinson, a former childhood vaudeville circuit chorus girl, who appeared as a ballet girl in "The Ladder of Roses."9 He also appeared as a stunt double for the actress Norma Talmadge in the silent film DeLuxe Annie. This film was shot at Caribou Bill's camp on Edgewood Road in Saranac Lake. In the film, a "Yukon" movie, Lamy, disguised in fur hat and coat, eludes a pack of wolves (Caribou Bill's huskies) by leaping across a wide break in the lake ice.
Ed Lamy's athletic prowess wasn't limited to ice sports. He also excelled in guideboat races, bowling, swimming, basketball and baseball. In early 1911 he briefly began a career as a professional baseball player with the Cleveland Indians farm team that participated in the Ohio and Pennsylvania League. A broken collarbone, occurring the week prior to reporting time, prevented him from joining the major league. He was also a fine marksman, as demonstrated at a 1928 championship trap shoot, where he scored 98 out of 100.10
After retiring from professional speed skating in 1923, Lamy was employed by the Village of Saranac Lake and then spent twenty years manning the locks on the Saranac waterways. In February 1962 he was King of the Saranac Lake Winter Carnival. Upon Lamy's death of an abdominal aneurism in September of the same year, Saranac Lake village mayor, Alton B. Anderson issued a proclamation of mourning in the Adirondack Daily Enterprise declaring “Monday, September 10, 1962 shall be a day of mourning for Ed Lamy, that flags shall fly at half-mast and that all people mark the passing of our King of Sport with appreciation for his athletic prowess, and recognition of his true humility in the midst of greatness.”
His son James Ernest won an Olympic bronze medal in bobsledding in 1956.
Edmund Lamy's name is listed on the War Memorial at the corner of Church Street and Lake Flower Avenue in Saranac Lake, as well as in Essex County's Honor Roll of those serving in the World War of 1917-18 (shown there as "Edmund A. Lamy," Saranac Lake).
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, February 13, 1987
Ed Lamy, best ever
King of the blades
Ed Lamy was not only Ed the World Champion Speed Skater, but he was also the best all-around athlete that Saranac Lake ever produced.
He was an excellent basketball player, bowler, trap shooter, and was signed by the Cleveland Indians to play big league baseball.
A broken collarbone, while playing with the farm club, prevented him from continuing with the Indians. He won swimming races and guideboat races and later built his own sea sled which he entered in the outboard motorboat races on Lake Flower and Lower Saranac.
In addition to all this he was a sharpshooter with a rifle. While most hunters use a shotgun to hunt rabbits, Ed could hit a running hare with a .22 cal. rifle. He could lay his deer gun on the ground, toss a bottle in the air, pick up his rifle and break the bottle before it hit the ground.
At his camp at Little Ampersand Ed had a parallel bar mounted between two trees where he liked to work out. While suspended from the bar, during one of his exercises, he was accidently shot by his cousin with a .22 rifle bullet which narrowly missed his heart and passed completely through his chest. Ed was placed in a boat for the trip back to the village where Doc Trembly patched him up and the "iron man" was soon back to normal.
Ed Lamy was born in Saranac Lake on January 18, 1891 and six years later put on his first pair of skates. He placed second in his very first race wearing a pair of second-hand skates. It so happened that the prize for second place was a brand new pair of racing skates, and Ed was off and running on a career which took him to the very top by age 17.
In 1908 he became the World Champion Amateur Speed Skater and this was only the beginning. He had wrested the title from Morris Wood in Montreal after Wood, from New Jersey, had held the title for many years. The two men were destined to face each other once more when, later on, they would vie for the professional championship in a match race right here in Saranac Lake. Guess who won, Ed of course!
The championship which Ed won in Montreal was the outdoor crown, so he promptly traveled to Pittsburgh where he also captured the Indoor World Championship. For the next seven years Ed would monopolize the sport in both outdoor and indoor as well as in both amateur and professional classes.
He was so much faster than his competitors that, in the longer races, he would frequently lap the field and sometimes would finish the final lap by skating backwards. During his amazing career he won more than 370 gold medals while competing in the U.S.A. and Canada. No single athlete so completely dominated a sport as did Ed Lamy.
Towards the end of Ed's speed skating conquests he took up barrel jumping. This acrobatic phase of ice skating was becoming very popular and soon was an added attraction at all the big skating meets.
With his two brothers, Claude and Ernest, Ed put together a faultless program of jumping exhibitions which developed into one of the most crowd pleasing events to ever appear on the ice of the Pontiac Rink. Claude specialized in trick jumps while Ernest played the role of clown.
Just as Ed had taken top honors in speed skating he now matched those achievements with spectacular feats of barrel jumping. At the Pontiac he set a world record by clearing twelve barrels covering a linear distance of 27 feet, 8 inches.
These were large flour barrels and not the minuscule cylindrical drums used in today's version of the sport. Ed's record leap was a feature in Ripley's "Believe It Or Not." As a finale to his act the loudspeaker would announce to the spectators "Ed Lamy will now break another record." Ernest would hold up an old victrola record for all to see and then place it on top of the last barrel in the row. Ed would swing into his fast approach, take off, and as he soared over the last barrel he would clip the record with his skate blade and send it shattering on the ice. He was an expert showman and perhpas it was this ability which captured the attention of the movie moguls who were then turning out melodramtic performances up at Caribou Bill's camp on Edge wood Road.
Many "Yukon" movies were filmed in Saranac Lake between 1913 and 1917. One such thriller was "DeLuxe Annie" with Norma Talmadge as the heroine and, similar to the "Tige" Martin episode. Caribou Bill's huskies were again cast as wolves. This time Norm is on skates and is being pursued across the ice on Lower Saranac Lake by the "wolf pack. A channel had been cut in the ice to represent open water in the Alaskan ice fields and the heroine is to leap over the gap and gain safety by leaving the malemutes behind. Enter Ed Lamy, of course, wearing Norma's fur coat and hat he makes the jump over the open water landing safely on the other side.
This was Ed's first encounter with show business but it was not to be his last. In 1914 Ed took his barrel jumping act to Chicago and in 1915 and 16 was featured with Claude and Ernest, at the Hippodrome in New York City. While in New York Ed met an attractive actress, Dottie Hutchinson, who was playing in "East Lynn." The two were married on August 7, 1917 and decided to make their home in Saranac Lake.
During the 1920's our families were next door neighbors on River Street. the Lamys lived at No. 99 and we lived at No. 101. This was quite fitting since when Ed was circling the skating oval, many years earlier, my father was in the center hockey pen as a member of the Pontiac Hockey Team.
Ed and Dottie had four children, two boys, Jack and Jim, and two girls, Jean and Ruth. Both Jack and Jim were good skaters and won many junior speed skating races. Claude remained in Saranac Lake but Ernest migrated to Canada. When Ed retired from skating he went to work for the Mountain Gas Company, here in the village, which has long since vanished from the scene.
In 1937 Ed became the locktender at the state owned lower locks in the Saranac River. This was "old home week" for Ed since his home and camp were adjacent to this waterway for many years. Here Ed could visit with his many old cronies who always stopped to reminisce during boat trips between Lake Flower and the Lower Lake.
While serving at this post, Ed had one more brush with fame — he actually rescued Albert Einstein from ignominy! Jimmy Munn, Ed's cousin, had spent the day with Ed at the locks while he was home on vacation from his job in Washington, D.C. where he was an Associated Press reporter. After quitting time the pair started down river in Ed's outboard. As they entered Miller Pond they found Einstein and Frank Kawatch becalmed in the professor's sail boat. Frank waved them over and asked if they could start the balky catboat's auxiliary motor. After several vain attempts Ed offered to tow the stranded pair behind his own boat. Frank was quite eager to accept but Einstein seemed to be slightly reluctant, perhaps from embarrassment, finally a rope was connected and the tow job proceeded homeward. It soon was apparent that the exhaust from Ed's engine was sending smoky smog directly into the face of the great mathematician.
Stopping his boat Ed suggested that Einstein and Kawatch join Jim and himself in the lead boat. This time Einstein accepted without any hesitation and the trip was completed to a dock at the end of Birch Street where Einstein moored his boat and walked to the Distin house which he had rented in Glenwood. The hitchhiker was probably unaware that his rescuer was also a world famous figure, albeit in days gone by.
Ed received long overdue recognition in 1962 when he was crowned King of the Winter Carnival for the annual celebration held in our village. While appearing at the various functions in this capacity it was quite apparent that he was, beyond any doubt, the most popular reigning monarch to ever wield the scepter of Winter Carnival royalty. Despite his impressive array of outstanding accomplishments he never once yielded to any semblance of vanity but always remained a down-to-earth unassuming individual, both admired and well-liked.
In later yean he greatly enjoyed being out in the woods and his favorite sports were hunting and fishing. He ardently pursued these pastimes as long as his physical condition permitted.
Ed died at the Saranac Lake General Hospital on Thursday night September 6, 1962 at the age of 71. He was installed in the National Skating Hall of Fame at Newburgh, N.Y. but perhaps will be best remembered by his many friends as an all-around good sport.
Lake Placid News, March 18, 1976
From An Explanation of River Street Plans
by Howard Riley
The home right on the lake shore is the residence of Mrs. Edmund Lamy and her daughter, Eugenia. That building and the large, vacant adjacent lot, belonging to George Riebel, will be the area of the boat launching site. This is a project of the Environmental Conservation Department.
1. John J. Duquette, "Ed Lamy, Best Ever King of Blades," Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake, NY. January 13, 1987
2. Clipping from Saranac Lake Free Library Collection. Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake, NY. No date
3. "May Disqualify Lamy Because He Failed to Register with Skating Association", The New York Times, NY, NY. February 8, 1909
4. "Skater Lamy Reinstated", The New York Times, NY, NY. December 12, 1909.
5. "Skaters' Drastic Action", The New York Times, NY, NY. December 30, 1909.
6. "Threaten Skater Lamy. Champion Charged with Making Exorbitant Demands for Expense Money.", The New York Times, NY, NY. January, 15, 1911.
7. "Skater Lamy on Rack", The New York Times, NY, NY. January 29, 1911
8. Obituary, Watertown Daily Times, Watertown, NY
9. Obituary, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake, NY. February 11, 1978.
10. Edmund Lamy Obituary, Adirondack Daily Enterprise, Saranac Lake NY. September 7, 1962