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Adirondack Daily Enterprise, March 4, 2006

Myron 'Rube' Skeels called me last month when he heard from his son that Ernie Stautner, a defensive tackle with the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 1950s, had died out in Colorado. Rube knew him and knew also that he had many friends here. His obituary was in the New York Times on Feb. 17.

My friend and former colleague here at the Enterprise, Bob "Railbird" Goetz, now the sports editor of the Press Republican was able to slip a note into the obit carried in his newspaper that Ernie was a friend of Dew Drop Morgan. Of course he was. What celebrity could come through town, to say nothing about one who lived here, and miss going to the famous Dew Drop Inn?

He was well known here because he owned the drive-in theater on Route 86 with his brother-in-law, Ed Hoffman. It was located about one half mile or more past the Saranac Lake Golf Course, heading toward Lake Placid, on the left side of the road, now just an open space covered with scrub pine.

He was 6-foot-1 and about 235 pounds, according to the Times story, and "small for his position, even in that era." He looked much bigger to me when he used to hang out at Charlie Lavery's gas station, where they brought their equipment to be repaired when they were working on the drive-in grounds.

Feats of strength seemed to be more talked about in the '50s. One day, as Ernie, his brother-in-law, Ray "Big Gunch" Hall, myself and others were standing around at the gas station BS'ing good-naturedly about lots of things, Ernie reached over, grabbed Charlie just above the hips on each side of his waist, picked him up and sat him down on the tailgate of a dump truck that was parked there like he was picking up a little kid. And Charlie was no slouch; he was a tough, hard 185 pounds. Everybody got a laugh, even Charlie.

His Hall of Fame number 70 is the only number retired by the Steelers. An offensive guard, Jim Parker, once said of Stautner "He's too strong to be human. He's the toughest guy in the league to play against because he just keeps coming head-first."