Died: April 11, 1979
Children: Herman, Reba Jean
Jim Prellwitz was a guide and a camp caretaker for the Carl Whitney family of Camp Arcadia on Rainbow Lake starting about 1920. Jim and his family lived on the esker separating Rainbow Lake from Clear Pond.
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, April 11, 1979
ONCHIOTA — James Prellwitz, 83, of Roakdale died this morning in Florida.
Mr. Prellwitz was a lifelong resident of the area and was a guide for many years.
He was a former member of the Adirondack Mountain Club.
Survivors include his wife, Elizabeth; a son, Herman of Florham Park, N.J.; a daughter, Reba Jean Prellwitz of Madison, N.J.; and a grandson, Noel.
There will be no calling hours or funeral service, and local arrangements were made through the Fortune Funeral Home in Saranac Lake.
From The Arcadia Journal by Blanche Whitney Klaman
August 4th 1928 our entourage included mother and me, Ola White, a light-complected black girl and Miss Ewst, a prim Englishwoman recently employed as my nurse and tutor.
Frail and wan, I was recovering from what had been diagnosed as Infantile Paralysis.
That evening, Ola and I had our dinner together in my room. Miss West and mother went to the dining room. Young as I was, I sensed Miss West's prejudice for she had adamantly refused to have dinner with Ola. That may have been the beginning of the difficulties between us because once at camp my relationship with the austere Englishwoman deteriorated.
The daily regimen of an Ounce of Armour's Liver extract plus a tablespoon of codliver oil became doubly repugnant when administered by the dour, unsmiling Miss West.
Apparently my father himself found the nurse unsatisfactory for he discharged her two weeks after her arrival. I spent a great deal of time in Ola's care that summer and in 1929 there was a repetition of the-same cycle of events— the doctors advising I needed more rest so a new nurse was engaged. She arrived on August 5th and left on August 9th some kind of record.
It was clear to my father that having nurses to supervise a lively spirited, frail little girl on a ridge in the woods forty feet above the water, was not going to be successful. He made a decision that influenced my entire life, turning my day to day supervision and care over to Jim our Adirondack guide.
Father had the greatest confidence in Jim's patience and kindness.
Much later in my lifetime have often wondered where this important conversation took place? Father sharing his concern, then putting me in Jim's charge. I imagine it was on one of their frequent fishing trips. Father believed what I needed most was sunshine, mild exercise and fresh air. He was right. I blossomed under Jim's protective wing. I gained weight, grew taller end there was an end to the arguments over cod-liver oil and liver extract which I swallowed without complaint when Jim measured out the dosage.
Once the arrangement had been made and Jim's duties included looking after me, I remember father's joking admonition to the guide "be sure you don't let her drown" and Jim's laughing reply "not mor 'n once I won't."
Whereas my nurses had found me a handful Jim was not at all intimidated by my precociousness, after all he had children of his own.
Jim was tall with sandy-blonde hair. His clear blue eyes set in a ruddy-tan face crinkled when he laughed and he laughed and joked often. His shoulders were broad with muscular arms and his big strong hands were callused from swinging an axe and paddling a canoe. He moved energetically with long strides. He always wore his badge of honor, his Adirondack guide license button on the pocket of his plaid shirt.
I was only a few steps behind Jim as he did morning chores from him I learned about firewood, boat and camp maintenance, splitting kindling, painting or baiting the minnow traps with slices of stale bread. When there were provisions to be carried from the dock up to camp Jim slipped the broad straps of his large packbasket over his shoulders leaving his hands free to carry perishables. I had my own smaller packbasket with a lighter load, bread or cereal. Once at camp we packed away the staples on the shelves of the cold-closet and checked the mousetrap set in one corner on the closet's screened floor.
I was always relieved to find the mousetrap empty for there was a little Danny Meadow Mouse who lived in a chink behind the keystone of the fireplace and who I often saw running the length of the Revolutionary musket which hung below the mantel.
[In her journal, "Arcadia," Blanche Whitney (Kloman) attributes her recovery from polio to Jim… and unusual, but most valuable accomplishment for an Adirondack Guide. Later in life, she wrote:]
Taking a moment's respite, I sat down on the edge of the old rusted wheelbarrow. The sight of a child's blueberry bucket, once bright and shiny, now dented and out of shape, brought back a shattering moment of nostalgia. I closed my eyes and I was with Jim again, he in the stern of the green canvas canoe, his paddle scarcely making a ripple on the water. My blueberry bucket heaped with plump berries, tucked for safekeeping in the bow of the 'Old Town' canoe. I had scrambled up the steep rocky bank of Blueberry Point where the most luscious berries grew. The sandy gravel slipped away beneath me. I often slid backward toward the water, skinning my bare knees on sharp rocks and hardpan. My small, child's hands desperately grasping for alder bushes to break my fall down the embankment. But, always, there was Jim's voice, encouraging me as he reached out a warm. calloused hand to rescue me. "Thatta girl! Hang on! You can make it! Keep trying!"
Text originally and photographs compiled by Pat and Tom Willis, for Brighton History Days