The [var SITENAME] [var SITEURL]/ [var SITENAME] en-us Copyright 2016 McClary Media, Inc. (Dave Warner) 2016 Subaru Forester XT offers power and PC in one box By TERRY BOX The Dallas Morning News Gasoline and granola doesn't sound like the breakfast of champions to me. But green-leaning, slightly square Subaru has long managed to whip it into a sweet mix with its gentle all-wheel-drive, fuel-sipping, earth-saving image. As you know, style-challenged Subaru puts practicality and function far above performance and pretty lines -- and it works exceedingly well. For the last five years, the Japanese manufacturer has grown faster than any brand in the auto industry, selling upright crossovers and odd sedans that boast of being -- hold onto your hats -- "partial zero emissions" vehicles. Whoopee. Occasionally, though, solid-citizen Subie adds some bubbling high-octane fuel to the blend to feed more interesting crossovers like the turbocharged 2016 Forester XT Touring. Not that Subaru is a complete stranger to the many pleasures of horsepower. Its low-selling WRX STI sedan can heat up any street. And at one time about a decade ago, the boxy Forester XT could even be ordered with a turbocharged engine and a manual transmission, making it stand out in Subaru's lineup of Dudley Do-Right crossovers. While the new, more mainstream Forester XT lacks that kind of radical charm, it packs plenty of personality -- something Subaru somehow manages to squeeze into most of its vehicles. The white Forester XT Touring model I had recently certainly looked innocent enough. Tall for a compact crossover, the Forester sported unusually large windows and too much overhang in front, which made it look a bit clumsy. A long, fairly flat hood settled over a protruding front end dominated by large twin-projector headlamps and a blacked-out grille. Big doors, a hatchback and fairly flat sides kept the emphasis on practical, with the Forester appearing ready and able to haul five pudgy accountants to Golden Corral for lunch. But look closer. Smallish dual exhausts protrude discreetly from beneath the rear bumper, and the XT rolls on slightly larger 225/55 tires wrapped around nice-looking 18-inch alloy wheels. Like the regular Forester my parents own, the XT gets its motivation from an unusual "flat" four-cylinder engine that spins all four wheels -- unfortunately through a continuously variable transmission (more on that in a minute). Mainstream Foresters feature a normally aspirated 2.5-liter horizontally opposed four -- meaning its cylinders lie parallel to the street, with two on each side. Most four-bangers stand upright, with all four cylinders in a straight line, an arrangement that is less effective for weight distribution than the Subie's. In XT models, which only account for about 10 percent of the Forester's strong sales, Subaru goes a step further, fitting it with a turbocharged 2-liter four similar to the growler in the WRX sedan. UNDER THE HOOD Although Subaru limits the version in the XT to 250 horsepower, that is still a substantial 80 more than in regular models of the Forester. Even tethered to a spirit-sapping CVT, the salty four-banger can push the Forester to 60 in a quick 6.3 seconds, according to Car and Driver. Though the engine would occasionally display some brief turbo lag, it generally shoved the Forester away from stops with enough gusto to push driver and passenger into their seats. As with most vehicles that have CVTs, the Forester felt jumpy and strong through about 70 mph. But from that point on, acceleration in the 3,700-pound XT felt kind of flat. That was mostly a characteristic of the CVT, which tries to keep rpm within the engine's most efficient power range, even when speeds are rising. Here's a small suggestion: Drive the XT in "sport" mode and the CVT will attempt to mimic a six-speed automatic. Despite the extra power, the XT managed respectable fuel economy, getting 23 miles per gallon in town and 28 on the highway. At one time, Forester XTs handled -- and generally rode -- like rally racers, tearing into corners with almost no lean, all four wheels churning and scratching for traction. The new XT feels softer. It moves around more in moderately fast corners and fidgets some. Also, the grip and steering seemed more limited. Though the steering was light and fairly well-weighted, it didn't provide much feedback from the road. Still, the XT is a bit quicker to 60 than the Ford Escape equipped with the 2-liter EcoBoost engine and much faster than the Mazda CX-5 powered by the 2.5-liter SkyActiv motor. More important to most buyers, I suspect, the new XT rides better than previous models, striding over highways and neighborhood streets with a relatively firm, athletic gait. At $36,250, the XT kind of straddles that region between average transaction prices ($32,000 to $33,000) and what I view as near-luxury ($40,000 or so). ON THE INSIDE The black interior in my XT reflected that. Basic with a fair amount of hard plastic, the interior nonetheless displayed some flair and efficiency. Thanks to those tall windows, driver and passengers sit high with good visibility over the hood. Meanwhile, a textured dashboard curved over the instrument panel, providing a second hood at mid-dash over a handy display that showed time, temperature and fuel economy. A 7-inch screen lower in the dash was large enough to display things for a quick glance without becoming a major distraction. If safety is a concern -- and I think it is with many Subaru customers -- the XT also offers adaptive cruise control that will supposedly stop the vehicle, lane-departure warning, pre-collision braking (a spooky concept) and Subie's eyesight driver-assist system. Moreover, legroom and headroom in the back are quite good for people under 6 feet tall, while the front seats felt comfortable despite being kind of flat. As you may have heard, Subaru's biggest problem these days is just building enough vehicles to keep up with demand -- and rightly so, I think. Subaru is the most interesting of all the Japanese brands and one of those rare vehicles where the likable whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Let's hope success doesn't ruin it -- advice I have assiduously followed my entire career. Thursday, September 15, 2016 First U.S. woman fitted with i-limb appreciates every single movement By Johnny Diaz Sun Sentinel FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- Weeks after becoming the first woman nationally to be fitted with an i-limb quantum bionic arm, Lizbeth Uzcategui continues to discover -- and surprise herself with -- what she can do. The new, high-tech limb, made by Massachusetts-based Touch Bionics, allows the Fort Lauderdale resident to enjoy small movements that many people might take for granted. Things like giving a thumbs-up (or down), moving a computer mouse, shaking hands, opening up her new hand to rest her phone in it, or using the electronic thumb and index finger to pinch something. "This has been a lot more than just functional for me. It has been also emotional for me in the sense that, before, I was not happy with what I had," said Uzcategui, 43, as she sat inside the offices at Hanger Clinic in Tamarac, Fla., where she demonstrated some of her newfound moves. The native Venezuelan was born without the right arm below the elbow and three fingers on her left hand due to amniotic band syndrome, which restricts blood flow in utero and affects development. Since age 3, she has had about 15 different skin-hued prosthetics, which she found cumbersome because they only allowed an open-and-close hand movement. "I was frustrated. I needed something better. I needed to be more functional," said Uzcategui, who came to the United States 20 years ago, teaching Spanish in North Carolina and then Pennsylvania. She moved to Broward County nine years ago, working as an education trainer with Rosetta Stone. Still, she felt limited by her prostheses. "The fact that I couldn't [perform certain functions], I just wasn't satisfied with who I was, who I could be. I wanted to be more." Her new device, which weighs about a pound, uses a microprocessor to run five fully functional fingers. It has six embedded electrodes that read the user's muscle contractions in the limb. Those signals cause the arm to flex the fingers and open and close the palm. In all, it has 24 movements. And there's another perk. "I never wore short sleeves before," she said, because it brought attention to her prosthetic. Now she proudly wears her new limb. "Now I feel proud of what I am wearing, and I feel a lot more functional. I have to go shopping for new clothes," she said, with a smile. Since being fitted with the electronic limb in July, Uzcategui shares her experience with anyone who asks in her daily travels, but especially with fellow patients at the Hanger clinic, where she works as a liaison or an "empower coordinator" who guides recent amputees as they adapt to life without a limb. She accompanies them to doctor appointments and provides emotional support. "I am kind of like their navigator and help them understand what to expect, what is going to happen, kind of giving them a light to show them the way and help them embrace their new selves and prepare for the new chapter," Uzcategui said. Matthew Klein, Uzcategui's prosthetist at Hanger, has seen how the device has helped enhance her life. It was customized for the petite hands of the 5-foot-1-inch woman. "These hands, in general, have evolved quite a bit in the last five to seven years, and they have all been too large for her hand," Klein said. "She would come in with a somewhat antiquated hand, but it would look like a gigantic fake hand on her." Uzcategui was given the prosthesis by the clinic, so she can provide feedback to help continually improve the device for others, Klein said. The average cost to fit an i-limb quantum ranges from $80,000 to $120,000, according to the manufacturer's spokeswoman, who noted that insurance companies may cover the costs. The arm comes with an app that helps Uzcategui learn how to make specific movements. Uzcategui can charge it in her car or at home. "I can hold my bag a lot more comfortably than before. Just a little bit of everything, the day-to-day, holding silverware as well. I can hold a glass more comfortably and elegantly as well. The fingers wrap around the shape of the object," said Uzcategui. "I am just really thrilled by what I can do right now," she added. "It's like a new me." People interested in the i-limb should consult with a prosthetist trained to fit the device. For a list of certified clinicians, go to For more information on Hanger, go to Saturday, August 15, 2015 Seismic shift: How the 1964 Alaska earthquake changed science By MIKE DUNHAM Anchorage Daily News ANCHORAGE, Alaska -- The Earth's crust consists of massive slabs of rock called plates. The two largest, the Pacific Plate and North American Plate, make up more than a third of the world's surface. They meet in a border that stretches from Baja California to Japan, and arches across the Gulf of Alaska. Two hundred miles southeast of Anchorage, the Pacific Ocean floor grinds into the North America continent at a rate of 2.3 inches a year, a nearly irresistible force meeting an almost immovable object. The two plates are locked at their line of contact and the lighter North American formation bulges upward. At 5:36 p.m. on March 27, 1964, pressure overcame friction. Pacific Plate dove under the North American Plate, curling downward like a conveyor belt. Centuries of accumulated compression released violently and the coast of Alaska sprang forward as much as 64 feet. The Great Alaska Earthquake released more energy than all other North American quakes since. Its magnitude, 9.2, made it the second most powerful earthquake ever recorded. As shockwaves spread to the mainland of Southcentral Alaska, birch trees whipped back and forth, their tops touching the ground. Bridges gave way, roads split in half, rails twisted, power lines snapped. Buildings swayed and collapsed or slid into rubble as the weakened ground beneath them turned into mush. Under the ocean, massive landslides displaced incalculable tons of water, sending waves as high as 200 feet into the coast. More waves generated by the rupture itself followed, racing to shores thousands of miles away. Water in wells on the other side of the globe oscillated up and down. In the words of Peter Haeussler, U.S. Geological Survey research geologist, the whole world jiggled "like a giant water balloon." When it was over, 139 were dead. Smaller settlements -- Chenega, Whittier -- suffered the greatest loss of life in proportion to their population. In the state's largest city, Anchorage, much of the business district lay in ruins, its airport was out of commission, fine homes in its most prestigious subdivision had been swept seaward in a morass of mud. Three of the most important commercial centers in the region -- Kodiak, Seward and Valdez -- faced catastrophic destruction. Communities that escaped the worst of the initial damage -- Seldovia, Portage, Girdwood -- were permanently altered by a new geography. Something else also shifted that day. Science. "The 1964 event changed the way we thought about earthquakes," said Mike West, state seismologist with the Alaska Earthquake Information Center at the University of Alaska Fairbanks. "It literally helped prove plate tectonics." The theory of plate tectonics, the constant movement of the Earth's crust, and its connection to earthquakes, was relatively new and not widely accepted by scientists in 1964. "The existing theories were confusing," said Haeussler. "There wasn't anything that unified the way that we were thinking about the earth." Most thought that earthquakes happened on vertical faults. But the scope of the 1964 quake could not be explained by the prevailing theory. An alternative model, that quakes could be caused by faults with shallow angles, more horizontal than vertical, gained traction when USGS geologist George Plafker arrived shortly after the disaster. "He discovered that it was caused by the giant fault that lies underneath all of this southern Alaska margin," said Haeussler. "Now plate tectonics is as crucial to understanding geology as natural selection is to biology." The information produced from studying the 1964 quake also helped scientists understand the connection between earthquakes and the huge waves and ocean surges known as tsunamis. "People had known they were associated for a long time, but they didn't know how," Haeussler said. "But what we learned about the movement of the sea bottom in 1964 is incorporated into models used today." Plafker's hypothesis was supported by observations he made in Prince William Sound said USGS research geologist Rob Witter. "He saw these really clear lines of barnacles," the white-shelled mollusks that attach to rocks below mean high tide. "In some places they were jacked way above the water line. In other places he found that forests were drowned by rising tide levels." There had been an uplift on the "seaward" side, as much as 38 feet where the North American Plate shot over the top of the Pacific Plate in southern Prince William Sound. But in Cook Inlet, farther from the fault, where pressure was released, the land subsided 6 feet. Forests growing next to the ocean at Girdwood, Portage and on the Homer Spit, began dying as their roots were smothered by silt brought in by saltwater tides. Girdwood would be moved uphill to escape the high water. Portage was basically abandoned. Across Kachemak Bay from Homer, the boardwalk streets of Seldovia went underwater; the town would be rebuilt, but without its unique pre-quake character. Plafker's work also led geologists to reassess previously known, but misunderstood, "wave-cut terrace" formations. Plafker noted a new one had emerged since the quake and that similar formations above it probably meant that similar uplifts had occurred in the past. Carbon dating and core samples determined that 1964-type quakes take place in the area every 500 years or so. Analysis of the quake provided another revelation, West said. "We all have this idea in our head of an epicenter. We'd thought of earthquakes as things that happened in one particular place. But this one didn't have a point on a map. The rupture began under Prince William Sound, then continued almost like a zipper all the way past Kodiak." Witter prefers the analogy of a Velcro strap. "It wasn't a line. It was like a wide surface breakage. We're talking about something 580 miles long by 100 miles wide." The rupture field tore from Prince William Sound to Kodiak at more than 100 miles an hour, the land and seabed shuddering for the duration of the rip. The main action lasted 4 1/2 minutes with strong aftershocks rumbling for days and weeks after. Kristine Crossen, Department Chair of Geological Sciences at University of Alaska Anchorage, said the continuous shaking had a multiplier effect. "If you hit your hand on your desk once, not much happens," she said. "But if you keep hitting it over and over again for four minutes, stuff's going to start moving around." The constant shaking particularly affected parts of Anchorage built on the clay of the Bootlegger Cove formation. The nature of the terrain that underlies much of the Anchorage bowl can be seen in the silt and mudflats that surround the city. If you step onto them (never advisable) the mud may initially hold your foot in a shallow depression. But move your foot back and forth and it will begin to sink. Saturated soil can be stiff and cohesive when it's still. But it behaves like a liquid when disturbed, a process called "liquefaction." Nearly every geologist interviewed for this series used the popular dessert Jell-O to describe upper Cook Inlet soils. "You make it and turn it out of its mold onto a plate and it's beautiful," Crossen said. "Then you put it in your trunk and drive over a bumpy road and by the time you get to the church social, it's spread out all over the plate." The jiggling clay beneath the city led to landslides, not the familiar down-a-mountain-type avalanche but what geologists call "translatory landslides" in which the movement splays out rather than falling downward. In level parts of town surrounded by other level land, that wasn't so much of problem. But along bluffs and slopes where there was nothing to retain the liquefied soil ground crumbled and broke apart. "In Turnagain, houses moved into the water," Crossen said. "Along Government Hill and Fourth Avenue the ground moved into Ship Creek Valley." Some of the deaths and damage in Anchorage was due to buildings shaking apart. But most happened when previously solid land was vibrated into a quicksand-like ooze. "All Alaskans should be haunted by liquefaction," West said. "It's a particular hazard in Alaska. Most of our large communities -- Fairbanks, Anchorage, Mat-Su -- are built on flat sediments. Our soils tend to be very wet. Or we're built on river valleys. Or permafrost. And it doesn't take a giant earthquake for trouble to happen." Future quakes are a certainty, West said. "Four out of five earthquakes in the U.S. occur in Alaska. Between 1960 and 2010, more than 99 percent of the earthquake energy released in the U.S. occurred in Alaska, and 78 percent occurred during the 1964 earthquake." Even a small quake can bring down a city if it happens in close proximity. "The New Zealand earthquake in 2011 was 'just' 6.1, but it killed 150-some people," West said. "That quake was so lethal because it struck right smack in town and had soil perfectly situated to exaggerate that motion," he said, soil not that different from Anchorage. For the past 50 years, the Pacific Plate has steadily continued to press against North America. At the moment the compression since 1964 amounts to 10 feet, and it keeps building every day. "The exact earthquake of 1964 is not expected to occur again for a few hundred years," West said. "But that's a really dangerous statement if it sits there on its own. People think, '500 years? We must be safe right now.' But that's not true. There are countless other earthquake possibilities and no one will be surprised if there's another 8-point quake pretty much anywhere along the Alaska-Aleutian arc tomorrow." Just where is a mystery, however. Seismically speaking, "Alaska is not exactly mapped," West said. "If you look at a fault map of California, every little trace and feature has been studied and documented. We don't have that. Some people point to known features -- like the Castle Mountain Fault -- as the focus of the next earthquake. But I'm more scared by the unknown ones. "History has proven that the most dangerous earthquake is usually the one we're not expecting." WHAT'S IN A NUMBER? 8.6 or 9.2? The Great Alaska Earthquake of 1964 was initially declared to have a magnitude of 8.6. That has been revised to 9.2 as new ways of measuring seismic action are developed and technology is improved. Cindi Preller, NOAA's Alaska Tsunami Program Manager, noted that there were only three seismographs in Alaska at the time, one each in Fairbanks, Sitka and Adak. "Today we say seismographs have to be within 100 miles to give an accurate reading," said UAA geology professor Kristine Crossen. "In 1964, that wasn't the case. The 8.6 was just a good guess. Friday, March 28, 2014 Old dam creates dilemma By Paul Rogers San Jose Mercury News MORGAN HILL, Calif. -- As California's historic drought worsens by the day, Silicon Valley's main water provider faces a difficult choice: Risk catastrophic flooding if a major earthquake strikes its largest dam -- or drain billions of gallons of water from the reservoir behind it to make repairs. "When I heard this, I said, 'Are you kidding? They want to drain it in a drought? Are you crazy?' " said Lynne Meyer, a Morgan Hill resident who lives near Anderson Dam. Santa Clara Valley Water District officials, however, say they have little choice but to drain Anderson Reservoir: State and federal officials have ordered that the dam must be seismically retrofitted by 2018 -- and to meet that deadline the work must start next year. "The most important thing we are concerned about is public health and safety," said Katherine Oven, a deputy operating officer at the district. "We live in a seismically active area. We want to make sure that residents are safe -- drought or no drought. That's first and foremost." While the timing couldn't be worse, the dilemma is a familiar one in an earthquake-prone region. From aging dams to the Bay Bridge to the Hetch Hetchy water system, key landmarks built generations ago no longer meet modern seismic standards and must be strengthened or replaced so they don't collapse in the next big quake. In 2009, the Santa Clara Valley Water District released engineering studies showing that a 6.6-magnitude quake on the Calaveras Fault directly at Anderson Reservoir, or a 7.2 quake centered one mile away, could cause the reservoir's 240-foot-high earthen dam to slump and fail. Although the chances of that happening are extremely slim, a complete failure of Anderson Dam when the reservoir is full could send a 35-foot wall of water into downtown Morgan Hill within 14 minutes. The waters would be 8-feet deep in San Jose within three hours, potentially killing thousands. When Anderson Dam was built in 1950, scientists thought the nearby Calaveras Fault was inactive. And water officials once believed that the dam was anchored in bedrock. An engineering firm performing tests required by federal regulators in 2009, however, found that the dam's foundation contains sand and gravel, which could shift in a major quake. Repairing the dam will cost $193 million and take three years, Oven said. The reservoir, scheduled to open to summer boating April 15, is also a key source of drinking water for Silicon Valley, holding more water when full -- 90,000 acre feet -- than all the district's other nine reservoirs combined. Anderson Reservoir is currently 48 percent full. But it would have to be drained starting in the fall of 2015 so the three-year construction and repair job can be finished by 2018, a deadline set by the State Division of Safety of Dams and the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission. Oven said the water district is working on engineering studies now, and an environmental impact report is due out this summer. She said draining the reservoir will be done over a six-month period and district officials plan to save as much of the water as they can. More than half of Anderson's water will probably be sent to homes and businesses or pumped back into the ground to store in aquifers, she said. Still, the notion of draining a major reservoir during a drought when the public is being asked to conserve water is a potential flash point. "To me, it's more critical to have water at this juncture," Meyer said. "I don't know of anyone who's happy about the idea of draining the lake." If the drought gets even worse, the water district may ask state and federal regulators by December for a delay, Oven said, although at this point the district is moving forward. It's unclear if the state would agree to a delay. "We would be flexible if that request came in. But our main concern is public safety," said Christopher Dorsey, a senior engineer with the state Division of Safety of Dams in Sacramento. "There's a window of risk. You're extending that window. We would take that into an account." The agency has already ordered the water district not to fill Anderson Reservoir more than 68 percent full. That reduces the weight of water on the thinnest part at the top of the dam. National experts say dam safety officials aren't eager to delay key repair jobs, particularly when they involve earthquake risk. "These regulatory agencies are under tremendous scrutiny and have so much responsibility for public safety," said Mark Kilgore, an engineer with the American Society of Civil Engineers in Washington, D.C. (EDITORS: STORY CAN END HERE) Anderson isn't the only dam in the Bay Area that has had earthquake issues. In 1979, San Pablo Reservoir, east of Richmond, was drained by the East Bay Municipal Utility District so that the 1920s-era structure could be strengthened. But when more earthquake retrofitting was needed in 2008, the district was able to avoid draining it again by pumping concrete underneath it and building a new buttress on the downstream side. Similarly, Calaveras Dam, on the Santa Clara-Alameda County border, was found to be vulnerable in a major quake. So state regulators ordered repairs, which are now underway and expected to be finished in 2018. The San Francisco Public Utilities Commission decided to build a new dam a few hundred feet downstream from the old one, allowing crews to avoid draining the lake. But those fixes won't work at Anderson, Oven said. Unlike Anderson, Calaveras is in a narrow canyon where building a second dam is feasible. The water district, Oven said, studied doing the Anderson project underwater but decided it couldn't prove to state regulators that the dam was safe unless it excavates portions of the dam in a dry area to remove the sediments under the structure. "Delaying work like this is a tough call," said Xavier Irias, director of construction and engineering for East Bay MUD. "It may not be the best timing, but they have to put safety as the foremost concern. If an earthquake happens, they are going to look like geniuses." ------ ©2014 San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at Distributed by MCT Information Services ---------- PHOTO (from MCT Photo Service, 202-383-6099): CALIF-DROUGHT-DAM GRAPHIC (from MCT Graphics, 202-383-6064): Drought Thursday, March 27, 2014 Age-old policies underlie California drought crises By BETTINA BOXALL Los Angeles Times HAMILTON CITY, Calif. -- A shallow inland sea spreads across more than 160 square miles, speckled with egrets poking for crayfish among jewel-green rice shoots. The flooded fields could be mistaken for the rice paddies of Vietnam or southern China, but this is Northern California at the onset of severe drought. The scene is a testament to the inequities of California's system of water rights, a hierarchy of haves as old as the state. Thanks to seniority, powerful Central Valley irrigation districts that most Californians have never heard of are at the head of the line for vast amounts of water, even at the expense of the environment and the rest of the state. The list of the water-rich includes the Glenn-Colusa, Oakdale, South San Joaquin and Turlock districts. The average amount of Sacramento River water that Glenn-Colusa growers annually pump, for example, is enough to supply Los Angeles and San Francisco for a year. In 2013, when government water projects slashed allocations to many San Joaquin Valley growers and the urban Southland because of dry conditions, the district drew its usual supply. And although Glenn-Colusa and other senior diverters in the Sacramento Valley face unprecedented cuts this year because of the continuing drought, they have been promised 40 percent of their normal deliveries. Most growers supplied by the Central Valley's big irrigation project will probably get nothing. Senior rights holders have in fact dodged years of delivery cuts triggered by the ecological collapse of California's water hub, the sprawling delta of the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers that lies more than 100 miles downstream of Glenn-Colusa's giant pumps. The delta's native fish are hovering on the brink of extinction. Its waters are tainted by farm and urban runoff and infested with invasive species. Most problematic, biologists say, is the chronic shortage of what defines the delta: fresh water. Year in and year out, so much is diverted by farms and cities upstream in the Sacramento and San Joaquin river basins and pumped from the delta itself that the average volume of flows out to San Francisco Bay is about half what it once was. But blame for the delta's downward spiral falls mostly on the pumping by the junior state and federal water projects that send supplies hundreds of miles south to San Joaquin Valley agribusiness and the urban Southland. To protect endangered fish species, those southbound water shipments have been subject to escalating restrictions, triggering an endless cycle of lawsuits and proposals to stem the delta's decline. The most recent is a $25 billion state plan to restore habitat and replumb the delta with the construction of two huge water tunnels. At the same time, the impact on the delta of the massive upstream diversions has essentially been ignored. Regulators don't even know the total quantity that irrigators and cities suck from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries. Diverters with the greatest seniority "just stick a pipe in the river and out it goes," said University of California, Berkeley, geography professor emeritus Richard Walker, an expert on California agribusiness. "They've never been touched." As president of the Glenn-Colusa Irrigation District, Don Bransford, 66, is guardian of some of the oldest -- and most abundant -- water rights in the Central Valley. They underpin a way of life that in its daily rhythms hasn't changed much since Bransford's grandparents migrated to the Sacramento Valley from Missouri in the 1920s. Glenn-Colusa's five-story pump station stands on an oxbow bend of the Sacramento River some 80 miles north of the capital, not far from where Will S. Green on Dec.18, 1883, nailed a notice to an oak tree on the west bank. The posting announced that he was diverting 500,000 miner's inches of the river's flow, the equivalent of several million gallons a minute. Green made his claim under a water rights system that developed with settlement of the West and remains a central principle of state law. Known as "first in time, first in right," it was established in California by the Forty-Niners -- who used prodigious amounts of water to blast gold out of the Sierra foothills -- and essentially says that whoever is the first to divert a set quantity of water from a source has priority rights to it. A native of Kentucky and descendant of Virginia colonists, Green arrived in San Francisco in 1849. He was 17, 6 foot 2 and so skinny that he had to hold up his pants by fastening them to his shirt buttons. Before long he was piloting a small steamboat up the Sacramento to help his uncle map out the future town of Colusa. In the ensuing decades, Green traveled the valley as a county surveyor, state legislator and owner-editor of a newspaper. He watched winter storms swell the 380-mile-long river, sending the Sacramento rushing over its banks and drowning the valley's lowlands. Inevitably, the drought of summer followed, shriveling crops. What the valley needed, Green decided, was an irrigation system that tapped the mighty Sacramento. He staked his river claim six months after he became president of the newly incorporated Sacramento Valley Irrigation Co. The rights were passed to Glenn-Colusa when it was formed in 1920. During the irrigation season Glenn-Colusa's pumps gulp an average of 25 percent to 30 percent of the river as it flows past Hamilton City, dumping it into a 65-mile canal so wide and deep that farm families used to water ski on it, pulled by a rope tied to the back of a pickup truck. The canal greens an area more than four times the size of San Francisco. Most of the district is planted in medium grain japonica rice, the type used to make sushi rolls. About 60 percent of the crop is exported to Asia, Europe and the Middle East. The delta is part of the largest estuary on the West Coast, a tranquil maze of farm islands and serpentine water channels that bears little resemblance to the wetlands settlers drained and put under the plow. Using it as the state's primary north-to-south transfer point for water supplies has distorted the natural rhythm of tidal and freshwater flows that shaped the delta ecosystem. Government dams upstream have changed the timing and volume of inflows, diminishing the variability in salinity that delta species evolved with. And the mammoth federal and state pumping operations that send water south are so powerful that they make some delta waterways flow backward, pulling fish and larvae to their death. Enormous quantities of fresh water that would naturally pour into the delta from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries never get there. The flows are tapped upstream by cities -- including San Francisco, Sacramento and Redding -- and the big irrigation districts. Estimates of annual upstream use developed by UC Davis researcher Bill Fleenor indicate that from 2000 to 2009, it outstripped average southbound exports by about 70 percent. In 2005, the Natural Resources Defense Council sued the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation over its renewal of contracts with Glenn-Colusa and other senior rights holders in the Sacramento Valley. The environmental group argued that the bureau, which provides irrigation water to much of the Central Valley, failed to take into account the effect of the senior diversions on the downstream delta and its imperiled fish. Reclamation officials countered that under a 1964 agreement with the rights holders, they had no discretion to change the contracts, which in total entitle the group to draw 2.2 million acre-feet a year from the Sacramento -- enough to supply 4.4 million households. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals is now reviewing rulings in the government's favor. The water allocation has been cut in only a handful of very dry years, and then only by 25 percent. Citing the severe state drought, the bureau this year has taken the unprecedented step of slashing the allocation by 60 percent -- a move that Glenn-Colusa and other senior diverters complain is a violation of the 1964 pact. A potentially greater threat to their historic rights is upcoming action by the state water board. For the first time in nearly two decades, the board is updating water quality standards for the delta. The Legislature also has directed the board to set environmental goals for the amount of water flowing through the delta and out to San Francisco Bay. Either action could force senior diverters to curtail their water use, according to board attorneys. Thursday, March 27, 2014 The news of old Old newspapers tell the story. So much of life in yesteryears can be found in the pages of the local papers of those small towns. It is hard to imagine a world without our newspapers. In my estimation, the movement to computer news is a big mistake. The old papers had a way of telling the whole story, including vivid details of an event. (Writing rule no. 1: a single bit of vivid information is far more powerful than all the statistical data in the world.) My grandmother Whitman had an interest in odd situations and news stories, and her collection of clippings reflected just that. She was the one who believed that fortune tellers were born in a special way, that if you grew your hair long without cutting it, you would have a long life, and her Ouija board answered many of her questions. Among my grandmother's clippings was the story of a 16-year-old girl who "displayed weird power." The young girl, Eugene, had the ability to read minds with "an accuracy that is uncanny." She had been sought out to find everything from lost keys to lost husbands (much to their chagrin). Eugene was hired by a rich socialite to read the minds of her guests at a house party. She began to tell that some had a "lack of pleasure" at being at the party and she repeated the thoughts that some had about the gowns of the other women present. At that point, the hostess led her out to the dining room for some ice cream and cake. Eugene had been given a boy's name simply because her mother liked it. According to her parents, she had the mind reading ability since she was 2 years old. Not only could she read minds but she made accurate future predictions. In my estimation, my grandmother, who was the mother of nine children, had an interest in births. Among her clippings was the story of a large baby who had reached the weight of 275 pounds by the time he was 7 years old. It was speculated that he would be the "heftiest" man in the country and could become a movie star. Another birth story was that of a 7-month-old baby who developed a "tumor" on his abdominal cavity. Six doctors and others witnessed the operation. Upon viewing the tumor, the witnesses noticed a pair of feet. It turned out that another baby was forming inside the first. Unfortunately, the child died during the operation. Another strange birth story told of a young girl who gave birth to a baby in the county hospital. Upon investigation it was found that the mother was only 10 years old, probably "the youngest mother in this part of the world." They both were "doing well." The really strange birth story was of the "Devil Child." The story had spread throughout the community that a "devil child" had been born at the local doctor's office. The baby, complete with horns and tail, reportedly could talk at the tender age of two hours. Doctors and nurses supposedly interviewed the strange child. It is a long story of large crowds gathering, police called out for crowd control, and wild stories of the "monstrosity" told far and wide. The horns were "two inches long" and the "tail dragged on the floor." When a nurse suggested that the babe be done away with, the child warned that if any harm was done to it, bad luck would follow. Efforts by the reporter to trace down the tale was to no avail but many clung to the story of the "devil child." My grandmother, Stella Whitman, clung to her story of long hair giving long life; she passed away in 1954 at my age, 76. Is that old? DON WILLIAMS was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine writer. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 Adirondack eats Have you ever said to yourself, "I have Gramma's old pork belly and pot cheese recipes and I should open an Adirondack restaurant. People would come from miles around to get that good food"? In my estimation, many have that dream of getting rich in the restaurant business but, tis true, more restaurants fail than succeed. However, with that great American optimism, we each think that we have that winning combination for success; it takes good food, a good location, unique ambience, and a winning personality to make it in the restaurant business. And, did I say money? With that in mind, I will pass my restaurant success thoughts to someone who wants to take the risk. Food tops the list; my formula for eatery success is to feature those better foods that we seem to ignore today. We all know that venison is far better for humans than beef, yet we feature and promote beef in our supermarkets and restaurants. Farm-raised venison is available today but we do not take advantage of it. What a healthy nation we would be if we converted all our cattle ranches to deer yards. My successful restaurant would have venison on the main menu. There are dozens of venison recipes that are delicious and so similar to beef that many would not know the difference. Woodchuck is another possibility; those who eat it speak well of its purity and taste. Woodchucks eat only the finest of growing greenery. Vegetables are an important part of the meal and good vegetables appeal to many of today's restaurant goers. Our part of the country has a great vegetable offering in the milkweed plant. We have a local restaurant that has become famous serving milkweed stems. That can be taken a step further with the serving of the green milkweed buds. The springtime buds blanched and served with pepper and butter surpass any vegetable and are high on the list of what's good and healthy. Discriminating eaters from all over would search out my milkweed buds offering every spring. In this day of fast food and drive-through breakfast, my Adirondack breakfast bars would be a big attraction. What more could a busy worker want than a quick and nutritious breakfast; the most important meal of the day. The breakfast bar has it all. It is made with orange juice, eggs, bacon, sugar, graham crackers, dates, nuts and fruit. Another special feature of my restaurant would be Adirondack puffballs. Cheesy puffballs, much like creampuffs, can be filled with a special venison cranberry/catsup mixture, or any of the fish mixtures. Trout puffballs would bring out the crowds. They would be better than some of what we get today. Have you ever eaten wild hog or boar? Today, it has been approved to be sold commercially and would be a great source of food for a restaurant. It is not gamey or greasy and is sweeter than pork. The wild hog is lean and firm and has one-third less fat, less cholesterol, and fewer calories than domestic pork. Why not add it to our menu? My Adirondack eatery would not be complete without a good choice of homemade ice cream. There is no end to good recipes made in the hand-cranked ice cream freezers. It is worth the time and effort to make ice cream that is superior to any manufactured product. Good ice cream would top off any meal And to those who wish to imbibe with their meal, have you ever had an Adirondack Green Dragon? DON WILLIAMS was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine writer. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 What's in the barn? We are losing the old barns that, at one time, were found with most homes. In fact, in some cases, the barn was built before the house. Today, we have small garages housing our high-priced cars along with assorted bicycles, storage boxes, sports equipment, and who knows what else. Our forefathers made good use of their big barns to house the possessions of their day; possessions that made their work a little easier and their lives a little better. I have my grandfather John H. Whitman's "day book" in which he recorded useful information including his income and outgo. He also had a page entitled, "Barn Contents." He was a carpenter and gave me much of my interest in wood and old tools. I love first-hand information and to know what my grandfather owned at the turn of the last century is a real find. His possessions tell the story of his life in the Adirondacks. My grandfather not only included an inventory of his barn contents, but he put a value on each item. The most expensive of the barn contents was his 4-year-old bay mare. She was worth $200, and, in my estimation, that indicated she was a good horse. Apparently, she was a well-used animal. He also had a $35 spring cutter, a $10 road cart, a $10 one-horse lumber wagon, and a $10 buggy wagon. His four sets of harnesses were worth $30 and his three "whiveltrees" (whiffletrees or whippletrees) cost $6. Farming tools also tell the tale of his life. Along with anything else he did, he always had a farm. He had $15 worth of hoes, rakes and shovels. He used a $5 cultivator and a $3 shovel plow. His hand plow/cultivator also cost $3. His apple trees, common to the Whitman ancestors, called for a $5 cider press. Grandfather Whitman also worked in the woods, much like most of those who grew up in Adirondack country. I have a letter telling of a lumber job that he did at Caroga Lake. His logging tools included three crosscut saws valued at $4, along with two $1 peaveys for rolling the logs. His horses required the whippletrees as well as two pairs of thills (shafts) at $3 each. A $2 set of tackle blocks rounded out his lumberjack tools. He probably had a good axe in his tool box. Barns are great places to accumulate our material things and the Whitman barn also contained $15 worth of "other articles too numerous to mention." The total contents of the John Whitman barn at the beginning of the 1900s was $438.20, a tidy sum in those days when the average factory worker was making between $400 and $500 per year and a Model-T Ford was selling for that same amount. Our treasures on earth identify us. My grandfather's 1906 inventory tells us that he was a carpenter who worked with wood, he was a lumberjack who got out the Adirondack logs, he was a farmer who fed his family and sold his produce, and he cared for his animals that, along with his tools, made his work easier. Each of these activities required a body of knowledge to get the job done; knowledge that was passed down from generation to generation and from neighbor to neighbor. How many of us today can harness a team of horses, or are willing to work all day on one end of a two-man crosscut saw? Growing a garden, from the planting to the preserving, takes more time than most are willing to give, and building our own houses and making furnishings is left, in most cases, to our forefathers. They lived in a different world and their tools tell the story. DON WILLIAMS was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine writer. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 Adirondack boyhood As my grandchildren, who were just here for the holidays, would say, "Here comes another one of those stories from when Grandpa was a boy." I have shared some of those "selective memories" with them and with the readers of "Inside the Blue Line" over the years. I was fortunate to have a great boyhood in a good family in a supportive community. Will Rogers, the cowboy philosopher, had a wise saying that speaks to our past: "You never have to worry about people who remember where they came from." Thus, it is good to hold on to those good memories and to pass them to the young'uns. Neighbors were important in the rural Adirondacks and I have fond memories of them. We were always welcomed at their homes and spent many hours going to visit them. We always told our mother where we were going and she never had to worry about us being there. Mrs. Conklin helped save my life when I mistakenly drank the kerosene from mother's glove sewing machine. My mother put the previously arranged red cloth in the window facing the Conklin home and Mrs. Conklin came running. She got the car and took me to the doctor's. Mrs. Maybe was our closest neighbor, up on the hill. She always had her kitchen apron on and was always smiling no matter what troubles came her way. She paid me to weed her garden and to do other small chores her husband neglected. Chasing her loose pig was the most exciting. He would get out of the pen when she was cleaning it and run around in our two acres of sweet corn. We spent many hours searching for and chasing the pig. Usually he eventually went back to the pen when he got hungry. I loved Ira Gifford's barn. He let me wander around in there whenever I wanted to. It had those heavy, well-worn plank floors and several interesting wooden chests of tools. He was a carpenter and his workshop was organized and neat. It is probably where I picked up my love of wood and the old tools. Ira also had lengthy stories to tell and he enjoyed oral, face to face, "visiting" -- a lost art with all the twittering going on today. My Uncle Allie often took me fishing; he was good at fly casting and could catch bass on a fly rod after I had spent two hours with a worm on my hook and got nothing. I did "out-fish" him on one trip, fishing in the little Mayfield Lake. He and a friend took me along in an old guideboat that I had found and my uncle restored. After a couple hours of fishing the only fish caught was my 21-inch Walleye. They suffered a little good-natured kidding about letting a 10-year-old get the only fish. Trapping animals for food and fur was part of growing up in Adirondack country. Traplines were common and welcomed during the bleak winters. I was not an enthusiastic trapper but I went along with the others to help out. The clever foxes are difficult to trap and old time trappers tried to out-fox them. Old guide Charlie Reece told me he wore boxes over his shoes to kill the human scent and also had a pair of stilts to walk around his traps. I trapped a fox, much to my and everyone's surprise. Since we raised and sold chickens, I often used chicken parts for bait. I set the traps one winter and when I got to the last trap, I had a partially filled bag of chicken parts so I hung them in a tree over that last trap, figuring that I could use them when I had to reset a trap. The fox made a big mistake; smelling the bag of bait, he jumped up and grabbed the bag in his teeth and, to his dismay, he came down right on top of the set trap. Of course, I pretended that I planned to trap a fox that way. One good feature of bringing up past memories is the choice: You can choose to hold on to the good memories and choose to never dwell on the bad memories. And, in this new year, we can take some advice from the wise Ben Franklin: "Waste not time, for time is the stuff that life is made of." DON WILLIAMS was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine writer. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 Adirondack antiquing When winter snows abound and outside activities slow down, it becomes a good time to go Adirondack antiquing. Ofttimes, the inventory of the antique centers is at its highest in the off-season months and it becomes a good time to join this indoor sport and find that rare gem from the past. Relics of the past bring me joy; it is always a good day when I find or receive a vintage tool, a rare photo, or a rustic Adirondack piece. Some relate to my Adirondack boyhood while others connect me with those hardy settlers and ancestors who stuck it out in New York's mountainous country. "Where did you find that?" is a question I get most often. Sometimes it is at an estate sale or a town-wide garage sale, but most often it is in one of the antique or collectable shops that are holding out against modern technology. No, I never go on-line to do my shopping; I am old and stubborn and prefer the hands-on approach to buying. Antique stores come and go as the economy rises and falls; it is not an easy business. It requires investment and inventory, as well as finding a good location. Some have located in Adirondack country where they can somewhat specialize in local collectables. The latest locations that I have found in my territory begin on the Adirondack Trail (Route 30-30a), near the Fulton County Visitors Center at Vail Mills. Schoolhouse Treasures has a wide selection and spacious rooms to browse through and their prices are right. On the 30a branch of the Trail there are several dealers seeking out choice items for sale to the Adirondack collectors. And, in most cases, they do not charge big-city prices. In Johnstown you will find Market Street Antiques. Gloversville's four corners' Terry's Antique Shop has everything from furniture to trinkets and Kathy's Carousal Shoppe is an eclectic place. My kind of place, The Stump City Trading Co., is further up Gloversville's Main Street. They specialize in a wide range of vintage tools, outdoor items, old sporting goods, rustic Adirondack pieces and a variety of big and small collectables. Northville on Route 30 has the Red Barn, the kind of place you have to see when shopping for things of the past. The inventory is ever-changing and the choice is wide. Glassware, woodenware, ephemera, books (including mine), and odds and ends fill the historic barn. The hours are flexible, depending upon the weather. Those things you can't live without are scattered throughout the Adirondacks. Local chambers of commerce can usually supply the list of antique/collectable dealers. The Savaries, located in Olmstedville at the Board 'N' Batten Antiques, are involved in bringing Antique shows to other communities, another great source for Adirondack collectables. The Stagecoach, a customer-friendly shop, is located in downtown Pottersville. We sometimes find The Mountain Niche Antiques near Minerva, watch for the signs. A directory of these and other Adirondack dealers was available from Box 19, Olmstedville 12857. It should also be noted that some of the best Adirondack finds that I have made have been outside Adirondack country. While traveling I often stop at wayside antique shops and seek out an unknown piece of Adirondackia. That is how I found a rare photo of Adirondack Murray in South Carolina that was used in the PBS "Adirondack" documentary. There have been times when the dealer explains that the item had been in his shop for a long time and nobody wanted it, proving, once again, "one man's junk is another man's treasure." DON WILLIAMS was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine writer. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 It's a boy's life I happened (as it does so often when I am looking for something) to run across an old publication in my archives while on a search for some other elusive document. It was a special 1940 edition of the Boys' Life magazine. The first 20 pages are devoted to a detailed description of the scouting program illustrated with about 100 photos. The remainder of the magazine, some 50 pages, contained a catalog of scout uniforms and "restricted" equipment. It raised up my scouting memories. Thankfully, I grew up in scouting when scouting items were limited to scouts. Little old ladies (I saw it on TV) and others could not purchase scout uniforms to look cute and to be fashionable. Badges and awards could only be worn by the scouts who earned them. In those days, it was clear and enforced: "Restricted equipment applies to all parts of the official uniform of the Boy Scouts of America and to the insignia, badges, jewelry, and troop flags, which only registered members have the privilege of buying. Restricted equipment may be sold to only those who hold an unexpired certificate of membership." And that's the way it should be. The Boys' Life publication had the names of licensed scout distributors listed for the towns and cities in each state that had the right to sell Boy Scout uniforms, accessories and equipment. And there it was, the store where I bought my scout stuff: Barney Galinsky and Sons, Gloversville and Johnstown. In Saranac Lake, scouts shopped at the Wilson clothing store. The regular uniform cost $6.65 complete, and the one with "breeches" was $7.35. The official hat was felt with the big brim. I loved that hat and was not happy when they switched to the flat, cloth "army" hat. The chief scout executive and editor of the Boys' Life magazine at that time was James E. West. He called scouting, "the American way" and he advised the boys to "keep the fine spirit of American reverence, tolerance and loyalty burning in their lives as participating citizens." He referred to the Scout oath in his message: "Plan your daily life and actions so as to keep yourself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight." His words are still good today. The story of scouting is extensive. It goes beyond the "good deed daily." Among the reports in the publication we find that scouts had served at the 1939 World's Fair and served as honor guard for President Roosevelt. (We served as honor guard for Gen. Eisenhower at the 1950 jamboree and he later became president.) Scouts went camping out west at the scout ranch. They learned to make fire by friction and how to cook bean-hole beans. They made tents and tracked animals. Scouting was, and is, an adventure: "Scouting is hiking and camping, training yourself in the lore of the wilds, and living in the out-of-doors in company with a gang of fellows as wide-awake as yourself." Scouting has been a part of our family since day one. I started as a Cub Scout in 1943 and worked up to a Life Scout. I was working on the Eagle badge when our troop disbanded. I have served in every office from patrol leader to scoutmaster and various committees over the years. Our four sons grew up in scouting and our daughter joined the Explorer scouts when they accepted girls, after being a Girl Scout for many years. Some of their chosen careers were highly influenced by the scouting experience. And some of our grandsons carried on the scouting tradition. In the days of economic decline, it is tempting to place youth organizations on low priority. In my estimation, Boy and Girl Scout organizations, Four-H clubs, Boys and Girls Clubs and other youth-oriented groups make a major contribution to the lives of our young people and to life in America. They should never be allowed to disappear from the American scene. As the old Adirondacker agreed: "As the twig is bent, so grows the tree." DON WILLIAMS was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 Adirondack circuit riders Imagine, for a moment, growing up in the late 1700s in Sheffield, Berkshire County, Mass., in a wealthy family of the "standing order" in the community. It was an easy life and one desired by most. But the young man in the family had other ideas. He had found God at an early age and had joined the new religious group known as Methodists. For this, he was not only disinherited by his father but, with his new wife, was thrown out, penniless, upon the world. Did he change his mind? No, he left his home country and settled in Clifton Park, where he pursued his religious career. In the spring of 1796, the once-wealthy society boy, now a preacher, took a tramp through northern New York as far as Essex and Clinton counties, preaching to the scattered settlers as he went. He converted many and spent several weeks in the north country, bush whacking through the dense woodlands. When the determined preacher decided to return home, he planned to go by way of the Schroon woods to the head of Lake George and back to his growing family in Clifton Park. He spent seven days in the wilderness, meeting almost insurmountable obstructions. His provisions were low and he became exhausted. Unfortunately, in such a weak state, he tried to cross the raging Schroon River on horseback. The horse slipped and fell, the preacher was unable to save himself and he drowned. The man of God in this story was the Rev. Richard Jacobs, one of the Rev. Freeborn Garrettson's circuit riders. The brave, dedicated preacher left a legacy of bringing God to the Adirondacks. He also had three sons who became Methodist preachers and two daughters who married Methodist preachers. Taming the Adirondack wilderness was not an easy task. Native Americans ventured into the wilds to hunt fish, and to make arrowheads but it took some doing to establish permanent settlements and homes in the forested lands. Adirondack guides, miners, lumbermen, sportsmen, and tanners arrived on the early Adirondack scene to open up the mountainous forestlands to settlements. And, along with them, the itinerant circuit riders arrived to spread the Gospel in the Great Wilderness. I have shared the stories of Congregational preacher John Todd, who brought God to the wilds in 1840, and of the Rev. Elisha Yale, who traveled hundreds of miles to minister to the Adirondack settlers in the early 1800s. The Methodist itinerant minister Freeborn Garrettson was holding religious camp meetings north of Gloversville in the southern Adirondacks as early as the 1790s. In 1792, he held a conference in Broadalbin with 400 in attendance. He had been appointed elder for the six upstate circuits in 1788 and took charge of getting circuit riders to preach in the Adirondacks. With a strong devotion to God, he was able to overcome many obstacles and to open up the circuits for his circuit riders. The early histories tell of the Methodist Circuit Riders, "Old Saddlebag Preachers," who felt called to preach in the wilderness, however meager the reward. They "traveled the wilderness trails for four to six days at a time, on horseback. Approaching a village, they would blow the old itinerant horn." It was not easy being an Adirondack circuit rider. They had to ford the rushing mountain streams, traverse the wild forest, face pelting storms, and sleep in the woods to bring people to God. Some settlers thought that the Methodist preachers were British spies. They were stoned, shot at, snowballed, and had dogs sent after them. One reported being imprisoned, beaten and left speechless and senseless. Freeborn Garrettson, himself, tells of being captured by an armed mob. He was only able to escape when a severe lightning storm scared off his attackers. The Rev. Tobias Spicer, another saddlebag preacher covering today's Fulton and Hamilton counties, reported, "In such places, the people, instead of being engaged in visiting, fishing, hunting and lounging about taverns on the Sabbath, as they had been accustomed to do, were seen going to the school-house, or the house of some neighbor, to hear the Gospel preached, or to unite in holding a prayer-meeting." Apparently, the devotion of the early circuit riders added to the good life in the Adirondack settlements and helped to open up the "wild country" for generations to come. DON WILLIAMS was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 An ideal plan for Camp Gabriels By DON WILLIAMS When tuberculosis was invading every segment of our society and killing young and old alike, sanitariums were springing up in every county. Dozens were scattered throughout Adirondack country taking advantage of the healthy air and pristine surroundings. One such sanitarium was built near Paul Smith's College in 1897 -- it was the Gabriels Sanitarium, which offered medical help to many until 1965. Gabriels was named after The Right Rev. Bishop Henry Gabriels, who worked with the Sisters of Mercy to establish the much-needed sanitarium. The Sisters of Mercy, with only a donkey and a cart for transportation, acquired the site and built the building. Dr. Seward Webb, Mr. Paul Smith, and the people of New York state donated land for the sanitarium. In 68 years they treated more than 5,500 patients. Paul Smith's College purchased the sanitarium site in 1965 for $150,000 to supply housing for its growing student population. That is where we came onto the scene -- our second son, Kevin, wishing to study forestry, entered Paul Smith's forestry program. We journeyed up the Adirondack Trail (Route 30) to drop him off at the college of his choice. Watching your children leave the nest and take that big step to college is trying enough without entering a strange situation. And that was what we found on our introduction to Gabriels. We arrived at Paul Smith's College and were directed to our son's housing at Gabriels, down the road from the main college campus. Upon arrival, we found an institutional-type building with time-worn furniture. I remember grated windows and big hallways. We choked back our concerns about leaving our son is such a place and worried all the way home about abandoning him. Interestingly, it turned out that he accepted it and enjoyed his time at Gabriels and Paul Smith's, College of the Adirondacks. At this same time, the college was phasing out the Gabriels campus and by 1980 all was back to the main campus. Gabriels was then sold to New York state for use as a minimum security prison. By 1982, the inmates were arriving at Camp Gabriels. They were brought to Gabriels to help in the refurbishing of the facility. The camp grew to some 250 residents by 1987. Additional buildings were added over the years as the site became a major correctional facility. Camp Gabriels was closed in 2009 and put up for sale this year, the state requesting a legally required minimum bid of $950,000. At the time, it had 336 beds and 91 acres. Forty-eight buildings are included on the site. No bids were received; so now, what do we do with Camp Gabriels? In my estimation, New York state ownership of "Gabriels Village" is a prime opportunity to create an Adirondack village of yesteryear -- a "Williamsburg" in the Adirondacks. Turning back the pages of time and recreating the lumber camp, the tannery, the hunting camp, the pioneer log cabins, the guideboat shop, the farm, the town weaver, the blacksmith shop, and the list goes on, is the answer to what to do with Gabriels. Re-enactors and others would be hired, bringing good jobs to the North Country. The success of Williamsburg and Dollywood could come to the Adirondacks; where is a "Rockefeller" when you need him? ------ Don Williams was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 Living in the North Country a wise choice In my estimation, final retirement to the North Country is a wiser choice than pulling up stakes and retiring to some remote facility in the south land. There are those who cut all ties, sell everything, and invest is southern senior living, only to return north to find happiness in familiar country. There is some thought that it might be a pleasure to escape those northern winters by retreating south but, one good feature of retirement is there is no need to go out on stormy days. And, fortunately, there is a wide variety of retirement communities and facilities for the aging in the northeast. On a recent Adirondack trip I got a taste of life in one such retirement resort. Arrangements had been made by the resort activities director for me to do an Adirondack presentation of my "Adirondack Tools and Tales" for the residents of the Saranac Village at Will Rogers, "The Historic Retirement Community of the Adirondacks." It called for a trip up my favorite highway, The Adirondack Trail (Route 30) to Saranac Lake. A word should be said on the Will Rogers connection to the Adirondacks. Will Rogers, if you remember, was one of America's greatest humorists and actors, and his homely comments on life are still quoted today. ("I never met a man I didn't like!) He first appeared in vaudeville in 1905 and went on to star on stage, screen and radio. Will Rogers was a big hit in vaudeville in those early teens of 1900 and became a regular on the famous Ziegfeld Follies. He starred in 60 movies. He was called the "cowboy philosopher" with his rope tricks and sayings. When FDR was leading our nation out of the depression, Will Rogers observed, "The whole country is with him, just so he does something." Good advice for today's world. Rogers built a big following with his radio shows and he wrote for newspapers as well as authoring several books including "Will Rogers Political Follies." He played many benefits for charities and died in a 1935 Alaskan plane crash. In the 1930s, the National Vaudeville Association provided three cure cottages at Saranac Lake for unwell variety performers. In 1925, they built a large cottage on forty acres and in 1927, they launched a fund drive to build the Tudor-revival building that stands today as Saranac Village at Will Rogers. In 1935 they had transferred the facility to the Will Rogers Memorial Commission, which had been established after his death. In 1936, it became the Will Rogers Memorial Hospital. By 1974, the hospital, because of changing times and need, had closed. Situated in great Adirondack country, in a woodland setting, the senior citizen living complex in the former Will Rogers Hospital is an ideal place for retirement. All of the residents that I spoke with while I was there had nothing but praise for the facility and especially for the friendly and helpful staff. After being used for the 1980 Olympic Games, it was sold in 1996 to be used for the senior housing. Extensive renovations preserved the elegance of the original building resulting in a residence well above the norm. The historic Saranac Village at Will Rogers in the Adirondacks celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2010. Today, some 70 residents are enjoying life in the one or two-bedroom apartments or studio apartments with 24 staff members taking care of their needs. Life in an "English Country Estate" in the Adirondacks has a lot to offer and it could be mighty tempting when the old bones get tired of mowing lawns, shoveling snow, patching roofs, carrying out the garbage, fighting with squirrels and woodchucks, trimming the trees... Friday, May 31, 2013 Looking at that pesky Adirondack bug book Have you ever read a "Pesky Bugs Book"--the story of the tiny creatures who have played such a major role in Adirondack history? Maybe they deserve to have a book written about them--albeit a tiny book for the tiny creatures. In my estimation, it is a good time to share what we have learned about staving off the Adirondack pesky bugs; I would not want to stir them up by writing about them during the bug biting season. Over the years we have celebrated the presence of the Adirondack mosquito and other biting insects. Serious research on them was initiated in the early 1900s and state reports were issued. Many of the Adirondack Old Home Day and Fourth of July celebrations have had floats depicting their coexistence with us. Bleeker, and some other towns, have had "bug" celebrations. Not too many of nature's creatures can claim such notoriety. The latest study of mosquito habits revealed something unusual. Research has found that mosquitoes are attracted to those who have recently eaten bananas. Other studies in the past have indicated that mosquitoes are attracted to those dressed in blue colored clothing. Those going for a hike in the wooded Adirondacks would be wise to get rid of their blue shirts and blue jeans, and to stop eating bananas! The people-pesky bug war has been going on since the day of the Native Americans who covered their bodies with red ocher and other dirts of the earth to ward off the biting insects. In Nick Stoner's day they simmered pine tar, castor oil, and pennyroyal in a 3:2:1 mixture in an old black pot over a slow fire to make repellent. Nick guaranteed that it would provide protection against any "skeeter" when rubbed on the exposed portions of one's body. You will not be surprised to know that I have a collection of bug repellents. (Rule no. 1--never throw anything away; there might be another depression and you will need it!) Most of my collection was passed along to me from my elders. I have never personally used them because, as you know, the biting insects leave me alone; my Adirondack upbringing developed some kind of chemical immunity. One small bottle in my bug-stuff collection is simply labeled, "Mosquito" in my Aunt Viola's handwriting. She labeled everything. I assume it was her bug repellent for when she went to her woodland camp. She had another bottle of a gold-colored liquid with a faded, unreadable, label that smelled like "bug stuff." Her third bottle was commercially labeled with "Bug-a-boo for mosquitoes, flies, chiggers, gnats and many other insects," what more could you want? My aunt also had an interesting little bottle labeled "Glycerine" from Leweks Drug Store, H. A. Lewek, N. Main Street, Northville, New York. It is a colorless, odorless, liquid alcohol sometimes used in explosives; others used it for a solvent or skin lotion and in medicine. I assume that my aunt may have used it as a bug repellent or to stop an itch since I never knew her to blow anything up. The Expello Insect Repellent from New Hampshire in the collection "chases away mosquitoes, flies, gnats, fleas, and certain other insects." It must be strong, it warns, "do not spill on furniture or get it into your eyes or mouth." I have a bottle of "Ivolon for Bites" from the ACE CUT-RATE DRUGS, 40 North Main Street, Gloversville, New York. The makers of the product were W.E. and J. Felton. Possibly it was used to stop itching. In our time, "6-12" provided " hours of protection against mosquitoes, chiggers and also regular stable flies, black flies, sand flies and gnats." It was 100 percent Ethylhexanedial with a warning, " Do not take internally"--who would drink a liquid with a name like that? And, there is "Skin-so-soft", well-promoted by the Avon company. It is "Bug-guard Plus." Some of it also contains sunscreen and Vitamin E. It also may protect against the deer ticks. We have come a long way in bug repellents but that is not the end. The days of the traditional repellents may be numbered; the latest LED lanterns have a built-in insect repellent. But, a final thought, do not forget that a good smoky smudge in an old tin can will drive the bugs away, or, you may want to give your camping neighbor a blue T-shirt and a bunch of bananas! Friday, May 31, 2013 Finding washing machines a click away Those who have been following my episodes with collecting old tools and my encounters with a computer that hates me, know how frustrating and time-consuming it can be. After I mentioned that I do not depend upon the computer for any information for these Adirondack columns, someone suggested that I give the computer a chance to prove itself worthy of use. Being a fair-minded person, I agreed to GOOGLE. (I remember Barney Google!) Giving some thought to a worthy subject for the computer, I decided that some research on the first washing machines--a major breakthrough in making life easier for America's housewives--would relate well to the advent of computers into our lives to make our work easier (?)--somewhat a satirical thought! My "washday collection" is complete. I have the original washing stick, a washing plank, washboards, one of the first of the washing machines that were hand-powered, and one of the first electric powered machines. The machines were manufactured by the Blackstone Manufacturing Company of Jamestown, NY. To be "washday" complete, I also have collected the plungers, the wooden forks and sticks, along water. My computer aim was to GOOGLE the Blackstone Manufacturing Company to learn about my early machines. The new WINDOWS 7 that I now have is far more complicated than the old Windows Me that I used so many years. I logged on and eventually found the word GOOGLE in the upper right hand corner on a page filled with information. After some "clicking" around, I noted a small white slot that said "search" so I typed in the topic. It worked, I got a Blackstone finding, in fact, there were some 50,000 entries. Maybe, just maybe, I will live long enough to use them all. I decided to limit my searching to the first two dozen pages. It was a wise decision because the "Blackstone Manufacturing Company" is found all over our country with most of the companies by that name are in Massachusetts. I knew that the Blackstone I wanted was in Jamestown, NY, because I found the machine in an old catalog and the city is printed on one of the early machines. The first machine that I have previously reported on dates back to before 1910 since I found a picture of a later model in a catalog of that year. A note on the computer reported of finding an advertisement in an 1888 publication and noted "Blackstone had been in business for some time." They mentioned a sales agent in St. Louis during that period. The computer also had a picture of a 1908 water-powered washing machine by Blackstone. The note on the computer also indicated that the Blackstone Manufacturing Company had closed in 1910. In my estimation, it can't be true--the second washing machine that I have was patented on May 15, 1915. Later, the Blackstone Manufacturing Co. became subsidiary of the Jamestown Metal Equipment Company. Blackstone is still listed as a sheet metal company in Jamestown. That second generation washing machine by Blackstone also had a patent number for their enclosed cog wheels that dated back to May 5th, 1896. The reason was printed on the wringer board, "Enclosed cog wheels to prevent soiling of clothes and increase the durability of the rollers, as no oil or dust can come in contact with the rubber." It was also made with steel, spiral pressure springs. The wooden tub has tin liner and with heavy gears, levers, locks, hinges, etc., it appears to me that it took a washing machine engineer to operate it--our foremothers were talented! So it is with computer research--a little of this and a little of that, some useful, some not -- and too much time to find it; I still prefer the printed word. Friday, May 31, 2013 'Adirondack Picker' finding treasures near and far By DON WILLIAMS Special to the Recorder I have well over 200 vintage tools, most carved out of wood by talented craftsmen of yesteryears, that tell the story of how our forefathers lived before the days of electricity -- a day when every task was labor-intensive and required the use of human muscle. Each tool is a work of art, reflecting on its maker, and each one brings joy when I discover it. When I go to Cape Cod to visit our two families who live there, I search out the flea markets, sales, and antique shops. You never know what gem lies hidden among the accumulations of "museum pieces." Not only do I search for antique tools but I keep my eyes open for anything "Adirondackish" or a remnant of my youth. It goes without saying, I usually come home with a good sampling of "what I can't live without." My autumn trip was no exception; I did well. Once home, I spread some choice purchases out on our coffee table, whereupon, my daughter, Charry, who stopped for a visit, announced, "Dad, you have become the "Adirondack Picker!" Maybe I should just get my own TV show. I found a little tin bucket with a tight cover and a wire handle which needs some further research. I believe that it might be a "pint of suds," beer carrier, or possibly a milk or cream bucket. I might find a picture in an old Sears, Roebuck catalog. Along the same line, I finally found my mother's pancake pitcher which was also the same that our neighbor, Mrs. Gifford, used. It is heavy brown ceramic with a big handle and spout. My mother and Mrs. Gifford used the pitcher to mix and to pour the pancakes on the hot stove griddle. I loved those pancakes covered with maple syrup. We had an eating contest one morning at Mrs. Gifford's and I won; my sister got sick. Another old household tool on sale at a small shop was a special flat iron which was used to iron small lacy pieces. I have almost every type of the old flatirons, sadirons, that were heated on the kitchen stove or filled with hot coals. They took the wrinkles out of the layers of clothes worn by the early Adirondackers. One tool often leads to another. When I purchased a washing stick awhile back, I thought it might be one of those wooden trays used to roll cigars. I found out that was not the case when I found the washing stick in Eric Slone's tool book. Well, on this trip, I found the wooden cigar rolling tray and the cigar cutter that goes with it. If I ever decide to take up smoking (NOT), I am all set because I also have one of the old cigarette rollers used by my dad. The "piece de resistance" that I brought back from the trip was that antique washing machine sold to me by a friend of my son. I had bought it for $75, sight unseen. It was a wise move; that washing machine possibly dates back to the first ever made. I was overjoyed to find a machine made of wood. It had a wooden tub and a wooden three-pronged agitator. A tall handle of wood stuck out of the wooden cover. The hardy housewife could hold on to a grip on one side and use the other hand to pull the lever back and forth. I found a picture of a later, improved model in the 1910 Biddle Hardware Company Catalog. The machines were manufactured in Jamestown, New York, by the Blackstone Manufacturing Company. The catalog called it the "Western Washer" and it cost $7. Sharing the old tools with the senior citizens at nursing homes, centers, and churches has taught me one thing; time is running out on learning about the tools by those who used them. The time limitation adds to the importance of my lifelong quest to get those stories written down and to preserve the realia of our past. ------ Don Williams was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 Churchgoer wishes fellow congregants would kiss off By ABIGAIL VAN BUREN DEAR ABBY: I have a problem with people in our church congregation who want to greet me with a kiss. Please advise me on how to handle this delicate situation. I don't want to hurt any feelings; these are nice people. However, lips carry germs, and I have a weak immune system. I have tried extending my hand in greeting, but one man smooched me anyway, saying, "I don't shake hands with girls!" Abby, I'm 70 and hardly a "girl," and I didn't appreciate his rejection of my handshake. Do you think it will work if I tell him and others that I have a contagious disease that causes men's lips to dry up and fall off? -- DEANNA IN FLORIDA DEAR DEANNA: No. It would be more to the point to tell your fellow church members that you have a fragile immune system and are susceptible to viruses -- which is why you prefer to shake hands. It's the truth. And if the man who smooched you continues to be a problem, talk to your clergyperson about it. DEAR ABBY: I have met my soul mate. She has the same name as my ex-wife. How do we remedy this? It is driving me nuts! -- SCOTT IN WASHINGTON STATE DEAR SCOTT: Remember when you were in school and there were several students in a class who shared the same name? Some of them would adopt a nickname. If it's OK with your soul mate, she can certainly do the same. But consider the upside for you. The fact that your new lady's and ex-wife's names match guarantees you won't ever slip and call her by the wrong one. DEAR ABBY: I am hoping you might have a suggestion on how to handle cigarette smokers who ignore my requests to not smoke in my direction. I have severe allergies, and I also suffer from dry eye syndrome. Even after I have told smokers that their addiction worsens my condition they continue, assuming that by cracking a window the room is ventilated. -- FRUSTRATED IN TURLOCK, CALIF. DEAR FRUSTRATED: I do have a suggestion, one that is time-honored and effective. Safeguard your health by avoiding anyone who continues to smoke after having been told that it negatively affects you. DEAR ABBY: A year ago, I married an old and dear friend. We have both been through marriage, divorce and difficult relationships. At last, I finally found the person I was meant to be with. My husband's parents have been gone for several years, but I was fortunate enough to know them before they died. We went to visit their graves the day after our wedding, and I placed two pennies I had been saving on their headstone -- one dated 1968 for me and one dated 1963 for him. Last week I received several pennies in change and dropped them into my wallet. When I fished them out later, I was delighted to see that one was from 1968 and the other was from 1963! I believe in my heart it's his parents' way of telling us that they are happy we are together. -- LUCKY BRIDE IN MAINE DEAR LUCKY BRIDE: And I can't think of a more meaningful wedding gift you could have received from your late in-laws. May you and your soul mate enjoy many happy, healthy years together. ------ Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, CA 90069. Friday, May 31, 2013 Finding more Adirondack tools I just wonder, I just wonder, how many vintage tools were in use by our Adirondack ancestors. Every time that I think I have seen them all, another one appears. And there are times when I find a uniquely crafted old wooden tool, I have no idea of its use. Ingenious ancestors conjured up a tool for every task. I find joy in some of the little things of life; finding a previously unknown tool is one of those "happystances" that bring me joy. I do not know why but it is possibly because I have one foot in the past and another in the present. I grew up from outhouse to indoor plumbing, from kerosene lamps to electric lights, from the old wood stove to furnaces, and from hand tools to power tools. Those who braved the wilds to settle the Adirondacks let the task determine the tool. Once a cabin was constructed from those round Adirondack logs, the visible cracks between the logs needed insulation to keep out the winter winds and snow. Sphagnum moss, readily available in the Adirondack wetlands was Nature's insulation. A small wooden tool was devised and carved to push the moss tightly into the chinks between the logs. The small wedge-shaped tool was tapered to one end with a handle on the other. That little simple tool packed a lot of moss to make those early homes warm and cozy. I find the swingling stick a work of art. Made of wood, it resembles a fancy sword. One edge is sanded almost to a sharp edge and one end has a handle similar to one found on a knife. The swingling stick was an important part of turning the grassy flax plant into fine linen. Adirondack settlers had their Age of Homespun when the "factory" was found in the homes. Fields were cleared and planted with the flax seed. The 1845 census recorded acres of flax in the Adirondack counties. Washington County alone produced almost 150,000 pounds of flax. When the flax was harvested, it had to be softened up to be processed on the spinning wheels to make the linen thread. The swingling stick was used to stroke the grassy flax, held over a vertical board, to render it soft and pliable. (You can see it done at the Farmers' Museum at Cooperstown). A large flax brake (or break) was also used to soften up the grain. There was a day when the young ladies of the home made the beds each morning. It was just a simple throw the covers up, each bed had a special coverlet--a quilt, a bedspread, a crocheted or knitted cover, or a homespun blanket. Another simple tool was needed to finish off the job. It was a small, wooden bed smoother. A simple fifteen-inch stick, rounded with a handle on one end was devised. Once the fancy bed cover was put on, all the wrinkles were smoothed out with the blanket smoother. For years I had a wooden rug beater. It was a work of art with a carved handle fastened with a couple small metal bands and a large bent-wood beater. I marveled that it, although fragile, had not been broken at the time when rugs were put outside on the clothesline a couple times a year to have the dust beaten out. I was wrong. Although it looks like a rug beater, it is not. While researching some other tool info, I ran across a rare, unknown tool. It was a feather tick fluffer. It was used to gently beat the feather tick mattress to keep it from matting and to fluff it up. I remember sleeping in the feather bed at my grandmother's but I had never seen the feather tick fluffer. The vintage tools of yesteryears have their stories to tell. The daily lives of our ancestors are revealed through their tools. Their survival depended on their wits and their tools, and, we find, although the vintage tools we find today were functional in their time, they are finely crafted "works of art" and beautiful in their simplicity. Friday, May 31, 2013 It's mincemeat time again It is mincemeat time again--that time of year when the major ingredients come together to create that culinary delight. I grew up on mincemeat pies and I continue to love mincemeat to this day. Others tell me that they have a big dislike for mincemeat; I do not know why. Mincemeat is made of choice ingredients that, standing alone, are good in their own ways. (Another good choice this time of year is fried green tomatoes.) "Mince" comes from the obvious word that means to cut into small pieces and "meat" can be whatever is available on mincemeat day. Mincemeat's main ingredients are apples, raisons, green tomatoes, and pork or venison. They all become available in the fall of the year at harvest time and when the pigs are slaughtered or hunting season is open. It is a good time to get them ground up and in the cans or stoneware jars. The weather was turning toward cooler days and nights so I decided it was time to, once again, get grinding. I selected to use a variety of apples this year to add to the delicate flavor of my mincemeat so I went to the co-op in downtown Gloversville and purchased five different kinds of beautiful apples. Remember, my apple crop was "confiscated" by a passing stranger. I chopped up the three pounds of apples in the food chopper. Two boxes of raisons were also chopped up to flavor the mixture. To this, I added six pounds of chopped green tomatoes from my garden. It was beginning to look like "mincemeat" as I stirred these ingredients together in the bottom of my big sap pot. I like a lot of room for my cooking ingredients. I had a choice of meat for the mincemeat. My mother usually made hers with venison when I was growing up although in later years she used suet or salt pork. I looked at the venison I had left in the freezer and decided it would taste good fried with peppers and onions so I left it there. I made a trip to the grocery store and got a half -pound of good salt pork. One historic account that I have of making venison is to use beef that had been cooked all night. I ground up the salt pork in the food chopper, it is much faster than the usual way that I did it in the old hand-turned meat grinder. These ingredients had to be cooked together along with two pounds of brown sugar until the juice cleared up. Before mixing the green tomatoes had to be scalded in two or three changes of water. Once the mixture was cooked, a cup of vinegar or wine, two tablespoons of cinnamon, one teaspoon of nutmeg, and two teaspoons of cloves were added. Some were known to add cider or brandy to the mixture. (Probably for medicinal purposes!) The final cooking took forty-five minutes, stirring often to prevent cooking on. In my estimation, the entire process took about three hours and it makes over a gallon of tasty mincemeat. I decided to use some of the mincemeat to make some filled cookies. I found the sugar cookie recipe in an old cook book that a friend told me would make a good filled cookie. I then decided to try to make them first with a roll of the prepared sugar cookie dough. Using a cookie cutter, I cut out circles and put two together with the mincemeat in the middle. Once baked on a cookie sheet, they spread out and became a sheet of filled cookie bars instead of nice round filled cookies. It did not matter; they were delicious. When I get a "round tuit" I will make more from scratch and see how they turn out. Mincemeat pies were a natural part of most Adirondack homes. They were made for Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. They were taken to church suppers and to grieving neighbors. I always assumed that everybody had a mincemeat pie as part of their lives and I was surprised, in later years, to meet those who had never heard of a mincemeat pie. When I worked in the Adirondack general stores, I noted that we sold a lot of "Nonesuch Mincemeat" to those who did not make their own. You might say, one does not have to live life without a mincemeat pie! Friday, May 31, 2013 Summertimes passes quickly in Adirondacks The most common question asked at the end of each summer season is "Where did that summer go?" We love living in four-season country but , in my estimation, the summer season is too short. It comes and it goes, and before we know it, Jack Frost is here and snow is on its way. And, all those projects and plans that we had for the summer remain undone. I had a busy summer planned; a twenty-five room house and three acres of land require a lot of attention, especially since our home is over a hundred years old. To add to the labor, this summer was a grass-growing summer and I spent some time every week on the lawnmower. As summer came upon us, I had planned to trim the eight apple trees; they are still in need of that trimming. I planned to cut a few pine trees to thin out the woods. Cutting them early in the season makes peeling off the bark a simple task; the sap is till underneath. And who knows when I might need a nice White Pine log. Gardening is always labor intensive; it is not a casual enterprise. I loaned out my rototiller and did not get it back in time to create the size garden I wanted, so I had a limited garden this year. I had planned to move the rhubarb to a better growing location, the big trees were keeping it in the dark. The rhubarb is still in the shadows. My plan was also to consolidate the horseradish, the dill, and the mint together but they remain in their original locations. I never got a "round tuit!" Flowers need relocating, also. Myrtle and Solomon's Seal are spreading and could be used for ground cover in choice locations. An unknown pink flower needs to go where it can be enjoyed and the Rhodadendron could be brought closer to the house. The grape vines no longer produce; the shade has taken them over and retarded their growth. It could have been a good summer accomplishment if I had gotten flower moving on my schedule. The roof on a bedroom addition springs a small leak during heavy rains and during winter back-up snow and ice. The roof is not angled for good runoff. Years ago when we built the room I wanted to put a "leanto" roof on it so I would never have to shovel it off. In that way the room would also look Adirondackish. The city building inspector at that time said it was out of the question; I had to put on the traditional lower roof. I better get that leak fixed soon; winter is coming. The attic, the cellar, and the garage are crying for attention. Our fifty year family accumulations from my mother, my aunt and uncle, from elderly friends, from our children and from my wife's girlhood home have been safely stored waiting to be sorted and used or discarded. The relics from my years in education are too valuable (?) to throw away; I might want them someday--or not! I did get a shredder and someday I will put it to good use. I am working on another book that needs attention. My summer plan was to get some Adirondack photographs of the small museums and their collections along with photographs of Adirondack monuments. Maybe that is a good autumn job. Earlier this year, I had shared some Brown's Tract Guides research with the museum in Old Forge and I have now located another bit of info that I had planned to deliver during the summer. I still have it. The Wild Center in Tupper Lake was also on my summer to do list. And, I should think about building a barn for my hundreds of Adirondack tools; oh well, another summer is coming. Friday, May 31, 2013 Hand in hand with Mother Nature By DON WILLIAMS I have a good relationship with Mother Nature. I have great respect for her work and consider Mother Nature one of God's miracles. In my estimation, the growing things on this earth are a part of us and we are part of them; we exist together, although we are but a small part of the total scheme of things. Much of my feelings toward Mother Nature are channeled to "live and let live." Whatever comes up from the soil and grows in my yard, I welcome, with one exception. In keeping with society's expectation, I do mow the grass. Other than that, it is a great unveiling each year on what Mother Earth will bring forth, if left alone. I have one small section of yard where we removed a decorative bush a few years ago. I left the spot vacant to see what would transpire. And it has been an adventure. The first year it brought forth mixed grasses and clover. Some sumac began to grow the next year, but, in the following year, were crowded out by a thick growth of the purple blossomed thistle. I left them alone and this year, to my surprise, the same plot is totally covered with golden rod. It is a show of its own; what will next year bring? Only the birds know, I surmise, what seeds they will drop. Another surprise came my way during this summer season. A large bush sprang up in the lawn under one of the butternut trees. I left it alone and it grew surprisingly fast, shooting up over six feet with long elephant ear leaves. It did not take long to identify it once the purple berries arrived; it was Pokeweed. I had to know more about it. In my old-age selective memory, I classified pokeweed as poisonous, so I looked it up. Not entirely true. I found that pokeweed was used to treat skin diseases and arthritis. To this day, it is still an ingredient in one of the patented arthritis remedies. The juice of the purple berries is used as a permanent dye, as a colored cake frosting, and to give cheap wine its purple color. And the birds use the berries to build their strength for the long trip south. In earlier days, the small pokeweed shoots made a delicious vegetable to add to a meal. They are still sold in some states and are called poke sallets. Pokeweed is not all good; it has its poisons. The roots, if eaten, act as a slow emetic, causing vomiting and sometimes death because of paralysis of the respiratory organs. The seeds are also poisonous to humans along with the large stems. The noted naturalist, E. Laurence Palmer, warns that "the berries are not edible and should be avoided at all times as food." Is that another way of saying, "Don't drink the wine?" I also live in a land of trees. I surrounded our home with white pine in the '70s and they are growing well. A short time ago, a forester dropped in to see my trees. He was really into trees and knew the scientific names of each of them. He was surprised to find that on my three acres I had an apple orchard, an extensive stand of butternut trees, along with the pines. I showed him my chestnut trees, which have grown to a great height since I planted them just a few years ago. We looked at the Douglas fir, the balsam, the blue spruce, the hemlocks and the poplar. The size of the maples in my sugar bush was a surprise to him because he came from where they never grew that tall. The bushes are another story. My favorite are the lilacs. The flaming bush gives us a good showing each year and the hardy Rhododendron blossoms burst out with red blossoms when the deer leave them alone. Other unnamed bushes add to my natural world. My life would be barren without my trees and bushes; I call them my good friends. What would we do without Mother Nature? Don Williams was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 A visit to the past no easy trip Today, a visit to the Adirondack hamlet of Griffin requires a bit of research and imagination. Located in the southern Adirondacks on Route 8, five miles from Wells, if you blink your eyes, you would miss it. The only remaining structure of note is the former Morgan Lumber Company boarding house/Girard Hotel building. A few old houses and the foundations of others are scattered throughout the growing wilderness. Fortunately, one-time owner, Frank Girard, the historian of Griffin, left us a manuscript of information on the once-thriving tanning/lumbering settlement on the East Branch of the Sacandaga River. In my estimation (IME), nothing beats the oral history from those who lived it and nothing beats first-hand information gathered on location. In the 1950s, I spent a day with Frank Girard pacing out the foundations of the Griffin tannery buildings to get an idea of their size. Sometimes old newspaper clippings survive to fill in historical details. They add to, and verify, oral history. Helen Buyce of Wells, my wife's aunt, who once worked at Griffin, shared an 1883 story from the Adirondack Herald, with me. Entitled "Griffin," it was written by "Maud" because "perhaps some of our readers of the Herald would be pleased to hear how our little hamlet is progressing." I love that thought. Griffin of 1883, according to Maud, had no fine church but "we have a school house where we can go and enjoy a good sermon every Sunday." (Try that today.) Written in June, the school was closed for a few weeks, so, Maud advised, "Now children, improve your playing time, so to be ready for work when school commences." Maud reported that storekeeper/postmaster Charley Griffin had returned from the city with a stock of new goods. The building of the Morgan Lumber Company's boarding house "is progressing finely." "Large loads of leather are leaving here every week," she noted, "showing the industry of the tannery men." Mr. Emery, owner, was in town looking after their tanning interests. The tanneries used hemlock bark to tan the hides and Griffin had one of the biggest tanneries in the country. Maud verified this with "Bark-peeling is in full blast, giving employment to about 150 men." She closed her Griffin report with, wouldn't you know, "Plenty of rain and musquitoes!" Other newspaper reports from the 1880s included bits of Griffin history. One reported a lady in Griffin had finished piecing a quilt containing 17,500 pieces. In April, the first wagon of the Spring went through Griffin and was driven by Dr. C.R. Blake. The spring roads were muddy from the winter snow and ice and had to dry to be passable. In June, Bradford Fountain and his wife came to Griffin to "keep shanty in the bark woods this season."In April, John G. Hosley finished filling his ice house in Griffin with solid blue ice, twenty inches thick after taking off several inches of snow and ice. An historical note for the tanneries was found in a March, 1885, newspaper. Three new boilers, each weighing 7,000 pounds, were loaded on log sleighs at Northville and drawn 23 miles to the Rice, Emery and Company Tannery at Griffin by one team of horses for each boiler. Frank Girard had reported that they kept the tannery running summer and winter and had six huge boilers. He believed that they were used for steam heat as well as power. The late Henry VanAvery of Mayfield, who was born in Griffin when it was Moon's Mill, shared his memories of the settlement. He remembered when Jud Straight missed the bridge with a wide wagon load of hides. The wagon caught on the river bank and the horses dropped into the rushing river gorge. He also knew that Clem Culver was the only river driver who could ride the logs through that Sacandaga gorge. The once-busy settlement of living, and leather, and lumber, at Griffin, now reverting back to Adirondack wilderness, is no more; all that remains is a vibrant history, that tells of man's relationship with those Adirondack forested lands, which, in many diverse ways, will continue to take care of us, if we take care of them. ------ Don Williams was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville. Friday, May 31, 2013 That ole-time music By DON WILLIAMS

Maybe it is time for me to re-invent myself as a great Adirondack singer. Apparently, my voice is changing and I'm going from a tone deaf, out-of-tune, bad pitch singer to a singer of note. The last time my voice changed the junior high school choir director asked me to just stand in the back row and move my lips. I have been known, over the years, much to the dismay of those around me, to sing, not good, but loud. I love the old church hymns and feel that they should be heard. And, that, it happens, is how I found out I have great potential as an Adirondack singer.

This summer, I was at a small, country church service where we were singing those ole-time hymns. When the service ended, the elderly lady in front of me, turned around and said, "I have been a music teacher all my life and you have the most beautiful baritone voice I have ever heard." So be it, I guess she must be right.

In my estimation, there are a lot of those old-time songs out there somewhere, waiting to be sung by someone with a "beautiful baritone voice." I often find hand-penciled copies of songs stuck in old books and hidden with some old Adirondack documents. Many, I suppose, were written by singer/song writers and sung while they were alive. It is the kind of music that has close connections to home and to life. They are somewhat personal and private, sung to family and friends. Here is a little ditty, without a title, that I found among my papers, apparently written by a musician from Mayfield, the southern Adirondack gateway town:

Mayfield will shine tonight! Mayfield will shine tonight!

Our band and Violin, they'll play so fine,

Our Girls and Boys tonight, filled with delight,

Here we toot a tune, we're surprised so soon,

Mayfield will shine tonight!

Now we know how someone felt, although it will probably not make it to the annual music awards.

Another untitled song, biographical, ink-written in fine penmanship on a yellowing sheet of old tablet paper, tells the story:

I'm a rambling wretch of poverty from Tippery Town I came.

It was poverty compelled me first to go out in the rain.

In all sorts of weather be it wet or be it dry, I'm bound to make my livelihood or lay me down and die.


Then combined to humble ditty from tavern to tavern steer, like every honest fellow I drink my lager beer, like every jolly fellow, I take my whiskey clear, I'm a rambling wretch of poverty and a son of a gambler.

Oh! I once was tall and handsome and was so very neat, they tho't that I was too good to live most good enough to eat, but now I'm old, my clothes all torn, and poverty holds me fast, I'm a rambling wretch of poverty and a son of a gambler.


Some of these old songs, written without titles or music, lend themselves to becoming today's rap music. Try some of this ditty:

A man shouldn't be alone on his dying day, that's the very words--they heard him say, he outlived his friends, and with family away, he would be alone on his dying day.

One remembered their old days in school, trying to live by the Golden Rule, even tho later they went astray, he had to be with him on his dying day.

And so it goes on for four more verses. In any event, save your money, I may soon be appearing at Carnegie Hall (Practice, practice, practice). Not really, it is not likely to happen anytime soon.

Friday, May 31, 2013
The trail to Rhinelander Adirondack historians, Anne Weaver and Beverly Hoffman, well-connected to our past, recently offered a trip to tour the remains of the great Rhinelander Estate in Speculator.

Over forty interested residents and visitors took advantage of this free venture into the Adirondack past.

Increasing interest in our past, especially with the young, is a welcomed sign.

Strong roots make for strong families and a strong nation.

Philip Rhinelander, Jr. might be called the founder of Speculator.

His goal was to develop his family's Adirondack holdings to create village where Speculator stands today.

It is a story of wealth, rumors of murder, ghosts, and unanswered questions, often the fate of other Adirondack tales.

The whole story would be grist for a great novel or movie.

The trail to the Adirondack estate of the wealthy Rhinelander family took us out the East Road past the Oak Mountain Ski Center.

The roadway becomes an Adirondack rustic, dirt road penetrating the thick woodlands.

Soon, the old, 56' by 69' foundation of the mansion appears along the road a short distance in the woods.

A 1981 Preliminary Architectural Survey of the property is available from the Historical Society for those who want to search out all of the outbuildings which supported the estate.

I have shared the Rhinelander story in the past, including a chapter in the "Inside the Adirondack Blueline" book.

Although the oral history and historic documents have supplied some story details, it has its mysteries and unanswered questions.

For example, we have to do some more research on the Rhinelander genealogy.

Why was Philip named Philip Rhinelander, Jr. if, as some sources reported, he is the son of William Rhinelander?

Sometimes an error creeps into the historic writings and it gets repeated.

The tragic life of Mary (Hoffman) Rhinelander may or may not be true to the oral history or rumors that circulated during their Speculator years.

Some say that she was a prisoner of her jealous husband in her own home.

The untimely death of those who got to talk to her raised suspicions.

And her own early death was attributed to possible poisoning.

In any event, the eventually abandoned mansion was supposedly haunted until it was burned to the ground. (Are the ghosts still on the site?)

The Rhinelander days in the Adirondacks ended in 1823.

We can only speculate on what would have been developed in Speculator had Mary lived and Philip had continued his dream of creating a model community and his big baronial estate.

The Rhinelander legacy lived on, somewhat, in lands that the Rhinelander daughter, Mary, gave to the school district in 1830.

Other remaining lands were sold off, this removing forever, the Rhinelander connection.

Today, however, we still raise up the Rhinelander name as part of that Adirondack patchwork of history.

Note: When I get a "round tuit" I will search out more of the Rhinelander story and add it to the record of the Adirondack past.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Adirondack Old Home Days Celebrations abound in the Adirondacks in the summertime in many of the hamlets. They have long histories of the settlers coming to tame the Adirondack wilderness, and once established, the eventual celebration of the settlements and their forefathers. Efforts to remember the roots of the places where people gathered result in celebrating and ceremonalizing the past. Parades, beauty pageants, reenactments, athletic events, marketplaces, craft shows, and historic displays become common to these events. And so it has been since the inception of "Old Home Days."

The Adirondack hamlet of Wells on the Adirondack Trail celebrated their 60th year of an Old Home Day celebration in 2010. The observance of "Old Home Day" began in 1950 with the closing of Main Street in front of the hotel to allow for dancing with Zack Ponzi's Western Aces. (page 54 in my ALONG THE ADIRONDACK TRAIL book) among other games and events.

Someone raised the question of why the celebrations were called "Old Home Days." It is not a new question. The Reverend John F. Thompson, a Methodist preacher, wrestled with that question in 1922. He was traveling back to his old hometown, Mayfield, for their Old Home Day celebration. Mayfield had started Old Home Days (now the Bannertown Fair) in 1919 to welcome home their World War I Veterans.

After experiencing the day, the Reverend Thompson came to realize what constituted an Old Home Day. It was "not the sqwakers and balloons sold to the children, not the Coney Island Clam Chowder, not the bands, not the parade or fireworks, the dancing, the rides or the food." To him, Old Home Day was a day to return home with "the central part of being home again is the fact and quality of the home folks," he concluded.

Providing the opportunity for hometown folks to reacquaint themselves with each other and with their hometowns, and to reminiscence about those good ole hometown days is what makes an Old Home Day Celebration. The Reverend Thompson expressed it well: Old Home Day is the time to go home again.

Old Home Days raise up memories of the past. In Wells, a "Pickleville" flower arrangement, including pickles, needed explaining. The "Pickleville Cloggers" in the parade added to the question, what is it with this Pickleville? My old 1871 map, that I had on display, included "Pickleville." It was once a name for part of Wells when they raised hundreds of cucumbers on the flats where Lake Algonquin now resides. Those cucumbers filled the pickle barrels and buyers came from miles around to get those good Adirondack pickles. Where else would you go but to "Pickleville?"

The old school gym at the Wells Old Home Day was dedicated to the crafts and historic exhibits. From where I sat, I could observe the spinners and weavers with their wheels and looms. Another artist was creating a picture and the chair canner was replacing the seats in antique chairs. Adirondack rustic furniture featured the longtime practice of using native woods to create chairs and tables. And my extensive collection of Adirondackia from the past connected hundreds to their memories and stories of the old days.

Old Home Days are not complete without a wide menu selection and food booths dotted the village green with over a dozen of choices. Vendors encircled the grounds with their wares and the games and rides filled the empty lot where the old Wells School once stood. Music, dancing and fireworks rounded out the celebration. The hundreds who attended had enjoyed the lengthy parade of floats, bands, fire trucks, unique cars and trucks, horses, and dozens of the past Miss Old Home Day Queens. Much the same is included in the summer events throughout the Adirondacks. Nothing brings people together for a positive, enjoyable experience like a well-organized Old Home Day. May the Old Home Days live on in the Adirondacks!
Friday, May 31, 2013
Publication explains the 'North Woods' geology By DON WILLIAMS

There is something about searching through an old publication and finding some significant bits of information about the Adirondacks that adds to our knowledge of New York's unique mountainous country. It was my lucky day; I found an early 1900s publication, DESCRIPTIVE HISTORICAL INDUSTRIAL REVIEW OF NEW YORK, in a local antique store. Who would have thought that it had an Adirondack section-and it did.

Written around 1910, the publication carefully explained the Adirondack region. (It was not too long ago when a reporter described the Adirondacks as a "small mountain range near Lake Placid;" renewing the Adirondack geography for those who are following us is not a bad practice.) The old book explained, "The Adirondack Mountain region-familiarly known as the 'North Woods'-is comprised of between ten and twelve thousand square miles of wooded mountainous country, stretching from the St. Lawrence to the Mohawk, and from the Upper Hudson and the Lake Champlain system to the valley of the Black River." It went on to tell of "myriad lakes of all sizes," and an "intricate network of creeks and rivers abounding in fish and game." Not a bad description!

The century-old article on the Adirondack Mountains spoke of them as rough wild country. The eastern high peak country was considered the roughest and it was much the same continuing west through Hamilton, Franklin and other nearby counties. The "rough" country also continued east "to Lake Champlain and Lake George giving them massive jutting headlands, irregular shores, and receding coves and bays as their chief characteristics."

The Adirondacks of the early 1900s were the source of major mineral deposits. Vast deposits of iron ore, some of which had not been developed, were located in several Adirondack counties. Brick-making clay, garnet, graphite, pyrite, slate, and granite deposits were being exploited in various counties, according to the report. "Limestone, sandstone, and trap were also quarried extensively in all parts of the Adirondacks, and marble quarries enjoyed a brisk trade." Talc, lead, and zinc deposits were also listed in the Adirondack report. More than 4000 claims were filed for gold and silver mines in 1898 but the returns were insignificant.

Fishing was one of the main attractions of the early Adirondacks. "The North Woods have long borne the reputation of the Anglers Paradise." Brook and lake trout were found in abundance along with pike, bass, whitefish, and landlocked salmon. Temporary camping was permitted on State lands without a permit but wooden buildings were prohibited at that time in Adirondack history. Unnecessary campfires were forbidden because of the danger of forest fires which were occurring during the early 1900s.

And, the major issue of that day is still with us. "Many discussions and controversies have arisen over the conservation of the forests and the water supply of the Adirondacks." Great reservoirs were proposed but were opposed because "this would leave sufficient damp and unhealthy shore line exposed at times of low water to affect the dry healthful atmosphere of the region."

The old volume contains much more than I could share here; it has lengthy sections on the mountains and lakes along with stories of the settlements. For example, in a section on Saranac Lake, it tells of the large Ice Palace constructed for the Winter Carnival each year, the modern business buildings, hotels and luxurious homes found in the community. It, according to their research, has become "truly modern." It has, "acquired prominence in the eyes of the world" because of its health center. And, some two dozen vintage photographs illustrate the Adirondack descriptive story. In my estimation, the rare Adirondack literature, with its single bits of vivid information, can bring us endless joy.


Don Williams was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Reminiscing on the 'good ole days' in the Adirondacks In my estimation, there is no Adirondack topic that relates more to most of us than memories of the "good ole days." Our age group had the advantages of growing up in the homespun days, of sorts, and of moving on into modern times. From outhouse to indoor plumbing, from hand-washing and clothes lines to automatic washers and dryers, from kerosene lamps to electric light bulbs, from home-preservation of food to vast supermarket offerings, from crystal radios to TVs and computers, from hunting, fishing and trapping to massive meat production, and from the wood cook stove to central heating and kitchen ranges, you might say that we have a foot in each world. Some pine for the good ole days and some welcome the modern conveniences.

Adirondack mothers once made most meals from "scratch." Flour and sugar were purchased in 25-pound bags and dumped in the pantry bins in my early days. We had a good, usually hot, breakfast every day. Mealtime was family time and we ate together. And, homemade desserts: pies, cakes, ice cream, and cookies were routine additions to our "sufficient" meals. (One of my uncles always finished his meal by pushing his chair back from the table and announcing, "that was sufficient." He lived eight decades.)

My grandchildren enjoyed making some ice cream in the old wooden, hand-turned, ice cream freezer as they grew up, much as we did throughout the Adirondack winters. Now older, they choose to continue the practice this year. Turning the crank in 20-minute shifts, it did not take long to create a container of scrumptious, French vanilla ice cream. Topped with grandma's homemade hot fudge, served in antique hot fudge Sunday dishes from an old drug store, it became an activity from the "good ole days" and took us all back in time.

"The day the root beer blew up in the cellar" is a story often duplicated in the Adirondack homes of yesteryear. Small bottles of root beer extract were sold at the general store, and when combined with yeast, produced good, homemade root beer. Unfortunately, tightly sealing it in bottles often led to the production of gas and the associated explosion.

Food memories are often our strongest memories; smell and taste provide strong associations. I remember the doughnuts that were fried in the lard from our pigs. Potatoes from the cellar storage bins were also fried in the lard. Dad sliced them into French fries and wrapped them in big, white, Turkish towels to keep them from turning black before he dropped them into the hot grease. I remember the molasses cookies that were aged overnight in the cellar way before baking, and the fresh cottage (pot) cheese hot off the stove. Head cheese pressed by jacks in the cellar and sauerkraut from the big, earthen jars, added spice to our diets.

Pork cake and johnny cake were the "fast foods" of their day, baked ahead they made a quick meal. My life would have been incomplete if I grew up without the jams, jellies, and relishes, that were canned yearly and available to eat year-round. And every Adirondack home enjoyed all the products of the maple sap, tapped from the maple trees each spring.

I remember when Sunday was the Sabbath Day. It had special rules; we went to church in our church clothes, returned home and changed, and stayed at home for the remainder of the day. We often popped popcorn in a pan on the kitchen stove or ate ice cream around the parlor stove. Blue laws were in effect and stores were closed on Sundays. My mother shared a story from her childhood that she remembered for life. When her father caught her playing cards with her cousins on a Sunday afternoon, he quietly gathered up the playing cards and burned them in the kitchen stove.

When we take time to look back and contemplate our early days we can say, "Thanks for the memories!"
Friday, May 31, 2013
Wash day is important day inside the Adirondack Blueline I retired my "outhouse" collection to one of our large upstairs bathrooms over the Christmas holidays to make room in our living room for the Christmas tree. In my estimation, it was an appropriate location for the collection. The exhibit took up the Lee Fountain octagon rustic table and the surrounding area. It included three outhouse (privies) models, five thunder jugs (under bed potties), the traditional catalogs and corn cobs, a rare outhouse seat cover, a slop pail, a child's potty chair, and a varnished bedside commode. It was time to change the collection so we would have something different to enjoy.

"Washday" came to mind and I decided to pull together my washday collection. Washday, usually on Monday, was an important day in the life of the Adirondack households. There is a good photograph of an Adirondack washday in one of my books that I shared with the Adirondack Museum for them to use in their washday exhibit. The photograph shows mother and one of the children washing the clothes with the washtubs, the kettles used to heat the water, the old wringer washing machine with its hand-turned wheel, and the clothes basket. The small child is actually using the wooden tongs to stir the clothes in the rinse water. And the entire operation is taking place outside.

I found more washday memorabilia in my collection than I thought I had accumulated over the years. My interest in wooden tools contributed to the many examples of washday equipment I found in our Adirondack homes. The biggest piece of realia in the collection is a bench wringer with the rollers for squeezing the water out of the clothes. It has two drop-down racks, called wash benches, to hold a washtub on each side of the wringer. There is a large crank used to turn the clothes through the rubber rollers, taking the clothes from the wet tub to the dry tub.

Large galvanized tubs were used to hold the family's clothes on wash day. I have one of the originals as well as a smaller version for display. The tubs were filled with hot water from the kitchen wood stove or the backyard kettles. A pair of wooden tongs and a forked stick in the collection were used to move the clothes in and out of the tubs.

A couple bars of Fels-Naptha soap provided the suds although my mother, and others, usually used homemade soap. A wooden clothes line reel wound with a clothes line rope and a bag of clothes pins became the "clothes dryer." A wooden drying rack was used in the house or on the porch. Curtain stretchers helped to dry the curtains and to keep them in the right shape and size.

Ironing the clothes called for the use of flatirons and sad irons, a name for solid flatirons. They were heated on the kitchen stove and used to smooth out or press the clothes. Each flatiron had a flat face and they evolved over the years from solid pieces of iron with an iron handle to irons with wooden handles and on to sad irons with removable handles. Ironing boards were made of wood and included the full size one and a smaller one for shirts.

Related tools for washday might include a bellows to keep a hot fire going for the water, especially under the outside kettles. A yoke was useful for carrying the buckets of water from the kitchen to the tubs and washboards came into use for scrubbing the dirt out of the clothes. I have an original wooden washboard, possibly from the Edinburgh factory, and one of the later glass ones. They were also made with galvanized iron.

Washday was a labor-intensive time for the Adirondack families. In spite of having all of these washday tools, it was hard work to do the family wash. Wood had to be chopped for the fires, water had to be heated and moved, clothes had to be soaked and moved, squeezed through the rollers, hung up on the clothesline to day, and ironed. It was an all day event or more in most homes. In my estimation, washday, with today's washers and dryers, "ain't what it used to be!"
Friday, May 31, 2013
Adirondack flax a miracle crop Sometimes it is difficult for us to envision the Adirondack wilderness as "farming" country. There was a day when tis true. In fact, without some of the old census and personal records of our predecessors, we would have little knowledge of the scope of agriculture pursuits in the Adirondacks. In my estimation, it is nothing short of amazing what the Adirondack settlers accomplished, especially without the tools and equipment that we have today.

Dairy farms, sheep farms, horse farms, chicken farms, and gardens of all kinds could be found throughout the Adirondacks. Lands were laboriously cleared, fences built, and farm products produced for the needs of that day. Food, cloth, and building materials came from Adirondack country to build our nation's communities.

One of the products grown and used by the Adirondackers was flax. To me, it is a miracle crop. How does a field of grasses turn into fine linen cloth? The old-timers knew how to do it; the use of flax for cloth goes back five centuries, some say even to the Stone Age. The strong and versatile material came to us in 1626 and by 1845 the Adirondack counties were into producing flax on a regular basis.

The 1845 census recorded some eight acres of flax in Hamilton County producing 863 pounds. Fulton County had 503 acres with over 50,000 pounds produced. Essex reported 45 acres with 7,400 pounds. Franklin County had 60 acres with over 9,000 pounds and Clinton had 28 acres with 4,300 pounds of flax produced. St. Lawrence County, in and out of the Blueline, had a whopping 292 acres with over 40,500 pounds produced. Lewis and Saratoga counties also reported big harvests with 85,300 and 30,600 pounds, respectively. Oneida, also a great producer of flax had over 38,000 pounds in 1845. Warren County came up with 7,000 pounds while Washington had over 149,500 pounds. Herkimer came in with 52,000 pounds that year.

Do the math, and you can see that Adirondack country was good flax country. It was a time when cloth was needed by the settlers and others for much of their daily living.

In my Adirondack tool collection I have a hand-hewed flax brake from the Abe Houseman farm near Northville. It is a beauty; I love it. I also have some hatchels and a swingling stick; they are the tools of turning the grasses of the fields into that fine linen and the burlap used in the Adirondack homes of yesteryears.

Linen making is labor intensive; some say it takes forty steps. Briefly, once planted and grown, the flax is pulled up by hand, dried in the field, the seeds combed or rippled off (for linseed oil), the stalks put in moving water (it kills the fish in the ponds), for retting or rotting, beat on the flax brake to break the stalks off the fiber, beat again with the wooden swingling stick against a upright board, and then heckled through the hatchel of sharp nails. Waste products were used for tow rope, tow sacks or burlap, work cloth, and also used for fire starters. "Tow heads" and "flaxen hair maidens" were named after the flax process. A spinning wheel was used to make the, now soft as hair, fibers into linen thread. A "distaff" made of a tree branch was used to hold the fiber on the wheel, hence, women became known as the "distaff" side of the family.

Those who wish to see how processing flax is done can visit the Farmers Museum at Cooperstown. They grow the flax with its little blue flowers and demonstrate the tools used to complete the process from flax to linen. On the early farms it was an activity that involved the entire family-mom, dad, and the children. Together they produced a great product from their labors. It is hard to imagine that bed linens, curtains, towels, and clothes could come from a grass grown on the Adirondack farms. The tough linen cloth also served our country; it was used to cover the wings of the airplanes during World War I.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Commuter camping continues Oh, woe is me; I'm still a commuter camper. When I wrote my previous tale of tragedy with that used camper I bought, I ended with "I'm good to go!" T'was true at that moment but trouble is still following that pathetic roofed phaeton.

We planned a big camping trip to fulfill some of my Adirondack obligations. I had to join the other Adirondack writers at Hoss's Store in Long Lake for their annual authors' night. The plan was to join in and sell my Adirondack books at that gathering, and then, at the end of the evening when night had fallen, we were to head for Warrensburg to appear at our church camp on Lake Sherman the next day. I was scheduled to tell "Tools and Tales of the Adirondacks" to the campers during the afternoon and evening. We could sleep in the camper wherever fatigue overtook us.

Finally, if you remember, the camper had its new brakes, its new battery, its new electrical system, and had passed inspection. The new bathroom and storage unit were installed; we were ready to roll. It is a beautiful vehicle with its leather upholstery and wood paneled walls; in some ways its fine condition belies the troubles that crop up underneath. Maybe, just maybe, it is a good example of "Never judge a book by its cover!"

The day broke bright and sunny, a good omen, and we loaded up and took off for a pleasant trip to Adirondack country. In my estimation, nothing is finer than a trip through the Adirondack mountains and forests on a sunny summer day. That's when it happened! We were some forty miles from home, approaching Mason Lake on The Adirondack Trail (Route 30), when my wife exclaimed, "There it goes!" We heard a loud crash and, looking in her side view mirror, she saw the heat shield from the catalytic convertor flying down the highway behind us.

There was another loud crash and that dreaded sound of something dragging on the macadam highway. I pulled over and got out to assess the damage. The entire rusty exhaust system was hanging down on the road. There was no way I could continue. Not having a coat hanger with me to tie up the system, I took out my plastic camp clothesline and wrapped it around the exhaust pipes and tied them up.

Not wanting to get caught somewhere in the middle of the night, I turned around and headed for home. I stopped in Speculator and the kind owner of the auto parts store came out and told me I was good to continue on to Gloversville with the rope holding things together.

And, the final insult, wouldn't you know it, that exhaust system was only made that one year for that vehicle and a new one would cost some $1500. Luckily, my capable auto service team was able to "manufacture" a less-expensive replacement. NOW, I am good to go-we will see. I used the vehicle to attend the Outdoorsman Show and, other than a squeak in the motor, everything worked OK. (Is that squeak trying to tell me something?)

Again, that Adirondack trip turned out to be another commuter camping trip. We took the "baby jeep" to fulfill the obligation at the authors' night and returned home after the show. The next day we made the trip to the church camp, returning home after the campfire, totally foregoing any overnight camping. Driving the Adirondack roads at night can be somewhat exciting. You never know what creature of the woods is going to decide to cross the road in front of you or dash off behind the guide rails. We have seen the slow-moving skunks who die on the highways in large numbers, the main cause of skunk deaths. There is always a deer or two or more. Fox and coyotes are on the increase. We are still waiting for a moose. In any event, I am tired of commuter camping; it is a tale I am tired of telling.
Friday, May 31, 2013
Build a log cabin to relieve stress Some 20 years ago I built a log cabin the old way. It was a group effort; we were learning how to build a cabin from nationally known log cabin builder, Peter Gott. The cabin building project was sponsored by the Adirondack Lakes Center for the Arts in Blue Mountain Lake. The experience resurfaced in my memory this month when Peter Lewis of Amsterdam, another member of our building group, kindly presented me with an album of photographs taken on the building site.

It is good to raise up happy memories from the past; it sometimes wards off the stress so rampant in our world today. Building the log cabin came at a good time in my life. I had just retired from my thirty-five years as an educator and was finding time to join in what the Adirondacks had to offer. Log cabins were the first homes of our Adirondack ancestors and I wished to gain some appreciation of what they faced when they chose to settle in the Adirondack wilds. Fashioning those dovetail corners or saddle connections was not as easy as it might look. And of course, chain saws and other power tools were unknown in those early days.

Cabin builder Peter Gott knew his business well. He had arranged with a local lumber company to deliver the logs to the Blue Mountain Lake site ahead of time. It was our job, fifteen of us, to take that pile of logs and turn them into a log cabin in a week. Early Adirondack settlers did not have this advantage; they had to cut their own trees and make-do with what help they could get from friends and neighbors.

How the logs were put together depended on the builder. There is more than one way to fashion the interlocking corners of a cabin and it is an art to carve out each one. Sometimes the choice of building style depended on the old-country roots of the settlers.

Logs had to be peeled with a spud and a drawknife. The proper length of each log was accomplished with the two-man crosscut saw. Chisels and mallets were put into play like we were talented sculptors. It was work, work, work, from morning to night, but, as the cabin took shape, we loved it. There is nothing more satisfying than to see a goal develop right before your eyes.

The work in building a log cabin was not only tied to the actual construction. The tools needed special attention and care. Another whole learning. Sharpening tools during the evening became part of our chores. They say "a man is only as good as his tools" and, in this case, tis true. Each tool had a purpose and needed to be clean and sharp to guarantee a clean cut and accurate fit. And, a good tool certainly makes the work easier for the builder.

All work and no play would make any task less bearable, so we had our lighter moments. The guitars came out and we gathered around the campfire on occasion to join in songs and stories. Storyteller/singer Bill Smith arrived on the scene and, along with Peter Gott, we had the best in Adirondack music. What more could you ask for-a starry Adirondack night, a warm campfire, good friends, and the music of the mountains.

After we passed the midpoint of building a log cabin the old way, Peter brought out the chain saws. The care and use of modern tools in the construction of a log cabin became another learning for us. It speeded up the work and reduced our individual "muscle effort."

The log cabin project was a fund raiser for the Center and the cabin was auctioned off to be reconstructed on another site. I have often wondered where our cabin ended up and how much it might be enjoyed by its owner. We certainly enjoyed the building of our Adirondack log cabin. Maybe, just maybe, someday I will take my ax, like Thoreau, and take to the woods to build my own cabin of logs.


Don Williams was born and raised in the Adirondacks. He is a retired Gloversville school principal and magazine author. He lives in Gloversville.
Thursday, May 30, 2013