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Back to the future

January 10, 2009
By Howard Riley,

There is no greater reward (except the incredible money involved) in writing a weekly column than the response from readers. It may have been said here before, but the columns from the old police blotters are the ones that readers seem to love the most.

Often Mike Nicola, the restaurant czar of Lake Placid, has told me how much he enjoys the column. Then he said that he and Jim LaFountain and Peter Sellers, all of whom I have spent many happy hours with, were discussing the last week's where the police went in to a house to "quiet down a drunk" and then went so far as to call a doctor who also went to the house and "gave him an injection to quiet his nerves."

Too much to drink can really make a fellow nervous. Mike and Peter were employees of Jim's when he owned the Birches and they were students at Paul Smith's College.

Article Photos

New York state’s finest, State Police from Troop B were pictured in the 1993 troopers calendar with this caption: “Adirondack Lake Patrol, 1937.”
(Image provided)

Peter Sellers, with the late Luke Patnode, make a great publicity film for Essex County 30 years ago with me and Sam, Peter and Madeline's daughter, as the stars. They sensibly gave me no speaking part but I was shot (with the camera, that is,) as an ageless person who lived in the castle at the top of Whiteface Mountain directing Sam (who had found a magic ring in a box in the woods) to all the wonderful attractions in Essex County.

I promise to show that film on cable public access television this winter. Many times I have shown it to friends who cannot believe what existed here in 1979 and are amazed at how well the film was donemy outfit was actually Madeline's red, hooded bathrobe.

Mike is going to get the four of us together to record some other local history including the John Swaim years at the Lake Placid Club.

So here, "for the boys in the back room," are more stories from the police blotter.


Officer Brown renders diagnosis

6:40 p.m. December 23, 1936 - "Mrs. John Doe, Santanoni Avenue, reports that her husband has threatened her and Dr. Plank because of a failure in health. Says he blames her of same. He is now at Dr. Plank's residence at 108 Main Street awaiting the doctor's return. She's afraid he might cause the doctor bodily harm. Investigated and found her husband standing on the walk leading to Dr. Plank's office. He later disappeared about 7:05 p.m. At the time he was carrying a stick or cane. His car was parked on Church Street, a 1936 Ford V-8 Coupe, registration F 38-89. Car was still there when he disappeared. (The plot thickens)

"Dr. Plank is staying in Lake Placid for the night and Mrs. Doe is at Dr. Leech's home on Johnson Road. Mr. Doe does not know the whereabouts of either party. If found snooping around check him. Possibly gone out of his head." Officer Brown.


Were the Sopranos here?

Officer Brown had another bizarre blotter entry on New Year's Eve, 1936 - "Jack Helmer, 92 Lake Flower Avenue, reports that he found his dog poisoned on the lawn at 64 Lake Flower Avenue. Claims he found a small pig's head near the dog. Believes it was doped up with poison of some kind. Helmer suspected that the person or persons responsible for poisoning his dog, lives in the vicinity of Merrill's Avenue, Santanoni Avenue and Lake Flower Avenue. Helmer took his dog and the pig's head to the incinerator." Officer Brown


Telephone slugs

December 10, 1930 - "On complaint from Howard Godson, manager of the New York Telephone Corporation, brought to police station one John Doe, staying at 87 Broadway. Was suspected of using lead .25 slugs in the phone booths at the Alpine Hotel on several occasions. He was calling phone 39678 Albany New York residence, phone listed to Miss Jane Doe (no relation). This house is of questionable character. Was unable to find any slugs on his person. He also denied ever using any of the above." Chief


Abrupt conculsion

December 12, 1930 - "Complaint from Mrs. Carfremte, a nurse, living in the Supply Block Building, of a police dog in the rear that is tied and barks continually. Owner of same is some Frenchman. Investigated by Officer Jones who notified the above to take dog or the authorities would. They did."



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