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What a difference 50 years makes

March 27, 2010
By HOWARD RILEY, hjriley@adelphia.net

The aging process, at least in my life, makes the past seem like yesterday, such as the 1980 Olympic Winter Games in Lake Placid. But the distant past, such as telling about going to work at The Enterprise in 1951, seems as though I'm talking about someone else.

There certainly are a lot of people around this area who remember a lot about the past, judging by the many questions and comments about the columns I write from the old phone books.

And not just the old columns. In any column, if there is an error you can bet on it someone is going to tell me about it. Case in point on March 13 in this space there was a picture of my niece, Lisa Riley Littlefield Gillis, her husband Rob and their two children, Libby and Riley. The caption incorrectly stated that Libby and Riley were my niece and nephew but should have read my grandniece and grandnephew. Don Brown at the Olympic Center was the first one who asked me to clarify that one and that gives me a chance to give credit to Rick Godin for the photo.

Article Photos

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The 1956-57 Telephone Book

It does seem strange now, but there were three places advertising under this heading - "FUR BUSINESS - RETAIL - Edelbergs Furs, 13 Broadway, and F. H. Russ, furrier, 58 Main St., Saranac Lake and Sterling Furs, Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid. I have just read that there are more fur sales this year than there have been in decades. Trapping was a big business in Saranac Lake into the '50s.

Then there was the Fir Farm Florist, a different kind of fir, operated by Ken and Julia Norton at 7 South St. I worked there one summer when it was Horton's Greenhouse.

Mrs. Thomas Maynard had a Florist Shop at 21 Lake St. in Tupper Lake. F.J. Politi operated the Adirondack Gardens, a Florist business located at 99 Main St. in Lake Placid, and the Wolff's Flower Shop was at 11 Academy St. in Saranac Lake.

There was only one listing under "ENTERTAINMENT" Old McDonald's Farm advertised square dancing, hay rides and barbecues. It was located on Saranac Avenue in Lake Placid, and my sister, Theresa "Tiger Tess" Riley Gates worked there as a teenager and there is another famous Riley our esteemed Assemblywoman Teresa (without the h) Riley Sayward.

How about the listings under "DEPARTMENT STORES":

The National Army stores - one in Tupper Lake at 118 Park and one in Saranac Lake at 71 Broadway - weren't they great places to shop?

You couldn't beat Ginsberg's Department Store in Tupper Lake; it was so elegant. Anyone need a role model? How about Muriel Ginsberg, 100 and beautiful and always out and about You go, girl, as they say and who could forget Elzear Madore, who was as much a fixture there as the Ginsberg sign over the door?

Sears Roebuck had a Catalogue Store at 122 Park and Montgomery Ward had a store at 48 Broadway in Saranac Lake and did you ever meet anyone as fast and efficient as the manager, Edith Flagg? In Lake Placid, the Ben Franklin Stores were located at 107 Main.

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Need an ambulance?

Clark's Funeral Directors at 27 Saranac Ave. advertised ambulance service, "local and long distance, custom built Cadillac Ambulance equipped with oxygen, 24 hour service." There was also Adams Ambulance Service, and the address given was simply the Wilmington Road. Richer Funeral Home in Tupper Lake also advertised under ambulance service.

Now here's a good one Saranac Lake also had an ambulance service back then. The TB Society purchased and owned a legitimate, factory-produced Ford ambulance with a big red light on the roof, and it was kept inside at Smith's Garage down the alley behind where Pink is located today.

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Could we get an?EMT here???

Now contrast the following story with what is going on today with the Saranac Lake Rescue Squad trying to find EMTs or paramedics to retain their certification. In my opinion, they are the best trained guys and girls in the North Country, with the best equipment, but the red tape and the insurance bureaucracy is giving them a devil of a time.

Tony Anderson, the long-serving mayor of Saranac Lake and manager of the Pontiac Theater (who came to SL with TB), drove the ambulance for the Society. The calls for an ambulance went directly to the theater (I don't know where the calls went when the theater closed for the night), and my friend Kerry Kelly was an usher there. When a call would come in, Tony would grab the nearest usher, and sometimes it would be Kelly. They would run to the garage, and the two of them would get to the address of the sick or injured person, load them on a stretcher and bring them to the hospital. Kerry was a teenager at the time and didn't even know first-aid. Tony was not a strong guy, having been sick and all, but that is how the rescue service worked back then. Many accident victims were brought to the hospital in the police car or a taxi.

My, my, how things have changed.

 
 

 

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