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Toeing the line at LPC

January 8, 2011
By HOWARD RILEY

I received a nice note from my friend Brad Winchester MacDowell (and with his many a.k.a's, I prefer "Eddie the Plant"), a moniker planted on him when he was in the jungles of Vietnam. Apparently he was in charge of some agricultural program. However, the note he mailed sometime last July arrived only this week not through the fault of the post office, I hasten to add.

When Eddie came back from the war he worked in Alaska for a time and I so wish I had saved the letters he sent from there. In any event we ended up working together at the Lake Placid Club under the reign of John Swain and so we have many stories to share about that. Now, "Eggplant," oops, there goes another a.k.a, has sent me am original copy of the page from a Club manual entitled "Standards for Employes - Simpler Spelling."

The Lake Placid Club was founded by Melvil Dewey (his birth name was Melville Louis Kossuth Dewey) and as he attempted to reform the English language he also attempted to change Dewey to Dui but that did not work out. He looked down his nose at everybody, did not have many friends and now the latest bios on the old boy claims he had a "persistent problem with women"

Article Photos

The biggest meeting space in the region was the LPC Agora Theatre-Auditorium, which could seat 850 people for a conference. It had a fully equipped stage, projection booth, public address system and pipe organ. With all the “breakout” rooms the Club had almost 20,000 square feet of meeting space.
(Photo from a 1940’s Club advertising brochure)

- and I let the reader figure out what that infers.

So here are the standards for employes:

"We ar delujed with applications for both summer and winter engajements. From them, we try hard to select those who wil best fit our peculiar conditions. As we ar open all the year, we hold many of our staf and so hav to employ for summer and winter midseason only enuf to care for the extra gests then here.

"We lay great stress on the fact that our staf is a big family with relations very different from those in resorts and hotels. This makes it doubly important to select from the mas of applicants those who will sympathize with the unusual standards which the club trys hard to maintain. Unless forced to do so from inability to find enuf workers for some emerjency, we will not employ those who use tobacco, or who ar profane, vulgar, dirty or lazy, any more than we would those known to be dishonest. Employes found to have these vices, we drop first, and retain those whose habits suit our surroundings. Applicants must be honest, earnest and willing to do their part toward Club success according to its plan. For mere manual labor, digging ditches, sawing woods, etc., we sometimes have to employ others, but we wil not hav about the Club or in our permanent employ any whom investigation shows to be unworthy.

"Placid is so preeminent in climate, skools, senery, libraries, churches and so thousands each year think they would like to work in the most attractive place on the continent. On our side, we ar always glad to make a place for anyone very specially adapted to our needs and to drop the poorest of those on our staf, which runs from 300 in dul times to 900 at hyt of summer."

Obviously, the above paragraphs are verbatim, but here are a few excerpts from this obnoxious publication:

"One who disregards or violates Club rules, specially one who comes with the spirit of the beggar, showing by his manner that his purpose is to solicit tips, is sure to be dropped from our roll and sent home discredited."

Then talking more about the tips given by welthy guests:

"This is purely voluntary, but in fact each year many of our yung people working their way thru collej get very substantial aid from those voluntary gifts bestowd in a delytful spirit of friendly interest instead of being given like alms to a beggar."

Eddie found this page inside a 1932 cook book that belonged to his aunt, June MacDowell Strack. Upon close examination it appears tho, (gee, that new spelling is catching on) that the rule book was from sometime before 1932.

Dewey was born to a poor family in Adams Center. He was considered a genius when he created the Dewey Decimal system for libraries when he was still a student at Amherst College in Massachusetts.

So thank you Eddie, and I agree with the last paragraph in your note, "Glad we weren't working under those - expletive deleted!"

 
 

 

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