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The first Canaras

February 19, 2011

The Saranac Lake High School class of 1926 published the first yearbook with the title "Canaras," which you all should know by now is simply "Saranac" spelled backwards.

The yearbook I have in hand is in very good condition, given to me by my nephew and niece, Rick and Kelly Gates (and their beautiful daughter, Lake). They recently purchased the former "Artic Cream" property in Ray Brook and have opened Autopros (cars under $10,000) and how many of us remember that site when the parking lot was full every summer night the soft ice cream was delicious, the baby cones were free and the sundaes were 50 cents.

The Gates' held an auction a few weeks ago of items they recovered as they go through the process of remodeling the main house which will become their home. They have graciously donated this first Canaras to Historic Saranac Lake (the Saranac Lake Free Library already has a copy) where it will be on display in their headquarters at the authentically restored Trudeau Laboratory at 89 Church St.

Article Photos

The idea for the name Canaras has been credited over the years to senior Laurance LaVallee, father of Pat LaVallee Branch, Sue LaVallee Arnold and the man we all remember with such fondness, Msgr. William LaVallee.

There were 39 graduates in the class of 1926, the first class to graduate from Petrova High School on Petrova Avenue. It is amazing, at least to me that 22 years later my graduating class of 1948 had doubled in size since 1926 adding exactly 39 students to 78 in the senior class.

Now, there is a strange twist to these graduating numbers because only four years earlier the Class of 1944 boasted a very big class of 107 seniors. Maybe it has something to do with the birth rate in different decades but it does seem unusual those four years apart could shrink a class in this small town by 29 students.

So add this number to that strange twist - this year the Saranac Lake Central School has a graduating class of 123. In 1944 the population of Saranac Lake was pushing 10,000 (counting all the tuberculosis patients) and now with the population less than 6,000 we have a bigger graduating class?


More about 1926

Here was the foreword in that first Canaras:

"We, the class of '26 of Saranac Lake High School, publish this first number of Canaras that it may perpetuate in our hearts and memory of high school days and friends." Simple and elegant.

A random faculty listing included: Miss Elizabeth Carey, French; Miss Elizabeth Downing, Spanish; Miss Jessie Auringer, Latin; Mrs. Sara Carr, Drawing; Miss Emily Russet, Penmanship; Miss Antionette Dutcher, Librarian and Public Speaking and Mr. John Rusterholtz, Science and Band.

Teachers I remember who were still there in 1948 were: Mrs. Walter Duffy, (mother of Patricia, Maggie, Theresa and Walter) Music; Miss Elizabeth DeLisle, Commercial; Miss Esther Mirick, Secretary; Miss Margaret Seymour, Principal Junior High School and, of course, Howard V. Littell, Superintendent of Schools.

There were 32 faculty members in 1926; Only seven were men, two were shop teachers and one was "Physical Training." In 1944 there were still 32 faculty members but the male teachers had increased to 10.


Diversity in advertisements

In addition to many local advertisers in the yearbook there were also these:

Syracuse Supply Company was advertising motors and generators and radio apparatus; Albany Business College, 83 North Pearl St., Albany; Pruefer Clarinets (special prices to school bands) located at 185 Union Street, Providence, RI; Brayton & Co., Inc. Utica provided hotel and restaurant supplies; O'Shea Knitting Mills, Chicago, IL supplied knitted athletic wear "for every sport" and the Brandow Printing Company of Albany published college and high school "annuals."

There are only two local businesses who advertised in the 1926 yearbook that are still doing business in Saranac Lake today:

The Post Office Pharmacy advertising: Toilet Requisites Coty, Guerlain, Roger & Gallet, Houbigant and Elizabeth Arden; Pharmaceuticals Parke, Davis & Co., E. R. Squibb & Sons and Sharp & Dohme and T. F. Finnigan's advertising Hart Schafffner & Marx Clothing and Wilson Brothers Furnishings.



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