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History in a scrapbook

May 19, 2012
By HOWARD RILEY (hjriley@adelphia.net) , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

The life of the late Earl L. Gray was featured in this space last week. He owned a business where the Blue Moon Cafe is located today. He also opened an automobile agency; he and his wife Beatrice Tovar built there home at 15 Helen St. and he was active in many organizations including the Board of Trade and the Rotary Club.

But he also left behind a massive scrapbook with newspaper clippings from the first part of the last century; that book is now part of the archives of the Adirondack Room of the Saranac lake Free Library. The clippings are from The Enterprise and many other newspapers the following is one great story from the scrapbook.

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Article Photos

Adirondack Daily Enterprise Friday, Sept. 11, 1914

"Height of Automobile Craze Has Been Reached"

"Plans are being made at Paul Smiths to remove the last vestige of the stage coach days. New stables are being built in the hill back of the freight house. The concrete foundations are now complete, and the principle portions of the great stables on the main drive at the entrance to the hotel grounds will be removed to these foundations.

"The present carriage barn and horse stables have occupied that site for upwards of forty years, and were the scene, until the building of the railroad in 1906, of the center of life and activity of coaching and driving. The six jet black horses and the six white horses before them that drew the coach from the distant railroad station yanked the big Concord at the crack of George Meserve's whip around the curve of the drive with a spirit and dash and picturesqueness that is without parallel in the modes of transportation in the Adirondack Mountains at this time.

[I'd like to be a fly on the wall when (and if) Paul Smith's College legend; forester and horseman, Gould Hoyt, runs across this story.]

"The stage coach was abandoned [and now recovered and restored] with the building of the railroad between Lake Clear Junction and the hotel, but the stables have remained to shelter horses and automobiles.

"With decline of coaching and driving there is less need for stables for horses and carriages than before. The new stables will be substantial and ornamental in a less prominent part of the grounds surrounding the hotel, while the site of the old stables will be made into a park.

"A garage will be built near the men's building for the accommodation of cars, and quarters will also be made here for the chauffeurs.

"While hundreds of men and women are today driving automobiles where only a few formerly used horses and carriages, shrewd observers like John R. Townsend of New York, the famous breeder of horses, say that the height of the automobile craze has been reached. Already at Newport fashionable ladies are returning to use the horses and carriages for their afternoon calls, as being more fit for the occasion, more genteel, and more attractive, and affording better opportunity for the display of fashionable gowns. They have as many cars, perhaps, as before, but they are using them for touring and not for pleasure driving."

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Mrs. Lulu Wardner Toof

(1873-1914)

We had a brief mention last week of the death of 41-year-old Mrs. Toof of Rainbow Lake, member of a prominent Adirondack family. The following are excerpts from her obituary.

"Mrs. Toof was an Adirondack woman, born and bred. Born at Rainbow Lake on March 6, 1973, her 41 years of useful service in the world were spent in the vicinity of the beautiful lake. She was the daughter of Mr. and. Mrs. James Wardner. Her father, for 40 years, was the proprietor and manager of the Rainbow Lake Hotel. This hostelry was one of the best known headquarters for hunters and fishermen in the mountains.

"Lulu was twice married. Her first husband was Herman Pralwitz, and to this couple were born, and survive two sons, James and William Pralwitz. Left a widow, about 12 years ago, she became the wife of Fred C. Toof, and to them, were born three children, Fred Leslie, Kenneth and Louise Toof, who with their father, survive. Two brothers, Charles and James Wardner, and a sister, Mrs. Katherine Tack, also survive."

Mr. Gray has left us a great history book.

 
 

 

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