I can't resist writing a few reminiscences of my friendship with my good pal, Dew Drop (Forrest) Morgan, who recently died.
Dew Drop and I attended dear old Saranac Lake High School during the early '40s, though he was two years ahead of me in '42, the year of his graduation. In those high school days, Dew became renowned for his catching skills as a football team end. (I still have a memory of Dew Drop jogging up Broadway, polishing his skills by juggling a football over his head on his fingertips!)
Following World War II, we both came home in 1946 and at one time considered trying to open a music store in Saranac Lake. Fortunately, Dew had an uncle who lived in Tupper Lake and operated a combination furniture-music store. I still recall his almost scornful words as he said, "Forget the music part. You guys should open a furniture store, period!"
Sometime after that, Dew Drop purchased a bar called the Rathskeller, which ultimately became the famous Dew Drop Inn. (Now I must tell you - in those days, that place was more or less considered a dive, not one of Saranac's most elegant hosting places.) In addition to that, I was a 97-pound weakling - readily admitting my cowardly propensities. In fact, my family resided on Shepard Avenue, which also serves as a county line (Franklin and Essex), which enabled me to admit that I was the coward of two counties, instead one, as in the song
I'm making that candid admission of my pusillanimous nature because of an incident which involved Dew and me.
One early evening, I was walking on Broadway past Dew Drop's den of iniquity, and just as I was going by, from the downstairs entrance which led to below-bridge level, Dew Drop emerged, grabbed me by the arm and implored me to mind the bar for a few minutes while he went on an errand. I said something like, "Are you out of your mind? You what? ME?" Dew Drop reassured me that it would be only for a minutes and that most of the bar's customers had absolutely benevolent natures!
Finally, under Dew's unrelenting pressure, I agreed - AS LONG AS IT WAS ONLY FOR A FEW MINUTES!
The bar wasn't too crowded, but as I got behind the strip and assumed my duties, a guy came up, shoved a glass in front of me and growled, "Gimme a nickel's worth of beer!" (Actually, that wasn't as absurd as it sounds, for a glass of beer went for 10 cents in those days!) I immediately tried to curry favor with this patron by giving him a full glass. Not long after that first serving, a bystander (and regular customer) asked me, "Would you like me to help you tend bar?"
Thus, that particular night became known in legend and song as "the night the future Dew Drop Inn came close to having been given away" for Dew Drop didn't return until closing time!
Subsequently, after the place had become a notable and very cool restaurant, Dew Drop made the national headlines by promising to jump, with all his clothes on, over the railing outside of his entrance and into the Saranac River if the long-suffering Brooklyn Dodgers beat the New York Yankees in the coming World Series.
They did, and so did Dew Drop! (And it made national headlines.)
In closing, do I remember that the winning pitcher was a local North Country boy, Johnny Podres, from nearby Mineville?
I'll always cherish the memories of my good pal, Dew Drop Morgan!
So long, Dew.
Phil Klein lives in Syracuse and is a member of the Saranac Lake High School Class of 1944.