I got an email from my dad this afternoon telling me his Uncle Bob passed away today. He was 95. My Great Uncle Bob was a WWII veteran, serving in the Army Air Corps on Okinawa at the end of the war.
In the email, my dad mentioned that when he was born, the whole Widmer clan lived in the same house in Herkimer, NY. By the time my father was a toddler, he’d identified Bob as his favorite uncle. Bob would take my dad to the playground and kept a watchful eye on him as he grew older. All the time Uncle Bob was in the Army, he would send my dad a dollar each month to put in a bank he had given him. When he returned from overseas, Uncle Bob took my dad and the money, bought my dad’s first bicycle, which he taught him to ride.
Uncle Bob was not drafted until July of 1945, and Japan surrendered in August of 1945. Hence, the war was over before he arrived at Kadena Air Base on Okinawa, where he served as an aircraft mechanic. As I understand it, he worked on B-29s and P-47s, which continued to fly air defense and other missions during the occupation. Bob received a commendation signed by President Harry Truman for his service.
I still remember going to my Great Uncle Bob’s house as a very young boy and playing with his two girls, Ellen and Ruth. We would also see them at Raquette Lake in upstate New York and at family reunions. I guess Ellen and Ruth would be second cousins. Uncle Bob and Aunt Lillian were wonderful people, and these are such great memories. American has lost another one of its heroes.
A little 1900s American history … from Naples, New York
Of course, we call them dehydrators these days, but back in the day, they were called … evaporators.
This is a little article written some years ago by my great grandfather Joseph Widmer. This is the same family that owns Widmer Wines, although my great grandfather was not part of the winery. My father found a few of his old writings and shared them with me. I thought it would be nice to share them with some of my readers.
I remember my great grandfather as a kindly old man with badly bowed legs and two canes, who loved little kids and always had time for us. He was also quite an exceptional woodworker. I still remember the old farm he and his wife, Bessie, owned that we visited on occasion. I have fond memories of the frog pond we often played around (getting quite muddy) and the old apple tree in the back that always had the best apples. I think they were Northern Spy apples.
by Joseph B. Widmer
I lived in Naples until the spring of 1913 and knew of no public evaporators in the Town of Naples, N.Y. As far as I know, there were two privately owned fruit evaporators. One was located on the farm of Charles Hamlin, Jr., just off Naples Atlantic Road; the other was owned by my father (John Frederick Widmer) who also raised many acres of blackberries.
He had a fairly large dry house or fruit evaporator, as we dried other fruits such as apples, peaches and apricots. This dry house 16 feet long by 12 feet wide, a one-story structure, somewhat higher than a garage.
There was only one man in the Naples area that could build that type of building, a Mr. John Dinzler who lived on the corner of Tobey Street and Lower Main Streets before the new Catholic Church was built.
As I said, it was a long building that housed two long cylindrical type heaters that burned old grape posts or other woods of that size. These heaters were joined together lengthwise, resting on large rock slabs. Instead of a floor the inside was all open with a 30-inch wide catwalk and a railing along three sides of the building around the top of the heaters. A very steady low heat was kept.
There were no windows, only hinged shutters for ventilation. Inside the dryer were constructed frames and framing that held screens 30 inches by 48 inches, trays joining both lengthwise and crosswise. These trays were cover with fine screening.
While in operation it called for a full-time attendant who used a small rake in his operation of drying the fruit. When one could squeeze the dried berries in a ball without their sticking together, the were ready for the market.
At that time Walker-Boles who had a warehouse on the corner of Academy and West Avenue near the Lehigh Valley Station hired women for fifty cents a day to pack these evaporate berries in one-pound packages for shipment to a market.
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Adirondack Bear Tales just received another 5-star review.
This review is from someone named Sarah. I have no idea who Sarah is, but this review is special to me. I have displayed the review in its entirety below. To read other reviews on Amazon, click here!
My husband and I have our own Adirondack bear jokes and I was so very excited when I found this book! He is deployed and missing out on all the summer fun. I sent him a camping themed package and this book was the perfect addition. The short stories are charming, simple, and fun.
Sarah, I don’t know if you’ll ever see this blog post, but thank you for the thoughtful review. It is fantastic to discover other lovers of the Adirondacks in the world, especially those who are serving their country.
I also want to thank your husband for his service and for your sacrifice. When one spouse serves, so does the other!
We’ve all heard that saying, I guess. While it is clearly a carpenter’s saying, advising that you measure the board twice before you make the cut to eliminate mistakes and waste, it can apply to many situations in our lives.
My Grandfather Klippel had his own unique spin on many of these old bits of wisdom. His version was …
“I sawed it off twice, and it’s still to short!”
Raquette Lake, NY
When you visit Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Park, you drive along Route 28 and pass through Burke Town. Don’t blink, because you will miss it. It consists of Burke’s Marina, a few rental cabins, a restaurant across the road which is no longer open, and three dirt roads on your left if you are headed towards Montreal. Raquette Lake will be on your right.
If you turn up the first dirt road, you will find camps along both sides of the road. In the south, they call them cabins. In the Adirondacks, they are camps. Most of these were initially built by employees of Remington Arms as vacation homes and were quite small and rustic.
Some have been turned into homes now, and most have changed hands with the original owners dying off and families selling them off. There’s quite a waiting list to get these camps. Both of my Grandfathers were Remington Arms employees who bought lots and built camps. My parents bought a lot when I was just a year or two old. We tented on our lot for many years before starting our camp.
And these stories, along with other true tales, are featured in my little book, Adirondack Bear Tales, available on Amazon.com.
In fact, the picture below was taken the evening after our “bear interrupted” hike to the old ski slope!
Back to the Grandfather thing …
All this is kind of a set up for one of my favorite memories of my Grandfather Klippel. When I was perhaps 8 or 10-years-old, I wanted to put a flagpole on our lot, so we could fly the American flag over it when we were there.
I was telling my Grandfather about this, and he figured that it should be no problem at all. He took me out, and we found a tall White Pine tree on the back of their lot. They had to be thinned out occasionally anyway, because they grew so high, and would blow over in the winter, sometimes causing a lot of damage.
My Grandfather had me cut it down, and trim off all the branches. Then he provided me with a draw knife with which to peel the bark off the trunk. If you have never seen a draw knife, I have included a picture here.
Peeling that bark off was a lot of hard work, but with his encouragement, I stuck it out. Once the trunk was clean, he had me coat the butt end, which would be buried in the ground, heavily with some kind of wood preservative. Then it was off to the Raquette Lake General Supply Store for a pulley, a rope, and a dock cleat to use as a tie-down.
It was a proud day in my life when my Grandfather helped me set that flagpole. Of course, it has long since rotted away. That was many years ago. However, we flew the American flag from that flag pole for many years while camping on our lot at Raquette Lake.
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If you’ve read my collection of short stories called Adirondack Bear Tales, you probably know I grew spending my summers at Raquette Lake in the Adirondack Park of upstate New York. I made my first camping trip at all of 6-mos-old. I believe, if my memory serves me correctly, my mother made my first sleeping bag out of an old flannel blanket and a paper bag.
Summers at Raquette Lake were filled non-stop adventures that many boys only dream about. Fishing, boating, canoeing, hiking, swimming, exploring, and even getting lost in those deep North Woods.
However, there are just one or two things that could be a bit of a pain when spending time in the Adirondacks. One of those is Deer Flies!
You can avoid the worst of the black flies and mosquitoes by waiting until mid-summer or early fall before venturing into the area. By then, the black flies are about gone and the mosquito population has been reduced to a tolerable level. However, deer flies are quite another story.
As you walked up and down the sandy dirt roads of Burketown, the deer flies would circle your head incessantly, looking for an opportunity to swoop in and nail you. The only positive was that, since they did continuously circle you, you could often snatch them out of the air and squish them … which always gave me an enormous sense of satisfaction.
Of course, wearing a hat helped. But I have always really hated wearing hats and only do so now when there is really no choice.
Meet the Deer Fly!
A deer fly looks like a cross between a horsefly and a yellow-jacket. While their bites do hurt, fortunately they are nothing like a yellow jacket sting. Note the swept back delta-type wing. I always thought with a wing like that, they should be able to fly so much faster. Of course, that would make them harder to snatch out of the air and squish.
So, what prompted this post on the deer fly you might ask (or you might not, but I will tell you anyway!). I thought I had left them behind (other than for the occasional trip back to Raquette Lake). I moved to Tennessee at the age of 19 and lived there 36 years, and never saw a deer fly.
I moved to Cary, North Caroline and lived there 3 years and never saw a deer fly either.
But recently I moved to Asheville, North Carolina, and there (while exercising my GSD, Sophie) just the other day, I snatched two deer flies out of the air and squished them. And, while I did get an enormous sense of satisfaction out of squishing them, I am thinking seriously about moving back to Tennessee!
Sophie has seconded that motion. She is not overly fond of the deer flies either.
If you are looking for a good quick read, check out Adirondack Bear Tales. I think you will get a real kick out of it. Sophie even stars in one of the stories. She likes to tell how she “saved me” from the mother black bear with her two cubs on our last trip to Raquette Lake.
The Electoral College has recently been the subject of heated debate. However, most of what I’ve seen and heard makes it clear not too many Americans today understand why and how the Electoral College came to be. This is not all that surprising, given the state of our public school system. The truth is that, at one time, the Electoral College was not controversial at all. This was because people understood how it worked and why it was put in place.
Today, more than a dozen states have joined in an attempt to remove or circumvent the Electoral College. This is because Hillary Clinton lost the 2016 election while receiving a majority of the popular vote. However, if you examine how that popular vote broke down, Clinton received a large number of votes from densely-populated urban areas like New York and California. In fact, if you remove California, President Trump would have won the popular vote by 1.4 million votes.
This is a somewhat flawed argument. You could arbitrarily remove any state’s electoral votes and the outcome could be altered in some way. But, it still illustrates the central point. The Electoral College was instituted to ensure that a President must have broad national support to win. The president is the president of the whole nation, not just president of the most densely-populated urban areas.
Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution states:
Each state shall appoint, in such Manner as the Legislature thereof may direct, a Number of Electors, equal to the whole Number of Senators and Representatives to which the State may be entitled in Congress.
Article II, Section I of the U.S. Constitution insures that each state retains equal representation in presidential elections, exactly like they do in Congress. It is genius and it insures a nationwide “fair” representation in presidential elections.
The Electoral College was designed to make sure that each candidate took their message to the whole nation, and subsequently won based on national support for their policies. The Electoral College was designed precisely to prevent a situation where a state like New York or California become the defacto policy decision maker for the entire nation. Since its inception, it has worked brilliantly in doing exactly that, sometime benefiting the Democratic Party and sometimes the Republican Party.
One has to ask if those currently clamoring for ending the Electoral College would be doing so if their side had won the majority of Electoral College votes and the election.
Perhaps the Electoral College is a victim of its own success. Throughout American history it has shaped American politics in many ways that were beneficial to this country. It only becomes an issue when one side loses a closely contested election and just cannot make themselves accept the results.
For those interested in states rights, abolishing the Electoral College would give the states less power against the federal government. The Electoral College also prevents a strong, charismatic person from using a fickle surge in popular support to consolidate more power and become a dictator.
If you truly understand the role of the Electoral College in making sure the entire nation has a voice in its presidential elections and you believe in fairness and the Rule of Law, it is hard to imagine why anyone would call for its abolition. I can only think of two reasons.
You do not understand what it does
You are making a power grab, and you can’t win national elections … therefore, you have to change the rules.
DC Gilbert has done a masterful job of recreating the Adirondack camping experience of his childhood. Each of these stories involves a personal (or family) encounter with the local Black bears. Not to give any plots away, no bear or human was seriously maimed or killed by any of these stories. If you like a good North Woods story, with a personal touch, then this short entertaining volume is for you.
Bringing back fond memories!
I was talking to a friend at the dog park the other night and Joe told me that he and his wife both greatly enjoyed the bear tales.
In previous years, they did a lot of camping on Sacandaga Lake, also in the Adirondack Park. Therefore, they really enjoyed the details in the tales about the camping experience. Joe said his wife called her sister on the phone and she read some bits of the stories to her. They had a great time laughing over the fact they shared a lot of similar experiences while camping themselves. Joe said that his wife laughed several times while on the phone, exclaiming “that’s exactly what we used to do!” Needless to say, we had a great conversation about camping and bears while the dogs romped about.
Moreover, it really meant a lot to me to hear how much they enjoyed reading Adirondack Bear Tales.
I think you will enjoy these Adirondack Bear Tales as well!
You can download a Kindle version or order a paperback from Amazon.com. I would love to hear from some other readers about what you think about the stories in my book, Adirondack Bear Tales. Most importantly, it costs less than a large cup of coffee at Starbucks!
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Will you please help me with this cover contest by picking which cover you like best for my next book. It is a collection of family-friendly tales about true encounters with black bears in the Adirondack Park! I have two cover designs and both of them are pretty good.
Below is the link to the poll. Thanks, in advance, for your help!
Click here to go to the contest page and make your choice.
Again, thank you for your help with this. Also, if you like military action thrillers, check out my novel, Serpents Underfoot, available in Kindle, paperback, and hardcover from Amazon.com!
Laundry time is always such a thrill in the Adirondacks. For us, it meant a trip to Raquette Lake Village and the laundromat at the Raquette Lake General Store. As kids we would hang out in the store or on the village dock, or play in the old ice storage sheds (the sheds are long gone now) until Mom and Dad were finished with the laundry. It was always an adventure.
There are more “modern” laundromats in Old Forge or Eagle Bay, but there was just something nostalgic about the old Raquette Lake Laundromat. We had been using it for generations. In fact, we had been using it before it had moved to its current location at the General Store. I remember it being located for years over near the now since long gone ice storage sheds.
This particular laundry adventure involved my sister-in-law, Brenda, who gone in to the village to do the weeks laundry. Brenda had finished loading the clothes, detergent, and the required number of quarters into the washing machines, and the machine started doing their thing. She decided she’d kill some time looking around in the store for a bit. There were always interesting things to look at. And, the store has a real-honest-to-goodness butcher providing fantastic cuts of meat, home-made sausages, etc. The store also carried the best baked good in the region, delivered fresh daily from Mary’s Bakery in Inlet, about ten minutes away.
In the laundromat there was one doorway that led directly into the general store as well as the exterior door that led out to the sandy parking lot. Brenda was just about to head into the general store, when she heard an awful banging sound coming from outside the laundromat. She went to the exterior door to investigate.
It did not take long to determine what was causing the banging noises. Near the laundromat sat the store’s dumpster, and standing on top of the dumpster was a medium-sized black bear. The bear had a hold of the dumpster lid on which he was standing, and was rearing back, trying to open the lid. Of course, since he was also standing on the lid, it would only lift so far before his weight slammed it back down with a loud bang!
Brenda quickly went into the general store and over to the counter.
“There’s a bear out there on your dumpster, trying to get it open,” Brenda exclaimed.
“Oh, that’s just Charlie! He won’t hurt anything. Charlie makes regular appearances to our dumpster. We just wait until he’s done before we put try to put anything in it.”
Brenda considered this new information carefully for a bit before cautiously returning to check on the laundry. Charlie was still poking around the dumpster but seemed to have little interest in the goings-on in the laundromat. Brenda quickly transferred the clean clothes from the washing machines to some dryers, and went back into the store area. When she later returned some time later to check on the dry clothes, Charlie had apparently moved along.
That is what I always loved about Raquette Lake! Even the weekly trip to the laundromat can turn into an interesting adventure.
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It was dark at the Golden Beach Campground! When the lights go out in the Adirondacks, it gets pitch black. A twelve-year-old girl squirms in her sleeping bag. Her mother had warned her not to drink that last bottle of Coke Cola before going to bed. She had not listened, and now she had to use the bathroom!
What time is it? She wondered. Can I make it until morning? She did not think she could. Working quietly, trying not to wake her parents or her older brother and younger sister, she got herself ready. There was little chance of waking them, as her father was loudly snoring away. All four slept blissfully unaware. The cool Adirondack nights did make for great sleeping.
Reaching for the flashlight, she kept on the floor of the tent by her sleeping bag; the young girl turned it on. Careful not to shine it in anyone’s face, she unzipped the zipper on the side of her sleeping bag and crawled out. First, she put on the plaid flannel shirt because the night air was quite chilly outside her warm sleeping bag. Next, she reached for the beaded leather moccasins her mom had gotten for her on their last trip to the gift shops in Inlet.
Making her way to the front flap of the big cabin tent, she unzipped the mosquito netting, stepped out, and zipping the netting back; made her way down the path toward the women’s bathrooms. It was a short walk, maybe fifty yards. Golden Beach Campground had several men’s and women’s bathrooms and shower houses strategically located throughout the campground. Golden Beach Campground was a great place to camp. Their family had been camping there for years.
The girl made her way along the path, the beam of the flashlight projecting its circle of light on the ground a few feet in front of her. She was about halfway to the women’s bathroom when she froze. There, clearly defined in the circle of light from the flashlight, were two large black paws. The paws were attached to two somewhat furry black legs. Not panicking, the young girl tilted her light ever-so-slightly upward. Standing in the path a few feet in front of her, clearly framed in the light of her flashlight, was a rather large black bear!
Carefully, the girl lowered the light again until only the bear’s paws were visible. She slowly began to back up a step at a time while keeping the bear paws in the circle of light so she could see if it moved. When the beam of light could no longer reach the bear’s paws, she turned and made her way swiftly back to the tent. Quickly unzipping the mosquito netting, she stepped inside and zipped it shut. In a few minutes, she was back in her sleeping bag, listening to her father snore.
She decided she could wait until the morning after all!
Did you like this Adirondack Bear Tale #1?
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