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Pat McCormick has a do-it-yourself attitude

October 9, 2008
By CAPERTON TISSOT - Special to the Adirondack Daily Enterprise

"If anything needs fixing," says Pat McCormick, "I can do it." A glance at his living quarters would seem to confirm this. He built the home he shares with his wife Valerie by converting an old garage into a downstairs workshop and lovely upstairs apartment.

Attached to this, he built an apartment for his sister. He has built furniture to order, including a wardrobe for The Point and a display unit for Borealis Color. When he wanted an octagonal stained glass window, he made one of red, green and blue leaded-glass and built it into the wall.

He installed his heating system by reading the instructions and doing it himself. It has pipes running in all directions, looking a bit like a Rube Goldberg machine. However, it is not. This system runs perfectly.

A progressive thinker, Pat later added an indoor water storage tank on the premises, so that if cold water from the outside was first stored at room temperature, it would take less time and energy for the furnace to heat it.

Beyond all this, Pat is a self-taught electronics specialist, repairing everything from TVs and plasma screens to vacuum cleaners and radios. He is one of only two Sony and Samsung service technicians in a 100-mile radius.

No matter what time you drop by to visit, you will find Pat outside greeting you with a smile and hearty handshake. How does he know you are coming? He has designed a full security system, which runs on his TV.

When it comes to special effects, Disney has nothing on Pat. An evening visitor will be greeted with an array of amazing spectacles. First, the outdoors are lit up, and the garden fountain starts to flow. Then, lights come on in the yard, sparkling like fireflies. Upon climbing the indoor staircase to the second floor, lamps turn on automatically, guiding the way. A host of small objects begin softly glowing in shimmering changing colors. A turtle, a miniature tree, birds, a shark and plants all delight the eye with their luminescence. Babbling sounds are heard as small waterfalls turn on. A lava light bubbles in the corner. Crawling across the ceiling, jungle-like, is a giant philodendron vine, which, before trimming, stretches out 165 feet.

Pat finds it great fun to invent, design and build all manner of electronic devices.

"I never turn on the lights," he said. "Everything is automated."

When his wife complained about cleaning the staircase with a cumbersome vacuum, he rigged a long hose at the bottom of the steps emerging from what looks like a central vacuum system. But here is the fun of it. On the other side of the wall is his workshop, and tucked up against the hole through the wall is stationed a standard upright vacuum with the stair hose attached.

There is no end to his ingenuity. Surely, a man who derives so much pleasure from such challenges must have had a life filled with extra time to experiment. However, that is not the case.

Pat grew up in a loving family of 12 children and two hard-working parents.

"When I turned 17, I shook my father's hand and said, 'This is where the train stops. I'm headed for Florida to work down there.'" He left with his father's blessings and has been working hard ever since. Though trained to be a mechanic, Pat found electronics far more interesting.

After a few years of working jobs in different places, family and Saranac Lake drew him back, not only to the village but to the very house that sits next door to his boyhood home.

In 1971, he married his wife, Dianne, and opened Pat's TV, operating it out of their home.

Because he sold so many Philco TVs, more out of his basement than even a large storefront business in Watertown, Pat was given special recognition by the Philco Company.

It was a happy marriage, and four children soon filled the couple's life. On weekends, Pat often strummed guitar and sang country-rock music with his band, Sunset Travelers. They played towns in New York and Vermont. Once, while performing at Meacham Lake Inn, a man from the entertainment world was so impressed with his music, he offered to take him to New York to record and hit the big time. Pat said no thanks; his family meant too much for him to leave them for any length of time.

It was a wise decision, because shortly after, his wife was diagnosed with cancer. The children were cared for by family while Pat and his wife, taking all the money they had, set out for Mexico to receive holistic treatments. From there, they traveled to his sister's Long Island home where this approach was continued. Tragically, she died less than a year later.

Heartbroken and in debt, having spent everything he had, Pat returned home to raise his children and rebuild his business. He sold a new home they had moved into just prior to his wife's illness and moved his children into the apartment he created from the garage next to his parents' home.

In 1984, he relocated his shop to a village location off Woodruff Street. Through the years, many customers have enjoyed not only Pat's good service, but his stories as well - all under the vigilant gaze of a small, gray fluffy dog named Gigi, who kept an ever-watchful eye over the goings-on.

Pat remarried six years ago and is proud of his wife and family, which includes his son, Pat, living in Saranac Lake; daughters Jamie in Niagara Falls, Debbie in Arizona and Wendy in Texas; and seven grandchildren.

In 2007, after 32 years in the village, Pat reduced his business to service only, with no more sales. He made a complete circle, moving his shop back to the same location from which he first started. This circling seems appropriate for a man who believes that "what goes around comes around, and things happen for a reason."

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This story is based on an interview with Pat McCormick. Caperton Tissot can be reached at Tissot@SnowyOwlPress.com.

 
 

 

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