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What was happening 67 years ago?

February 20, 2010

The following entries are taken from copies I made of the Saranac Lake Police Department "blotters" in February 1943 and are published verbatimexcept in some instances the names are changed for obvious reasons, and my own comments will also be obvious.


Feb. 2 started off quietly until 2:45 p.m. when the fire alarm sounded at box 213 reporting a chimney fire at the Vaughn residence in Peck's Corners. (Now Lake Colby) - Jones

Article Photos

I love this picture of Saranac Lake Chief of Police, big John LaPan. The photo was taken at his home on Margaret Street in 1901 with his wife, their five children and the family dog and it could be right from an old movie set … the lace curtains, the fancy mirror and lamp and the shades drawn, probably to absorb the camera flash … and apparently 109 years ago no one said “cheese” when the flash went off.
(Photo from the Adirondack Collection of the Saranac Lake Free Library)

Then a few minutes later T. T. Message of the NY State Police called to report that Charles Johnpier, age 19, and three other felons had escaped from the Niagara County jail at 5 a.m. that date and were headed this way. May be in a 1937 LaSalle sedan, license NY H-39-47 or in a 1941 Buick sedan license NY WC-210. Have in their possession 12-gauge and 16-gauge shotguns, also a 22-rifle, and ammunition for all. Will not hesitate to shoot. (Wouldn't it be great to know when and how those guys were captured?)


Feb. 3 - 8 a.m. Call taken by Ryan and referred to me. A soldier, Fred Medeuax, called from Albany and asked for the police to locate his wife who was staying with the Archie Ormsby family on Cedar Street and have her call him at Albany 5-9283. Located Archie Ormsby on James Street who said he did not know the parties.

---Feb. 4 - 2:20 p.m. Call from Paul Smith's Electric Company that a dog was in the lake by the park. Investigation showed dog was up by the bathing beach. Some people trying to get dog out with a ladder. Afraid some person would go in lake so I got a rope from the police station and went to the scene. Saw one William Hopkins struggling in the water. Went out a ways on the ice and threw him a rope. Pulled him in. Dog got out by himself. - Wallace

(Himself was underlined. Just imagine that happening today with sirens blowing, rescue trucks and police cars tearing through town, grabbing this guy and taking him to the hospitalMr. Hopkins was probably wrapped in a blanket and brought home.)


Feb. 9 - 9:05 p.m. Fire alarm #35 at Park and Grove Street. Fire at Mrs. Fletcher's at 168 Park Avenue. Fire started in cellar considerable water and smoke damage. Two lines of hose required and two trucks needed. Firemen Wilkins and Fear left there for the night to watch the house. Traffic taken care of by Higgins and Jones.


Feb. 10 - 9 p.m. I. Schenck, prop. of Bowling Alley, reports someone stealing a small pocketbook or purse out of the coat pocket of Eleanor Whitehead's (the future Mrs. Gordon Wilson) coat when it was hanging in the ladies locker room yesterday afternoon around 5 p.m. Suspects Agnes Doe and Millie Doe. - Higgins

---Feb. 10 - 11:15 p.m. Call from Mrs. Rosencrantz at 21/2 Broadway complaining that Marshall Doe, his wife and another couple upstairs were drunk and abusing her. Marshall just came downstairs and she threw a bucket of water in his face. Investigated - Marshall, his wife and another couple had been drinking but were all right, so had Mrs. Rosencrantz been drinking. Warned them to keep the peace because if we got anymore complaints they would all get locked up. Higgins & Duprey


Feb. 12 - 9:50 a.m. Complaint from Mrs. Plumadore at 17 Lake Street that on the 11th of February she called John Doe's Delivery at about 5 p.m. and gave him some dishes and .75c to deliver to Mrs. Signor at 25 Helen Street. The dishes consisted of 2 glass jugs, a hot water dinner plate with an aluminum cover and 2 glasses. These were not delivered and every time she calls him he says he will check up on it. Wants to know if police can speak to him about it. Wallace made a note later saying the delivery man would return the dishes and the money.

One can see by reading the above that back in 1943, when we as teenagers all roamed the streets of the village, not even a small misdeed would be overlooked, although in most cases there was not much punishment involvedConsider this next February 15 entry at 7:10 p.m.


Complaint from Walter Noble that he has received complaints lately about boys and girls under 16 hanging out in the "Milk Bar" on Bloomingdale Avenue until as late as midnight. (We knew it as the Altamont Milk Bar in the right front corner of the Bowling Alley but accessed from the street.) Checked the "Milk Bar" at 10 p.m. and found 2 boys in there under-age-16. (Remember in 1943 there was a "9:30 p.m. under age 16 curfew" quite strictly enforced.) Found 2 boys in there under 16. Denton Lewis, age 15 and Tommy LaVallee age 15. Sent then home. - Higgins


When my family moved in from the farm, the Lewis brothers, Denton, aka Destry, Tom, Jim, Claude and Eddie were some of the first kids we met in Saranac Lake, and my brothers and I became their lifelong friends.



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