I am often asked, "Have you lived here all your life?" And my answer is always, "Not yet."
As time passes one of the most obvious changes is watching the list of names of girls and boys on the sports teams or reading the names of students at high school graduation. The names used to be of friends and neighbors and now at least half of the names are unknown to me.
The Sorcinelli and Hall families (this particular Hall family), once prominent citizens, are gone from the telephone books and the pages of the Enterprise.
‘Big Gunch’ (Ray) Hall at some unknown Pacific Island
‘Little Gunch’ (Bill) and ‘Big Gunch’
Recently in this column I mentioned the link that the Enterprise provides for those families who have moved awayso when I made a casual reference to Ray "Big Gunch" Hall talking about experiences in WW II with others at Charlie Lavery's gas station in 1946 I received a great story from his son Lou Hallwhich follows
A story from Hawaii
"Dad started out in the National Guard but later, in Alabama I think, transitioned to the Army. He was wounded in three different battles in the Pacific but wasn't ever one to talk about it. I've heard more over the years from others who knew him during those years then I ever did from him. Little Joe (Gladd who served in the Navy and is another SL legend we will get to at another time) told me a story in his bar one afternoon about an experience he had in Hawaii. He went on to say that one night while stationed there, he wound up in a bar on the base and was reading some awards on a wall.
"Well, they had the equivalent of an iron-man competition on the base, and Dad had won! Joe said he was never so proud in all his life that here he was way over there and somebody from his hometown had won such a big competition! I had never heard a word about that until I heard it from Little Joe but I think I was just as proud as he must have been when I heard him tell the story.
Lou's mom was Sylvia Sorcinelli
"I sent a link to your column to my brother and sister's, along with Uncle Bill (little Gunch) and my aunt Lena Sorcinelli Capuano. My little sister remembered visiting Charlie Lavery's station fondly and even mentioned a deck of playing cards with his store logo on them that he had given to her. We were staying at one of the family cabins over in Ray Brook at the time, and she went on to say how mom taught her to play solitaire with that very deck. You may not recall but Dad's mother, Hazel, (the father was William) was one of nine children from the Dupree clan.
Killed in WW II
"Aldo was my mother's first cousin and I was so excited to read your note about him. Bea Drutz was one of my mom's best friends, along with Gen Cavallo, and they always remembered Aldo as being such a nice and kind person and how devastated everyone was at his passing. On the subject of mom, Bill McLaughlin was quite taken with her too, and at one point wrote an article for the Enterprise placing her in the number one position of his personal top ten most beautiful women in the North Country."
An excerpt from my note to Lou
"Your dad is so handsome he could have been in the movies and likewise your Mom whose beauty matched Sophie Loren or any one of those Italian actresses.
"Aldo was in the Marines and was killed soon after he went overseas. All the newsboys at the Enterprise loved Aldo. He sort of ran the circulation department when he was age 18 and was so nice to us 12-year-olds - and his was one of the first deaths in WW II that really hit us kids. Years later when I was mayor of SL and had to speak at a Memorial Day service in Riverside Park I referred to Aldo, ending my remarks with, 'but most of all I remember Aldo Sorcinelli.' I believe he was only 18 or 19 when he was killed."
Another link, Bill Grogan called me from his business (restaurant and catering) in St. Thomas last week alerting me to the May 1, 40th anniversary of Waterhole #3, which he founded. Well, guess what? Lou Hall lived in Saranac Lake from 1969 to 1976, arriving here originally to attend North Country Community College. And guess what else? Lou writes, "I tended bar at the Waterhole for a number of years going back to Grogan's days and finishing my time with Fi."
Lou now owns Thunder Mountain Land Sales in Lake George and can be reached at www.adkland.com.
Correction: Last week's column referred to Blanche Santimaw as an "RN"; she called me to say that she was an "LPN." Sorry for the mistake.