My friend Phil Lalande has been at the center of many worthwhile endeavors in Saranac Lake and Lake Placid - to name only two - first, creating a huge, successful pee wee hockey program and as a driving force behind our civic center in Saranac Lake; second, in Lake Placid (for many years) he created the sets and did the staging for the Saturday night ice shows in the Olympic Arena, with his wife Bev, when their daughter Tammy was a regular in the show.
Most people probably don't know that Phil was a "trick" water skier long before that became a big deal competitive sport. I have watched him spinning and jumping and holding the tow rope with his foot while I drove the boat, but before I witnessed that he had taken me for a ride, literally and figuratively. I was an "off the dock" skier with two skis and two hands on the tow barPhil hit the throttle and I did a few tricks of my own while I was yelling to him to slow down until I finally saw sky and water and sky and water, etc.; I then went back to skiing behind a 2-and-a-half horse Johnson on a 10-foot boat.
While all of this was going on with Phil, Lake Placid Electric was advertising Carrier air conditioner in the Enterprise as, “A wonderful new kind of living!”
Lost in translation
I had written a little vignette about Phil in this space before. He came down from Canada with a hockey team, met the love of his life, Bev Downs, and never went home. Phil speaks English very well as his second language but sometimes a word gets a little screwed up in translation.
What I had mentioned here before bears repeating as I add another vignette. Phil and Bev frequented the Blue Gentian Restaurant where Phil's Company, Gendron Lumber had done a lot of work. Ms. Bofinger was the owner and hostess. Well, when Phil would greet the owner he would call her every finger in the book except "Bo" - Ms. Goldfinger or Fingerbowl or Fingertip - Bev said she never knew what was going to come outand she would caution Phil before their visits to the restaurant just to simply say, hi, how are you, etc., but Phil, nevertheless, would launch right into a bunch of new finger idioms - Ms. Fingerprint, Fingerposts
What moves a rowboat?
Pat Meagher, the Harrietstown court clerk and I were in tears of laughter Wednesday morning following court when Phil came in for a visit. He and Pat have mutual friends and when Phil mentioned Pat's favorite topic of conversation, her grandson Tyler, they were off and running - one would think they had both gotten' into the blabbermouth soup (in my case that would have been a Manhattan); can you imagine me, not being able to get a word in.
The Lalande's home is on Moody Pond and a few years back, when Tammy was small, an acquaintance asked Phil if he could put his boat in off Phil's dock so he could set out some minnow traps and then leave the boat there for a few days.
Phil tells the guy okay and then says, "How about letting me use the boat to take my little girl around the pond." Of course, the guy says, "go ahead, anytime."
A few days later, while Phil has company sitting out on the deck, he hears a rattling and banging and the guy pulls up to tie up his aluminum boat. Phil is watching him put the boat in and then leans over the deck railing and yells, "Where are the hors?" (I should add here that the guy was on his third or fourth marriage and Phil's question did not sound to the guy like he was asking about an appetizer.)
The guy yells back, "What did you say?" and Phil yells again, "Where are the hors?" His guests on the deck are laughing and Phil yells the third time, "Where are the hors," he starts a pulling motion with his arms like he's rowing a boat and corrected by his guests yells, "Where are the oars?"
The story ends just fine, the guy realized he was not being insulted and Phil got to use the boat.