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VJ Day — Aug. 14, 1945

August 28, 2010
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

The Lions Club of Saranac Lake used to publish a wonderful newsletter named the "Lions Roar" and during WWII the letter was sent to all the local men and women serving in the military.

I have a few copies of that newsletter on loan to me from Roger Foster of Saranac Lake and one copy is from that VJ Day in August, 1945 with a big type introduction on the cover reading: "The long awaited day has at last arrived and now we look forward to a speedy return of our many friends to Saranac Lake.

The people in the service must have loved getting this news from home because it was filled with coffee shop chat such as: "Too much rain and cold weather in April and May slowed up the Trout fishing. Former Chief of Police Jim Coughlin caught two lakers on July 25th with a total weight of 29 pounds."

Article Photos

PLENTY OF PARKING — The Grand Union grocery store, with apartments above, was located where the second ‘Downhill Grill’ will soon be located at 69 Main St. The village then had no public or hotel parking lots, but there was parking on both sides of the street everywhere in the village. This photo, probably taken in the 1930's, was on the back of the Lions newsletter with other photos entitled “Views of the Home Town.”
(Image provided)

The Lions Club had received letters from more than 50 men and women in the service. Here are a few of the names:

Lt. Arthur Mahoney - Philippines (later our high school coach); Pfc. Don McKillip Philippines; Pfc. Francis Seymour Germany; Lt. Col. Christy Mathewson Europe; Lt. Jack Edelberg Pacific Area; Capt. Margaret Hourihan, Gold Coast, British West Africa; Lt. Philip G. Wolff Missouri; Sgt. Hollis E. Murphy Pacific; Paul G. Rochester, AMM 2-c Pacific and Sgt. Ken Besaw Germany.


Real estate booming

The subhead in the letter read, "Wandering Yardbird" (as in a soldier assigned to a menial task).

"The Real estate men ( I guess there were no women yet in the business) in town are doing a land office business these days. Within the past three months, Duke Huntington purchased the Henry Leis building on Blooingdale Avenue (the building on the Broadway side of Sturdy Supply); Dr. W. O. Kelley bought Brett Stokes house on Park Avenue and Dr. Walter Taylor purchased the old Taylor Boarding Cottage at 138 Park Avenue which has been vacant for a number of years. W. C. Leonard's Store was sold to a group of business men from Syracuse and the White Elephant Cottages in Ray Brook to a party from Rochester. The Alpine Hotel is in the process of being sold. Goodman Kelleher from Lake Placid bought all the furniture and kitchenware."

"Durgan's Grill at Lake Colby has been re-opened under the management of Mose LaFountain and Bob Bouyea. Leo Simmons who has been with Reis Pharmacy for the past eight years has purchased the Hotel Saranac Pharmacy from E. M. Baker."


A fundraiser

"More than 1400 people attended a 4th of July Fun Day up at the High School Ball Field. The Lake Placid M.P. Detachment swamped our Lions Club softball team 8 to 2 in a fine game. The M.P.'s then selected Carolyn Shaver as Miss Saranac Lake. We had a Jitterbug Contest, all kinds of races for the kids and our Fire Department put on a mighty fine demonstration for the crowd. The water pressure was too much for one of the hose lines which gave way and a fine shower was given to some of our citizens. Bingo, wheels of chance, ring tossing and many other games were played under a big canvas tent plus beer and food netted the Club around $700."


Other local news

"Harry Duso reported that the Lower Lake was up 20 inches over previous years marks which is the highest level in many, many years."

"At present time our police force consists of Chief William Wallace, Sgt. Ed Duprey, Acting Sgt. Arthur Ryan, Patrolmen Matthew Jones, Richard Jewtraw, Roger Seney and Frank Buck, Jr."

"We had plenty of trouble here in the first week of July. Fred Colby of Pine Street drowned in Lake Flower. William Zerbe former owner of the Tydol Gas Station on Church Street Extension was killed in an automobile accident near Auburn. A bad head-on collision in Vermontville killed four people and seriously injured five others." (I wrote about that accident in this column on Aug. 7, 2004. It was a one-car accident. There were actually seven men in the car, two were killed; My cousin, Phil McKillip, 25 and Babe Strobel, 32. The others, Joe Kelly, Jim Tanzini, Willard Benware, Dave Melvin and Robert Huggins, were injured but survived).

"Seventy-three seniors graduated at the 49th Commencement of the High School. Charles House, high school band leader and music instructor is in the Army now and Dr. Charles Haskin was elected President of the Study and Craft Guild by the Board of Directors."


New officers elected

"In June the following officers were elected for the next twelve months: James Koethen President; Willis Currier, !st Vice President; Ned Myers, 2nd Vice President; Sam Kelley, 3rd Vice President; Ed Worthington, Secretary (another story in the news letter revealed, that at that same time, Mr. Worthington was President of the Fish & Game Club); Harley Branch (Deputy Mayor Jeff Branch's grandfather) Tail Twister; and Manuel Benero, Lion Tamer."



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