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Village clean up — serious business

June 9, 2012
By HOWARD RILEY ( , Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Clean-up days in Saranac Lake in the 1920s was no laughing matter except maybe for this gentleman who had written a letter to the editor of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise about clean-up days on May 3, 1920 try this excerpt

"All litter with dirty papers, bills, new republics and soviets, day light saving repeals, Congress' speeches, Senate reservations and such likewise calamity which are unsafe for democrats and other republicans will have free ride to sinorater [incinerator] for nothing. Superfluous dogs which are too many and other motor cycle noises are likewise invited to remove during rest hours which are 24."

The letter goes on and on - signed Tashimura Hogo.

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Board of Health Spearheads Clean-up

"Advance arrangements for Saranac Lake's annual clean-up week in May have been completed, it was announced at the Board of Health office today.

"Acting on the suggestion of Dr. Matthias Nicoll, Jr., commissioner of the state department of health, the week beginning May 5 has been designated for the collection and removal of the accumulated rubbish and waste of the past winter.

"Committees are being appointed by the Village Improvement Society in various parts of the village to encourage residents to make their clean-up a thorough one."

Clean-up wagons were to go through the village on the first three days of the week and would take anything left at the curb including tin cans and broken down furniture - everything that is, except ashes.


Barn owners targeted

The Board of Health issued a newsletter, really a booklet, later in the 1920s with some suggestions or warnings about cleaning your barn because the warnings were ignored the year before excerpts

"Personal solicitation for better housing conditions where cows are kept, and for improved stabling of horses met with only a half-hearted response last year, and therefore it has been deemed wise to bring into the light of publicity those who have so little regard for the welfare of themselves and others that they refuse to meet the requirements necessary for adequate protection.

"Now here is what we propose doing: In the first place every barn in the village will be inspected together with the yard immediately surrounding, and the owner assigned to whatever class his score entitles him, and this record of scores will be published in the local papers.

"At the end of one month a second inspection will be instituted and the rearranged scores again published. Any barn-owner who persistently remains too low in score to be entitled to classification must be looked upon as devoid of civic pride, and in fact, is a menace to the community and should be summarily brought to the realization of his responsibilities."

The "score" card was printed on another page of the booklet with points being attached to categories such as barn yard, barn, floors, stables, animals, manure bin, hose faucet, etc.

(The above information contained in an unidentified scrapbook in the Adirondack Room of the Saranac Lake Free Library.)


Mayors and the Board of Health

The Board of Health still existed when I was Mayor in the 1960s and the Mayor was always appointed to the board. Other members at that time were Dr. Gedroiz and Dr. Sageman and Ed Pendergast was the health officer.

Back in the 1920's Dan Foster was probably Mayor (or President) when the barn cleanup proclamation was mandated.

Now I have not been able to verify the following story but it comes from a very reliable source.

I understand that the Supervisor of the Town of Harrietstown at that time, when there were so many horses in the village, gave a directive to the town constable; town constables (read peace officers) were appointed to that position by the town board.

If the constable found any horse sh.. on the roads in the town of Harrietstown that may have been deposited by village horses traveling outside the corporate limits of the village of Saranac Lake he was to present the expense of clean-up to the town board and they would bill the village for that expense.

Now according to the story that I got, the supervisor said he knew that this directive would be difficult to enforce unless the Constable caught the horse in the act and then identify the horse as residing inside the village. But the supervisor supposedly said at the Town Board meeting, "I am not taking any more s---, I mean, manure from the Village of Saranac Lake."



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