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The ‘Beanie’ Barnet-Trotty Veck Story, part 2

Beanie and his wife Elisabeth with the accompanying note “written” by their cocker spaniel “Breezy.” They had many cocker spaniels over the years; Toby, Yodel, White Flash and Peggy were some of them, purchased from the same kennel in Vermont. (Photo provided — Historic Saranac Lake)

In this space last week was the story of the Trotty Veck Messengers, a little booklet published in Saranac Lake starting in 1915 by two young men, Seymour Eaton Jr., ad Charles Swasey Barnet who arrived in Saranac Lake stricken with tuberculosis.

They eventually published and sold 4 million copies of the ‘Messenger” but nowhere in my research can I find the price charged for the miniature books. If they sold for 25 cents each then the boys made a million bucks.

So here is “the rest of the story” as Paul Harvey used to tell us at the end of his radio newscasts. But wait a minute before we get to that …

Mary Hotaling’s Trudeau book

This week's flashback photo

Some pieces about Mr. Barnet are from the Adirondack Enterprise but mostly from Mary Hotaling. In addition to all her other good works for our Adirondack region, Mary is the author of “A Rare Romance in Medicine,” the Life and Legacy of Edward Livingston Trudeau.

Anyone with the slightest interest in the history of Saranac Lake and its environs should read this book; incredible detail, incredible photos and not only about Dr. Trudeau’s life,but about what life was like back in the 1890s and 1900s. An excerpt from the book on page 125:

“In spite of these preoccupations, the Trudeau’s made sure that life went on as normally as possible in their household. Around 1890 individual portraits were made of their three children. On July 2, 1890, Chatte was confirmed in the Episcopal Church at St. Luke’s by the Bishop of Albany, and on July 6 she made her first Communion at St. John’s in the Wilderness.”

Or this about Paul Smith’s Hotel on page 69:

“As early as 1878 some of the regular hotel guests had established semi-permanent tent camps for day use on widely scattered sites on nearby lakeshores. Their guides would ‘row them out to spend the day in their chosen spots, cook their dinner, and then row them back to the hotel again for the night,’ an early camper remembered.”

Dr. Trudeau certainly put Saranac Lake on the map. When the village was incorporated as the result of a special election on May 3, 1892, Dr. Trudeau became its first “President” before that title was changed to “Mayor.”

The rest of the story

From Ms. Hotaling’s Center for Adirondack Studies Newsletter (1980-81):

“Customers ranged from those who inquired whether the mail from Saranac Lake was disinfected to Harry Houdini, who sent a check with his picture on it that was never cashed, but framed instead. Beanie’s wall was covered with the evidence of his friendships with the famous, from Ruth Etting [singing star and actress] to Paul Whiteman and Christy Mathewson. His customers included, Lowell Thomas, Lawrence Welk, Sally Rand [burlesque dancer] and Mrs. Billy Sunday[evangelist, newspaper columnist] In Saranac Lake he became a close friend of the William Morris family and of their guest Harry Lauder, whom Beanie took fishing. A framed photo with this inscription was Beanie’s memento of the occasion: ‘The next time ye tak me fishin, Tak me to where the fish iss and not where they wass.’

“Beanie had a little camp on Lake Clear and a guideboat made for him to facilitate his great love – bass fishing. He was a movie buff who, with Bill Petty, took reels of 16 mm wildlife and wilderness movies which they showed in the schools. His friendship with William Morris encouraged both his love of the stage and his civic-mindedness. He served as Morris’s secretary when the theatrical agent was staging the benefits he sponsored for so many local causes. In addition, Beanie was secretary of many local organizations, including the old Board of Trade, the Speed Skating Association, the Rotary Club, the Pontiac Club and the General Hospital.

“For many years Beanie conducted his business from the living room/office of the apartment he rented at 16 Academy Street. While living there, he met Elisabeth Widmer, a delicate Swiss-born graduate of the John Hopkins School of Nursing, who had also come to Saranac Lake for her health.”

The story goes on about him seeing the young lady at the window of the adjoining cottage; they met and then were married in the summer of 1940 when he was age 54. Following the wedding they did not return to Academy Street but to their new home in Lake Colby. The house was owned by the Morrises and had once been used as a “tea room”/speakeasy known as “The Silhouette”. It is where Beanie spent the rest of his life.

Beanie died in that house on Feb. 10, 1977 at age 90 with his wife at his side.

After these few excerpts from Mary’s great story about Beanie it concludes:

“His obituary states that he came to Saranac Lake ‘for his health’, a euphemism for tuberculosis, in 1907. It is a tribute to his own unfailing spirit that he should have lived so long and so well under the sentence of death; that he should have made so much of the restricted life allowed him.

“A quotation from one of his notebooks fits Beanie very well — ‘Thou comest not to thy place by accident — ’tis the very place meant for thee.”

[I could not find an obituary for Mr. Eaton]

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