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Hotel history: Lake Placid to Clearwater

Thanks to my very good friend Holly Chabbott, I am in possession of a North Country to Clearwater, Florida, history book, written and published by Goodman Kelleher in 1945.

The title: “GOODMAN KELLEHER, A Cook’s Story of His Own Broth.”

Kelleher’s dedication reads: “Privately printed and distributed to my friends, patrons and employees, to whom past, present and future, I dedicate this book in full gratitude for their friendship, as well as their trade and their services, and with a hopeful regard for a continuance of such, both the tangible and the intangible.”

This book was first given to Bernice Lacey, as noted on the inside cover “through the kindness of Joan Rascoe,” on Jan. 14, 1967, then to Robert Chabbott on June 14, 1974, later to Holly Chabbott and then to me in October 2020 as the fifth owner of this book. Then it will go to a library.

This is a real rags-to-riches story. Michael Goodman Kelleher was born and christened in Beekmantown on Sept. 1, 1894, “of Irish parents in the hills of Beartown.” His father Tim came from the village of Kiskeam in County Cork, Ireland. His father then met and married “a pretty colleen” by the name of Margaret Goodman from Beekmantown.

The George Bola Construction Company of Lake Placid was hired by Goodman Kelleher to build an addition on his Clearwater Beach Hotel in Florida. The beautiful Bola residence was at 41 Forest St., which I remember well as I was a friend of their daughter Barbara when we were in high school.

Getting you the flavor of the book

There is a photo taken in Florida with Kelleher and a fellow by the name of Frank Regan. Rags to riches? I quote from page 97 of the book:

“Frank Regan, a fine fellow and personal friend of mine for many years, was recently elected President of Realty Hotels, Inc., operating the Biltmore, the Barclay, the Chatham and Park Lane hotels in New York City.

“Frank began his career as bellhop at the Lake Placid Club, Essex County, N.Y. I can well remember working at the Club with Frank, another country boy, who has worked his way from the bottom up and made good. Frank was hustling baggage in the front of the hotel and I was working in the kitchen at the time.”

More about of all of that later.

This book is loaded with beautiful photos of Lake Placid hotels, lodges, restaurants and people, people, people … I wish could publish them all.

Introduction by Judge Brewster

Goodman Kelleher hosts a Thanksgiving Day dinner for the entire Bola construction crew from Lake Placid.

Well, Mr. Kelleher certainly had friends in high places because Justice O. Byron Brewster wrote the introduction to the book.

Excerpts from that introduction:

“Despite the Puritanical smack in his fore name, Goodman Kelleher is an Irishman — and a regular one at that.

“He asked me to assist in the selection of a title. His friends had proposed scores of them — many were good, more were bad and most were terrible.

Justice O. Byron Brewster

“Goodman is devoid of vanity. Then why, you may ask, did he write this story of his life? The answer is easy. His good nature simply boiled over.

“But Goodman is serious in this, his first literary effort and has come forth with something that is unique and witty, and which will entertain and inspire.

“In this book, Goodman has stirred up a complete little American saga which, unlike his early attempts at mayonnaise, stays put. He has made a palatable dish out of the commonplace. Its primitiveness gives it a wholesome body. Its aliveness imparts pleasing flavor and the wit and humor mixed through, entices after the first bite. His serving of it is a welcome addition to the pitiably lean cupboard of Adirondack literature.”

Let me introduce Justice Brewster

He was a direct descendent of Elder William Brewster of the Mayflower. He was born in Lake Placid and graduated from Lake Placid High School in 1904. After attending Amherst College for one year, he then attended and graduated from Syracuse University. After two years at Albany Law School, he was admitted to the bar and began his practice in Elizabethtown. He subsequently was elected Essex County district attorney and served until 1927. He was elected to the state Supreme Court, Fourth Judicial District, and was reelected 14 years later. Gov. Dewey named him to the Third Department in January 1944. He remained on the appellate bench until 1952, when he retired because of ill health. He died on Oct. 27, 1953, at the age of 67.

[Part 2 next week]

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