First edition of The Journal

I mentioned and quoted from The Journal a few weeks ago … a weekly newspaper published by the Saranac-Lake-Placid Trumpet, Inc., every Thursday at 245 Main St., Lake Placid.

Now, thanks to my pal King Bunk and to my friend and neighbor, Jeff Wood, who lives down the road apiece from me and who originally gave copies of the Journals to Bunk — wait, wait, it’s getting too complicated. I have right here in my possession the one and only very first edition (Oct. 1, 1970) of The Journal, edited by Fred Ellers and Bill McLaughlin … a dynamic duo, if there ever was one.

Editorial — Mr. McLaughlin predicts format, policy …

“The directors of The Journal did not sign us on as a hired gun, you understand. Our ambitions circumscribe only that area pertinent to putting out a bright and interesting weekly publication which may, with time, become a bi-weekly.

“We do enjoy certain latitude that a daily cannot duplicate and since we cannot compete with them in news dissemination we must rely on a bonanza of pictorial and feature material and more or less dazzle the opposition with our footwork.”

Editorial — Mr. Ellers takes school board to task, edited version.

“One of the problems that cannot be ‘swept under the rug’ in the Saranac Lake, Lake Placid area is the always present drug situation.

“Next Monday evening at the Harrietstown Town Hall and Tuesday evening at the Olympic Arena edition (which we will gladly refer to as a Convention Hall when they start getting some conventions) a young man will speak on drugs. Unfortunately the Lake Placid Board of Education refused to allow the speaker into its school system to address the youth of the community.

“I do not know how close the members of the school board have been to the problem, I know how close I have been personally to it, and I would listen to the devil himself if he were to speak against drugs.”

Newspaper, friendship irony

I was Lake Placid News editor at the time. The only letter to the editor in this first edition of The Journal was criticizing an editorial I had written in the Sept. 24 Lake Placid News regarding a new subject being added to the health curriculum.

Then, in the last couple of paragraphs in Bill’s column, titled “With Malice Toward Some,” he writes:

“The Lake Placid News, which we must consider one of our arch enemies for want of something more frightening, is about to install a new managing editor in the form of a woman. [I am quite sure that woman was Ellen George, one of the best editors in the following long list.]

“We had at one time decided to form a club called ‘The Society of Former Lake Placid News Editors.’ The fraternal group would have included Marge Lamy, Howard Riley, Bob Goetz, John Griebsch, myself, Faye Howard, Laura Viscome and a couple of others we can’t seem to recall. We would include Lisa Forrest simply because she is so regular.”

My dear readers, now know this … Bill McLaughlin and Fred Ellers were two of my best friends. We never had a cross word. Bill would do anything for me and I anything for him. Sometime I will tell you all how I helped Fred when he went on a trip to Germany.

They dazzled them with their footwork

Fred and Bill also said this: “This first of many issues was fraught with misadventure, mechanical failure, last minute hang-ups and a number of second thoughts as what was actually going into The Journal birthdate.”

Well, I think they did an incredible job. I just can’t imagine what it was like creating a weekly newspaper.

Page one was loaded with pictures, including one of Dr. Hub Bergamini, a member of the school board, speaking against the merger of the Saranac Lake/Lake Placid school systems. Also a picture of the murder trial jury leaving for lunch; next was a photo of a jailbird and former Attica prison inmate — who had become known as a “jailhouse lawyer” — appealing his sentence. McLaughlin writes in his unusual style. “Lake Placid Attorney Favor Smith was appointed by the courts to represent the prisoner in the finer points of the law and the legal courses which must be taken to protect his rights under the law.”

And advertising galore: Huge ad from Egglefield Brothers, “Home for your Ford since 1910” — Dew Drop Inn — Carl Chevrolet — Broadway Liquor Store — Swinging Tiger Bar, 81 Broadway — Trader Al’s, 3 West Valley Road — Betty Neihoff’s Books, 117 Main St., L.P. — Pete, George and Bill Gladd, Datsun and mobile home dealers, Lake Colby Drive — Keough Marine Sales, 119 River St. — Hotel Alpine, 84 Broadway — AUCTION, every Saturday night O.K. Hall, Gabriels — Betty’s Restaurant — Charlie Green’s Market — Books n’ Cards For All — Branch & Callanan — Terminal News Stand — Arthur Construction — Oxford Market — Dickie’s Restaurant — The Porch Restaurant — Lakeside Garage — Fran’s Barbershop — Hyde Fuel — The Belvedere — McCrea’s T.V. — Post Office Pharmacy — Cedar Post Restaurant (affectingly known by a few of us occasional patrons as “The Stump”) — Munn’s Business Machines and Sara-Placid Drive-In Theater, just to name a few.

I have no idea how long the Journal existed. After all, this was 52 years ago, and there are not many around who I could ask about it. Someone gave me a hint that people believed, true or false, that some of their funding came from the very conservative John Birch Society. Knowing those two guys so well, I have to believe that gossip is false.


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