To the editor:
Most residents of Saranac Lake are aware of the presence of Will Rogers, now known as Saranac Village at Will Rogers. It is a big building up a long driveway (Will Rogers Drive). A sign bearing the name, Saranac Lake Village at Will Rogers, now housing for independent living, was founded by the UVA (United Vaudeville Artists Association). They derived its name from Will Rogers, the famous cowboy rope artist who chatted about current events while twirling his lasso. They are wrong if they think Will Rogers once lived here. In fact, Will Rogers did not cure here, and he didn't die here, give any money to it, ever visit it, or maybe ever hear of it in the 55 short years of his life.
In the beginning, anyone who made his living in the vaudeville industry, or anyone related to someone who worked in the industry - parents, child, brother, sister, aunt, uncle, cousin - could come to Will Rogers while curing from tuberculosis, a disease as feared as cancer is today.
The vaudevillians who sponsored it gave not only money but also their time. The large dining room was built with a raised stage so that they could provide entertainment for the patients. Some very well-known actors and actresses performed on that stage and in the local theater, the Pontiac, which burned down in 1978.
Former reporter and managing editor of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise in the 1960s and '70s, now residing at Saranac Village at Will Rogers