Lake Placid — June 1970

I was editor of the Lake Placid News back then, and through the courtesy of my friend Barbara Paye Kent, I have a copy of the News of June 11, 1970.

The little village was a different place then. There were four movie theaters operating in the area. Happy Jack Wikoff was president of the Lake Placid Chamber of Commerce, and I had convinced him to write a column for the News which he titled “The Chamber Pot.” The W. Alton Jones Cell Science Center was under construction, plagued by problems. The culprits who threw a homemade bomb through a window in the North Elba Town Hall were still on the loose, and the school budget passed with flying colors.

The Sara-Placid Drive-In Theater was featuring “The Bridge at Remagen” and “80 Steps to Jonah.” The Pontiac in Saranac Lake was showing the movie “Johnny Cash.” The Harbor Theater was running a special limited engagement of “Dr. Zhivago.” See illustration for movies at the Palace Theatre, the only one of the four still operating.

And Happy Jack, in this column, was not quite as caustic as he usually was:

“Rapping about starting a graduate school of fine arts last week was a gas, and getting a first class concert series going was a ball, but we shouldn’t really be in the position we are.

“Eliot and I shouldn’t have to beg for funds for this, but we do, and will have to beg some more. While there are enough funds assembled to make starting a good risk, the concert program is still about three thousand short of the thirty-four thousand required for the local series.

“So isn’t it about time that we get under way on a Development Corporation for Lake Placid?”

This was page-one news:

“The Town Hall bombers are still on the loose in Lake Placid. Police Chief Charles Prasse told the News Wednesday that the police and a number of other persons in Town had a pretty good idea of the identity of the suspects who threw the home-made bomb through a window in the Town hall last Thursday but the lack of physical evidence prevented them from making a case that would hold up in court.

“A couple who live near the police station heard the breaking glass, saw the flames and two suspects running away. They went to the police station to tell the officers that the building was on fire. (???) The officers put out the fire with a fire extinguisher.”

“The original opening date for the new multi-million dollar W. Alton Jones Science Center was September 1 of this year. In a brief interview with Dr. Donald Merchant last Friday, he said, ‘We don’t know when it will be now.’

“The sheetmetal workers are out on strike now which also prevents the roofers from working, he said. Dr. Merchant explained that two major items caused by the teamsters strike, the motor control center equipment and the lab furniture are away behind the delivery date because of the inability of the manufacturer to get the raw material.

“Water and sewer should have been in three months ago, Dr. Merchant continued, and the lack of these facilities affects the mechanical contractor.”

“One hundred five voters gave overwhelming approval to the $1,210,950 Lake Placid central School budget at the district’s annual meeting held Tuesday night in the school auditorium.

“They also approved the public library budget of $20,200 and the purchase of two school buses. A proposed amendment to the budget of $20,000 to establish an additional first grade was voted down.

“The first item on the agenda was the election of a chairman and the group elected school board president, Dr. George G. Hart. John Dixon read the library budget. Mrs. Erma Haselton described the changes to be made in the school system next year. (However, the reporter didn’t mention the changes.) Kenneth Gill discussed the proposed merger with Saranac Lake. Gordon Pratt talked about the building and grounds and their maintenance. Henry Gelles spoke on the responsibility of the taxpayers and the board. (Mr. Gelles was an attorney specializing in tax work.)

“In the public comment part of the meeting William Borzilleri asked if anything had been done to reduce the size of the first three grades by adding another teacher.

“Dr. Hart told Mr. Borzilleri that the board has decided to hire teacher’s aids at this level rather than teachers.”