The late Bill Frenette’s book recalls his weekly columns
TUPPER LAKE – For a dozen years, the late Bill Frenette captured the times and culture of Tupper Lake with a weekly column for the Tupper Lake Free Press.
Last month, those columns were published by his family in a new book called “Transitions: Notes On a Proud Past with Attention to Future Annals.” The columns were originally published from 1996 to 2007.
The topics of his writing cover history, outdoors and all things local. He wrote about the creation of Tupper Lake’s Municipal Park, Follensby Pond, the Raquette River, wildlife and many of the people whom he was friends with or knew in Tupper Lake. His columns also often dealt with current events happening in the local community. His own experiences are also interspersed throughout his writing.
“I think what’s interesting about (the book) is here’s somebody who has skied, poled, biked, walked, paddled most of the Adirondacks,” said his son Charlie Frenette. “He just loved the outdoors, and he was able to find something interesting of historical significance and connect it to some type of current event and connect it with some local characters, people in the town.”
Frenette, who died at age 80 in 2007, was a mainstay in Tupper Lake for many years. He had eight children with his wife, Virginia, who still lives in Tupper Lake.
He graduated from Tupper Lake High School in 1945. While in school, he was a member of the basketball, football, cross country and track teams.
He later attended the business administration program at St. Lawrence University, where he was a four-event man on the ski team, competing in slalom, cross-country, jumping and downhill. Upon graduation in 1951, Bill spent his working career in the family business, Frenette Bros. Beer Distributors and Tupper Lake Coca-Cola Bottling Company. He retired in the mid-1990s following the sale of the business.
Frenette served as the historian for the town and village of Tupper Lake from 1995 until 2007.
Frenette was an avid outdoorsman who hiked the 46 High Peaks in summer and winter at a young age. He also competed in canoe races and paddled whitewater. He was good friends with Paul Jamieson, a St. Lawrence University professor who wrote the paddling guidebook “Adirondack Canoe Waters” for the Adirondack Mountain Club.
“At the time we were growing up, my sisters and I would laugh because my father would be up at 7:30 on a Saturday and say, ‘It’s a nice day out. Get up, get out of bed, and get out. We’ll go find something to do'” Charlie Frenette said. “So we’d always load up our Volkswagon bus and be going somewhere to a cross-country ski race or a canoe paddle somewhere or a hike up some peak.”
This love of the outdoors and history can be found in Bill Frenette’s writing throughout the book. “So Much to Know,” published on July 29, 1998, is a good example of that. In the column, Frenette writes about the Jordan River, Raquette River and also the Carry Falls Reservoir, northwest of Tupper Lake.
He displays his historical knowledge by writing about the former settlement of Hollywood that is now under the water of Carry Falls Reservoir.
“You will find lots of sandy beaches along wooded shorelines, attractive islands, and at three miles wide and seven miles long, you won’t feel crowded. If you do visit this man-made lake, you may want to reflect that under the hull of your boat, now covered by up to 70 feet of water, not very long ago (1951) there was an entire settlement that was once known as ‘Hollywood.’
“Yep! Hollywood, and it was so named in 1886, the year before the California movie capitol was also named Hollywood!
“As a boy I used to ride along on my father’s soda truck when he would make deliveries to the renowned Hollywood Inn located there. Oh boy, such memories.”
For those interested in reading more of Frenette’s work, the book is for sale at The Wild Center museum and The Goff-Nelson Memorial Library, both in Tupper Lake, as well as on Amazon.com.