Masonic Lodge announces essay contest winners

SARANAC LAKE – The Whiteface Mountain Masonic Lodge’s 20th annual Masonic Essay Contest awards ceremony was held at 2 p.m. Sunday, May 4 at the Masonic Temple. The winners read their essays and were awarded gift certificates to downtown merchants. Refreshments in the Lodge Fellowship Hall followed. This year’s topic was: If you lived in the Tri-Lakes area 50-100 years ago, as an adult, describe three aspects of your life. Saranac Lake Middle School teachers Carol Reyell and Jason Smith presented the essay topic to their students, and the Wilkins Agency again provided support for this event. Hannah Gurchenaur won first place, Sawyer Chase, second, and Julian Gambacuria and Ben Goff tied for third.

First Place

Cleaning at Prospect Point


I’ve never liked Tuesdays. Even when I was a child, Tuesdays always seemed to be placed in a most irritable position in the week. It isn’t near the end and it isn’t one of the first two days of the week either, so you are neither fresh and energized nor close to having a break. I often fantasize that Tuesdays were invented just to make people as miserable as possible. Now-a-days, the placement in the week isn’t what bothers me about Tuesdays. Its the way dust is always flying in my face, making me sneeze and my eyes water (even though I’m not allergic), that puts me in a gloomy mood. Tuesday is dusting day. On most Tuesdays, you would do well not to cross me, but today is different. Even though today happens to be part of the busiest working and cleaning week of the year, the air is full of an electric buzz of excitement. Starting last week, I’ve done nothing but scrub, polish, shine, sweep and yes, dust. I even helped in the gardens some. As the week goes on, more and more people have shown up at the doorstep, hired to help in the following month. Some have familiar faces, people I have passed briefly in the village, but most I have never seen before. All our work is leading up to the day after tomorrow. The day that the Lewisohn Family arrives at their Great Camp in the Adirondacks.

My name is Alain, Alain Deleara. I live in a village called Saranac Lake located in the upstate woods of New York. I am a maid at a camp, called Prospect Point. My family has worked for the Lewisohn’s who own it, for who knows how long, though I’ve personally only worked for them for three years. Adolph Lewisohn and his family only come once or twice in a summer, bringing with them some staff from ‘The City”, but my family is always here. We take care of the camp while it is unused. Most of the year everything is covered with a white dust cloth and I don’t have to do any cleaning for a few months, at least ’til it’s time to air out everything. So in the dead of winter I don’t work on the camp, but help my mom do minor mending jobs on linens, and as I sit and watch the men harvest ice from the lake, to store in the ice house, I can’t help but think of how much more fun it would be, to go out skating on the lake!

The place is quiet and still in winter, kind of eerie if you ask me, but in the summer, for a week or two, it is alive with many people. The Lewisohns temporarily hire town folk to work here, plus the few of their personal staff they bring up from New York City. Why, there are so employees that my dad claims he counted two hundred of us. Though my mom says that was an exaggerated guess, I reckon he is not too far off. Besides the maids and butlers there are also nearly 40 servants Mr. Lewisohn brings with him. He brings ten guides for hunting and fishing, a barber, a singing and dance teacher for the children, and a caddy. I even saw a man get hired to come and play chess! Most these of people are, as I said before, temporary. There’s no need for them in the winter.

After they leave, I must help pack linens in the tin room. The tin room is exactly what it sounds like – a room lined with tin, with the purpose to keep mice, bugs and moths out of linens that aren’t being used. Then I’m completely off work ’til spring when I do a spring clean and air everything out and go back to dusting on Tuesdays. I finally get into the hang of cleaning; then when the Lewisohns arrive I re-clean and make sure everything is spotless under the keen eye of my mother who happens to be the housekeeping maid, and can spot a speck of dust with her eyes closed ..

The Prospect Point Camp is huge- around 4,000 acres- and it has many buildings. Thats a whole lot of cleaning! The entertainment possibilities are endlessHide- and-Go-Seek that could last years! Besides that, there’s a tennis court, two beaches, two boat houses, a field for mini golf and horse stables, but I’m not allowed to play in them, but (and this is our little secret) I sometimes sneak around, pretending I’m Agatha Cristie investigating a missing tennis ball.

For the living quarters, there is one building for each member of the family. And I thought I was lucky to not have to share a bed! The bedroom/houses are richly decorated with thick rugs, furs, a huge four poster bed (that’s very bouncy-I’ve personally tried this) and set in one wall of each room is a large stone fireplace. One building is more of a sitting room with large glass doors looking out and the rest of the building is a trophy room (for game). This is the hardest to clean. There is no possible way to make bear furs and stuffed birds clean, though they good make good pets! The dining area is the biggest of them all. Their personal dining room has walls decorated with birch bark and wood carvings with wooden doors leading outside and to the kitchens next door. Then there are the ice houses and the tin room. Did you know that if you press the shiny tin in a certain spot your reflection gets distorted? I never knew I had such a big nose! And then, of course, there are the servant quarters with a wall of buttons summoning us to our fate of dusting ..

When the Lewisohn family goes back to New York City, these buildings are all left empty. It’s kind of sad really, but their purpose is fulfilled on those few times they are filled to the brim. Rather like me actually. I work as hard as I can for a while, then for the rest of the year I get ready for the nest visit, then do it all over again. Working for the time when this place is occupied, but I don’t mind. My work schedule is uneven in parts but that the way I like my life, and I’m happy, except on Tuesdays.

Second Place



I was sitting at my office desk in New York City on a snowy Saturday in January. I had just gotten off of the phone with a reporter who wanted an interview about my late nephew, Peter, who had fallen through the ice on Lake Flower in Saranac Lake while skating with his friends. Peter had been seventeen. There was a knock on my door and the reporter entered. “Hello, I’m Jim Lapin from the Times.” said the man in a rushed tone.

“Sit down Jim,” I said. “I want to get this done quickly. I’m going to my nephews funeral tomorrow and I want to get ready.”

“Then lets not waste any time.” The young man smiled, sat down and got a notebook from the bag he was carrying, and a pen.

“So Mr. Rockefeller-” Jim started. “Call me John please. Mr. Rockefeller takes too much time,” I said, interrupting him.

” Ok, John, tell me about your nephew Peter. If it’s not to hard for you.”

” It’s OK, Peter was born in Chicago but moved to New York with his dad, my brother.” I said to Jim, who was writing on his notebook as he watched me.

“Can you tell me about the things he did or the places he went in Saranac Lake?” stated Jim.

“Ok then, please do not interrupt me because it will take a little time to remember all of his adventures.” I said laughing.

“I’ll do that.” said Jim smiling.

And with that, I started recalling the many things that my beloved nephew did in upstate New York.

“Peter started going to the Adirondacks after his mother died in 1873, the same year that people began to move there for Tuberculosis. Since I have more money than I know what to do with, I sent some every year to my brother, Peter’s father. So Peter was a very wealthy boy in his young life. The first year he went to Saranac Lake, his father bought a small mansion right outside of the village. He and his older brother, Charlie, went with their father to Saranac Lake for the summer and sometimes for the winter.”

“The first year that the family went there, they stayed at the mansion. Charlie wasn’t great at making friends so he was allowed to invite a couple of his hometown friends to come and stay in the local hotel, owned by Paul Smith. Peter on the other hand had no problem meeting other people. He would go to the different cure cottages in the village to help out the sick.

“Sorry for interrupting but what are cure cottages?” said Jim.

“It’s quite alright Jim, cure cottages are buildings that normal homeowners use as a place to keep tuberculosis patients. It’s like a hotel but for the sick. There are chairs, that are called cure chairs, that help keep the patients comfortable and content.” I said thoughtfully as I tried to remember. “Any more questions?”

Jim smiled, “Not for the time being.” I smiled as well, ” OK then where was 1… ah yes. Peter would also go to the nearby middle school and play ball or other such games with some kids he met there. As I said before, he could make friends anywhere. Peter would help out at the cottages at almost any free time he got. He was fifteen at the time so he could get a job at one of the local tailors. He became a natural, and received five dollars a week. Not bad fora first job. At home he also befriended the servants and cooks that worked there.”

“What were some of the jobs that Peter could have done?” asked the reporter suddenly.

“There were loads of jobs in that little village at that time. A furrier, tailor, milk man , and ice man are naming just a few.” said I.

“Interesting.” said Jim thoughtfully.

“As I was saying, Peter had befriended many of his servants in his mansion outside of Saranac Lake. He was always trying to help them with their chores, but they humbly refused him every time he asked. Peter loved the Adirondacks in the summer so much that he persuaded his father to stay there every single year.

“Peter’s first winter in Saranac Lake was when he was seventeen. He had taken a liking to hockey when he was living here in New York. He had tried out for his neighborhood team and had gotten really good at it. So he started playing in Saranac Lake with some of his friends from there. His buddies and he would walk around Winter Carnival-“

“Winter Carnival?” intruded Jim suddenly.

“Yes, Winter Carnival, So as I was saying-” I began to say.

“What is that? cut in the reporter again.

“OK,Winter Carnival is a huge form of entertainment for tuberculosis patients. There is an ice castle, games and winter sports. Peter would enter into some of these, such as barrel jumping and curling. He preferred barrel jumping over curling because he found that curling attracted more of an older crowd. But he was great at barrel jumping, that year I believe he came in twelfth place out of about 100,”

” Peter was jumping on his second run when the ice gave way underneath him as he landed. They couldn’t get to my nephew in time to save him from the freezing waters. My nephew died in his beloved Saranac Lake. He’s dead and I still can’t believe it.”

I sat there in my chair fighting back the urge to burst into tears.

“I believe that I will build an ice skating rink, in his memory. I’ll build it in my new Rockefeller Center. Yes that would be good.” I said that meaningly and truthfully.

“I will make it an effort to have people remember Peter every time they skate on that rink.”

Third Place (tie)

Saranac Lake, 100 Years Ago

By Julian Gambacurta

I am but a simple man, a man of no extraordinary value. I am a man, twenty-eight years of age and I live in the small town of Saranac Lake, New York. My name is Martin Winthorp; I’ve lived in this town for a little over three years now. Nothing special, I’m no more than your average Joe.

I moved here from Williamsburg, a moderate town in Virginia, in the summer of 1911. Now the year is 1914, it has been around two months now since the start of the war over in Europe, which I live in fear of every day and night. I dream about fighting in the heat of battle and perishing. I cannot stand the thought of being away from my loving family, and of course my loyal dog, Alfonzo. But I should not fear for the future, but what I do fear is losing my beautiful wife, Emily, to that dreaded illness.

My wife has tuberculosis; it was the main reason why my family and I moved to Saranac Lake. A doctor by the name of Edward Livingston Trudeau has exclaimed that the fresh air and nature can help with the sickness. I have to pray that this is true and only hope for the best. We live in what is called a “cure cottage”; this building is designed to aid people that have been diagnosed with tuberculosis to get better. We have one to ourselves. My wife and I have two dearest children, whom we live with. We have a boy, whose name is Philip and he is eleven years old and a daughter, named Amanda who is seventeen, and yet again, the dog. The children and I work our hearts out to support Emily. While Philip is off in school, Amanda volunteered to house keep and be there for Emily throughout the day.

I work most of the day to help the family but it is very difficult since I have an extremely hard time holding a job. I try to do my best but even then I still get laid off for reasons I’m too oblivious to understand. I’ve tried to keep so many jobs, I am currently in the logging business and hope for it to stay that way, but before I became a logger I’ve tried to be a commercial fisherman back in Virginia and when I first came to Saranac Lake I attempted to work for Dr. Trudeau himself but I should have known that was a long shot. Plus I’ve many jobs in between. I am becoming hopeless and falling into depression. I just don’t know what to do anymore, between trying to support the rest of the family, worrying for Emily, and struggling to find the right job; it’s just so hard to deal with.

Aside from all of the depressing parts of my life, there is still a light at the end of the tunnel. This town, it is the place that I love. The brightest smiles on my children’s faces and Saranac Lake are my silver linings. But when the smiles fade away this small town up in the mountains will always be here. There is just so much to do here. When there is no more work that I can do, I enjoy basking in the wondrous nature of the Adirondacks. I intend to hike up every mountain, large or small, that I see. When winter comes I have learned to appreciate the area even more. The mountains come back better than before, in the winter. You can ski down them and snowshoe up them. When winter carnival time comes, there will be a smile on every man, woman, and child’s faces, including mine. I’ve only experienced the winter carnival three times; but I love every single second of it. This place has much, much more to do than just that. In the heart of town, I like to go down by the edge of the Saranac River and fish for hours.

Now I think to myself, my life is in equilibrium. For all of the horrible things in my life, including my ill wife, moving from job to job and just the fact that I live in fear, this town gives out another marvelous piece to the puzzle to compensate. So I, Martin Wesley Winthorp, am just an average man, on the brink of insanity with depression but and yet still blessed with what Saranac Lake has to offer me, like the beautiful nature, and opportunity to heal my wife, and of course, the dog.

Third Place (tie)

Historic Saranac Lake


I always have been fascinated with the study of natural curatives, So when I heard about the opportunity to be a scientist for Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau who is currently trying to find the cure for TB by using nothing but a good diet, lots a rest, a break from the city, and some good fresh air. So I took this opportunity to get away from the uncertainty surrounding the country of France, and go take a look at what’s going on in America, and study something that I actually enjoy.

So I chose to go to America, My name then was Alek Deportur, But when I came to America, Apparently Deportur was a little bit too much to handle for the American people, So they just gave me the most common last name ever, Smith. After going with it for awhile now its grown on me though, people don’t really look past it at all to see my true last name and all it makes me look like is a true American with a little bit of French descent.

When I first arrived in the Adirondacks I went straight to the Institute where all of the TB scientists were working and started to talk to Dr. Trudeau, It was a bit hard to talk to him because my English is a little bit rough around the edges, But I’m pretty sure I got my point across without messing anything up severely, and surely enough after showing him my doctorate and a little bit of paperwork from my country he accepted me in and started to work with me.

After a few days of getting shown around the facility, he showed me some on the patients that he works with. He showed me the basic needs of the patients, and how to treat them and such, and I seemed to get the hang of it really fast. Not to mention some of the overseas patients, My first language came in handy, since french is a really popular language over in the North-Western European countries.

It is amazing all of the famous people that come through here though, Along time ago I saw that Branch Rickey was here, I didn’t think much about it at the time but he would later go to sign Jackie Robinson into the MLB for the Brooklyn Dodgers. Then there was another baseball star who was named Larry Doyle. He used to be the second baseman for the New York Giants at the time, This was long before the team moved to San Francisco.

It’s nice that I can enjoy where I live when I’m not working too, the town of Saranac Lake offers a lot of different things we can do. Like after I’m done at work, I can go hike a mountain or something, If I don’t want to hike a mountain I can go boating or I could go fishing and do something other than check on my TB patients all day long.

This one time when I was on Lake Flower, I was ice fishing and caught a 27 inch pike, and lets say that fed me for a few nights. Getting food isn’t a problem around here since we have many hunters that are willing to bring you food all day for a fairly low price. I guess that is their way of living, but hunting isn’t really for me. Firearms are a rare thing in France, especially in the city I lived in and the hunters tell me its something that you have to learn from a very young age.

I tried to learn from the hunter that brings me my fresh meat, but all that happened was I missed everything I saw. All I left with that day is $2 less for the lesson, A hurt shoulder, and some broken pride. But that is hardly close to all of the things you can do in Saranac Lake, there are always new opportunities.

Every winter Saranac Lake also hosts this thing called “The Winter Carnival” and some of the town’s workers build a huge ice palace that only seems to get bigger and better every year that they do it, They have a parade that really raises the spirits of all of the TB patients, who are allowed out of their cure cottages to see this annual spectacle. It also seems to raise the spirit of everyone in the town, and we get people coming from all over the world just to see the spectacle which is The Winter Carnival.

But from what I’ve seen so far, Saranac Lake isn’t just the healer of the disease that is Tuberculosis, but it also can heal the people who were stuck in the streets of busy cities, or countries that restricted the rights that are considered mandatory here in America, and Saranac Lake has to be the best place in America, and I’m glad that it is the only place that I’ve been, and will ever go in this entire country.