Singing like a caged bird

Wednesday, February 16, 2005


Twenty-five years ago the Olympic torch passed through my town, Saratoga passed directly by the "Spirit of Life" sculpture...

frosted spirit of life

...on its way to light the Olympic Flame

olympic flame IV

... in the Adirondack Mountains at the Lake Placid games.

mt marcy

Shortly afterward, a charter bus came through carrying a band of relatively unknown athletes. They stopped for dinner in nearby Glens Falls. I, along with maybe 50 other well wishers, had dinner with them and tried to give them support. I was too introverted to ask for autographs, but joined in the applause and mumbled greetings of good luck. They sure would need it...they were such underdogs. Little did we known in a few short weeks they would be bringing home the Gold in what has become know as the Miracle on Ice".

Soon afterward, a whole line of athletes came through town from all over the world, people such as Juha Mieto, the giant Finn, and Tomas Wassberg, the Swede, who would battle it out on the nordic ski trails of Mount Van Hoevenbugh.

The last ones to come through were the hordes of international and homegrown tourists. Adirondackers held their breath to see if tiny Lake Placid could handle the surge. A labor dispute between bus drivers and the contracted transportation companies caused a a lot of worry. But to the rescue came the buses and drivers from school districts all around the "North Country" as wwe like to call our region. There were some delays, in the frigid temperatures, waiting for buses to take spectators from Keene up past Cascade Lake and into Lake Placid. That some of the waiting tourists had foolishly not prepared for Adirondack weather made it a bit of a media buzz for a short period.

Knowing of the traffic coming off the interstate, I took the back roads through Blue Mountain, Long,Tupper and Saranac Lakes. I was able to get into the games with maybe a 15 minute wait for the next shuttle bus from Saranac. I had written for tickets over a year earlier. The tix for the nordic skiing were easy to come by....but all I could manage for hockey was the US v. Romania game. But I was there and soaking in all the excitement and fun.

USA vs Romania I

USA vs Romania III

Lost in the shadow of the miracle on ice was one of the greatest nordic races ever...after 15 grueling kilometers Tomas Wassberg edged out Juha Mieto by one hundreth of a second.

German Skier

Nordic skiers

The Olympics launched an economic revival of the Lake Placid area and it still hosts many international winter sports events. It is also home to one of the USA Olympic Training facilities and the Ironman USA headquarters. Main street has seen a plethora of kitschy tourist shops however...and the village has lost some of its charm to franchises etc...but still has its wonderful setting.

One of the economic benefits was the myriad of jobs generated in the region. Construction of the Intervale Ski Jumps for example.

intervale ski jumps

I did not know it at the time, but my future brother-in-law was working on those structures,and...initiating its first use. The following tale was confirmed by the brakeman himself, even though they spelled his name's Moak!
Moak Ski jump
Each day of the Olympic events, after sunset....

sunset adirondacks

The frozen over Mirror Lake was the scene of the award ceremonies. Fireworks were in order. There even was an untralight airplane as part of the spectacle.

Mirror Lake Awards Ceremony II

Mirror Lake Awards Ceremony I

Twenty five years later I can still feel the excitement and pride of little Lake Placid hosting the world! And yes, I definitely know where I was when the USA hockey team defeated the Russian juggernaut...downtown Saratoga Springs was deserted and silent in a cold winter night....but when the game was over the people spilled out on the streets celebrating!!!! It was a joyous night!

Friday, February 11, 2005


Saturday, February 5th, was the annual chowderfest in Saratoga Springs. Area restaurants compete for being named the best chowder of the year. All funds raised go to charity. This year the weather was an unusually warm day with a bright sunny sky. This weather brought out a big crowd of people to sample the "chowdah" as the real New Englanders would say.

chowderfest crowd

The different chowders contained all sorts of great seafood...

tavern menu.jpg

The fest goers came in all sorts..some with hats

chowdah hat taster.jpg

Some as couples,

couple tasters.jpg

Some as Crustaceans????

crustaceans II

Others were there just to lend a hand ladling out the manna.

ladle hands

Good times and laughs were abundant.

thru a parting glass.jpg

It was like a barrel full of monkeys, or at least one monkey busker.

monkey busking II.jpg

There was a report that Uncle Fidel had stopped by in his fatigues and ever present stoggie.

chowdah stoggie.jpg

In the end the sanitation crew must have been a little overwhelmed and the environmentalists down-hearted at the styrofoam headed to the landfill.

chowderfest pollution

And Brindisi's Restaurant continued the battle with Gaffney's...wresting the title back and being named Best Chowder of Saratoga Springs!


For the past year I have been uncovering the experience of my Dad's hellish journey through Europe long ago. Sixty years ago, this January, the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment had been assigned a mission to prevent the demolition of the Schwammanauel hydro-electric dam on the Roer River in Germany. The regimental 3rd Battalion was to conduct the raid. H Company was to be the lead company. And 2nd platoon was assigned to be a diversion by running out of the willow trees and across the 200 yard wide and one foot deep river just below the dam. My Dad was the Platoon leader for that diversion. It was considered a suicide mission. This photo below was taken on a railway car in Belgium heading toward the dam which is near Schmidt, Germany. This type of rail car was called a 40 and 8 because it could haul 40 hommes et 8 cheval...40 men and 8 horses.

Before the raid was to take place, it was fortunately cancelled as the 78th Division had captured the dam. Otherwise, I probably would not be writing this blog today. The men in this photo had survived the Normandy night drop, the ill-fated attack on the "Bridge Too Far" in Nijmegen, Holland and the frozen inferno of the Battle of the Bulge in the Ardenne Forest of Belgium. My dad is the one smiling with the sunglasses his left front is Neal Beaver and to his right front is Herb Beattie. When I learn the identity of the other men in the photo I will post them. They should never be forgotten!

RLS 40 and 8s II