Tributes

Dear Long Lake, A Love Letter…

Dear Long Lake,

Hey, there! “Long” time no see (see what I did there?) I really enjoyed visiting you in October. You may not know this, but it was actually the first time I’d visited you in the autumn – which is weird because I’ve been enjoying your glistening waters, pristine trails, sandy shores, and colorful people for over 30 years.

As you may recall, we met for the first time in 1985 on July 4th weekend. I was a camp counselor at Camp Echo Lake at the time where for some bizarre reason, they gave me a summer job directing forty 10-year olds in an outdoor production of “The Mikado.” And they gave me that holiday weekend off. Maybe they thought I needed a break from Gilbert and Sullivan, or perhaps they realized that it wasn’t a good idea to have this native New Yorker around campers and gunpowder. They would be correct. I was impressed with your colorful fireworks and huge showing of community spirit – which I giddily enjoyed from the town beach after boating down from my friends’ camp on the north end of the lake.

 

Now, even though I had come to North Country to visit family in Lake George, Fort Edward and Glens Falls nearly every year since the 70s, I hadn’t ventured further north to you. And boy was I immediately taken by you when I pulled into town that weekend; soon terrified to discover that people in Long Lake drove boats to their rustic cabins “down the lake” with no electricity! How could this city guy ever survive?

I did. I learned so much that blissful weekend. I learned about gaslights and flashlights and refrigerators that ran on gas. I learned that people communicated on party lines, and that you don’t throw your tangerine peels on the forest floor because they aren’t “indigenous to the area.” I learned that black flies eat human flesh. I even learned how to dock a boat…but even I wouldn’t give myself a set of boat keys any time soon. I also learned that you don’t need television. Board games and books are your friends. I learned about making pancakes with fresh berries, picked from the shore and how just sitting on a dock at midnight would reveal a vast, non-light-polluted array of constellations and the occasional Northern Lights. And yes, I did see a UFO. Who hasn’t?

 

I made it a point to visit you every summer since that July 4th, and I even came to say “hi” for a few Snowmobile Race weekends. I loved you in the winter and loved you in the summer. I became hooked on you, Long Lake. But I need to get better at seeing you more often if we are really going to make this relationship work.

I’ve now visited you well over 50 times. How could I not? A few years ago, I was asked to host the Bed Races. My first thought was, “Why and how would anyone race a bed and why would anyone want to watch that?” I threw off the covers and jumped on the opportunity – and I’m glad I did. I was blown away by the enthusiasm and creativity and sense of community. Even though I was nervous about taming my inherent city-slicker-comedy-style, I instantly realized that you have a great sense of humor!

 

Then I was asked to host the Polar Plunge. Sounded ridiculous. I said yes and hosted it three times. Honestly? I was apprehensive at first. I’m a city guy. The only time I want to plunge into ice-cold water is if it’s proceeded by 30 minutes in an overpriced spa steam room. But, I loved it. I loved the kids running around collecting money for Wounded Warrior Project while their parents donned ridiculous costumes. I loved observing the participants’ original styles of entering the icy waters. I even got a kick out the fire department ambushing me and pulling me into the sub-zero lake. (Fun Fact: A bowl of rice really does dry out a wet iPhone.) So, yeah, I’m going to host it again this December 30th and this time I will make sure there’s nothing in my pockets. Also, spas in NYC are expensive.

Look at what you’ve done to me! I can’t quit you, Long Lake. You are one crazy town. And I mean that in the best way. I’ve now hosted the Bed Races five times! I’ve done my crazy solo shows at The Adirondack Hotel and I’m bringing it back again on December 30th. I mean, you are a crazy town. A town that encourages hundreds of people to toss raw eggs at each other – for prizes! You’re a town that embraces kazoos, holiday lights contests, free party buses, sea planes, quilt camps, museums, movies and more interesting personalities than you’ll ever find on an Adirondack dating app. Does such a thing exist?

Speaking of dating…I have a confession. I’ve been sneaking up there the past few summer weekends to camp with my fellow city pals on the incredibly serene sites at Forked Lake. I know that those lake waters feed yours. It’s all good. Don’t be jealous. We make sure to do all of our campsite shopping at your quirky local vendors. If you ran out of ice late last June, we would be the culprits. If you ran out of local firewood, that’s us. If you heard laughter and singing echoing over the lake late into the night, that could have been us. But, it also could have been you. After all, you’re a town that is populated with jokesters. Singers. Musicians. Artists. You have your own style. Your own sense of humor. You even have your own slogan “The summer is short, but the lake is long”…(I don’t know where that one came from).

Yeah. The summer is way too short when you’re in Long Lake. But, the lake can also feel really long when there’s a torrential downpour and you’re driving back to your camp to read a book or play a board game. Or when the dock at the camp you’re staying at begins to float away on your choppy waters…yes, I’ve rescued a few docks in my time.

I don’t want to complain. This is a love letter. I guess with the New Year coming, I thought it appropriate to let you know what an impact you’ve had on me. Thank you for being you, Long Lake. I’m not ready to move in just yet. But, I will be back. I am now a man for all seasons.

Yours Truly,

Peter Michael Marino

 

Scenics for A Year, Long Lake NY

Enjoy one year of scenics from the Town of Long Lake.

These photos were taken in 2014 of Long Lake NY. While we do have plenty of activities and events for folks to enjoy, the scenery is always telling the real story of the Adirondacks.

Happy New Year to all our friends, extended family and guests who enjoy this place as much as we do at the Parks & Recreation Department.

John Collins Former LLCS Teacher Honored

On, November 14, 2009 John Collins was awarded the honorable achievement, the Howard Zahniser Award by the organization, Protect the Adirondacks. He received this award for his efforts, courage, education and passion to protect the Adirondack Park & Catskill Park. I was asked to write something about his time teaching at Long Lake Central School and I thank all of you who generously shared some very funny memories and the following is a compilation of insights many friends shared, so I thank you. FYI Howard Zahniser was the author of the federal Wilderness Act of 1964. I was honored to be asked to write something for the program because Mr. C was a very important influence on my own personal history and on so many others who contributed to this compilation.

The following appeared in the program…
He made an indelible impression on the students passing through his classroom. He expected participation, and was often met with resistance, but he never gave up. He went out of his way to encourage those who didn’t embrace traditional modes of learning for hard labor, hammering nails, reading, physical exertion, or memorizing poetry.

He wore the part well, with a macramé belt, short sleeve print shirt and a cotton tie with a flat end, and he was often heard muttering, “don’t touch my tie.” He made us memorize “El Dorado,” “The Road Not Taken,” and all of the state capitals.

Mr. Collins exposed students to culture through senior trips to Paris and London. He advised the Student Council and National Honor Society. He introduced students to Albany through the Student Senate Policy forum. He stashed cookies in his desk drawer, and pretended not to notice when cookie crumbs trickled down the face of guilty students. His demonstrated finesse by teaching politeness, differentiating between the words “can and may” “Can I go to the bathroom?” “I don’t know, can you?”

He initiated our first relationship with the great outdoors by exposing students to their own backyard, the Adirondacks. There were the mandatory hikes with sixth grade teacher and partner-in-crime, Gary Baker. Yearly trips up Chimney Mountain to explore caves, steep terrain up to Blue Mountain, pushing students up Mt. Marcy, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing into Sargeant’s Ponds and the ultimate rite of passage: the fifth grade overnight. Destinations varied year to year… Kelly’s Point or Marcy Dam.

Mr. Collins, or Mr. C as he was affectionately known, encouraged kids who had never been into the wild to appreciate the natural experience. Rain or shine there were hikes. He tolerated whining, scraped knees, mud, inappropriate shoes, and general disinterest, able to turn apathy into curiosity. His infamous side trips often questioned by inquisitive young minds asking, “are we lost?” His confident response as branches hit his torso and neck, “we’re bushwhacking!” Relief etched on his face as soon as the lean-to appeared. He and wife Ellen always packed their tent to maintain peace and privacy. From his tent he would occasionally beckon “go to bed!” while students giggled and flicked flashlights on and off, amazed how quiet the woods actually were.

His laugh, his floppy hair, his passion and competitive game of kickball carried us through and made our brains work, for that we forgive his impatience and thank him for instilling us with fever for knowledge and an appreciation for what we may have ignored had he not been there to open the door.

Added 2017.
John Collins died on June 16, 2017. Today, June 24, 2017, an abundance of family, and friends gathered in Blue Mountain Lake and Long Lake to celebrate his exuberant life and the gifts he shared with so many. As his grandson said so eloquently today, “even the lake looks sad” It’s a quieter day in the Adirondacks.

Thank you Mr. C.

A collective history was compiled by the alumni of Long Lake Central School through Facebook. Memories from: Roberta Sutton McKinney, Jan Hunt, Maureen Rayome Turcotte, Scott Wight, Lynn Wight Stonier, Seth Baker, Melanie Boudreau Marcone, Michael Marcone and Alexandra Roalsvig.

Long Lake