Chapter Fifteen – 1903-1978
The Adirondack-Florida School, The House in the Woods, and WaAwA
(Equivalent to 112 pages in hard-copy)


The Cast:

Alice Ruth Carter Ransom,

Paul C. Ransom,

Levings H. Somers,
Harry H. Anderson,

Ellen Moceri,

Buster Crabbe,

Dr. Franklin Carter,
Edward P. Carter, Jr.,

Sarah Sherman Carter,

Lady Lindsey,
Dr. Edward P. Carter,

Mrs. Albert Tyler,

Mrs. Mary Norris,

Miss Agnes Thompson,

Miss Anna and Miss Helen McMahon,

Vera Moss,

Frank Hathaway,
Charles Palmer,

Etta Leach,

Mae Curran,

Mr. & Mrs. Charles Tormey,
Ezra W. and Alice P. Todd,

Jesse Egleston,

Teresa R. Eshelman,

Paul Hartman,

Herb & Edith Safford,

Warren Otto,

Harold Martin,

Mark Winters,
Kenneth Wilson,

Hank McKenty,

Pat McKenty,

Mr. & Mrs. Bittner,

Hank Tormey,

John Safford,

David Tanner,

George Carter,

Pete Cameron,

Mr. Bowden,

Margaret L. Carter,

Mito Catral,

Bing Tormey,

John R. Leonard,

Harriet Leonard,

Daniel Leonard,

May Leonard,

Mel Leonard,

Harriet Leonard,

Deborah Leonard, 

Frode Jensen,

Alexander H. Woollcott,

Thornton N. Wilder,

Daniel Leonard, Jr.,

Sarah Leonard,

Charlie Krepp,

Cary Krepp,

Chad Krepp,

Betty Leonard, 

Bonnie Leonard,

Ashley Leonard,

Danforth Leonard,

Alix Jensen,

Karen Jensen,

Tom Dame,
Leslie Dame,

Laura Dame,
Paul Van Cott,

Dylan Jensen Van Cott,

Sasha Van Cott,
Tim Johannes,

Bob Turpin,

Leonard Turpin,

Daniel Leonard,

Edgar Leonard,

May Leonard,

Betty Leonard,
Gardner C. Leonard,

Grace Sutherland Leonard,

Margaret Sutherland Leonard,
Gardner C. Leonard, Jr.,

Margaret Sutherland Johansen,

M. Davidson,
Laura Sutherland Davidson,

Polly Carter,

Liz Washburn,

Lamby Washburn,

Maryedith Burrell,

Jim Myhre,

Beulah,

Lowell Thomas,

Dody Baker/Becker/Oliver/Masters,

the Werners,

the MacFarlands, and

Judy Becker



Moments from Chapter Fifteen:


…his school is open to those who “believe they are put in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it.


Aunt Ruth’s house - probably the only private brick house in the Adirondacks…


When Buster Crabbe strode in, I said, “Well, if you are going to announce breakfast all over the lake, don’t be surprised if people come!”


They told us that twenty-seven inches of snow fell during that storm.


They want the tower for Santa Claus Village!


The Mosnar trail follows the shore of Clear Pond; the ferns are higher than my head.

I remember the walk as though it were yesterday.
In fact, it was 75 years ago.


He used to say it was a wonderful store… you wonder if we have it,
we wonder where we put it, and we both wonder what it costs!


“the cousins are reckoned by the dozens.”


The rivalry between the two gents and their launches was of historic proportions.


I can see right through his pants!



In 1903, my great aunt, Ruth Ransom, and her husband, Paul, bought an old logging camp on Clear Pond, adjoining Rainbow Lake, in Onchiota, Franklin County, New York to establish the northern campus of their Adirondack-Florida School.

IN 1903, FOUNDING HEADMASTER PAUL C. RANSOM STATED TO CANDIDATES FOR ADMISSION that his school is open to those who “believe they are put in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it.” These values have come to characterize the Ransom Everglades program. Over the past century, the school has evolved from a small boys’ migratory boarding school into one of the finest coeducational college preparatory day schools in the country.

From Frederick J. Seaver's Historical Sketches of Franklin County, Chapter XVI (1909)


Paul C. Ransom, a graduate of Williams College, having been compelled by failing health to relinquish the practice of law in Buffalo, turned in 1897 to the work of fitting boys for college, and in 1903 established the Adirondack-Florida School, which holds its spring and autumn terms on Rainbow lake, near Onchiota, and a winter term at Cocoanut Grove, Florida.


A school building or lodge was erected at the former place in 1906 at a cost of $15,000, and a number of cabins and other structures have been added since.


Mr. Ransom died in 1907, when Mrs. Ransom assumed charge, and has since conducted the school, with L. H. Somers, a Yale man, as headmaster. Of Mr. Ransom it is said that his quiet influence over boys was wonderful, and that he was "a rare master, and a rarer friend."


Originally the school was planned to accommodate twenty pupils, but now has a capacity for thirty; and inasmuch as it is believed that the best results are attainable only with a small enrollment no effort is likely to be made for further enlargement.


The Rainbow Lake branch is called Meenahga Lodge. The school is intended to give boys the best advantages attainable in the way of individual attention and wholesome surroundings, the opportunity to pursue a course of study in preparation for college, and at the same time the benefit of outdoor life under the most favorable climatic conditions. Invalid boys or those suffering from any organic disease are not received.


A chief aim of the school is the cultivation of character, and particular attention is given also to outdoor sports and physical training.


The charge for tuition and care is $1,600 per pupil per year, which does not include traveling expenses, text books or stationery, and no deductions are allowed for absence, withdrawal or dismissal.


The naked statement of terms is evidence that only the sons or wards of wealthy people are included among the pupils, who come from all parts of the United States.


The school's standing is very high, and it has the unqualified indorsement of eminent educators and of many distinguished men whose sons have been among its pupils.




Porter Sargeant, A Handbook Of Private Schools For American Boys And Girls An Annual Survey, p.301


THE ADIRONDACK-FLORIDA SCHOOL Boys Ages 12-18.


The plan of spending the winter months in Florida was conceived and first carried out by Paul C Ransom, the founder of this school. For six preceding winters he had taken a group of boys to Pine Knot Camp, the present winter home of the school five miles south of Miami.


After his death in 1907, Mrs. Ransom and Levings Hooker Somers developed the school on the lines laid down by Mr. Ransom. The group never exceeds twenty-five carefully selected boys. The income is wholly invested in improvement of the equipment An atmosphere of sincerity, loyalty, serious work and devotion to ideals has been created which leaves an indelible impress.


Some evidence of this was shown in the immediate and cordial response of alumni in subscriptions to reconstruct the Coconut Grove plant after its practical destruction in the 1926 hurricane.


In 1928 a board of trustees was appointed and the school was incorporated the following year.


In 1931, Mr. Somers, who had married the previous year, resigned and Mr. Wilson, an alumnus, instructor in the school from 1926 to 1930, who had recreated the summer camp, Meenagha Lodge, in 1927, was called from Lawrenceville to succeed him.


The school is still in operation in Florida, now called the Ransom Everglades School.



Harry H. Anderson, Class of 1938.


When he was 12, Harry Anderson went for an interview at the Adirondack-Florida School at Onchiota, New York... by canoe. His mother and father were in one canoe. Harry and a guide were in a second boat. It was a four-hour trip altogether, with two portages that were long for a boy of his age. The party set off from Camp Junco on Upper St. Regis Lake, paddled into Spitfire Lake, navigated the slough into Lower St. Regis Lake, carried about a mile to Paul Smith’s on Church Pond, paddled across Osgood Pond up a narrow stream leading to Jones Pond, after which there is another carry of about a mile into the south end of Rainbow Lake. The school is a two-and-a-half-mile paddle from there.


It wasn’t Harry’s first trip to the school. When he was 10 he’d been to the summer camp run by Adirondack-Florida—Camp Meenagha, named after the nearby mountain—but not by canoe. Meenagha, according to Anderson, is Native American for “blueberry.” For the trip to camp, the family would take one of its launches to the dock at the Landing on Upper St. Regis Lake where the cars were kept, and drive an hour and a half. When Anderson was 11 he’d attended the funeral of Alice Ruth Carter Ransom, who had run the school after her husband’s death in 1907. That had been his first trip to the school by canoe.


The interview was more or less a formality. Harry’s father and Uncle Larocque had entered the school in 1906, after the northern campus had opened. The school authorities had gotten to know Harry as an upstanding young camper who was as enthusiastic and capable in the woods as he was on the water. There was no question he fit the demanding profile of the Adirondack-Florida student as outlined in the extraordinary letter written in 1903 by the founder, Paul Ransom.
Son of a prosperous Buffalo, New York, family, Paul Ransom was a popular Williams College professor with a Harvard degree whose promising legal career was cut short when he was diagnosed with Bright’s disease, a kidney disorder without a cure at the time. Urged to seek a warmer climate, in 1893 Ransom traveled to Titusville, Florida, the end of the railroad line. He crossed Lake Worth by small boat, then hired a sloop with a captain to take him to Coconut Grove on Biscayne Bay. He was looking for Kirk Monroe, a well-known writer of boys’ adventure books. He had a letter of introduction to Monroe. The two men met and got along so well that Monroe sold Ransom seven acres of his land in Coconut Grove in 1896.


With a school in mind, Ransom spent several years getting organized, erecting some rudimentary buildings, pumping drinking water by hand, and taking on a handful of students who had their lessons in the boathouse. In 1898, Ransom built the first tennis court in southern Florida.


Along the way, Ransom married Alice Ruth Carter, daughter of the president of Williams College. The improved health and vitality he had experienced from spending the winters in a warm climate had spawned the idea of starting a migratory school. His wife shared his enthusiasm for the project. Toward that end the Ransoms bought an old lumber camp, Meenagha Lodge, near Saranac. Adirondack-Florida school was opened in 1903 with seven boys and three teachers in addition to Ransom. The seven boys, as this excerpt from his Letter to Prospective Students makes clear, were of the “Third Class”:


Your parents have asked me to accept you as a pupil at my school, and I have consented to do so provided I find you are in accord with me as to the purposes for which you would come here and are willing to agree to certain things which I consider necessary if those purposes are to be attained. The people in this world may be divided roughly into three great classes, according to the attitude they hold to life. The people in the first class believe, or seem to believe, that they were put into the world to see how much they can get out of it. Provided they are comfortable themselves, it does not distress them that others are in misery. Their object in life being to get all they can, and keep all they get, it sometimes seems a matter of little consequence to them if they get some things that rightly belong to other people. The people of this class are often rich, sometimes they are talented; but if the world is better off for their living in it, it is not because of any conscious effort of theirs. They never find the contentment and happiness they seek so eagerly.


The second class is those who do not give life any thought at all—who do not like to think very deeply of anything. They are content to drift along and take what comes, but they are too lazy to take the trouble of deciding difficult problems. They are often well meaning, amiable people; but if all the people in the world belonged to this class no progress would be possible and things would soon come to a standstill.


The people of the third class believe they are in the world not so much for what they can get out of it as for what they can put into it. They are unwilling to give up their lives for the selfish pursuit of pleasure. They believe in work, and are willing and anxious to do their share of it. They do not shirk the great problems of life, but meet and solve them. It is to these that the world is indebted for all the progress that has been made in the past, and to them it must look for all hope of progress in the future. The people who belong to this class are very busy—too busy to think very much of themselves—but they are really the happiest people in the world.


Now if you want to belong to one of the first two classes, this is not the school for you. We have no time to waste in training boys to be selfish or lazy. You would not be in the spirit of the school if you came here, and you probably would not remain in it long. If all you care to think of is the fun you are going to have—the hunting, fishing, and cruising—and if you have no thought to give to the serious matters of life, to your work, to honor, and truth, and purity, and helpfulness—you would only be a hindrance to us here, and you would yourself be disappointed, for while we believe in fun, and in all the pleasures of the outdoor life we try to give our boys, we believe more in the higher things, and we intend to give them the first place. But if you find that it is your wish to belong to the third class—to live not for yourself alone, but to serve your God, your country, and your fellow man, with all your heart and mind and strength—why then, my boy, this will be a good place for you and we will welcome you here with all our hearts. And if this is the life you wish to train yourself for, you will not find it difficult to commit yourself to the promises that I ask you to make to yourself and to me, for they are part of the training. If you wish to become an efficient, helpful, trustworthy man you must begin by being an efficient, helpful, trustworthy boy, and to do this you must accustom yourself to obey, to work, and to resist self-indulgence.


As this decision is of such extreme importance, I shall ask you to think over this letter at least one day before deciding. If you decide that you want to come to us, you will date and sign one of the enclosed letters and return it to me. . . .
Of the other two copies, one is for you to keep . . . in your Bible so that you may refer to it . . . and thus refresh your memory of what you have promised.


Harry Anderson doesn’t recall Paul Ransom’s letter from when he was 12 years old. Today, the philosophy expressed in the letter remains the school’s creed. The school is now called Ransom Everglades, and is co-ed with two campuses in Coconut Grove. Ellen Moceri, head of school in 2013, reads Ransom’s letter to the assembled students at the start of each semester. Anderson appreciates how accurately the letter reflects the day-to-day philosophy of the school, and how profoundly the school influenced him.

The school property consisted of Aunt Ruth’s house - probably the only private brick house in the Adirondacks…

The Lodge with meeting rooms…

The School House with an auditorium and classrooms…

A cabin with more classrooms…

I found the bass drum and a jesters costume back stage and enjoyed them for years!


There was also a large playing field for soccer, baseball, archery, and rifle shooting…


Several cabins that served as small dormitories…

An Infirmary, a large, lake-front dining hall and kitchen…

There were several boat houses, the Safford’s (later the McKenty’s) home, and a big red barn. Later, Buster Crabbe added a swimming pool.

Left to right in front of the Lodge of the Adirondack-Florida School in the Adirondacks:

Dr. Franklin Carter, President of Williams College for twenty years, and father of
Dr. Carter (Poppy, standing) and Ruth (kneeling).

On his lap, my father, Edward P. Carter, Jr.; then, Sarah Sherman Carter (granny), Granny’s mother (Lady Lindsey, married to the U.K. Ambassador to Washington – Lord Lindsey) (her cousin, my cousin, was Jock Whitney, US Ambassador to The Court of St. James at the same time); Bobs, a Boston Bull Terrier; Ruth Carter Ransom, my great Aunt and owner of the Adirondack-Florida School (now Ransom Everglades in Coconut Grove, Florida); and my grandfather, Dr. Edward P. Carter (Poppy).

Aunt Ruth was fascinating. She had a black butler, Amos, who served tea from a silver tea service on the beach on Clear Pond.


After the Second World War, it was too costly to run a migratory boarding school, so the Adirondack property was closed. The school is still in operation in Florida, now called the Ransom Everglades School.


In the 50s, my father and his cousins sold the property to Buster Crabb.


The first summer that Buster Crabbe ran Camp Meenagha, there was a loud public address system that annoyed the hell out of me. In the morning, I’d be woken by, “Cabin Three go brush your teeth.”


Half an hour later, I was on the lake in the canoe when breakfast was announced. I paddled down, went into the dining lodge, and sat in the head seat. When Buster strode in, I said, “Well, if you are going to announce breakfast all over the lake, don’t be surprised if people come!”


He welcomed me and lowered the public address system's volume after that.


(He ran it for 2-3 years, not 23.)

ONCHIOTA IN THE WINTER OF 1916


Adirondack Daily Enterprise, December 19, 1955



THIS 'N' THAT


By Mrs. Albert Tyler



For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder; and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The Mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of "Peace. Isa. 9:6.


Back in the Fall of 1916 I had started my second year of work at the Adirondack-Florida School, which was a boys' boarding school. The Fall and Spring terms were, held at Meenahga Lodge near Onchiota, and the Winter term, (January to Easter) at Pine Knot Camp, Cocoanut Grove, Fla. December had come and nearly passed. The boys had gone to their homes for the holidays, and we, the help, stayed on a day or two longer to close up the buildings for the Winter.


Along about 1:30 or 2:00 p.m. of Dec. 22, our last afternoon there, it began to snow, and HOW it DID snow. You never saw larger flakes and you never saw them come down faster. It almost seemed to smother us. The clouds hung so low and the snow was so thick that it was half dark all the afternoon. We were soon wading in snow several inches deep as we went from building to building in our work, and each time we went out there was a noticeable difference in the depth of the snow.


Our housekeeper, Mrs. Mary Norris, had a poodle dog. By mid-afternoon she was telephoning, by way of the house phones, to everyone on the place to ask it we had seen Pete. No one had, and it soon became evident that he must have been blinded and bewildered by the snow, and had gotten lost or buried. We all called him every time we went outside, but no Pete. (He was found some three weeks later, alive and seemingly none the worse for his "outing" except he was hungry and cold.)


About 5 or 5:30 I was called to the phone at the Lodge. By that time the snow was more than knee deep, it was black dark, and the snow was still coming down as hard as ever. The call proved to be from Albert Tyler, my late husband. We had been "going steady" for two or three months, and he had been planning to spend that evening with me. Somewhat earlier than usual, on account of the storm and the darkness, he had hitched his horse to the cutter and had started out for the six or seven mile trip. Before he had gone two miles the snow was so deep it was piling up in front of the dashboard. The horse was finding it hard traveling, and there was no lessening of me storm, so Albert decided that much as his desires led him one way, common sense and necessity must lead him the other, so he turned around and went back home. Then he called up, hoping to catch me when I'd be near the phone, and how contrite he was when he found I had to wade all that deep snow to answer the phone. (And we wore neither ski suits nor slacks then.)


They told us that twenty-seven inches of snow fell during that storm. It stopped snowing during the evening, and turned colder and the wind came up. All night the wind raged and blew that snow. By morning the cold was intense and the wind still howled. But we were all supposed to leave the school that morning to go to our homes for Christmas, and it didn't seem to occur to anyone that it might be better to stay.


Three of the girls were from near Huntingdon, Que., and they were supposed to leave on the 6:30 a.m. New York Central train for Canada. The school team was hitched to the heavy farm sleigh. The girls' trunks and bags were put on, and were used as seats by the girls who were well wrapped up. They were off long before daylight, so that, in spite of the hard traveling, they would be in time for their train. It was a long two miles that morning from the school to the little open-face N. Y. Central "station". There was no road to be seen. In the best places when the wind had not hit the snow, the horses waded almost belly deep, and some drifts were several feet deep. In spite of their early start they arrived too late for their train—had the train been, on time. But trains were "bogged down" too that morning. The driver unloaded the trunks and left the girls there in the cold, to await, and flag, their own train as he had to go right back to get a bunch of us who were to go to Plattsburgh on the Delaware and Hudson that passed through Onchiota sometime around 10 a.m.


The wind was still blowing and filled the tracks about as fast as they were made. On the second trip out we had the same team and Mrs. Ransom, (the owner's) mare, Betsy, was hitched to the "pung" and some of the baggage and Mrs. Ransom and one of the girls went in that rig to help to lighten the other load. Besides Mrs. Ransom who was on her way to New York City, there were Miss Agnes Thompson, then of Plattsburgh, the former Miss Anna and Miss Helen McMahon, then of Wadhams, my sister Vera Moss and myself, of Lewis. The drivers were Frank Hathaway and Charles Palmer. To make it a bit easier for the horses they let first one rig lead and then the other. When we got to the old mill ward at Onchiota the road was drifted so badly that they zig-zagged around among the lumber plies, wherever they could find a bit less snow.


When we crossed the N.Y. Central track we saw that that train had not yet gone through, so we knew that those girls, the Misses Agnes and Etta Leach, and Mae Curran were still waiting. We, too, were late at our station, which was an old freight car with benches along two sides for seats, and no stove. We were chilled to the bone. No one knew when the train would come. After a bit Mrs. Ransom remembered a little book, entitled, "A Christmas Card" that one of the boys had given her for Christmas. She got it out of her bag and started reading it to us, all the time beating her empty hand on a knee to keep it warm. Mr. Hathaway had put the team in the barn and stayed to help load the trunks. After a while he went to a telephone, and came back with the news that the train with a snow plow ahead was on its way, but it would not be through for more than an hour. So we went a few rods away to the home of Mr. and Mrs. Charles Tormey and got warm. She made coffee for us and gave us a lunch and we stayed until nearly time for the train. The train was only the engine and plow, one baggage car and one passenger car, and there was hardly standing room in either.


Vera and I arrived at Essex station hours later, and found our father waiting for us with our horse and cutter. It was so cold, and so late, and the roads so bad that we stayed nearby at the home of our uncle, and got home next day about noon, after a drive of about six miles.


From Meenahga to Lewis it is about fifty-five miles as we travel it today and takes, maybe an hour and a half.

In 1903, Aunt Ruth sold a lake-front parcel of her Adirondack property to her brother, my grandfather, Dr. Edward P. Carter. It was located west of all of her school buildings, hidden in dense forest at the very end of the two-rut, dirt road.


My grandfather, Poppy, established a carpenters’ camp further up the lake on the shore trail, hired a huge team of carpenters, and thus built a proper “suburban, main-street”- style house in the middle of the woods.


The out-buildings consisting of a dry goods and vegetable “cooler” (outdoor pantry) whose safe-thick door would be cracked open during the Adirondack-cold nights; a woodshed; a two-roomed maids’ cottage with bath; a one-room cabin with bath; an icehouse; a boathouse; a two-car garage, a small games cabin called Black Fly Camp, and a tree-house for me. The western (left) half was wilderness.


All the grounds were left wild, except for a flagstone terrace on the shore that we called the Point. We swam and waterskied from here. The underbrush was mainly wild blueberry bushes and the paths were carpeted in fallen pine needles.


In the 20s, a group of students at the school built a small one-room cabin, across the cove, on the shore of part of the western half of the property. The cabin was called Alumni Camp and served as a “party room” for visiting alumni.


Mito and I restored and expanded it in 1972-73, and re-named it Blazes.

My grandmother kept a flower garden behind the School Lodge and HOWO was always filled with Gladiolas and the like.


Clear Pond, a mile and a half long, was part of an interconnected waterway that included adjacent Rainbow Lake.


Aunt Ruth had had a “cut” made in the esker that separated Clear Pond and 3-mile-long Rainbow.


At the foot of Rainbow, below Leonard Dam – not actually a dam anymore but a concrete bridge, with a passage for boats, that allowed access to WaAwA - the Leonard camp (my cousins), and, beyond, the Adirondack-Florida School, The House in the Woods, and Blazes - a branch of the Saranac River led several miles to Lake Kushaqua, the largest of the lakes.


From our boathouse to the real dam (that controlled the water level of all the water system) at the foot of Lake Kushaqua and back is about twenty-five miles, nearly all of it wilderness, state land, or owned by friends and family.

Leonard Dam

At one point, the river goes under the old railroad tracks that once ran to Montreal. I used to waterski the whole route non-stop and back.

Aunt Ruth erected a forest rangers’ tower on Meenahga, the mini-mountain behind the school. Everything has a story, here are a couple of stories about the tower…


Ted in Tanner Tower

From Tanner Tower… Rainbow Lake on the left; Clear Pond on the right.

TANNER TOWER – MEENAGHA HILL


HISTORY



The Adirondack-Florida School (AFS), a private school for boys established in 1903 in Coconut Grove, Florida, had a summer campus at Meenahga Lodge on Clear Pond near Rainbow Lake in northern Franklin County. They erected their own seventy-three-foot fire tower on Meenagha Hill (1900') in 1927 after a spate of fires threatened their surroundings.


Paul C. Ransom, the school's founder was born in Earlville, New York, on March 4, 1863. He graduated from Williams College and studied law at Harvard and Columbia. In 1889 he opened a law practice in Buffalo. In 1893 he learned that he had Bright’s disease, an incurable kidney illness. Doctors told him to move to a warmer climate. He went to Florida with a college friend, Frederick De P. Townsend. They arrived in Coconut Grove in February 1893. Ten years later Ransom established the first migratory, private boarding school in the United States. He purchased one and a half acres in Coconut grove and built the “Pine Knot Camp.” This became the southern campus.


Then in July 1903 Ransom bought 750 acres on Clear Pond near the hamlet of Onchiota in Franklin County from Ezra W. and Alice P. Todd of New York City and Jesse Egleston of Onchiota. The owners had logged the land before selling it to Ransom, and the old logging camp buildings were used for his northern campus.


Students spent the winter in Florida and came up to Meenahga Lodge in the Adirondacks for the spring and the fall. Meenagha was the Indian name for blueberries.


Teresa R. Eshelman wrote: “Mr. Ransom was deeply interested in the health and education of the student, especially young boys. This was reflected in the school's motto: 'For the Love of Boys.' Ransom wrote: ‘To work in such work in the beautiful surroundings of the virgin forest and the tropic sea. Did God ever give a man more than he is giving me!’”


In 1905 nine students between the ages of thirteen and eighteen attended the A-FS. Paul had five masters (teachers) and fifteen other employees. Twenty years later twenty-five students were enrolled. There were five masters and Paul to guide the students. He hired eleven other employees.


The school had high standards and enrollment was limited. Only a few wealthy students could attend because of the high tuition.


Ransom built additional buildings: one for recitation, another for recreation, an infirmary, and the “Brick House” for the Ransoms. Trails linked the various buildings. The school built a reservoir and water system. Students ate their meals in the lumber camp log dining hall near the shore of Clear Pond.


The Conservation Fire Map of 1916 shows that during 1911, 1912, and 1914 forest fires threatened the northern border of the school property. After receiving a donation from a student’s family, AFS built a seventy-three-foot steel fire tower in 1927 on Meenahga Hill.


Retired District Ranger Paul Hartmann said, “While erected primarily for the use of the school, this tower was to be used as a fire observation station during periods of dry weather through cooperation between the school and the Conservation Department according to the 1927 Conservation Report to the Legislature. No other records can be found to indicate that Meenahga was ever used by the Conservation Department.”


The trustees of the AFS closed the northern campus in 1949. The southern campus at Coconut Grove continued and was renamed Ransom School after its founder. In 1955 the Everglades School for Girls was founded. Later the two schools merged and today it is called Ransom Everglades School.


On September 26, 1952, Buster Crabbe, the Olympic swimming champ and famous movie star, purchased the AFS property near Rainbow Lake and ran a boys and girls summer camp called Camp Meenahga. Buster hired the former caretaker, Herb Safford, and his wife, Edith. She cooked for approximately two hundred campers and counselors for twenty-three years. The camp closed in 1975. Herb Safford worked a total of forty-six years at the property as a caretaker.


Warren Otto, a Cadillac car dealer in Albany, purchased the old Buster Crabbe swim camp. Presently there are only a few of the buildings standing. The old infirmary has been rehabilitated and the Ransom “Brick House” appears to be in good shape. Otto owns and maintains the fire tower. It is on private property and hiking there is prohibited.



LORE


I phoned retired forest ranger Harold Martin at his home in Florida in December 2003. Harold was in charge of the area around Onchiota and Meenagha Lodge. He said, “Meenagha Hill had its own fire tower. We never used it when I was working up there. There was a swim camp up there. I went up there during the winter in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s on snow machines. The floorboards were in pretty bad shape then.”


***


During the fall of 2003 I called the present owner, Warren Otto, and asked him if I’d be able to see his fire tower. He agreed and gave me the phone number of his caretaker, Mark Winters.


I met Mark at Otto's beautiful home on Clear Pond. He drove me up to the old, cleared recreation field where the AFS students played sports. Mark gave me a key to the tower and pointed out the path. I followed the wide mowed road that wound its way up the hill. After walking for about twenty minutes, I reached the tower.


The lower part of the tower was shrouded with metal siding that reached about fifteen feet high. Otto had closed in the base of the tower to prevent vandalism and injuries. There was a metal door that I opened with a key. I started climbing the stairs of the seventy-three-foot-high tower but got only half way up due to my fear of heights. I did, however get a good view of the surrounding trees and water in the distance.


***


On a beautiful fall day in October 2004 I visited Edith Safford, a former employee of the AFS and the swim camp, at the high-rise senior citizen apartment building in Saranac Lake. She said, “I was born in 1909 in Mountain Ash in South Wales. I came to Canada in 1929 and worked for a family that had a camp on Rainbow Lake in Onchiota. One of my jobs was to go to the post office to pick up the mail. It was during the summer of 1931 that I met my future husband, Herbert, at the post office. He was working at the Florida School and did outside work. The next year we got married right here in Saranac Lake across the street in the Methodist Church.


“After we got married I worked for the headmaster, Kenneth Wilson. I took care of his one-year old son, Leslie. I think his father was from Binghamton. Later I found that being a nursemaid was too confining. After two years, I became a waitress and cleaned the dormitory.


“There were about twelve buildings on the campus. Some were older buildings from the logging camp days and some were built. There was a kitchen/dining room, infirmary, three dorms, a big recreation building where the boys played games (darts and exercise equipment), and a schoolhouse with classrooms.


“My husband’s main job was as caretaker. He worked with Hank McKenty who had a son Pat. They worked together fixing buildings and maintaining the grounds.


After Thanksgiving, we went ahead of everyone to Florida to get the school down there ready. The school started up in January. It was located on a lake outside of Miami. My husband drove the school car down to Florida. It was a Studebaker and it took us six days to get there. One time I remember we drove our own car. I went down for five years, and when my son John was born in 1937, I stayed up north.


“In March we left Florida and came back to the Adirondacks to get the school ready. The school closed in April in Florida and the kids came north for classes. Then the school up here closed at the end of May. After that, there was a six-week camp up here that was just for boys. It was called Camp Meenagha.


“It was an all-boys school. There were no more than thirty students. The parents paid about $2,400 for tuition. The boys never had to clean their room. They were catered to.


“I think there were about four or five teachers. We also had a nurse and a doctor who lived on the campus during the school year. Mr. and Mrs. Bittner were the cooks.


“When Herbert was twenty-one he helped bring up the supplies for the fire tower. He told me that he helped build it in 1927.


“I only went up there once and that was enough. I said I didn’t want to go but Herb made me go way up to the top. Sometimes he went up to the tower to see if everything was all right. He’d come home and tell me what he saw. Sometimes he said that he saw a deer. He probably did see some smoke from fires.


“At one time there was a threat of fire during the school year. He took three or four boys to patrol the campus and woods. Some went up into the tower to watch for smoke and others walked around Clear Pond.


“In the spring of 1938 Herb bought a farm by Chasm Falls. He tried to do both jobs. Then the school said they didn’t need his services because he was running the farm, too. I hated living and running a farm.


“Then in 1952 Hank Tormey, the owner of the store in Onchiota, called my husband. He said there was a new owner of the school and wanted to know if he’d be the caretaker. Buster Crabbe was the new owner.


“When Herb went for the interview he got the job because he was familiar with the buildings and grounds. My husband told Buster, ‘My wife is a good cook.’ So I got that job.


“At first Buster’s swim camp was just for boys. Then he made it co-ed. Two of the dorms were used for girls and the boys stayed in the big house. The camp ran for six weeks. We opened on the July 4 and closed around August 23.


“Herbert and I stayed in a house on the right-hand side of the hill.


“Buster was a good man to work for. He was good to his help. He came to the kitchen every morning for coffee. I have a lot of pleasant memories of working at the school and for Buster’s swim camp.”


Later, Edith's son, John, told me: “The tower was built by the Tanner family. It was erected in their son’s memory, David Tanner. He was a student. I’m not sure what happened to him. The Tanners financed it and they called it the ‘Tanner Tower.’


“I was there many times as a kid. I believe there was a plaque. I think it was attached to the structure. I remember the wooden parts were becoming unsafe. Then someone placed a chain-link fence around the tower.”


And…


Here is a letter from Henry McKenty to my father…


“They want the tower for Santa Claus Village!”


34 degrees below zero!

The last correspondence regarding the Adirondack-Florida School property in the Adirondacks:


from my father to his cousin, George…


A contribution I made to Ransom Everglades Alumni Magazine…

For Ransom-Everglades Alumni Magazine


Edward G.L. Carter (Class of 1958) writes:


“The Mosnar trail follows the shore of Clear Pond; the ferns are higher than my head. I remember the walk as though it were yesterday. In fact, it was 65 years ago.


I spent nearly every summer on the shores of Clear Pond in the camp my grandfather built to be near his sister who had started a school next door.


I went to Hotchkiss. Spending too much time in the darkroom, I was kicked out. Pete Cameron, a classmate of my father and now headmaster of Ransom-Everglades, reluctantly let me join the class of 1958. I got the Ransom part (it’s Mosnar backwards) but Coconut Grove’s a long way from the Everglades.


About the only thing I remember was falling down the stairs at a party in the Pagoda… dead drunk. I also remember Mr. Bowden (I’ve emailed him but I guess he doesn’t want to remember me. Can’t say I blame him… I didn’t last long).


Having grown up in Mt. Kisco, I graduated from Horace Greeley and joined the Army, produced the First (and last) Annual Okinawa Grand Prix, worked in 30 countries for Investors Overseas Services, and retired back to the Adirondacks. I decided to take “paying guests” and ran a “private” houseparty for many years—my home, The Point, is still considered one of the top resorts in the world. Tiring of hosting, I sold it and started a journal, Edward Carter’s Travels, once online as the oldest travel website on the Internet.  


The Edward Carter Galleries—fine art photography (remember Hotchkiss?)—opened in Manhattan’s SoHo in 1999. Harry Anderson hosted a sailing party there and I gave him the second bronze plaque that hangs on the fireplace in the Pagoda.


Now I am a professor at Thailand’s Bangkok University. I do most of my work in my study at home. Over my desk is the study hall clock from the Adirondack part of A.F.S. The flag to which so many A.F.S. students pledged their allegiance hangs in my bedroom. My pantry is filled with 18th-century Meissen, and my printer sits on a Vuitton trunk made in 1896… both belonged to my great aunt, Alice Ruth Ransom.


The Mosnar Trail has wended a long, long way.



Edward G.L. Carter


“The Mosnar trail follows the shore of Clear Pond; the ferns are higher than my head. I remember the walk as though it were yesterday. In fact, it was 65 years ago.” (Now, 75 years ago.)


This is one of my earliest living memories… walking along the trail to Lone Pond under the ferns. Here are the ferns; they are about three feet tall; I must have been less than two years old.

PART ONE - The Adirondack-Florida School

PART TWO - The House in the Woods

Me and the ‘Rondondacks’

From the age of eight months, nearly every summer I went to the Adirondack Mountains to stay with Granny and Poppy (my paternal grandparents) at the “The House in the Woods” (HOWO) their camp.

As my father had only a two-week, annual vacation, Granny and Poppy would look after me all summer long. Mom and Dad would come up in August to be with me for my birthday.


I went nearly every summer all my life to age 38, missing only a few years due to Army or business. Parts of Chapters One, Eight, Nine, Twelve, Thirteen, and Fourteen cover various times I was at HOWO, this chapter tells of the end of that era.


Following the deaths of my grandparents in the 50s, and my parents acquisition of their year-round home, High Weather (HIWE), in Vermont, they visited HOWO only a few days each year.


In the 60s and early 70s, I was in the Army then working around the world. Starting in 1972 with my father’s death, Mother and I and Mito, spent many weeks each year bringing the property up to speed, restoring and expanding Blazes, and, later, building new decks, an attached garage, and improving the driveway.


1978 - Mike, Mito, Bob Tebbutt, and Rich, our caretaker that year.

My sister and brother hardly ever visited, and Mother said they were concerned I was investing so much time and money into the property as they were not interested in participating. Not expecting nor needing help – I was doing it for HOWO, I was miffed at their attitude. Thus, the next week, my abrupt decision to buy Rockefeller’s Camp Wonundra.


Even though my ‘Rondondacks’ era was over, The House in the Woods, my grandparents, my cousins at WaAwA, the neighbors, the McKentys, the Saffords, the Tormeys, the beauty, the solitude, my seriousness of purpose, my striving for perfection in the smallest things, and my understanding of the responsibilities for life’s biggest things – all had guided me unerringly through the most formative years of my life.


Granny taught me to be kind.


Granny and me in 1941. She owned much of Cleveland at one time.

Granny looked and talked like Eleanor Roosevelt (I think they were friends). Her great uncle was General William Tecumseh Sherman who fought in the Union Army during the American Civil War. He is quoted as saying, “War is Hell,” and is known for the harshness of the "scorched earth" policies that he implemented in conducting total war against the Confederate States. I have the first copy of President Lincoln’s letter to him thanking him for his “Christmas present” – his burning march through the South that virtually won the war for the North. (My nephew, David, went to university in the South and had the balls to hang “Tecump’s” portrait over his bed!)

General Sherman near The Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue, New York

Some of my favorite souvenirs of Granny include her walking sticks, a curious bronze postage stamp holder in the shape of her favorite breed – the Boston Terrier, and a “3-Headed” dog that was a permanent fixture on the mantelpiece of The House in the Woods.

Poppy taught me to be honorable.

Poppy

Poppy’s father was Franklin Carter, the president of Williams College for twenty years. Poppy’s sister was Ruth Ransom another educator via The Adirondack Florida School. It got into my genes and I ended up my life as a professor at Bangkok University.


Poppy (Dr. Edward P. Carter) had been with Johns Hopkins. He had the first cardiograph in America, and co-authored the definitive text on heart disease. His only private patient was George Eastman who paid him in cameras, and Poppy’s resulting camera collection – carefully stored in a tin-lined room at HOWO - inspired my life as a photographer and one-time owner of four fine-art photography galleries.


Granny and Poppy were helped by the McKenty’s. Henry and Esther had been our family “retainers” for decades. Their two children, Sally and Pat, were much older than I and friends to Dade and Chris. Henry taught me about handling challenges and… hand tools; Esther taught me to be cheerful.

The Tormeys taught me to have a sense of humor – re: ONCHIOTA IN THE WINTER OF 1916 (above), Bing Tormey, the grandson of the above Charles, ran Tormey’s Store in Onchiota all through my youth. He used to say it was a wonderful store… you wonder if we have it, we wonder where we put it, and we both wonder what it costs!


My cousins and neighbors taught me to be myself, and I taught myself to appreciate opportunities, meet challenges, complete objectives, and fulfil responsibilities. The beauty and the solitude taught me to respect and protect nature.


My best memories - those I call up to calm my fears, or go to sleep:


Picture Puzzles
Many an evening was devoted to working on a puzzle.
I credit my perspicaciousness to this amusing activity.

Clear Pond.

The Blue Heron fishing for breakfast.

The call of the loon.

My brother could copy the call quite well – sounds like a crazy laugh.
One doesn’t see them very often but the call seems to echo across the lakes every day. I can imagine Garbo saying, “I vant to be a loon.”

The road to The House in the Woods on top of the “Hogback.” Rainbow Lake on the left.

The simple things about life in the Woods – our stationery.

The Cheshire Cat from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

There were six posters of Alice in Wonderland’s adventures thumb-tacked up the walls of HOWO’s “golden staircase” and along the hall above. The Cheshire Cat was at the head of the stairs and used to scare my nephew, David.

I read that this may be one of only 4 complete sets of the John Macfarlane posters of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland in the world. They were published by McMillan (circa 1900-1921). I “rescued” them from HOWO in 1973 and had them framed in San Francisco. Here they are in my bedroom at The White Elephant in Thailand.

Birthday Cake Island

Lake Kushaqua, at the end of our chain of navigable waters.

Rainbow Lake

Lone Pond

Dylan Jensen Van Cott, Dody Baker/Becker/Oliver/Masters, and Ted Carter

Charlie Keough and my cousin, Alix.

The dirt road from Onchiota to HOWO crosses the tracks where we used to flag down the train from Montreal to ride down to Harmon, NY, and home.


Just beyond, just where the road takes a sharp left to avoid running into the river, is a tall, sturdy tree – my sentinel.


Each visit, I find myself saying, “Hello, tree, here I am again.” And, when leaving, “Goodbye, tree, I’ll see you again.”

Goodbye, tree, I won’t see you again.

PART THREE - WaAwA

WaAwA


Now, what about WaAwA? That’s the name of the Leonard camp (my cousins). What does it mean? Way away? Maybe… those that really knew are paddling a higher lake.


WaAwA was built in 1913-1915 by Uncle Dick (John R. Leonard), from Chicago, and his wife, Harriet Leonard (maiden name Leonard – my maternal grandfather’s sister) from Albany, NY.


Yes, a Leonard (Uncle Dick) married an unrelated Leonard (Aunt Harriet) and a little confusion has reigned ever since. I’m still a little confused, but here’s what I understand is pertinent to WaAwA: Daniel Leonard of Albany had five children – Edgar, Gardner (my grandfather), May, Betty, and Harriet. Harriet married Uncle Dick and together they built WaAwA.


WaAwA is located in the hamlet of Onchiota, Franklin County, New York approximately an hour south of the U.S./Canadian border and thus one and a half hour’s drive south of Montreal. It is a six hour drive south to New York City.


The camp sits on the top of an esker, the rubble left behind by a receding glacier, at the foot of Rainbow Lake, and looks north to its private lake, Square Pond, and south to the North Branch of the Saranac River. It is accessed by the dirt road that runs between the hamlet of Onchiota and the Adirondack-Florida School, The House in the Woods, and Blazes.


The following were my family as I was growing up at The House in the Woods and spending much time at WaAwA:


Uncle Dick and Aunt Harriet had a son named Daniel (Dan), who married May (MayMay), and a daughter named Deborah (Debbie) who married Frode (Freddie), a Dane. There were two other daughters - Mel, who I don’t know anything about, and Harriet who married Mr. Turpin and had Bob and Leonard (there’s that name again!).


Dan

MayMay

 Deborah Leonard & Frode Jensen (Debbie & Freddie)
with Thornton Wilder and Alexander Woollcott among others.

Alexander Humphreys Woollcott was an American critic and commentator for The New Yorker magazine and a member of the Algonquin Round Table. He was the inspiration for Sheridan Whiteside, the main character in the play The Man Who Came to Dinner by George S. Kaufman and Moss Hart, and for the far less likable character Waldo Lydecker in the film Laura. Woollcott was convinced he was the inspiration for his friend Rex Stout's brilliant, eccentric detective Nero Wolfe, an idea that Stout denied.


Thornton Niven Wilder was an American playwright and novelist. He won three Pulitzer Prizes—for the novel The Bridge of San Luis Rey and for the two plays Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth — and a U.S. National Book Award for the novel The Eighth Day.


As Tony Hail would say, “This family ain’t no pile of shit.”


Dan and MayMay had Dan, Jr. (Danny) and Sarah (Sally)


Sally and Danny at the 100th Birthday of WaAwA.

Sally married Charlie Krepp and have Cary and Chad Krepp.

Cary

Chad

Dan married Elizabeth (Betty) and have, left to right, below: Bonnie, Ashley, and Danforth (the fourth Dan) Leonard.

Debbie and Freddie had Alix and Karen Jensen.

Left to right: In front - Liz Washburn, Alix’s best friend; Lamby Washburn, Debbie’s best friend;

and Debbie and Karen.

In the rear – Alix, and Bob Turpin, a cousin.  

Alix married Tom Dame.

Tom and Alix

They had Leslie and Laura Dame.

Laura, Alix, and Leslie

Leslie married Paul Van Cott, the son of one of the charming Werner girls whose parents lived on Rainbow Lake. Their camp is named Camp SanMarJean, after the three daughters – Sandy, Marjorie, and Jean. 

Paul

The Van Cotts live in Saranac Lake where Paul is an elected official. Leslie and Paul have a son and a daughter…






















Dylan Jensen Van Cott

Dylan with Dody and Ted!

Leslie & Paul

Main Cabin with screened porch on the right.

Most of the Main Cabin is devoted to a huge main room that serves as dining room as well as living, and, oh yes, over there, hidden in a corner near the fireplace, is a German grand piano… almost missed it.

The walls are covered by more than a hundred years of collected flotsam and jetsam, and you damn well better not move, let alone REmove any of it… we’d all SCREAM!


On the desk are volumes of Guest Books. Look what I found…


In the above, Gardner Leonard (from Albany, NY, whose sister, Harriet, married John R. Leonard from Chicago) and Grace Sutherland Leonard are my maternal grandparents; Margaret Sutherland Leonard is my mother, and Gardner C. Leonard, Jr. is my mother’s brother, after whom I am named.


Later in the same book is the following:


As you can see, my mother and her brother were back in 1926. They lived with my grandmother in Albany, NY and, in the winter, in Pasadena, CA. This summer, Mother was going to Norway, and planned to cruise the fjords.


Uncle Dick, teasing my mother, said, “There’s a nice young man who lives down the road here in the summers. He’s a bit deaf, goes to Yale, and is quite good-looking.”


Amazingly, Edward “Ned” Carter, from The House in the Woods ‘down the road’ (my father), met the same Margaret Leonard (my mother) on the S.S. Bergensfjord on a North Cape cruise later that summer, and proposed to her in the Tuileries Garden in Paris. They were married in 1929, and returned to WaAwA on the 8th of September, 1933 (entry above).


In that same houseparty was Margaret Sutherland Johansen, my mother’s aunt, who became known, quite rightly, as “Auntie Mame.” She was married three times ‘for her money’ which she said she didn’t have, and made her sister support her for years in an apartment building in Albany. When she died in 1955, there was half a million dollars in her checking account!


In the July 1939 entry above, my sister, Grace (whom I called ‘Dade’), signed ‘Polly Carter.’ She was six years old!


Here’s a clipping about her…


More recent entries:

July 31, 1987, eglc (me) at WaAwA with Jim (whom you will meet in Chapter 16), and in June 1992, Jim and I invited a friend Maryedith Burrell, a writer from Los Angeles – love her limerick!


And, Jim’s entry for the same visit…


In 1993, my entry refers to a new queen bed I bought from Rice’s in Saranac for Honeymoon, the cabin in which I was staying.


The dining area of the Main Cabin:


Here’s the next generation; the bell brings silence for ‘Grace.’

And the desk between the dining table and the porch:

Alix and Leslie

Bell

The centerpiece of the room is the fireplace.

Above the fireplace is the memorial to the S.S. Onchi, Uncle Dick’s eighteen-foot, single-cylinder, gasoline-powered, inboard launch. The bow, with flag, is mounted on the engine cover, and the gasoline filler cap is also attached.

The boat was perfect for these Adirondack waters that consist of deep lakes and shallow streams. Its propeller was recessed in a well so that the boat could navigate the shallowest of water.


My grandfather, Dr. Carter, had an identical boat – Bobs, named after a Boston Terrier that belonged to my grandmother.


The rivalry between the two gents and their launches was of historic proportions - the following may be the most valuable piece of “flotsam” on the wall of WaAwA

Behind this great room are linen and games closets, an ironing room, a full bathroom, and the kitchen. At one time, I think the attached two pantries, a table where the telephone sits, and the huge “monitor” refrigerator, were part of a separate building, but the roof was extended and joined the building together. So now there is an outside door facing Square Pond, and a hallway with an old-fashioned clothes-washing machine, that leads left to Beulah’s room, and straight ahead to a back door and out to an elevated deck to the Guide’s Cabin, Honeymoon, and The Far Cabin, beyond.


Who’s Beulah? You tell me; she’s been here for nearly a century!


Happy, happy Laundry Day in front of the Guide’s Cabin...

Alix

WaAwA sits on the top of an esker – the rubble left behind by a receding glacier. Most of the region consisting of Clear Pond, Rainbow Lake, and the Leonard’s private lake – Square Pond, was an esker, and often geologists would come to examine what we called the “hogback” that separated Clear Pond and Square Pond from Rainbow and the North Branch of the Saranac River that flowed from Rainbow to Lake Kushaqua.


Here is WaAwA from the other side of Square Pond.


Behind the trees, on the far left, is The Far Cabin; moving right is Honeymoon, then the Guide’s Cabin, then the Main Cabin. There’s a small pump house half-way up the bank, above which is Jubilee, and, on the far right, Seven Pines. Note: the ice is just forming.


Square Pond is the source of our drinking water, and is the deepest of all the region’s lakes; we think it is over 135 feet deep, and has a sand bottom. It is higher in elevation than Clear Pond, and flows into it. Huge trophy fish taken from Square Pond decorate the Main Cabin.


When my mother stayed in camp as a girl, each room in each cabin had a small wood stove, and a caretaker would light them just before dawn.


The preferred accommodation is one of the two bedrooms in Jubilee. There is also a sitting room with stone fireplace, a telephone (!), and electric, baseboard heating!


Jubilee, overlooking Square Pond.

Square Pond from Jubilee.
You can just make out the island on which loons breed.

Next to Jubilee is Seven Pines, with three bedrooms and built in writing desks made from Birch tree branches.

Seven Pines

Square Pond from Seven Pines

Furthest from the Main Cabin is… The Far Cabin; it, too, has three bedrooms.

The Far Cabin

Square Pond from The Far Cabin

Down on the shore on the right of the above was the old pump house. A few years ago (maybe 40), Alix salvaged the old pump and restored it as a community project.

What was left of the pump house forty years ago.

Alix and the restored pump!

Here is the Main Cabin. It faces up Rainbow Lake. Square Pond is on the left, the river, below the dam, on the right.

Turning around, here is the view of Rainbow in the summer…

Immediately off the shore is a blueberry-covered, semi-floating island-bog that used to be way up the lake, but showed up on our doorstep unannounced one year. We let it stay even though it encroached on our pocket beach.


The left side of the lake is what we call “The Gold Coast.” The MacFarland/Tennants, the Baker/Becker/Olivers, and the Werners had beautifully maintained summer homes here. One of the three Werner daughters is Paul Van Cott’s mother. The right side of the lake is the “Hogback” that separates Rainbow from Clear Pond. And, right in the middle is Leonard Island, a favorite family picnic spot.


To the very far left and nestled against the river side of Leonard Dam is WaAwA’s boat house.


Since there has never been the perfect replacement for the S.S. Onchi, boats at WaAwA are kept simple: outboards for running around, guideboats for appreciating the Adirondacks.

Here am I rowing up Rainbow… past Leonard Island and then looking back, far past the island, on the right, to the dam and WaAwA’s boathouse, way at the end of the lake…

On my last visit, Liz Washburn, Alix, and I went up to Little John’s Dam on a shallow tributary of the North Branch. This is typical of magical moments at WaAwA

Some of my most vivid memories of WaAwA include:


Playing “The Game” (charades) and having to act out “I dreamed I was playing football wearing my Maidenform bra!” – in front of the GIRLS!


Standing off the beach in my white surfer shorts, and hearing one of my girl cousins saying, “I can see right through his pants!”


Pretending to drop a rock on Karen’s head on the Island, only to have it bounce off the mossy ground and bash her in the temple!


Towing Alix on skis behind the Chris-Craft and crashing into Dody’s swimming float with Judy Becker lying on its diving board!


Dressy parties at the MacFarlands…


Liz and Alix

Poppy, Judy, Karen, and me (early 1950s)

And, tearing down the hill to the boathouse and, after a long day of waterskiing at Dody’s beach, trying to get the “escalator” to take me back up the hill to the Main Cabin…

"The Escalator"

As Lowell Thomas might say at the end of a Technicolor travelogue…


"and as the sun sets over Rainbow Lake, we bid adieu to WaAwA, and, next chapter, join Ted Carter as he creates the ‘Number One Resort in America’ – The Point!”


River Sunrise

Rainbow Lake

Sunset over the Hogback

Night falls

END OF CHAPTER FIFTEEN


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Paul, Sasha, Dylan, and Leslie (and the S.S. Onchi!)

Karen married Mr. Johannes and has Tim, and... I can’t keep up any longer. I’m reminded of the words from H.M.S. Pinafore... “the cousins are reckoned by the dozens.”


And holding all the memories together is… WaAwA.


The camp consists of the Main Cabin and several separate cabins in typical Adirondack style. Many Adirondack camps started as tents in the woods. If the locale was suitable for a more permanent camp, tent platforms were built. There was usually one large tent for living and dining, a cook tent, and individual tents for sleeping. In ensuing years, walls and roofs were added to the platforms and, eventually, a permanent camp was established.


While WaAwA didn’t go through these phases, being built as is, all at once, but its layout is similar.


Sasha and Dylan

Paul and Sasha

Leslie and Sasha Van Cott