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Memory Lane

“Totally Adirondack – Totally Outlaw – Totally ’80’s”

Saranac Lake’s 2022 Winter Carnival was great fun.

A “Totally ‘80’s” trip down memory lane.


A “Totally ’80’s” pair if there ever was one!

          My wife Robin and I had already had great fun driving over together to enjoy Winter Carnival. We toured the Ice Palace. I went “Butt Bobsledding.”

      The Bobsled run was ice palace slick. Clearly no mission for amateurs! I was undaunted. After a tailbone bruising start coming out of the gate, I quickly recovered, burned down through Shady and Zig-Zag like a Bat Outta Hell, set a new Butt Bobsledding land speed record, AND stuck the landing to bring home the gold.

      My wife and I posed for some photos, (Well, mostly I did). We took a ride “Back to the Future”, then stopped in the Winter Carnival Shop, where we touched all the buttons.

Touching ALL the buttons!

We then visited Historic Saranac Lake’s “Make Your Own Button” venue, where we made a few more buttons of our own.  

My own one-of-a-kind handmade Winter Carnival buttons.
Totally ’80’s!

      So, I knew that for this final Saturday trip home for the carnival’s Gala Parade, I would be flying solo. It’s a two-and-a-half-hour trip up Route 3 east to get home from Watertown. According to the schedule, as usual the parade started at 1pm.

     I wanted to be on the road by 10am. I spent the morning doing mission prep, packing my gear, getting ready.  At 9:45am I pushed two syringes of medicine through my G-tube. I followed that up pushing several more syringes of double espresso shot rocket fuel, my own eight ball caffeine cocktail concoction, ensuring I’d be on high speed auto-pilot for the next six to eight hours.

     I stowed my gear in my truck, heading out up Route 342 past Fort Drum, where I Climbed to Glory as a young officer during the early days of 10th Mountain.

     I continued up along Route 3 on cruise control, keeping a wary eye out for cops. As I drove, my vintage ‘80’s rock playlist carried me back down memory lane’s well-worn route.

     I went up through Natural Bridge into Harrisville, past the church where bells once chimed “Onward Christian Soldier” as my battalion completed the first of its one-hundred-mile road marches. A battalion task force, combat loaded, completing a one hundred mile forced march in five days. I still to this day believe I’m one of the only men alive who successfully completed that mission twice.

     Somewhere between Star Lake and Cranberry I came to the stretch of road where I once totaled my dad’s car.  It was winter, 1985, I was a newly commissioned 2nd Lieutenant, headed from Saranac Lake to Syracuse for a mandatory AIDS test before reporting for my first duty assignment.

     There were two fresh inches of pre-dawn snow covering the roads, I crested a long sloping hill, driving Dad’s Chevy Citation. The road was unplowed.

     I remember I could see a long way down in front of me. A state snowplow’s headlights appeared coming around a bend from below. I could see from his beam’s reflection off the snow that he was coming towards me plowing one lane down the middle of the highway with both plow blades down.

     I tried pulling that Citation up as far I could to the shoulder on the right, but that little car really struggled to get to the shoulder in that snow. It all happened in slow motion.  I recall thinking for a moment about dropping down into the left lane and passing him on that side, but then I saw more headlights behind him. At that moment I realized that wasn’t an option and I was suddenly facing imminent trouble.

     I stayed as far right as I could. That plow never lifted a blade, never budged an inch. He just nonchalantly plowed through me like fresh fallen snow.

     By the time what was left of my dad’s car spun past the plow and came to rest in the middle of the road, it was about three feet shorter than it had been just seconds ago, with much of its front end lying scattered in the road.

     I sat stunned while the plow turned and plowed up and down the road, erasing all the tire marks, any evidence of what really transpired. Then the plow driver came up, rapped on my window, asked if I was okay, and offered to push my car off the road with his plow.

     I said “No! This car will sit where it is until the cops get here.” A few minutes later they did. I knew I was in trouble when the trooper stepped out of his vehicle and shook hand with the plow driver as they greeted each other.

“Hey Joe.”

“Hey Fred.”

“Looks like the kid lost control of his vehicle, eh?”


It’s never a good sign for the visiting team when the umpire and opposing manager are on a first name basis.

     After a few minutes in his patrol car, the Trooper approached me with a sworn statement form and diagram. He had them all filled out. The diagram showed my vehicle with an arrow pointing down into the opposite lane, as if I had lost control of my car and crossed the center line.

     “Here kid. Sign here.”

     I refused to sign. “But Officer, that’s not what happened!”

     “Don’t argue with me kid. I’ve seen hundreds of these accidents.”

     I wouldn’t sign the statement. Didn’t matter.  The State Trooper gave me a ticket anyways. Then the plow driver gave me ride back to the highway office where I was allowed to use a telephone to call my parents to come and get me.

     About the time I was done reminiscing about that, my cell phone buzzed with a text message from my brother.

“Hear you’re coming over.  Patty is in the parade as a “Lawn Chair Lady”. She will be on the Post Office side of the road.”

Implied mission: Capture my sister in law’s debut on camera.


     Author’s Note: One should never give one’s Adirondack Outlaw Airborne Ranger older brother mission orders unless absolutely certain one wants that mission to be executed. Totally.  

      I had my camera with me. I had even remembered a spare SD card and extra batteries. Now I had a mission. I was combat loaded, ready.

     I cruised up through Tupper Lake, past the field where I’d once played Matty League All-Star baseball.

     I worked my way up through town mentally chanting; “Tupper for Supper & Jacks for Snacks” as I reminisced past glory days of Redskins/Lumberjacks NAC football heydays.

     Up beyond Tupper, the South Creek parking lot was devoid of any sign of canoe/kayak activity.  The Ampersand parking lot, on the other hand, was packed full.  There was open water under the state bridge by the lower lake boat launch. Ice hung down off the rocks along that whole route, mother nature forming her own ice castles.

     I slid up by the high school, past the track oval where I met my best friend Chris and we both pretended to be dedicated runners while secretly admiring the attributes of Saranac Lake’s female student body.

      There was a police barricade on Lapan Highway, by the football field. I turned left at the light and parked near the crest of the hill.  I walked down its steep slope to the street by the post office, the same route I once walked, frozen shoulder length 1980’s hair and all, every morning to school.

     It was after 12:30 by the time I worked my way through the crowd, down Broadway past the firehall, where the parade participants were congregating. I got out my camera and began snapping pictures.

     Near the end of the line, I located Saranac Lake’s famous “Lawn Chair Ladies”

Saranac Lake’s Famous “Law Chair Ladies”

I located my sister-in-law.  I then stepped into the street, knelt, took aim, and began executing my brother’s implied mission orders with her own private photo shoot.

My little sister-in-law “Dr. Patty” making her “Lawn Chair Ladies” debut.

     I exhausted my camera batteries in the process of totally embarrassing my little sister-in-law, aka Saranac Lake’s “Doctor Patty”.   I stopped to reload, then turned and hustled my way back up the street trying to get ahead of the formation as the parade began moving.

     I snapped pics as I went, finally finding myself a good vantage point just beyond Dr. Y’s on the bridge where we used to shoot at pigeons with my buddy’s wrist rocket from the rocks below.

      I knelt on the edge of the pavement, one knee on my gloves. I was across the street from what was once the bakery where we’d buy day old donuts for a nickel or a dime on our way to school or, if we dared leave campus, on lunch hour. They made the best Boston crème filled eclairs I ever tasted in that shop, but those were expensive. They cost a quarter. So, I spent my time reminiscing about wrist rocket pigeon target practice and Boston Eclairs while I snapped an array of Winter Carnival parade photos.

     The street was packed with onlookers.

There was the Saranac Lake Marching band, with another generation of kids banging drums.

The Fire Department’s new rescue boat was on display.

Canoodlers danced with canoe paddles.

Saranac Lake’s Legendary “Canoodlers”

The Carnival King, Queen & Court waved.

Saranac Lake’s 2022 King, Queen and Court

Musket volleys fired.

There was a wide array of 1980’s themed wrestlers, TV characters and clowns.

Although, in true Saranac Lake Winter Carnival spirit, judging from the way folks were dressed, it was sometimes a bit hard to tell the parade participants from the bystanders.  

     There were kids with bags, throwing and handing out candy. That was one of my favorite scenes, an older kid with a bag of candy reaching out into the crowd and handing some to a youngster watching in awe from the sidewalk. 

My boyhood heroes: The folks handing out parade candy

I remember when we were kids watching the parade, strategizing how to find the clowns throwing candy and following them along the route, snatching up all the tootsie rolls, “Double Bubble”, and lollipops we could stuff into our pockets.

        As the parade neared its end, The “Lawn Chair Ladies” passed by me once more.  They rocked their lawn chair dance routine to the all-female ‘80’s Band “The Go Go’s” tune, “We Got the Beat” The crowd cheered and clapped while I snapped one final round of pics.


As the last of the parade passed by, I worked my way back up the hill, loaded my gear in my truck, stopped by the cemetery to say hello to my dad, and then retraced my way back up Route 3.

     Once safely beyond the jurisdiction of any outstanding warrants of my teenage Adirondack Outlaw transgressions of youth,

I unloaded my gear, stoked up my stove, hooked back up to my feeding tube and kicked back to write. Taking a trip back down the memory lane of my youth.

Totally Saranac Lake

Totally 80’s

Totally Home


Until Our Trails Cross Again: