Adirondack Kaleidoscope and North Country Characters
by William J. O'Hern
Culture, Lifestyles and Seasons in the mountains deals with such absorbing topics as mountain childhoods, literary greats, ice fishing and ice harvesting, Colvin's land survey, Adirondack fires, guide boats, old time medicine, bootlegging and country schools. It presents a panoramic overview of much that made this charismatic region home to hard-working folks and a vacation magnet for tourists since the mid-1800s.
Adirondack Kaleidoscope is a truly incredible anthology of Adirondackana and every bit as intriguing as the optical toy that has been popular for almost 200 years. Like the ever-changing patterns one can see through the cylinder, the stories in this collection preserves voices from history that would otherwise surely be lost to time and vary widely and keep the reader eager to see what the next story will be about. History, folklore, childhood memories, stories about famous people who spent time in the Adirondacks, how the park became forever wild, and fascinating human-interest stories about everyday life from the pioneer days up through the 1970s are all here.
And, it's all because of two north-country men with a passion for the past.
Since his teens, William "Jay" O'Hern has been mesmerized by Adirondack history, and has felt a sort of obligation to safeguard all of it that he can. To that end, he managed to amass all 113 copies of a small but popular publication compiled by another regional history devotee, G. Glyndon Cole, who compiled and published the quarterly North Country Life (later called York State Tradition) from 1944-1974. Cole operated on a shoestring and set up his pages on a manual typewriter, faithfully printing the stories of his friends and reader-contributors.
Now O'Hern - with Glyndon Cole's blessing - has brought back to life those venerable magazines before they yellow and fade forever. Older readers will delight in the memories the stories will undoubtedly evoke, and younger history buffs will find them useful and congenial learning tools.
Adirondack Kaleidoscope is not necessarily a front-to-back book. In fact, you can open it at random and soon find an easy and enjoyable read that could be anything from informative to hilarious to tragic.
Perhaps more than anything, Adirondack Kaleidoscope is a priceless scrapbook that takes today's readers and drops them somewhere in the Adirondack Mountains for a look around - sometimes more than a century ago - and rewards them with north country magic. It could well take its place among classics about this beloved region.