Phil Brown, recently retired editor of The Adirondack Explorer, has a blog post up about the Adirondack Welcome Center’s Walk of Fame and whether the people who made the cut deserve it.
First, it seems to me, being born in a place that is close to the Adirondacks, but not in the Adirondack Park, and then moving away and not ever living in the Adirondack Park, disqualifies you. That would eliminate several of the current batch, including Jean Arthur, a Hollywood actress born in Plattsburgh in 1900; William H. Miner, a wealthy industrialist and philanthropist born in Chazy in 1862; and William A. Wheeler, 19th vice president of the U.S., born in Malone.
Maybe this is picky, but I think not. Plattsburgh and Malone are their own distinct areas (Chazy is part of the Plattsburgh area). Not only are they outside the Adirondacks, they are different from the Adirondacks. Those folks should be in Walks of Fame for their own areas.
In addition to geography, a substantial residential connection to the Adirondacks should be established to be in the Walk of Fame, or if not that, then the person should have made a substantial contribution to the Adirondacks. So I don’t see how Kevin Bacon qualifies. Does he have a home in the Adirondacks, and if he does, who cares? Was he included as some sort of six degrees of Kevin Bacon, Adirondack version?
Also, I don’t understand how some athletes were chosen and not others. Louie Ehrensbeck, a skier from Old Forge who competed in the 1968 Winter Olympics; and Hank Kashiwa, an alpine skier from Old Forge who competed in the 1972 Winter Olympics, have stars. But, as Phil Brown pointed out, Billy Demong of Saranac Lake, a 5-time Olympian and the first American to win an Olympic gold medal in Nordic skiing, does not have one. Neither does Jeanne Ashworth of Wilmington, a speedskater, three-time Olympian, and the first American woman to win a speedskating medal — a bronze in 1960. Ashworth lived her entire adult life in the Adirondacks and also served for several years as the supervisor of Wilmington. She died in October.
Georgia O’Keeffe is on the list, and she should be, because she spent part of each year for many years at the home of her husband, Alfred Stieglitz, in Lake George, and she painted Lake George scenes. But why doesn’t Stieglitz, a famous photographer, get a star? And why doesn’t Rockwell Kent get a star? He lived for about 50 years in the Adirondacks and featured the area in paintings. Leaving him out is ridiculous.
Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau, the founder of a famous tuberculosis sanatorium in Saranac Lake, gets a star. But tuberculosis sanatoriums didn’t work. Coming to Saranac Lake may have been lots of fun, but it didn’t cure tuberculosis.
On the other hand, E.L. Trudeau’s great-grandson, Garry, raised in Saranac Lake, is world-famous as the creator of “Doonesbury,” and he keeps a connection to his hometown, drawing the village’s winter carnival button every year. It makes no sense at all to leave him off the list.
Finally, Johnny Podres, a Major League pitcher born in Witherbee, is on the list. He deserves to be. But so does Alice Green, founder and director of the Center for Law and Justice in Albany, which advocates for black men and women incarcerated in the state’s prisons, along with other causes. One of the state’s most prominent fighters against racism and racial oppression, she also was born and raised in Witherbee.