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ON THE SCENE: Lake Placid’s 110th

August 6, 2012
NAJ WIKOFF , Lake Placid News

Matt Clark has the distinction of being the only person sent to the principal's office eight times in one day, such are the tidbits of local lore I learned at the 110th Celebration of Lake Placid High School Alumni Banquet held at the Crowne Plaza on Saturday night.

For those of you relatively new to Lake Placid, Matt Clark was the long-time town clerk who then became the long-time town supervisor. He also has a string of other accomplishments, as does his brother Reg, owner of the Palace Theatre, including being honored in the Lake Placid Hall of Fame (same being true for Reg). They and Joan Roscoe Peacock (another Hall of Famer) were all named Honorable Alumni and had their many accomplishments highlighted in a moving presentation that also included a variety of details, like Matt's multiple visits the principal's office, that provided a loving balance - a celebration of a person that was one of us, a person grounded in this community in a multitude of very human ways.

Also present was the character of various classes beginning with the class of 1935 and ending with representatives of the class of 2012, who though having graduated the day before, were there greeting each other like long lost friends.

"They only graduated a day ago and they are that happy already?" said Bob Whitney listening to the half dozen of them cheering loudly. Bob, of course was still muttering over Class of '72's rather dramatic cheer that had them up on the feet and featured a synchronized twirling of their napkins, no doubt an influence of their classmate and former skater Victoria Rickert.

Up to that point our boisterous class of '67 had set the standard for sheer volume, sans acrobatics, but earlier in the evening '72 had launched a spontaneous singing of the school's alma mater demonstrating a certain feisty demeanor. Clearly a gauntlet had been thrown for our next gathering in five year's hence.

Our class always had an attitude. We dominated the Winter Carnival snow sculptures for years, but it was far more than that - it was simply a group of people that connected in a way that some other classes just don't. Our reunion began with an informal potluck held the previous night at Pam Torrance's farmhouse. One time the potluck was scheduled as a lunch on a Saturday, a lunch that no one left and, consequently none made the Alumni Banquet leaving a large empty table to represent us. Let us say that the Alumni Association made sure we knew that such behavior was unacceptable going forward, so since then our potluck is held on a Friday.

"Watch what you say or it will end up in the paper," said Joe Kempa. "Your picture as well if you are not careful." Most greetings of welcome were a little more exuberant.

I lived in two neighborhoods, this back when neighborhoods were filled with kids and we entertained ourselves playing in the parks together or for those up on Swiss Hill and Hillcrest that also meant learning to ski on Dream Hill where Eric Hess, our brothers and friends spent endless days and evenings attempting to squeeze in more runs than the others and Pam Torrance delivered the paper, Steve Ortloff's dad fixed our TV, and Roni Raymond, when not involved in her many attempts to run away from home, was a frequent playmate. Several of us met in pre-kindergarten activities held down at the Fish and Game Club, some like Nancy Hart and Eric I have no idea when I met them, further back than I can remember.

My other neighborhood was down on Wilmington Road, which connected me deeply with Arti Torrance, Mike Rand, Greg Benham, Chuck Berghorn, Denny Jesmer, Bob Whitney and several others to name a few. Our connections were fairly narrow. As an example Nathan Farb lived on Mill Hill, really just around the corner, but I never met him as he was in Reg Benham's class and thus just a bit too far removed from my world.

Other ties were through our parents, Karen and Susan Fountain's mom Dixie was one of my mother's best friends along with their neighbor (and my art teacher) Sue D'Avignon. My parents and Greg Adam's parents swapped houses, which is how we ended up on Wilmington Road and they on Swiss Hill.

As Eric, Chuck, Nancy and Bob were explaining to my friend Renee, we were in the same class together for years, participated either together or against each other for years in sports, or other activities such all going out to the ski jumps to help pack the hill before a meet, playing marbles before school opened, racing in the peewee bobsled program, or the Junior Jumpers that sent teams all around and introduced others to cross country skiing (as well as for some our first trips out of New York state), our daily game of capture the flag behind Devlin's Northway Motel in the summers. One developed bonds. All the classes from kindergarten to seniors were in one school and many of our teachers had taught our parents, ("You are just like your father," exclaimed and exasperated Mrs. Ryan on more than one occasion). Where else can you have an experience like that? Indeed the ties are not just between us, but with our teachers such as with Alice Wood who looks lovelier every year.

Many of us were tied by blood. I am related to all the Prestons, Alfords and Sears in town plus many more through marriage such as the Patnodes, Pelkeys and more recently the Lansings so I had many relatives in town, in my class such as Jackson Preston, and in Wilmington where my Preston side is from (yes, Supervisor Randy Preston is a cousin). Many of my good friends and schoolmates were from Wilmington such as Fred Betters who married our classmate Sally Colby.

So the Reunion was much more than a reunion, it was bringing together groups of people who have bonds in such a myriad of ways like hand stitched quilts that include the living and those who passed on far too early. It was also just great fun.



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