Alligators in the Adirondacks seen with my own two eyes
To the editor:
Crocs in Lake Placid? (Lake Placid News, March 31) It must be an April Fools’ Day joke, courtesy of ChatGPT.
The LPN asked this AI device (page A6) “Does a crocodile live in Lake Placid?” And after giving the correct answer, the ChatGPT continues, like the proverbial Soph-o-Mor of the false, yet wonderfully false, etymology wherein Soph = wise and Mor = moron (see “The Straight Dope,” who got right what most dictionaries have wrong), and demonstrates the AI or Artificial Idiocy laying or lying behind ChatGPT.
ChatGPT’s continuation implies that alligators have never been seen in the Adirondacks: “alligators and crocodiles … are not native to the Adirondack region, and there have been no reported sightings …”
GONG! WRONG! ChatGPT may be a superb example of Artificial Idiot Savant, but it’s too stupid to look up the word “Everglades” on “Browse Issues: Lake Placid News.”
As a young boy 70 years ago, I saw alligators with my own two eyes, peaking over the fence at “Everglades Village” about 1/2 mile up the Whiteface Memorial Highway, just opposite the camp of OK and Ona Parks, of Sentinel Road, Lake Placid. And we, my older brother and I, peaked in as George Storm wrestled an alligator just like Tarzan. Then we went back to OK and Ona’s; swung on the vines of the Wilmington woods, yelling “Tarzan swings, Tarzan falls, Tarzan busts his overalls!”
I searched “Browse Issues: Lake Placid News” (NYS Historic Newspapers) for “everglades” from 1951 to 1959, limited to Essex County. I got 35 hits: Four pertaining to Lake Placid News, five or so from the Adirondack Record of Elizabethtown. Three of the latter — dated July 2, 6 and 9, 1953 — carry ads for the newly opened:
FLORIDA EVERGLADES SEMINOLE INDIAN VILLAGE CHICKEE VILLAGE
Bringing Florida to you with
PALM THATCHED HUTS / CUTE MONKEYS / GIANT ALLIGATORS AND SEA TURTLES / TROPICAL ODDITY MUSEUM
Just as They Live in the Everglades
Due to Climate, Tropical Animals Must be Returned to Florida after Labor Day, September 7
Tours Conducted by Well Informed Lecturers
ADMISSION/ADULTS 75 CENTS / CHILDREN 35 CENTS
At Entrance to Whiteface Mt Memorial Highway and North Pole
WILMINGTON N. Y.
OPEN 10:00 AM
Nearly the same ad on July 2, except it said “ALLIGATOR WRESTLING” and admission was only 50 cents and 25 cents for adults and children. The July 9 ad has the same lower admission price, but not “Alligator Wrestling.” The more expensive July 6 ad was in a Thursday paper. July 2 and 9 are Sundays, maybe lower priced on Sundays?
On June 18, 1953 the Adirondack Record ran a page one story about Michael Covert, a Wilmington motel owner, about to open Seminole Village, with 17 Seminole Indians on contract and parking for 1,000 cars! George Storm would be the alligator wrestler. The Seminoles were from Dania, Florida.
The only “everglades” story of interest in the Lake Placid News during this 1951-59 period pertains to Julian Reiss surviving an airplane fuel accident while in flight over New Jersey after exploring the Florida Everglades by air with his two sons Peter and Paul. It is dated May 2, 1952. Knowing that Mr. Reiss created Santa’s Workshop, as all native boys did (and we bought our pony Chico from Mr. Reiss’s Old McDonald’s Farm), I had heretofore assumed that Mr. Reiss also created Everglades Village. However, had he done so, it likely would have been open for many more years. Did it last beyond that firefly-filled summer of 1953? Don’t ask ChatGPT!