My newest book, Over My Shoulder, is now in several libraries in our region! I’m hoping to get one in every library of every town mentioned in my book, which would many towns.
So far, it can be found on the shelves of Crandall Public Library in Glens Falls, NY; Easton Library in Easton, NY; and the Greenwich Free Library in Greenwich, NY. And now the newest addition to the list is the Black Watch Memorial Library in Ticonderoga, NY.
Let me write a bit about this most recent library, The Black Watch Memorial Library is in what I consider to be one of my home towns. Built in 1905 with funds provided by Andrew Carnegie’s foundation, the Black Watch Memorial Library is also one my mother, the late Jane King, absolutely loved. An avid reader, I think my mother must have had the muscles of Hercules, as she borrowed more books from that place than one could believe. She and Courtney King Morton, the Director, had a special bond. Jane worked across the street from the library at Dr. Tom’s. (That is, at Dr. Thomas Cummings’ office. In Ti, every doctor was referred to by his first name.) How easy it must have been to slip over and borrow a sackful! Jane died in 1984, but I imagine her spirit still slipping over to see what new books Heather Johns, the current Director, has just gotten in.
There are more than a few articles in this book about Ticonderoga Over My Shoulder: A Collection of “Over My Shoulder” and “Passed Times” Columns published in The Post-Star from 1994-2003; Volume 1: 1994-1997. Some are about the historical Ticonderoga of Revolutionary War fame. Others are about the more modern history of Ti, when yours truly was a tad younger. Here’s one of my favorites, an “Over My Shoulder” Column from June 30, 1996 about my first summer working in the International Paper mill:
|In 1966 I got a summer job at the old International Paper mill in Ticonderoga. A mill job meant real money, union wages: $2.61 an hour. Back then, IP occupied the center of downtown. It’s all gone today, replaced by the present mill, built in 1971 near Lake Champlain.
I started my first workday on the 7 to 3 “tower” (tour). I stood with a group of 18-to-20-year-old “college kids” (not a term of endearment) in the old-time office next to the huge “new mill” that had been built right across Lake Champlain Avenue, cutting the street in two.
Under the skeptical eyes of the regulars, we nervously clocked in (always 20 minutes ahead as a courtesy to the person you were relieving). Thankfully we were interspersed with some full-timers, like Tommy Slattery of Port Henry, and experienced college kids, like Gene Thompson from Moriah. They made sure we didn’t hurt the machinery. Or kill ourselves. Even now I see all our faces, but don’t remember all the names: Danny Ahern, Bill and the others from Whitehall; Johnnie from above Port Henry, Bob Denn, from Albany; and a kid from Butler College that everybody called Butler.
We walked down a long set of steel stairs into the bowels of the mill, a three-story high basement. The next floor up were the thundering number 7 and number 8 paper making machines, two behemoths we would help feed. In spite of sodium lamps, the basement was dark. Machinery noise was a constant thunder. We shouted to be heard. The temperature was 25 to 30 degrees hotter than outside and rain forest humid. The entire place smelled of rotten eggs from the sulfite process. Our first day. We thought we had arrived in hell. Thirty minutes later, day foreman Jigger Donovan arrived, bellowing a blue streak as he told us how, where, and when to work. Hell was complete.
Bob and I threw imperfect paper (“broke”) on a five foot wide, clanking steel conveyor belt, feeding the “Liebeck,” a two story steel cone with a whirling drum of blades and superheated hot water that chewed the broke into pulp, feeding it back into Number 7 and 8. The other guys brought broke down in hand-pushed carts from the trimming machines above or in slabs from the splitters cutting imperfect rolls in two. The men above us used it faster that we threw it on. “They’re screamin’ for broke on 7!” we’d hear. Sweat flowed from us. A red light near the top of the belt would signal when we were to stop feeding in broke. It rarely went on.
We “college kids” tried our best to show we could, and would, work. But I honestly think we probably drove poor Jigger Donovan and the shop stewards nuts in those first days. Dan and I began to ride the battery powered hand trucks around like cars, reciting lines from “Chicken Man, the white-winged, weekend warrior” and singing “Paperback Writer.” We all kept filling the Liebeck long after the red light went on. Suddenly a man, soaked head to foot in mushy paper came running, screaming for us to stop. He had been sitting upstairs in the computer room where the tops of holding vats were. The liquid pulp had overflowed the tops of the tanks, gushing down over him and his co-workers, washing them to the floor. He looked like a giant clump of wet toilet paper. We tried not to laugh. I think we tried.
In that first week we worked doubles constantly, from 7 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. After 16 hours of body-building work, we’d shower and run up to the Burleigh House, also known as Willy Roundhead’s. Willy had live bands who’d play the Beatles and Motown hits at deafening decibels. With teenage energy, we’d drink too much beer, dance until two, and then go to Burgey’s Cave in Hague to do the same until three.
A little over three hours later, at 6:40 a.m., we’d be clocking in, groggily grabbing breakfast from Mr. Good’s “Goodie Cart,” and doing the same thing all over again. Including the dancing – from that night into the next morning.
And summer had just begun.
So, head over to your nearest library if you’d like to read more. Or, if you’d like to buy a copy, can order through Amazon.com at https://www.amazon.com/s/ref=nb_sb_ss_i_1_17?url=search-alias%3Dstripbooks&field-keywords=over+my+shoulder+cutshall-king&sprefix=over+my+shoulder+%2Cinstant-video%2C197&crid=2TOW7WFWO302A.
I’ll be looking for you, Over My Shoulder!