A Celebration at the Holidays!

The Burning of The Piping Rock

The Burning of The Piping Rock

Happy Holidays to you all! I hope you’ll join in my holiday celebration of Santa’s having arrived early at Matchless Books™ with this “present”: my Saratoga mystery novel, The Burning of The Piping Rock, has passed the 500 copies mark in sales!
While perhaps a little number for a major author in a huge publishing house, for a struggling, self-published author this is number is large. When I first started out having it printed by Northshire bookstore, my heart was in my throat. But, my book is now in Indie (Independent) bookstores from here to Charleston, SC, as well as on Amazon.com in Kindle eBook format (http://www.amazon.com/Burning-Piping-Rock-Joseph-Cutshall-King-ebook/dp/B007QV0U2O/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1419104593&sr=8-1&keywords=Burning+of+the+piping+rock); and through IndieBound—website of Indie Bookstores nationwide (http://www.indiebound.org/book/9781605710976).
When it comes to selling The Burning of The Piping Rock, the Indie bookstores have been my best friends. And so, as I celebrate my novel’s continuing sales, let me salute all those Indie bookstores that have made my book available by telling you a bit about the top three Indie bookstores, those that have sold the largest number of my novel:

Lyrical Ballad Bookstore (http://www.lyricalballadbooks.com/) – 7 Phila St.; Saratoga Springs, NY 12866; 518-584-8779.
Owned and operated by John and Jan DeMarco Lyrical Ballad Bookstore has been a part of Saratoga Springs since 1971. Lyrical Ballad Bookstore was the first to carry The Burning of The Piping Rock and has sold the greatest number of copies to date. Lyrical Ballad Bookstore has its Phila Street entrance right off Broadway in the basement of the former Saratoga National Bank. In fact, you can still see the bank name on the Broadway façade of the building. What is remarkable, too, is that an original bank vault is in Lyrical Ballad Bookstore, loaded with one of civilization’s greatest treasures, books—over 100,000 books and antique prints and maps! If you are an ardent bibliophile, this is your store.
Speaking of the former Saratoga National Bank, here’s a nice coincidence. That bank featured prominently in New York State’s 1953 racketeering trial of James A. Leary, head of Saratoga’s Republican machine, which serviced the mob’s illegal casinos with banking operations. And Leary also features prominently in The Burning of The Piping Rock.
Thank you Jan and John DeMarco for your support!

Northshire Bookstore (http://www.northshire.com/); 4869 Main Street Manchester Center, Vermont 05255 and Northshire Bookstore Saratoga, at 424 Broadway Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 (http://www.northshire.com/northshire-bookstore-saratoga).
As I mentioned above, I first had my novel printed at Northshire Bookstore in Manchester. Northshire Bookstore is a family-owned, independent bookstore founded by Ed & Barbara Morrow in Manchester Center, VT in September, 1976. It moved to the Colburn House in 1985 and about that time the Morrows’ son, Andy, joined the firm. It expanded in 2003 and, in 2012, made the bold decision to open a second Northshire Bookstore on Broadway in Saratoga Springs, NY. Both are wonderful to browse and to shop in.
Northshire carries my novel in both their Manchester Center and Saratoga Springs bookstores. Northshire also prints new copies of The Burning of The Piping Rock, which is resells to other bookstores.
Thank you Northshire Bookstore for your support!

Battenkill Books (http://www.battenkillbooks.com/); 15 East Main St.; Cambridge, NY 12816.
Battenkill Books, a beautiful bookstore on Main Street next Hubbard Hall, has been in operation since 1989. Owned and operated by Connie Brooks, it is a “must see” place in Cambridge. I gave a reading there and loved the experience.
And here’s exciting news! Battenkill Books announced December 15, 2014 that it has received a major donation from author James Patterson, as part of his campaign to support independent bookstores across the nation (full story). Connie Brooks said, “We will use the money to expand our children’s section into an unused space alongside our building on Main Street. We will create a dedicated room for our youngest patrons, which will include expanded space for picture books and early chapter books. The new space will also be able to accommodate our popular summer reading program.”
Congratulations, Connie Brooks and thank you for your support!

And thanks to all of you for following my blog. May your Holiday Season be joyous and your New Year be filled with happiness and health!

For all the places to buy a copy of The Burning of The Piping Rock, click on this “Where to Buy the Book” page. https://pipingrock.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=52&action=edit&message=1


A review of “Deadman’s Float,” a Henrietta Brown Mystery novel by Robert Sugarman

Deadman's Float

Deadman’s Float

Picture this, please: It is summer in the picturesque college town of Kent, Vermont. Henrietta Brown, a retired academic, goes for her regular swim at Kent’s town beach on a lovely little lake. She dives from the raft only to discover the college president, in his seersucker suit, staring at her, his body jammed between the barrels supporting the raft, his hair floating around his face, and his hands bound.

Hardly the romance of “Moonlight in Vermont” or the sweetness of maple sugar you were expecting? Welcome to page one of Deadman’s Float, a new mystery novel by Robert Sugarman.

Deadman’s Float is a myth-breaker. Sugarman’s Vermont hills of maples and collegiate architecture frame a hidden picture of anti-Semitism and Klan activity, academic viciousness, and “town-gown” animosities that fly in the face of the Vermont tourist industry’s standard information.

The mystery is set in 1989 and the reader will be struck by the year’s “quaintness.” In a wonderful moment at the start, Henrietta Brown rushes for the payphone to report the murder, only to remember that “Ma Bell” had removed it because of vandalism. For a split second “Where’s her cellphone?” came to my mind, immediately replaced by “Oh, sure, it’s 1989.”

Of course, mainframe computers and PCs are common in Deadman’s Float, but cellphones and the Internet wouldn’t be commonly used until the late 1990s –and Google, iPads, Androids, Facebook, voice and face recognition software and all the other new millennium marvels are just a glimmer away. And nicely so. There’s no techno-wizardry substituted for “the little gray cells” solving the crime. No CSI here.

Kent is small but complicated by its “town” and “gown” sides, which allow for many suspects with different motives. And there are strong characters on both sides. The protagonist Henrietta Brown is the retired Director of the Early Learning Center at Kent College, an elite private school. Sugarman alludes to Agatha Christie’s Jane Marple, although Henrietta is no Miss Marple. Unlike Jane Marple, Henrietta has a sex life and she is a highly educated, highly trained professional with jungle instincts. After all, she has survived academia’s infighting.

But she is similar to Jane Marple. Henrietta is unmarried, a village native, and no longer “middle-aged.” (Yet can we call her “old,” even in 1989?) Like Marple, Henrietta is the “inadvertent detective.” Henrietta is a “townie” who crossed the town/gown line into academia by going off to college and returning to work at Kent College. To some she’s a traitor. Active in her community, she knows everyone on both sides of that fence, she knows “things,” and she is not afraid to ask questions—“to snoop” as some would say.

Kent’s Chief of Police Laval wants her to leave police work to the police. Yet, reluctantly, he quickly comes to rely upon her. There’s a nagging sense he has come to this decision too easily, but once you’ve passed that qualm, the rest falls in place. I hope if Laval appears again he’ll be more appropriately upset when he fails to fend off Henrietta’s detective impulses—her snooping.

But there’s so much to snoop about! The murdered president, Albert “Al” Kaplan, was so universally loathed! He was the college’s first Jewish president and a man, it seems, only his widowed wife and his children could have loved. Al tried to build the college to build his career and the hell with everybody else.

The college thrived because of Al’s ambitions. Some on campus liked that, even if they didn’t like Al. Most of the faculty seemed to have disliked Al, some simply because he was “administration.” (Sugarman explores Kent’s academic infighting and it is hoped he will do more of it in future Henrietta Brown mysteries.) But there were other issues. Charles Piersell, a gay faculty member, had borne the brunt of Al’s rage over Piersall’s promoting openly gay academic activities. But, of course, there was more to it than that.

And, then, who knew of President Kaplan’s secret past in New York City during the nineteen sixties, when he was young and people sang songs of “revolution”—and the young took revolution to their hearts? The 1960s’ “sex, drugs and rock’n’roll!” is operative in the 1989 of Deadman’s Float. That perennial favorite, “sex,” provides one of the major backdrops for murder. The sexual appetites of every segment of Kent society—townies, college administrators, faculty, and students—thread their ways through the mystery.

Major characters include a number of students and at least one townie who preys on them. We get a glimpse of the unsavory world of small-market television and national network news. The survival strategies of local business owners are laid out with surprising honesty.

Readers may cringe when one key character, the student Julie, plays detective. Julie is horribly naïve. With her fellow student Peter, who is puppy-like in his adoration of her, Julie decides she also wants to play detective, as Sugarman writes, like Nancy Drew. But where at least Henrietta is mature and somewhat worldly as an amateur sleuth, Julie is not. Henrietta is curious, dangerously so for the killer, as well as for herself. But she is aware of the danger and cautious. Julie simply rushes in, maddeningly deciding to question the president’s assistant, who even more maddeningly answers her questions! Although this does provide information, it makes a reader want to scream.

Importantly, Henrietta is wise. She recognizes that while Al’s actions have justifiably generated dislike even hatred of him, some in the community loath him simply because he is Jewish. Henrietta has grown up knowing the locals who don’t like what has happened to “their America,” and in particular the large Jewish population at the Kent College. Henrietta knows they see Kent College as a symbol of it all, what with its arrogant, liberal faculty, its gays, its nonwhite students and, now, its Jewish president.

With Al’s murder, the teacher Henrietta learns about her community. From Al’s personal assistant she learns of the unsigned hate letters Al had received; from Chief Laval of the unsigned anti-Semitic tirades the local newspaper receives but won’t publish. With time, they both learn of Kent’s white power movement, Klan activity and the depth of anti-Semitism in Kent. It is bone chilling.

That anti-Semitism is something about which Mort Levine and his family know. Mort, locally born and raised, is a devout Jew, who runs a local supermarket, is active in the chamber and civic organizations, and, like Solomon, has a wise and discerning heart. Mort has suffered in silence for years while fully aware of the anti-Semitism and the Klan activity in Kent. His son is of a new generation that will not be silenced by the bigotry. In a poignant scene, Mort contends with the fear and anger of his son, who has bought a pistol for self-defense. There is a richness in Mort and we want to know more about him.

But Henrietta is our hero and after Al’s death, she and Laval are confounded by more murder, set against the backdrop of Kent. In Henrietta, Bob Sugarman has created the bridge between the town and the college, using her to explore the tension of interdependency existing between the two, as well as the academic infighting, the drug use and sexual predation on the campus, the racial hatred in the town, and those other well-guarded secrets that make for a good whodunit.

Sugarman, with a long history as a playwright, gives us very good dialog—his characters sound natural and different from one another—and that dialog propels the reader forward. His characters are complex, although sometimes you want a cast of characters listed at the beginning! I have only alluded to some of the major actors in this interplay of small-town murder and madness. Moonlight in Vermont—falling bodies everywhere!

So, let me recommend that you quickly get a copy of Deadman’s Float, find a good nook in your home, grab a cup of tea or a snifter of brandy, and enjoy a delightful mystery!

Joe Cutshall-King


Deadman’s Float, a Henrietta Brown Mystery novel by Robert Sugarman; published by Puck Press, is available in paperback at bookstores and on Amazon.com.

I’m giving a reading tomorrow at The Shirt Factory in Glens Falls—Join me!

Please join me tomorrow (Saturday, September 6) as I give a reading from my mystery novel The Burning of The Piping Rock at 3:45 p.m. at The Shirt Factory in Glens Falls, as part of its 3rd annual LocalFest!

I’ll be joining with many local authors who will be reading from their recent works all day long. This event has been organized and will be emceed by writer and Post-Star columnist Maury Thompson. Thank you, Maury, for volunteering to organize this!

The Shirt Factory, Glens Falls-corner of Lawrence & Cooper

The Shirt Factory: Glens Falls-corner of Lawrence & Cooper

Here’s the pertinent information:
The Shirt Factory on the SW corner of Lawrence and Cooper Streets, across from The Post-Star.  It’s in the Adirondack Quilts Too classroom (Suite 114, first floor).
The Writers What time they begin reading
Persis Granger: 10:15 a.m.
Dave Blow: 10:45 p.m.
Carol Gregson: 11:15 p.m.
TBA: 11:45 p.m.
Jenny Latzko: 12:15 p.m.
David Cederstrom: 12:45 p.m.
Vincent Palazzo: 1:15 p.m.
Stacey Morris: 1:45 p.m.
Pat Leonard: 2:15 p.m.
Bernice Mennis: 2:45 p.m.
Maury Thompson: 3:15 p.m.
Joe Cutshall-King: 3:45 p.m.
TBA: 4:15 p.m.

Tour Saratoga Springs and enjoy the architecture that nearly disappeared!

Right now is a great time to go Saratoga Springs and enjoy its many treats—especially the architecture that nearly disappeared.

Colonial Tavern-Saratoga Springs-August-25, 1946-George Bolster

Colonial Tavern on the east side of Broadway in Saratoga Springs: August 25, 1946. Photo by George Bolster

It nearly disappeared because of a plague of “fires of mysterious origins,” as the newspapers would term them.

Let me explain. This August marks the 60th Anniversary of the arson that destroyed Piping Rock Casino on August 16-17, 1954. For all its mystery, it was in reality only one of the hundreds of “fires of mysterious origins”—so many of them unsolved arsons—that bedeviled Saratoga Springs for more than a century. As it was, many of Saratoga Springs’ beautiful buildings disappeared in the same way as the mob-controlled Piping Rock Casino, which was torched by “a person or persons unknown” another phrase too commonly used in the newspapers of that time.

All that remains of Piping Rock Casino, which sat on the NW corner of Union Avenue and Gilbert Road in Saratoga Springs, is the overgrown concrete driveway of its entrance and, near that, a street named Piping Rock Circle.

It could have been the same with much of the Spa City.

Walk Saratoga Springs’ streets today and you are delighted by its lovely architecture. But, given the number of “fires of mysterious origins” that occurred in Saratoga Springs, it is a wonder there’s a historic structure left to admire there.

Saratoga Springs Public Library’s History Room has documented 146 fires in the 20th century—and that is not a complete listing! Of those 146 fires, 63 occurred between 1931 and 1961. Of the six most famous (or infamous) casinos in Saratoga—Arrowhead, Piping Rock, Newman’s Lake House, Riley’s, the Brook Club, and the Meadowbrook—four were destroyed by arson (Arrowhead, Piping Rock, the Brook Club, and Meadowbrook). Individual fires—most “unexplained” and many regarded as arson—claimed huge historic landmarks such as the Drink Hall, the United States Hotel in 1945, the Worden Hotel in 1961; the Convention Hall in 1965; and the Columbian Hotel in 1965. Also, houses, barns at Saratoga Race Course, and other structures are found on the Library’s list of fires in Saratoga.

The Saratogian and numerous other newspapers reporting on the blazes regularly used phrases such as “mysteriously burned” or “burned by causes unknown.” The worst conflagration in Saratoga Springs’ history occurred in 1957. That fire destroyed buildings on the east side of Broadway. Beginning at 396 Broadway (the old MacFinn’s Drugstore, which my father had managed from 1946 to 1952) it worked it way up to 418 Broadway. It caused $1 million dollars damage. In today’s dollars, given the history of the buildings, the replacement cost of such structures, and the current worth of Saratoga Springs real estate, the same buildings’ loss could easily be calculated as high as $15 million.

For years, fires were expected in Saratoga. I recall as a boy in the ‘fifties that, whenever there was a fire, the eyes of the adults in my family would roll and the question would be asked, “What would burn next?” My grandmother worked in Saratoga Springs as a house mother at Skidmore College. It was assumed by everyone we knew, who lived in, or was familiar with Saratoga Springs in the 1950s and 1960s, that those mansions along Union Avenue would all be “mysteriously burn.” That they didn’t, I consider a miracle.

More than personal assumptions and anecdote were involved in this fear, however. Bob Dillon, son of the chief legal counsel for the old Glens Falls Insurance Company, a huge national insurance firm back then, said that his father complained constantly of the claims submitted for arsons that were consuming Saratoga Springs in the 1950s and 1960s. By the late 1970s, Saratoga County had the highest percentages of occurrences of arson of any county in America!

Saratoga Springs: Broadway fire, January 27, 1957

Saratoga Springs: Broadway fire, January 27, 1957

The change for the better, ironically, began in the late 1970s, when a group of concerned citizens began fighting for the preservation of Saratoga Spring’s architectural heritage and the renovation and adaptive reuse of this precious resource. The result today is evident, a vibrant and beautiful city with gorgeous old architecture that is being sensitively adapted and reused, and which is influencing the creation of a new generation of lovely buildings.

This is not to say that fire—particularly arson—isn’t still a threat to Saratoga’s history, as is evidenced by the fire in July 2013 that destroyed the historic structures on 106-108 to Woodlawn Avenue. According to The Saratogian of October 2013 Saratoga Springs police determined that fire to be arson. (http://www.news10.com/story/23820342/saratoga-spring-police-determine-woodlawn-ave-fire-to-be-arson) However, very happily, the incidents of accidental fires and intentional arsons are much lower now than they were in Saratoga’s past.

So, as the racing season wraps up in Saratoga Springs, let me urge you to go Saratoga Springs, and walk the streets of the historic Spa City, enjoying its architectural treats. And while you’re there, hoist a glass of spring water and give a toast to Piping Rock Casino, would you?

Join me Tuesday July 15 at Saratoga Arts Center!

Piping Rock ablaze

Piping Rock ablaze

This coming Tuesday (July 15) at 7 p.m. I’ll be giving a presentation in the Saratoga Arts Center (320 Broadway, Saratoga Springs) on The Burning of The Piping Rock for the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation! The title of my presentation is “Arson in Saratoga: Piping Rock and Beyond.” I’ll be talking about the architecture of the infamous Piping Rock Casino, other casinos and the “mysterious fires” that consumed Piping Rock and so many other Saratoga Springs buildings.

There’s going to be a hot time in the old town that night, so come join us! For more information click on: Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. Or contact Sarah Kaplan, Membership and Program Coordinator at 518-587-5030 (email:  skaplan@saratogapreservation.org).

Visit the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation events page on Facebook.

Congratulations, Matthew Rozell!

Matthew Rozell

Matthew Rozell

Historian, teacher and humanitarian Matthew Rozell is known to many as the Hudson Falls teacher who has brilliantly educated his students . . . and many adults . . . about World War II in general and about the Holocaust in particular. Through his “Hudson Falls High School World II Living History Course” he has courageously fought to bring forth the truth about the concentration camp killings of 6 million Jews, as well as 4 million other human beings the Nazis labeled as “inferiors” and “enemies of the Third Reich.”

I’m delighted that now, as we observe the 69th anniversary of the surrender of Nazi Germany in 1945, the Post-Star has just run an article on him entitled, “NBC crew documents Holocaust teachings in Hudson Falls.” Congratulations to Post-Star reporter Michael Goot for his fine article.

Matthew Rozell has a wonderful blog/website called “Teaching History Matters,” which he describes in this way: “These are the observations of a veteran teacher- on the Power of Teaching, the importance of the study of History, and especially the lessons we must learn, and teach, on the Holocaust.” Please read it.

The events that the word “Holocaust” embraces must never be forgotten. The story of the Holocaust must be retold to, and be refreshed in the minds of, every succeeding generation.  The Holocaust was an atrocity of such proportions that people have difficulty understanding the scale of human destruction and degradation perpetrated by the Nazis. The Holocaust did happen. Tragically, it is still being denied. The arrogance of ignorance that spawned the Holocaust then is still at work today among those who would lie about its ever having happened—and among those who would believe them.

Education is the key to combating that ignorance, which leads to ethnic and racial hatred, and ultimately genocide. No nation, no culture, no race, no ethnicity is immune to it. That more genocides have occurred too many times since the end of WW II is sad proof of that fact.

Education is the key and I congratulate Matthew Rozell on his continuing work to educate our children and us all!

Thank you, Flo Hayle!

It’s amazing the people you can meet on a plane!

Actor and Singer Florence Hayle

Actor and Singer Florence Hayle

And recently, I met a wonderful person named Florence Hayle! In January Sara and I flew out of Albany Airport for the Florida Panhandle. We sat on opposite sides of the aisle and I found myself a seat away from a lovely lady named Florence Hayle—whose stage name is Flo Hayle. As we talked, I discovered that the lady is an actor, singer, and director, who has performed on Broadway and regional theatre, in commercials, and—well, you name it!

Florence Hayle is something else! Here’s what Kyle Adams wrote in the Catskill Register about a recent performance Flo Hayle gave in Catskill, NY:

Hayle . . . has a long history in show business. She performed in the Steve Allen musical Sophie, she’s directed and produced in New York City, played in “just about every club in the city,” and starred in too many commercials to remember now. She currently hosts Clear Channel Radio’s “Arts Alive Etcetera” interview program. She’ll be celebrating her 84th birthday tomorrow and said she has no intention of retiring.”

And did I mention that she’s an inspiration? Don’t tell Flo Hayle you’re blaming your inactivity on old age!

I told Flo that I’d published a mystery novel, The Burning of The Piping Rock and she graciously offered to interview me for her “Arts Alive Etcetera” radio show (Clear Channel Radio FM 93.5 radio, a Catskill, NY station). Flo’s interview aired Sunday, April 6, 2014. (And a special thank you to her. I enjoyed it so much! I’ve asked Flo if it would be possible to get a podcast of it to post. Stay tuned!)

Some other “notes” about singer and actor Florence Hayle. There are sweet coincidences that occur in life. You read above that Flo Hayle was on Broadway in the play, Sophie, Steve Allen’s musical about the early years of that great American chanteuse, Sophie Tucker. Tucker was among the many Broadway greats who performed at Piping Rock Casino in Saratoga Springs in those crazy years after WW II. Flo’s eyes lit up when I said I had specially mentioned Tucker in The Burning of The Piping Rock. A special connection was made.

Flo returned to the stage at age 82, starring in “Senior Moments” at Jay Kerr’s Fort Salem Theater in Salem, NY. Jay Kerr, a noted composer and lyricist, is also Flo Hayle’s music coach. She is now working with Kerr for an upcoming musical revue she’ll be doing in Catskill, NY, to benefit the historic Beattie-Powers Place. Let us know when the box office opens, Flo!

If you didn’t already know Flo Hayle, I’m glad, as a new fan in her legion of fans, to have the opportunity to introduce you.

And, let me “sign off” here by saying:  So, to Flo from Joe, a big hello and an even bigger thank you!


Flo Hayle of Clear Channel Radio
Flo Hayle of Clear Channel Radio
Flo Hayle of Clear Channel Radio

“A Very Special Santa”—a Christmas memory

Here is a Christmas memory I wrote for my “Over My Shoulder” Column© in the Glens Falls Post-Star of December 21, 1994. I hope you enjoy it.

A Very Special Santa

My mother had a little ornament that she placed on the Christmas tree each year, a tiny cotton Santa that she said she had placed on her tree from the time she was a little girl. The little Santa was, truthfully, in sad shape for its years of wear. But it was one of “those things,” something given a special meaning when my mother was so little. Why, no one knew. Not even Mom.

As I grew older, with each Christmas I came to look forward to that Santa being placed gently on a high bough, nestled securely to prevent shrieking children, or cats, from knocking it to the floor. Without realizing it, a part of her childhood Christmases gradually became a part of her children’s. It was a good feeling.

The tiny Santa moved a lot over the years. From my mother’s birthplace in Mechanicville, it went to Saratoga, then to Fort Edward and then Ticonderoga, at each juncture adding children and years to its life. It sagged and it drooped and it faded. Yet it survived, tying each new Christmas into the ones that had passed.

The last time my mother put the Santa on her tree was in Ticonderoga in 1982. Shortly thereafter, she was diagnosed with cancer and on her next Christmas, which was to be her last, she decided she and my father would come to our homes instead. I remember her apology for not having a tree, which I later recognized as her way of saying, “I’m angry because I can’t put up a tree, like I should.”

So that year, 1983, for the first time in decades, the little Santa stayed in a box in my parents’ cellar. At Christmas, 1984, my mother was gone and, again, the little cotton Santa stayed packed away. For that Christmas and the next two, my father would not decorate the house nor have a tree. The Christmas person in the King family was Mom and the Christmas person was gone.

About two and a half years after my mother died, Dad told us he was selling our family home in Ticonderoga. It was too big and too full of memories. “Come and take what you want,” he told his children. The rest he would sell. For weeks upon weeks we helped him sort through the remains of a lifetime, as much a reward as a burden. For you must understand that Mom saved everything:  family pictures and letters, dad’s service records, the kids’ report cards, canceled checks, even occupant mail. As I had before, I looked through acres of boxes of Christmas decorations. As before, I could not, amidst them all, find the tiny Santa.

Mom always was fond of saying, “What will be will be.” I resigned myself to the fact that it was gone. “Things change,” my father was always saying. Oddly, I think that while he knew that was true, in a way he never resigned himself to his own wisdom. Almost three years to the day after my mother’s death, he died. Things had, indeed, changed.

For my wife, Sara, and I, that Christmas of 1987 in Glens Falls was, with my daughter being six, filled with expectations of Santa. It was also an oddly empty Christmas. We got out the boxes of decorations and frantically searched for our tree’s special angel, fearful it had been misplaced and then found it packed snugly away. My daughter sighed a big sigh! Under our regular boxes were the ones I’d brought from Ticonderoga. I rummaged through them, looking at the bubble lights and other things from my childhood Christmas trees.

And then, I found it. A tiny box inside of which was my mother’s faded cotton Santa wrapped up securely. Lost, but never really lost. Tenderly, I placed it on a high bough. And there it will go again this year, as we celebrate our Christmas and the memories that a special decoration carry with it.

From my family to you, a very merry Christmas.

Joe Cutshall-King

(“Over My Shoulder” – a weekly column written Joseph A. Cutshall-King for the for the Post-Star of Glens Falls, NY. All content Copyright © 1994-2013 by Joseph A. Cutshall-King. All rights reserved. No reproduction by any means or methods allowed without express written permission by the author.)

“Piping Rock” presentation on December 2nd–Easton Library, Easton, NY,.

Join me on Monday, December 2nd at 7:00 pm at the Easton Library in Easton, NY . I’ll be giving a presentation on my historical mystery novel, The Burning of The Piping Rock.

The Easton Library is on 1074 NYS Route 40 in Easton, NY. My presentation will include a book reading and book signing. The presentation is open to the public and free of charge. (Click here for a map.)

For more information, contact Helen C. Brownell, Director of the Easton Library at 518-692-2253 or on the library website at http://easton.sals.edu/.

See you then!

Joe Cutshall-King

In memory of all veterans

In memory of all veterans, I post this photo of my father, Lt. George A. King, Commanding Officer of PT Boat 27, with some of his crew. Left to right: Stan Lewis, Lt. George A. King, Jack Gilligan, & Bill Maynard. (Undated photo; possibly taken in late 1944 at Pearl City, Hawaii.)
PT Boat 27 Crew l-r--Stan Lewis, Lt. George A. King [Commanding Officer], Jack Gilligan & Bill Maynard; South Pacific

PT Boat 27 Crew, left to right: Stan Lewis, Lt. George A. King [Commanding Officer], Jack Gilligan & Bill Maynard; South Pacific