Lake Placid NY – 1958

Welcome to Lake Placid, NY home of two winter Olympics.

Lake Placid is a really nice place in summer. Pleasant days and the evenings are usually cool enough to wear a light jacket. Winter’s a different story with below zero days even in March. What am I doing here? Well, I am working as assistant Garde Mange at the Lake Placid Club. The club is, in 1958 an exclusive C-Level private club. I had been working in resorts and restaurants since 1953 and this is the best, hands down.

At a time when postage was 3 cents a stamp and name brand gas was under 30 cents per gallon, I was making $300 a month. that also included free room, board and laundry service, so all in all, worth about $3500 a month today. I could work from mid May to mid September, which was pretty much the summer season. A good deal all around.

When I first got there,I was in a barracks, or hospital ward sort of room, but the personnel manager told me he would give me a private room as soon as one was available. I soon got a double room with two beds over a garage. I think that in previous times, it was probably quarters for some family’s chauffeur and wife. This was still the practice in 1953 when I started at Saranac Inn on Saranac Lake. By 1958 I believe that was history, as the rich had begun driving themselves around.

At that time, it was often the practice for the rich to come to the Adirondacks for the summer for golf, tennis, being waited on hand and foot and enjoying the beautiful scenery and weather. I think we served about 500 per meal maximum. The wait staff was around 80 girls, many from Syracuse actually.

Blah, Blah, Blah. Enough of me already, what about Marge? She had gone back to Cornwall and live with her mother. She worked in a department store in Newburgh, not too far away from home. She did not really like the job, but it meant earning spending money for her. Shortly after I got settled at the Club, there was a waitress vacancy and I urged her to come and apply as I am sure she could do it. Marge demurred saying that she wanted to be with her mother and liked the village of Cornwall.

I was a bit unhappy about that, but probably best. The summer apart would be a good test of our relationship. As a lot of recipes say, bring to a boil and then simmer until the flavors blend. So, we were simmering. Also, tell the truth, my having a large bed room alone would have been very tempting, and probably quite premature.

Of course, we did write very frequently and I would call her from the Club and reverse the charges, I think we split the cost. I did date a few times in the summer as there were a lot of college girls there too, and though generally nice, I was not looking for a summer romance. I really wanted Marge, and the other girls did not have that mysterious something that attracted me to Marge.

At the Club, we actually got one day a week off, a real rarity at resorts. If one could arrange it with your supervisor, it was OK to swap days off with someone else to get two days off. About the end of July, I REALLY missed Marge and we agreed I would come down for 2 days. Even today, it is a 4 hour drive on the Interstate, and longer at that time with the roads of the time. Dining room closed at 8:30 and our section cleaned up easily as we served cold food only, so I got out a bit after closing.

We had a fairly long break between lunch and supper so I had gone to my room and took as long a nap as I could. I had already gassed the car up and packed so I took off as soon as I could. Not unusual that I would get a bit drowsy on the drive. Then, somewhere in the country, probably around Lake George, I saw ahead of me a car wheel in my lane. Not just a tire but the whole wheel. DECISION TIME! I chanced straddling the wheel, and though I got a ping as my oil pan nicked the wheel, nothing broke, I didn’t flip over. WHEW! With that shot of adrenaline I had no trouble keeping awake.

So, I immediately crashed in the Sutherland spare bedroom after arriving at about 3 a.m. on Saturday morning. After I woke later in the morning we had the rest of the day together, as well as Sunday until about dinner time so I could drive back to Lake Placid in time for a good sleep and get to work on Monday. The visit, though pleasant, was not what I hoped for. Marge seemed rather distant and polite but neutral. I called her a few days after I got back and we talked about this. Best I recall, Marge’s response was something like this:

” Bob I had never had a boy come down to see me and stay in the house with Mom and I. I didn’t want to give Mom a wrong impression and I didn’t want to disappoint you. It was all new to me and I didn’t really know how to act. I did the best I could. We will get together by ourselves in September. That will be better for both of us.”

I could understand that. This was not the start of a break-up. Now I REALLY had reason for the Fall semester to begin. Just another 6 weeks at most. WOW!!

About mid September of 58, we got together and took the car out for a drive, and time to talk. However, when we found, let’s say, a wide spot in an old dirt road in the woods, some hunters would drive by and give us an encouraging horn toot. So much for privacy.

Back to S.U. and a brief supper. Marge was dressed in jeans and a shirt and said she wanted to change clothes, and for me to wait and think of a place where we could park and be together.

There was, and still is, a road named Mt. Olympus Drive not far from school. It was a popular place for students to park and spend part of an evening together. Maybe the site for a high rise condo now, I have no idea. That was a long time ago, but I seem to recall a little round-about or mini park where one could go and park and not be hassled by the security people. So that was the destination.

Period of a Poodle Skirt outfit


If you recall the movie Grease set in the 50’s you might picture the girl’s outfits of a sweater and a flared skirt called a poodle skirt. I enclose an image I found on Google Images from the Pinterest site. I requested permission to use it for this non-commercial blog. Marge did not look at all like the model shown, I just show it to illustrate the style. I really thought Marge looked better, not so top-heavy and the sweater not sprayed on. Marge really did look great.

So, off we go for the short drive to Mt. Olympus to spend a long time getting re-acquainted after the summer apart. The summer simmer was definitely getting much hotter. It soon became obvious that we were taking a big step forward in moving from a boy-girl semester romance to a man-woman love affair. This last school term promised, and proved, to be great.






About R. F.

I am a retired Professional Engineer who spent my working life in the electric utility industry. I am now a volunteer instructor at the University Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV).
This entry was posted in Syracuse, Syracuse University and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Lake Placid NY – 1958

  1. Jo Ann Hays says:

    I enjoy reading about these memories, especially since my life was somewhat similar during those years. I liked Marge’s honesty about not knowing how to act, how to please both suitor and mother at the same time.

    • Allan T says:

      Hey Bob, we never made it to the Adirondacks, to expensive, we( my grandparents) owned a little house is Monroe, NY in which both our family, my cousins family & grandparents( on Sundays) would spend the Summer. Nothing as fancy as this, but this sounds like fun times. Did “spend time” with my first girlfriend their though.

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