The Week: What Caught Our Eye

January 8, 2022

An Adirondack chair in a field in falling snowIt’s time chill in the Adirondacks and there’s not a bad seat in the house. (Nancie Battaglia)

Dear Colleagues and Friends:

We’re back. And 2022 is looking like a head-spinner already. In the first week:

Apple became the first company to reach $3 trillion in valuation – just a year after it swept past $2 trillion and in the same week that we buried beloved Blackberry (which, for those fans of disruption, sold 50 million devices just 11 years ago).

The U.S. reported a global record of 1 million new COVID cases in a single day.

Nearly 1,000 homes were lost in the Colorado wildfire.

The Census Bureau said 300,000 people fled New York last year — the greatest exodus from any state.

Nearly 20,000 flights were canceled.

And justice finally arrived for Homer Plessy, though it clearly took the slow train. The shoemaker from Louisiana, he of Plessy v. Ferguson, a decision widely considered among the Supreme Court’s lowest moments, finally was pardoned for his refusal to leave a whites-only rail car for which he had a valid ticket. He was arrested in 1892. The fine was $25. The pardon took 125 years.

DOOGIE HOWSER, EMT: When COVID swept New York’s rural North Country, every health care organization was put to the test — including volunteer ambulance services. Older volunteers stepped away for fear of contracting the virus. But local teenagers stepped in, completed the required training, and rushed to the aid of their neighbors. What they saw was a wakeup call.

SGT. BELDEN FINALLY HOME: Howard Belden is finally home, his long tour of service honorably concluded. Howard Richard Belden was the oldest of 12 Belden children in the small Adirondack community of Hague. He handled chores on the family farm and cooked three meals a day for all 14 members of his family. He left Hague to join the Army at 17 and ended up in Korea and in the Battle of Chosin Reservoir in 1950. An Army telegram brought the news that Howard was unaccounted for and believed dead. The battle lasted 17 days. It took 51 years to sort out the remains of the men who fought it. Now, Howard is back on U.S soil and a family is at peace.

WRECK(ED)REATIONALISTS: Millions of Americans sought blessed escape from the pandemic by heading out for bold, new adventures in places like the Adirondacks and the national parks. Who knew there were no bathrooms in the wilderness, no taxis, no cell service? Who knew you should not drop acid on the top of Mount Marcy? Some came in ignorance, some in bliss, and they left a trail of destruction — forest fires, graffiti, trash and human waste. 

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ADIRONDACK LORE: The Dutch thought it was home to unicorns. The slave trader who founded Brown University foresaw communities called Sobriety and Regularity. The French considered it a possible refuge for aristocrats after the French Revolution. And African Americans were invited to settle there in the 1840s. Turns out, everybody’s had their eye on the Adirondacks.

PLEASE LOOK IT UP: There are a lot of stars in the Netflix film “Don’t Look Up.” Leonardo DiCaprio, Jennifer Lawrence, Cate Blanchett, Meryl Streep, Tyler Perry, Ariana Grande and Jonah Hill — and Saratoga Springs’ small-batch One with Life organic tequila brand. The film just set a record for the most hours viewed on Netflix.

STAMP OF APPROVAL: Edmonia Lewis was known as Wildfire, the daughter of a Native American moccasin maker and a freed slave, born in the backwoods of Rensselaer County. An uncle paid her tuition to Oberlin College, where she was falsely accused of poisoning two white female students with Spanish Fly. She left for Boston and became the foremost female sculptor in the United States. Now she’s being honored by the U.S. Postal Service.

HOMETOWN HONORS FOR WARHORSE: Andrew Weibrecht grew up skiing at Whiteface Mountain not far from his family’s home in Lake Placid. He became a three-time Olympian, winner of a silver medal in Sochi and a bronze in Vancouver, both in super-G. Now Whiteface is honoring the kid they call “Warhorse.”

REMBRANDT IN GLENS FALLS: Rembrandt van Rijn, the Dutch artist, painted a portrait of Jesus Christ in the mid 1600s. After his death, the painting ended up in the hands of a Russian aristocrat, the Soviet government, art thieves and then the forces of dictator Joseph Stalin. So how did it end up on permanent display at The Hyde Collection in Glens Falls?

GREAT SAVE:  Brian “Red” Hamilton, an assistant equipment manager for the NHL’s Vancouver Canucks, was clearing the visitors’ bench area in Seattle’s Climate Pledge Arena when a young fan seated just behind him noticed a mole on his neck. She took out her phone, typed an urgent message in large font and pressed it against the glass: “The mole on the back of your neck is possibly cancerous. Please go see a doctor!” Turns out she was right, and her diligence quite likely saved Hamilton’s life. She plans to enter medical school in the fall, a journey made a bit easier by the Canucks and the Seattle Kraken, who surprised her with a $10,000 scholarship.

NEW BEGINNINGS: The new year is a time for fresh starts and new thinking, and yes, resolutions. About those — rather than set unrealistic goals and flogging yourself when you fall short, consider looking inward, reframing how you think and getting outside. And if you’re determined to be more successful in 2022, there are concrete steps you can take every day to set yourself on that path.

OLD AND NEW: The oldest resort on Lake George will soon be new again. The Fort William Henry Hotel, first opened in 1855 at the southern end of Lake George, is getting a multi-million-dollar makeover that includes room renovations, a new kitchen, and a new wrap-around porch overlooking the lake.

REIMAGINING CONVENIENCE: Walmart this week announced plans to expand its grocery delivery service offerings to 30 million U.S. households in 2022, a fivefold increase. Walmart associates will not only deliver the groceries, they’ll stock the refrigerator for you. Eating the food is still up to you, for now.

BEFORE AND AFTER: A California couple welcomed fraternal twins born 15 minutes apart — the first, a boy, at 11:45 p.m. New Year’s Eve, and, at the stroke of midnight, a girl, meaning they have not only different birth dates but different birth years.

A dog racing around a pole in an agility contestDogs can teach us plenty, if we pay attention, including encouraging us to take on the new year at full throttle. (Skip Dickstein)

A FRIEND IN NEED: The folks at dogtime.com describe the Shiloh Shepherd as “super smart” and able to handle a variety of tasks, including “search and rescue work, guide dog, and much more.” All of which describe the actions of a young dog named Tinsley along a darkened Interstate 89 at the New Hampshire-Vermont border. Law enforcement responded to a report of a dog on the highway, and when they arrived, she ran north, across the state line, and led them to the scene of a rollover accident involving her owner and another occupant. “This dog definitely saved their lives,” Lt. Daniel Baldassare of the New Hampshire State Police told CNN. “I don't think they would have survived the night given the temperatures.”

THIS FOX ROCKS: A musician in Colorado has, since the start of the pandemic, been performing, and recording, solo shows for an audience of one — a red fox who stops by regularly, sometimes with a critter in his jaws. As one commenter put it, “I would have never guessed that the best minute & 39 seconds of my life would have banjo music. This. Was. Awesome.”

LIVES

CARMINE DeCRESCENTE was a successful businessman by day, an accomplished musician by night and never met anyone who wasn’t a friend. He grew DeCrescente Distributing Co., a company his father started in a garage in Mechanicville, N.Y., into one of the Capital Region’s largest beer distributors, a company with 400 employees and now in its fourth generation of family ownership. He died at 94 of complications from COVID-19.

LAWRENCE BROOKS was the oldest known living American veteran of World War II, drafted at 31 shortly after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and serving in the South Pacific. After his discharge, he married, had a family and worked as a forklift operator. His latest birthday celebration, on Sept. 12, included a military flyover of his New Orleans home. He was 112.

WILLIAM M. ELLINGHAUS started in the telephone business straight out of high school in Baltimore, installing black rotary-dial phones. He worked his way into management and eventually was the company president and CEO who oversaw the breakup of AT&T — at the time the world’s largest corporation. Known for his troubleshooting skill, he was an instrumental advisor who played a key role in saving New York City from bankruptcy in the 1970s. He was 99.

ALMOST FINAL WORDS

“You know how I always dread the whole year? Well, this time I'm only going to dread one day at a time.”
—    Charlie Brown

THE SIGNOFF

DOUBLE JEOPARDY: New York Gov. Kathy Hochul was in a forgiving holiday spirit after one of her constituents, as a contestant on Jeopardy!, didn’t respond to the clue that she is the state’s first woman governor (nor did the other two contestants). She invited Ben Walthall of Brooklyn to join her by video during a news conference two days after the episode aired. He explained that the show had taped shortly after she was sworn in, but that he definitely knows who she is now and praised her performance as governor.    

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tara Hutchins, Nancie Battaglia, Skip Dickstein, Claire P. Tuttle, Kelly Donahue, and Katie Alessi.

FACING OUT is what we do. We help companies, organizations and individuals work effectively with their most important external audiences – their customers, their shareholders, their communities, the government and the news media.  www.behancommunications.com

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value to you, our friends and business associates. Some items are good news about our clients and friends, others are stories that we hope will leave you a bit more informed or entertained than you were five minutes ago. As always, we welcome your ideas and feedback. 

Let’s make it a conversationmark.behan@behancom.com

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