The Week: What Caught Our Eye

May 23, 2020

“If you want to thank a soldier,
be the kind of American worth fighting for.” – Unknown

A horse-drawn wagon carrying a casket draped in an American flag in a field, with sprinklers running in the backgroundWith the gratitude of the nation: A veteran is carried to his rest at the Gerald B.H. Solomon  Saratoga National Cemetery. (Skip Dickstein)

Good morning, colleagues and friends, and welcome to the first major American holiday in our COVID-19 world.

For several weeks, optimism has been on trial. It’s not looking good with the jury.

Are we crazy to reopen or crazy not to reopen? How fast? How slow?

“It Needs to End. Now,” the New York Post shouted from Page 1.

“No SPAC. No track. No Broadway. No summer. No Saratoga,” a local pessimist declared.

And it is true: The classical season at Saratoga Performing Arts Center, the Boston Symphony at Tanglewood. Broadway. Summer stock. Music festivals. Museums. Baseball season. Little League. Commencements. All gone.

The human suffering and loss of life are the greatest and most profound tragedy, followed closely by the emotional toll on survivors and caregivers. But the economic, social and cultural losses are mounting, and public patience is wearing thin.  

The summer of coronavirus will be far, far less than we’d hoped, imagined and waited for. And while our losses are real, they are transitory. What remains – our spirit of resilience – endures.

The boys of summer, the bands of summer, the jockeys and artists and entertainers of summer, and the promoters and businesspeople who turn long, sunny afternoons into lifetime memories, they’re all still here. The talents who train and race the best thoroughbreds in the world at Saratoga? They’re still around the barns. The people who share lakeside inns, cabins and hotels with guests from all over the world? They’re still here – and just as hospitable as ever. The people who 50 years ago spied a grassy hill near Route 50 in Saratoga Springs and envisioned SPAC? The creative geniuses of Broadway and local stages? They’ve not gone away. Their talents abide.

This will be a tough summer. Money has gone away. Dates and plans have changed. But the brains, vision and creative spirit that created so many summer wonders is alive and well, cooped up at home perhaps, but ready to explode anew and run roughshod over pessimism.

And so on this Memorial Day weekend, as we remember and reflect with humble reverence on the service and courage of men and women who stood between America and her enemies and made the ultimate sacrifice, let’s also remember those who survive and thrive today — the rising stars, the idea-makers, the inspiration-givers, the dreamers and doers, the excitement-providers, the live wires and the energizers, the people who light the forward path or somehow find a path when none is visible.

They are still very much with us. Their best, our best, is still ahead.


A SMALL PRICE TO PAY: Memorial Day has a way of reminding us that what we regard as sacrifices in our daily lives are minuscule if not embarrassing, especially when it comes to the steps we have an obligation to take to protect others. Yes, we’re talking to the guy who thinks wearing a mask makes him look weak and that every public health measure is an assault on personal freedom. Come on, now; we’re better than that. The men and women we honor on Memorial Day are the proof, as are the countless millions who make the effort each day to love their neighbor as themselves.

GRANT OF GENIUS: He wasn’t much of a student. He failed as a farmer and in real estate. He was denied employment as an engineer and a clerk. His early military record was spotty at best, his reputation for drinking widespread. He had a growing family and to feed them resorted, at one point, to selling firewood on the street. When Ulysses S. Grant was entrusted with the command of all U.S. armies in 1864, he relentlessly pursued Gen. Robert E. Lee and victory and brought an end to the Civil War. In 1869, at 46, he became the youngest president in U.S. history to that point. A new three-part documentary on the life of Grant, debuting Memorial Day on the History Channel, features footage from Wilton’s Grant Cottage, a New York State historic site on Mount McGregor where Grant spent the last weeks of his life as he finished his memoirs.

Picture postcard from the 1960s, aerial view of Lake George with islands and mountains in the background and buoy instructionsLake George, picture-postcard beautiful, in this iconic Dick Dean photo. (Mark Bowie)

WE’VE BEEN UP THIS ROAD BEFORE: Memorial Day is the unofficial kickoff of the summer season in Lake George and the Adirondacks. This summer, with all that has changed in the world, resort communities are approaching things cautiously – putting the health, safety and wellbeing of their guests, employees and communities first. Since the late 19th century, Lake George has basked in many warm summers of prosperity. It has also known the cold, dark nights of downturn. And yet it emerged stronger every time. Historian Maury Thompson takes a look back.

SPLENDOR OF THE PEOPLE AND THE WOODS: Hiking, paddling, fishing. It’s drawn people to the sylvan solitude of the Adirondacks for more than two centuries, including artists like Winslow Homer, a skilled outdoorsman who loved the comradery of camping trips and captured it in prints and paintings. Homer also loved the year-round residents who for city dwellers acted as backwoods guides, heroic for their strength and dexterity, their ability to build a lean-to in hours, their skills at hunting, fishing, and tracking bear, cooking on an open fire, and telling a good story around the campfire at night. The Hyde Collection’s Jonathan Canning looks at the Adirondack experience through art.

PEAK PREPARATION: The popular Adirondack High Peaks remain open, but the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation is reminding hikers to come prepared, including a mask and your own pen or pencil to sign in at trailheads. Something else to be aware of: Black flies. And no, they will not keep social distance.

MOORE GOOD READS: “My life is impossible to make interesting,’’ she told The Paris Review. “Others have tried before.’’ Glens Falls native and winner of the O. Henry Award Marie Lorena Moore – Lorrie to her family and devoted readers – has written four collections of short stories, three novels (including “Who Will Run the Frog Hospital?” based on her teenage job at Storytown, USA), a children’s book, essays and magazine stories while teaching at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and more recently at Vanderbilt University, with stints at  Cornell, Baruch College, the University of Michigan, Princeton and NYU. Her first story in The New Yorker was chosen for The Best American Short Stories of the Century, edited by John Updike. In 1999, she was named winner of The Irish Times International Fiction Prize. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Letters. The New Yorker asks her about the reader she imagines while writing: “Jesus in reading glasses.’’

WHAT YOU DON’T KNOW CAN KILL YOU: You know it’s bad out there when states and municipalities find it necessary to launch websites for the express purpose of debunking misinformation about COVID-19. Seriously.

KEEPING IT IN PERSPECTIVE: You think we’ve got it rough? Imagine what you experienced if you were born in the U.S. in 1900 and were fortunate enough to make it to 75 (and we mean fortunate; average life expectancy was under 50). You don’t have to imagine.

HOMETOWN HAULING: Jack Bland is both the operations manager and a member of the Hometown Hauling crew that picks up garbage for a refuse-hauling company in Kentucky. He noticed that one of his customers, an elderly woman, hadn’t been putting her cans out, so he decided to check on her. Warning: Have tissues ready before clicking.

LET US HELP: Rosemarie Truglio, a developmental psychologist and senior vice president of curriculum and content at Sesame Workshop, has some tips for parents navigating the responsibilities of work and home when they’re one and the same. For starters, cut yourself some slack.

FARMS TO TABLES: The closing of schools and restaurants forced farmers across the nation to dump millions of pounds of fresh food and milk. Two students at Brown University started FarmLink, a grassroots movement to redirect some of the food that otherwise would be wasted to charitable organizations. Their goal is to move 1 million pounds of food by the end of May and 5 million pounds by the end of summer. There’s a link to volunteer, donate, or request assistance.

EAT FRESH: The pandemic has changed almost everything about daily life, including where we’re getting our food. Two-thirds of the readers who responded to an informal poll in the “Adirondack Almanac” say they’re buying more locally grown food, largely because they trust it more. And if that local food is cheese, by all means, treat it properly.

A VOICE TO REMEMBER: College of Saint Rose senior Julia Gargano thrilled fans and judges alike on “American Idol,” and performed in a socially distant ensemble rendition of “Come Together” in the season finale. Alas, that’s where her spectacular run ended.

A WINNING COMPOSITION: Molly Herron, a Ph.D. candidate in composition at Princeton University, won the 2020 Lake George Music Festival Composition Competition with her “Three Sarabandes,” written for a string quartet and described as “a meditation on the long history of the sarabande and its transformation over time as details are lost and replaced.” Hers was one of 367 works submitted.

WASTE NOT: A Vermont dairy farmer, seeking to diversify revenue streams and reduce the farm’s environmental footprint, is building an anaerobic digester that will turn cow manure and food waste into a renewable natural fuel for use by a local college and gas utility.

READY, AIM, BLESS: A Michigan priest became something of a viral star this week when video emerged of the creative way by which he blesses his parishioners while maintaining social distance.

SPEAKING OF THE SPIRITUAL: In these socially distant and uncertain times, more people are seeking connection and peace through prayer.

SEPARATION BRINGS US TOGETHER: In a moving essay of words and pictures, a resident of a town near London describes how a formerly aloof and disconnected block has truly become an engaged and supportive community in the midst of the pandemic.


YOU’RE LOOKING SWELL TODAY, ST. PETER: “Leave it to Beaver” aired its last original episode 57 years ago, and still the name Eddie Haskell is instantly recognized as shorthand for obsequious insincerity (the term suck-up wouldn’t be invented for another few decades). Ken Osmond, the teenaged actor who somehow brought an endearing quality to the character, died this week at the age of 76.

ANNIE GLENN, the widow of astronaut and former U.S. Senator John Glenn, overcame a debilitating stutter in her 50s to become an outspoken and influential advocate for people with communications disorders. Hers was a remarkable journey that was ended by the coronavirus.

JOHN J. MARCIL, who served aboard a submarine hunter in the Mediterranean Sea and later on a landing ship that carried troops, tanks and other vehicles in the Pacific in World War II, was the last surviving member of a group of four graduates who were featured in a storied photo snapped on the steps of their high school, Catholic Central in Troy. He graduated from Siena College and worked at General Electric in sales and recruitment before running his own company that coached people on public speaking. He was 96.


TABLE FOR ONE: As the economy reopens and eateries grapple with social distancing, one restaurant in a resort town came up with a unique way to keep diners safely apart.


“Ceremonies are important. But our gratitude has to be more than visits to the troops, and once-a-year Memorial Day ceremonies. We honor the dead best by treating the living well.” — Jennifer M. Granholm

PLEASE SHARE: Feel free to pass this along to your friends and colleagues.

THANK YOU to our contributors: Bill Callen, Bill Richmond, Colleen Potter, John Brodt, Lisa Fenwick, Tina Suhocki, Maury Thompson, Skip Dickstein, Mark Bowie, Tara Hutchins, Claire P. Tuttle.

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.

Facing Out features news and other nuggets that caught our eye, and that we thought might be of value or interest 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. 

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