That headline fits this ancient quote: “the more things change, the more they stay the same,” so said French writer Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr back in the 1800s.
The headline, copied from the Aug. 4, 1949 edition of the Adirondack Daily Enterprise, was not much different from 2022, when the Saranac Lake village manager suddenly resigned. The village manager we are talking about in 1949 was Millar Johnson, and the brief piece I have about his leaving is a little mysterious, but you draw your own conclusions when you read the story.
But first a bit of village manager history. The position was created in 1929, and applicants had to be engineers. The village was growing very quickly and infrastructure was the big, important phase of that growth.
Wayne E. Timmerman, from Massena, was the first village manager, who served from 1929 to 1935. Millar S. Johnson was the second and served from 1935 to 1941. The position was then filled by Louis Kendall, followed by Charles Goldsmith, and Mr. Johnson again became village manager in 1946.
The Enterprise story
“A temporary acting village manager will probably be appointed this week to serve until a permanent manager with engineering qualifications can be secured, Mayor Alton B. Anderson stated today.
“Millar Johnson, who has served as Village Manager since December, 1946, will cease active direction of village affairs on Thursday. [Again, I must add, the village manager is the CEO of the village, not the mayor. Also, the manager “serves at the pleasure of the board,” with never a contract.]
“The Village Board, it was disclosed at last night’s meeting, has received three applications for the manager’s position. None have engineering degrees.
“The applications are from Frank Buck, Sr., of Saranac Lake, John D. Hall of Waverly, and Bruce Henky of Watertown.
“Mayor Anderson stated that a letter had been sent to the New York Conference of Mayors seeking a list of qualified men available for the managership.
“The Conference has replied that there is nobody in the state available at this time.
“At a Village Board meeting last night, which retiring Manager Johnson did not attend, a motion was carried that he remain actively employed by the Village until August 4; and inactively employed until August 18 to allow him two weeks’ vacation pay.
“Johnson agreed verbally to resign as Village Manager following a special board meeting July 22.”
[My village files reveal that Frank G. Buck was appointed to that position, three days later, on Aug. 9, 1949. He served as village manager for eight years, until June 25, 1957.]
Who was running for office?
Well, we are going to tell you right now:
“Only two contests, one for Franklin County district attorney and the other for Harrietstown supervisor, will be decided by the Republican primary on Sept. 6.
“A check of petitions filed with the Franklin County Board of Elections in Malone, by last midnight’s deadline, showed that all other county and town positions are being sought by unopposed candidates in the primary.
“Contesting for district attorney are Irving Edelberg of Saranac Lake and Robert A. Moore of Malone. Hayward H. Plumadore and T. Jefferson [owner of Dairy-Dell, formerly Bartz Dairy] both from Saranac Lake are contender’s post. [Newbold lost.] “No Democratic candidates have filed their intentions. Monday, September 19, is the deadline for County and Town Democrats to conduct caucuses for naming candidates for the November 8 general election.
“Unopposed candidates seeking nominations for county offices in the primary include Ellsworth N. Lawrence, judge and surrogate; George G. Bradish, clerk; Fred C. Conrad of Saranac Lake, treasurer and Frank N. Machabee, commissioner of public welfare.
“Uncontested offices in Harrietstown are being sought by the following Republicans: B. D. Yorkey, assessor for four years; Dennis Ducatt, assessor for four years; Gordon Vosburgh, justice of the peace; Frank E. Sheldon, justice of the peace; Clyde Cheeseman, councilman; Gordon Swinyer, superintendent of highways and Mathew M. Munn, clerk.”
[At that time, those elected to serve as Justice of the Peace also served as members of the five-person town council.] “No petitions have been filed in the Towns of Santa Clara, Franklin, Brighton and Altamont.”
Music, dance entertain rotary
“A group of students from the Deerwood Adirondack Music Center, under the direction of Elizabeth Johnson, gave a program of music and dancing for the Saranac Lake Rotary Club at its meeting in the Hotel Saranac.
“The first selection, ‘The Lass with the Delicate Air,’ by Arne, was sung by Rachel Woods, soprano, of Ashland, Kentucky. Miss Woods’ opening selection was followed by a flute solo, ‘Dance of the Blessed Spirits’ by Gluck, played by Dorothy Stritesky of Racine, Wisconsin.
“‘If I Could Tell You,’ by Firestone was sung by Gwen Preston, soprano, also of Ashland, Kentucky. Anita Katchen, pianist, of South Orange, New Jersey, played Liszt’s ‘Waldesrauschen.’
“The program concluded with a Candle Dance by Teresita Tirona of Manila, Philippine Islands. Miss Tirona, dressed in a white, two-piece costume, danced with a candle balanced on her head.
“The artists were accompanied on the piano by Miss Johnson.”
[The Deerwood Music School was located in a beautiful, wooded setting on state Route 30, a left turn just before the left turn to Saranac Inn.]