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Chazy, Miner memories

May 8, 2011
By DON WILLIAMS , The Leader Herald

It is not often that I stray outside the Adirondack Blueline to write a story, but I feel compelled to record my memories of the one time in my life when my home and work was outside the Adirondacks.

My first teaching job was at Chazy, Clinton County, about 10 miles off the northeast corner of the Adirondack Park. It was close enough to the Adirondacks to keep me from "losing my marbles!"

News articles and stories are appearing in the press, documentaries are being made and books are being written about the Miner Foundation's contributions to the North Country at their Chazy holdings. Businessman/philanthropist William Miner in 1916 created the first central school in the state, complete with a fleet of school buses. His model "Heart's Delight" farm developed into today's William H. Miner Agricultural Research Institute. I taught in the original Spanish Mission-style school building.

Those who taught at the Chazy Central Rural School back in the '50s were fortunate in that the Foundation provided a "teacherage," a place to live. The large structure, across the street from the school, was divided into nine apartments for married male teachers, and the single male teachers, and 25 single rooms for unmarried women faculty. Married women lived with their husbands in the community. I was hired right out of college while I was still a bachelor and shared an apartment with two other bachelors on the fourth floor of the six-story building. Another bachelor had an apartment on the fifth floor. When I married, we were provided an apartment on the second floor, rent-free, with electricity, water and heat provided by the Foundation. The special benefits by the Foundation were welcomed by those who taught there.

The apartments were partially furnished with basic furniture; we only had to buy a stove and refrigerator for that second apartment. We got them cheap and used from Sears, Roebuck. The dining room, living room and bedroom furniture was of good quality; the living room couch actually opened up into a full-size bed.

Each apartment had an associated laundry room and wood shed in the cellar. The washing machine was a copper tub on a wooden frame. When the motor was turned on, it would rock back and forth, washing the clothes inside. I wish I still had it. The individual wood rooms provided storage for fireplace wood since each apartment had its own fireplace. We only got paid once a month, so between pay checks we gathered in someone's apartment for hot dog roasts. When Chazy teachers were forbidden from smoking, those who smoked laid on the floor and blew the smoke up the fireplace chimney so when the principal made his inspection rounds the apartment would not smell like cigarettes.

Another benefit connected with the Chazy job was a huge parking garage in the side yard. Each tenant was assigned a parking spot in the garage; we never had to worry about shoveling snow. The apartments were accessed by an elevator or stairs and household garbage was placed into a covered chute that took it to the cellar.

The teacherage at the Chazy School was named "Gray Gables." It was built of concrete and built to last. Today, the school was torn down and "Gray Gables" is deteriorating ; more of my past is disappearing-'tis sad!



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