Our Schroon Laker.com business card is based on a 1950s era advertising brochure, featuring a young woman smiling and showing off her water skiing prowess.
We’ve often wondered who that young woman was -- and whatever happened to her. Recently -- that wait came to an end, as we hooked up with Janet “Teddy” Clautice, still beautiful after all these years.
Teddy Clautice will never forget the day as a 16 year-old -- at the Schroon Lake Central School -- that she got a call from gal about town, Aletha Haley.
The way Teddy remembers it, Aletha was a columnist for the Ticonderoga Sentinel.
“She knew everybody, went to all the weddings and the funerals, she was a very capable, was active in staging events -- she called and said we have a professional photographer coming and we are going around to film a lot of places, people and activities. And she said: ‘Would you like to waterski and be on a post card?’ “And I said sure, I would.”
Teddy and I were chatting in the library of the Paradox House. Fate had bought us together. I had been tipped to her name more than a year ago, and learned she lived out west. going by Janet "Teddy" Parkinson. This past July, I got a call out of the blue from her husband Tom, telling me she would be in town for a family re-union.
So what are her memories of that day in 1956, when the shot was taken?
“I didn’t take long and it went great. They didn’t have to retake it because my hair is dry, so I’m sure I left from a dock and returned to a dock”.
At the time, Teddy said she had no idea how the picture would be used.
“I didn’t even know if they would use it. My reaction when I first saw it? I was thrilled and proud of it, proud of myself and was completely delighted. And I still am.”
Teddy says the male skier in the background is Bill Bert. He was from New York City and worked as a waiter while in college.
“He got a degree in engineering. He was dark haired and very handsome. I’m sure he wishes he was in front in the picture.
That summer Teddy was a dance instructor at camp Woodmere -- now Southwoods.
She started off a “Baby Woodmere.” I was the youngest camper at 5 years old, and my mother was camp nurse. We were there as we waited for my first father to come home from World War II, which he never did”.
What follows next is Teddy’s life story, which incorporates tragedy, happiness, a big chunk of Schroon and Paradox Lake in its heyday, history and a life full of wonderful memories, experiences, family and friends.
It’s a life that started in Baltimore, where Teddy’s mom met her father.
“My mother was from North Dakota and went to Baltimore to nursing school, where she met my birth father. He studied psychiatry and general surgery and decided he wanted a small practice and moved to Schroon Lake in 1940. We lived in a little white house on the far side of the school, which is still there. His office was the first room on the left.
“I was less than a year old when we moved there and after Pearl Harbor he enlisted. I was three years old. After a few postings in the US he shipped out to England and was assigned to a psych hospital for returning Americans.
“That summer of 1945 my mother and I went to Camp Woodmere. She called the Red Cross when she hadn’t heard from him for a while and learned that he died within a day of getting sick.”
As the nurse of Woodmere, Teddy’s mother -- along with many area camp counselors, would gather at the area’s hot spot: Clautice’s, a famous restaurant, bar, guesthouse and resort. (It was located not too far from where the former Paradox General Store was.)
There, Teddy’s mom she met the owner Bill Clautice. When his wife Ann fell ill, she worked as their private duty nurse. A year later Ann lost her battle and died in the Stone House on the property.
A while later Bill began dating Teddy’s mother and the couple eventually married. Bill officially adopted Teddy as his daughter.
“Clautice’s was where all the counselors went. It provided me with summer romances for many, many years,” she recalled.
Teddy has vivid memories of Clautice’s.
“Jimmy Jones attended bar for us. It was a gorgeous bar that had an aquarium behind it with tropical fish. It was a stone bar on its base and Bill had made the top out of cherry wood. It had a gorgeous fireplace.
“When I was older I waited on tables. It was really beautiful. Bill dredged a pond, and you’d look outside the dining room and see a lot of bird life”.
If you stayed at the hotel, with a private bath, with three meals a day, it was $73 dollars for the week.
The resort also featured tennis courts, horses, boating. Paradox Lake was just a short walk. Every Wednesday night there would be a steak fry on the beach.
Among other items on the menu, Teddy remembers “great steaks, lobsters and cherrystone clams from Long Island. We had a garden out the back, with cows and milk and eggs.
(Way before Teddy and her mother came on the scene; Bill had bootlegged booze from Canada, imported it and sold it during prohibition.)
“We were a big enough deal that we had a hostess that would be nothing but gracious during the dinner hour and arrange the badminton tournament, the tennis schedule and made sure people followed the rules and arranged the skits.
“I always remembered there was a wedding with a man as the bride and a woman as the groom. It was always hysterically funny.”
There were hunting parties in October. Teddy remembers parties in the winter, where she would wake up the next morning to find guests “laying all over the place. They had been snowed in.”
Back in its heyday, Clautice’s, like many of the local resorts, attracted top talent. The Inkspots would play and there would be a crowd of 200, with the women dressed in their finest and the men in tuxes.
During the off-season Teddy would spend winters in St. Petersburg Florida, before making the annual trip back to the Adirondacks and finishing the school year in Schroon Lake.
Clautice's ran from the late 1930s to when they tore it down in the 1970s, when they widened route 73 and made it 74.
"Bill had eventually leased out the tavern and it got run down. There’s no trace of the resort, just woods and the Stone House.
“We kept the Stone House across from the resort and used it for the summers until 1976, when we sold it.
“I have a great feeling of pride for the place. What’s important is the building is still intact with a new owner who cares deeply for it”.
Teddy eventually graduated from high school in St. Petersburg, Florida and went to the University of Florida, where she studied physical therapy.
She met her husband Tom at the University of Florida Medical School. They were married at our Lady of Lourdes in Schroon Lake.
Soon followed stops in Rhode Island and Michigan, where the couple raised three children, now in their late 40s and early 50s.
Next stop: Palo Alto. For more than two decades Teddy taught at Stanford Medical Center, where she developed a specialty in treating brain injured adults, especially stroke and head injury patients.
“I started teaching and ended up the last 20 years travelling the world. Hospitals would hire me, from Singapore, to Hong Kong, Switzerland, Germany and Canada, as well as every major city in the US”. Meanwhile, Tom was researching and developing drugs in humans with the FDA.
Today, the couple lives in White Salmon Washington, a town smaller than Schroon Lake.
“It’s the Pacific Northwest version of Schroon Lake...a little bit of heaven; there are elements, a lot of elements of an Adirondack lodge in the house where we live.”
When we caught up with Teddy, she was here with 11 family members, enjoying the simple pleasures of an Adirondack holiday. The trip was organized by her son in law, who knows how important this part of the world is to Teddy and wants all of the grandchildren to experience the raw beauty of the place, Teddy said.
“It’s the perfect place for a large group of people being together in the summer, having a great time, telling jokes, falling out of the canoe, I think it’s priceless".
Although she was vacationing on Schroon Lake, Teddy says she is a true “Paradox Laker...you can’t be both.”
“On this trip, seeing Main Street, I was in tears...every old building was there. It was like I was six again with Suzy Wood and Billy Knoxen. I recalled the winter and how Fowler Ave was our sledding Hill. I went to the school and knew every stick and stone in the back.
“It thrills my heart to come back here and see the town thriving, it looks the best it’s ever looked it’s wonderful”.
So how did Teddy’s experience spending so much time in Paradox and Schroon shape the person she is today?
“I certainly have a profound respect for nature, its power, its beauty, the lasting quality of it. When I come here I say I am returning to the holy waters of Paradox Lake and the ancient mountains. These are old mountains.”