Lake George Village, by way of the Old Mannion Homestead. Sunday. October 11, 2015.
Headed on up to Lake George Village for the day. An hour’s trip into the mountains. Beautiful weather, although when the breeze picked up, it got a bit chilly. And it was coming in strong enough from the lake that while we were having lunch on the deck of one of our favorite restaurants we had to weigh down our empty plastic soda cups with the silverware.
Had a nice time but we were disappointed at some changes in the Village. Our other favorite restaurant, a spaghetti house where we usually had dinner when we stayed late enough on past visits is gone. Not closed. Gone. Torn down. The whole block it was on has been torn down and torn up. A generic, off-the-highway ramp motel with some attached stip mall-style storefronts is going up on the site. Ugly. Uglifying. Uglier for being so featureless, out of place, and unnecessary. Up the road a ways, a favorite ice cream stand is closed and looks as though it’s being readied for demolition to provide parking for another set of charmless store and office fronts.
Note to Village planners:
If your charming village's main selling point is charm then doing things that subtract from the charm is not a good idea.
This kind of thinking should not survive a second thought:
"Lots of people are coming to our charming village! We need to tear down things down they come here for and build more motels so they all have places to stay when they come here to look at what isn’t here to look at anymore!"
Still, there’s charm enough left in the Village and the place was hopping so there was none of the end of season melancholy you often sense in summer tourist towns as business winds down and the crowds have stopped coming and the locals are obviously beginning to hunker down for the long, unprofitable winter of empty streets, empty shops, and empty tills and empty wallets ahead...
What was I saying about melancholy?
Lunch at the Boardwalk was good, as always, and we had a fun time just strolling around afterwards. And we came across something new.
New to us, at any rate.
On a grassy slope leading up into the Village from the docks below the Boardwalk, these guys.
They’re marching toward the lake out of a sculpture garden featuring “Folk Art” by one Forrest Lanfair.
Lanfair, who died a dozen years ago at age 78, wasn’t an artist by training or trade. He was the postmaster for the nearby town of Warrensburg. He started sculpting in his thirties, apparently for his own amusement. He didn’t try to sell his scupltures, he resisted showing them, and his plan for them when he died, according to his brother Clyde, was for them to be bulldozed into a big hole in the ground in a unmarked mass grave. He made them for fun out of wire and a surface bonding compound and stood them out in the fields on some property he owned and, I guess, got a kick out of picturing people coming along and meeting up with characters like the ones in my photos and the ones described in an article from 2006 by Konrad Marshall for the Glens Falls Post Star:
An old farmer, black-bearded and bowlegged, his pot belly bulging through an open blue shirt between red suspenders, stands smoking an oversized corncob pipe. There are holes in his soles, in the knees of his dungarees, in the elbows, and even in the seat of his pants.
The farmer's wife, with her rosy red cheeks, drunkard's nose, rolls of neck fat, hunched shoulders and swollen but sagging bosom, looks like the kind of lady that could wield a rolling pin with ferocity.
[A] caveman family - Dad dragging Mom by the hair, while their little hairy son looks on…
[And an] old swayback horse...her ribs pressing through her chest as she whinnies, bug-eyed, wearing a Hee-Haw hat, like some bizarro old gray mare.
I imagine the thought cracked him up. His brother wasn’t amused.
"I respected his ability to do those things," Clyde said. "But I can't say I personally liked them that much."
Lanfair, who was also a painter and furniture-maker, may not have been interested in selling his work, but people were interested in buying. And after he died, they did. Which is how the ones we saw wound up where they are, and it's not exactly a happy ending. There's a sad side to the story. The Post-Star article gets into that along with more about Lanfair’s life and personality, which you’ll see when you read the whole thing, Honest Art.
Here’s one more set of Lanfair’s statues. I’ll leave it to you to decide whether they add to or subtract from the Village’s charm.