Happy Jacks Expands Line of Authentic Retro Lake George Products
Happy Jacks, the funky Bolton Landing clothing and gift shop, has added to its line of retro t-shirts bearing the logos of long-gone Lake George resorts, marinas, restaurants and bars.
Based on advertisements and logos created by the printers at Adirondack Resorts Press, the company that publishes the Lake George Mirror, and which appeared as advertisements in guides and brochures as well as in the Lake George Mirror itself in the 1950s and 60s, the t-shirts were introduced two summers ago and have become one of Happy Jacks’ most popular brands.
“They’re especially popular with adults,” said Happy Jacks owner Jeff Strief. “They have a nostalgic appeal for people for whom these places were touchstones. At the same time, the shirts have a retro-cool look, which maybe makes people feel younger – less like an uptight dad. The more places we add to the line, the more popular the series as a whole becomes.”
Every shirt comes with a tag offering a bit of information about the businesses, and longtime residents who have come into the shop have supplemented that with details from their own memories, said Strief.
“Tops, for instance, is described as the Village’s first biker bar; Lake George Bowl was owned by the mayor of Lake George Village; Sunny Brook Acres was a resort on the grounds of New York Times publisher Adolph Och’s former estate and its nightclub was popular with people from every town on the lake,” said Strief.
New to the shop this summer are shirts emblazoned with: a 1950s rendition of the logo, “Queen of American Lakes,” a phrase which the Lake George Mirror coined in the 1890s; a highway map of the Adirondack Park directing visitors to popular roadside attractions, such as Story Town, Frontier Town, Ausable Chasm and the Land of Make Believe; the Antlers, a lakeside bar known for hiring only the most beautiful of the college students who flocked to Lake George in the 1960s; and the Jolly Roger. Built by Schenectady industrialist Henry Wright, the Jolly Roger was both modern and swank, with a bar situated in front of a wall of glass overlooking the lake. By the 1970s it was gone, demolished to make room for an expansion of Shepard Park.
Among last year’s most popular t-shirts, and brought back to satisfy the demand, is one based on advertisements for “U-Drive-It Speedboats” at Lamb Brothers in Bolton Landing.
According to Buzz Lamb, his father Walt and his brothers Norm and Bob bought Lamb & Sons from their father after returning to Bolton Landing from World War II.
“Lamb’s U-Drive-It boat rentals were somewhat legendary as they rented some pretty unusual boats,” said Lamb. “One that comes to mind was a 1953 19-foot Chris Craft Racer, which had a 158 hp Chris Craft engine equipped with triple down-draft carburetors. Of course, it was the most expensive boat in the rental fleet but I can tell you it was never at the dock. Another fast and very popular boat with the renters was Zip, a 16-foot red-white-and-blue Chris Craft.”
“All of boats had names on the stern and that was how they were identified on the rental rate sheet. Customers asked for boats by name. Fishermen always asked for Poseidon because not only did it have steering and shifting in the bow, it had similar controls aft so that anglers could handle their lines and steer the boat at the same time.
“Probably what people will also have a recollection of is the era from the mid-1950s to the late 1960s when Lamb Brothers offered ‘fast speedboat rides through the Narrows’ to Paradise Bay and back. It was an inexpensive way to cool off on a hot summer day. Lamb Brothers had a public address system with speakers announcing ‘fast speedboat rides through the Narrows’ three times a day, every day. They said ‘fast speedboat rides through the Narrows’ so frequently, it almost got to the point where it was annoying,” Lamb recalled
In addition to more retro t-shirts, Strief has added another item to his line of Adirondack Resorts Press Products: a jig saw puzzle based on Adirondack Resorts brochures.
“I was looking for a Lake George image to have made into a jigsaw puzzle when I realized that I had access to all these great images from the Adirondack Resorts Press archives,” said Strief. “Those images also made it a fun puzzle; the more images in a puzzle, the more there is to discern as it begins to come together.”
Introduced in time for the July 4 holiday, the puzzle is selling “incredibly well,” said Strief.
Like the retro Lake George t-shirts, offering a distinctive Lake George product that no other store carries not only attracts customers but strengthens Happy Jacks unique brand, said Strief.
“No other shop is like ours, and these products both demonstrate that and increase our stock of things you can’t find anywhere else,” said Strief.
Adirondack Resorts Press was the premier publisher of Lake George brochures, guides, maps and post cards from the 1920s through the early 1970s, said Tony Hall, the publisher of the Lake George Mirror and the president of Adirondack Resorts Press, Inc.,
The company even developed its own distinctive method of printing four-color images, which it called Colorgraph.
When Lisa and Tony Hall purchased Adirondack Resorts Press and the Lake George Mirror in 1997, they inherited the vault of advertising images and designs.