Now in his Final Term, Lake George Village Mayor Writes Memoirs
In the spring of 2011, Bob Blais was elected to an eleventh, four year term as Mayor of the Village of Lake George, New York.
At the conclusion of that term (which he says will be his last), Blais will have become the longest-tenured mayor in New York State history.
It is, he says, the right time to publish his memoirs; he’s already completed twenty chapters.
“Everyone always says, ‘You should write a book.’ I’ve thought about doing just that, more times than I’ve run a meeting or slammed a gavel. Every time something interesting happened, or a new challenge surfaced, I would think that someone out there would be interested in that,” Blais said.
“Lake George has its characters, its unforgettable places in history, and up and downs. The book is about all of that,” he added.
Blais was born in Holyoke, Massachusetts and grew up in upstate New York’s other legendary resort town, Saratoga Springs. How he came to Lake George and became a police captain, a deputy sheriff, Village Trustee and Mayor, as well as a business owner, husband and father, will be part of the story, he said.
Incidents he intends to recount include the famous Labor Day Riots of 1961.
According to Blais, who was a police officer at the time, there were no riots, or, if there were, they were caused not by teen-agers but by the Village’s mayor, Robert Caldwell.
“There was no Open Container” ordinance in place and the streets were filled with young people. No problems, just massive crowds, shouting, cajoling and walking in large groups, many intoxicated,” said Blais.
“Mayor Caldwell had asked the volunteer firemen to stand by at the firehouse in the event of a fire due to the crowds. Many of the firemen had become restless, and they were aware of the noise and crowd on the main street. They were eager to become involved. Mayor Caldwell made a pass down Canada Street about 1am and decided the problem could escalate. He ordered the firemen to hook up a pumper to a hydrant in front of the post office and drench the crowd.
The Village’s fire truck, sirens and lights blazing, hooked up to the cheers of hundreds of young people eager to get wet. The hoses filled up open convertibles, door fronts, and drains, but did nothing to disperse the crowds. As a matter of fact it drew more to the center of the village to see the action. Ed Lewi, a reporter and photographer for the Albany Times Union, was in Sky Harbor Restaurant at the time and when he heard the ruckus, came out and took photos of the incident. The next day, in all the papers across the country, the Associated Press reported, “Riots in Lake George, NY,” recounted Blais.
Blais said he expects the book to be completed by next spring, ready to be published once he leaves office.