By Don Ford ’69

As a student attending forestry and surveying classes at Paul Smith’s, I never saw the forest for the trees. I guess that expression is true when you find yourself living in the midst of it all. I had a choice of attending Wanakena Ranger School at Cranberry Lake or Paul Smith’s College. I chose the latter since Wanakena only offered 18 months of studies, while Paul Smith’s offered two years.

I took the terminal forestry program with surveying option (classes taught by Prof. Yopps and Dr. Bambino.) Many of the terminal students lived at the Gabriel’s campus, most recently a minimum security prison. Many of the pre-pro forestry students were put in White Pine Camp, situated about half way between our campus and the main campus.

There wasn’t a feud between our campuses, but it was felt that we weren’t exactly welcome at White Pine. Their campus roughed it more than we did. They didn’t mind cutting their own firewood for heat.

Dale, from my hometown, Jamestown, N.Y. and the Gabriels campus, decided to break the ice and pay them a visit. The way the story goes:

The year was 1968. Dale drove his VW Bug toward White Pine Camp. He had never trespassed on rival camps before. When he parked his car at the edge of Osgood Pond, the car was lifted by several students – no names available at the time of this printing – and it was placed into the pond.

After Dale made his visit, he was surprised upon leaving that his car had taken a swim half way out in the pond. Moral of the story: they never ventured onto our campus, and we didn’t violate their space either. No harm done except to a certain person’s ego :-} Keep in mind that this car was fully loaded, with students most of the time that is.

I was told that a handful of campus residents lifted his car out into the water, and then they carried it back out for him when he was trying to leave. Call it initiation, but that’s the story as I heard it.

Don Ford


By Don Ford
First Published in 2006 in Adirondack Life
(This is a true story that happened to this author)

There was the time that my brother and I caught a giant frog and let it go. No one believed us. On another occasion we opened a freshwater clam and found a black pearl. This time everyone believed us, as we showed it around. But the strangest story of them all took place during my days as a forestry student at Paul Smith!s college in 1968.

If you quizzed me on how many times during my 50-plus years I found myself back in the Adirondacks , I!d come up with a high number and still miss a time or two.

It could be the lure of the lakes, rivers and streams that bring me back. Maybe its adventures like the one at Cold River , when another student and I slept in a lean-to on the bank. At about five a.m. we were awakened by a whip-poor-will calling out its name. We came to fish, to sleep and to dream. A short time later we made a trip to Ausable Chasm. I invited along a friend from the college, and he invited two students from Thailand . When we reached the water we began to fish. Our classmates from Thailand did not have any gear, so we were going to share our poles and bait with them. They had other plans.

They rolled up their pants and waded into the Ausable River . Placing both hands in the water, they began to clap. To our surprise
they both brought up fish in their bare hands. My roommate and I looked at each other and thought. Why should they have all the luck? We threw down our poles and into the water we went, clapping all the way. Before long we clapped up a few of our own fish. We brought our catch back to the dorm and enjoyed it with egg-drop soup, prepared by our Thai classmates.

This story gets stranger. A few years later I was at home recounting my fish tale to a grandmother and her eight-year-old grandson. The boy was really enjoying this one, and near the end of the story he left the house. About 15 minutes later he returned. In his absence the grandmother had listened to the end of the tale and doubled over laughing. The grandson waited for her to compose herself before holding up his trophy, a sucker.

He explained that he had gone down to the stream behind our house and clapped in the water. The fish swam into his hands and he lifted it out of the water in total amazement. The red-faced grandmother gathered up her grandson and left the house in silence. But don!t throw away your tackle. I still fish with a pole. What chance would the fish have if we all started clapping our hands in the water?

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