Judy Haggett, Interviewed by Marian Knight
At the Goldsmith Boathouse on Jeliffe Bay,
Route 6, Huletts Landing, N. Y.
August 16, 2011
Marian Knight: My name is Marian Knight. Today is August 16th, 2011, a little after 1 in the afternoon and I’m at the boathouse in Jelliffe bay that is just off, on Bluff Head Road, and I’m talking with Judy Haggett, who goes back a long way, family and all in this community, so, hello Judy.
Judy Haggett: Hello, Marian.
Marian: I feel like a telephone, I mean a radio interview.
Marian: Well, we usually start with how did you first come to Hulett’s? What brought you here and your family?
Judy: Well, personally, for me, I arrived four days after I was born. I was born June 10th in Troy, NY and they brought me right from the hospital to the hotel. That was in 1943. My mother was the social director of the hotel and she went right back to work.
Marian: Your mother was who?
Judy: Pauleen Wyatt Firth. So that’s…my family started here, I’ll go right back to the beginning. My great grandfather purchased Hulett’s Landing from the Buckles, and that would be Henry and Cora Buckle.
Marian: And your grandfather was?
Judy: My great-grandfather was William H. Wyatt. He and Ella Wyatt, his wife, my great grandmother. They owned hotels in Troy, NY. He was in the hotel business. He also had a hotel at Lake Bomoseen, and it was there at Lake Bomoseen that he heard that the Hulett House was for sale. So he drew up a contract with Mr. Hulett which I still have, very interesting.
Marian: Do you remember what year it was?
Judy: Yes, it was 1914. They started discussion in 1913 and it was purchased on the 31st of March, 1914. Now the Buckle’s kept part of the property, they kept the Lakeside Inn, which is on the point right next to where the old big boat dock used to be and sometimes that’s called Wyatt Bay or Bosom Bay, I believe. So the Buckle’s kept that as an inn, as a working inn and seven cottages, and my great-grandfather purchased the hotel, the golf course. I don’t know if there was a Casino there yet, I can’t find any information on that. I believe, I think that they built the Casino later on because of, I remember it and it was a more modern structure. So along with that came seven cottages, Edgewater being one of them, and I found in my research that Edgewater was set up for four people to live in it. We rented that many summers ago and it was comfortable for two, but not four. Delnoce was one of the cottages, all those cottages that face from Edgewater on up towards the hotel.
Marian: And Edgewater faces north, that’s on that side, and has a wonderful view, tiny little house with a gorgeous view.
Judy: Yes, beautiful location. They paid, he paid $45,000 for this and an extra $500 for the inventory in the hotel, which included 225 chairs in the dining room and 114 beds and miscellaneous other things. All the service ware, it goes on for pages in the contract of what he’s purchasing for $500. And in the contract it read that when the Buckles decided that they wanted to sell that he would have first rights to purchase. The next thing that happened after he purchased it, a few years later, the Hotel completely burned to the ground, in the wintertime. It was rebuilt and they had to bring wood, excuse me, I think I’m wrong. They rebuilt it in the winter, so it must have been the fall when it burned down. There were no guests there, there was no one in the building when it burned down. So they immediately collected the insurance and went about rebuilding the building to more modern codes. The other building was beautiful, I don’t know when it was built. I don’t know how old it was, but they went a little bit further up on that knoll and built a 100 bedroom hotel through the winter and they were ready for business the next summer. So that is probably around 1917, I would guess, and shortly thereafter my great-grandfather died. So my grandfather, Arthur Wyatt, was an only child and he inherited all of, the hotel in Troy, (the hotel in Lake Bomoseen had been sold), and he was quite a young man when he took over the ownership. I would guess probably in his mid to late 20s. And not married at the time. Eventually he bought out the Buckles and then owned 14 cottages and the Lakeside Inn was remodeled into their home, their private home, so they removed a large section of it and put a wrap-around porch on it. It had 11 bedrooms and 2 bathrooms. One bedroom downstairs which was theirs downstairs with their own private bath, and the other 10 bedrooms were upstairs sharing one bath. So there’s many years went on till I was born and I understand they were wonderful years at the Landing. Lots of dancing, the Casino was built and there were big bands that came in and formal dances and talent shows.
Marian: Yes, I’ve heard about some of those. I’m impressed with how it must have been.
Judy: There was a Sunday night talent show at the hotel and then a Thursday night talent show, I think, was at the Casino. They had them twice a week and, as I started to say in the beginning, my mom was a very gifted singer. She had gone to college and majored in drama. Didn’t graduate from college because she [met}my dashing handsome father up here and married him and I think they were probably married in 1940, ’40 or ’41, wartime. The hotel was still doing fine during the war and then I was their first child. So they brought me back to the hotel, they had a nanny for me. Mom went back to work as soon as she could and she and Doris Dickson, Doris was a Paige, her maiden name was Paige, and they were best friends and both very clever, talented women and they would write songs and choreograph dances, and put together these wonderful shows that included the help as well as the guests. She also ran volleyball tournaments, tennis tournaments, my parents were outstanding tennis players. So there were big tennis tournaments, hiking Black Mountain, boat trips, the hotel put together box lunches. I can remember as a child loving the box lunches, and that’s how I got fed. I would always go down to the kitchen and they would give me a box lunch.
Marian: What was in the box lunch?
Judy: Probably an apple, and a little carton of milk and a sandwich. I was pretty much [?], as I grew up, and I was old enough to, they knew I could swim and my brother was just a year, less than a year and half behind me, the two of us were just footloose and fancy free on the Landing. Everybody knew us. My parents were busy working. My dad helped out at the Hotel, and I just had the most fabulous summers, most of the time in the lake. And the Casino had boats that they would rent out, rowboats and canoes, and my brother Wyatt and I could just ask for anything we wanted and they’d give us a canoe for the day or a rowboat to paddle around in. We ate in the dining room every night.
Marian: Did you eat as a family?
Judy: We did. My grandparents were there, but unfortunately my grandfather had a sudden death of a heart attack and he died in 1946, September, late September 1946, so I was only a little over three years old. So some of those memories that I was just talking about were after his death, but upon his death, being an only child, having two daughters, my mother, Pauline, and my Aunt Elaine, his will read that everything must be sold. It was more or less to ensure that my grandmother would be taken care of. They were hard pressed to find a way to get around that will and still have some connection with Hulett’s, because it said it had to be sold very quickly too. So they formed a corporation, and I get questions all the time about the corporation, and I really don’t know a whole lot but I’d be glad to tell you what I think and through my research what I found out about the corporation. Apparently it was purchased from my grandmother; she was the sole inheritor of Hulett’s Landing bought for $160,000. Now the corporation was made up of people who would had been renting cottages from my grandfather, whose families had been coming for many years and they wanted the place to continue like it used to be, and one of the investors in that corporation was Mr. Eichler. The others were my great-uncle, who would be my grandmother’s sister’s family was Cotter and Augusta Nash. Now Larry Nash is back at Hulett’s Landing, their son, their youngest son, but Cotter and Augusta had a cottage that they rented from the family and the rentals were very, very reasonable. The Bordens, I just came across this, the Bordens paid $5 a month to rent wherever they lived, and they lived here through the winter and did a lot of work for my grandfather, too. So the names that I can recall that were involved in this corporation were John O’Brien, Cotter Nash, Meehans, and I can’t remember, it would Blanche Meehan’s parents, I can’t recall their first names. Well, Blanche, Sr. Blanche’s mother’s name was Blanche and I can’t remember his name. The Brady family, the Bradys and there still are some Bradys that come here, and my grandmother and my parents. They put, I came across some paper work that looks like they put back $86,000 into the corporation, so I believe that that gave them controlling interest, because it was purchased for $160,000. They had $86,000, so they had 51%, and the other people had shared the rest of it. Now I don’t know long the corporation ran the Landing but we lived in my grandmother’s house, our family, all lived in her house on the point. It was the old Lakeside Inn. They renamed it Maryart for my grandmother and grandfather’s first names, so we lived in Maryart. The corporation apparently had some financial problems. I don’t know what dissolved it, but Mr. Eichler bought it out. He bought them out. He had, his daughter was interested in hotels, she was going to college at Cornell in hotel management, so he was the right person to do it. But we had wonderful years. Oh, I lived here in the winter time too, for a while. So my father was more or less a caretaker during the winter and we lived in Delnoce, which had heat in it and a big fireplace.
Marian: Which house is that?
Judy: Delnoce is the largest of the cottages on the Landing and it’s right across from the fountain which they are now resurrecting. Well, it’s a duplex right now and the Kapusinskis own it and they rent out both sides. Well, it was a duplex then too, and we were in the bigger side and a man whose last name was Robbins, Ken Robbins, he lived on the other side and he also worked for my grandfather and helped. The main focus of their being here in the wintertime was to harvest the ice from the lake, so I have vivid memories of my father and all the workmen going out with trucks and great big saws and jackhammers and cutting down into the ice and harvesting big, big chunks of ice and there was a conveyer belt that went up the back of the truck and then they had big tongs that these men would lift the ice cubes with and put them in sawdust and then they stored them at the Phillips’ farm. And there was a barn there and it was full of ice and then in the summertime there was an ice truck and they would deliver these big chunks of ice to all the cottage people for their ice boxes. The rest of it was used in the hotel and the casino, probably. I went to the one room school house, my brother and I both attended it. Mrs. Cooper, and I can’t remember her first name.
Judy: Was it Beulah? And well, my brother named a beautiful fountain Lady Beulah, so it probably was the teacher because he always called the fountain goddess Beulah. We were there for kindergarten and then first grade and second grade. There were several students, all I remember is Linda Cooper. She was my pal. We would take turns with the teacher, and she would spend some time with us and then give us a book. I learned to read there. See Dick run, see Jane run, see Dick and Jane run. Go on to the next student and work with them and we had to be very quiet and be good students because if we weren’t we were hit with a ruler, and remember it very well, so I must have been hit with the ruler on the hand. The highlight of the day was going back down the hill. We would bring our sleds and climb up the hill and then ride our sleds in the wintertime when there was snow.
Marian: That was Dave’s favorite memory of the winter.
Marian: He and Ty used to do that.
Judy: Ride down the hill there. And that reminds me, the Knight Club. Do you know when that was built?
Marian: No, I don’t know what year it was built. My husband might remember.
Judy: Well, the nightclub was there at the bottom of the hill and my parents rented that from Proctor Knight after Mr. Eichler bought them out, and they ran the nightclub in the summertime. My mom was a fabulous cook.
Marian: Did she do the cooking?
Judy: She did. She did the cooking. And my father was the bartender, and I guess it was quite a popular spot. They hired some RPI students to be the waiters.
Marian: Was Jim Mettler one of them because he talks about working and being at the night club?
Judy: He probably was. I still was grade school age then so I don’t remember too much about it, but mom made wonderful hamburgers, fried chicken and spaghetti. Those were her favorite, her popular meals there. And then, eventually they didn’t do it, I don’t know how many summers they did that, and then I think the nightclub burned down too.
Marian: Yes, it did.
Judy: So I went on to become a teenager. Loved it. Just wonderful memories. The hotel was still there most of my teenage years. A lot of the help that worked at the hotel were all from Cornell, where Margot had gone. Great people.
Marian: Now Margot is…?
Judy: Margot is Mr. Eichler’s daughter and also an only child.
Marian: She married Al Kapusinski?
Judy: And they were married the same year my husband and I were married and I did meet Dave here. I had just turned 17, Dave’s my husband, I’d just turned 17, and my best friend Gracia Dexter, who lived over in Sunset Bay, Pickerel Bay, and we decided that this was the summer to find a boyfriend.
Marian: She found Fred.
Judy: We had heard just, this is in early July, that there was a new ranger on Narrow Island and he was a college man and quite good looking, so we made it a point to go by the island rather slowly one morning in her boat, her father’s boat, and it was this wonderful wooden, it wasn’t a Lyman, I think it was an Old Town, and the name on it was Gay Judy because her name, her nickname was Gay and her sister’s name was Judy but we used to pretend it was our boat. And there was a handsome young man on the dock and we thought it was the ranger, so we waved and said ‘hi’ and he said back, and we thought he waved for us to come back, and we said, ‘Well, we’ll be back later with a smaller boat,’ so we went over to her house and discussed whether we should do this or not. We decided we were brave enough, so we got in her canoe and we paddled back over, and the young man on the dock was Jack Bryan’s visitor and Jack was the new ranger that summer, and he had just graduated from Syracuse University and he’d invited his friend Dave Haggett up, just for a weekend. And Dave had hitchhiked up from Nyack, landed across the lake at Werner Marine. Jack just had a telephone, this was the first telephone that was ever installed on Narrow Island and he called Jack at midnight. Jack came over in the state boat and picked him up and it was black as could be, he couldn’t tell what the place looked like. He happened to be down on the dock looking at this beautiful paradise, which just overwhelmed him, when we came by in the boat. And the rest is history. He got a job and he spent the summer. He went off to pilot training. I spent the next summer here and then I got a job at the Sagamore Hotel. My first job, waiting on table. And my parents used to come down with food for me and care packages and all that, and I lasted one month at the Sagamore and it just was overwhelming, it was just too big. And Dave and I, he had finished pilot training, he was in the Air Force, stationed at Otis Air Force base on Cape Cod, he said, ‘Why don’t you come up here for August? I bet that you could get a job now that you have experience,’ so I left Lake George that summer, and that would be the summer of ’62. That was my last summer here. I finished two years of college. We were married in ’63 and then my grandmother, Mary Wyatt, passed away in ’67 and she had a life lease on Maryart, so as soon as she passed away it became Mr. Eichler’s home, he owned it. And our family had nothing, it was all gone, and so my mother and father got divorced. My mom married a dear family friend who I always called Uncle Wally, whose wife had recently passed away and he had a home over at Sabbath Day Point. So our family was at Sabbath Day Point till my mom passed away in ’99.
Marian: Really? I knew you were at Sabbath Day Point, but I didn’t know any of that story. Well, that’s a wonderful story and a very seamless narrative, I will say. I don’t think, I can’t think of any particular questions. Oh, well I would ask a more personal thing about your childhood here. What were the very favorite things you liked about the lake? You said swimming.
Judy: Yeah, I think I had gills in the side of my neck. I was in the water all the time. We, there was a float over at the beach in front of the Nash house, there was, it was a big square floating, we called it the float and Rosemary Brown, Kim Brown’s sister, Pat Hurley, Rita Hurley’s oldest daughter and Margaret, I can’t think of their names right now, Kathleen and Margaret, they’re still here. I’ll think of their last name. Anyway we were all buddies and we would go out and swim all day long and suntan on the float. Hitting the tennis ball against the backboard. My parents never taught me to play tennis but I taught myself, they were too busy. So I would hit that tennis ball against the backboard for hours and hours. My brother and I would collect soda bottles and take them to Benjamin’s store and then get the deposits and buy creamsicles and fudgesicles. We dove for money off the dock because the people always had change in their bathing suit pockets, and they were serving drinks on the lawn from the Casino, and they would lose money and we found lots of money in the water, lots of silver coins. That helped us stay in our ice cream, satisfy our ice cream [urge]. Building…as kids, on the beach at Hulett’s there were these wonderful Adirondack chairs. Lots of [them], some were big enough for three people like a couch and others single chairs. We used to build huts with them and cover them with towels and blankets and play in them all day long. Then as I got older [there were] the dances and the music and the talent shows. My mom made me sing in the talent show, I had to sing “I’m Looking Over a Four-leaf Clover.”
Marian: Was that a fun time?
Judy: Yeah. I don’t know, I got used to it, I was a little stage shy but I used to sing “I’m Looking Over” and then “All I Want for Christmas Is My Two Front Teeth” because one summer I didn’t have any front teeth.
Marian: That was young, six years old or something.
Judy: Yeah. My grandfather, my other grandfather was a dentist and he had a cottage. They used to come up and rent a cottage, and when my teeth were loose he tied a string to them and then tied it on the doorknob of the door on the cottage and slammed the door and out went my teeth. Those are my main memories.
Marian: Fabulous. I can’t think of anything in particular to ask you further than that.
Judy: One thing that I thought was kind of interesting that I failed to mention was when William Wyatt purchased the hotel from the Buckles, Mr. Buckle was the Postmaster General and he wanted to stay the Postmaster General, so he made my grandfather his deputy, and they ran the post office in the house that is now Peter and Mary Spiess. It’s on Land’s End Road, right at the beginning on the right hand side going south. That was a post office and the general store. The Scotts from Whitehall ran that.
Marian: Yes, I was thinking it was on the other side of the road.
Judy: Maybe Benjamin’s ran it first. I know the Scotts also had something to do with it.
Marian: Yes, they had a store there. By that time Benjamin’s store had closed. I think they overlapped a little bit. When my kids were growing up they used to trek down to Scott’s, that was the daily walk, to get ice cream.
Judy: That’s where we all used to meet and hang out there, but I think I’ve covered all the other things that people might be interested in.
Marian: Is there anything else that you’d like to add?
Judy: Just that I’m honored to be back in Hulett’s Landing.
Marian: It’s wonderful to have you here.
Judy: Dave and I love it, love it here, and actually the reason we came back was Gary Goldey. Gary worked for American Airlines as well as my husband, unbeknownst to the two of them that they had Lake George connections.
Marian: Very close connections.
Judy: Very close. They were flying together, a trip, Gary was the captain and Dave was the, probably the engineer, and he did become a copilot eventually, and Gary said, ‘Well I’m headed up for my vacation’ and Dave said ‘Me too’ and Gary said, ’Where are you going?’ and Dave said ‘Lake George’ and Gary said ‘Well, that’s where I go,’ and Gary asked Dave where on Lake George and Dave said, ‘Sabbath Day Point, but my wife is from Hulett’s Landing,’ and so that was the beginning of a wonderful friendship.
Marian: Well, thank you very much, Judy, for adding your wonderful story to the Historical Society Collection. It was great fun talking to you.
Judy: You’re welcome.
Transcription by: Robert Stragnell
Edited by: Arnie Galbraith and Marian Knight