The Original Clary Lake Clarion

The Clary Lake Clarion was first published during the summer of 1931 by Eugene Stuart Fergusson and Paul MacDonald. This is a page from the 1st issue.

The Clary Lake Clarion was first published during the summer of 1931 by Eugene Stuart Fergusson and Paul MacDonald. This is a page from the 1st issue.

Several people have commented on the name of the Clary Lake Association’s newsletter and wondered how we came up with it. This is the story.

Back in 1931 my father, Eugene Stuart Fergusson, and his friend Paul MacDonald ran a small local newspaper called the Clary Lake Clarion. My father who was 17 at the time was the Editor in Chief of the paper and for reasons known only to himself he used the pen name Evgenie Georgovich Novgorodski. Paul MacDonald, 2 years older than my father, was the Telegraph Editor, Paul’s sister Ruth was a reporter, and the young John Robert MacDonald was the paper delivery boy.

The paper was published Saturday night in an attic room in George and Ethel Fergusson’s house, using a typewriter and carbon paper, and it was delivered on Sunday morning by young John Robert on his bicycle. The paper sold for 6¢ a copy, the proceeds of which largely went to pay for a telephone in the office. Having  a telephone back in 1931 was a big deal. The idea of starting a newspaper appears to have come to both Stuart and Paul. In my father’s own words. 

“Some time ago the idea entered our head that the publishing of a weekly paper would afford us some enjoyment- but after more serious consideration the proposition appears practical. It was decided that a paper appearing on Sunday Morning, when no regular newspaper appears in this part of the country, would be of real service to our small but concentrated number of readers.”

My father was an aspiring photographer (he’d go on to become a newspaper photographer for Acme News in New York City) and the Clarion usually included one or two pictures he had taken around town. The photograph in the second issue (at left) shows Clary Lake in one of its wilder moments. I don’t know how long the Clary Lake Clarion was published; probably not for more than one or 2 summers. My father spent the rest of the year in New York City. I recall my father telling me that they ran it infrequently for several years. A few years ago I found possibly the only 2 surviving copies of the Clary Lake Clarion in a box of my father’s papers, the first “introductory” issue published sometime in the early summer of 1931 and a second one dated July 19, 1931. I’ve scanned these issues:

It it interesting to see what passed for “news” in the minds of 2 young men back in 1931, and one wonders, given the relative isolation of rural Whitefield and Jefferson in those days, where they managed to come up the news they reported on. Example:

     It was found today that the new U.S.S. Akron, monster zep, was several thousand pounds heavier than specifications called for, but it is expected, nevertheless, that the U.S. Government will accept her.

The Clarion also covered local events. Who knew that back in 1931 there was a Clary Lake Lawn Tennis Association?

     The tennis season of the Clary Lake Lawn Tennis Association was officially opened on the 4th of July then P. F. Hunt and S. Fergusson were paired against P. MacDonald and Miss Mears (K.R.C.) in an exhibition match befor ethe K.R.C. girls. When the match was called on account of darkness each side had one set, and the third was tied 2-2.
     The court was much improved and the groundkeepers expect to better it still more. It is expected that by midseason this court will be one of the finest grass courts in this part of the country.

P. F. Hunt was Percy F. Hunt, tennis champion and husband of Katherine Ridgeway who with Ellen Peffer started the Ridgeway Camp for girls on Clary Lake in 1923. Percy Hunt lived in the large house that still stands on Route 126 across from the Highland Cemetery in Jefferson.

I hope you enjoy these pieces of Clary Lake history as much as I do.