Author: Geraldine Collins
Publisher: North Country Books, 1977; second edition, The Chauncy Press, 1986
What it covers:
Adirondack Daily Enterprise, July 9, 1986
Brighton Story re-issue contains wealth of tales
By JANET DECKER
Geraldine Collins' chronicle, The Brighton Story, Being the History of Paul Smiths, Gabriels and Rainbow Lake, originally published without an index in 1977, has been out of print and in demand for some time. Recently this has been remedied by the publication of a second edition which includes an index. (Chauncy Press, 204 pp., $12.95).
A longtime resident of Brighton who was formerly editor of the Franklin Historical Review, town historian and librarian at Paul Smith's College, Ms. Collins had access to a rich variety of materials and the ability to organize them. It is refreshingly easy to locate answers to research questions in her book.
Her chapter headings, "Earliest Settlers," "Government," "Transportation" or "Mail Service," for instance, reflect her primary purpose to record local History. Do not assume, however, that this is dry reading. Sandwiched between facts and statistics are many colorful detail.
She tells us that the oldest Post Office in Brighton was at Paul Smith's Hotel with Paul himself as Postmaster from 1881 until his death in 1912. He used to brag that he "could change his politics as fast as there was a change in the presidency for he always survived a political change."
Another anecdote illustrates his often high-handed ways. Two opposing groups, one Smith's, were expected. at a caucus in 1888 to nominate a ticket for the coming town election. The Smith group decided to convene ahead of the others, nominate their ticket and adjourn. This they did with Paul acting as chairman and, in the process, nominating himself for assessor. He concluded the meeting by saying, "I am not used to public speaking, but, boys, this is a damned good ticket and I don't sees why it can't be elected. Let's adjourn before the other crew gets here.
As in many small communities, the telephone service was a source of frustration since it was often hard to understand what was being said. One Rainbow Laker was trying to talk to his wife during a thunderstorm. When a particularly loud clap came, "Yep, that's Jane all right," he said, convinced at last that he had the proper connection.
Other chapters contain a wealth of biographical and anecdotal material about the settlers of Brighton — the Wardners, Dotys, McColloms, Ben Muncil and, dominating them all, Appollos "Paul" Smith.
In her introduction, Ms. Collins warns the reader that this is not a "complete history of the Town." There is no account, for example, of Camp Topridge. However, the abundance of carefully researched and documented information with numerous old photographs in illustration makes The Brighton Story a resource for genealogists and local history buffs. Moreover, as the newest development in Brighton's history, the Visitors' Interpretive Center, unfolds, this book will provide valuable background information for its staff as well as pleasurable reading for the visitors.