"Are you a Trotty Veck?" This was the question posed to readers of the first Trotty Veck Messages pamphlet, Good Cheer. These small booklets contained quotes, poetry, jokes, local sayings, and more intended to boost the spirits of their readers. Trotty Veck Messengers were described as people who, “having a wide vision and cheerful disposition themselves, have it in their hearts to give cheer and courage and inspiration to others.”
The publication was started in 1916 by two roommates at Trudeau Sanatorium, Seymour Eaton, Jr., and Charles “Beanie” Swasey Barnet. When the pair complained of feeling down, Eaton’s father, who was an authority on publishing and advertising, suggested they write inspirational messages to one another. They turned this advice into a lifelong career.
Barnet and Eaton based their outlook on the character of Trotty Veck, found in Charles Dickens’ short story, “The Chimes.” In the story, Trotty Veck delivered messages of good cheer to the townspeople, despite his own ill health. This philosophy, and the publication, were both great successes, and Eaton and Barnet sold four thousand copies in the first year alone.
Seymour Eaton sadly died of TB in 1918, but Beanie Barnet continued the publication, publishing at least one edition a year. Over the course of 50 years, Barnet published 55 editions of the Trotty Veck Messages, and sold four million copies that lifted spirits all across the world. The pamphlets were sent to U.S. Troops in both World Wars and the Korean War. The titles included Good Words, Joy, Chuckles, Real Riches, Your Best, Happy Hearts, and more. Barnet eventually opened an office in town and hired staff to support the publication.
Barnet kept a scrapbook of quotes from many sources (which can be found in the Adirondack Room at the Saranac Lake Free Library today). These sources ranged from Shakespeare to Seneca to Thomas Paine, to unknown jokesters and riddlers. The first issue included a quote from a famous Saranac Lake visitor, Robert Louis Stevenson; “Only to trust and do our best, and wear as smiling a face as may be for others and ourselves.”
The Messages were intended to be sent near and far, to fellow patients, their family members, and friends. They provided a way to connect and share joy, most often around the holidays with special “Christmas Greetings” wrappers. So many patients were facing an unknowable future, and finding a source of connection and optimism could literally be life-saving. Dr. Edward Livingston Trudeau himself recognized the power of positive thinking and saw an optimistic outlook as an important component of the treatment offered to patients in Saranac Lake.
At the age of 54, Beanie Barnet married Elizabeth Widmer, a TB nurse, at William Morris’ Camp Intermission on Lake Colby. He lived out a long life in Saranac Lake. He died in 1977 at age 90. The optimism he instilled in others lives on.
In the midst of so much uncertainty and “social distance,” we recognize Barnet and Eaton’s wisdom in spreading a message of “Good Cheer” to your loved ones even while far away. We are happy to share that we have issued a reprint of the first issue of the Trotty Veck Messages. You can send a copy of Good Cheer to someone in need of “good tidings;” a friend, family member, or even yourself for just $5 (plus shipping) on our online store. We hope you’ll consider making a small matching donation to support our work in the name of your friend as well. We will also be sharing digital versions of the first ten editions of the Trotty Veck Messages on our website. We will share one a week, so be sure to check in at the end of each Letter from the Porch for the latest.
Today we ask—as Barnet and Eaton once did--Will you be a Trotty Veck?
Be of good cheer,
Historic Saranac Lake
Historic Saranac Lake
Purchase a reproduction copy of Good Cheer to send to a friend, family member, or someone in need of "good tidings!" Your purchase will support Historic Saranac Lake and send good cheer all across the country!
Images from the Historic Saranac Lake Collection.
This Tuberculosis Thursday, we want to share more about one of the women whose voice is featured in "This Was Heaven, Really..." (check our videos here on FB to watch!). Elise's is the second female voice in the video, and she describes what the days were like as a patient.
Elise came to Saranac Lake for the cure in 1935, and after she recovered, she married Mott Chapin. The Chapins operated the Pot Shop on Main Street from 1950 to 1959, selling Mott's pottery with Elise's designs. Elise was active in the community throughout her life, including as a founding member of Historic Saranac Lake.
This photograph shows Elise and Mott at work in the Pot Shop. To learn more about Elise Chapin, visit our wiki: https://localwiki.org/hsl/Elise_Kalb_Chapin
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 446. Courtesy of David Chapin and Sarah Wardner.]
It's Tuberculosis Thursday, so we're wishing you a Happy Halloween from Trudeau Sanatorium and all of us at Historic Saranac Lake! It looks like these patients were celebrating in 1950 with a spooky performance and some frightful jack o'lanterns. Have a safe and fun Halloween, and be sure to pay us a visit during downtown trick or treating today!
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection, TCR 240. Courtesy of the Eckmann Family]
This week's Tuberculosis Thursday feature comes from our Art of the Cure exhibit! This photograph shows William Kollecker helping a customer in his shop on Main Street. Kollecker came to Saranac Lake at age 16 for his health, and stayed on to photograph life in Saranac Lake for nearly 50 years! He opened Kollecker Kodak and Gift Shop where he sold prints, stationery, and gifts and handled film processing.
To learn more about William Kollecker, his store, and his photography work, visit our wiki! And be sure to visit our Art of the Cure exhibit, open now!
[Historic Saranac Lake Collection - TCR 331]
April is Occupational Therapy Month, and our Art of the Cure Exhibit opens in just two months! Did you know that the Scholfield Memorial Workshop at Trudeau Sanatorium may have been the first time that occupational therapy was used for mentally well patients? Dr. Lawrason Brown implemented the use of occupational therapy for TB patients at Trudeau Sanatorium, and patients had the opportunity to study a range of handicrafts from leatherwork, bookbinding, photography, basket-weaving, decorative work, and more!
The Scholfield Memorial Workshop was built in 1909 as a gift of Mrs. Walter L. Goodwin. It was named for Herbert L. Scholfield, a patient and skilled craftsperson. In this image, patients in the Workshop practice weaving as part of their treatment at the Sanatorium.
In “Portrait of Healing,” Victoria Rhinehart described the possible origins of occupational therapy as such: “The true origin of occupational therapy remains open for some dispute. Numerous sources credit Dr. Brown for its birth at the Adirondack Cottage Sanitarium in 1904. A more accurate statement would be to credit Dr. Brown, certainly as the first who created the concept of outdoor occupational therapy, and likely the first to utilize occupational therapy with tuberculosis patients, and perhaps the first to use occupational therapy with patients who were mentally well. The actual origin of using this type of therapy on a patient population came well before Dr. Brown's time. . . . Susan E. Tracy, who organized occupational therapy classes in her training school for nurses at the Adams Nervine Asylum in 1906, was considered to be the first occupational therapist. However, as the work of Dr. Brown, with his occupational therapy experiment with tuberculosis patients in 1903 to 1904, predates the work of Susan Tracy and others, there is some merit to sources that credit Brown with the birth of modern occupational therapy.”
To learn more about the Workshop, visit our wiki!
And be sure to stay tuned for more on our upcoming special exhibit, Art of the Cure, which highlights TB patient artists, writers, musicians, architects, and more! Art of the Cure will open in late June 2019.
Among his many other accomplishments, Baldwin was appointed Assistant, and later Director, of the new Saranac Laboratory. After Trudeau's death, he was elected chair of the executive committee of the Trudeau Sanatorium. In 1916, he started the Trudeau School of Tuberculosis; later the same year he founded the Edward Livingston Trudeau Foundation with Dr. Walter B. James, an endowment for tuberculosis research.
To learn more about Dr. Baldwin, visit our wiki!
And stay tuned on Monday for news of an exciting donation!
Our Women's History Month feature today is Elizabeth Temming Koop, known as Betty. Koop was cured of tuberculosis at the Trudeau Sanatorium, where she met and married Martin Koop in 1944. The couple worked together making hand-wrought jewelry and eventually opened the Temming Art Studio. After retiring from the jewelry business in 1971, Koop and her daughter Theresa owned and operated the Cinderella Shop in the Hotel Saranac until 1981. She moved from Saranac Lake in 1982 to live with her daughter in Malta.
Temming Jewelry was a must-have accessory in Saranac Lake, including custom name-plate bracelets for local girls. To see more examples of items made by the Temming Art Studio, and learn more about Koop's life, visit our wiki!
And be sure to stay tuned for our upcoming special exhibit, "Art of the Cure," opening this June! This exhibit will feature TB patient artists, writers, architects, and more, while exploring the occupational therapy programs that were a key component of TB treatment here in Saranac Lake. The exhibit will feature works by Betty Koop, Charlotte Geffken, Amy Jones, and many other women (and men!) who came for the cure!
Stay up to date on all the news and happenings from Historic Saranac Lake at the Saranac Laboratory Museum!