The Visit and Voyage of Adolph S. Ochs

In August of 1922, Adolph S. Ochs, publisher of the New York Times, spoke at Silver Bay on Visitors’ Day, second-billed to the Governor of New York, Nathan Miller. Afterwards, they took the Silver Bay steam launch, Crusader, back to Lake George Village. Halfway home they had to abandon ship, but I’ll hold that part for a moment.

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Adolph S. Ochs’ introduction to the newspaper business began at the age of 11 in Knoxville, Tennessee. He went to work as an office boy, printer’s devil and delivery boy for the Knoxville Chronicle. At the age of 19, he borrowed $250 to purchase a controlling interest in the bankrupt Chattanooga Times. In 1896, at the age of 38, he bought The New York Times, a money-loser with 9,000 readers. By the time of his talk at Silver Bay, he had raised the circulation to 780,000 and created an American institution, a newspaper that carried the motto, “All the News That’s Fit to Print.”

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Nathan L. Miller was the governor of New York from January 1, 1921 to December 31, 1922. The father of seven daughters, he was opposed to women’s suffrage and told the convention of the League of Women Voters that they were “a menace to American institutions.” He was not re-elected.

To return to the voyage of the Crusader, the gentlemen and ladies of the party were still four miles north of Lake George Village when a rope left draped over a steam pipe began to smoke, prompting the passing out of life preservers and a run for shore. The boat was unscathed, but the voyagers chose to complete their journey by automobile.

Adolph Ochs had strong ties to Lake George. Around 1918, he purchased George Foster Peabody’s lakeside estate, “Abenia,” about two miles north of Lake George Village, and spent every summer there. Although he telephoned the Times every morning, afternoon and evening, he also made time for golf, friendships and rest.

There is an apocryphal story that, one afternoon near the end of his life when illness kept him in New York City, Ochs telephoned Karl Abbott, the owner of the Sagamore Hotel in Bolton Landing, and asked him to describe Lake George as he saw it from his window. For several minutes, Abbott described the water, the sky, the trees, all that he saw. Ochs thanked him warmly and said goodbye. Soon after, Abbott read in the New York papers that Ochs had died that evening.

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