The yearly winter carnival held on Lake George, in upstate New York, has produced many fish and sledding tales that have become legendary folklore.
But during the 1967 winter carnival, every teenage boy tried to sled across the bottom end of the lake near the Lake George shoreline. Local politician Gerald Koranski’s 14-year-old son was the closest who stopped ten feet short of the mounds of snow marking the end.
Their difficulty was the density of trees preventing them from starting further up on the hill to gain enough speed to cross the lake. Some tried to start further up into the treeline, but they were unable to maneuver between the trees and several of the boys collided with the trees causing some minor injuries.
However one of the most extraordinary folklore tales involves Harriet Jamison who in 2009 during the Lake George High School class reunion celebration for the class of 1979. Harriet Jamison-Carter debunked the legendary story of how a 5-year old girl slid completely across the lower end of the lake.
Harriet explained how her father carried her up the hill to watch his youngest brother, 16-year-old Uncle Brian slide down. As Uncle Brian waited his turn, her father gave him some clear water out of a glass bottle. He told Harriet that Uncle Brian needed the liquid courage. Harriet sat on the blue plastic circle disk sled her uncle was going to use.
When she settled on the plastic sled, slowly she began to slide down the hill. Harriet was excited as she picked up speed and she began maneuvering between the trees before her father and Uncle Brian recognized she was on the ride of her young life.
When she heard her father and uncle yelling for her to stop, she turned to see her father running towards her flailing his arms and screaming at the top of his voice, stop! stop! stop! Harriet just smiled and began to laugh when she saw Uncle Brain fall into a giant pile of snow.
Harriet, turned around leaning forward causing the sled to go faster to avoid being caught by her chasing dad while leaning left and right on several occasions maneuvering around trees and passing teenaged boys on their sleds.
As she slid onto the ice of the lake, she passed by several hundred people were gathered along the shore watching the little girl travel pass at a brisk 20 or 25mph.
Harriet turned to look at the people who were staring at her with their mouths open in shock, so she waved.
When she passed her mother, who saw her father yelling stop, running 10-15 yards behind the sled. Harriet’s mother screamed, “get my child!” Harriet continued to wave and smiled.
When Harriet’s ride ended at the mound of snow with a soft bump, her now crying and screaming mother ran towards her falling several times on the ice.
When the mother reached Harriet, as her father helped her to her feet when fell a third time. When Harriet’s mom reached her, Harriet was hugged and kissed by a frantic and terrified woman. Picking her up and holding her tightly. She turns to her husband and asks, “did you push her across the ice?”
Her father looking at Harriet who was clapping her hands and back at her mother quickly said oh yes! Brian and I took turns pushing her across the ice, as Brians slid up the couple.
The family was crowded around by spectators who began applauding, enjoying the moment that Harriet was safe and well from her ride across the ice.
The legendary tales began when several of the teenage boys claimed Harriet started further up on the hill and they watch as she maneuvered between the trees. However, no one could imagine or wanted to believe a five-year-old girl could manage a sled down the hill while avoiding the trees.
But on June 7, 2009, Harriet Jamison-Carter explain to a stunned crowd and a shocked mother how the ride down the hill gave her the confidence to try out for the US Women’s Bobsled team and later compete in the 1980 Olympics.
As the crowd stood up to applaud her for her story and her participation in the Olympics. The room grew quiet again, and a slap was heard from the high school administrators table to the left of the podium where Harriet spoke.
Apparently, Principal Dorthy Jamison slapped the head football coach Jacob Jamison across the face, yelling. “It may have been a long time ago, but I have never forgotten.”
The entire class reunion of 1979 erupted in an applause with another standing ovation. 🙂