Summer Memories: Old Forge, NY
Last month, I wrote about the theme park, Enchanted Forest, this month I’ll be writing about the town that it is in, Old Forge, New York. Of course most of the time I was in Old Forge it was to go to Enchanted Forest, but the place itself had plenty to do outside the park. With its many lakes, camps, beaches, shops, and everything else, Old Forge was a great place to visit anytime of the year.
Actually, Old Forge isn’t even a town, it’s a hamlet in the town of Webb, but I always just refer to it as a town. The place was very small but had very big wonders. Old Forge is also located in the beautiful Adirondacks of New York. It’s a place that I visited since I was a kid and still go there when I go back to New York to visit family. Old Forge is great year round, but I actually only went there during the summer months. The roads are really bad during the wintertime, but a few people go up there for skiing in the cold winter months. Many people there have summer homes or camps, so there’s not a ton of people who live there year round, but those who do face terrible winters and a heavy snowfall.
Like I said in my previous article, the place looked like it came out of a Norman Rockwell painting and had a small town U.S.A. feel. Last year when I was there, just walking down the street, I felt like I went back in time to the 50’s or 40’s. It’s a nice quite place and everything has this classic old time look to it. Another cool thing about the place is there’s no sign of big franchise stores or restaurants (although there is one McDonalds there, which I believe is one of those classic looking McDonalds, but mostly everything else is mom and pop). No malls at all and no big scale hotels, just a simple little town.
One of my favorite spots there is the old movie theater, the Strand Theater. It use to be a one screen, second run, dollar theater. Now it has, I believe, three or four screens and shows first run movies. The Strand also turned one of its back hallways into a movie theater museum. On my last trip there, I went through the hallway and took some pictures. The place has tons of great stuff, mostly old projectors, but it also had plenty of classic still and motion picture cameras. They also had old newspaper articles on the wall about the theater and other ones in the area. There was a bunch of movie posters, but they were all current ones from that summer, I wish they had classic ones instead. They have a huge sign on the side of the wall from the old Paris Cinema that was in Utica for many years and closed in the 90’s. It was very cool to see that sign, that brought back some memories. There was a huge projector they had down at the end of the hall that was awesome. Not sure how old it was, but it looked in pretty good shape. I would love to take that home.
Down on Main St. in Old Forge, there are plenty of cool little shops, which are mostly souvenir shops, but the best one of them all is The Souvenir Village. This place was one of my favorites growing up as a kid. It had the best junk ever, tons of cool stuff, it was great! The store is still there, but it’s not in its original building. It use to be in a huge building in the middle of Town Square and had a big sign that wrapped around the building. I remember my family use to stop by there after we got out of Enchanted Forest. I bought a lot of my cheap-o toys there, which were army men or cowboys and Indians. I also use to get some rubber animals like snakes, alligators, lizards, etc. They also use to have a comic book rack where a picked up a few issues of Spider-man, Hulk, or Fantastic Four during those summer months. I recall they also had some great candy there, which hit the spot.
The place did so well that they opened up Souvenir Village II in the early 90’s. It was about a block away from the original. The place wasn’t as big and had fewer items, but still did very well. Business was going great for them until the late 90’s when they moved out of the original building and closed Souvenir Village II. I forgot what exactly happened, if there was a small fire in that building, or the place just got run down, I’m not sure. Now, Souvenir Village is in a smaller building then the original, but still a good size, across the street from where the first one was. The place still has great things in the store and still a great stop when you’re there.
Also in Old Forge, there’s an awesome arcade that opened in the late 80’s and is still there today. It’s very close to where the movie theater is and I went in there many times after a day at Enchanted Forest. There were a few times during the summer my family use to stay up there for a few days for we didn’t have to rush back home. Those trips were some of the best. There was a motel right by the lake and near everything, but wherever you stayed there you were by everything because the place was so small. I also went camping as well a few times when I was younger up there. They had some great campsites all over the place. Also, I been on a few boat rides through some of their great lakes. There were also a few friends of the family that had summer homes there that we visited from time to time. I would love to have a summer home up in that beautiful part of the country, one could only dream.
During the late 80’s when I was getting into horror films and started to write some horror short stories, I used Old Forge as a back drop. As gorgeous the place is, it’s a prefect place for a horror movie. I remember when I was big into Friday the 13th back then and a lot of it had a Camp Crystal Lake feel. They were a few stories that I wrote that had that kind of vibe and took place all over Old Forge. I even wrote a horror story that took place in Enchanted Forest and had a Paul Bunyan looking guy as the killer. Old Forge was a great inspiration for me.
If you’re ever in Upstate New York and driving around, Old Forge and the Adirondacks are a must to check out. It’s a very peacefully beautiful place in the world that everyone would enjoy. I have lots of great memories of the place and continue to go there year after year. Old Forge is one of the best-kept secrets in world and I hope it remains the way it is for years to come.