Memories of Dad, by Joe Bolivard
Joe Bolivard, well known raconteur, told these stories at the Forestville Fall Festival a few years ago. He was a good friend of my Dad’s. When he starts a story I always hold my breath. Joe has a mind of his own. He is a dowser, a retired barber and a retired policeman, all good training for a storyteller. Today is an important birthday of his.
Joe writes: I gave this presentation while I was escorting the visitors on the Horse drawn wagon the day of the Adams Family. tour in 2015.
“The tour today is the result of over two years of restoration to the Home of Judge Lee Town Adams and his family. Nancy, the eldest daughter of Lee and Muriel Adams asked me to accompany you folks and tell a bit of the history of Forestville.
History can be a dull subject unless you are the one that lived it. I have a difficult time getting excited over cast iron pots and frying pans which belong to someone else and seem to be displayed in every community’s local museum.
Forestville is not any different than other small villages with their. houses and business or lack of them. Forestville. is exactly one square mile. If it was any smaller we could. probably. put our entrance and exit sign on the same post. The population in 2010 was 687. The population doesn’t change that much. because when a baby is born some young fellow will leave town. With all small towns, everyone knows what everyone is doing. We just read the newspaper to see if they got caught doing it.
What makes history is not the houses, homes or the businesses, it is the people that live or has lived in them. With this thought in mind, I thought it would be interesting to share the stories and events of those who lived here instead of what they have lived in.
The tour of the Adams Home will be a very memorable experience touching on the personal lives of the 3 Adams girls growing up in it and under the expectations of. a gifted and brilliant Father and devoted Mother.
I would like to share with you some of the events and stories I have experienced with Lee.
Lee and his wife Muriel moved to Forestville and he opened a Law Office in the Summer of 1949 . I returned from the Navy. about 4 months later and opened a Barber Shop near Lee’s office.
When Lee and I met, is was instant friendship. He had been a Lieutenant in the Navy serving on submarines. I had been in the Navy on an aircraft carrier. He was an avid reader and so was I. We were both chess players. He did not own a car and I did.
Some how or other I became his official chauffeur, taking him to his court cases when the person he was representing did not or could not pick him up. I learned a lot of law.
A lot more about Lawyers and much more about Judges.
As I mentioned, Lee served on Subs when he was in the Navy. One day I asked him what was the secret of surviving in a sub. I was thinking along the idea of close quarters, others getting on your nerves, etc. His answer was, “Have the same number of. times you. surface. as the same number of times you. dive. “
Regarding subs, I asked Lee what was the safest. maximum depth that a sub could descend too. He said, I can’t tell you.” I asked, “ Is it because you don’t know or can’t remember?” He informed me that he had taken an oath never to divulge the depth that a US submarine could go. I told him that the war had been over ( at that time) 6 years.
He was not happy with my remark and quickly informed me, “ When a man gives his word or. swears to an oath, an expiration date is not expected nor intended. “
Lee was gifted with a fantastic memory, bordering on having a photographic memory.
Sometimes when he was asked a question, he would cock his head at an angle, look slightly toward the ceiling. People would think he was triggering his memory. I told them that Lee was mentally turning the pages of the books he had read which contained the answer to their question.
Most Lawyers charge their clients by the hours which are spent on preparing a case from the beginning to the final settlement. Lee never used hours as a guide line to determine the amount he would charge as a fee for handling a case. He would quote one price before he took the case and that was it. An expected long court case, he would use a percentage basis. He was of the opinion that some lawyers padded the hours they charged their clients. On a few occasions when Lee would introduce me to a Lawyer,
he would say to me on the side before the introduction “he’s 136 years old, or another would be 118 years old, etc. It was his way of saying if all the hours this lawyer charged. all his clients were added together, that Lawyer would have to be well over 100 years old. The higher the age given , would indicate, in Lee’s opinion, the dishonesty of that Lawyer charging hours.
One day Lee asked me if I would help him clean his house as Muriel was coming home the next day with their new daughter. Of course I agreed. When I showed up he asked me where shall we start. ( I should have been suspicious when he asked me that.) I looked at the sink full of dishes and the floor needing cleaning. I told him I would do the dishes first and then we can mop the floor. He said he would start cleaning. the living and dining room. After I finished the dishes I started to sweep the floor before mopping when I realized I hadn’t heard any noise from Lee in the living room area. I looked around the corner, there was Lee sitting in an easy chair reading a book.
I asked him, “I thought you were going to help me. “ He said, “ I checked on you and you were doing a fantastic job. I learned one thing as an Officer in the Navy. When an enlisted man is doing a terrific job, do not interfere with him. He is sitting there with his finger in the book as a bookmark. When I see this, I knew I had lost the battle.
I said. “ Lieutenant, There is a fine line between Charisma and Bull SHIT! You just crossed the line. Read your book! Sir. “
As I mentioned , I had a barber shop very close to Lee’s Law Office. Many times he would come over and we would play chess. If I had a customer come in, I would make a move, go back and cut hair, watching when Lee had made his move, then I would stop cutting hair and make my move. The customers didn’t mind this. If they were in a hurry I would make Lee wait for my turn. Many times, Mildred Becker, his secretary would send clients up to the Shop and they would discuss their problem while we played chess.
The clients. didn’t mind that either. I learned a lot of Law this way.
One day, during the summer, I had the Barber Shop doors open, when I heard this loud, piercing noise as if a cat had got caught with it’s tail in the door. It was a continuing wail and I realized it was not a cat, as it didn’t take any breath. I walked to the door, looked in the direction the noise was coming from and there was Lee Towne Adams walking up the sidewalk, blowing on his bagpipe. He certainly emptied the stores of customers as they came outdoors to see if the Fire Dept had obtained a new fire alarm system. Everyone agreed that Lee was a better Lawyer than a bag pipe player.
I was also a professional Photographer and had taken many photos for Lee regarding his cases where photos were needed to back up testimony. One day Lee and a young lady came into the Shop. He wanted a photo taken of the girl’s scars on her face resulting from an accident another driver had caused. I looked at the girl and told Lee that they were hardly distinguishable. and they would hardly show. He said “ Do what you can.”
Taking. a flash picture would wash out what slight scars there were. I posed her in front of a large window in the shop to get the natural lighting I needed. I still was not satisfied with the blandness of the scars. I glanced down at an ashtray sitting on a table and had an idea to try. I took a tissue and used the ashes for a darkening powder to create
a depth to the scars. I took my pictures. I developed my own film and printed my own photos. In this case, I used a strong contrast paper that brought out the shadows I was trying to achieve. I delivered the photos to Lee the next day and forgot about them. About 3 weeks later, Lee comes dancing, virtually dancing, into the shop. The first thing he said was, “ We won the case. Your photos did it. “ He then explained the procedure he used . “I. didn’t dare have the girl in the court room. Her face would never match the photos. I had her sit in the downstairs lobby, in a far corner and told her to stay there until I came and got her. I asked the Judge if we could meet with the insurance company’s lawyers before we went to trial, which was only minutes away. In the Judge’s Chambers, I placed the photos of the girl on the table and asked them if they wished to settle out of court and avoid the trial. They made an offer and I asked them to kick it up and we could settle. They agreed. I immediately went downstairs and told the girl to go to the restaurant across the street and stay there until I came and got her. I did not want her any where in the Court House. I went back to the meeting and we signed the agreement. “
Now the rest of the story. Lee never asked what he owed me and I never gave him a price. His friendship paid the bill and friends do not keep score.
One winter we had an extra terrible snow storm with icy roads. Prospect Road is a treacherous road for blowing snow and high drifts even on a mild winter day. . We describe Ball Hill as having 2 seasons up there. 6 Months of winter and six months of bad sledding. One evening, my assistant Police Chief and I were informed. there had been a car that ran off the road into a snow bank. We drove up in terrible conditions and found where there had been a car in a snow bank but had been towed out by a farmers tractor by the looks of the tire tracks. We did find a license plate that had come loose from the front of the car and was embedded in the snow bank. It was a plate that had been issued directly from Albany. The number looked familiar. and we remembered it as Lee’s license plate. I thought to have a bit of fun with Lee. At his house, I handed him back his plate I told him that I could arrest him for leaving the scene of an accident without identifying himself. He immediately said that was not true,” I left my plate there so you would know who it was.”
We all had a good laugh many times over the years regarding this.
One time I asked Lee if he would. take the case if someone approached him to sue me.
When he said no, I thanked him for his friendship. He replied,” Friendship has nothing to do with it. If someone is going to sue you, you’ll need a lawyer. Who would you hire? I have a client either way.
Lee was elected to the position of County Court Judge. When he was presiding over a case, one of the prospective jurors was from Forestville. The defending. lawyer was concerned that knowing Lee would influence the jurors and proposed. to ask questions. of a possible business. relationship with Lee that could influence the outcome. Therefore the Juror could be excused. without the lawyer using one of his, without cause exemptions.
The lawyer in question asked the prospective juror directly. “ Are you acquainted with Judge Lee Town Adams?” Before the juror could answer, Lee said, “ Yes, he does, I defended him on Nov 3, 1969 for speeding.”
Turning to the proposed Juror, he added, “And you still owe me. “
After the laughter stopped, Lee dismissed the juror.