It was the spring of 1974 when I signed a contract to work as a summer lighting technician for the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. It was going to be a summer of adventure. I had reached a serious turning point in my life after a failed romance and I was more than ready to get out into the world and away from old haunts.
Contract signed and plans made, I was just counting the days until my school term ended and I could leave for this exciting opportunity. I went through my daily paces of classes, family time, friends and my volunteer activities (NYC Auxiliary Police). I went out with a good friend/semi-boyfriend a few times and enjoyed a great social life.
One random day about three weeks before I was to leave for the summer, I was at an event as an Auxiliary Police Officer, There was an older gentleman who was polite but quite forward; aware that I was in a uniform and trying very hard to “keep up appearances” I was relieved to see someone else from my unit. Perhaps I could deter the other man from his advances.
I walked up to the other Auxiliary Officer from my unit and engaged him in a heated discussion about his uniform. I had known Mark, and despised him, for more than a year – I really couldn’t think of anything casual or nice to say to him and I needed to be too busy for that other guy to keep pestering me. Now before you feel sorry for Mark, He had made it clear that he didn’t like me either.
Somehow we managed to finally share a comfortable and easy conversation. Later that day while we were joking with a few other friends, Mark suddenly asked me out to dinner; literally we had been joking around and I thought he was still joking so I said yes. It wasn’t until later that week I found out his invitation had been in earnest – feeling kind of stupid I decided to keep my word. Our first date was June 1.
Five dates later on June 15 (yeah, five dates!) Mark proposed. It wasn’t romantic. It was pretty late when we left a dinner party for him to drive me home but instead of heading home he drove behind a dark, closed shopping center, locked the car doors, and asked me to marry him. No preamble, no declaration of love, no cuddling or discussion of any kind. Just… “Will you marry me?” Of course I said “No.”
He asked again and I refused – three times. These were, I swear, the ONLY five words even spoken in that car! Finally Mark said, in a very calm voice, you do realize that I am not bringing you home until you say yes. A little bit devious, I solicited a firm promise that he would take me home IF I accepted his proposal – then I told him yes. I fully intended to break it off with him once we reached my parents’ apartment door. Much to my chagrin though, my parents were thrilled.
One week later Mark drove me to Lake Placid. It had taken me one week to appreciate that I really did love him and now I was to be separated from him for the bulk of the summer. Mark did promise to visit me a few times during the summer and he was good to his word. We checked into a hotel on the outskirts of town and it was there that we consummated our vows to be together for life.
Yes I enjoyed myself with new friends and a job I liked, but the visits from Mark were so very special and filled with romance and happiness. He wrote to me almost every day and adorned the outside of the envelopes with lines from songs and poetry. My letters often made their rounds through the company before I finally got to tear them open and read the contents. The contents simply sizzled.
We toured the local area during his visits and we made the most of our time before he had to make the three hour drive home. I loved walking down Main Street in Lake Placid, Saranac Lake or Tupper Lake holding Mark’s hand and falling more in love with him each day. By the end of the summer, being in the Adirondacks (in my mind) had become synonymous with making love and feeling secure.
While our dating time seemed short, our engagement lasted a year and a half. We were married on December 28, 1975.
Some years later Mark’s aunt and uncle bought a vacation home in Tupper Lake and we went to visit often. The area still evoked romantic memories. Tupper is a lovely town and we even contemplated moving there for a while.
When I needed a place for my heroine Caitlyn to run home to, a place where Brandon could pursue her and win back her love in my novel His Lucky Charm (previously titled Forgotten), I sent her to Tupper Lake. It was one of the most romantic places I could think of and a perfect place to build a lifetime together.
I used the setting of Tupper Lake again in my novel Within the Law where Tom, Caitlyn’s cousin, won the love of his life, Alli. When Tom took Alli sightseeing and they visited Lake Placid and Saranac Lake, I was reliving some of my own special memories. It was very easy to imagine falling in love in such a wonderful place.
While the Adirondacks in New York are vast and all are beautifully scenic, my special thoughts always turn to the tri-lake towns of Lake Placid, Saranac Lake and Tupper Lake. Take it from one who knows – it is a wonderful place to fall in love.