If you are unaware of what "Gittles" might be, I'm here to explain them.
When I began my Plattsburgh broadcasting career more than 50 years ago, I continued what I now call subliminal art.
As a child in school, I was sometimes severely reprimanded for drawing pictures while the teacher was giving us a lesson. I was called a daydreamer, and indeed I was; but I always learned the lesson and comprehended its content as well or better than my classmates, sometimes to the teacher's dismay.
It took almost 70 years for science to finally recognize that one can concentrate better when doodling or drawing pictures. Rather than being a distraction, it turns out to be a learning enhancement. I continued the practice throughout high school and college.
For the first two years, other real and imagined distractions caused me real grief and led to dismissal from the first school and failure at the second.
The advent of what is now Stony Brook University on Long Island was my savior and, in retrospect, was an educational experience that can never be duplicated. Tuition was free for in-state residents and was supplemented by an academic scholarship.
The temporary campus was converted from a fabulous Long Island estate called Planting Fields, and the setting for an experimental college was fabulous.
Classes were held in the former Coe family manor house, resembling a European castle. There were gold-plated bathroom fixtures with marble counters, giant medieval paintings, elk and moose heads in the library and a gigantic fireplace in the "great room," with long wooden tables replete with spur marks from hundreds of years ago.
Every tree and shrub on the immaculately manicured grounds was identified by a plaque. Greenhouses contained unique orchids and other rare flora. Former horse stables and jockey's quarters were transformed into dormitory rooms and a cafeteria.
It was a setting that sucked me in like a giant vacuum and held me for four years, leading to a bachelor of science degree in humanities, a designation I had never heard of before — or since. It was a fairy-tale experience that still sends me into delighted reverie.
Of course, I drew pictures during classes there, but, sadly, kept only a few. The practice continued when I began work at a Plattsburgh radio station in 1961. While sorting through old papers a few weeks ago, I came across a picture from October of that year and a sad memory, when I wrote something like, "I was fired for the first time in my life today."
Seeing that picture and its accompanying note renewed the anger and anxiety of that black day in my personal history.
I was fortunate to soon move across town to the other radio station, starting a tenure that lasted in the neighborhood of 36 years. I drew pictures almost every time I was on the radio, either playing records or conducting interviews. Unlike the previous years, I signed and dated almost every one. My wife, Kaye, packed those pictures in boxes and saved many hundreds.
I drew other pictures for my wife and children for various occasions, and some have also survived.
Since leaving radio in 1997, I have labored over what I can do with those drawings to add to our meager coffers in my old age. I wrote three rhyming books and named the drawings Gordie Little "Gittles," since my signature of "G. Little" looked like Gittle. They are as yet unpublished, and I'm still struggling to come up with a way to share all the drawings with John Q. Public.
Also during the recent "hoeing out" of my River Room and shed, I found a cache of 1975 "Gittles" that are not dated and signed but are among those that are.
Many of my Gittles (pictured at right) were drawn on the reverse of Associated Press teletype news stories that had been printed on one of those now antiquated, clacking machines you see only in old movies. It dawns on me that the news stories themselves could add something to the provenance of the Gittles.
Am I still daydreaming, or am I on to something here? Kaye wishes me pleasant dreams, and I hope you do as well.
Have a great day and please, drive carefully.
Gordie Little was for many years a well-known radio personality in the North Country and now hosts the "Our Little Corner" television program for Home Town Cable. Anyone with comments for him may send them to the newspaper or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.