CROWN POINT — The Town of Crown Point recently celebrated the accomplishments of lifelong town resident and local chiropractor Nelson Hyatt.
Crown Point Town Supervisor Charles Harrington presented Nelson, 94, with a lifetime achievement award.
“He is known as an honest, honorable, sincere and God-loving man,” Harrington said. “To know Nelson is like being provided with a gift. He is so knowledgeable and friendly, his very presence invites a conversation.”
Nelson grew up during the Great Depression of the 1930s.
“The family scratched out a living on a 34-acre hillside farm,” Harrington said. “They kept four cows, which enabled the family to make $10 a week on cream sales.”
Nelson said they also had pigs, chickens and a horse on the farm that he shared with his parents and siblings.
“We all worked at surviving,” Nelson said. “Dad couldn’t get on the WPA (Works Progress Administration) because he had money in the bank.”
The Works Progress Administration was a New Deal agency that gave public-works jobs to millions during the Great Depression.
Nelson’s father, Owen, would cut brush to make extra money, and his sons mowed local cemeteries.
“We didn’t have running water, and with the well set back quite a ways from the house, lugging water was a daily routine. Kerosene lamps were our source of lights in the house,” Nelson said.
He said they heated water for baths on the kitchen stove.
“We washed up daily, but the Saturday night bath was thorough, and it made us presentable for the Sabbath,” he said.
Nelson graduated from Sherman Free Academy, which became part of Moriah Central School, because he was working and staying at a farm in Moriah.
“I milked 12 cows morning and night. I got so that I could milk 12 in one hour. I made $3 a week for my milking skills,” he said.
The milking money was saved for college, and after graduation he left for Texas Chiropractic College in San Antonio, Texas. He graduated in 1939, but when World War II hit, Nelson and his brothers — Kenneth, Wallace and Earl — all enlisted.
Nelson was shipped to France and landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 8, 1944, two days after the D-Day invasion.
“Two months before the war ended, Wallace was killed in Germany,” Nelson said. “When we got home, we got water piped into the house and had electricity installed. That made life easier for our parents.”
He opened his own practice in Ticonderoga in 1946, retiring in 2008 at age 89. Nelson and his wife, Alice, recently celebrated their 65th wedding anniversary. The couple have five children: Kathy, Eileen, Stephen, Stanley and Elaine.
Nelson met Alice when she came to him as a patient with facial paralysis of unknown origin. After three weeks of spinal nerve treatments, the palsy was gone, and the couple married on Dec. 11, 1947.
Nelson served two terms as Crown Point town supervisor, from 1978 to 1982.
Nelson now walks with two canes, Harrington said, but raises potatoes, beans, corn and tomatoes in his own large home garden.
“When vegetable season arrives, stop by,” Harrington advised. “He might be maneuvering through shoulder-high tomatoes or headed toward his potatoes just to make sure the beetles don’t get there ahead of him. People should witness his accomplishments.”
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