You'd swear it was still 1932 except for all the T-shirts and beer mugs and bumper stickers that say otherswise: XIII Olympic Winter Games, 1980, Lake Placid, N.Y.
Sleepy is the word used for towns like Placid, a word that residents understandably resent. Lake Placid has been trying to rub the sand out of its eyes since 1974, when it was awarded the 1980 winter games no one else even bid for.
The sign outside the old skating arena says: "Welcome World, We're Ready."
Ready or not, on Tuesday Lake Placid will awaken to find that a 13,500-member Olympic family (including 1,400 athletes from 38 countries) -- five times the number of village residents -- has moved in.
There are only three roads into town -- they intersect at the town's one stoplight -- the same three roads that former New York Gov. Averell Harriman once called deer trails, which must handle 375 busloads of Olympic visitors each day.
"Traffic is going to be at a snail's pace," said town clerk Matt Clark. "Heaven only knows what the ambulance and fire engines are going to do. They're not going to move."
Placid is so small that when a group protesting the "afteruse" of the Olympic village as a minimum-security prison applied for a permit to demonstrate, the town said it didn't give permits.
Some say that this once close-knit community has already been torn by the approaching Olympics.
"There's a dichotomy between the young aggressive business people and the older people who want it to stay the same," said village trustee Chris Ortloff.
The most obvious symbols of the rift are the new 90-meter and 70-meter ski jumps, which loom over Lake Placid, testimony to organized athletics in a recreational wilderness.
Even some of those who support the Olympics say the steel-and-concrete structures, painted what the locals call "A.P.A. [Adirondack Park Agency] rust," are ugly. "There is no sense beating around the bush," said Mary MacKenzie, the town historian who was a secretary for the 1932 Olympic Committee. "They're horrors to look at."
Two years ago, the Adirondack Park Agency, which was created in 1971 by New York state to protect the large wilderness area, issued a permit to build the two ski jumps despite the protests of several environmental groups.
Former ski jumper Art Devlin, Lake Placid's favorite son and a prime Olympic mover, who refers to the jumps as "my jumps," said: "No jumps, no games; no games, no Lake Placid.
"From a common-sense standpoint, we have to make a living. Our livelihood comes from six weeks a year [the summer tourist season]. Our only hope of upgrading the community and not putting smokestacks up or cutting down the trees was the Olympics. The Olympics are something clean and pure. Sports is the only way to put us back on the map. We were dying, badly."
Without the Olympics, he said, "We would still be whittling on the street corner."
About $68 million in federal funds and $32 million in state funds have been spent on the Olympics.
"Lake Placid hasn't spent a nickel," said Robert Flacke, commissioner of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation. In fact, says Matt Clark, village taxes are going down this year.
Lake Placid's town hall, sewer system, electrical system and airport have been updated, Flacke said, and new jobs have been created.
"I hope it rains hot water on the Olympics, except if it does we'll be paying taxes for a million years," said Barbara Whitney. A working mother of two, Whitney was desperately trying to get a travel permit so she could drive into town during the games, when the schools will be closed. "If I don't get a permit I won't be able to get them to the baby sitter or get to work," she said.
Matt Clark is also an "aginner" [against having the Olympics at Placid] and misses "the placid in Placid.
"What worries me the most is the cost of operating and maintaining and the afteruse of the facilities provided by federal and state money," said Clark. "Should it fall back on the taxpayers, my feeling is that it will be out of sight."
Clark has reason to be worried. MacKenzie says Lake Placid did not pay off the bonds on the first Olympics until the 1960s.
"We never voted on whether we wanted the Olympics," said Matt Clark. "We voted on whether we wanted to spend $20,000 to bid on them." And that proposition passed by just 150 votes with only half of the 2,800 eligible voters participating.
"People closely connected with the Olympics, town employes and the Chamber of Commerce worked hard for it," said Clark. "If we knew then what we know now, it wouldn't have passed."
But now some of those supporters are on the Olympic organizing committee, running the games.
Chris Ortloff, one of three local officials on the LPOOC payroll, says he receives a salary of more than $15,000 for running the Olympic ceremonies. This has galled some townspeople who say that during his campaign for a village board seat he promised not to serve on the Olympic committee. But Ortloff says he changed his mind because he felt he could better serve the community's interests by being on the committee.
Some landlords have evicted tenants from their homes or apartments because all the hotel and motel rooms in Lake Placid were rented more than a year ago. "Every hotel and motel in a four-county area was made available to the Olympics," said Jack Irvin, the manager of the Hilton.
Some tenants have gone kicking and screaming. But many homeowners are not complaining.
The Wilkins Real Estate Agency said it had rented 175 private homes by December, one for $50,000 for two weeks. The company said most had gone for $12,000 to $18,000 for the two weeks of the Olympics. One client bought a home for $43,000 and immediately reduced his mortgage payments by $7,000 by renting it out for the games.
Some residents are worried that the town will not be able to support new structures later. "There has been far too much construction of new houses," said MacKenzie. "Who is going to live in them? We have a new Hilton. Is the summer business going to build up to the extent where motels can be filled? We just don't know."
"The economy of Lake Placid has been helped by the Olympics without question," said Willard Lloyd, senior economist for New York State. Area wage and salary statistics show that the number of people employed in construction doubled between 1974 and 1978 and the number of people employed in service jobs, such as hotels and motels, increased from 3,000 in 1977 to 3,700 in 1978.
Optimists see the town's future as "the complete winter resort," the only place in the nation with luge, bobsledding, speed skating and skiing.
But Lake Placid has limited potential as an apres-ski resort. The laws that decreed that the Adirondack Park should remain forever wild prohibit commercial development.
"Vermont was buiilt up by private money," said MacKenzie. "We can't do that here. We only have one big ski run. And Whiteface is all we'll ever have."
And Whiteface is not the best of mountains. It is too far from major markets for people to come just for the day. It is notorious for high winds, low temperatures and tough trails.
Robert Flacke, the conservation commissioner, says the state, which operates the facility, does "not believe it can every break even," but "we will continue to operate it at a deficit as we have for 20 years."
The townspeople are even more concerned about the financial future of the field house and ski jumps, which were built with federal funds but which belong to the town.
"If this town dies, it is going to die with a bang," said Ortloff. "There will be a lot of empty edifices and no one around to pay the mortgage."
Vic Glider, a New York State Department of Environmental Conservation official, said, "They don't want to put out a bond or increase taxes. They seem to feel, if the state and federal government want to help us, great, otherwise we can't do it."
One state official said, "New York has had it with them. They're the greediest people in the world. They have taken the state to the cleaners. They lived off the 1932 Olympics until this Olympics put them back on the map. They'll let the facilities deteriorate and live off of it for 10 years and then they'll need another Olympics again."
Some say the answer is for the U.S. Olympic Committee to establish a permanent winter training facility at Lake Placid.
"We're afraid we'll get stuck again," said Johanna Conway, standing behind the counter of her shop on lower Main Street. The sign above her head read "Bless This Mess."