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2 Elizabeth Izzos, 1 small world

New Lake Placid News/Enterprise reporter shares name with Placidian

May 17, 2019
By ELIZABETH IZZO - Staff Writer (eizzo@adirondackdailyenterprise.com) , Lake Placid News

LAKE PLACID - It was through the Clinton-Essex-Franklin Library System that I learned I wasn't the only Elizabeth Izzo in the Adirondack North Country Region.

I'd just moved back to Plattsburgh after a relatively brief foray into New England's live music circuit as a critic and feature writer. It was 2015, and I was looking to put down roots in the area again.

Prior to moving away, I'd spent a fair amount of my life in the city as a frequent patron of the Plattsburgh Public Library, so renewing the library card I'd had since I was old enough to sign my name on the back seemed like a good place to start.

Article Photos

Lake Placid News Staff Writer Elizabeth Izzo, left, and Lake Placid native Elizabeth Izzo stand in front of Mirror Lake on Sunday, May 12.
(Photo provided)

It wasn't long after I had returned that I met a guy who became something of a mentor to me. He was a beautiful writer, someone I admired, so when he recommended a book he thought would be useful to me, I ordered it from the only place that had it in the CEF library system, the Keene Valley Library.

For the uninitiated: If you live in Clinton, Essex or Franklin counties and you've got a library card, you can go online and request books from almost any library in the region. Within a few days, those books will appear at your hometown library - on loan from the original library.

By the time I'd finished reading that book, I had a hard time returning it. It had come to symbolize a journey, a part of my life I didn't want to forget. So I called Karen Glass, the director of the Keene Valley Library, and I asked her to let me buy the book.

I remember her telling me, very succinctly and gracefully, no.

When I told her the real reason I couldn't part with it, she wavered.

Glass asked for my name.

"Elizabeth Izzo," I said.

Following a few taps of her keyboard, she replied: "Which one?"

Same name, different lives

I started writing an arts and entertainment column for a local newspaper a few months after that.

The job required me to stay in tune with the goings-on at local galleries, theaters and other venues around the region.

Whenever I'd call venues in the Tri-Lakes area, the same conversation arose: "Oh, Elizabeth Izzo. You're a runner, right?"

Nope, not me - and far from it. But it was through these comments that I slowly pieced together the life of the other Elizabeth Izzo.

I learned she lived in Lake Placid. I learned she served on the Lake Placid Volunteer Ambulance Service. I learned that people thought highly of her, as well as the various members of her family who lived in the area. I also learned that she was a runner - and an incredible one at that.

As it turns out, she got calls about me, too - and naturally, given my profession, they weren't all positive.

My sources, some of whom I'd yet to meet in person, would occasionally stop her in the grocery store with a kind word. People sent her clippings from the newspaper with a complimentary note attached. But she also got criticisms from those who disagreed with some of the more controversial stories I'd written. Whoops.

Around the time I'd started my first full-time newspaper gig in Plattsburgh and taken over the City Hall beat, Lake Placid's Elizabeth Izzo was in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, competing in the Ironman World Championships. From my seat at the media table in the Common Council chambers, I learned in the Lake Placid News that she'd completed the course in 12 hours, 32 minutes and 40 seconds. She was the 456th woman to cross the finish line that day. I got scooped by a competing newspaper.

---

The Elizabeths meet

We met on the shore of Mirror Lake. It was a chilly Sunday afternoon, May 12, and she'd just gotten off a shift with the LPVAS. I was 11 days into my new job as a reporter for the Lake Placid News and Adirondack Daily Enterprise.

"Elizabeth?" We asked one another.

She, in running gear with her hair tied in a long braid down her back, and I, bundled up in a long winter coat with my hair flying every which way in the wind, shook hands and searched for a place to sit.

If I had to describe what it's like to meet someone with your exact name, with whom you also now share a work zip code (I live in Saranac Lake), I'd say it's ... mildly amusing. It's like meeting a twin you don't look like, someone you're not related to yet somehow there's an experience you share. You're suddenly part of a very small club. The Lake Placid Elizabeth Izzo Club.

The person with whom I share a name is 27 years old, the daughter of two triathlon athletes and a Lake Placid native. I'm 23, the daughter of a chef and a bookkeeper, and I come from Peru, a small town of fewer than 7,000 people that's roughly 20 minutes south of Plattsburgh.

She's the oldest of four siblings, and I'm the youngest of two.

Elizabeth currently splits her time between Lake Placid and Albany, where she's studying at Albany Medical College to become a physician's assistant. She told me she wants to work in the medical field because she wants to help people. She wants to be there for her neighbors on what can be some of the most difficult days of their lives.

I spend most of my time in whatever place I'm reporting from, whether that be Lake Placid or Elizabethtown, where I cover the Essex County Board of Supervisors. I'm an observer of history. I do this because I subscribe to the notion that news matters, that it's important to preserve the reality of a place at that particular moment in time, and because I love it.

When she's not traveling, working or studying, Lake Placid's original Elizabeth Izzo is outdoors. She likes running, biking, hiking and when she can, swimming in Mirror Lake. I prefer staying indoors - in a newsroom - reading newspapers by the armful or writing articles. In part because of my upbringing in a chef's household, I also enjoy a good meal. Lucky for me, there's no shortage of those in Lake Placid.

When I'm not working, I like going to concerts or listening to music. That's where our interests somewhat overlap.

Here's the thing: I think a name, like your age or hometown or where you went to school, is but a miniscule piece of what makes you who you are.

You can change your name and still be you. In fact, lots of men and women do that every day.

I think we're shaped more by our families, biological and chosen. We're molded by our communities, the ones we're born into and the ones we adopt later. The people we cross paths with who impact us in ways both big and small. Our experiences and circumstances - and how we cope with, or take in, those joys and tragedies - either supplement or inhibit us.

So, yes, there are now two Elizabeth Izzos in Lake Placid. As it turns out, we're just two people who share a name and a village - and a library system.

 
 

 

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