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Lifesaver monument. Photo coutesy of the Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce
Lifesaver monument. Photo coutesy of the Gouverneur Chamber of Commerce

Bigger than a car, smaller than a limo: Gouverneur's Lifesaver monument

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This summer, NPR has been visiting monuments you might come upon on your summer road trip. The Honey Stop the Car assignment took Emma Jacobs to Gouverneur, in St. lawrence County, where a roll of Life Savers the size of a car honors favorite son and businessman, E.J. Noble.

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When you cross a bridge straight into Gouverneur¿s tiny main drag, the first thing you see is a giant pack of Life Savers hanging above the village green. It's longer than a car, shorter than a limo. The foil wrapper is open at one end.

The roll came from a Life Savers factory that closed a few hours away. Norton Taylor was in the Rotary Club when it was donated to the community.

The factory offered the roll of peppermint Life Savers to Gouverneur because the village of 5,000 people is the hometown of Edward John Noble. He's called E.J. here.

EJ Noble left town to become an ad man. One day in 1912 he was given the account of one Clarence Crane who had created a round white peppermint candy.

Well maybe not. Gouverneur's town historian says he didn't. But he did come up with a name for the candy: Life Savers, and a marketing strategy. And when Clarence Crane didn't like it, Noble bought him out for $2,900 and launched the Life Savers we know today, the ones which loom large over the center of tiny Gouverneur.

Taylor says some in Gouverneur grumble over the placement of the roll of candies. Some think it should have gone near the hospital that bears Noble's name, because the building's "a life-saver."

"Oh people think it's a monstrosity to have it down in the middle part of the park, but I think you've got to advertise your community. And I think this is one thing that does."

Life Savers made Noble's fortune. He used his money to buy into the ABC network and eventually served in the Eisenhower administration. But in his hometown, so many years later, he's remembered for his candy mints with the hole in the middle. It's hard not to be reminded, because it's right in the center of town.

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