During discussions with new friends there is one question that frequently comes into the conversation. That question is, “Where do you live?” When we answer with “Altamont, N.Y.” we can never be sure of the response. If we feel that the person asking the question needs more landmarks we may follow up with, “It is upstate, near Albany.”  

Some of the people will just return the additional information with a nod of approval and a look that gives away the fact that they do not know where Albany is located let alone Altamont. Other times we could get a very positive reaction that assures us that they in fact do know where we live. Many times we will hear, “Oh sure, that is where the Altamont Fair is.” Or perhaps,” We were passing through and stopped in for lunch at the Home Front Café.”

Living in a small village that is filled with charming people lulls us into a feeling of complacency that our little community is in the shadows of a big city and no one from the outside has ever heard about us. Nothing could be further from the truth. If we examine some of the people and what they have done for themselves and for Altamont we find that they have done the same for a wide enough audience to make Altamont synonymous with pride, talent, and giving.

As an excellent example of what I mean, let us take a quick look at artist Ed Cowley. Ed’s painting style was bold and unique. You knew that you were looking at one of his paintings from across the room. As he became better known and more popular, you would find his artwork in many corners of the Albany area.

We have seen his work in the bank, the Home Front Café, and even in our podiatrist’s office. His work always reminded us of home and happiness.

Ed was not the only artist from Altamont who made a name for himself. Tom Breitenback created his own very different style that caught the eye and imagination of people everywhere. His depiction of over 300 proverbs and clichés in a painting named “Proverbidioms” might be his best-known work.

Tom was inspired by the castles and museums of Europe and returned home to build a castle-studio to house his art and eventually become a museum.

Other artists who were drawn to our village included Dennis Bing, Irena Altamova, and Mary Ann Brock to mention just a few. I know there are many more who have contributed their talents with us in the Altamont area.

To those of you that I have missed I apologize. You know who you are, and we all have been the recipients of your talents. Thank you.

More to recognize

Many of you may remember, Joan Johnson who was a former neighbor of ours. She was an art teacher in the Guilderland school system, and helped teach many of our children to explore and enjoy the various media. She wanted the students to discover the beauty of all of the different media when expressing themselves.  

To have a discussion about art without including music would be like talking about a peanut butter sandwich without the peanut butter. We have many talented people in other areas of the arts that live in Altamont.

Agnes Armstrong is a name that is recognized by everyone for her musical talent. She is another example of someone who started as a local talented person who shared their talent with others. Agnes is known worldwide as an organist extraordinaire.  We have heard her at St. John’s Lutheran Church in Altamont and also playing on the historic organ at Round Lake.

It is so easy to talk about the arts because we are exposed to them in almost everything we see and do. The study of art and music in school is very important to our children. Although important, the arts and sports are among the first things cut from a school budget. If we listen to the teachers we can understand the value.

Let’s look at what they say about music. Music brings people together and will boost a child’s memory, language, and social skills. In the town of Guilderland we are fortunate to have a very strong music program.

I can speak from family experience about the value of music to the social development of our children. When they were in lower grades they enjoyed the singing that gave them experiences with other classmates that did not feel like a structured learning experience. They had to develop listening skills to know when it was their turn to sing and when to be silent. They had to learn the notes and works for the musical pieces that were to be performed before their parents. Those performances were on a stage, which gave them lessons in self-esteem.

The school system has just had another evening to learn about music and musical instruments. They had instruments available for the younger children to see and they had someone play each instrument as a demonstration for each child. After the demonstrations they could select an instrument to play in the band the following year.

One of the most exciting events in our girl’s lives was when they were students at the high school was being a part of the annual musical. To them it was not just a performance that gathered parents and grandparents to show what they had been practicing for so long. To them it was as exciting as being in a Broadway performance.

Put yourself in the mind of a high school student on opening night for the musical. The parking lot is filled with cars. People have purchased bouquets of fresh flowers to send backstage to their young musician or thespian. There is a loud hum with the excitement and conversations going on before the musical starts. The artists have designed and painted all of the backdrops. The sound system and lighting systems have been checked. The crew is standing by to move scenery and props throughout the musical. The student stage manager and director have their clipboards and await the start. The orchestra tuned up their instruments and awaits the conductor’s arrival. Then the lights dim, the auditorium becomes quiet, and then fills with applause as the conductor enters from side stage. He lifts his baton and with a flick of his wrist months of work come together.

Altamont is fortunate to have so many talented people living here. Many of you receive recognition from the group where you hold your expertise, but go unrecognized for your talent here at home. We know that you are here and we applaud you for what you have done to make our world a better place in which to live.

We also thank you for the example that you have set for our children. And a special thank you to the teachers who work with our children for they are our future and they need your help and encouragement.

GHS  musical

Parents, students and friends are all invited to enjoy the Guilderland Players spring musical "Curtains" from March 12 to 15. 

Tools for School

        The Altamont Elementary School is once again participating in Price Chopper's Tools for Schools program. This is how the program works.  Each time you shop at Price Chopper and the store scans your advantage card the Altamont Elementary School earns credit toward free educational supplies and educational  equipment.

To enroll in this program visit the Price Chopper customer's service desk nearest you.

The school's code is 15679. Also if you purchase Price Chopper and Central Market brands, the school will earn double points. You can also go on line @ to register.  Be sure to use the school's code.

Student awards

Sophomores, juniors, and seniors in the Guilderland school district are eligible to participate in the Guilderland and Bethlehem YMCAs 2015 Outstanding Student Awards.

If you have demonstrated volunteerism and leadership in the school, community, or YMCA you are eligible to participate.  Applications are available in the counseling center.

All applications must be completed and submitted directly to the YMCA by March 20.

SAT prep course

A four-week SAT prep course is being offered at the Guilderland High School on four Tuesdays during March and April.  

For additional information regarding the course and how to apply, contact Martha Wadsworth at 357-4910 or Karen Covert-Jones at 356-1157.  The cost of the four-week class in $299 and checks should be made payable to GHSPTSA. The deadline is tomorrow, Friday, March 13.


The PTA at the FMS will meet on Monday, March 16, at 6 p.m., in the library classroom. The officers hope that FMS parents will be in attendance. 


Happy-anniversary wishes are extended to Gigi and Chuck Mealey who will clebrate their special day on March 14.


Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:

— Linda Hoogkamp, Emily Lauren Murray, and Susanne Spiak on March 13;

— Eric Fisher, Madison Lee Munroe, Dean Rosen, and Rae Anne Sanderson on March 14;

— Kristine Alterwisher, Partricia Marciano, Jean Monaco, and Rich Sanderson on March 15;

— Arnie Adams Jr., Jim Gardner Sr., and Anne Gardner on March 16;

— Christa-Marie Caruso, Pam Drake,  Emaline Johnson,  Kelly Meineker,  and Jared Ethan Nrenberg on March 17;

— Stewart Coons, Gordon Crounse, Pat Dwyer, Fran Gorka, Diane Groff, Beverly Halsdorf, Matthew Percoski, Michael LaForte, and Ted Ingle March 18; and

— Joan Beals and Steve Schiltz on March 19.


The Altamont Enterprise is focused on hyper-local, high-quality journalism. We produce free election guides, curate readers' opinion pieces, and engage with important local issues. Subscriptions open full access to our work and make it possible.