Is little Altamont starting to rival the storied medieval towns of Europe?

To the Editor:
On Sunday, Oct. 10, at noon, Altamont’s archivist, Dan Barker, will be leading a brief 20- to 30-minute walking tour around downtown Altamont as part of Founders Day, our celebration of Altamont’s origins.

Dan will narrate the evolution through time of our business district with lots of interesting details from his own research and that of Keith Lee, author of the volume on Altamont from Arcadia’s “Images of America” series (2014), with whom he has collaborated for this event. Come out and be amazed at how Altamont has changed over time!

When we were kids, “uptown” was the most exciting part of Altamont, especially after Mom and Dad started to trust us enough to ride our bikes “upstreet” for a pound of “Eight O’Clock” coffee from the A&P grocery store (now Farmhouse Tap and Tavern), or to get a cherry Coke from the soda bar at DeLucia’s drugstore (now Remedies); to browse the sneakers and beach balls at the Variety Store (now The Spinning Room); to buy ourselves one of those sets of miniature china animals on display in the front window of Crabill’s hardware store (now Chelsea Sylvester Photography); to buy the latest Beatles album from the rack by the registers at Crupe’s grocery store (Altamont Corners); to get a 5-cent candy bar from the Delicatessen (now the closed Home Front Café); or best of all, to buy penny candy from the big glass case in Helen Becker’s shoe repair shop on Maple Avenue (now part of Enterprise Printing).

And if that seems like ancient history, wait — that was just 60 years ago. There’s much more!

Dan will paint a picture of our downtown of 100 years ago, animated by almost 10 daily trains in and out of our depot; graced by the great majestic two- and three-story hotels that loomed over the railroad crossing; intersected by streets filled with horse-drawn carriages, or horse-drawn cutters in winter when the sleighing was good — in short, a village with a bustling economy: its own bank, numerous grocery stores, meat markets, lumber yards, and livery stables.

And yet Altamont goes back even farther than that!

Two-hundred years ago, Severson’s Inn (now Stewart’s Shop) was the most important business in our downtown area. One of Dan’s stops will be at the Museum in the Streets panel there, on which an historic photograph depicts this early meeting place.

Dan will take us back even to those more remote days, in the decades before the Civil War, when the foot and carriage traffic from Albany to Schoharie paused here to refresh the horses and travelers with dinner and oats, and other offerings like cider, cigars, rum, and eggnogs — the staples of road fare at the time.

But actually, Altamont is even older than that! Now that we’re well into the 21st Century, it’s no exaggeration to say that the history of this village spans four centuries! Four centuries!

Is little Altamont starting to rival the storied medieval walled towns of Europe? Join Dan at noon on Oct. 10 at Orsini Park for the walking tour, and come to the other events, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., planned to celebrate the founding of our little historic community: Founders Day.

Tom Capuano


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