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New Scotland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, June 7, 2007

Coming from war-torn Hungary, Barothy-Langer lives American life

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – Andrew Barothy-Langer considers himself a fortunate man.

He was born in Hungary in 1918, and moved to the United States in 1950, following World War II. Barothy-Langer, 89, has been a resident of New Scotland for more than 50 years, and a member of the town’s board of assessment review for 16 years.

"It’s a wonderful life in America, and I’m a damn lucky guy," Barothy-Langer told The Enterprise last week.

The sacrifice he made for the freedom of life in the United States, though, was that he was never able to see his parents after he left Europe. "That is the saddest part of my life," he said.

Barothy-Langer served in the Hungarian Army during the second world war for six years, he said. He was captured by the United States Army during a stay in a German hospital, he said.

On the morning before the Americans came, he remembered, Germans were burning roads and bridges in the city of Ingolstadt, in the German state of Bavaria, where Barothy-Langer was hospitalized. He remembers throwing his pistol in the Danube River, and, he said, "It sank right away." The holster, though, filled with water before dropping to the bottom. The date was April 26, 1945, the day "the war ended for me in Bavaria," Barothy-Langer said.

After his capture, he traveled 1,800 kilometers on foot from Ingolstadt to Kiev, a trip that took one month and three days, Barothy-Langer said, pointing out the scar on his nose from frostbite caused by temperatures that dipped below 20 degrees below zero.

He worked with the U.S. Army for five years in intelligence and education.

"Being an indigenous person" I could, at ease, put maps together," he said of his role with the Army.

His father, a civil engineer, taught him how to draw when he was a young child, Barothy-Langer said. Maps are "a very important part of engineering design," he said.

He spoke German and the Army put him in charge of a group of German sign painters, he said. Barothy-Langer’s mentor was a captain from Alabama, he said. "I was teaching him German" He taught me English."

Coming to the United States

Barothy-Langer says he moved to the United States because he "didn’t want to be a Communist." Because he was born before the Austria-Hungary monarchy was dissolved, Barothy-Langer was a citizen of the16 countries that broke off from Austria-Hungary, he said.

Barothy-Langer became an American citizen in 1956, he said. "I was a member of the largest class to become nationalized in Albany."

He went on to work as a cartographer for New York State. He said he helped create an updated map of New York, worked on the design of the Northway, and was part of the Future of the Adirondack Park Committee.

"The English language was not easy," Barothy-Langer said in a thick accent that hasn’t faded much in 57 years.

"My first language in America was Latin," he said of the language he used to communicate at his first American job, on a chicken farm. His boss found it frustrating that Barothy-Langer was more fluent in Latin than him, he remembered with a smile.

He considers one of his proudest accomplishments that he "completely assimilated" into American culture and life. "I have nothing to do with my old country, except heartache" about what I had to go through" And, of course, I could not see my parents anymore."

He did communicate with his parents through letters, he said. Not long before his father died, he was able to call his "war monger" son in America, Barothy-Langer said. During the Krushchev era, Barothy-Langer was considered a "bad-guy," he said. "Any American in the Russian eyes was considered a war monger." His father’s call, however, was patched through to a Langer in Delmar, not a Barothy-Langer in Clarksville, he said, and he never spoke to him.

"My newspaper wife figured out what to do," Barothy-Langer said of his first wife, Libby. After an extraordinary amount of persistence, she reached a phone company official who said, "Tell your husband to call his mother as many times as he wants" and it will be charged to me." Barothy-Langer smiled at the recollection, still vivid in his mind. "For about a year, I had daily conversations with my mother," he said proudly.

Memories from the heart

While conversing last week in the kitchen of his New Scotland home, a white-tailed deer perused the greenery in Barothy-Langer’s front yard, as his cat, Kara, watched intently from the grass not far away. Barothy-Langer chuckled and continued to reminisce about his childhood in Europe, his experiences during the war, his loves, his children. He browsed through old photographs of his parents, a younger brother who was killed during the war, and a Latvian woman named Ina from Toronto.

"I believe I was nuts about her," Barothy-Langer said of Ina, whom he wanted to marry but was unable to get a visa to bring her to live with him in the United States. They spent a long weekend together in the early 1950s, kissed goodbye, and, Barothy-Langer never saw her again, he said sadly.

In 1953, he married Libby Bohen, a broadcaster for WPTI and WOKO. They were married for 17 years before Libby died, and they had two sons – Mark and Victor.

His sons were still young when their mother died, Barothy-Langer said; he married Martha Machold, whose grandfather founded The Amsterdam Recorder, shortly after the death of his first wife.

Barothy-Langer is proud of his now-grown sons. A bright smile lit up his face as he spoke about their achievements.

Victor Barothy-Langer lives in Del Mar, Calif. and is the general manager of the U.S. Grant Hotel in San Diego, which was built in the early 1900s by Ulysses S. Grant Jr. Barothy-Langer and Kara, his feline friend and roommate, recently returned from a six-month stay with Victor, and he proudly showed photographs of the luxury hotel his son oversees.

Mark Barothy-Langer is a professor of communications at the University of Wyoming in Cheyenne, and is currently teaching in Dubai. While traveling to Saudi Arabia, Mark bumped into Terry Haskell, an old friend from Clarksville Elementary School, who works for a Houston oil company and is stationed there, said Barothy-Langer.

Barothy-Langer said he feels "guilty" that he never taught Mark and Victor how to speak Hungarian. His only "dislike" of America – which he indicated as being minor with a small gap between his aging fingers – is that Americans don’t place importance on keeping traditions, he said.

"I am a man of peace," Barothy-Langer said emphatically. "Every creature on the earth was created for two purposes," he said, "to sustain himself, and to be sure his species survives."

He doesn’t understand why the human race is continually fighting. "We’re always fighting" for a quote-unquote better life" History has not shown us there is not a better life""

On New Salem South Road;
Neighbors object to subdivison

By Rachel Dutil

NEW SCOTLAND – A dangerous intersection on New Salem South Road has local residents concerned about safety; they fear increased traffic from a proposed development could heighten the hazard.

Citizens filled Town Hall last week to voice their concerns to the zoning board about a nine-lot subdivision proposed by New Salem Properties off of New Salem South Road.

The application, requesting a use variance for 1,000 feet of relief to extend an existing cul-de-sac to 2,000 feet, was approved, after a lengthy public hearing where numerous residents expressed concerns with the project.

Among the concerns were increased traffic, the impacts the roadway might have on existing wells, and the intersection of New Salem South Road and Glenwood Terrace that Rock Hill Road resident Wes Knapp considers "very, very dangerous."

Tim Wood can validate that claim. In the spring of 2000, said his wife, Wood was involved in a head-on collision at the intersection, and has since undergone numerous surgeries to recover.

Chris Allard, a resident of Rock Hill Road, has been driving buses for the Voorheesville School District for 30 years. "I had that route for probably eight years," Allard told The Enterprise of the run that included New Salem South Road. "It was always a challenge," she said.

When driving down New Salem South Road toward the hamlet of New Salem, Allard said, "It’s a blind corner" Cars can’t see what’s coming in the other direction."

In response to the residents’ concerns, town officials – Highway Superintendent Darrell Duncan; Councilman Doug LaGrange; and town engineers, R. Mark Dempf and Keith Menia – went out to inspect the intersection.

Menia said this week that the town is still in the "information-gathering stage." The mission, he said, in visiting the intersection, "was to look at the situation and see where residents were coming from."

"We saw examples as we were there of the safety problems," LaGrange told The Enterprise. The town is discussing how best to address the safety concerns, he added.

The engineering analysis done by the town’s engineering firm, Stantec, along with the state environmental quality review process will determine to what degree New Salem Properties is responsible for making the New Salem South Road and Glenwood Terrace intersection safer, said Paul Cantlin, the town’s zoning administrator and chief building inspector.

The application

The zoning board, last Tuesday, voted only on the length of the roadway for the proposed nine-lot subdivision, which would be accessed from New Salem South Road by traveling over Glenwood Terrace and Meadowbrook Place. In contrast to the standard circular cul-de-sac, the town requested a hammerhead turnaround, which the fire department indicated was not a problem. It would be constructed off of Meadowbrook Place about 868 feet from New Salem South Road.

With the zoning board’s approval of the roadway extension, New Salem Properties will not need to appear before that board again, Cantlin said.

John DeMis, who submitted the application on behalf of New Salem Properties, will have to update his plat, to include changes to the storm-water management plan, and the hammerhead roadway configuration, Cantlin said. "When he submits a preliminary plat that is acceptable to the planning board, they will hold a public hearing," he said.

The concerns that the residents brought with them to last week’s zoning board meeting will all be addressed when the application goes before the planning board, Cantlin said.

Zoning board Chairman William Hennessey repeatedly reminded the concerned residents of this as they stood one after the other and questioned how their wells would be affected, and how much traffic was going to increase as a result of the development.

When the application reaches the next public hearing stage, said Allard of herself and her neighbors, "We’ll be there in force again.

"I just hope the town zoning and planning boards are hearing us and are taking into consideration our feelings, and our sincere displeasure with this development," Allard concluded.

Other business

In other business, at recent zoning- and planning-board meetings:

– The zoning board held a public hearing on two applications submitted by Peter Landi, regarding his property at the intersection of Font Grove and Krum Kill roads. One application was for a temporary-use permit, allowing an accessory structure to remain on a lot that, after a proposed subdivision, would not have a dwelling on it. The other was for an area variance, allowing Landi to divide his 13.8-acre property into two lots, creating one nine-acre parcel and one 4.8-acre parcel.

The nine-acre lot would be sold with the existing 140-year-old house. The 4.8-acre lot would house the accessory structure which is not permitted without a dwelling. Landi plans to build a new home on the smaller lot, and the shed would be relocated to the larger lot.

Landi is also seeking 11 feet of relief from the front yard setback for the existing home, which is only 39 feet from the road; the zone requires a 50-feet front yard setback.

There were no public comments on either application, and both were approved by the zoning board. The planning board, on Tuesday, approved Landi’s application for the minor subdivision;

– The zoning board held a public hearing on an application for an area variance submitted by Arnold Abate, for relief of 11 feet from the side-yard setback, allowing the patio roof attached to his house to come within 14 feet of his side property line.

His neighbor, Jeffrey Brunt, informed the board that a four-foot tall stockade fence runs along the property line between the two parcels. He also noted the existence of about 20 to 25 feet of oak and forsythia between Abate’s fence and Brunt’s home. "I have no objection to the variance, whatsoever," Brunt said.

The board approved Abate’s variance application;

– The zoning board held a public hearing on an application for a use variance submitted by David Zwack to allow him to continue operating his business, Zwack’s Decorative Stone, on his properties on Indian Ledge Road and Zwack Lane. He removes, stores, and sells limestone on his property, and has done so since the early 1990s.

A handful of neighbors turned out for the hearing to voice their support for Zwack and his business.

"Dave conducts his business in a very friendly manner," said neighbor, Doug Rivenburg. "I have never, ever been bothered by his operation."

Frank Papa said that Zwack "has found his niche in life." His stones have "been an intricate part to a lot of lawns in the community," Papa said. "I’m for Dave to continue on his service."

Steve Lysenko said that Zwack "runs a good operation" I’ve always known him to be a fair and honest businessman."

Zwack first submitted an appeal to the building inspector’s decision of a special-use permit application he submitted for the "removal of fill, gravel, or loam," and is continuing with the appeal if the use variance is not granted. The board will render a decision on the application at its June 26 meeting;

– The planning board held a public hearing on two applications submitted by David Moreau. One was for a boundary-line adjustment between two parcels he owns in the commercial district on Youmans Road, creating an 18.83-acre parcel and a 39.11-acre parcel. The other was for a special-use permit to allow for construction of a single-family dwelling on the smaller lot.

There were no comments from the public, but the board said that the new owners of the property would need to submit an erosion-sediment control plan in conjunction with a building permit for the site.

Both applications were approved by the board. The subdivision approval requires the rip-rap be inspected by the building department and that the culvert detail be modified to extend below the piping, and the stone be a larger size to avoid major erosion;

– The planning board held a public hearing on an application submitted by Karl Dedrick for a special-use permit to construct a single-family dwelling on his 2.86-acre Youmans Road property.

The parcel had been granted a special-use permit for the construction of a home, but it expired. The parcel was originally owned by Moreau, who sold it to someone else, who then sold to Dedrick. Dedrick, upon purchasing the property, was under the impression that he could build a home on the lot. He has two wells on the property, as well as sewer service, he said; both have been approved by the Albany County Department of Health.

The board approved his application; there was no public comment on it;

– The planning board heard an application for a special-use permit submitted by Wayne Flach on behalf of Flach Industries to allow for an expansion of an existing trucking terminal. Flach runs a general construction company on Indian Fields Road in Feura Bush, and wants to expand his boundary from 220-by-200 feet to 440-by-200 feet.

Flach must submit a storm-water management report drafted by his engineer to the town. The board scheduled a public hearing for its July 10 meeting;

– Both the zoning and planning boards heard an application for an area variance submitted by Wayne and Sherlynn LaChappelle to allow for a two-lot subdivision of a pre-existing, non-conforming lot behind the National Grid power transmission line that abuts the west side of Western Avenue in Feura Bush.

The 6.27-acre parcel is located in the residential hamlet (RH) district, and the zone requires that all newly -created lots have at least 50 feet of road frontage held in fee on a public highway, and town law requires that a lot have a minimum of 15 feet of road frontage to obtain a building permit. The LaChappelles wanted to create two building lots that lack the required frontage.

"We can do nothing with the lot without the variance," said Cynthia Elliot, who stepped down from the planning board to represent the application.

The LaChappelles will request utilities as well as a driveway from National Grid, Elliot said. The planning board required that the driveway be sufficient for a fire truck to have access under the power lines. The planning board passed along a favorable recommendation to the zoning board, where a public hearing will be held on June 26;

– The planning and zoning boards heard an application for an area variance submitted by Stefan and Shannon Schecter for 5 feet, 4 inches of relief from the front-yard setback, allowing the house they are building on their Krum Kill Road property to come within 44 feet, 8 inches of the front property line.

The planning board passed along a favorable recommendation to the zoning board, which will hold a public hearing on June 26; and

– The planning and zoning boards heard an application for an area variance submitted by Russell Seely and Heather Conant for a boundary-line adjustment for their property on New Scotland Road adjacent to the building formerly known as Kissel’s Garage. They are requesting to take .55 acres and add it to the abutting parcel to the east, owned by Howard Amsler.

The boundary-line adjustment would reduce their parcel size from .935 acres to .88 acres. The lot is located within the commercial district and the zone requires that a lot contain 40,000 square feet. Seely and Conant want 5,227.2 square feet of relief to allow a lot of 38,332.8 square feet to be created. The planning board passed along a favorable recommendation to the zoning board; a public hearing will be held at the June 26 zoning-board meeting.

Writing books a healthy choice for Voorheesville couple

By Rachel Dutil

VOORHEESVILLE – Winnie Yu Scherer says she’s not a "dietary saint," but, for her and her family, healthy eating has become a lifestyle.

Yu Scherer is a journalist and author. Her husband, Jeff Scherer, is an advertising on-line producer for a daily newspaper and an illustrator of children’s books. The Scherers make a point of exercising and making smart food choices for themselves and their children – Samantha, 9, and Annie, 7.

"We both put a lot of emphasis on eating well," Yu Scherer said.

"I’ve always been interested in health and medicine," she said, adding that she remembers wanting to be a pediatrician as a child. She has written five books on health and nutrition, and her sixth – What to Eat for What Ails You – was released in April.

The book, written under Yu Scherer’s pen name – Winnie Yu – is what she calls "a consumer guide" to how food affects health.

The research for the book involved speaking to dietitians, doctors, nutritionists, and other professionals, along with reading countless books and articles, she said. Each section is based on a different health condition, ranging from cancer to the common cold.

"Chicken soup has been used since the twelfth century as a way to relieve colds and is celebrated as a favorite remedy among moms," Yu writes in her section on what to eat for the common cold. Researchers at the University of Nebraska, in 2000, found that chicken soup can help reduce inflammation in the respiratory tract, she says.

"Make it your goal to eat a colorful diet and to include foods such as broccoli, tomatoes, sweet potatoes, apples, carrots, blueberries, and strawberries," she advises in the section on what to eat for cancer sufferers. These foods contain cancer-fighting antioxidants. "By some estimates, the incidence of cancer could be decreased by 20 percent if all Americans ate at least five servings of fruits and vegetables a day," she says.

Experts studied each section, she said, and everyone involved shared "an interest in using nutrition to help ease health problems."

As she began working on the book, Yu Scherer drafted a list of common ailments – "broad-sweeping ones," things that were widespread, and some rare ones that had specific foods that affected them, she said.

She found some "umbrella" nutrition tips. "Eating complex carbs is a must," she said of foods such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. "Drinking lots of water" is also essential, she said.

"It’s sort of like giving birth, writing books," Yu Scherer joked. "It takes a lot of energy, discipline, and organizational skills."

Yu Scherer has been a journalist for over 20 years, she said. She has been a freelance writer since 1997. "When I had kids, I wanted both to work and to stay at home," said Yu Scherer. She writes on health and nutrition for Woman’s Day, Weight Watchers, Redbook, and Fitness magazines.

Working from home

Though Jeff Scherer works full-time for the Times Union – where he met his wife who worked as a reporter there for eight years before she began freelancing – he also works from home illustrating children’s books.

Scherer has illustrated 11 books since his first book was published in 1994, he said. His latest, Whooo’s There", written by Mary Serfoso, will be released in July. It is his first hardcover, published through Random House. "I’m pretty excited about it," he said.

It is his second book with Serfoso, and they submitted it as a team, he said.

"I’ve done books where I didn’t know who wrote it," Scherer said. "Generally, the writers and illustrators don’t overlap" It eliminates a lot of problems," he said.

Scherer said he put "six months of really concentrated time into the book." But the entire process took more than a year.

"You have to make a sacrifice to do it," he said.

Scherer’s illustrating studio is in his Voorheesville home, and, though it is nice to work from home, he said, it is sometimes difficult to work when it is bright and sunny, and he must fight the urge to play outside with his daughters.

"It’s hard on the kids," he said. "But, it makes you appreciate the time you do spend with them."

Scherer himself grew up in Voorheesville, and has enjoyed drawing since he was little, he said. His youngest daughter, Annie, is artistic, too, he said.

Though Scherer is an "avid bird-watcher," he says that birds are "trickier" to draw than bugs, for example. "Because I know all the birds, I get hung up" on the details, he said.

In his latest book, he conquered bird drawing through his depiction of a curious owl who wants to know which other animals are awake with him in the woods at night. "It’s kind of a screech owl" But I made it up," he said.

Within minutes of describing a recent bird-watching trip in Texas, Scherer identified a loud, ringing noise that permeated the air; it belonged to a pileated woodpecker, which he spotted high in a tree in his yard.

Yu Scherer said she isn’t really into bird-watching, but enjoys the hiking that usually accompanies it.

Healthy practices

Though the Scherers have their weaknesses and aren’t perfect when it comes to healthy eating, they implement what Yu Scherer calls "stay-healthy strategies," she said.

"I shop a lot in the produce department," she said. "I definitely push fruits," she added, "It’s become sort of a way of life."

Samantha and Annie can sometimes make healthy eating a bit more challenging, though, said Yu Scherer. "We do our best anyway."

She said that habits take a long time to change. The key is "doing it a little bit at a time," she said.

"I think people today are so busy and frazzled," Yu Scherer said. "People are time-pressed, stressed" All that gets in the way," she said. Healthy eating "takes foresight and planning," she said.

In order to avoid the quick bag of chips or the candy bar while traveling, it’s necessary to plan ahead and pack a cooler with healthier options like fruit and string cheese, Yu Scherer offered.

"To ensure that you eat well, it’s important to also tackle other health challenges in your life," Yu advises in the book. "For many people, that means getting a handle on your stress, quitting smoking, sleeping more, and getting more exercise."

Change doesn’t happen overnight, Yu Scherer told The Enterprise. It is unreasonable to think that you will be able to reverse a longtime habit right away, she said. It’s important to "take one step at a time," she said.

There’s no substitute for chocolate, Yu Scherer said, remembering the days when she would eat a large cookie everyday with her lunch. "When I think about it now, I can’t believe I did it," she said. Shortly after eating the daily sugary treat, she would feel a decline in energy, caused by the crash in her sugar levels, she said.

Fruit is a much better alternative, she said. The complex carbohydrates in fruits cause the body to release insulin much more slowly than baked goods, she said, and the body’s blood sugar does not spike drastically from the sugars in fruit.

From her book, Yu Scherer says, "Hopefully people will get the message that what you eat can affect how you feel, especially if you have a health condition." If you choose the right foods, she concluded, "You can lessen the impact of the condition."

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