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Guilderland Archives — The Altamont Enterprise, October 9, 2008

Altamont High alums with class — 1938 and 1948

By Annie Wilson

The Altamont High School Alumni Association held its annual reunion the afternoon of Sept. 20 at the Crossgates Restaurant. Following a custom established several years ago, students graduating the 40th and 50th previous year were given special recognition. AHS bid farewell to its last class, numbering 14 students in 1954 thus requiring a slight modification in custom to celebrating the students of the 60th and 70th year.

The organization committee felt Enterprise readers would want to know about those stalwart honored guests who attended.

Class of 1938

D. Frances Fick Ripley, formerly of Gun Club Road, Altamont moved to Olean, NY a few years ago. After high school, she was a medical technician in the Veterans’ Affairs Hospital in Albany.

When she’s not traveling she spends the remainder of her time in her New York home. And does she travel—two trips to China, and excursions to Egypt, the Holy Land, Italy, France, Holland, Belgium, Portugal, England, Argentina.

Her current focus is being Grand Officer in the Order of the Amaranth of the West of the state of New York.

From her earliest years, she has enjoyed working with textiles. She has spun wool at the Altamont Fair, and reproduced sewing for historic sites in New York State. She is a 30-year member of The Embroiderers’ Guild of America, a national non-profit educational organization offering study and preservation of the heritage and art of embroidery.

Matthew Hofnagel lives in Albany. He came to the Altamont area in 1934 and lived in the “toll house” on the Dugan Farm on Route 146 near Hawes Road. I was acquainted with the house he described as one of the tenant houses for that farm. He explained to me that, in its earlier days, the house was used to collect tolls from the travelers on the Schoharie Plank Road.

Before moving to this area, he had lived near the Canadian border, attending a one-room schoolhouse where students were often promoted at the convenience of the teacher. Having skipped three grades, he graduated from Altamont High at the age of 15.

He studied under the apprenticeship program of the New York Central Railroad, and retired after 43 years becoming the fourth generation in his family employed there. Over the years, he has enjoyed sailing and traveling, having visited most of the states in the United States.

 Matthew spends most of his time keeping up with home maintenance, flower gardening, and reading predominately Civil War History.

Charles Ebel lives in Westmere. During his Altamont High School days he lived in McKnownville and took the Bouhl Brothers’ bus to school. He remains in New York during the winter season.

He enlisted in the Navy in 1940, finding himself stationed in Pearl Harbor during the infamous Dec. 7 invasion. As a Pearl Harbor survivor, he is frequently asked to participate in parades and often takes part in the student visits held at the Home Front Café in Altamont.

He retired from Agway 27 years ago. He enjoys using his computer, playing the various games it can provide, and feeding the variety of animals that frequent his yard.

Willard Ebert used to have a dairy farm when he was a young man. Cows were led to pasture on what is now Hamilton Street in Guilderland. In those days, locals fondly referred to it as “Cow Flop Lane.”

Willard retired in 1986 from Odis Elevator Company. His home borders the former farm property, now a suburban neighborhood.

He currently occupies himself with gardening, and lawn and general home maintenance. At the age of 88, he bought a new snow blower, which he will confidently operate himself. He enjoys reading biographies, having recently completed one on Teddy Roosevelt.

Everett Rau is the fifth generation living in the family homestead on Lainhart Road, Altamont, which dates back to 1799. He enjoys winters from that hillside vantage point with his wife, Peg, whom he married 65 years ago.

One of the early post-high school memories Everett shared with me is accomplishing the task of clearing the dense brush filled acreage along Maple Avenue with the basic tools of an ax and saw. Young men had to look tirelessly for work in those days.

He spent most of his years as a sales representative for a variety of businesses, and some years at General Electric with farming as a side line.

Retirement is not a word in Everett’s vocabulary for he has kept active in a variety of organizations. He is on the Altamont High School Alumni Committee, a member of Grange, active in church, on the Altamont Fair and the Dutch Barn Preservation Societies. He is an avid reader with a priority for history.

Everett recently celebrated his 89th birthday and attributes his capabilities to a positive mental attitude and wholesome diet.

Marion Hilton Gibbs became a resident at the nursing home in Guilderland Center in January. She affectionately refers to her surroundings as “the coop” after someone referred to her as a “spring chicken.”

She celebrated her 89th birthday in February and proudly stated to me that she enjoys sitting in the sun and feels she has earned the right to do just that if she desires. All this was said with a twinkling eye and a broad smile.

Class of 1948

Solveig Wenerstrom Snyder and Luther Snyder live in Calabash, N.C. They were high-school sweethearts, engaged before graduation and have celebrated 58 years of marriage. Solveig graduated from Union University School of Nursing at Albany Hospital where she worked in the emergency room until Luther returned from his Army commitment.

Luther was working at Niagara Mohawk Power Corporation when his military service interrupted his employment. Upon return, he completed 40 years with the power company, retiring in 1988.

Solveig became a full time Homemaker when the couple began their family. Later, she worked at the Guilderland Center Nursing Home.

In 1988, they relocated to North Carolina, returning to New York each summer for 20 years. They have enjoyed traveling and visited every state in the union, including Alaska and Hawaii. One extraordinary journey for Solveig and her daughter was traveling to Finland to attend the reunion of approximately 100 of her paternal relatives.

An accomplished hand quilter, she belongs to the Carolina Shores Quilting Guild and has won several first-prize awards in local competition.

Luther’s passion has been woodworking although a stroke in October 2007 has caused some limitation in that pastime. He was frequently a volunteer, responding to hurricane disaster in neighboring communities and South Carolina. He is fond of his computer and enjoys e-mail. Solveig and Luther both enjoy card-playing and the socializing that comes with it.

Lewis Sturgess studied at Albany College of Pharmacy before spending two years in the Army. When he returned, he became proprietor of a pharmacy in Unadilla.

He retired in 2002 and enjoys “loafing,” he said. He did add that he mows about three quarters of an acre of lawn, has an abundance of flowers to maintain, and travels extensively. He has visited most of the United States and several foreign countries.

He enjoys reading and has a special interest in the Civil War.

Shirley Wolcott Spawn lives on Spawn Road in Guilderland. Her post high school days led to employment with the telephone company. She worked for a time after marriage and became a stay-at-home mom.

Later, she regained a similar position by becoming a stay-at-home grandmom. Her days are predominately devoted to a Christian women’s organization and related church activity.

She and her daughter take a traditional vacation to Maine yearly. Shirley emphasizes the secret to enjoying the elder years is keeping busy.

Irene Walker Hazelton has lived in Coxsackie, N.Y. since 1954, when she went to work for General Electric. When that facility closed, she worked as a school secretary and retired seven years ago as secretary to the principal of Coxsackie-Athens Elementary School. She winters in Sarasota, Fla. She is grateful to still be able to mow her large lawn, is active with the local senior group, regularly has lunch with other retirees from the Coxsackie-Athens school and has monthly lunches with close-knit friends from her Altamont High School days.

Rose Femia Martin lives in Regency Park apartments in Guilderland after spending years in the Martins’ Altamont Boulevard home. She and her husband enjoy the New York winters especially since they don’t have to shovel snow any more.

In addition to being a homemaker, she was a “lunch lady” at Altamont Elementary School for 14 years. “The kids were great,” she said, “and were a lot of fun.”

She attends many activities with the Guilderland Seniors. A large portion of her time is filled with knitting baby hats, which are distributed to local pediatric wards.

Clyde Ableman has lived in Scotia, for 47 years and spends the four seasons there. After high school, he completed the apprentice program at General Electric, spent four years in the Navy during the Korean conflict, and retired from GE after 37 years.

A serious auto accident has caused some limitations in his activity. He has limited ability to care for the vegetable and flower gardens he used to enjoy. He said he was famous for the magnificent roses that bloomed against his front fence.

He feels blessed to have fantastic neighbors who treat him like family and have dubbed him “Mayor of the neighborhood.” Reading is also one of his favorite pastimes.

Howard Borden is a year-long resident living in the village of Altamont. He studied under the General Electric apprentice program, which was interrupted by two years in the Army during the Korean conflict. He finished the program after military discharge and spent 25 years with IBM in Kingston retiring in 1992.

He is a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 7062 color guard firing squad, works one day weekly, and tends his mostly vegetable garden. He is proud of the ribbons won for his vegetable entries in the Altamont Fair. He is an intense reader, primarily interested in World War II literature.

Janet Keenholts Simons lives at Avila (assisted living) in Albany. She is content staying at her cozy surroundings throughout the winter season. She married shortly after graduating from Altamont High and became a traditional homemaker. She also did a considerable amount of volunteering while raising four children.

After 55 years of marriage, she was widowed three years ago. Although her homemaker days have been modified and she has some physical limitations, she can still drive. Sister Laura also resides at Avila and they enjoy dinners and card playing together

Reading is one of her pleasures. She said that she likes to laugh a lot and enjoy life.

A corsage was presented to Eleanor Becker Schaadt, class of 1936, as the woman attending from the oldest class. Boutonnières were given to Charles Ebel, Willard Ebert, Matthew Hofnagel, and Everett Rau, as the gentlemen attending from the oldest class.

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