Archive » August 2018 » Columns

This bell not only rang for classes, but was reputed to ring mysteriously on Halloween. Here it is visible in the cupola atop Guilderland District 4 School on Willow Street. The empty cupola remains on the building now housing a New York State Police substation.

Many decades ago, peals of bells housed in cupolas atop local schoolhouses signaled dawdling children that classes were about to begin. Once standard equipment for old-time schools, most school bells have disappeared along with most of the school buildings where they once hung. Fortunately, a few of Guilderland’s historic school bells have survived.

In 1900, Guilderland’s several common school districts were scattered throughout the town to be within children’s walking distance from home, offering education up through eighth grade.

With district numbers in parenthesis, they were: Settles Hill (1), Dunnsville (2), Parkers Corners (3), Hamlet of Guilderland (4), Wormer School (5), Guilderland Center (6), Altamont (7), Gardner Road School (8), Osborn Corners (9), Cobblestone School on Stone Road (10), McKownville (11), McKownville Annex (11A), Fullers (13), and Fort Hunter Bigsbee School (14).

District 12 had disbanded in the 1890s, followed by the closure of the Wormer School in 1906. By 1902, Altamont had become a Union Free District and had opened its high school.

Early in the 1930s, New York State began to urge rural areas with many small local districts like Guilderland’s to merge into centralized districts, doing away with old-fashioned, one-room schools and offering modern high school education.

In 1941, the Voorheesville schools centralized, including Guilderland districts 5, 8, and 10. That same year, Guilderland Center residents voted to pay tuition, enabling their children to attend Voorheesville schools even though they didn’t become part of that central district.

Eventually, Guilderland’s remaining districts plus North Bethlehem voted to form the Guilderland Central School District in 1950. Once modern Fort Hunter, Altamont, and Westmere elementary schools opened in 1953, the old one-room schools were auctioned off.

Whatever became of the school bells?

Parker Corners bell to inspire modern scholars

Hidden away in a grass-covered courtyard at Guilderland High School rests the bell that once warned the little scholars attending the Parkers Corners District 3 School that classes were about to begin. The three-foot high bronze bell, cast in 1864, is inscribed in raised lettering, “Joy and gladness shall be found therein, Thanksgiving and the voice of melody.”

The bell is 33 inches in diameter and originally called worshippers to the Old State Road Methodist Church. Charles Parker, a wealthy New York City man who lived for a time in the area, donated $4,000 in 1864 to build a Methodist Church near his home. At that time, a church bell was purchased from Jones and Company Bell Foundry of Troy, a foundry in operation from 1852 to 1887. By the late 1930s, the dwindling congregation forced closure of the church.

Nearby on West Old State Road stood the Parkers Corners one-room school where one November morning in 1942 fire erupted just as pupils were arriving. While desks, books, and the adjoining wood shed were saved by neighbors’ immediate action, the building was a total loss.

Realizing that, due to World War II shortages, there was no chance of arranging the transportation of students to another district, residents quickly noted the empty church building in their midst would be the perfect solution. The former church served as the Parkers Corners School until 1953 when students began attending Fort Hunter Elementary School.

After having been sold at auction, the building burned in a suspicious fire, but not before the bell had been removed to be placed by the flagpole near the front of the new Guilderland Junior-Senior High School when it opened in 1954. The bell was to serve as a “symbolic link of the ten former common school districts with the new centralization.” Today, because of the extensive expansion of the high school building over the years, the bell is now in an enclosed courtyard.

Guilderland bell traveled to Greece

The trip from Parkers Corners to the new junior-senior high school was a short one compared to the journey traveled by the bell from the Guilderland District 4 School.

In 1847, the District 4 School became the town’s first two-room school. When the building was remodeled and enlarged in the 1890s, it boasted a “fine” new bell donated by village residents Messrs. Newberry and Chapman, owners of the Guilderland foundry. Because casting bells was such a specialized operation, it is unlikely the bell was cast at their foundry.

After the 1953 opening of Westmere Elementary School, the Willow Street school building served as Guilderland’s first real town hall before becoming a State Police substation.

As Nazi invaders swept through Greece in 1941, they confiscated anything that could be of value to their war effort, including the bell that hung in St. Nicholas Church in the small Macedonian village of Siatista. Communist unrest in that area of Greece during the years immediately following the war prevented the villagers from replacing their cherished bell.

Mrs. F.C. Cargill of Guilderland became aware of the village’s loss and knew that the Society of Siatisteon Siatista, a New York City group of former Siatista village residents, sought a replacement bell. She contacted William D. Borden, president of the Guilderland Board of Education to inquire if one of the district’s old school bells could be donated.

The board quickly approved, giving the bell from the Guilderland District 4 School to the society which took over the responsibility and cost of shipping the bell to Greece. After its arrival, the bishop sent a gracious thank-you for the bell to the board of education saying, “By its sacred tolling it may summon Christians to worship God.”

Dunnsville bell at Town Hall

The Dunnsville District 2 one-room school dated back to 1875 when it replaced an earlier 1820 building. In 1882, a bell cast at the Clinton H. Meneely Bell Company, a Troy bell foundry, was placed in the cupola of the new school where it rang out 15 minutes before classes began, again at class time, and then again at noon.

Viola Crounse Gray, a Dunnsville student in the early 1900s, recalled her father and other local farmers coming in from their chores for their midday meal at the sound of the school’s noon bell. As the last trustee of the school, in 1953 she had the opportunity to purchase any school property not needed by the district.

Sentimentally, she wanted the bell she remembered so fondly from her childhood. In 1982, when she and her husband, Earl Gray, offered the bell to the town, it was placed in front of Town Hall.

Stone Road bell at historic house

Once ringing out from above the Cobblestone District 10 School on Stone Road, today the school’s 320-pound bell rests silently in front of the Mynderse-Frederick House. Because this Guilderland district became part of the Voorheesville Central School District, it isn’t clear when the building ceased being used as a school and became a private residence.

At some point, its bell came into the possession of the Albany Institute of History and Art, later passing into the hands of the Christ Lutheran Church in McKownville. When the bell proved too heavy to place in the church’s bell tower, it languished in a storeroom for 30 years.

Eventually, the church historian got in touch with then-Town Historian Fred Hillenbrand to offer the bell to the town. After Guilderland Highway Department workers refurbished the bell, cast in 1868 at the Meneely Bell Foundry of West Troy (after 1896 renamed City of Watervliet), it was placed in its newest location in front of the Mynderse-Frederick House.

Cobblestone school still has its bell

To have a genuine glimpse of the past, observe the old Cobblestone District 6 School in Guilderland Center with its bell still in its cupola as you drive by on Route 146. The building was erected in 1867 and is still owned by Guilderland Central School District.

During the period of time when these rural schools were built, the cities of the Capital District were manufacturing centers employing countless workers. Among the factories in Troy and West Troy (Watervliet) were bell foundries turning out thousands of bells sold all over the country for schools, churches, and government buildings.

When you pass by the bells at Town Hall or in front of the Mynderse-Frederick House, remember the early system of common-school education they represented as well as the industry that was once so important to this area.



It seems like everywhere we look we’re being encouraged to live a healthier life. From watches that track the number of steps we take each day to water bottles that are smart enough to tell us when we need to hydrate, technology is trying to improve our health however it can.

While doing some reading, I came across a difference between two terms that are often used interchangeably — physical activity and exercise. While they sound the same, they actually mean different things.

The National Institute of Health specifies that both “physical activity” and “exercise” refer to movements you do voluntarily that burn calories. However, “physical activity” can be more general activities that get you moving, while “exercise” is a specifically planned, structured and repetitive activity.

Some examples of physical activity are gardening, cleaning the house, and walking your dog, while examples of exercise include going on a brisk walk or jog or doing yoga. Both physical activity and exercise can improve your health and prevent the worsening of illnesses you may already have.

Since both kinds of movement are beneficial, why would you choose one over the other? Many people are intimidated by the word “exercise” and feel it will be too hard for them.

Perhaps you used to jog or run regularly, but since hurting your ankle you’re scared to start back up. Or maybe you played a sport when you were younger, but don’t think it’s wise to start playing it again.

If either of these cases sounds like you, or you just hate the thought of exercising, finding ways to increase your physical activity may be a good fit. Finding activities you enjoy doing or that are easy to incorporate — like gardening, walking around your house while talking to a friend on the phone, taking the stairs instead of the elevator, and playing with your grandkids at the park — can increase your physical activity.

If you are the kind of person who prefers to plan activity into your day, scheduling a time to exercise might be a better fit for you. Remember to vary the types of exercise you do to incorporate cardiovascular exercise as well as weight training and flexibility to feel your best. For those with Medicare, some Medicare Advantage Plans cover a membership at the YMCA or other facility to give you access to group fitness classes and exercise equipment.

Regardless of how you choose to keep moving, staying active is important for “aging in place” and for mental health. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highlight that physical activity can reduce the risk of depression and can help you sleep better at night. As well, it can help keep skills like thinking and learning sharp.

Individuals reap multiple benefits from physical fitness, ranging from an increase in physical strength and flexibility to improved mental health. These benefits extend further — by increasing the chance that older adults can continue to live independently in their own homes.

The best way to stay active is to find something you enjoy doing alone or with a friend. When staying active is doing something you love rather than doing something you see as a chore, you’re more likely to stay with it and make time to do it.

If you’re looking for more suggestions for physical activity or exercise you can incorporate into your life, search for “NIH Go4Life” in your web browser to read more.

Editor’s note: Sarah Roger is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher, and incoming second-year medical student at Albany Medical College. She was an intern with Community Caregivers this summer and wrote articles on health and wellness, which are both topics she is passionate about.


Living in the Capital District is heaven if you’re a motorcyclist (except for when they salt the roads). There’s nothing like cruising on the many curvy back roads and enjoying the wondrous scenery to make your senses come alive.

Often when I’m riding I'll pass what seems like acres and acres of treed lots, with not a structure in view, where the only thing spoiling the pristine glory of nature is the myriad red or yellow “Posted” signs nailed into some poor random tree like a stab in the heart. I know what “posted” signs mean —  private property so keep out — but a recent confluence of events caused me to look at them in a different light.

The first thing that happened was a visit to Newport, Rhode Island to tour the Gilded Age mansions. These are the huge, no-expense-spared palaces built, right on the ocean, by the railroad, oil, and precious-metal tycoons before the government even had an income tax.

Think of families like the Vanderbilts and the Morgans. These icons of industry and ruthless business dealings had so much money they literally couldn't spend it fast enough. Many of the mansions that resulted, complete with full butler, maid, and groundskeeping staff and adorned with lustrous gardens and landscaping, are still standing and available to tour so you can see how opulently the rich and famous lived.

When I tour these mansions, I do it simply to enjoy and marvel at the amazing architecture, the often exquisite building materials, and the engineering and construction details. I have absolutely zero interest in how the rich people that lived there spent their days.

For example, the well-heeled ladies of Newport society changed their outfits up to seven times a day, and, if you were seen in the same outfit more than twice in a season, you were considered low rent if not outright insulting.

Who wants to live like that? I'm just glad that there is a preservation society working hard to preserve these grand, beautiful structures so we can marvel at what our most talented architects and designers can do when money is no object.

The most extravagant of these mansions are right on the ocean, with unobstructed views of majestic rolling blue waves as far as the eye can see. However, between the mansions and the ocean is a public walkway that anyone can use both to enjoy the ocean view and see the mansions.

This is surely a great thing. Why? So that normal folks like us can enjoy the ocean views that otherwise would be locked behind some private property or “keep out” signs; there are no “posted” signs behind the mansions, thank goodness.

What a great way to allow both the rich and regular folks to share the wealth (the views, in this case). There are beautiful public beaches in Newport and the surrounding areas as well. You have to love that. Ocean access should be a public right for all of us, not just the super rich.

“The Power Broker”

The second thing that happened was my finally taking the huge, Pulitzer Prize-winning book “The Power Broker” by noted author Robert Caro out of the library. This massive tome, which Caro almost went broke writing during during the seven years it took to research it, is the story of Robert Moses.

You may have heard that name before, especially if you are from or have visited Long Island, but if you are a New Yorker you certainly have been directly affected by him every time you visit a park, a beach, or drive over a bridge or on a parkway in this great state.

Robert Moses, while never having been elected to any public office (and never even learning how to drive), did more to influence the physical reality of New York State than anyone. Jones Beach, Robert Moses State Park (of course), Sunken Meadow State Park, the Northern State Parkway, the Southern State Parkway, and so much more infrastructure including many bridges and tunnels and even Lincoln Center, all directly exist because of Robert Moses (and in our area, securing the land for Thacher Park and much of the state land around Lake George were Moses projects).

While he has his critics — he favored the automobile over public transportation way too much, most notably — every time you visit a public park or beach anywhere in New York chances are you have Robert Moses to thank for it. What he did in New York was so innovative and transformative it was copied by virtually every other state in the nation, for better or worse.

A lifelong New Yorker, Robert Moses grew up in the city in a family with money. After a fine education at Oxford he dedicated himself to public service and trying to clean up corruption in government (think Tammany Hall).

Soon he realized that it was one thing to have dreams of public parks shared by all, but quite another to actually have the power to make those dreams happen. He gradually learned how to play the system — you could even say he invented the system — and that's why now we can go to someplace wonderful like Jones beach, which otherwise would most certainly have become a bunch of rich guys’ private backyards.

Those same billionaires who owned the mansions in Newport also owned all the prime property on the north shore of Long Island. Even with the power of Robert Moses, his plan for the Northern State Parkway had to be greatly altered due to the pushback from the lords of the manor, bypassing their estates, golf courses, and even entire towns.

Caro points out in the book that, because of the rerouting of the parkway, endless more commuting hours, additional fuel use, and more pollution are in place in perpetuity. That’s what the power of rich guys with money can do, and what Robert Moses devoted his early life to rail against.

He did much better with the Southern State Parkway and the south shore of Long Island. When you drive to the beach, you don’t think too much about where the roads came from, but landowners never want to give up land without a good payoff.

Moses was able figure out how to do it, “by hook or by crook,” as the saying goes. You may not agree with his methods, which often included back-door deals in smoke-filled rooms and all that, but he knew his way around a bill in Albany, and he knew how to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s so that he (and really us, when you think about it) got his way in the end.

I mean, somebody had to stop the super-rich people from keeping the best of everything for themselves. If Robert Moses didn’t do it, who would have?

Moses’s legacy is far from perfect: The myriad roadways and bridges he built destroyed many old, existing neighborhoods (just like the Empire State Plaza forever changed downtown Albany by razing it’s poor Italian neighborhoods). His car-first priority resulted in eyesores like I-787, where prime downtown scenic city river access is covered or blocked.

He favored his “friends” over others like so many politicians do. He let his brother, a talented engineer in his own right, live in relative squalor, even preventing him from getting gainful employment. He was used to being treated royally, including being driven around in a limo all the time.

Basically, it got to the point where he was so used to getting his own way that he forgot or ignored what his decisions and policies did to others. His endless bridge-building phase destroyed entire, thriving neighborhoods, helping to create the blight-filled ghettos that are unfortunately so commonplace in urban areas.

Some even say he was racist: It’s said that he kept bridge overpasses on the parkways going to Long Island low so that buses from the city couldn’t pass, and that he kept the water in his city-based public pools intentionally cool so that black people wouldn’t use them.

I don't know about all that, but I've been going to Jones Beach all my life and I’ve always seen the same thing: Right before the entrance to Jones Beach, which costs $10 to park, is the entrance to Captree State Park, which is free to park.

So most if not all of the minorities go to Captree and most if not all of the white people go to Jones. As I said, I’ve been going there for decades and it’s always been like this. Did Moses do this intentionally? Only he knows and he’s not around anymore to tell us.

The complete life story of Robert Moses is much too big to recount here. If you;re not enamored enough to tackle the 1,200 pages of “The Power Broker,” I’d urge you at a minimum to look him up on Wikipedia.

In fact, his effect on the lives of all New Yorker is so important, even to this day, that I really believe his story should be taught in all the schools in this state. Remember, he started out as a reformer, and only after accumulating great power (more than even the mayors and governors he reported to had) did he become so full of himself that it became “his way or the highway,” so to speak and no pun intended.

It’s the classic tale of absolute power corrupts absolutely, truly a lesson that never gets old.

Moon for sale

Did you know there is a company that accepts money for lots on the moon? Apparently, some guy believes that he found a legal loophole allowing him to “claim” the moon as his, and he has been “selling” lots there for decades.

This is totally true — many famous people have “purchased” huge tracts of the moon already. So someday, when our great-great-great grandkids get ready to build their dream house next to a big crater on the moon, there may be many “Posted” signs already there and waiting for them. Sigh.

“Posted” signs have a purpose — to keep people off of private property. But when I’m riding my motorcycle through richly forested areas on a bright, sunny day and see animals roaming freely where I’m not even allowed to tread, it somehow makes me feel sad. I’m sure Robert Moses would have felt the exact same way.


Now an apartment building at 131 Maple Ave. in Altamont, the District 7 common school building, built in 1879, once stood on School Street (now Lincoln Avenue). After the Altamont Free Union School opened in 1902, James Keenholts bought the old school building at auction for $875 and had it moved to Maple Avenue.

America’s advances in technology and the growth of business activities at the opening of the 20th Century made it obvious that educational skills beyond those offered by the traditional eighth-grade common schools, then typical in New York’s rural communities, were needed.

Altamont’s School Street (later renamed Lincoln Avenue) had been the site of District 7 common school since 1879, but by 1901 many in this prosperous and expanding village were questioning the adequacy of the education received there by the village’s youth.

Calling a meeting of taxpayers in early April 1901, school trustees sought a consensus either to repair the current school building or to choose a different site and erect a new one. The trustees had heard complaints about the poor and limited quality of education available in the District 7 common school, often deterring outsiders from settling in the otherwise up-and-coming village and forcing villagers to send their children to board in the city if they wished them to get schooling beyond eighth grade.

The trustees made it clear they had hopes of winning approval for a new building large enough to allow Altamont to eventually become a union free school district permitting a high school department. Uneasy taxpayers were assured that enough non-resident students would attend a high school, paying tuition to defray any additional expenses.

The special meeting brought out a sizable number including a few taxpayers who were no happier at the thought of higher school taxes than taxpayers a century later. One suspicious attendee demanded to know why the meeting had been called.

In answer, one trustee read to the assembled group a letter received from the State Department “calling attention to the deplorable condition of the school building and grounds.” A resolution was made to raise $500 to repair the old school but, when it was pointed out that the meeting was not called according to a state law that mandated school meeting notices could only be issued by a person who is also a taxpayer, the resolution died.

With that, the meeting became an informal gathering where the talk drifted over to the need not only for a modern school building, but a school that would offer more advanced studies than the common school.  W.S. Keenholts, one of the school trustees who obviously had come prepared, immediately launched into the requirements that applied to a union free district, legally necessary to establish a high school in New York State.

At that, attendees signed a petition almost unanimously for the trustees to call a second meeting to have an official vote on becoming a union free district. The sentiment seemed clear that Altamont needed a new building offering a higher level of education to keep up with the times.

As the meeting approached when legally eligible voters would decide the question of becoming a union free district, arguments in favor appeared in The Enterprise. “Progressive up-to-date people of the district” not only felt it was a good business proposition, but would give more children the opportunity to get an advanced education.

The old attitude that the eight-grade common school was good enough for my father and good enough for me was “false reasoning.” A comparison between the old common school and the academic department of a union free school made it clear “more extensive book knowledge” was a necessity in “the professional, the industrial, the commercial and the political world” of that day.

The night of the meeting, Mr. Thomas E. Finnegan of the New York State Department of Public Instruction and two other men representing communities that already had become union free districts spoke of the advantages of this type of district.

Advocates of change triumphed when the votes in favor of the new type of district were 124 to 14. A board of education was elected to look into a site and plan for a new building.

By early July 1901, the board of education called a meeting with plans for a new school building and the necessity of raising the sum of $10,200 for construction costs. In addition, $1,800 would be needed for heating and sanitation, and $500 for furnishings in the new building. An additional $800 had to be raised to purchase a two-acre plot on the corner of Grand Street and Fairview Avenue. It was planned to issue bonds to be paid off $1,000 plus interest annually.

The building’s architect was Altamont resident Wilber D. Wright. The notice calling for contractors to submit bids called for an eight-room, two-story school building of solid brick, 50-by-78 feet with a basement. It was to have the capacity for 250 students.

No bid was as low as the figure set by the board of education but, after a way was found to get the additional $3,000, the construction contract was awarded to the lowest bidder, Mr. J.W. Packer of Oneonta.

The old school was auctioned off in 1902 once it was no longer needed, purchased by James Keenholts for $875. Soon after this, he had the building moved over vacant lots to Maple Avenue.

By October 1901, Crannell Brothers, then located in Altamont, had brought in D&H carloads of lumber and Rosendale cement. Work on a foundation of bluestone brought from Fred V. Whipple’s quarry was soon underway.

Many spectators walked over to Grand Street during the next few months to observe the construction progress. Once the exterior was complete, Altamont’s A.J. Manchester installed the heating and plumbing while George T. Weaver put in lathing and plastering. By early summer 1902, the building was completed and formally accepted by the board of education.

The principal of the new school was Professor Arthur Z. Boothby, who had already been hired by the district fresh out of Albany Normal School in 1900. His salary for 1901-02 was $540.40.

Also on the faculty were several women who earned in the $300 range. A janitor had also been hired. The total school budget adopted by the board of education for 1902-03 was $2,495.50.

With the school’s opening imminent, the school board put out publicity, encouraging out-of-town tuition-paying students to attend. Promoting the new school as having “all the latest in equipment in sanitary arrangements and provided with all necessary apparatus for pursuing higher studies,” enrolled students were to be taught by a “competent corps of instructors.”

Tuition rates for non-resident students were given per quarter: academic, $2.50; intermediate, $2.50; and primary, $1.75. For those living along the D&H line, commutation per month was: Delanson, $3.00; Duane, $2.50; Voorheesville, $3.00; and Meadowdale, $2.50. While the costs of construction, personnel, and commutation seem very low, these figures are for 1902 dollars.

A general invitation went out to Altamont’s villagers, urging them to attend the dedication ceremony on Sept. 18, 1902 when the school building would be open for people to wander through. Even though the weather that day turned out to be rainy and unpleasant, a large crowd turned out to participate in opening ceremonies held in the large assembly room.

The program included prayers; scripture readings; and speeches, followed by Dr. Jesse Crounse, president of the Board of Education, who reviewed the rules of the school including one holding the parent or guardian responsible for any damage done by a child to furniture or the building.

School opened Monday with an enrollment of 154 pupils (this number included Altamont’s elementary grades as well) including 10 non-residents. The high school’s first graduating class in 1905 had 11 graduates.

By rights, Altamont residents were extremely proud of their new school, built at great financial cost for such a small village. The school was in use until the centralization of Guilderland’s schools took place in 1950.

By 1953, the new Altamont Elementary School, built on the same plot of land as the old Union Free School, and a year later Guilderland Junior-Senior High School in Guilderland Center were open. The once-modern building in Altamont stood empty.

In December 1955, when it was decided there could be no possible future use for the structure, the board of education of the Guilderland Central School District awarded Jackson Tree Service a contract to demolish and remove the debris of the grand old building for a bid of $3,250.

A New York State Historic Marker stands on Grand Street to indicate where the Altamont Union Free School once stood. It is ironic to think the solidly constructed school was razed, replaced by a lawn and a marker, while the inadequate District 7 common school building is still standing today at 131 Maple Ave. and is now used for residences.


— Photo from John R. Williams

The captain stands in the bow of his ship, the “Flying Eagle,” after the successful launch. Captain Roger Chapman, who has worked on building the ship for 12 years, awaits the boarding of his crew.

— Photo from John R. Williams

Ready to sail: Roger Chapman has built a pirate ship out of a discarded cabin cruiser. The Old Men of the Mountain convinced him to launch it on Sunday.

On Tuesday, Aug. 21, The Old Men of the Mountain met for the last time at Kim’s West Winds Diner in Preston Hollow. Kim is closing the doors for good on Sept. 2.

Kim has the lament that is heard by many of the OMOTM — that it is hard to find people who want to work. Some of the retired OFs have been contacted by former employers to see if they want to come back to work.

The common thread is that the workers out there are right now seem to be the best of the worst.  “Anyone worth their salt is already working,” is another often-heard comment.

What is left, according to many employers, are those who don’t know how to work, those who don’t want to work, and those unable to work. The OFs are often asked if they know of anyone who wants to work.

Group rate?

To transcend from that to an observation by one of the OGs as he looked up and down the tables set up at Kim’s: The OF leaned over and said, “What we should do as the Old Men of the Mountain is to select a funeral parlor and get all the OGs together and see what kind of discounted rate we could get on pre-paid funerals for the whole group of OFs.”

That is not as silly as it sounds, and by looking around, we contend that the funeral parlor would not have to wait long before they started cashing in.

Empathy for old tugs

The OFs (and again being Old Fs) have a particular bond with things that have age attached to them.

This time, it was sad to see the old tug boats go down to the ocean where the governor is supposed to be building an artificial reef to attract fish for fishing. There these tugs will be sunk to add to this reef.

These tugs are classics. The OFs think they could be sold to people who could then convert them to houseboats.

Some of the old floating museums still can ply the waters; those, too, would make interesting houseboats. We are not sure if the state ever considered putting them up for auction to see what might happen.

The OFs don’t know how many tugs the state has in its fleet and some may be so far beyond repair that the houseboat plan is not feasible; some of these classics, the OFs think, are salvageable and should be kept afloat. It is tough for the OFs to see old items just discarded.

Pirate ship launched

On Sunday, Aug. 26, the OFs had a launching of their own. One of the OFs has been building his version of a pirate ship for years.

This OF has taken a discarded cabin cruiser that was sunk and constructed his own pirate ship, the “Flying Eagle.”

The OF was told, if he could raise this cruiser, he could have it. You don’t give this OF a challenge like that!

He soon took the challenge and raised the cruiser. The OFs have listened to this OF discuss the progress on the construction of this boat for so long they began putting pressure on him to get this thing in the water. So Sunday, at one o’clock, in she went.

The ship is brand new, but the crew looked like a motley gaggle of old misfits.

The launching was tense as the ship was pushed into the water: Would it tip over, would it sink, would it leak? The crowd gripped the railing as the “Flying Eagle” edged further and further into deep water. A great cheer and clapping went up when the ship floated free at the end of the slip.

Then all the food was brought out and everyone ate and over ate their fill and beyond, while the ship was maneuvered by a couple members of the crew to where it was to be moored. We are too old to have this much fun, although there were young ones who watched through the railing with great big eyes when the ship began to move.

Now that the ship is in the water, the mast and sails will be installed. The future plans for this venture is to install a galley and the OF and his wife can have meals on the deck and sit there with their coffee and watch the sun go down, or come up.

In the morning, they’ll listen to the morning sounds of the birds waking up, and in the evening they’ll listen to the bullfrogs croak. There is even a full-scale skeleton crew to cater to their every whim — Ta Dah! the Flying Dutchman in the movie Pirates of the Caribbean.

The OF even constructed a new dock to accommodate the ship. When finished, the dock will be of the period. This whole project started in 2007, and maybe it will be completed by 2020, or 2021, or 2022, who knows?

Power play

The OFs are in a quandary. The OFs wonder why their power bills keep going up when they are doing everything to conserve energy.

Some OFs go around insulating every nook and cranny they can find where drafts can get in, support the solar farms, change all their light bulbs, purchase new appliances only with the energy star sticker on them, and some even wear sweaters in the house during winter time.

One OF mentioned that, with so many homes with solar arrays on them, and the huge wind farms and solar farms being built, there must be less of a strain on the generators used at normal power plants.

One OF said his son works occasionally with geothermal installation, which also should help alleviate the drain on use of gas, nuclear, or fossil fuels. Another OF thought new construction is going faster than the newer technology grows so the drain on the grid, this OF thinks, is higher.

But then again, what do the OFs know?  We just talk.

Those OFs who all gathered together for the last time, even those OFs who drove an hour to get to Kim’s West Wind Diner in Preston Hollow, were: Bill Lichliter, Roger Chapman, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Art Frament, Ray Kennedy, Pete Whitbeck, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Lou Schenck, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier and very special guests (Olga Deur, and Mario Snyder), Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


On Tuesday, Aug. 14, the Old Men of the Mountain left the comfort of their homes and took off on another wild adventure; this time, it was to the Home Front Café in Altamont.

For those not familiar with the Home Front Café, it is like eating in a museum. Tuesday morning, an OMOTM brought an artifact for the café to add to its collection.

It was a sextant (all it is is a device that measures the angle between objects) used for sighting a canon. This sextant would have been used in early battles; however, the café is dedicated to United States veterans of all conflicts.

Tuesday morning, with all that was going on at the restaurant the waitress gets three atta-boys for handling all the OFs.

Final flight

The OFs at our end of the table discussed the mechanic who stole the short-hop commercial turboprop airplane in Seattle.

As one OF put it, “He went out in style, and put on quite a show beforehand.”

Another OF commented that the airlines had him in the wrong job; if he could handle a plane of that size like he did, he should have been a pilot instead of a mechanic.

Then one OF said, “What if he was and then went nuts with a plane full of passengers? If he decided to do loops and rolls (as he really did) and crash the plane that would have been a real disaster.”

Yet another OF mentioned something more scary: “What if his actions have triggered a series of copy cats that will attempt the same thing for the notoriety? Now we will have a genuine mess.”

Cycling safety

The OFs then talked a while about riding bikes; one OF mentioned they are the scariest things on the road. The OFs have covered this before, about how dangerous bikes can be.

One OF had a great suggestion this time. He felt that there should be designated bike paths on certain roads that are wide enough to support both the sport and vehicles.

One OF mentioned about riding bikes when we were kids and thought nothing of it. Then an OF suggested that, when he was a kid, the only thing he had to worry about when he was on his bike was a galloping horse not with a car going 50 to 55 miles an hour at the crest of a blind hill. That’s where a driver may come upon one bicyclist, or maybe more than one, in the road a hundred feet in front of him.

Then a smart OF said the bicyclist and in-line skaters have the right-of-way on most public roadways so, he said, “It is up to you guys to be alert.”

“If that is the case,” it was suggested, “then all roads that bicycles travel on (if they have the right-o- way) should have the speed limit lowered to basically what a bike can do; then there wouldn’t be all these scares.”

“Are you serious?” came a reply.  

One other OF offered an applicable observation. This OF thought that, with all the miles police officers travel in their patrol cars, they come upon the same situations we do and may have the same feelings.

“The officer also knows the law better than we do and sucks it up, but I bet they have some heart-stopping instances too,” he said.

Few go to the fair

Not many of the OFs are going to the Altamont Fair this year, and have not gone in the past couple of years.

The OFs are waiting for some of the family to come and tell them the fair is like they remembered years ago. Some OFs mentioned like before the grandstand fire.

Another OF said they were going too far back, using the fire as a starting point. The basic problem this scribe seemed to sort out is the OFs are too darn old and their legs won’t take them around the fair.

This was because a couple of the OFs mentioned walking and stopping to sit awhile, then walking some more and sitting some more. A sit for a long time was in store before starting the trek to the car.

The OFs who did go said it is not for farmers and workers much anymore — it is for the younger adults from about age 14 to 21. An OF came up with a reasonable summation: The farms are few and far between!

The big garden growers like LaVie farms and others are gone; the young are not into chickens, rabbits, and farm young stock as pets.  Now it seems to be all electronic games, and not much teaching the youngsters how to knit, sow, or create.

This is not to knock all kids because the electronic skills they are developing now they will need later on — we are just out of the loop. Is it for better or worse?

This OF didn’t know but it just isn’t our kind of fair anymore. We all want the fair to be like when we were kids; that is not going to happen. The kids 50 years from now will be complaining the fair is not like when we were kids; let the younger kids and adults support the fair so the fair will still be here.

Warm and wet

We all know that this summer has been on the warm and wet side so far, at least on the East Coast. A couple of the OFs brought relatives who have been staying with them to the breakfast Tuesday morning.

The OFs had to shake these visitors out of bed rather early in the morning to make it to the breakfast.  That might have been a shock to some.

One of the visitors was from Austin, Texas and he said that the temperature in Austin was 100 degrees in early May and has not been below 100 degrees since. The OFs will take what we have, thank you very much!

However, the OFs say that for this late in the season it is the trees and grass, in fact the whole surrounding area is the most lush they have seen since they can remember. (Hey! The OMOTM are OMOTM and the memory may be a little short) but it has been green and the foliage has been full.

One OF mentioned the trees have to be done for the season; fall colors may be early this year. But he concluded, “Then again, what do I know?”

The OFs who hacked their way through the jungle to get to the Home Front Café in Altamont for breakfast with Tarzan and Jane as the cook and waitress were: Roger Chapman, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter and guest Josh Buck, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Rich Donnelly, Art Frament, Karl Remmers and grandsons Nolan Debar, Kaleb Debar, Herb Sawotka, Pete Whitbeck, Rich Vanderbilt, Elwood Vanderbilt, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Gerry Irwin, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Bill Rice, Henry Whipple, Harold Grippen, and me.


On Tuesday, Aug. 7, the Old Men of the Mountain met at the Chuck Wagon Café in Princetown. Most of the OMOTM that had to travel to the Chuck Wagon had to head east at one point, some for quite a distance. Those early birds were greeted with a sunrise that indicated it was going to be one hot day.

One OF has had extensive dental work done and the OF was pleased and said the surgery went well. The OFs began to discuss pain pills, and pain, and blood.

This OF said he was told to take Tylenol for four hours, then Advil for four hours, than back to Tylenol for four hours, and back to Advil for four hours. The OF claimed he had no pain and very little swelling.

Although the Tylenol-Advil cycle was recommended to this patient, the OMOTM do not recommend anyone try this without talking to his doctor. One OF said he can’t do this because Advil is out. The OF said he takes some heart meds that makes ibuprofen a no-no.

The conversation turned to, as usual, old-fashioned ways of taking care of pain, and controlling blood.

One method for controlling blood flow was using tea bags as a compress. One OF mentioned how his mother (now we are really going back) used boiling water and tea leaves for serious cuts. She would take a clean sock, place tea leaves in it and make her own tea bag. The OF claimed that process worked.

Odd, sodden summer

Another OF took a week off and proceeded to go to Virginia to visit friends. Bad idea, but the arrangements were made some time back.

The OF said he was going to bring his boat but, after watching the weather to where he was going, he figured that was not a good idea. The OF said the weather was awful — it rained all the time; he felt the whole state was going to wash away.

The OF said, in hindsight, he should have brought his boat; he could have used it to tow the truck in places the water in the roadways was so deep.

So far, the OFs say it has been an odd summer. The west and southwest is burning up, and in the southeast and east the people here are going to require flippers and gills. One OF commented that, though this weather is unusual, it is not rare.

Weather watchers

This led to a talk on where the OFs get their weather information from. The sampling was small.

This scribe should come up with a survey of the OFs on their weather-watching habits. One OF suggested the scribe should include a column for “out the window.”

When we were on the farm, the weather came from two places, observance of what was happening in the morning in the atmosphere and the color of the hills to the southwest, looking toward Schoharie and Middleburgh from the Helderbergs. If those hills were purple to almost black and the sun was shining, we prepared for a rain and a blow.

The other area we placed our faith in was “The Chanticleer” with Earl Pudney, and John Charles Stevenson. One OF said their cows were brought up by these two. We received the news, the weather, and the farm report every morning listening to those two broadcasters on WGY in the early morning.

Purpose of tipping

The OMOTM were having breakfast in a restaurant and what else came up was tipping. This has been in the news lately and one OF said he was at a restaurant where the tip was included on the bill.

A unified “Say what?” was uttered.

One OF explained the purpose of tipping and what the word means. The word is an acronym, he said, for “To Insure Prompt Service,” i.e. TIPS. If the customer is not happy with the service, the customer does not have to leave a tip.

Generally, the reason for not leaving a tip and indicating why, the leaving of a penny is the norm. This is just like turning a fork over at the end of the table to signal the waiter/waitress you are finished with the meal and table can be cleared.

For a restaurant to automatically charge you for its service (especially when it has been very bad) is ludicrous. That way, the restaurant will never improve, or be able to find out what employee is causing the problem.

Sunshine for old timers

The Cobleskill Sunshine Fair was to be held on the week this breakfast was in progress and the OFs were checking to make sure that this was Old Timers’ Day. Most of the OFs assured those asking that it was this week and this was the day, so some were making arrangements to go to the fair and take advantage of the savings. If anything, these OFs are Old Timers and there should be no license check at the gate.

After this wisecrack, an OF said just a while back he was at the Wal-Mart in Cobleskill, purchasing bullets. When he went to pay at the register, the clerk asked the OF with a straight face, “Sir, are you over 21?”

That brought chuckles to customers in line in back of the OF. The customer directly in back of the OF (the OF had no idea who he was) said, “I’ll vouch for him.”

The OF said he thinks there is a camera at each checkout and, as soon as those bullets ran through the scanner, the clerk’s asking was mandatory, and pictures were taken. This is just conjecture on the OF’s part and may not be the case at all.

Maybe to the clerk the OF did look under 21. Boy! Wouldn’t that be great?

The Old Men of the Mountain who are managing the heat and still being able to find their way to the Chuck Wagon Diner in Princetown were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, George Washburn, Robie Osterman, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Art Williams, Bill Bartholomew, Jake Lederman, Ted Feurer, Ted Willsey, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Pete Whitbeck, Ray Gaul, Rich Donnelly, Herb Sawotka, Art Frament, Joe Rack, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Lou Schenck, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen and me.


Just in from the west side of Meadowdale Road, the small Meadowdale Depot stood south of the D&H tracks behind the stationmaster’s house. This photograph of the station appeared on a postcard.

Without a GPS to route them to Meadowdale, Gardner, or Frederick roads, few current Guilderland residents could find their way to Meadowdale, and once there would wonder: What’s Meadowdale?

Although difficult for us to believe today, a century ago Meadowdale was one of Guilderland’s small hamlets with an identity all its own, reflected in its little weekly column in The Altamont Enterprise.

In the 18th and early 19th centuries, the locale was an area of scattered farms tenanted by leaseholders of the Van Rensselaer West Manor. With the Helderberg escarpment rising just to the west and the Black Creek meandering through the fertile farmland, it was a very scenic spot.

A site was chosen here to become the only stop on the Albany & Susquehanna Railroad between Voorheesville and Knowersville when the railroad laid track through that part of Guilderland in 1863.

Within a year, a small passenger depot and freight office was erected in a location where the tracks crossed a dirt road now called Meadowdale Road; the sign hanging from it identified the stop as Guilderland Station.

A few years later, the A&S Railroad was absorbed by the Delaware & Hudson Railroad. A sizable amount of the D&H’s profits stemmed from summer passenger service: group excursions, day trippers off to a scenic spot, urban vacationers either boarding at country hotels or with farm families who took in summer boarders for extra income.

The logic of D&H executives renaming the stop from its original pedestrian name Guilderland Station to the more attractive sounding Meadowdale is obvious. Annually, the company published the “D&H Directory of Summer Hotels and Boarding Houses” where the prospect of stopping at Meadowdale would certainly seem lots more appealing to prospective visitors.

Each sunny weekend, numerous day trippers came out from Albany to the little depot, planning to hike the two to three miles up the “old road” through Indian Ladder Pass to the top of the escarpment. An Altamont livery stable owner usually would send over one of his wagons to transport for a small fee those who were unable to do the vigorous hike themselves up the escarpment road. At the end of the day, the weary hikers journeyed back to Albany after their day in the country.

Boarding houses on Thompson’s Lake would often send a wagon to pick up expected guests as well. And farmers came by to pick up boarders who were coming to stay a week or more at their farms.

In later years, many Boy Scout troops came to hike up and camp out on top of the escarpment. Local trains were frequent and inexpensive with a 1909 timetable listing fares with the price of a round-trip ticket from Albany to Meadowdale 79 cents while one way was 42 cents.

By 1900, the area around the little depot had become a much bigger railroad complex with a water tower across the tracks, a necessity in those days of steam locomotives. Nearby was a utility shed for storage of track maintenance equipment and across the tracks from the depot was a freight yard where numerous freight cars that brought up coal from Pennsylvania mines could be parked until the fuel was needed to feed the fire boxes of D&H locomotives.

For many years, large quantities of hay was shipped out of Meadowdale, a major profit-making crop for local farmers during those horse-drawn years.

In the 1886 Howell & Tenney History of Albany County, the name is still given as Guilderland Station, characterized as “a hamlet of about 100 people,” with two dealers in cut hay, a blacksmith and a “general merchant.”

A few years later, in 1897, when Landmarks of Albany County was published, rather confusingly Guilderland Station get a one-line paragraph saying it was a small hamlet with no post office with a second one-line paragraph following, mentioning Meadow Dale as a hamlet with a post office in the “extreme southern part of town” — strange since both the store and the postmaster who ran the post office in his own home were only a few hundred feet from the depot.

Soon after the opening of the depot, a Guilderland Station post office was established there in August 1864 and renamed Meadowdale in 1887. While at first the post office was actually in the railroad station, it was later either in the postmaster’s house or more commonly in the community’s general store.

Most of the mail was generated by summer visitors who hiked up the escarpment or were boarding with local farmers. The photograph of the railroad depot appeared on an early 20th Century postcard, one of many sent out with a Meadowdale postmark, though most were of scenes of the Indian Ladder Road or from atop the escarpment.

The general store, for many years run by William Schoolcraft and his wife, not only served folks as the post office, for groceries and other farm necessities, but also as a gathering place to exchange news and gossip. Schoolcraft traveled the area from Voorheesville to Altamont, selling groceries and picking up fresh produce.

School-age children trekked to Gardner Road to the District No. 8 one-room schoolhouse built in 1885 to replace an earlier building. The schoolhouse was not only used for education, but often hosted Sunday afternoon religious services and served as the meeting place for a Christian Endeavor group as well.

A little record book exists labeled “Meadowdale Union Bible School list of membership 1910 – 1912.”  No church was ever built in Meadowdale, and probably most people had membership in either an Altamont or Guilderland Center church, but in the horse-and-buggy era, especially in bad weather, it wasn’t feasible to go that far.

In spite of the population being spread out on farms, having the general store on one road, the schoolhouse on another, and no real center to Meadowdale, the people who lived there definitely identified as being from Meadowdale. The little Meadowdale column that appeared with regularity in The Enterprise listed the births, illnesses and deaths, farm news, social events, and endless visits back and forth.

The appearance of the automobile and the rapid growth of travel by car spelled the end of Meadowdale’s prosperity and identity. People no longer rode the train to board with local farmers or to walk up to Thacher Park as the area atop the escarpment had become by that time.

No longer having a market for hay, farmers had to switch to dairy farming or raising chickens or get out of farming entirely. Meadowdale’s store became obsolete once a short drive to Altamont’s A&P or Grand Union markets became possible. During the mid-1920s, the building that once housed the general store was dismantled and reconstructed in Voorheesville.

In 1925, the D&H Railroad, facing a major decline in profits from passenger travel, went before the New York State Public Service Commission, claiming the year before the revenue generated by the Meadowdale station was $1,424.15 while pay for the station agent there cost them $1,779.03.

In 1924, there were only 17 freight cars forwarded and one received because area agricultural production was declining. The D&H’s chief engineer presented the information that there were only six dwellings and a combination store and dwelling with a graveled road (Meadowdale Road) running through.

Seven residents appeared to protest removing the station agent and only opening the station when a train was expected, but the Public Service Commission granted the D&H’s request.

By 1931, passenger trains no longer stopped in Meadowdale and shortly after the station was taken down and the utility building moved down Meadowdale Road a short distance for someone else’s use. Today there is no trace of the station, water tower, or rail yards, though a single track still cuts across Gardner and Meadowdale roads.

In 1926, the post office was closed and residents began to receive mail delivered by Rural Free Delivery to their mail boxes. The one-room District No. 8 School educated the local children for many years, eventually becoming part of the Voorheesville Central School District.

Farmers continued to hang on in the Meadowdale area, struggling with the changes and competition in farming and the challenge of surviving the 1930s Depression.

May Crounse Kinney, written about by Melissa Hale-Spencer in The Altamont Enterprise, grew up in the Gardner Road area, attending the District No. 8 Gardner Road School until she was 14. She married local farmer Solen Kinney, farming his Gardner Road farm with him until 1949.

Her description of working 365 days a year, running her house and helping with the heavy work on the farm, planting harvesting, getting firewood, caring for animals as well as putting up 300 jars of fruit and vegetables, churning butter and sewing clothes illustrated the lives of Meadowdale farmers and their wives during the early decades of the 20th Century.

All this without electricity or telephone service until the 1940s. The first electrical lines were run out to the Meadowdale area only in 1936 by New York Power and Light Corp.

The Kinneys gave up farming when the price of newer farm machinery cost more than they could possibly afford, which is the story of most of the farmers in our area.

Today, you can drive along Meadowdale, Gardner, and Frederick roads and still see the old farmhouses and cross the railroad tracks, but Meadowdale as a community exists only in memory.


This is a mockup of a new nutrition label from the federal Food and Drug Administration website.

It seems like whenever we go to the grocery store, we walk up and down the aisles unsure of what to get. From claims like “high in fiber” to “low in sugar,” how do we actually know what the healthy option is?

The first step to making healthier choices in the grocery store starts with knowing how to read a nutrition label. Even if you already feel like you’re a pro at reading nutrition labels, it’s worth knowing what the new nutrition labels will look like. Here is a mockup of a label from the federal Food and Drug Administration’s website.

When looking at a nutrition label, our gaze typically goes straight to calories. However, before we even get there, it’s helpful to start with “Serving size” and “Servings per container.”

Serving size reflects the portion of food that the label is for and can be very misleading. Even foods that look like they’re only one serving can easily be two or three. For example, a frozen dinner might be two servings or a muffin might be three to four servings, even if you’re planning to eat the entire thing in one sitting.

Serving size is important when you start scanning down the rest of the label, especially calories, fat, sodium, fiber, and sugar. Moving down the label, your eyes will land on “Calories” next.

While there’s no good or bad number of calories, be aware that the calories are for a single serving. In the example with the frozen dinner — there may be 220 calories per serving with two servings, which means that the whole meal has a total of 440 calories.

Moving down the label, you will come to “Total Fat.” More important than total fat is “Saturated Fat.” This is the unhealthy kind of fat that comes from solid fats like butter, lard, cheese, and vegetable shortening and should be limited in your diet.

Dietary guidelines suggest that normal, healthy adults should consume no more than 10 percent of their daily calories from saturated fat. If you’re eating 2,000 calories a day, that’s about 200 calories from saturated fat or about 20 grams of saturated fat a day.

However, the less saturated fat you consume the better — focus instead on unsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, and oils. And remember, this number is per serving as well.

Next up is “Sodium,” commonly referred to as salt. While the dietary guidelines suggest consuming less than 2,000 milligrams of sodium a day, publications from Harvard Health state that the average American consumes 3,400 milligrams of salt — nearly twice as much as the recommended amount!

According to the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, much of this sodium comes from canned foods like pasta sauce and soup; cold cuts; and, surprisingly, bread. High intake of sodium has been linked to high blood pressure and is certainly a nutrient to look out for on nutrition labels.

Skipping past carbohydrates, see if your nutrition label has anything listed next to “Fiber.” Fiber is found in fruits, vegetables, and whole grains, and is important for bowel regularity and helping you feel full after meals.

While the dietary guidelines suggest men should consume 38 grams of fiber and women should consume 25 grams of fiber daily, the most recent National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey found that Americans are not meeting these goals.

This survey found that most American adults are only meeting 50 to 60 percent of their fiber goal and only 8 percent of Americans meet the recommended amount of fiber intake daily. These numbers make fiber a major nutrient of concern. Look for foods that are high in fiber by choosing fresh fruits and vegetables, bread made with 100-percent whole-wheat flour, whole-wheat pasta, and brown rice.

Finally, the last place to look is “Total Sugar.” In an updated nutrition facts panel, there will be a subcategory for “Added Sugar,” which is really what you want to pay attention to. The Dietary Guidelines recommend the same percentage for added sugar as they do for saturated fat — no more than 10 percent of your total calories should come from added sugar.

Again, if you’re eating 2,000 calories per day, this is about 200 calories from added sugar or about 50 grams per day. If this seems like a lot, it’s because it is!

While the guidelines allow for more added sugar than we necessarily need, it’s important to note that both the United States Department of Agriculture and the World Health Organization recommend only 22 to 25 grams of added sugar per day, or about 5 percent of total calories from added sugar.

Since added sugar has been linked to weight gain, obesity, and Type II diabetes, the less you consume, the better. You’re not missing any nutrients if you try to avoid it.

Finally, we’ve arrived at “Protein” at the bottom of the label. While protein helps us feel full and satiated, many people incorrectly think the more protein we eat, the better.

The actual guidelines for protein consumption are 0.8 grams per kilogram of body weight because too much protein can tax your kidneys. To calculate how much protein you need daily, divide your body weight in pounds by 2.2 (this gives you kilograms) and multiply that number by 0.8. For example, I weigh 130 pounds. Divided by 2.2, that’s roughly 59 kilograms. Multiplied by 0.8, I only need 47 grams of protein daily.

That’s the equivalent of one Greek yogurt and half of a chicken breast. Even with eating a vegetarian or vegan meal for one or even two of my meals daily, I can still get more than enough protein without overloading my kidneys.

Grocery-store aisles can be a confusing place. Knowing what nutrients to look for, remembering to take note of the number of servings per container first, and starting from the top and working down is a good strategy to help make healthier choices with so many food options out there.

Editor’s note: Sarah Roger is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist, 200-hour Registered Yoga Teacher, and incoming second-year medical student at Albany Medical College. She is interning with Community Caregivers this summer and is writing articles on health and wellness, which are both topics she is passionate about.


Rembrandt Harmenszoon van Rijn painted "The Return of the Prodigal Son" in the 1600s, a timeless representation of apology and forgiveness

It took 10 years of brutal war for the ancient City of Troy to fall; it took one 44-character tweet for the empire of Roseanne Barr to disappear from television. “The Conners” with Barr as queen, like Troy, is no more.

Barr was expeditiously deleted from the ranks of Burbank because, in a tweet on May 29 she called Valerie Jarrett — an African-American woman who was a senior advisor to Barack Obama — an ape, not the run-of-the-mill kind but one infused with Muslim terrorism.

ABC showed en force. Its entertainment president, Channing Dungey, said Barr’s action was “abhorrent, repugnant and inconsistent with our values” and ejected her, to mix metaphors, from the ballpark.

Hoping to reverse her fortunes, Barr kept tweeting but with what can be described as empty, lopsided apologies. At one point, she pulled out the “devil made me do it” card, blaming her venom on Ambien.

Lickety-split a spokesperson from Ambien said, “While all pharmaceutical treatments have side effects, racism is not a known side effect of any Sanofi medication.”

From the denials and excuses she offered, it was clear Barr had little sense of what kind of transformation must occur before a person can offer a sincere apology — to the person harmed as well as the world at large.

Barr’s remorse was summed up in, “I was so sad that people thought it [the tweet] was racist.” (Exegesis to follow.)

The matter kept gnawing at Barr so she felt compelled to appear on Sean Hannity’s show two months later, July 26, to set the record straight. But pretty much everything she said failed to meet the requirements of a sincere apology.

At one point, she turned to the screen and said — to Jarrett presumably — “I’m sorry that you thought I was racist and that you thought my tweet was racist because it wasn’t ... And I’m sorry for the misunderstanding that caused my ill-worded tweet.”

In a myriad of ways, Barr pressed on like this, assuming defensive after self-protecting defensive posture. She was floundering emotionally and ideologically.

Right after Barr’s appearance on “Hannity,” Eric Deggans, media critic for NPR, commented, “Roseanne Barr has just given a master class on how not to apologize for a massive public flameout.”

I know a lot of people, some close to me, who have a hard time apologizing, even a little bit. When “sorry” leaves their lips, it’s followed with a flood of justifications that become masked attacks themselves.

First of all, in a sincere apology there is no “but.” “But” is a euphemism that hides a person’s real core behind justifications: “Ambien made me do it.”

When an apology is sincere, the penitent’s posture is one of owning the pain and suffering he inflicted on another. He takes back the burden he created.

And this requires finding out how the harmful act affected the “target’s” life — whenever possible through a face-to-face dialogue.

And how one speaks at every stage of the process is critical. Nowhere in an apology should there be heard, “Oh, I made an error,” the kind of thing a person says after he’s said two and two are five.

In his beyond-brilliant HBO situation comedy “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” Larry David returns again and again to the issue of apology. Season 5, Episode 4 is emblematic of his thinking.

A young Japanese American, Yoshi (the son of a World War II Kamikaze pilot “survivor”), believes that David, when ordering chicken teriyaki during dinner, is taunting him with “chicken” when David repeats it several times looking Yoshi in the face with vehemence.

When Yoshi tries to kill himself, Larry’s wife among others believes Larry’s labelling Yoshi a chicken was the “cause.”

When a friend convinces Larry he must apologize, the norm-enforcing taunter calls Yoshi on the phone and says, “I’m sorry if I said anything that might have been inappropriate.”

Here, as in the case of Barr, David is not apologizing for the pain he inflicted but for violating some unwritten code of appropriateness.

He gets in deeper when he adds, “I didn’t mean anything to happen” by which he disavows personal responsibility for his act; it’s as if harms happen somewhere out there at random.

Of course subtly implied is: There would be no issue if you weren’t so sensitive.

But the coup de mal comes when Yoshi thinks he hears Larry eating. “Are you eating something?” he asks. A nonchalant David replies, “I’m eating pistachio nuts.”

Feeling victimized (again), Yoshi responds, “You’re eating pistachio nuts while you’re apologizing to me?” With even deeper hubris David goes, “Yes, so?”

Yoshi then sets a minimum standard for sincerity, “You can’t be sincere apologizing and then snack on pistachio nuts.”

David responds, “I’ve snacked and apologized many times and everyone’s accepted it.” Which translated means: Why can’t you submit to my disrespect like all the other dummies I’ve conned?

David then minimizes Yoshi’s pain further: “What, is that a Japanese thing?” That is, is it some kind of subcultural oddity that does not apply to the rest of us? Without a shred of sincerity in anything he’s said, David has re-victimized Yoshi.

Integrally linked to apology, as we know, is forgiveness. And there’s a whole protocol for determining whether an act of forgiving is sincere.

But it should be pointed out that, because someone has apologized, forgiveness need not follow. There is no “rule” that says a person who’s been apologized to must forgive the person who harmed him.

What is remarkable is that there are occasions when a person who has harmed someone refuses to apologize, but is forgiven by his “victim” nonetheless.

When Pope John Paul II was shot in May 1981, he asked Catholics to pray for his assailant, but more importantly he went to the prison where Mehmet Ali Agca was housed to talk about the situation. He then forgave Mehmet.

Perhaps the classic example of forgiveness offered without a precondition is Jesus on the cross. After being whipped, mocked, and dragged through the city wearing a crown of thorns, he says moments before he dies: I forgive all of you who are responsible for this (my death, my murder).

I forgive you, he adds, because you have no idea what you’re doing. You don’t get the big picture of human value and worth.

Roseanne Barr does not seem to get the picture either, as is the case with the character Larry David. Their ignorance resulted in the re-victimization of those they harmed in the first place.

At no time did Barr choose to meet with Jarrett face-to-face, and David diminished Yoshi by calling him on the phone, sadistically eating.

Justifications are a heavy drug. Beneath them beats a remorseful heart but saving face always seems to send that heart packing.

When I ask people how they talk in apology-forgiveness situations, some respond: Is that some subcultural peace-thing question you’re trying to trick me with?

I persist: Would you mind sharing how you apologize to someone? Are you able to forgive when you’ve been harmed? Do you think “sincere” is what they’ll call you when you die?


This scribe has a little book that he brings to the Old Men of the Mountain’s breakfast where the scribe writes little notes of what was discussed by the Old Men of the Mountain. This is a good thing to have because. in starting this column. the restaurant the scribe wrote for the opening paragraph for the OMOTM was not the restaurant the OMOTM were at; it was listed as the Your Way Café.

It is a good thing this little book had the restaurant the OMOTM were really at and the date listed. So it is now safe to say that on Tuesday the Old Men of the Mountain made it all the way to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg on the last day of July, which was Tuesday. the 31st, and that is the truth!

At the Duanesburg Diner, the OFs take up the whole room in the back and half of the booths out front. This past Tuesday morning, there was a regular customer in the room in the back as the OFs began to filter in. This gentleman finished his breakfast while OFs sat down.

While the gentleman was sitting, he heard some of the conversation of the OFs and this conversation was on eating, and the OFs were commenting on whether the sausage gravy was from a can or homemade — conversations like that.

When the gentlemen left, he stopped at the head of the table and told a story about his grandfather who lived to be 99 years old. According to this fella, his grandfather’s meals each day consisted of one sandwich and a fifth of cheap whiskey, and that was it. Well maybe. However, the OFs do know some that there are functioning alcoholics and they have similar stories like this.

That brought up the question of people who keep telling us OFs (which is another term for seniors) what to eat. One OF said he was tired of young whipper-snappers telling him just that, what to eat.

He said, “I am over 80 years old, and work most every day in my garden, drive my tractor, and do brush-hogging for customers and I am not going to change my diet because at this moment sugar is bad. I will wait a day and sugar will be good.”

The OG talking was raised on a farm, as many of the older OFs were. When the OMOTM were young and on the farm, they received the best start for growing old and being reasonably healthy. The OFs drank whole milk, not pasteurized (just as all the barn cats drank). The table food went from vegetables to meats and had no growth hormones.

Soft drinks were not around that much; Madison Avenue marketing was not yet underway for all this processed stuff we eat now. Breakfast was eggs, bacon, sausage or ham, potatoes, fruit; sometimes even pie, homemade bread toasted by holding it with a fork over the woodstove and real butter or jam, flapjacks with fruit in the batter and real maple syrup.

The OFs had none of the wimpy stuff like snap, crackle, and pop around to spoil a good breakfast. The OG was right because the YFs on the farm had a great start and their eating habits began on the right path.

Cleaning up at track and casino

Some of the OFs make a few trips to Saratoga during the August meet. For most of the OFs, it is just for the experience of being able to say they were there. None of them win big, or even win small.

Some have different approaches to betting when they go. One throws all his loose change in a coffee can, takes it with him, and when that is gone he claims he is done. This OF says that lately he has come home with more in the can than when he went to the track.

The OFs were pretty sure this “taking the can” is a metaphor. The OFs are convinced he doesn’t show up at Saratoga with a can full of small money and change. The OFs can’t see this OF at the two-dollar window with eight quarters; then again, knowing this OF, it might be just what he would do.

Occasionally some of the OFs trot off to Turning Stone Casino and they have with them the “bet fund.” When the bet fund is depleted, they stop betting.

Some of the OFs say that their bet fund generally does not get depleted; they win a little and come home happy. Others say that more often than not they do come home with less then what they started with, but they’re not completely broke. That is like having a couple of great golf shots out of 90 bringing the golfer back for more golf.

Cleaning out a gas tank

The OFs went from this discussion to how to clean a gas tank!

One OF inadvertently added diesel fuel to his tractor that runs on gas and he didn’t realize it. The OF said, when he went to start the tractor, it started hard but it did run.

The OF said it smoked like a son of a gun and it was then that the OF realized what he had done. This OF took the tractor to another OF who is in the business of fixing mistakes and he cleaned the tank for him. This is nothing a neophyte wants to do on his own.

Then the OFs who had some knowledge of how to handle these kinds of problems began telling their ways of cleaning a gas tank.

One OF said that he didn’t do this, but a friend of his in the business would take a paper towel and tear it up. Then he would throw that in the gas tank, and get a high pressure hose and blow it into the tank.

The shredded towel would swirl around and soak up the remaining gas that wasn’t siphoned out. Then he would use a vacuum and vacuum out the paper towel. Bingo! Clean tank.  Kids — don’t try this at home!

The Old Men of the Mountain who made it to the Duanesburg Diner in Duanesburg and hopefully had the correct fuel in their vehicles were: Robie Osterman, Miner Stevens, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Bill Bartholomew, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Wally Guest, Richard Frank, Chuck Aelesio, Art Frament, Rich Donnelly, Herb Sawotka, Bob Benac, and grandson Ace Roy, Harold Guest, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Roger Shafer, Otis Lawyer, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Pete Whitbeck, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Rev. Jay Francis, and me.


With ominous skies on Tuesday, July 24, the Old Men of the Mountain headed out to the Your Way Café in Schoharie. Fortunately, the OMOTM met no rain on the way to the café.

Most people have heard that the Thruway is going to go without toll takers, so the OFs started asking a lot of “what ifs.” Some thought that the state of Massachusetts had it under control. This did not satisfy most of the OFs.

One OF brought up this cool scenario: What if someone took pictures of out-of-state license plates in a parking lot like Colonie Center? This entrepreneurial fellow took the pictures and printed them out on either high-grade cardboard, or even on metal.

Now he gives them to his friends, and uses one himself and places it on his vehicle. Now when the pictures of the plate taken at the toll scanner shows a car from Texas and some poor guy in Texas receives a bill from the New York State Thruway Authority saying he owes a buck-eighty to New York, how long do you think anyone would have to wait before that piece of paper hits the trash can?

Now the state has a bill not paid and they start proceedings. However, this guy can prove he was taking his kids to school, and had never even left his hometown, let alone traveled to New York. It is possible to see the state losing big bucks if this would be repeated over and over.

One OF came up with a clever idea that some college kids could use as a math study. Print out 20 artificial plates all alike. Then place them on 20 cars, and the plan would be to place all 20 cars at different booths along the Thruway.

Then have all the cars positioned to enter the booth at approximately the same time and mathematically using speed and distance have them exit the Thruway at the same time. They would do this in short time and use a short distance as they mathematically could. After the prank is done, they would put their own plates back on the vehicle.

What would this do to the computer that would receive identical information up and down the Thruway at the same time? The OF added, “Gee, I wish I was young again.”

Then one killjoy OF said, “If you guys can think this, I am sure it’s already been thought about and the state surely has thought about it and they have ways to detect and correct, so who would do this just to save a few bucks? Makes no sense to me.”

Another OF said, “Let’s go back to Texas and say a guy from Texas did use the Thruway to go from Albany to Schenectady and the toll is 30 cents. The guy returns to Texas and receives a bill for 30 cents from New York. Does this make any sense?”

Years ago in business an average cost to send out an invoice was about $25. This cost might have gone down some with most businesses using computers, but the OF’s guess was, not much.

“The envelope, and paper, the personal time, the postage, let alone part of a tree that was cut down to make the paper,” the OF added. “You can see where this is going.”

An OF piped up, “I thought the Thruway was supposed to be free in the ’70s; at least that is what those lying ‘Bs’ in Albany told us when they went after the money to build it.”

To which a second OF responded, “Whoever told you it was possible to trust anyone from that brood of crooks in Albany?”

Helping a bobcat baby

An OF told a cute story that happened to him between breakfasts. He did relate the time and day but this scribe did not catch that information, but it doesn’t make any difference to the story.

When this OF pulled into his driveway, he noticed a small cat with a trap attached to its paw. The cat turned out to be a bobcat kitten.

The OF said he was a little leery of approaching the kitten but it didn’t react violently when he did. The OF said he still was not going to handle that cat without some protection so he went to the garage and came back with a fish net and put it over the kitten, which he said made no attempt to run away.

The OF said he let the paw with the trap on it stick out from the rim of the net and he pushed the trap open then pulled the cat’s paw away from the trap.

The OF then carefully lifted the net and the little thing scurried off into the woods by his home, apparently none the worse for wear. The OF said all the time he was doing this he was looking around for mama cat to come bounding out of the woods but that never happened.

Country roads

The roads in the Hilltowns are not super highways — they are country roads whether they are state, county, or town roads. These roads in the Hilltowns are full of surprises. Unexpected sharp turns, very short sight distances on hills, and some of these same turns along with some really bad intersections.

One in particular is where County Route 1 (Switzkill Road ) crosses State Route 443 just west of Berne.  The OMOTM will not use this intersection. They drive all around Cock Robin’s barn to avoid it.

The OFs talked about another serious motorcycle accident in the Hilltowns and it was at this intersection.

One OF said, “Going onto country roads is not the place to say, ‘We are in the country, we can throw out our trash, and go like the devil, no one is around.’ Big whoop, there are lots of things around other than sharp turns and blind intersections. There are deer, horses, cows, turkeys, the occasional pig, and sheep. These animals all think the road is theirs.”

The Old Men of the Mountain who know the country roads and made it to the Your Way Café in Schoharie safely, were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Roger Chapman, John Rossmann, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Bill Bartholomew, Dave Williams, Pete Whitbeck, Roger Shaver, Chuck Aelesio, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Otis Lawyer, Joe Rack, Ray Donnelly, Herb Sawotka, Bob Benac, Herb Bahrmann, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Wayne Gaul, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Rich Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.