Archive » April 2019 » Columns

Spring is slow coming, which is not new, but we get one nice day and then four or five days of cold and winds. This Tuesday, when the Old Men of the Mountain met, it was April 16 and they all were in heavy jackets.

One OMOTM had his long johns on just in case (right after breakfast) he was required to be outside. This is not dressing for spring.

One OF reported one-and-a-half inches of pea-sized hail at his place; this scribe had a friend say they also had hail, and one OF reported snowflakes in a brief rain shower. This is not rare but it is not conducive to spring-like thoughts.

So the Old Men of the Mountain sat in the Country Café on Main St. in Schoharie and grumbled.

One thing they grumbled about, or rather more or less commented on, was what Schoharie (County and Village) could be, at least in the OMOTM’s opinion. When the new county office building design was selected years ago, whoever was in charge should be dragged through town with a flag stating, “I made a mistake.”

The OFs think the powers that be (or should that read the powers that were?) in Schoharie should have hired an architect who specialized in historical design. This person should have designed the exterior of the new courthouse to match the old court house.

Then, taking the park out from in front of the buildings — in the OFs’ opinion — is an abomination. Add to that the Parrott House, which could be repaired if the county would quit squabbling about it.

Just ask the OFs’ position on many things and there will be many opinions and answers that will be on the mark. This comes from combined years of what works and what doesn’t stored in the heads of the OFs.

Dollars to doughnuts

Another OMOTM who is still working in small-engine repair and is busy all the time, probably would get more done if his OF buddies would not go to his shop and just hang around, eating doughnuts and getting in the way.

This is going to be the OMOTM’s “rush season” with people wanting their summer machines ready to go, and their winter machines winterized before sticking them in the back of the garage.

This OMOTM says another spring problem is the guys who do not winterize their summer equipment getting all out of joint when the apparatus doesn’t start in the spring. When they do bring their mowers, lawn tractors, or rototillers to him they expect a miracle from him by his just saying “Abracadabra” over the machine and it starts.

“Doesn’t work that way,” the OMOTM said. The OFs better bring him another doughnut.

Greeting cards

This is an unusual topic for the OFs and that is Hallmark and greeting cards.

The OFs said that their place to buy cards is the Dollar Store. They said these cards convey what they want to say and don’t cost five or 10 dollars.

One OF said, “Why pay that much for a card that, once it is read, it’s just going to be chucked anyway”?

One OF said his family doesn’t chuck their cards.

A second OF exclaimed, “You keep all your cards?”

The first OF said, “Of course not, only those from our kids and some special people.”

Another OF said his wife uses cards over again when doing crafty things; she also uses them for name tags on packages, and Christmas presents.

Still another OF piped up that he makes his own cards on the computer, or sends one of the electronic ones. This saves paper and postage, plus this OF is one of those who thinks the mailed ones also just get tossed anyway.

But one OF stuck up for Hallmark; he thought that, more often than not, Hallmark will have the right sentiment for the occasion and will say what he and wife thinks is suitable because they never can put their own thoughts into the proper words.

The OMOTM are a sentimental group at heart. Who would have guessed?

Blood pressure

The OFs fell into a common discussion that is almost a weekly conversation — medical conditions.

There are recurring conversations that can be counted on at each breakfast. Cars (old cars and trucks), tractors, farm machinery, aches and pains and the medications that go with these ailments, gardens, and the weather are mentioned at nearly every breakfast.

Tuesday morning, it was blood pressure, and what is good or bad, plus how weird the blood pressure is of some of the OFs. This was brought about by one OF who did not make the cut at the physical for his volunteer fire company because his blood pressure was too high on four attempts to see if they could get one that would let him pass.

The OF is 83 years old, so in essence the OF is at the edge anyway. However, at 83, look at all the years of experience the OF could pass along to the young firefighters coming up.

There should be a space in many organizations where people beyond being physically able to handle the job could tutor the newcomers in many phases of their new endeavor and not be mustered out.

The OFs with their blood pressure being all over the lot among them can’t be too bad because this discussion is among guys aged 90 to 80 who are still active. These OFs should be giving lessons on managing your BP, moreover what the proper BP level is.


The Old Men of the Mountain want to send their condolences and prayers to the family of Frank Pauli who passed away last week. Frank was a long-time OMOTM who became ill, and went to live with relatives out of state.

The OFs who made it to the Country Café in Schoharie and are still amazed how one waitress and a cook can handle 23 guys plus the other walk-ins were: Miner Stevens, Roger Chapman, Bill Lichliter, George Washburn, Dave Williams, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Marty Herzog, Ted Feurer, Mike Willsey, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, and me.


— Photo by Rhododendrites

James Frey signs a book at the BookExpo America 2018 at the Javits Convention Center in New York City.

When James Frey’s “A Million Little Pieces” appeared in April 2003, it was sold as a memoir in the nonfiction section of the store.

In the book, if you’ll recall, Frey expounds on his life 10 years earlier when at 23 he was strung out on crack and booze and wrangling with law-enforcement officials, felony-wise, in several states.

His parents couldn’t take it anymore; they dragged him to a 12-step program and locked him up. A good part of the memoir has to do with things there.

When the book first came out, it got some good reviews but then people started piling on Frey, saying he didn’t tell the truth; his memory didn’t smell right.

The poet and essayist John Dolan in “Exile” (May 2003) began his piece with, “This is the worst thing I ever read.” You can guess what he said next from the title: “A Million Pieces of Shit.”

Very few can predict the trajectory of a book’s success but after Oprah Winfrey picked the memoir as an Oprah’s Book Club selection, it shot to number-one on Amazon; The New York Times listed it 15 times as a best seller. Sales reached the millions, it was translated, there was talk of a movie.

When Winfrey had Frey on her Oct. 26, 2005 show, it was billed as, “The Man Who Kept Oprah Awake At Night.” She said the book is, “like nothing you’ve ever read before. Everybody at Harpo is reading it.” The staff kept asking each other, ‘What page are you on?’”

Frey was a hit, and “memoir” had moved up a notch on the Great Genres of Literature Scale.

Then the Earth shook. An article appeared in the Jan 8, 2006 edition of “The Smoking Gun,” saying Frey prevaricated. He didn’t write a memoir, he spoke fictoir.

William Bastone, the journal’s editor who wrote the piece, called it “A Million Little Lies.” For example: At a Barnes and Noble appearance Frey told onlookers he had been in jail “a bunch of times ... the last time ... for about three months.”

But Bastone found that Frey had hardly seen a jail: “The closest Frey has ever come to a jail cell was the few unshackled hours he once spent in a small Ohio police headquarters waiting for a buddy to post $733 cash bond.”

There were no felonies, no skirmishes with police. From cover to cover, Frey had projected the identity of someone else, someone he thought might better win fans and bring him what? Fame? Glory? Adventure? I have no idea but, whatever it was, Frey had impersonated someone.

And those who impersonate do so to borrow strength for a self they feel does not measure up. Whether called imposters, prevaricators, or impersonators, this “type” offer no solid ground to stand on. Like the wind, fakers destabilize.

But if I tell you, “Hey, let’s play a game; I’m going to tell a story I imagined,” then we’ve set the ground rules for a fictive, make-believe world. There’s no truth to stretch or alter.

Memoir is an art form that reflects a person’s endeavor to see the record of one’s life as if it’s occurring now. It’s a mirror to find grounding in.

In the case of Frey, at first Winfrey thought the criticisms were no big deal: “To me it seems to be much ado about nothing” but, as the difference between what Frey said his life was and what it really was, was revealed, Winfrey called Frey back to the show saying: We gotta talk.

In front of a nation, she told the prevaricator he “duped” her and that readers felt “betrayed.” I’m sure she meant her book club (as well as her considered reputation as a judge of life-affirming literature). On TV, she fried Frey.

Frey’s publisher, Random House, took positive steps by offering a rebate to anyone who thought they were buying “memoir” but got BS, composites, lies, the imagined projections of a weak ego to save itself. What’s the right phrase here? Fake news? No, it’s fake personal history.

All “victims” had to do, Random House said, was: (1) give proof of purchase; (2) provide a piece of the book; and (3) issue a sworn statement, saying they believed they were buying truth and all they got was lies — and were, as Oprah Winfrey was, duped.

This of course was an era when writing and selling memoir had become big — it was an economic and psychological phenomenon. Every soul seemed compelled to tell its story, and in public, some the devotees of memoir guru, Mary Karr.

And it was Karr who said in her 2015 “The Art of Memoir,” that the first commandment of memoir is: Thou shalt not dupe; truth must abide.

Duping is a virus that destabilizes the liar’s body as well as every body it touches. The title of her second chapter is “The Truth Contract Twixt Writer and Reader.”

Which means, if your memoir is a Christmas tree, no tinsel. No tinsel, no glitz, no dazzle, no sleight of hand, no duping jive of anyone, any time.

While Frey was under siege, a similar thing was happening to David Sedaris, the eternally side-splitting humorist some consider a Will Rogers.

Sedaris’s truth IQ got called on the carpet by Alex Heard in the March 19, 2007 edition of “The New Republic.” He called his view of Sedaris’s story “This American Lie.”

He said that Sedaris said, at 13, he had volunteered in a mental hospital and got assigned to a black man, Clarence. One of his first jobs was to help Clarence lift an old woman from bed to gurney.

Sedaris said that, as they lifted, the old lady’s sheet fell off and there, before his virgin eyes, appeared a pile of wrinkled old flesh; whose teeth then bit him!

Heard, who had begun looking into Sedaris’s claims, called Sedaris, went to Richmond to interview his family, and then to the asylum where Sedaris said he and Clarence had worked.

Heard found there was no Clarence, there was no old lady, no body got bitten. And the place didn’t look like how Sedaris had painted it. Heard then gave a pile of other stretchings-of-truth.

I’m always puzzled why people exaggerate, why they project a self that is not who they are, but say it is.

Did Sedaris exaggerate for a bigger payday? For fame? A house? A psychological boost?

Creating a make-believe self and saying it’s you, and then calling the deception memoir, is identity-laundering, borrowing strength to counter weakness.

Memoir, no matter what your position on lying is, is not fiction. When a person says, this is my life, it cannot be someone else’s. Truth injects sanity into the psyche, and into our relationships with everybody we touch. It stabilizes.

Which brings me to Donald Trump and his excretion-filled tsunami of prevarications. Fact Checker says, after 800 days, Trump stomped on the truth 9,451 times. The researchers call it “false or misleading claims” but we all know it’s destabilization.

In history books, Abraham Lincoln is spoken of as “The Great Emancipator”; in days to come, Donald Trump will be called “The Great Prevaricator,” a man who tore a nation into — in the words of James Frey — “A Million Little Pieces.”


The Old Men of the Mountain met at Mrs. K’s Restaurant in Middleburgh this Tuesday on April 9.

Ms. K’s Restaurant is becoming an OMOTM museum. There are a few artifacts displayed here and there that have been donated by the OFs.

This establishment has the unique distinction of having “Loretta” (the original proprietor) attend Schoharie Central School along with some of the OMOTM, and she actually was in the same class as four of the OFs. Now her daughter and her granddaughter are running the restaurant.

Tuesday morning, the early OFs’ coffee would put hair on your chest. “It was coffee with a kick,” one OF said. This was truck-driver, 24-hour stuff.

Another OF said he put cream in it and the coffee never changed color. A third OF said that the cook was just trying to wake us up. Ordering up decaf wasn’t any better; it was he-man stuff too. The later rounds were fine, and the early guys were now wide awake. Patty had her fun with the early-morning OFs.

Fruitful talk

Awhile back, the OFs were discussing their fruit trees. Tuesday morning, the OFs told us how they are concocting ways to take the apples and make cider.

One OF is going to make cider using a corn shredder. This will be the second stage in the process; the first stage is picking the apples and getting to the shredder.

The OF said he is going to electrify the corn shredder with an electric motor, instead of rigging it up with a belt and one of his hit-and-miss engines. Then what comes out of the shredder goes into the press. Bingo! Cider!

The other OF said he has a shredder-type object on top of his press. The only problem with that is that everything is manual, and he has to turn a crank to cut up his apples.

Another OF has apple and pear trees. One other OF said he should cut a few of each and press them together to see what type of flavor comes from the combination of the two. The OF thought he could do 50/50, then maybe 60/40, then 70/30 both ways — this OF said it sounds like it would be fun.

Bear facts

The OFs started reminiscing about a mutual friend who they used to hike with. Real hiking days of some of the OFs are days in the past. Struggling to make the legs move with the arthritis is not much fun.

Apparently the mutual friend has now taken up kayaking. The OFs said they used to do kayaking, and would like to do it again, but getting in and out of one of those boats is nothing they now can do.

The mutual friend came into the conversation because there was an unwelcome visitor in the backyard — a pretty good-sized black bear. Pictures were taken to substantiate the intrusion.

One of the OFs who lives not too far from the mutual friend was called and advised that the critter was out there roaming about. The state’s Department of Environmental conservation was called but, by the time they got there, the animal was gone and the DEC was unable to locate it.

One OF said the he/she bear will pop up someplace else but, if the bear is finding food, he/she will hang around. The hunter-gatherers of the OMOTM said in the spring bears can be pretty nasty because they are hungry; later on, when there are plenty of fruits and berries around (unless you mess with the bears), they will pretty much take off.

Some of the OFs said they wouldn’t want to check that out to see if it is true.

Friends help ailing friends

The OFs started talking about the vehicles they had when their bones would cooperate and move without pain going hither and yon throughout their bodies. The OFs commented that sports cars are out for them now just because the OFs can’t get in or out of them. One OF complained he has trouble getting out of some newer cars.

The OMOTM as a group right now has a few ailing OFs. There are three OFs with cancers, and the rest of the OFs are getting quite a lesson on the disease and the various current treatments.

We also have one OF finding it necessary to get help from the Bone and Joint Center and relief from physical therapy. This scribe hopes these OFs get strength and consolation from the vibes and prayers of their Old Men of the Mountain friends.

Those OFs who share in the decorations of Mrs. K’s in Middleburgh and the rest of us who, on every seventh Tuesday, share in the decorations just by being there were: Miner Stevens, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, John Rossmann, Roger Chapman, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Bill Lichliter, Dave Williams, Marty Herzog, Ken Parks, Chuck Aelesio, Richard Frank, Otis Lawyer, Jim Heiser, Glenn Patterson, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Lou Schenck, Jack Norray, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Gerry Irwin, Warren Willsey, Russ Pokorny, Gerry Chartier, Mike Willsey, Elwood Vanderbilt, Allen DeFazio, Harold Grippen, and me.


The Old Men of the Mountain met on Tuesday, April 2 (this scribe’s birthday), at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh. The OMOTM had another pleasant morning heading out to breakfast even though there were reports of morning temperatures from 16 to 19 degrees for this beginning of April.

The OFs began talking about fires and fire trucks. There is a precursor to this because many of the OFs are or were firemen and seem to be of one accord.

The OFs think the fire trucks are too fancy now for what they are supposed to do. Small volunteer companies can’t afford these trucks with all the trimmings and gold-leaf lettering. This has nothing to do with putting out fires.

What they really need are trucks like Army trucks only painted so they can be seen and not so they disappear into the scenery. The fire trucks need to have really good tires, and dependable equipment like engines and pumps, not these things that are so ornamental they don’t want them to get scratched.

One OF said the trucks are required to have seats in them like we are going for a 1,000-mile ride.

“Shoot,” he said, “if we go 10 or 15 miles, that is a long hike for us to get to a fire or accident.”

Another OF said, “What we do need are more volunteers.”

And yet another OF added, “They have the rules so tough it is almost impossible to get new, younger volunteers.”

One OF mentioned that young people have so much going on with their kids and the school’s demands now. It’s not like it used to be when school was school and home was home. Now the school and the state have taken up a lot of the parent’s time just keeping up with these requirements.

Pawns in  Spectrum’s game

The OFs were in a mood Tuesday morning and this scribe thinks it is because most received their Spectrum bills and all were higher, not by a little bit, but by quite a lot. One OF mentioned that he thinks it is not a coincidence that the big hike in the bills came as Spectrum is being saddled with a large fine from the state for not fulfilling its contract with the state.

The OFs rhetorically asked the question: Do you think Spectrum is going to sit back and take that hit?

“Heck no, they are going to pass it along to us. Did you notice how quick they had that price increase out there? This spike was planned long ago and I think the state knew it,” one OF opined. This OF further stated, “We are just pawns in one big chess game.”

Pro players need higher nets, lower salaries

Then the OGs started talking about sports, especially salaries, and basketball. In the sport of basketball, these guys make tons of money and one OF added, “Like they all do.”

Another OF brought up that he thought it was the players who turn into super stars, because not all make the big bucks. This OF thought they all make enough money, but we usually hear only about the big guys, no pun intended.

One OF wondered where the gene pool is for all these guys who can run down the floor and jump so their hand is over the basketball basket by almost a foot. With the court about 90 feet long, and with these guys so big, it takes only 15 long strides to go from line to line.

When this scribe told his better half what the OMOTM talked about, she said (as she has said many times before) that she thinks professional basketball hoops should be 12 feet high. It is not fair that kids in junior high school should be trying to put the ball through a hoop that is the same height as the pros.

The rims have always been 10 feet high since basketball rules were posted in Springfield, Massachusetts in 1891. The average height of the player at that time was 5 foot, 6 inches. Today the average NBA player is 6 feet, 7 inches. The better half rested her case.

The OFs think there should be some kind of a cap on the money these guys make playing sports. One OF said he doesn’t watch much sports any more or even care. Who wants to watch a bunch of millionaires run the bases? Not him.

This OF maintains by attending his local high school’s baseball game (or any other sport like track, or basketball), he can watch a good game.

“Humph,” he said, “some of the pros are drafted right off the high school diamond.” One thought he brought out is that he does get some looks like: What is that old codger doing here?

“Doesn’t bother me,” the OF said.

Hairy dilemma

Somehow the OFs began talking about hair growth! Again!

This is wishful thinking on the OFs’ part. However, one OF claimed there is a product on the market that will grow hair no matter how old you are.

This has to be a scam. If there were such a product, it wouldn’t be a secret that only one OF would know about it. This product would be advertised all over the place, especially on the sports channels.

The OFs asked, “What color does it come in? Will your hair come in white, or black?”

One OF said he used to have red hair, and asked, “So does it only come in black?”

The OF then said he would be OK with it if it were white.

One more OF added, “We are just past April Fool’s Day. Are you just putting us on?”

The first OF said he saw it on television and was going to watch that channel again and write down what it is and if it is “as seen on TV only,” not sold in stores.

Everybody said, “You do that.”

All the OMOTM who were at the Middleburgh Diner in Middleburgh are waiting for the answer to the hair-growth cream, or salve, or maybe lotion and those OMOTM were: Roger Chapman (and yes, he was there last week; he even rode with the scribe), Miner Stevens, Wally Guest, Harold Guest, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Bill Lichliter (loved the hat), Jim Heiser, Kenny Parks, Gerry Irwin, Mace Porter, Jack Norray, Ted Feurer, Jake Lederman, Marty Herzog, Gerry Chartier, Elwood Vanderbilt, Harold Grippen, Mike Willsey, and me.


— From Mary Ellen Johnson

This engraving of an oil well illustrated a share of the French Creek Petroleum Company, incorporated in New York State in 1865. It illustrates an oil derrick, probably much like the structure erected on the Severson farm in Knowersville in 1886. In the place of the oil storage drum shown, there would have been a shed to protect the engine from weather. This stock was made out to Annie Trainor, a young Irish servant girl who worked for a wealthy family in West Haverstraw, New York during the 1860s. Probably it was a gift given to her from the family, but unfortunately the company was no more successful than the Armstrong Company was in Knowersville. Mary Ellen Johnson, Annie Trainor’s great-granddaughter, still owns the share of stock.

— From the United States Department of Energy Office of Fossil Energy

Early percussion rigs were used in Pennsylvania in the late 1800s.

Once upon a time, a tiny village dreamed of a natural-resource discovery that would lead to growth, development, and prosperity. The Dec. 12, 1885 Knowersville Enterprise headlines summarized it all: “A Great Scheme, A Plan Which May bring Untold Wealth to Knowersville, Hunting For Natural Gas Wells Among The Helderbergs.”

Imagine the astonishment, excitement, and probably skepticism and controversy in the little hamlet when Mr. W.H. Granby, representing the Pennsylvania Gas Company, showed up in town to announce that the company intended to drill at the base of the Helderbergs for oil and natural gas, chiefly gas.

Based on their theory that the Knowersville area was directly east of that part of Pennsylvania where gas and oil had been found only 26 years earlier, the company, also known as Armstrong & Co., proposed to lease local mineral rights to five- or six-thousand acres. The proposed leases included a nominal sum to be paid to the property owners, including the promise of “a fair percentage of the profits.”

To prevent any rival companies from drilling nearby wells in the event of a productive well being discovered, the company felt it necessary to lease such extensive acreage from the local farmers.

Enterprise Editor J.D. Ogsbury noted the many advantages that would occur with gas’s discovery. Property would be quadrupled in value, then followed by extensive development in the area, raising the population to “more desirable proportions.”

The nearby cities of Albany, Troy, and Schenectady would demand this “wonderfully cheap new fuel” and much of the money they spent for it “will find its way into the opulent pockets of the sturdy farmers around us.” Ogsbury couldn’t imagine why any landowner would refuse to sign one of the leases. He concluded by quoting in detail the favorable opinions of prominent men in the community, all in favor of signing the leases.

By the end of February 1886, Mr. Granby returned after having obtained leases to 10,000 acres northwest of Catskill, now prepared to sign up landowners in the Knowersville area. The Enterprise added, “The company, we learn from various sources, is most reliable, and we are well satisfied that no one need hesitate a moment to execute a lease with them … With a gas well in successful operation  in Knowersville there would be such a rush of manufacturers to this place as would give it a large city’s growth in a very few years.”

By early March, mineral rights to two- to three-thousand acres had been obtained from farmers coming in to sign leases, but “some are holding back” (italics in the original). Pressure began to be put on the skeptics who refused to be rushed into such a big decision.

Trying to push them, the newspaper claimed only the Pennsylvania Company had the capital to finance the $8,000 it would cost to drill the well and the $100,000 capital to utilize the gas if it were discovered.  

Within a few weeks, Mr. Granby announced that considering almost all the land needed had been leased, the order for drilling equipment had been put in. However, there were still a few stubborn holdouts refusing to sign, and increased pressure was put on the reluctant signers. The Enterprise warned that the company might abandon its efforts as a result of their unwillingness to commit.

The next week’s edition was relieved that “Mr. George Dutcher, after standing out some time, leased his farm to Mr. Granby and so have others since our last issue,” giving his company control over 5,511 acres. At this stage, Mr. Granby was busy negotiating for timber necessary to build the drill framework.

Two weeks later, Mr. Granby’s efforts were rewarded by additional leases being signed. The drilling equipment and timber were on order. In the meantime the drilling site had been selected.

Earlier, The Enterprise had speculated that the drilling would take place either at the base of Indian Ladder or in Alexander Crounse’s gully, but finally the part of the Severson farm just back of the village was selected as the drilling site (in the area of present-day Severson Avenue). Early May was the target date for drilling to begin.

Impatience was growing the next week when Mr. Granby was called out of town to meet with gas-company executives and confer with the men who would be doing the drilling. Returning, he assured locals that the materials for building and operating the derrick would soon reach Knowersville. Enterprise readers were told “next week” would see real activity begin.

Next week became two weeks, but finally the lumber having arrived, was unloaded from the (railroad) “cars.” Skilled workmen were due to arrive any day, then “in two or three days.” Finally, at the end of May, Mr. Granby and his workers were preparing to really get started, but unfortunately the rig iron and other materials were still in transit.

Early June brought great excitement as at last the derrick was erected. A carload of drilling components had come and drilling was expected to begin in days, but first it was necessary to build an engine house to protect the machinery from the weather. All that was needed now was the engine.

Drilling had not yet begun when, in the last week of June, Mr. Granby announced that he had discovered a spring two miles from Knowersville that he refused to identify more closely. He claimed to have noticed traces of sulphur, bailed out the spring, inserted a pipe down a few feet, lit a match and “we soon had a tiny flame of gas.”

Drilling begins, hopes high

Singed leaves and branches were displayed as proof for skeptics. Soon after this teaser, the engine, drills, and four skilled “drill men” arrived. Work could finally begin! It was now the end of June.

The arrival of the big day soon found the workers drilling through solid rock. At press time, The Enterprise reported they had drilled down 100 feet still pushing through solid rock, but soon another complication interfered with progress.

In 1886, the engine powering the drill was a steam engine requiring a steady supply of water. Quickly it became necessary to sink a second well in an attempt to find an additional water source. As it was, water was being carried in by the barrelful, slowing drilling considerably. The water problem dealt with, drilling resumed, reaching a depth of 300 feet.

“Gas At Last, A Big Flame Is Burning In The Ravine” were the excited headlines in the July 17 Enterprise. At the depth of between 500 and 600 feet, a vein of gas was struck that flamed up in the nearby ravine where Mr. Philley’s picnic grounds were located, “a novel and interesting sight and justly caused considerable excitement among our townsmen … .”

The drillers themselves were surprised at finding gas at such a depth and intended going down to 1,500 feet, seeking a stronger flow of gas. Editor Ogsbury bragged, “…it is now reasonably certain that Knowersville is destined to become the centre of a great gas producing region.”

Drilling continued to a depth of 1,300 feet in the quest for the sand rock where drillers could expect to locate gas. A week later, a depth of 1,600 feet had been reached, but having run out of rope, drillers were forced to wait for the arrival of additional rope to allow them to get down to 2,200 feet.

In the meantime, State Geologist Professor Hall made the pronouncement that any gas found so far was useless marsh gas (methane), and no supplies of natural gas would be found. The Enterprise pooh-poohed this, calling Professor Hall’s comments, “bosh.”

With the arrival of additional rope, drilling reached 1,900 feet, but it was slow going, half the progress as formerly. The drillers were not yet discouraged, having run into similar rock stratum elsewhere.

Next, the gas company was forced to make further investment to repair the derrick, replacing the original wheel with a much larger one that “greatly supplements the power of the engine, and they are ready for heavy drilling.”

After two months of unsuccessful drilling, it was now the end of August. A week later, a report that one of the shafts connected to the derrick’s large “band-wheel” had broken, resulting in suspension of drilling for several days.

It was no surprise that The Enterprise reported people in the vicinity were getting discouraged with the unsuccessful well, but quoted the highly experienced crew boss who said, “he was losing confidence in the present well, he was confident that there was an abundant supply of gas within a short distance.” But mid-September brought fresh encouragement when the drillers got through the black rock, hitting gray “lime rock” at a depth of almost 2,000 feet.

Drilling stops, dreams die

Three weeks later, drilling activity at the well had stopped. Knowersville’s dreams of growth, wealth, and importance came to an end shortly afterwards.

News spreading in the village and vicinity that the well would be exploded attracted people to the site of the well to witness the event. A slight jar was felt and, as expected by the drillers, this last-ditch effort brought no sign of gas.

The 12 empty cans with glycerine remnants were then taken back to the woods to be exploded. “The report was terrific” and at first onlookers thought it was from the well itself, but were disappointed. The company then moved on to the Knox farm of James Finch to try again.

The only benefit to come from the gas exploration was that the farmers who had leased their land to the company earned a rental payment of 12 ½ cents per acre, paid in early November by Messrs. Armstrong, Hindman & Co. who then dropped the leases.

The Enterprise was forced to return to reporting more mundane events in the little village, which grew and prospered at a slower rate than if their natural gas dreams had come true!


— Photo by Greg Goutos

Sweet reward: Audrey Tarullo, a resident at the Omni Senior complex in Guilderland, happily receives a raffle prize, a box of Candy Kraft candies, presented to her by Boy Scout Jared Lasselle of Troop 264. Community Caregivers held its annual dinner at the Omni on March 30, with this year commemorating the organization’s 25th anniversary.

— Photo by Greg Goutos

All smiles: Omni resident Jane Perry is handed a very welcoming prize from University at Albany student, Yuka Mogi, a visiting student here from Japan for four months.

In an evening filled with celebration and excitement, the residents of the Omni Senior Living Community enjoyed a dinner sponsored by Community Caregivers, on Saturday, March 30. This marked the 18th year that the annual event was held at the complex, which is located on Carman Road in Guilderland.

The 55 senior residents in attendance enjoyed a complimentary Italian dinner and cake for dessert.  The food was donated by local restaurants, as well as from the support of members of the Community Caregivers Board of Directors.

The theme of this year’s event was in celebration of Community Caregivers’ 25th anniversary. A special cake was decorated to commemorate the milestone for the not-for-profit organization, which was founded in 1994 in Altamont.

The organization provides non-medical services to residents of Albany County at no charge, by matching local volunteers with nearby clients. The Caregivers’ office is located at 2021 Western Ave. in Guilderland.

After some welcoming remarks, Carol LaFleur was then introduced as the newly-appointed executive director of Community Caregivers. She talked about the types of services that the organization offers to its clients, and the ongoing need for new volunteers to become involved.

She also thanked the several volunteers on hand for taking the time to continue the tradition of hosting the annual dinner at the Omni for all these years.

This year, two groups assisted the Community Caregivers’ staff and other volunteers, in helping to serve the dinner and hand out the raffle prizes. Members of Boy Scout Troop 264 in Altamont were present. Also, several students from the University at Albany, who are from Japan as part of a special four-month English-language program, volunteered. The seniors truly enjoyed interacting with the Scouts and college students throughout the evening, making the event both an intergenerational and multicultural experience for all involved.

After the dessert was served, everyone eagerly awaited the moment when they might hear their name called for winning one of the many raffle prizes donated by local businesses. As the tickets were randomly drawn by the Scouts and the university students, the smiling faces of each winner were captured in the many photographs taken.

Also included as giveaways, were the vases of beautiful daffodils that each table had as a centerpiece.  Nearly everyone happily went back to their apartments with something in hand.

More than 17 volunteers participated this year; their help was gratefully appreciated. From Boy Scout Troop 264 in Altamont, there was Jared Lasselle, Lucas Stang, and Alex Ware. Also assisting were Rinka Ogawa, Mone Izuka, and Yuka Mogi, who are attending the University at Albany as part of a partnership program with their Japanese universities.

The Caregivers’ staff on hand included Mary Morrison, Petra Malitz, Linda Miller, Sue Griffiths, and Carol LaFleur. The Community Caregivers volunteers involved were Andrea and Frank Saragaglia, Tom Morrison, and Nellie and Greg Goutos.

Also, we would like to thank the manager at the Omni Senior complex, Sandy Murphy, for all her support. A special thank-you is due to Mary McGann, an Omni resident who for years has worked on many of the details for the annual event, serving as our on-site coordinator.

Most of the food for the dinner was donated by local restaurants, with thanks to Bountiful Bread, and especially The 99 Restaurant. Also, thank you to Stewart’s Shops for its contribution of several items.  

Raffle prizes were generously donated by local businesses, including Robinson’s Hardware, Candy Kraft, The Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza, Carman Wine & Liquor, Marotta’s Towne Pizza, the Bamboo Chinese Restaurant, and the Corner Ice Cream Store. Also contributing were, The Altamont Enterprise, Price Chopper/Market 32, Hannaford Supermarket, and Stewart’s Shops.

Also supporting the event in various ways were St. Matthew’s Church in Voorheesville and the Altamont Reformed Church.

A special acknowledgement and thank-you goes to the several board members and staff members who supported the event, either by their time or by their financial contributions toward some of the food and raffle items.


Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit or call us at 518-456-2898.

Editor’s note: Greg Goutos is a Community Caregivers’ volunteer who has run the annual dinner at Omni since its inception.


Once again, a guy who looks like me killed those who don’t. The heart-wrenching murder of 50 Muslims at the hands of a white supremacist on March 15 played out as it has so many times in the past, with a narcissistic male high on hate wreaking carnage on innocent families engaged in prayer.

But because it happened in New Zealand, this time the response was different. And mind-bogglingly swift.

Within six days, the national government had banned “military-style semi-automatic assault rifles” (read: AR-15s) and mandated that all such weapons be surrendered. There was virtually no opposition — because, in New Zealand, there’s no legal provision affirming an individual’s right to own weapons.

With gratitude to The Enterprise for affording me the outlet, this column externalizes my inner turmoil as I try to reconcile my American identity with the social costs of my gun ownership.

This month, America recognizes the 244th anniversary of the battles of Lexington and Concord. At dawn on April 19, 1775, the colonists who confronted British forces on the Lexington town green did so with weapons beyond the Crown’s control; the American Revolutionary War erupted with the “shot heard round the world,” and instantly enshrined a critical ethos in the minds of our nation’s founders:

“A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

I’m intolerant of those who endeavor to read ambiguity into the elegance of our Constitution’s Second Amendment; there just really isn’t a good-faith claim of vagueness. But for the benefit of those who profess confusion, I’ll add three words and delete a fourth:

Given that a well-regulated Militia is necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

There’s no room for misinterpretation here. With a blood-soaked rebellion against an overreaching government still fresh in their minds, our Constitution’s authors knew that you cannot have a well-regulated militia unless the people possess weapons with which to equip it.

Centralized government control of the weapon supply was the precise evil against which the Second Amendment was designed to ward. It codified the recognition that Revolution would have been impossible had the people no arms with which to marshal a militia to meet the Red Coats.

In short, the Second Amendment established as a fundamental right a last-ditch means of ensuring all the others.

Ergo, the critical question before us now is not what the Second Amendment means, but whether it must be abolished. Any debate concerning gun control that avoids this singular question is disingenuous.

The Second Amendment does not say: “A well-regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of a well-regulated militia to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

A militia can only materialize (and become well-regulated) if people have the arms with which to report.  Those who claim, for example, that the National Guard is the intended “well-regulated militia” misapprehend Title 32 of the United States Code, which places state forces under the control of the president.

Nor does the Second Amendment say: “A dinner consisting of turkey and venison, being an enjoyable end to a day of sport-hunting, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

While Americans may possess a national imagination rife with hunting traditions and lore, thinning bison herds on our great Western plains was not what concerned the delegates to the 1787 Philadelphia Convention.

And, notwithstanding the preposterously-reasoned 2008 Supreme Court decision United States v. Heller (554 U.S. 570), the Second Amendment also does not say: “The ability to employ lethal force, being necessary to the security of a person’s home, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

Writing for the majority in the Court’s 5-to-4 decision, the late Justice Antonin Scalia affirmed that the Second Amendment “protects an individual right to possess a firearm unconnected with service in a militia.”

However, he went on to hold that this “ancient right of individuals to keep and bear arms” was in the service of another rationale, to wit, for the sake of self-defense.


While self-defense might be a beneficial byproduct of possessing firearms, the political imperative of the Second Amendment was forged in the fire of war, where patriot statesmen envisioned a citizenry’s capacity to muster their muskets and bravely stand their ground against the excesses of tyranny — as a ragtag force of irregular volunteers declaring their inalienable liberty. (And furthermore declaring their bratty unwillingness to pay their fair share for debts stemming from the French and Indian War, but who’s counting?)

In evaluating what’s “necessary to the security of a free State”, ask:  Free from what?  Secure against whom?  It wasn’t the home intruder that concerned the Founders, but rather the government oppression they’d endured as colonists, and the war their former overlords had waged against their audacious declaration of inalienable rights. 

Yet irrespective of the Heller decision’s underlying reasoning, its outcome bolsters the clear intent of the Constitution’s framers: Individuals are to be assured of their personal right to keep and bear arms.

And so we arrive at the prevailing fever-pitch political consideration: whether the lethal consequence of preserving the right to square off against the government is too dire to maintain that right. Can we justify the societal cost of 39,773 nationwide gun deaths in 2017 — the largest yearly total on records maintained by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — against the remote prospect of coercive government oppression?

I don’t know.

What I do know is that my precious niece and nephews are turning into little people who will soon roam school hallways that a sole disturbed individual might transform into a battlefield. On the other hand, I also know that, even in recent history, members of my ethnic group have been repeatedly targeted for extermination by a slew of central governments.

I know that the weapons I’m issued in the Army are designed for use against apocalyptically dangerous enemies and require significant specialized training. On the other hand, I also know that soldiers like me are the ones who tyrants unleash against a populace that would be utterly defenseless without its own source of firepower, whether in Syria today or on a colonial town green 244 years ago.

I don’t know the answer. But I do know the question: “Is it time to abolish the Second Amendment?”

The Constitution has been amended 27 times; even the amendments themselves have been amended. So don’t think you can dodge the question.

Sure, you can circumscribe the right to bear arms without infringing it, say: by requiring that firearms remain only in the home, unloaded in a locked safe; or by requiring notice to and approval by a federal agency upon receipt of any firearm, whether purchased at a store or gun show or via inheritance or transfer; or by restricting the type of firearms that citizens can possess to the point that the right itself is merely symbolic; or by installing technological mechanisms restricting a gun’s use exclusively to that of the actual owner.

But understand that merely constraining the method of gun ownership so as to preserve an inarguable Constitutional right will always enable the lone wolf, the bigot, the deranged, the vengeful, or the domestic abuser, to harm the ones we love.

The choice is nightmarishly stark: abolition, or acceptance.

In addition to 39,773 gun deaths, America in 2017 also suffered 40,231 fatal motor-vehicle accidents and over 80,000 alcohol-related deaths. Yet we accept the tragedies inflicted by both cars and alcohol as necessary evils in our society.

Are weekly shootings thus the price of freedom? Of being an American, as opposed to a Kiwi?

I just don’t know.

But it makes me cry that, for so many of my fellow Americans, this is not a hypothetical question. Until we divine an answer, may God protect us — both from the tyrants, and from ourselves.


Hamilton Union Presbyterian Church in Guilderland has blue hymnals in all the pews. If you open one of these and turn to Number 372 you’ll find one entitled “Lord, I want to be a Christian.”

Look closer, right under the title, and you’ll see “I want to be a Christian” is printed again, with the word “irregular” next to it. My lovely church-organist, choir-director, piano-teacher wife, Charlotte, tells me irregular in this context means the “time signature” is different in different parts of the hymn.

That’s all fine and dandy, especially if you’re a musician and even know what she’s talking about. What I did instead was string all the words together, which makes it “I want to be a Christian irregular.” As it turns out that just about describes me perfectly.

You see, there is something called the “religious right” and “evangelicals” and all that. They believe in Jesus Christ, of course, but some of the other things they espouse are just anathema to me.

For example, take the concept of “biblical inerrancy.” This is where you get “creationists” who believe in “intelligent design,” with the Earth being only about 5,000 years old and our ancestors riding around on dinosaurs like horses.

Then you have so-called evangelists who traipse into some jungle somewhere and find people who have never even seen a white person not to mention electricity, plumbing, etc., and try to “convert” them. Things like that keep me out of the religious right.

I think I need to be in the religious left, if there is such a thing. I guess that’s why “I want to be a Christian irregular” works so well for me. It’s perfect.

For one thing, go out on your front lawn and pick up a stone. That sucker is many thousands if not millions of years old. The age of rocks is determined by science, specifically “carbon dating.” Look it up.

For another thing, instead of trying to “convert” anyone, how about helping them with farming, irrigation, and basic medical needs? Once they see you are out to help them — that your intentions are unselfish and true — you will have led them by example, just as Jesus himself did two thousand years ago.

Then there will be no need to convert anyone; when you tell them it’s the love of Jesus Christ that makes it all possible, they’ll get it. Radical concept for many, I know, but love always works.

I actually had a very conservative relative say to me once, with a straight face: “The problem with this country is the separation of church and state.” Hello?

We have a thing called the First Amendment, which clearly states: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

The whole point of the American Experiment is people fleeing from persecution and being able to follow any faith they want or no faith at all. That’s what makes us great. Don’t ever forget this!

I consider myself a science-based guy. Maybe there really was a Garden of Eden, or maybe the Adam and Eve story is just one of many “creation myths” that so many religions have. The thing is, the theory of evolution works, and to ignore it or trivialize it is just plain foolish.

I’m not saying we’re necessarily descended from apes, but the evidence for evolution is strong and can be tested even more as time goes on. When that deer runs out of the way of your car, he or she reproduces and creates more deer that run away from cars. That’s evolution. Survival of the fittest. It makes sense.

Here’s another touchy one. Who am I to tell a woman who was raped, or been a victim of incest, or is told she may die if she continues a pregnancy, that she has to deliver to term? Are you kidding me?

Within reason — by reason I mean very early — you have to let her have an abortion if she wants one. Anything else is just adding insult to injury.

Of course, if you give women that power, they must use it responsibly. Abortion is not birth control. No one wants to see actual babies with beating hearts killed. Conversely, no one wants to see women in back alleys getting unsafe abortions, either.

I know this is sensitive and causes endless debate and often violence, which is reprehensible. Still, within reason, women have to have the right to control their own bodies. I know if I were a woman, I’d expect nothing less.

Just be glad I’m not a woman because shaving my face on a regular basis is tedious enough so I’d be walking around with hairy legs all the time and you wouldn’t want to see that I’m sure.

You see why “I want to be a Christian irregular” works for me? With those last few paragraphs, I just got myself kicked out of many if not most churches and places of worship. Good thing I have a thick skin. Many say I have a thick skull as well. They’re probably right.

For me, it’s like this: If you believe Jesus Christ is the son of God who died for our sins, you believe he represents universal love and salvation. He loves everyone created in God’s image, and that indeed means everyone, no matter their race, gender, creed, or sexual orientation.

He’s not going to separate children from their parents at the border, because that’s just cruel. He’s not going to say a woman pastor can’t preach to men because that makes no sense.

When they asked Jesus what’s the one rule above all others, he said, “Love your neighbor.” He didn’t qualify what kind of neighbor, either. I’m totally down with that, unless my neighbor is playing drums at 3 a.m. and I have to work the next day, haha.

One big reason why “I want to be a Christian irregular” works so well for me is that I will never pull one line out of the Bible and use it as an excuse to ostracize or alienate anyone or anything. You see this kind of thing in all religions, unfortunately.

Again, it’s all about Jesus Christ. “What would Jesus do?” is kind of a cliché at this point, but it basically says it all. He would always act with love, care, wisdom, and respect — period. Everything else flows from that basic premise.

One time I went to a church that was having a celebration of their brand-new outdoor pavilion. It was a beautiful structure and you could tell the church was going to make great use of it.

As I ambled around just admiring the whole thing, I came across a sign with a bunch of “no”s listed. Most of them were things you’d expect: no smoking, no drinking, no skateboarding — standard things like that.

But the very last one shocked me, because it said “No dancing.” Why no dancing? Dance is one of the crowning achievements of the human condition.

Go to the New York City Ballet next time they’re in Saratoga and see the true joy in motion that these artists/athletes achieve. And when did slow dancing with your spouse at some kind of celebration, like a wedding, become a bad thing? The only reason I don’t dance more is because I’m really bad at it, but someday, with any luck at all, I do hope to learn.

You see why I need to be in the “religious left?” I have the crazy idea there’s nothing wrong with dancing:

Call me a heathen,

I don’t care,

‘cause someday I’ll dance,

like Fred Astaire.

All kidding aside, “I want to be a Christian irregular” is now my personal slogan. If you’ve read this far, you’re welcome to use it as well. Good old Hymn number 372 – gotta love it.


Some of the Old Men of the Mountain wandered over the mountain on Tuesday, March 25, to Pop’s Place in Preston Hollow to have breakfast. For most of the OFs, it was a nice ride, while others who live close by did not get a chance to see the sun rise from the top of the hill.

A well-kept secret was disclosed at the breakfast on Tuesday morning. A larger portion of the OMOTM than would be imagined still like to watch cartoons; this, however, may not be a bad idea.

The OFs say it takes them out of all the crazy stuff that is going on around the world right now. The OFs would rather watch Elmer Fudd chase Bugs Bunny into his underground home than deal with all the “garbage” (OMOTM term) that is in the news and on television.

The OMOTM think the news is designed to excite and agitate, so more news is generated and therefore more news is there to report on. There are some OFs who don’t think like this, but they think there are now so many more people, and technology brings the whole world in real time to all the kooks and with more people there are just more kooks. (The scribe notes that there may be more people, but kooks are less in percentage.)

The problem is that the copycats view each incident and the news has their actions blasted all over the place so it encourages those on the edge to take action. With many, all they want is to get their name in the news.

This is worldwide. We also have the “terrorists” running around doing their thing. Cartoons are much better way to keep these OFs sane.

Hoarders or collectors?

The OF keep talking about hoarders; some OFs accuse other OFs of being hoarders, and these OFs consider themselves collectors.

Tuesday morning’s conversation started in the same vein but the “collectors” queried the ones who claimed they were hoarders about what they had accumulated over the 50, 60, and even 70 years of roaming around this planet. What did they have stuck on shelves and in the garage or attic?

It was found there is a considerable amount of stuff (junk, knickknacks, momentos) in the OFs’ homes so that, if the OFs ever got together, really downsized, and had a unified garage sale, it would be one heck of a garage sale.

It was also found that in this conversation most of, if not all of, the OFs have not stopped adding to their collecting. As one OF put it, “If it is on sale, and it is a good one, it’s for me.”

So the collections grow even if the OF is 75 or 80 years old. When the OF’s number is called way up yonder and the OF kicks the bucket, his kids will have to deal with all this. One OF said his kids will just hire a truck, throw everything in it, and haul it to the dump.

Morbid but necessary talk

Speaking about all this made the subject turn to nursing homes, retirement homes, and assisted-living facilities. These are not places the OFs want to talk about, but they realize these places might be a home of the future to some.

The largest lament of the OFs is that they do not want to be a burden to their kids. (Although some say their kids were such a pain when they were growing up, the OFs wanted to get old and become a burden to them).

The OFs call it payback time. This, of course, was uttered with tongue well placed in cheek.

One OF said the worst place to visit is a nursing home. The OFs said to him so many of them know where they are and don’t want to be there. The other OFs knowingly agreed and hoped it would not be their last stopping place on this Earth. This was a morbid type of conversation for the OMOTM, but necessary in a way.


A fresh story was related by one OMOTM. It seems this OF and his spouse, on returning back to the Northeast from their southern home, decided to follow the Civil Rights Trail (sort of) for a different way to arrive home, and they took their time. For the most part they used Airbnb for their places to stay and said that part was very interesting too.

Some of the states and places they stopped at were: New Orleans and Bourbon Street in Louisiana; a southern plantation; Selma, Alabama and the Edmund Pettus Bridge; Memphis, Tennessee; and Plains, Georgia, home of the former president, Jimmy Carter. These are the ones this scribe can remember but there were others.

The Airbnb experiences were different; one they mentioned was not the home, but the neighborhood it was in. They said the homes around it were rundown; there was an abandoned school at the end of the street, and yet they had no problems.

The house the OMOTM couple stayed in was really nice they said. They mentioned that this house did not go with the surrounding neighborhood.

This points up a fact that in the current social time it is smart to plan for the retirement years when at a young age so trips like this and other traveling, or relocation to a retirement home in a warmer climate, or even (for skiers) a winter climate, is possible.

When the OFs were young, the kids were groomed to take over the farm or business. Today that is much less the case, and, if the retirement years aren’t planned for, a newly formed YF into an OF, well, he is stuck.

The OMOTM happens to have a mixture of both planners and no-planners, and there is a third group that has so much money it doesn’t make any difference, and they include: Wally Guest, Harold Guest, John Rossmann, Marty Herzog, Bill Lichliter, Robie Osterman, George Washburn, Mark Traver, Joe Rack, Otis Lawyer, Mace Porter, Herb Bahrmann, Mike Willsey, (Winnie Chartier), Gerry Chartier, and me.


The Village Movement that has spread across the country with residents helping each other as they age to remain living in their homes and community is making strides in the Capital District. This grassroots effort usually includes forming a not-for-profit membership organization to offer services, programs, and social events that older adults value; typically, some or all of the offerings are provided by volunteers.

Bethlehem Neighbors, for residents of the town of Bethlehem, was relaunched in February at a gathering at the Bethlehem Public Library attended by over 40 people. A second public informational meeting for Bethlehem Neighbors will be held on May 15 in the evening beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the library.   

Bethlehem Neighbors originally was formed in the Colonial Acres neighborhood in Bethlehem and became inactive. Community Caregivers has provided support and assistance to re-develop Bethlehem Neighbors as a town-wide organization with a new slate of officers elected.

The new officers are still working on organizational development issues including membership criteria and developing committees to address needs such as home repair, health education, and other issues.   Community Caregivers and Senior Services of the Town of Bethlehem are working with Bethlehem Neighbors to support its activities and make sure to coordinate their services.

Meanwhile, Community Caregivers and other organizations have been meeting in the city of Albany to promote the development of the village concept there. Meetings have been held for several months with representatives of various neighborhoods and senior organizations to try and enhance support for persons in all neighborhoods.

Select areas of the city offer village-type support to older residents. For example, Senior Services of Albany has developed a Village in Livingston School Apartments on Northern Boulevard, which is a former middle school. The Whitehall-New Scotland area has state funding for a NNORC or Neighborhood Naturally Occurring Retirement Community, where there is a higher concentration of older residents.

In nearby counties, there are villages developing in the Clifton Park area with Shenendehowa Neighbors, northern Columbia County and a new effort has started in Niskayuna. The Albany Guardian Society has received funding from the State Office for the Aging to launch a Village Technical Assistance Center to provide support to local communities looking to explore how to develop a village.

The Albany Guardian Society also hosts the Capital Region Villages Collaborative, which meets bimonthly and is open for those interested in the Village Movement locally; please call 518-434-4120 for more information.


Community Caregivers Inc. is a not-for-profit organization that provides non-medical services including transportation and caregiver support at no charge to residents of Guilderland, Bethlehem, Altamont, New Scotland, Berne, Knox, and the city of Albany through a strong volunteer pool of dedicated individuals with a desire to assist their neighbors.

Our funding is derived in part from the Albany County Department for Aging, the New York State Office for the Aging, and the United States Administration on Aging. To find out more about our services, as well as volunteer opportunities, please visit or call us at 518-456-2898

Editor’s note: Michael Burgess is a program consultant for Community Caregivers.