Altamont, Apr. 17, 2014

While wandering up and down the aisles at the grocery store today, I stopped in the health products area and was reminded of a comment that was made, several years ago. I have told the story before, but this part of it was driven home on this trip to the grocers. 

The story was about a husband from Poland who came to the United States and worked two full time jobs. When asked why, He said, “In Poland I worked 80 hours on one job and couldn’t buy shoes for my family. Here I work 80 hours and can buy them anything they want.”

I often think about this family and how happy they were to be here in Altamont. That comment was made about 30 years ago.  They were also very impressed with the huge variety of items available for purchase in the stores. Since that time the aisles have expanded as the selections available have grown. That is why today’s trip reminded me of that comment.

I was looking for a tube of toothpaste. We were low and it was time to get another to keep our mouths fresh and healthy. As I approached the toothpaste aisle, I was thrown into a quandary. Instead of a few tubes of small, medium, and large I was confronted with an array of choices that would perplex even the most experienced shopper.

The first thing that I had to do was locate the brand of toothpaste that I wanted. They had Crest, Colgate, Arm and Hammer, Rembrandt and many others. I decided to check out the section that housed the Crest toothpaste. I was immediately presented with a problem that I did not expect. Evidently, the manufacturers no longer package items in small, medium, and large. They had large, extra-large and economy sizes. You could get a two pack, three pack or a sample travel size.

Because the economy size was touted as the biggest bargain for the buck my mind was made up and I was going to put that choice in my basket. But wait. There was more. Now I had to decide what flavor I wanted. They had the original which left me just as confused as when I began because I could not remember what the original tasted like.

Was it like a candy cane or perhaps it was bacon flavored? The new choices included a few flavored by mouthwashes that they also sell. This way you get a two for one.

Convinced that the sale was complete I reached for a tube of economy size Crest toothpaste, with mouth freshening Scope only to see there was yet another level of knowledge that was required. Did I want toothpaste that would make my teeth whiter? What about a tooth paste that would protect my teeth from cavities and help if they are sensitive to the hot and cold?

At this point, my mind was going back to stories from my mother about putting some salt or baking soda in her hand. She would then dip her toothbrush into some water and then into the concoction in her hand and wind up with a fresh, healthy mouth. The thought was a very appealing solution to my frustration. However, if everyone did that the manufactures would not need several feet of shelf space and our selection would probably go back to one variety in small, medium, and large. So I gave in and threw the selection into my shopping cart and turned to another product that I hoped would not create such a quandary for me.

When we hear people talk about the good old days and look at the selection that we have in stores today we wonder what was better about those good old days? 

My father was the fisherman in our family. We always had fish on Friday and dad was responsible to pick up what we needed. Of course, that was after getting directions from my mother. No, he did not go to the seafood department at the grocery store. He went down to the docks where all of the fishing boats came into port. At the fish market my father would ask for the catch of the day. If it was something like swordfish the man behind the counter would ask, “How thick do you want me to slice it for you, Arthur?” You can’t get it any better or fresher than that.

Jim was reminded of the neighborhood where he was raised. His father was raised in the same neighborhood and when his father was young Jim’s grandmother would knead the bread and rolls, put them on a board, cover them with a towel and send Jim’s dad to the bakery on the corner to bake everything for them. This was one of the services that were available and especially helpful because most of the families had stoves without ovens.

When Jim’s dad went back to pick up the freshly baked breads and rolls, there was always a small loaf of bread, hot out of the oven that was his reward for running the errand for his mother.

Other shops in the neighborhood included a meat market where all of the sausages, cold cuts and other specialty items were made in-house. The butcher made arrangements to receive a cow, pig, calf, chickens and other meats straight from the farms.

Produce was another item straight from the farm. If you wanted certain vegetables or fruit you could only get them when they were in season. The local markets only received what they could purchase locally which also gave rise to many of the gardens that proliferated in the neighborhood. During World War II, Victory Gardens, were encouraged and even in the cities you could find a garden on almost every empty lot.

There is a lot to be said about the freshness of food in “The Good Old Days” but I think that I would rather have the frustration of choosing from many similar items than waiting until something came into season.

The good old days were wonderful in many ways. They set the scene for what we have today. Innovators have improved and modified products to give us more choices. They have encouraged entrepreneurs to invest in stores with more variety and in inventions that have improved the quality of our life.

We have come a long way from the local market to the all in one stores where groceries, hardware items, clothing, toys, computers and just about anything you could ask for is located in one place. Now all we have to do is remember that we do not need everything that is in that one store and also whatever we purchase must be paid for even if we just take it out of the store after swiping a plastic card through a machine.

DD visit

Members of Helderberg Chapter 331, Order of Eastern Star welcomed Patricia McAllister, District Deputy Grand Matron of the Albany, Rennsselaer, Schenectady district at her official visit to the Altamont chapter this past Thursday evening.  She was escorted by Edward Mosso, the District Grand Lecturer.  Also in attendance was Clifford Gross, Past Grand Patron. Other Eastern Star members visiting Altamont were from the George Hope and Van Rensselaer Star Chapters who assisted in the evenings activities.

A buffet supper prepared by Christa Caruso was enjoyed by all in attendance. Her lemon fruitcake was a hit and several members and guests admitted to taking a second-helping. The tables were covered with blue tablecloths, blue napkins, pink plates and cups, pink-lace mats, a little teapot and a small vase containing  small pink roses, all part of the deputies theme for the year..  Kitchen assistance was provided by Edmund Doyle, a Guilderland High School National Honor Society member.

Following the supper, the Bell Choir from Berne churches, under the direction of Stacey Wright, Matron was a hit according to several attendees.

Helderberg officers

The following members will serve as officers of Helderberg Chapter, No. 331, Order

of Eastern Star for the following year:  Stacey Wright, Matron; Gerald Irwin, Patron; Jean

Wright, Associate Matron; James Caruso, Associate Patron; Anne Vlahos, Conductress;

Shirley DeSess, Associate Conductress;  Sheila Stempel, Secretary; Treasurer, Beverly

Harrington; Trustee three-years, Betty Spadaro; Trustee two-years, Sandra Kisselbac; and Trustee one-year, Claire Beckenstein.

Scholarship applications

It has been announced that the Guilderland PTA Scholarship applications are available in the guidance office.  Students who have been accepted by a college or a recognized institution for post high school education and has demonstrated financial need are eligible to apply for the award. 

The deadline to submit an application is Friday, May 2.

Junior prom

Juniors at the Guilderland High School are preparing for their junior prom that will be

held on Saturday, May 10.  The event will take place at the Hilton in downtown Albany. 

Tickets will go on sale before and after school in room 111 beginning on Tuesday, April

22 through Friday, April 25.  Prom tickets are $ 65 and must be paid by check payable to GHS. 

Senior citizens

All seniors living in the town of Guilderland are invited to attend the senior luncheon and Karaoke on Tuesday, April 29, at noon. The luncheon will be held at Settles Hill Banquet House located at 123 Settles Hill Road, Route 20 in Altamont. Entertainment will be provided by Stephen Buess, Karaoke Master. Transportation is available, but interested persons  must  contact the town of Guilderland senior office.

Luncheon tickets are $17 and checks should be made payable to the Town of Guilderland. Payments can be mailed to thetown or dropped off at the town offices.

Luncheon tickets  were available through April 15, however if interested , a few seats might be available.  Call the town offices for further information at 456-1980. 


Happy-anniversary  wishes are extended to:

— Nancy and Paul Krauss celebrating their special day on April 18, and  

— Kort and Dennis Schaeger on April 21. 


Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:

— Darlene Adams, Jim McHugh, and Joey Sells on April 18;

— Tracy Avgerinas, Christopher Cure, and Emily Cure on April 19;

 —  Lisa Ackerman, Jacking Lafleche and Ginny Woods on April 20;

 — Harold Hubbard, Sheila Delaney Martin, Nicholas Daniel Murray, Todd

Rosa, and Michael Rose on April 21;

— Jane Felgentreff, Sarah Haviland, and Alex LeClair on April 22; 

— Bernadette Virkler on April 23; and

— Carol Donato and Michael Reid on April 24.