Altamont, Nov. 14, 2013

When my mother-in-law was alive and our children were young, they would look forward to our visits to see grandma and grandpa in West Hartford, Conn. My father-in-law was an accountant just like my father. They were both good with numbers and always looked for good investments.

My father partnered with a friend who bought a waterfront restaurant in New Bedford, Mass. Dad was the business partner who took care of the records, ordered supplies, kept the checkbook, and filed all of the tax reports. His partner hired the employees, managed the staff and was on hand during the day to keep everything running smoothly.

There is always a call for food at the waterfront in an active port like New Bedford. The men and women who go out to sea come home after nine days to sell their catch and re-provision for the next sailing. During their time in port they made repairs, bought new supplies, visited with their family and friends, and enjoyed some home cooking.

The diner my father was involved with catered more to the tourists and families who visited the waterfront. It was popular with the local families and many of the people from church stopped in frequently. It always made me chuckle when people asked for the swordfish and the waiter would ask, “How thick do you want us to cut it?” Of course, the restaurant was right on the waterfront and the chef got the catch fresh from the incoming boats.

 Jim’s dad belonged to an investment club with 12-coworkers. Each month they would each study various investments and when they met, they would make a decision on what, if anything, they should invest in that month. They never got rich, but they did make a modest profit.

One weekend my father-in-law saw an advertisement for condominiums for sale in Florida. He was always a little adventuresome and thought it would be a good possibility for the club to look into this investment.

We tend to forget history when we are talking about something that happened in the past. We look at the circumstances as if it was happening today. That is until we start to sort out the details. Jim’s dad was looking at property on Marco Island, Fla.

Marco Island  is an island off the southwest coast just before you enter the Everglades. The Makle Brothers bought and developed Marco while it was just an overgrown swampland. They dug out canals and the dredged-up muck was put in the areas that would eventually be the house properties and streets. Visitors who wanted to purchase a winter get-a-way had to cross the river by ferry. The best restaurant in town was in a fishing village that was most easily accessible by boat.

Mom and Dad Caruso took a vacation to visit this new Island. They were put up in the Old Marco Lodge. After a short meeting they went to the airport (which was on the island but has since been moved) and flew over all of the construction going on below them. At one spot the salesman leaned over, pointed to some construction and said, “That is where your unit will be!”  

They did not have to think too long about the purchase. Warm water, beautiful beaches, everything was new and growing. One day they could see the frame of a building and a week later it was complete with lawn, flowers, trees and a gardener tending to the beauty of the property. Due to the large amount of sand, the lawns are not grown on Marco Island; they purchase sod and have the lawn laid in place.

My mother-in-law loved to walk the sandy beaches and pick up shells. She was a handy person and used the shells to decorate picture frames, bookends, paperweights, and made Christmas ornaments.  She even made lamp bases with shells for each of her grandchildren. When she completed all of the projects she could think of she started filling boxes with shells of many different sizes, shapes and styles. She was a true shell collector.

Dad Caruso, on the other hand was also a collector but always with the value of the collection in mind. He collected many types of coins, stamps, first day covers, antique playing cards and just about anything that you could think of that is collectable.

Not everyone collects items because of their value. Collecting is a type of hobby that expresses someone’s interests. We have known people, who collected automobiles, comic books, racing cars, trains, folk art, first edition books, bottles, glass transistors, match book covers, etc.

During the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, my husband Jim and I owned a dollhouse and miniature store in Altamont. We met collectors from all over the northeast. They were not only interested in miniatures and dolls but also anything else in miniature.

It was during those years that we were introduced to the Strong Museum in Rochester, NY. Margaret Woodbury Strong was an American collector and philanthropist. Strong was an avid collector, especially of toys and her large collection formed the basis for the Strong National Museum of Play.

Margaret traveled the world with her parents beginning around 1907 after her father retired and sold the business started by Margaret's grandfather, The Strong and Woodbury Whip Company. This is when she began her doll collection.

Her passion was collecting dolls, dollhouses, and toys. She added gallery wings and outbuildings to her estate, which she eventually termed a Museum of Fascination. The grounds contained a town of dollhouses. In 1968 she received state approval for the establishment of a museum. At her death, her doll collection numbered 22,000 and was the largest doll collection in the country.

Not all collections are as expansive as the many located at the Strong Museum. More collections start with just one or two items that spark an interest that remains for life. One such collector was in a thrift shop with his wife when he noticed three potato peelers in a bin. He said to her while picking up one of the peelers, “I wonder how many different types there are?”

That question drove him into all sorts of kitchenware, gadget and antique stores along with second hand shops up and down the east coast. Before he died, the collection reached a total of 177 with no two alike. His collection has been donated to the Idaho Potato Museum in Blackfoot, Id.

Not all collections are large and not all collections hold everyone’s interest, but you can be guaranteed that whatever collection a person has there are probably many interesting stories to be told.

Just look around your home to see how many collections you and your family have. See if you have more than two, three or even more of any of these following items, you may already have a collection started; teddy bears, cars, books, umbrellas, bells, cigarette cards, crosswords, picture postcards, gramophone records, herbs, moths and butterflies, medals, coins, wine, stamps, matchboxes, flags, or animals.

 Enjoy collecting and remember to take care of your collection. If you are talking about it to other people, keep it interesting. Too much of a good thing can also be boring. Enjoy!

Grand officers    

        The Grand Officers Association of the Albany, Rensselaer Schenectady District, Order of Eastern Star will hold their meeting on Sunday, Nov. 17 at the Altamont Masonic Temple on Maple Ave.  The meeting will be held at 3 p.m.  followed by a covered dish supper. 

Homespun dance

The Homespun Dance at the Altamont Elementary School will be held Friday, Nov. 15, at 6:30 p.m.

Old Songs

On Friday, Nov. 15, Alan Reid and Rob Van Sante, former members of the Battlefield Band will present a concert for the Old Songs Concert series. The concert will begin at 8 p.m. at 37 South Main Street in Voorheesville.

For further information and details go to

Board meets

The Guilderland Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, Nov. 19, in the high school large group instruction room at 7 p.m.

Save the date

The Altamont Elementary School's fourth and fifth grade band's winter concert will be held on Tuesday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m.  The orchestra students will be performing on Wednesday, Dec. 18, at 7 p.m. with the Westmere students. 


Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:

— Jim Lynch on Nov. 15;

— Matt Williams on Nov. 16;

— Heather Linendoll Riverstone on Nov. 17;

— Veronica Liegeot, Brian Kowalski, John Kowalski, and Shirley Johnson on Nov. 18;

— Michelle Connors, Dennis Felgentreff, and Jim Munroe on Nov. 19;

— Kathy Baker, Kelly Pickering, Stella Pollard, and John Vincent on Nov. 20; and

— Russ Twaddell on Nov. 21.