Altamont, Nov. 21, 2013

We were gathered with some friends for an impromptu buffet. Every family brought a dish to share and chipped in a couple of dollars for a large delicious spiral cut ham. Everyone knew even before the dinner that the meal would be excellent. Joe was the one responsible for procuring the meat for the thrown together feast.

Joe immigrated to the United States after World War II and settled outside of Chicago, Il., with his wife and family. They were among many who were scheduled to come to America when the war broke out and had their Visa’s canceled. As soon as the war ended they joined other friends and family, who came from the same village, to enjoy all that our country has to offer.

Joe worked hard all of his life and has realized the dream that many people have both immigrants and native born. He owns his own home in Chicago, a retirement home in Florida, travels extensively, put his daughter through college and graduate school, paid for her wedding and lives very happily with his wife. Joe was a butcher and could be relied on to select the best cuts of meat for any gathering.

Joe and his wife, Maria, are both very hard working people. Maria worked her way up in a bank and had a position of trust in a predominately Italian neighborhood. Her personality, trustworthiness, good humor and being bi-lingual made her almost indispensable.

Maria put the dinner together in just a few days, complete with outstanding entertainment. Another friend, Helmut, was visiting from Michigan. His family came from Germany and lived in a predominately German neighborhood. After graduating from college, Helmut went to work as an automobile design engineer for a major American manufacturer.

While growing up, Helmut enjoyed the music and bands that thrived in his hometown. He soon found that he had a talent for playing the accordion. After several years of practice, study and playing for local group dances, Helmut developed a following that extends across the border into Canada. His own German band is in great demand and often keeps him busy for dances, parties and weddings every weekend.

The band looks very much as you would expect from a German oompa band. They wear white shirts, colorful suspenders, pointed hats with a feather and leather lederhosen.

All of the band members work other jobs and play as an avocation not a vocation.  

Maria did not know that Helmut had such a great talent and was surprised when talking to him about the buffet that he volunteered to play for everyone. She was excited that we might have a few songs on a CD or something similar.

As we gathered in the clubhouse, near the pool, there was a lot of talk about the cool weather. It was too cool for swimming but perfect for a get together for dinner. It was a casual event and we were all wearing comfortable clothes. All of the cooks brought their favorite dish to share and it turned into a feast rather than just a plain old, buffet.

When the buffet line wound down we all sat in complete comfort, except for those who ate too much, and enjoyed Helmut’s entertainment. He played the accordion, sang and played sing-a-long tunes that got everyone to either sing with him or clap to the music.

Some people even took advantage of the beat and got up and did a polka or two. 

Needless to say, Maria was thrilled with the way the evening turned out and everyone had a great time.

As everyone headed home, Jim and I started our usual dissection of the evening. It is almost as much fun reliving the evening without the calories as it is living the evening. We thought about the families who were there, the countries they represented, and what we have in common with them. Jim’s grandparents, on his father’s side, came from Italy  (Caruso and Rizzo). His grandparent’s on his mother’s side were German and Scottish  

(Kennedy, McPherson and Geistoffer). 

My grandparents on my father’s side were Irish and French (Daley and Richards). On my mother’s side Irish and English (Kennedy and Daley).

With so many different countries making up our background we agreed that most of us are probably mini United Nations and should be proud of all countries and their heritage.

This morphed into a discussion about where our core values come from and who we are and why we are the way we are. At that point, we decided that it was too complex a topic to spend just a short time discussing and planed for a more in depth look at a later date.

In the meantime, perhaps you can take a look into your background, where you come from and where your core values come from. It would be interesting at the very least and could be a lot of fun.

Yearbook deadline

The deadline for ordering the FMS yearbook was this past Tuesday. If you missed the date, but do want the yearbook, write to The cost is $37.  

Perhaps Jostens will be able to handle your order.

Voters decided

On Nov. 14 voters passed Proposition 1 with a vote of 897 to 790.  The voters approved having the district upgrade aging infrastructure in the seven schools to improve safety, security, and technology. 

The proposition to update the high school auditorium and to replace wooden tower poles on the high school football field/track was defeated 857 no vote to 829 yes votes. 

AES fund-raiser

The 5th grade Mix Bag fund-raiser will end on Nov. 22.  All paper and online orders need to be placed by the deadline date.  All parents who want to view or order the products should go to

50th anniversary

Ann and Bill Morse of Ellenville, NY, past grand officers of the Order of Eastern Star, recently celebrated their 50th anniversary.  Congratulations folks.

20th anniversary

Congratulations were extended to Wanda Williams and Albert Parshall on the 20th celebration of their term as grand matron and grand patron of the New York Order of Eastern Star.  The celebration was held in October at Grand Chapter in Binghamton.  

The Parshall’s are former Guilderland residents and former members of Helderberg Chapter, Order of Eastern Star in Altamont.  The Parshall’s now reside in Shippensburg, Pa.   

Alan C. Lewis, a past grand patron received the Golden Key Award at the Grand Session for his 35 years of service to the Order of the Eastern Star.     

Yard waste 

The village of Altamont will continue to collect yard waste through Friday, Nov. 29.   The village will vacuum leaves on Tuesdays and Fridays weather permitting. Brush and branches will be picked up on Wednesdays.

Winter parking

The village of Altamont prohibits parking on the streets between the hours of 12 a.m. and 7 a.m. now until May 1st.

Office closed

The offices of the village of Altamont will be closed on Thursday, Nov. 28 and Friday, Nov. 29 in observance of Thanksgiving.


Happy Thanksgiving wishes are extended to all of our friends and neighbors.  Wishing all who are traveling safety to and from their destinations.


Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:

—Genevieve Mc Intyre on Nov. 22;

— Kathy Adams, Winnie Klenotiz, Jillian Shin Aikhoo and Jean Schuhle on Nov. 23; 

— Deborah Flynn, Mark Jones, Austin Rosen, and Norm Trendell on Nov. 24; 

— Don Albright, and Tim Hodges on Nov. 25;

— Colin Brunk, Paula Ginder, Victoria Jordan, James Le Clair, and Mary Trendell on Nov. 26;

— Kara Brunk, Barbara Kowalski, and Joanne O’Connor on Nov. 27; and

— Mary Bradt and Patrick Monroe on Nov. 28.

P. S.    Just before sending this column to the paper the telephone rang. Betty, a reader from West Berne, called to inform me that she had just returned from seeing , Bah Humbug presented by the Hilltown Players, at the Berne-Knox-Westerlo High School. She reported that the play was excellent and the music was spectacular.

Thanks, Betty, for your review.