Altamont, Dec. 5, 2013

Have you ever given any thought to the place where people were born and what influence their background might have had on their life?

When I was a young girl growing up in Fairhaven, Mass., I was influenced by my activities that consisted of boating, swimming, riding my bike, school, church, and playing with my friends.

 My husband, Jim, was brought up outside of Chicago and he was influenced by his activities that consisted of boating, swimming, riding his bike, school, church, and playing with his friends.

Without further information one would think that we both had the same influence in our younger years and, therefore, we have the same interests, likes and dislikes. Right? Wrong!

With just a little more information you will see that our backgrounds were very different.

My hometown was a large fishing seaport from which sailors would leave every day to catch some fish to sell to the market. Some of my friends were fortunate enough to have a small sailboat that they could launch and sail by themselves.

One particular friend would call me frequently to say,” I am going for a sail, would you like to join me?” My answer was almost always yes. If I had a babysitting job, the answer would have to be no, but he knew that I would be available the next time he went out onto the river.

 Jim’s experience was similar to mine. He went to a YMCA camp in Michigan. The camp was on a lake which gave them the opportunity to teach sailing to boys who would not normally learn boating skills. The sailboats that were used at Camp Douglas were perfect for one or two people and easy to handle.

The term sailing ship is used to refer to any large wind-powered vessel. In technical terms, a ship was a sailing vessel with a specific rig of at least three masts, square rigged on all of them. In popular usage ship became associated with all large sailing vessels. Large sailing vessels which are not ship rigged may be more appropriately called boats.

There are many different types of sailing ships, but they all have certain basic things in common. Every sailing ship has a hull, rigging and at least one mast to hold up the sails that use the wind to power the ship.

The crews who sail a ship are called sailors or hands. They take turns to take the watch, which means they are responsible for the management of the ship and her performance for a specific period of time. Watches are traditionally four hours long. Some sailing ships use traditional ship's bells to tell the time and regulate the watch system, with the bell being rung once for every half hour into the watch and rung eight times at watch end (a four-hour watch).

Journeys onto the ocean aboard a sailing ship can take many months, and a common hazard is becoming becalmed because of lack of wind, or being blown off course by severe storms and winds that do not allow progress in the desired direction. A severe storm could lead to shipwreck, and the loss of all hands.

Sailing ships are limited in their maximum size. Sailing ships are therefore also very limited in the supply capacity of their holds, so they have to plan long voyages carefully to include many stops to take on provisions and fresh water.

The smaller sailboats are perfect for sailing on lakes and near the shoreline. They generally are not outfitted to handle the rough water and the high winds you can encounter in the open ocean. That part of our background is very similar, Jim learned his sailing on Big Blue Lake in Michigan and I learned mine on the Acushnet River, on a bay to the Atlantic Ocean.

I had better leave the subject of sailing in our background for now because if we talk further about ships we will have to get into definitions and descriptions of things like: deck equipment; davits; electric winches; hatch covers; hydraulic winches; marine cranes; mizzen mast, etc.

When you start to think about people and what makes them who they are today you may travel down roads that you never expected to travel upon. As an example we recently had a look back in history with the life of former village historian, Roger Keenholts. Part of his life was programmed by the fact that both Roger’s father and his grandfather were both mayors of the village of Altamont. They were all members of Noah Masonic Lodge. They were also members of the Altamont Volunteer Fire Department.

Were all of these men interested in these activities because of influences around them? Or were they interested because they were predisposed to serve others? Who are some famous people that you know today? Why are they famous and do others think they are famous or are there some reasons that they should be considered famous?

As soon as we start to discuss people, backgrounds, likes and dislikes we begin to explore some wonderful worlds that we have not been courageous enough to explore on our own. However, by looking into the new worlds of others, we may tickle something deep within us that could start a new business, school of thought, political stance, religious philosophy, patent and the list goes on.

If you feel something tugging at your mind that needs to be explored then you should listen and explore. Who knows, you may even have the latest tech idea. Wouldn't you feel awful if you saw a product being sold that you had just dreamt about and discarded as silly?

Victorian holiday

Again this December, members of the Altamont Community Tradition will present the Victorian Holiday celebration.  This will be the 12th year that ACT invites the community and its neighbors to participate in the Christmas activities in and around the village of Altamont.  Activities scheduled for Sunday, Dec. 15 include a visit to the Altamont Masonic Hall located at 138 Maple Ave. to view the Festival of Trees and the wreaths that will be auctioned. The auction will close at 3:30 p.m. after which the winning bids will be announced.  

During the afternoon from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m. , children will be afforded the opportunity to get temporary tattoos and work on craft projects. Adult visitors, don't forget to view and then vote for your favorite decorated Christmas tree

Living nativity

Next on your Christmas visit in Altamont, walk over or drive to the Altamont Reformed Church where you can gather around the outdoor manger where church members represent the Nativity scene.  The church is located at 129 Lincoln Ave.  This event will be held at 4:15 p.m.

Orsini Park

As the time approaches 5 p.m. all should be on hand to witness the lighting of the holiday trees in the park and to welcome Santa Claus who will arrive on the holiday  train.

House tours

Let us back up in time for those who would like to tour four Victorian and period homes. You will travel to the different homes via a free trolley. Tickets for this event is $10 for adults with children age 10 and under are free. All other events are free of charge.

The trolley for this event is sponsored by SEFCU.

Dog and cat contest

Dog and cat lovers are invited to enter their pet in a holiday costume contest that will take place at Altamont Country Value Store located at 106 Prospect St.   Dogs will be judged at noon and cats at 1 p.m.  There will be prizes for all, and don't forget to get your pet's picture taken with Santa.

Tune in next week for additional events such as the Altamont winter market.

Lunch with Santa

The VFW ladies will hold their annual lunch with Santa on Saturday, Dec. 15. The event will be held in the Post rooms from 1 to 4 p.m.  Reservations need to be made with Janet Nopper at 861-3669.

Christmas party

The VFW Post will hold their annual Christmas party on Dec. 7, at the Post beginning at 5 p.m. This is an adult party.

The VFW ladies Auxiliary will hold their annual Christmas party on Dec. 15, at 1 p.m. Members are reminded to bring a covered dish to share and a new $10 grab bag gift. 


Happy-anniversary wishes are extended to:

— Gail and Tom Piscione who will celebrate their special day on Dec. 7; and

— Joanne and Al Sholtes on Dec. 8.


— Happy birthday wishes are extended to the following:

— Alice Bresney, Dieter Drake, Charles Lamitie and Jim Thomas on Dec. 6;

— Matthew Ambrose Alberts, Molly Gardiner, and Taylor Noyse on Dec. 7;

— Therese Munroe on Dec. 8;

— Fay Gardner and Marjorie Abdella on Dec. 9;

— Sanford Furr on Dec. 10;

— Cathleen Reese Rivenburg on Dec. 11; and

— Tessa Buckey on Dec. 12.                                                

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