Fran and I traveled to Schenectady, NY for the Thanksgiving Holiday to visit my sister Bonnie, her husband Charlie and my Mom visiting from Florida. It worked out to be a wonderful five days of visiting family and attending my 35th high school reunion. We dreaded leaving on Wednesday the 25th the day before Thanksgiving but ... it turned out to be not so bad. By the time we left Phoenix in the afternoon the crowds had thinned and we had clear sailing through Vegas and then into Albany.
We arrived in Albany airport at about 12:30AM and given the late hour the potential for significant delays due to weather and or the threatened slow down because of people opting out of x-ray screening we asked that no one pick us up at the airport and we rented a car and stayed at a hotel near the airport. That turned out to be a good choice as the first night’s sleep after travel … especially late night travel is the worst. Bonnie, Mom and Charlie and Fran and I all got to get a good night’s sleep.
Charlie was even able to get in a bike ride before we got to their house late morning.
In early afternoon Charlie and I were able to Skype with his son Kyle in the Ukraine. Kyle is in the Peace Corp and is teaching journalism in a high school. One of the things he brought up that he is most proud about is the starting of a school newspaper that his journalism students will take over when he leaves at the beginning of 2012. His cycle is about three months later than Julie’s as she is scheduled to leave the Peace Corp at the end of November, 2011.
Thanksgiving Dinner at Bonnie and Charlie’s was quite good and Mary (Charlie’s Mom) joined Bonnie, Charlie, Mom, Fran and Dave for the meal. It was so nice to have such a nice meal (and I should talk) all prepared for us the only downside was we had no leftovers :-(
Friday the 26th we had lunch with Fran’s sister Laurel at the Chile’s restaurant on route 7. We had quite a nice lunch and afterwards we went to the Rotterdam Mall where Fran and Laurel went shopping. Before saying goodbye we stopped back to her apartment on Union Street and she gave a quick tour of her apartment and her collections.
Funny note about the stop in Rotterdam Mall when I left Fran and Laurel at the women’s department I turned the corner and came face to face with Jackie Matson. We had not seen each other in over 20 years so it was a little shock to both of us but became a funny little conversation piece at the reunion dinner the next night.
Saturday the 27th Fran and I met her cousin Kathy for breakfast at the Route 20 Western Gateway Diner near the Cross Gates mall near Colonie Center. We had a great time catching up on Kathy’s family and sharing the stories of our family.When we returned from breakfast Charlie, Fran and Dave took a 3 mile hike into Thatcher Park from the trail head near Charlie and Bonnie’s home. The trail leads out to the launch point for gliders as they jump off a cliff and catch the updrafts coming from the valley below. Fran took the lead on the way in and the way out … her long legs coupled with her strength training this past year has left her quite strong and she got Charlie and I winded from the quick pace.
The Saturday evening was the big reunion in Scotia at the “River Stone Manor”. The RSM is quite the nice place for weddings and events.
About 115 people attended the 35th reunion and time flew by as Fran and I had a wonderful meal and sat with friends of mine from many years ago. Jackie Matson, Joan Horgan, and Sue Small sat with us along with Mike Boyarski and his wife Kim, and Bob Massaroni.
I met up with George Alper at the reunion and he is so much the same as when I saw him 25 years before. We talked about his teaching days in Awautukee in the late 90s and early 00’s and the trouble he got in with the local school board when he donated money and got a significant value of Microsoft software donated.
His latest gig is rallying the roofing repair community in the Phoenix Valley to refurbish homes in the valley that were damaged by hail storms earlier this year. Apparently there is $2B worth of insurance checks that have been written but not enough contractors to go after the money. Anyway, George is leading an effort to take on some of that work.
Al Chris is also in the Phoenix area and has been for close to 30 years and is involved with Arabian horse breeding and training. I said I would try to connect with both Al and George in the coming months.
I got to sit next to Joan Horgan at the Reunion dinner. We were able to talk about our families and up to present times. We did not have enough time to talk but it was nice sitting next to her as it brought back many memories of when our families used to do things together.
We were quite saddened to hear of the deaths of many people (22 from class of ’75 listed) we had lost touch with over the last 25 years including Tom Butch who died six years ago in a terrible accident with an asphalt truck that lost its breaks and toppled onto his car. Another surprise was Tim Easley who jumped to his death just two weeks before from the cliffs of Thatcher Park.
Sunday the 28th we had breakfast at “The Home Front” in Altamont and we learned a great deal about WWII from the owner who spent a lot of time with us going over the history of her restaurant. The owner has become quite involved in making sure the stories of WWII veterans are not lost so she participates in many events honoring them. She mentioned that a number of Medal of Honor winners have come to her place for breakfast. Tim Russert even stopped in after attending a wedding in Altamont one day and they had a long conversation. She was quite happy to be in the audience of a formal dinner where Russert was a speaker and he talked of several themes and points of view that she had expressed in their conversation at her restaurant. Charlie eats breakfast there most Wednesday mornings on his day off. He said he often spends an hour or more there reading up on materials.
After breakfast we took the long way home going out Route 156 from Altamont and stopped at the “Indian Ladder Farms” country store. This country store was quite well stocked with fall and Christmas items and would be a great place to visit during apple harvest season.
In the afternoon Fran and Dave took a walk to Thompson’s Lake … round trip about 4 ½ miles. I love this lake having spent many weeks over many summers at the camp grounds swimming and playing softball. Funny how big that field seemed when we were playing as kids … to hit a ball to the outfield woods was a “monster” hit.
The NCIS marathon was on most of Sunday … at first I only watched an episode because everyone else was but after the second episode I ended up watching a total of four J this NCIS is quite good!
In the evening Charlie and Dave went to the local tavern to buy pizzas and have a beer then brought the pizza home for dinner with Fran and Mom. It is pretty quiet up in East Berne and the time we spent at the tavern was nice and relaxing!
Monday morning we had breakfast with Fran's aunt Annie and her brother Dave. I had not seen Fran’s Aunt Annie in about six years so it was quite nice for me to see Annie again and join her for breakfast at Oliver’s Café on Route 50. Fran had called her brother David and he joined us at the café. Annie may be turning 90 in January but she is quick as a whip and we had such a wonderful conversation about our respective families.
There was an expression written on the wall over the Oliver counter and went something like “Appreciation left unexpressed is like a gift unopened”. I thought the expression quite nice and I may not have captured it exactly right but it gets the point across. The Blueberry pancakes at Oliver’s were big hit.
After breakfast, Fran and I went to Annie’s and visited for a while looking at old family photos and Stan’s WRGB treasure book containing personal stories from many of the employees celebrating their 75th anniversary as a TV station. Interestingly, the WRGB initials are from one of the early leaders of the station … I knew radio stations started with “W” east of the Mississippi and “K” to the west. I wonder if the W in “Walter” led to this designation for all eastern radio and TV stations? Another little tidbit I picked up in the 75th anniversary book was that a GE scientist had the world’s firsts broadcast TV from his home to four executives … his work later turned into WRGB.
Just before departing from Albany we (Fran & Dave) had lunch with Bonnie and Mom at Macaroni Grill. I love Macaroni Grill and in addition to enjoying the food we spent lots of time musing about Mom’s favorite show NCIS and their characters. Everyone agreed the Mossad character brings quite an edge to the show. I was not quite into this show before arriving in Altamont but after watching a few episodes and listening to Mom’s enthusiasm I think I’ll start watching it J