Altamont, Mar. 27, 2014

As I was reading one of my Danielle Steele mysteries I reached a page that reminded me of our daughters and the talks we would have as they grew up. Jim and I agreed that they should be encouraged to talk with either one of us about any subject they wanted to talk about. The humorous downside of that (if you want to call it a downside) was trying to get a word in edgewise at the dinner table while they were filling us in with details about their day at school.

Although we were bombarded with the important news of the day, most of their news waited until dinnertime when everyone was at the table. Our routine was simple, the girls would help get dinner ready and as soon as Jim came in the door from work we were ready to eat. This would get the meal over early so we could get to evening activities. Once we were seated,  the dialog started and did not stop until it was time to do dishes and get ready for the evenings activities or get started on homework. 

I, laughing, remember periodically asking Jim how his day was. The response was usually a laugh and a simple, fine. With all three girls talking, sometimes at the same time, we often did not find out how our days went until it was bedtime and we were alone for a few minutes prior to falling asleep.

Because of the fast pace of people’s lives today, frequently families are not able to gather for a meal together. It seems to be very hit and run at mealtime, instead of sharing stories about the day’s activities. Families now seem to share via cell phone, twitter, Facebook and other new social media. Instead of seeing the smile or hearing the laugh, or seeing the tears and being able to give a hug, we receive a text and send a happy face or miss the opportunity to console a hurting child.

Dinnertime is a great time to carry on the family traditions by telling the story about your Uncle John or Grandpa George, or Aunt Mae and her three children. How sad to lose the story telling experience. We have just celebrated St. Patrick’s Day which is also our daughter Christa’s birthday. She never gets tired of hearing the story about the day she was born and Father Walsh came to the hospital to visit and see our new baby. When he appeared at the door of my room he said in his booming voice, “Today is St. Patrick’s Day and you did not name your daughter Patricia. How come?” I smiled and quietly said, “Her name is Christa-Marie. She is named after Christ and Mary.” Father Walsh sheepishly looked at me and said, in his usual booming voice, “What a pretty name for your daughter!”

Another favorite story is about Jim and I when we went to city hall to get our marriage license. This was before people used computers and typewriters were on the desks of all clerical workers. Standing in front of the desk of the clerk who took the license information was both exciting and nerve wracking. The clerk was very businesslike and hardly looked over his horned rimmed glasses as he typed the answers to the questions he asked. 

He looked at me long enough to let me know that I was the one he wanted to question first. “Name” when I responded, you could hear the staccato rhythm as the keys were pressed and the hammers hit the paper. “Address, father’s name,” he continued with eyes diverted to the typewriter as if he would make a mistake if he looked away. “Mother’s maiden name “and he typed in “Irene Kennedy” almost as quickly as I said her name.

After completing all of the information that he needed from me he turned to Jim and went through the same routine, almost as if he had it all memorized and looked at the form only to hide any thoughts that might be roaming through his mind at the time. All was uneventful until he asked the next question, “Mother’s maiden name?” Jim calmly replied, “Irene Kennedy.” At this point we had the clerk’s undivided attention as he looked up from the typewriter and asked with shock and surprise in his voice, “You two aren’t related are you?” We both laughed and explained that Jim’s mother’s maiden name was Irene Barbara Kennedy and my mother’s maiden name was Irene Gertrude Kennedy. Jim’s mother was descended from Scottish Kennedys and my mother was descended from Irish Kennedys.

When we talk about our families and their backgrounds we usually look at just the generation that preceded ours. If we go back another generation we begin to see some things that may make us a little uncomfortable. For example, when we go to a parade in a large city we may see a pipe band with flowing Irish or Scottish Tartans as they play the drums and bagpipes to the thrill of all of the viewers. Another unit may have an Italian flag and banners for the Italian/American Club, or perhaps another from the German/American Club. However, it has not been long since these groups began to enjoy acceptance, inclusion and opportunities in our country.

Many of our ancestors were immigrants from other countries and faced religious ignorance and had to fight for a better life for themselves and their descendants. We really owe them a commitment to never forget their sacrifice. We also owe present day immigrants the dignity that our forefathers were denied.

Immigrants here were tough. They came to America seeking freedom, but instead lived in harsh conditions similar to those faced back home. This is something almost all immigrants can relate to. The various National/American groups stick together and find work wherever they can, maintaining their pride and dignity above all. They use church, restaurants, coffee houses, civic organizations, political involvement, intelligence, honor and humor to rise above their sad conditions. This encourages their children to study and work hard so that future generations won’t have the same struggles.

When new citizens are living in segregated neighborhoods, speaking a native tongue other than English, clinging to a different religion, waving the home country’s flag, parading through neighborhoods with loud ethnic pride, taking menial jobs and becoming politically active in a way that makes the establishment nervous, that is what our ancestors did. For that they were hated and feared.

It is a recent development that many ethnic groups are now in a place where they can make changes. Yet they still seem to feel comfortable suppressing others, suggesting anti-immigrant policies and laws, supporting an armed border or fence to keep people out and all the while making it ever more difficult for present day immigrants to become Americans.

Our history is resplendent with stories of various minorities and immigrants who have made major contributions to our country and have made the difference between failure and success in warfare, business and the arts. 

Andrew Carnegie is a fine example as a Scottish-American industrialist.  He led the enormous expansion of the American steel industry in the late 19th Century. He was also one of the highest profile philanthropists of his era.  In 1889 he called on the rich to use their wealth to improve society, and stimulated a wave of philanthropy.

Let’s learn from the past and embrace our newest arrivals.

Banquet

Approximately 112 members of the Albany, Rensselaer, Schenectady District and neighboring districts   welcomed  MW Sylvia D. Moravia, Grand Matron and MW George J. Walter, Grand Patron to the A-R-S District  gathering  held at Michaels Banquet House in Latham.

Decorations included tea pots that had been decorated by Shirley Hamm and June Pelham. Programs were designed by Susanne Peckham and  Alan Lewis. Blake Buckner welcomed all in attendance.  Lewis and Buckner are past grand patrons of the Order of Eastern Star as was Albert Parshall who was not in attendance. 

Music for the evening was provided by Stacey Wright of Berne and Gerald Irwin of Altamont who played at least four of Joplin’s rags. Following the banquet, the business meeting was held.

Helderberg Chapter members in attendance included Beverly Harrington, Patricia Irwin, Gerald Irwin, Betty Spadaro, Anne Vlahos and Stacey Wright.

Spirit dance

The seventh and eighth grade Spirit Dance will be held this Friday night from 7 to 9 p.m., at the Farnsworth Middle School. Tickets are $5.   

At 9 p.m. the Farnsworth DJ will open the gym for basketball.  It has been advertised as Help the Student Council raise money for FMS. Students are invited to come and enjoy an evening of fun with friends.

Food pantry

The Altamont Community Food Pantry always has needs. Items such as pancake mix and syrup plus items such as baby wipes are always appreciated.  All donated items can be left in the Gathering Space inside St. Lucy/St. Bernadette Church.

AES yearbook

Students interested in purchasing an Altamont Elementary School yearbook after March 31 can do so. The cost will be $15.  For additional information, contact Ruth Ann Burby at 861-5892.

AES bus forms

Parents of students at the Altamont Elementary School in kindergarten through fourth grade are reminded that transportation forms were due this past Monday. If you have not sent in the request, please do so. If you have questions, contact the school at 861-8528.

School play

Pre-ordered tickets for the Altamont Elementary School fifth grade play, Seussical Jr. have been sent home with your child. You will need to have your tickets to get into the show on Friday or Saturday.

Anniversary

Happy-anniversary wishes are extended to Judy and Arnie Rothstein who will celebrate their special day on March 27.

Birthdays

Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:

— Lori Coons and Anthony John Capuano on March 30;

— Carolyn Charon, Sam Genovese, Paul Tymchyn, and Judy Rothstein on March 31;

— Carmella Genovese on April 1; and

— Buddy Meagley, Amanda O’Connor, Casey Smith, Mike Trendell, Andrea Zacharias, and Stephanie Zacharias on April 3.                                                         

 

 

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