Altamont, May 8, 2014
When I graduated from High School in Fairhaven, Mass. my whole world changed. The usual routine of eating, studying, meeting my friends for a Chow Mein sandwich over in New Bedford were about to be a thing of the past. My graduation was missed by my mother because she had a chance to take a cruise to Germany to visit my sister who was stationed there as a government employee in the CIA.
While my mother was away, my father was in charge of the house and kept track of me and my activities. One day, I had several of my friends over and we got a little silly. We were having a pillow fight with the pillows on the chairs, and couch when one friend ducked, and the pillow made a direct hit on the black oriental lamp that sat on a table, next to the chair where my father sat each evening to read.
Of course, we panicked and ran to the hardware store for glue and paint to repair this family treasure. The rest of the day was spent working feverishly on this jigsaw like project.
Just in time, the lamp was pieced together and painted so that my father walked into the room and knew nothing of our foolishness. That evening, and every evening after, my father would sit down, turn on the lamp, and read his newspaper.
When my uncle, Captain Llewellyn Roberts, piloted the steamboat into Boston Harbor with my mother aboard, my father and I anxiously awaited her arrival. All the way home we did nothing but laugh, ask questions, and listen to stories about her visit with my sister. We arrived home, walked into the hallway, and looking into the living room, my mother said, “What happened to my lamp?” My father never noticed, but my mother saw the repaired lamp right away.
At the end of summer, I was driven to Boston to start a new phase of my life. I arrived at my college near the Boston Commons and began a lifelong love affair with Boston, and all that it stands for, and all that it has done for our country. When you hear the phrase “Boston Strong” it means many different things to many different people and all of those meanings are good.
Boston was one of the first cities to fight for the freedom that we now know. As a city, state and country we hear stories of heroes, and what they have done to create our country’s Constitution, and the Declaration of Independence which sets us apart from all other countries. Many of those heroes were farmers, bankers, businessmen, politicians, military leaders.
Probably one of the most visible groups of heroes is the Boston Red Sox. Oh yes, I know that there are one or two Yankees fans around here, but I’m talking about the Boston Red Sox right now. Their fans are fiercely loyal and cannot be happier than when the team brings home a trophy after winning the World Series. Of course, the saying “Boston Strong” is on everyone’s mind because of the marathon that was run last year and the tragedy that occurred at the finish line.
Two things happened in Boston on that marathon day a year ago. One act was a violent crime, an act of terror and the other act had just the opposite effect. In an effort to help those injured by a bombing, the tragic action created an opportunity for a city, and all those around the race, to show heroic action with a common bond, and pride. For many, it was an automatic impulse to rush into the chaos and fight to save lives and limbs.
Immediately after the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013, scores of people became first responders. Medical personnel, spectators, and even the other runners began helping the injured. They are heroes, and this year, some of them ran to honor those they helped, or supported the efforts to keep the race safe, for all who attended.
Among those who helped at the bombing were six Massachusetts General Hospital nurses who cared for the victims of the marathon bombing; a Boston Police superintendent who has run the Boston Marathon 18 times, and finished in 2013 before the bombings occurred. Dr. Alok Gupta, of Trauma and Surgical Critical Care, arrived in Beth Israel Medical Center’s emergency department just moments before the first bombing victim was transported there. Gupta saw the patients through their first surgeries that night and then set up and ran BIDMC’s multidisciplinary mass casualty service that followed the patients throughout their care.
Kate Giere, a registered dietician, and food services operations manager for Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, remembers walking into the medical center lobby after the Boston Marathon bombings, and seeing family members frantically looking for the location of their loved ones.
In the days and weeks that followed, she planned meals, and delivered comfort food to the affected patients, families, and medical providers.
The newspapers, radio, and television stations were filled with stories about the heroic efforts that created the slogan, “Boston Strong”.
But, what other heroes do you know about that have touched your lives or the lives of those around you? Who do you know that fits the image of being “Boston Strong”?
One name that comes quickly to my mind is Millard Orsini. For those of you who are too young to remember him, he was one of several brothers who went into the service of our country during the World War II. Millard was the kind of man of whom stories are told about. One of his stories is highlighted with the American flag and article that hangs proudly on the wall of the Home Front Café in the center of Altamont.
At great risk to his life, Millard carried the flag, hidden on his person, while he was a prisoner of war. If you have not seen this flag or heard this story, you should go to the Home Front Café, and ask Cindy Pollard about the flag, and story about Millard.
The other Orsini Brothers were also active during the War along with others like the Pollards and Rev. Keen Hilton. When the war was over these and other veterans from the Altamont area came back to Altamont, to work in the hometown they loved, and fought to protect.
The Orsinis have probably, at one time or another, helped almost everyone in Altamont, either through business, or as a friend.
Rev. Keen Hilton is another hero to me. He was as gentle as a teddy bear when he needed to be and as strong as a bull, when the occasion required that side of his strength. He helped bring together all of the people in the village, as friends, and family, regardless of which church they belonged to on Sunday. That makes him a hero in my eyes.
Another hero is Cindy Pollard, who through her café has brought together men, and women, who have spent time defending our country, and the young people who only know about war, from what they read in history books.
Her special guests, parties recognizing war heroes, memorabilia in the restaurant, and her great loving attitude about the United States of America, make her a hero just as much as the people she honors.
I would be remiss if I did not mention The Altamont Enterprise, whose staff has put together this wonderful newspaper for over 130 years. Jim and Wanda Gardner are among two of the hardest working people I know. They had the intelligence to hire Melissa Hale-Spencer as the editor, and continue to print news that we want to read, as well as news that makes us nervous, and that we need to read. I remember going into The Enterprise office, and would see Howard Ogsbury, a former owner, sitting on the front porch with his chair leaning back against the wall, smoking a cigarette that was hanging out of his mouth, with an ash that looked like it would drop into his lap at any moment.
The VFW, American Legion, Masonic Lodge, churches, volunteer firefighters, police, charitable groups, and clubs, and so many others have at one time or another done things that are heroic. When I hear people talk about being “Boston Strong” I think to myself that they really mean “Altamont Strong” because we have just as much strength and courage as any other city. Our heroes are here all of the time and when there is a need, we see what “Altamont Strong” is really like.
Members of the FMS PTA will meet at 7 p.m. at the school of May 12.
Board of Education
The Guilderland Board of Education will meet on Tuesday, May 13, in the high school large group instruction room at 7 p.m.
The Farnsworth Middle School will hold their President’s Award Ceremony at the school on Thursday, May 15, at 7 p.m.
Guilderland residents are reminded that the school budget vote is scheduled for Tuesday, May 20. Altamont residents will be able to vote at the Altamont Elementary School on Grand Street from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
It has been announced by the Guilderland School District that the Camp Invention will be held at the Farnsworth Middle School July 21 through July 25, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. This camp is designed for children entering grade 1 through grade 6.
For additional information go online to the district website at www.guilderlandschools.org .
Registrants for the Guilderland Continuing Education Summer Education Program are reminded that classes begin on My 12.
Happy-anniversary wishes are extended to Marlene and Al Schager who will celebrate their special day on May 11.
Happy-birthday wishes are extended to:
— Kayla Anne De Hart, Todd Hubbard, Richard Jensen, Lisa Long, and Edith Williamson
on May 9;
— Mary Ann Heller Keeler, Caroline Jane Keyes, Stacey Delaney Martin, and Shelly Strever on May 10;
— Barbara Greenwald, Brendan Preville, Karen Richmond, and Fred Wagner on May 11;
— Kevin Greene, Christopher Lindell, and Charlotte Tomajer on May 12;
— Karen Lynch, Darcie Panthen, Jeff Perlee, Kyle James Tassone, Randy Munroe, and Kim Warner on May 13;
— Patti Percoski on May 14; and
— Janis Bershwinger, Stephanie Connors, Betty Getman, Jeremy McClintock, and William Vojnar on May 15