You have to love democracy. You have to love voting: yes or no; up or down; this one or that one.  Polling places are special areas — like National Parks, or sure-thing fishing holes.

And nobody loves voters, or a polling place like the Altamont Free Library.  Each year the AFL holds an Election Day Bake Sale.  Dessert makers from all over the village bring their very best sweets to sell.

It is rumored that some voters time their arrival at the firehouse to coincide with that of a particular chef with a particularly favorite sale item.

The library raised over $900 in the one-day event this year. To those who baked, and to those who bought – a simple, heartfelt Thank You.

Houses of gingerbread

Once again the library is sponsoring an annual Gingerbread House Candy Decoration Extravaganza.  It’s always at the top of the children’s Christmas fun list.  The date this year is Dec. 11 and the time is 4 p.m.

The Enterprise — Ron Ginsburg

A walk on the spooky side: Ephraim, the constantly lost warlock, played by Patrick Thomas, left, looks a little undone by an encounter at the Altamont Free Library on Oct. 29, at the start of a historical tour presented by the library and the Village of Altamont Archives and Museum.

The Enterprise — Ron Ginsburg

Leading the way with lantern light, the spirit of Roger Keenholts, Altamont’s beloved historian, played by Marc Smith, sojourns to the Severson Cemetery on Brandle Road where John Van Aernam, Jacob’s brother, is buried. About 50 people participated in the walk through history.

The Enterprise — Ron Ginsburg

Reading history, the spirit of Altamont’s first fire chief, Harry Fellows, portrayed by Tom Person wears tall rubber boots and the original 1919 Altamont fire helmet during the Oct. 29 walk through the village’s past.

The Enterprise — Ron Ginsburg

The spirit of Jacob Van Aernam, played by Norman Bauman, leads a tour on Oct. 29, starting from the Altamont library and taking in historic sites, people with ghostly spirits, throughout the village.

The Enterprise — Ron Ginsburg

A graveyard comes to life during Altamont’s Ghosts, Witches, and Warlocks Oct. 29 tour as Gitty Severson, right, played by Connie Rue who owns the Severson Cemetery property, has a mirthful exchange with the witch Agatha, portrayed by Marijo Dougherty, the village archivist who helped organize the tour.

The Enterprise — Ron Ginsburg

A dance with the past: The spirit of historian Arthur Gregg, played by Dan Brown, is confronted by a witch, portrayed by Alexa Brown, who, right in front of the Gregg home tries to hide his book notes. The scuffle was all part of the fun on the Oct. 29 mile-long tour of the village.

Question: What was the first library in the eastern United States to give young patrons the opportunity to play Kids’ Trivia? 

Answer:  (Could be) The Altamont Free Library (Maybe). 

And we’re planning to play again this Veterans Day, Thursday, Nov. 11, at 3 p.m.  We’ll be offering fast, fun questions on all topics, and also providing – this is Not Trivial – snacks.

If a weekday without school sometimes starts getting boring toward the end of the day, stop in.  Play with your head.

Something to consider

If you make a donation to the library in memory of a loved one, their name will be read at our annual gazebo lighting ceremony in December.  The Library Lights form is available on our site and at the library.

Foody news

We’ll have to go some to surpass last month’s Potluck Around the World stop in France.  But our recipes are rich, our noses are keen, our confidence secure, and our paprika freshly ground.  This month we’re headed to Hungary.  The date is Monday, Nov. 25, starting at 7 p.m.  There are appropriate cookbooks here at the library.  

Election Day is coming.  Responsible citizens will help to decide the directions to be taken by our political groups and communities.

Responsible citizens with a favorite dessert recipe will have a different, equally vital opportunity to help raise needed funds for the Altamont Free Library.

The library’s annual Election Day bake sale is always a major funding source — we’ve come to depend on it.  If you’ve contributed before, please be aware of our appreciation, and please help us again.  If you’d like to make a first time offering, we will be most grateful.

Election Day is Tuesday, Nov. 5.   Please bring your cake, pie, maple bars, treats, cookies, éclairs, mom’s famous, cupcakes, surprise, doughnuts, to the village community room by 8 a.m.  Or call the library at 861-7239 to coordinate a pickup.

And, of course, if baking is just not your thing, you can always help the cause by buying something.  A win-win, yum-yum situation.

Book club selections

The following are the book selections to be enjoyed:

The Woman Upstairs, by Claire Messud on Nov. 4, at noon;

The Three Weissmanns of Westport, by Cathleen Schine, on  Nov. 18t, at 7 p.m., and

Life After Life, by Kate Atkinson, on Dec. 2, at noon.

To a T

The second Pinterest adult craft night will be held at the library on Monday, Nov. 4,, starting at 7 p.m. We’ll be making braided rugs from old T-shirts. Some preliminary mock-up models have been made. They look good.

You know you don’t really want to throw your old shirts away — too many memories, too many vibes.  And you know you’re really not likely to wear them again.  Once again, the vibe thing.  We’ve got a solution. It could be fun.  Bring the shirts with you.

It’s a little like looking into two mirrors facing each other – objects keep reappearing.

There’s a railroad train going by out there, and next to it is a station recently turned into a library.  And inside the station/library is more railroad track with another train.

The second train is an HO scale model. It consists of an engine, a caboose and a flatcar. It was installed by its owner, Michael Decker, 16 years old and recently arrived in Altamont with his family.  Michael has been keenly interested in model trains for 10 years.  He is currently setting one up in his new home.  Its layout is 12-by-14 feet.

The Altamont Free Library indoor train runs along the middle of the children’s book section’s back wall. When it reaches the end of the track is stops, reverses, backs up to its starting position, and begins another run. It accomplishes this by switching polarities.  Michael didn’t explain what this meant, and we suspect it’s just as well he didn’t.  We appreciate his generosity and the time he spent laying out the track and overseeing the many test runs.

Best of the rest

Don’t forget next Monday, Oct. 28, is Potluck in Paris.  The lusty dishes will be uncovered starting at 6 p.m.  The signup sheet is rapidly filling. We have a great many French cookbooks at the library to help get you started. 

Haunted side

On Tuesday, Oct. 29,, teens and adults are invited to join the ghost of Jacob Van Aernam for an exploration of Altamont’s wilder, haunted side.  The spirits of many of the village’s more colorful, memorable characters are expected to appear, disappear, appear, disappear, and provide those attending with equal amounts of information and jitters.  Please sign up at the library.

— Photo by Ruth Anne Burby

“The Dean of Children’s Nonfiction Books enchanted his audience with narratives.  Seymour Simon shared a selection of his almost 300 book titles with Altamont Elementary School’s students and staff,” reports Betty Ahearn, the school’s librarian. Using comparisons with grains of sand, he helped intermediate-grade students understand the magnitude of the universe.  With younger children, he described the mammoth size of a blue whale by comparing its tongue to the weight of an elephant. In his autobiography, Simon reports that children ask him if he will ever run out of ideas for his books, and he replies, “I can’t imagine that ever happening.” He shared his insights with teachers at an after-school workshop on Oct. 4. Simon’s website,, describes his visit to Altamont and lists the winners of his writing contest.

We were pleased to learn that North American author Alice Munro was the winner of this year’s Nobel Prize for Literature.  The Altamont Free Library has copies of two of Ms. Munro’s books and can get many more from other libraries in the Upper Hudson Library System.

Munro recently noted that “the constant happiness is curiosity.”  If that notion appeals to you, please get in touch with us and we’ll happily put you in touch with more thoughts and wisdom revealed in her stories.


A woven basket waits on top of a bookcase near the library entryway. It is our hope that soon it will begin filling with donated daffodil bulbs. The flowers are intended to commemorate the 96 years that a public library has been serving the village of Altamont and its surroundings.

The basket will be in place until the end of October.


The library will have the following events:

— Kid’s craft on Wednesday, Oct. 23, at 4 p.m.;

— French Pot Luck on Monday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m.;

— Tour of Altamont’s haunted side on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 7 p.m.; and

— Story time every Wednesday at 10:30 a.m.