— Photo by John Elberfeld

Remembering the Civil War: Jean McLean gestures to a display assembled by her husband, John Elberfeld, now at the Altamont Free Library, featuring Lt. Michael Henry Barckley, a Knox man who recruited 21 volunteers to join his Civil War Company in the Union Army.

Archeologists are fascinated by the physical remains of past human lives and activities. They find things, and then they figure them out. Finding and figuring out. It begins to sound something like a game.

Local kids between ages 6 and 12 years old are welcome to join the staff from the Schoharie Crossing State Historic Site, on Monday, July 29, at 3:30 p.m., at the library. Learn something about the archeology game; what they look for, how they find it, how they fit what they find into a past world of past lives.

Dig your town

On Tuesday, July 30, at 10:30 a.m., kids of all ages are invited to go on a scavenger hunt around Altamont. You will be looking for odd things in strange places and learning a bit about the village as you hunt. Melanie Shatynski will be leading the hunt.

Meow mummies

This is your chance to learn about Egyptian art. Egyptians loved cats, at least the kings and queens did. They also enjoyed mummifying each other. Modern day Altamont kids will be making cat mummies on Wednesday afternoon, July 31, at 3:30 p.m. This, of course, is a craft, and no animals will be harmed, invited to attend, or otherwise bothered.

Rock that plant

Kids 10 and older are urged to be here on Friday, July 26, at 3:30 p.m. They will learn to convert a used CD case into a see-through plant lab. Seed instead of CD. Get it?


Next Tuesday’s, July 30, Concert in the Park will begin with a unique downbeat. Former Altamont resident, Leon Rothenburg, the recent winner of a Tony Award for sound design, will be recognized and applauded. He, in turn, will recall the many hometown teachers, musicians, and career guides who taught, influenced, and supported him.

Be sure to get there early. The Band of the Week is Thirteen Feet of Bluegrass. Chances are they will have a mandolin player, and somebody who can sing tenor to a dog whistle. 

The Altamont Free Library’s  Potluck Around the World’s destination for the month of July is Hungary.

            Recently a library visitor saw a notice for this event and she lit up.  Her mother had escaped from Hungary at the time of the 1956 revolution and had come to America.

            The patron’s feelings for the culture and cuisine of her mother’s first home were powerful.  She began reciting a list of all the special foods she hoped to create for her fellow potluck travelers.  It was a heart-felt moment.

Home Town Writers

          The Library is the proud possessor of three new “local color” books, all written with support from Federal Library Services and Technology Act funds, awarded to the New York State Library by the Federal Institute of Museum and Library Services.

            The three books, all authored by dedicated library supporters, are Dorothy Hawes Armstrong’s   89 Years: One Day at a Time,   Sara Elizabeth Killen’s  A Little Bit Country, and Stewart  Linendoll’s  Grandpa’s Hiking Trip           

     All three will open a reader’s eyes, and expand a reader’s heart.  They can be found and read at the library, but they are not circulation items.

Reading and Eating

    The Farmers’ Market is back.  There haven’t been a great many obvious signs of summer’s return, and it’s good to have one right under our overhang, afforded the same protection as was once provided to the outgoing mail and a passenger’s suitcase.

            The market is open every day except Wednesday; the hours are 11 a.m to 6 p.m.,during the week, and 10 to 2 on the weekends.  Cukes are 75 cents apiece; Delaware corn will cost you 75 cents an ear.

The Altamont Free Library’s connection with barbecued chicken is unbreakable, nearly metaphysical – like Squanto’s to the first Thanksgiving.

So many purposes are met: it raises money, brings people together, provides a memorable meal, it’s a party, it celebrates the arrival of summer.

This year’s feast is taking place on Friday evening, June 14. There will be two servings, the first at 5 p.m., the second at 6 p.m. Tickets purchased in advance, at the library, are $9. Those who wait till the day of the event will pay $10. The meal includes a half chicken dinner with potato, roll, coleslaw, brownie and beverage. No quarter size orders this year.

So please come on in. Pick up your tics for chicks. Do it soon. A dollar is a terrible thing to waste.

South African visitor

Buyelwa Cecilia Xayiya is a South African. She will be in Altamont on Thursday, June 13, hoping to talk about her native land with interested listeners. Last week’s announcement urged readers to come with our “questions and vuvuzelas.” A vuvuzela is a long, horn with a squawky sort of sound. They are popular in South Africa. Come meet Ms. Xayiya at 7 p.m.

New art

The east wall of the library’s meeting room is intended to display the work of local visual artists. This month Altamont photographer, Connie Rue is featured. Rue’s photos focus on nearby sights and subjects. They are clear and precise: they don’t need “figuring out;” they are instantly pleasurable.

She has been a serious picture taker for two years, and photography is her first artistic passion. The discipline allows her to be alone, she explains, without being lonely; and she enjoys sharing her visions with others.

Got change for an eggplant

It’s a perfect Saturday morning event, a seedling exchange. Come to the library on Saturday, June 8, between 10 a.m. and noon. Bring your leftover seedlings and trade with another gardener for something new. It’s a new Altamont idea. We’re doing all we can to make it work.

Lava lamps

They’re a symbol of long ago – a simpler time. There was no texting back then. Come to the library on Wednesday, June 26, at 3 p.m., and make a beautiful lava lamp of your very own. Watch the shifting shapes rise and fall seemingly with thoughts and dreams all their own, blow your mind, kiss the sky.