THE PEOPLE • THE PLACES • THE LIFESTYLE
Brought to you by saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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SARATOGA A GOOD READ 14 Meghan Lemery Fritz 32 For the Love of Animals…Domestic and Wild! 40 Restaurant Feature - Come hang out at Racing City Brewing Co.! 46 Book Club Spotlight: The American History Reading Group 48 Veteran’s Peer Connection 50 NEW COLUMN – Imagining the Palmertown Range Trail 54 Preserving Saratoga 96 Karen Krasny FASHION 15 Spring Fashion and Accessories… for all ages!
SAVE THE DATE 84 Meet Maple Farmer Matt Rathbun 85 Meet Woodworker Brad Conklin 91 Save The Date HISTORY 98 Charlie Kuenzel 102 Rarely Seen Photos of Old Saratoga Springs 105 John Greenwood 107 Carol Godette Remembers… The Rafters! 111 NEW COLUMN – Saratoga’s Best Kept Secret… the Saratoga Reading Room by Stewart White, with an introduction by Carol Godette
Spring 2019 CREATING THE LIFE YOU LOVE… Inspiring stories of people following their calling. 8 COVER STORY! 26 Bob English 27 ML Knives 30 Delaney Silvernell 33 Matt Chinian 36 Stitches & Time 38 Chef Rick 52 Allison Cascade Kozel
HOME & GARDEN 59 Architecturally Speaking 72 John Reardon 74 Jodi Fitz 75 Jordana Turcotte 76 Peter Bowden 77 Colleen’s Picks 80 NEW COLUMN – Homesteading 82 Saratoga Farmers’ Market
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From The Editor
Chris Vallone Bushee Creative Director/ Managing Editor cBushee@SaratogaPublishing.com (518) 581-2480 ext.201 saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
Our spring issue has always been about fashion, creativity, passion… and creating the life you want! And as my cover girl says - “If you believe it, you can achieve it!” – and boy has she ever! I remember when I first moved to Saratoga in 1985 and discovered Denise and her Bird of Paradise boutique. Who knew almost four decades later, I’d be talking about her legacy in Downtown Saratoga – here in the magazine - I love creating! What an honor for me, and if you don’t know Denise Eliopulos personally, it is my pleasure to share her legacy with you as our cover story. Our 50+ Fashion Feature last year was such a hit – we’re doing it again! Join us as we head downtown for the advice you need to be fabulous at any age! (page 15) Our restaurant review is always so much fun, but hanging out at Racing City Brewing Co., was like… well, being at Cheers. Remember that place, where everybody knows your name and they’re always glad you came? (I bet you’ll be singing that song all day!) Yes, it’s that kind of place! (page 40) I always ask people to hit the Save the Date section first (page 91), and please do, as this is the final weekend of two iconic spring events in the area… Maple Days (Meet maple farmer Matt Rathbun on page 84) and the Northeastern Woodworkers Association’s Woodworker’s Showcase (Meet their featured artist Brad Conklin on page 85). Along with our cover story, I bring you many people who are creating the life they want by pursuing their passions - from a Chef who stirs everybody who deals with him, to a woman who’s taking her love of hiking to a whole new level! …And when Stewart White approached me about a dream of his, I was happy to help him see his words in print. Please see page 111 for the first installment in our new series on Saratoga’s Best Kept Secret… The Saratoga Reading Room. I hope you enjoy this edition and I must close with a Thank You to our readers and advertisers! Without them, we wouldn’t be able to provide these beautiful publications - free of charge - to our tens of thousands of readers. Please, mention us by name when visiting them… Simply Saratoga - the Saratoga TODAY magazine. And keep those comments coming - I LOVE hearing from you cBushee@SaratogaPublishing.com.
Love, Chris PS… Thanks to all who stopped to chat at the Saratoga Home & Lifestyle Show – I love hearing how much you LOVE us – we love you too!!
Cover Photo by Tracey Buyce Photography, story on page 8 6 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
THE PEOPLE • THE PLACES • THE LIFESTYLE
Owner/Publisher Chad Beatty General Manager Robin Mitchell Creative Director/ Managing Editor Chris Vallone Bushee Graphic Designer Marisa Scirocco Advertising Designer Morgan Rook Advertising Sales Jim Daley Cindy Durfey Contributing Writers
Samantha Bosshart Peter Bowden Colleen Coleman Jodi Fitz Carol Godette John R. Greenwood Himanee Gupta-Carlson Jessica Holmes Tamara Johnson Karen Krasney Charlie Kuenzel Meghan Lemery Fritz Dan Lundquist Megin Potter John Reardon Kristen Schultz Theresa St. John Robert J. Sofarelli Jordana Turcotte Maureen Werther Stewart White
Candidly Beth Susan Blackburn Tracey Buyce Lindsay Fish Pattie Garrett Jim Gupta-Carlson Keith V. Johnson Randall Perry Megin Potter Marisa Scirocco Theresa St. John
Saratoga TODAY Newspaper Five Case Street, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866 tel: (518) 581-2480 | fax: (518) 581-2487
Simply Saratoga is brought to you by Saratoga TODAY Newspaper, Saratoga Publishing, LLC. Saratoga Publishing shall make every effort to avoid errors and omissions but disclaims any responsibility should they occur. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means without prior written consent of the publisher. Copyright © 2019, Saratoga TODAY Newspaper
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(this page and cover) Photo Credit tracey buyce photography Florals Rena's Fine Flowers Location The Adelphi Hotel Hair & Makeup Make Me Fabulous Jewelery Tessa originals Vintage Crystal Cuff Wendy Gell Dress Olvi
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From the Luxury Fashion House, Olvi's, Amsterdam, Holland. Inspired by art and vintage dresses, Olvi's offers unique and distinctive handmade lace garments with a romantic, vintage soul. Luxurious designs with the ultimate comfort by using only the finest French stretch lace.
An Inside Look at a Downtown Saratoga Fashion Scene LegenD
WRITTEN BY CAROL GODETTE PHOTOS BY TRACEY BUYCE PHOTOGRAPHY
enise Eliopulos has always followed her heart and listened to her inner voice. Her instincts have paid off. Denise, who founded the upscale women’s apparel shops Bird of Paradise Boutique in 1981, Immortal Beloved Bridal in 1994, and her now iconic Something Bleu Bridal in 2001, has the proud distinction of being the second-longest continually operating downtown Saratoga boutique owner. (Rick Spenello, owner of the Shoppe, opened his store in 1976.)
Her vision, foresight and belief in herself has led her down numerous, varied paths. Once upon a time, she planned to combine her junior and senior years at St. Peter’s High School to attend art school a year early, but Denise’s beloved uncle suggested she first spend a gap year in Hawaii with family before attending college. At 17, Denise moved to Oahu and fell in love with island life and the unusual boutiques she browsed there and the Bird of Paradise flower.
Oahu cemented her passion for fashion, art and animals, as well as changed her mind about attending college. “I believe in the power of education, but college is not for everyone,” she observed. “I was inspired by my grandfather, a self-made man from Hungary. He left home and school at age 13 to learn his trade and came to America at 19. He became very successful. Following in his footsteps, I returned to Saratoga, passionate about someday opening a boutique that would combine animals and art.”
She began her fashion career at The Shoppe on Broadway, working for Spenello. Denise had fun, learned valuable lessons about retail and formed lifelong friendships with coworker Teri Perry and customers Catherine and Richard Duncan. After two years at The Shoppe, her vision of creating an island boutique on Broadway resurfaced. Denise’s mantra has always been, “If you believe it, you can achieve it.” With this positive, progressive attitude as her foundation, Denise developed a plan to reach her goals. Her uncle helped her create a business plan and her dear friends, the Duncans, agreed to be investors in her venture. Despite her $5,000 savings and the money from her investors, the effervescent 20-year old needed a
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business loan to cover all her expenses. The Adirondack Trust Company, the backbone of Saratoga Springs’ downtown, made her dream a reality.
“I’ll never forget meeting with bank Executive Vice President Jerome Hanshoe. After I presented my business plan, he said, ‘I believe in you. When do you want the check?’”
Gardner Management had just purchased the Collamer building on Broadway and Denise, along with her actual birds of paradise – including her singing parrot Sybil, who is now 39 - became tenants. Skeptics gave her business six months. Although Broadway was beginning a resurgence, many felt that north of Menges and Curtis, Broadway died. This didn’t daunt her a bit. Denise filled her shop with dresses that evoked romance and decorated it with an island flair. Denise was also an innovator in customer service. Though the Bird was a women’s boutique, thanks to the warm, inviting environment and feeling, it wasn’t unusual to find men and women hanging out, with many commenting decades later on the experiences and good times at the Bird of Paradise. Knowing her community, Denise also began keeping a log of what the ladies purchased and where they were planning to wear it, ensuring her customers weren’t going to see their dress on someone else at an event.
Those people were not just spenders. Denise reflects that her customers have become life-long friends friends to the point that she’s even traveled the world with a few of them. Long-time loyal customer and dear friend Helen Edelman reflects, “Denise wanted little girls to grow up loving beautiful things. She encouraged my young daughters to touch fabrics and explore the shop.” Although it was not her original reason for being inclusive and kind to the young girls who eyed the clothes so longingly, Denise was setting the stage for her success in the bridal business. “Young browsers grew up and became prom girls and then my brides,” she stated. Helen’s daughters, Morgan and Taber Ward, grew up loving their visits with Denise and both turned to her as an expert and trusted family friend when it was time to choose wedding dresses.
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In 1994, Denise was looking for the ultimate wedding dress for her marriage to her husband, Jim. The quest led her to England and France, where she was captivated by two different designers of unique, romantic bridal gowns. She decided to turn her stockroom into a mini bridal boutique. This expansion brought her business to the next level. It also required another trip to her biggest supporter - The Adirondack Trust Company - to help fund her formal bridal division. Denise’s inner voice and intuition again proved to be correct. Within a few years, the demand for her European bridal gowns exploded and she added a second location next door at 488 Broadway. She chose the name Immortal Beloved Bridal, honoring the romantic story of Beethoven and his one true love. The bridal merchandise from Denise’s frequent buying expeditions to Paris, England and Toronto brought in customers from far and wide; one even flew in from Mexico to purchase a Cymbeline Paris dress. Denise’s heart had always been on Broadway, but in 2001, she found she was outgrowing her location. After seeing Bruce Levinsky’s restored 1884 mansion at 75 Woodlawn Avenue, she knew she had identified the gracious, airy space to host her customers. The tall ceilings, stained glass windows, elaborate woodwork and large rooms of historic Grant Plaza enabled Denise and her creative mother, Tess, to showcase their artistry. Tess even hand-painted murals in the dressing rooms, enhancing the romantic Victorian ambiance. The space also was the perfect showcase for Tess’ hand-crafted jewelry. And again reinventing, She christened her second-floor salon Something Bleu Bridal.
What contributed to her success? Denise ensured that each person who walked through the door felt uniquely important.
brighter than the brightest star on her wedding day,” She added, “Some brides, their moms and the wedding party can be very demanding, but Denise has always been able to navigate even the most challenging relationships, which has contributed greatly to the bridal salon’s reputation as the region’s finest.” She never burned a bridge.
Denise believes, “If you burn a bridge, it comes back to bite you.” She practiced kindness and loyalty in all she did. Denise Tracey Buyce Photography has worked alongside her mom, Tess Meslar, since her humble beginnings 38 years ago. Over the years, she has befriended many designers of the exclusive brands she carries. And, of course, she involved herself with her customers during the planning of their weddings as much as they needed her to – always available, but never obtrusive.
Candidly Beth Photography
In 2014, Denise sold Bird of Paradise, which subsequently moved to the first floor of Grant Plaza, and focused all of her energy on Something Bleu Bridal. Bird of Paradise has since changed hands again and is now owned by fashion designer Yana LaPage and aptly renamed Saratoga Elegance. The Mansion at 75 Woodlawn has become a mecca for brides thanks to the environment Denise created, drawing outstanding industry professionals like Candidly Beth Photography, Samantha Nass Floral Design, Will Fit U In seamstress, and Centered Wellness and Beauty to the building. Former Something Bleu Bride Marissa Mackay visited Denise frequently in the decade after purchasing her wedding dress, reinforcing her passion for the bridal industry. During one visit, the idea of Marissa carrying on Denise’s legacy came up, but something was missing. Last year, Marissa’s friend Kathryn Metzler came on the scene and Denise knew it was time when that little voice that had always guided her said, “It’s meant to be.”
Helen, who calls Denise “a maker of magical moments,” recalled watching her work patiently As Denise closes this chapter alongside both of her daughters in Marissa and Kathryn... and their Fairy God-Mother, Denise. of her life, she leaves the new the hunt for the perfect wedding owners with her wish for them dress. Helen attributed Denise’s excellent track record in to keep the dream alive, and to advance it: “May my success serving brides, their mothers and their bridesmaids to her be yours, but even greater.” “extraordinary generosity of spirit and commitment to the Undoubtedly there will be many more successes in this idea that every woman should have the opportunity to shine Broadway legend’s life. SS 10 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
the details Shot on-location at Something Bleu Bridal, Photo Credit Candidly Beth Photography Fashion Lea-Ann Belter separates from the Spring 2019 Aurora Borealis collection Shoes Bella Belle Shoes, Hair & Makeup Make Me Fabulous
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See the details on page 11
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Something Bleu THE NEW AT
WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER PHOTOS BY CANDIDLY BETH PHOTOGRAPHY
rom water to watered silk; from PR to Peau de Soie… Marissa Mackay and Kathryn Metzler are the Something New at Something Bleu Bridal – and brides shouldn’t be surprised to find these girl bosses have boots on under their ballgowns.
Last November, Marissa Mackay, the dedicated and extroverted Executive Vice President of Saratoga Water Services and the Luther Forest Corporation, and Kathryn Metzler, a calm and reserved transplant from Maryland with an MBA in marketing, became the new co-owners of Something Bleu Bridal after a year-long transition.
“Everyone tells you to embrace the unexpected,” said Metzler. “But it’s not always so simple. Becoming the new owners at Something Bleu, however, was surprisingly seamless - mostly because Denise has built such an amazing business and is here to help us make sure everything goes smoothly for our brides in the transition.”
Extending the Legacy
Over the past year, Mackay and Metzler have been learning the bridal business behind-the-scenes, and now that the transition is official Something Bleu Bridal founder Denise Eliopulos continues to serve as a creative consultant to the business and fairy godmother to brides. “We are recognizing and stewarding Denise’s legacy as much as our own. Denise is still very much a part of the business here, and - in a way - not much has changed. We will continue to maintain and improve our relationship with vendors, and brides won’t be seeing much changing from their perspective,” said Metzler.
Mackay continued, “Essentially while we are definitely Something New at Something Bleu, we are still Something Bleu, and Denise’s brides are still our brides –whether they purchased last year or 30 years ago at Immortal Beloved. We’re Something Bleu Brides ourselves, and we love the community of support and love Denise has fostered here.”
New in the Something Curvy Collection
One of the first things Mackay and Metzler decided to do was expand the Something Curvy collection at Something Bleu.
Introducing Israeli designer Studio Levana last fall, they’ve now held two trunk shows with this designer’s curvy-specific bridal lines. By the end of the year, Mackay and Metzler anticipate having at least 50 dresses for curvy brides. The part that blew us away? They’re increasing the Something Curvy collection all while cutting costs for these brides by refusing to pass on the additional 15 percent price tag that designers charge for their larger-size styles. “It’s time the industry reevaluated that practice. Our hopes are that more curvy brides will come to us because we will have the largest and most diverse curvy collection in the Capital Region,” said Metzler.
Marking the Transition
In January, an open-house celebration soiree heralded in the change in ownership with the beautiful melodies of Elizabeth Huntly on harp and Kenny Kakaty on guitar.
While sipping on wine by the Thirsty Owl and tasting delectable catering by Lily and the Rose, approximately 150 guests enjoyed browsing couturefashions by Elisabetta Polignano, Lea-Ann Belter, and Olvi.
Ushering the introduction of Mackay and Metzler into the bridal community, the harmonious transition was highlighted by the reveal of the boutique’s new private dressing room, bringing the total of private dressing suites at Something Bleu to four. “For us, buying your wedding dress is an experience as much as it is a purchase – maybe even more so. That’s why we worked nights and weekends to continue Denise’s vision and create an environment where every bride who walks in is treated like she’s the only bride in the salon,” said Mackay. SS For more information, go to SomethingBleuBridal.com
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INTO ACTION MEGHAN LEMERY FRITZ LCSW-R
Meghan Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing in State College, PA. For more information email email@example.com
How to Manage Life, Stress and Anxiety
nxiety can be paralyzing and cause us to shut down emotionally and sometimes even physically. Having a concrete plan to address overwhelming anxiety is essential to the healing process. Don’t wait until you are in a full-blown spiral of anxiety to get the help you need. Spring into action with a plan and observe how your thoughts become clearer and more manageable. Anxiety is really a warning light from our internal GPS system that we have failed to process a feeling. If you grew up in a family where feelings were undervalued and not honored in any way, chances are your adult life is packed with racing thoughts and a feeling of impending doom. Anxiety is not a feeling, rather a reaction to not processing a feeling.
People who suffer from debilitating anxiety tend to be self-abandoners. Meaning, you are unable to identify and follow through with self-care in a way that takes care of you emotionally, physically and spiritually.
The first step in healing an anxious mind and spirit is to begin to learn how to care for your feelings and emotions in a healthy way that enables you to work through uncomfortable feelings. When you feel anxious, stop and ask yourself out loud in the moment, “What do I need right now?” You may not be able to identify what it is you need, but by stopping to check in, you are slowing down the runaway train of anxiety. Once you ask yourself what you need, ask the question, “What am I feeling?” Remember, anxiety is not a feeling it is a reaction to a feeling, so an example of what you are feeling could be the following:
“I am feeling really scared about the presentation I have to give at work. I’m afraid I will screw
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up and people will think I sound unprepared and unprofessional. I’m afraid of how this will go, and this makes me feel anxious.” You have identified the feelings in a more concrete way which enables you to move onto the action step. The next question is: “What can I do in this moment to feel a sense of control?” Action will always help you feel less afraid and out of control. The action step in this example could be the following options: • I can practice my presentation in front of my close friends. • I can take a break and go for a walk.
• I can take a break and get something to eat. • I can call a trusted colleague and set up a meeting for help and feedback.
• I can continue to perseverate on thoughts of failure and let the anxiety take over my day.
When you lay out options for action steps you will notice just listing options can help slow the anxiety down. • What do I need?
• What am I feeling?
• What can I do in this moment to feel more in control?
Don’t stay stuck in the quick sand of anxiety. Spring into action and watch how you begin to feel better in every area of your life.
You are worth it!
& beyond in Downtown Saratoga
I have always loved the fit of Joesph Ribkoff dresses. This beachy floral print immediately captured my eye. Spoken is now Saratoga’s exclusive retailer of the Ribkoff brand.
WRITTEN AND MODELED BY CAROL GODETTE PHOTOS BY SUSAN BLACKBURN PHOTOGRAPHY HAIR AND MAKEUP BY DIANE PALMA SPRING 2019 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | 15
recent walk in the State Park with my “50 and beyond” friends led to a discussion about how some women reach a point in life where they just give up on fashion. Being well beyond 50 and a recent retiree I was in a fashion slump. I hadn’t exactly given up, but my daytime dress had fallen into the “uninspired” category. I would begin each morning in exercise clothes, get busy, and realize at 7 pm I was still wearing my workout gear.
When Simply Saratoga editor Chris Bushee commented that she had never seen me in anything but workout clothes, I knew it was time to step up my game. An opportunity arose to be photographed by my friend Susan Blackburn in a downtown Saratoga fashion shoot and I grabbed it. It would be the ideal way to shed my “athleisure” attire for new pieces that would better suit my lifestyle. My neighbor Patsy Culbert- who has witnessed me at my worst on early morning dog walks- agreed to accompany me. I knew she would push me to try on clothes I would normally breeze past on the racks.
Our first stop was Pam Worth’s Spoken Boutique. Pam and employee Colleen Mooney made us feel like we’d dropped in their house for a visit. The open airy feeling of the shop with lots of natural light was as warm and welcoming as Pam and Colleen. I was guided by Pam’s expertise— jumpsuits, off-the-shoulder dresses and detailed denim jackets filled my dressing room. Nothing was off limits. Patsy selected a red print dress. I rarely wear red but was receptive to break out of my routine. Pam paired it with a turquoise necklace and Desigual brand jean jacket and I instantly felt like a fashionista!
Pam is all about accessorizing. Each time she zeroed in on just the right accent —long hanging earrings with a pop of orange; a scarf with a hint of purple; a simple silver necklace. I had learned how two pops of color can enhance an outfit from “What Not to Wear” re-runs, but had stopped making accessories a priority. Pam’s keen eye reminded me of the importance of the RIGHT accessory—a take away lesson for women of any age. I fell in love with 6 different outfits and had difficulty choosing a favorite. Rather than rely on my eye, I later reviewed the photos of each outfit. Surprisingly they gave me insight into the looks I wanted to invest in.
Before we left, Pam’s weekly Friday shipment of new merchandise arrived, and she prepared for her weekly social media video clip showcasing her latest arrivals. What a great way to keep current on trends! 16 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
Soft dressing at its best! I fell in love with the blue of this 525 America top.
Pam taught me it’s all about the accessories!
This Desigual jumpsuit equals fun!
Quality basics are a must. I am CRAZY for this white Lysse blouse - thank you Pam for suggesting it! saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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The minute I put on these mid rise Silver brand jeans, I didn’t want to take them off. Once Jen paired them with a Lilla P sweater and silk Bandana scarf, I had my “new uniform."
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Jen Royal suggests these comfy ALL BLACK brand shoes to complete an outfit.
N A blue scarf and elegant Eileen Fisher sweater-dress up my new “go-to” Silver brand jeans.
ext stop was Lifestyles. Owner Heidi West’s motto “fashion is what you buy, style is what you do with it,” grabbed my attention. I was ready to be styled! Assistant manager Jen Royal and Alllie Dockum greeted me with several ensembles that were unlike any outfits I owned. The foundation of the first outfit was a pair of dark wash jeans. Jen specializes in fitting each woman with the right jeans for them. I began a “jean odyssey.” In the next hour, Jen navigated me through skinny, curvy and straight legs in low, mid- and high-rise options. My “ah-ha moment” was that none of the half-dozen pairs of jeans I currently owned really fit me correctly. That was about to change.
Once I put on the Silver brand Elyse Skinny known for its “no muffin top” feature, I was hooked. I now had a versatile staple I could dress up or down for many occasions. I was equally taken with the amazing selection of comfortable and stylish shoes Jen offered up to complete each look. Lifestyles also reinforced the concept of accessorizing. Another staple purchase I made was a polka dot silk bandana.
While there, I noticed the special care each customer received, whether purchasing an $8 lipstick or a $300 ensemble.
Nothing shook my end of winter doldrums like an afternoon of special attention in downtown Saratoga. I only hope other women will take advantage of the specialized attention that awaits them in our unique, locally-owned shops and boutiques. SS
Gold ALL BLACK sneakers and mixed metal necklace perfect finishing touches.
Casual yet elegant pieces abound at Lifestyles!
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LIFESTYLES 436 Broadway Saratoga Springs 518.584.4665 LifestylesOfSaratoga.com Eileen Fisher at Lifestyles of Saratoga. We've always believed in simple shapes that stand the test of time. Clothes that work effortlessly for women who wear them. Clothes that go where you go and move how you move. Clothes that let you be yourself.
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Spoken SPOKEN BOUTIQUE 27 Church Street Saratoga Springs 518.587.2772 SpokenSaratoga.com
Bright colors, flowing fabric, thoughts of warmer days ahead! A beautiful example of what to expect in the months to come! Hello Spring, we're ready for you!!
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VIOLET'S 494 Broadway Saratoga Springs 518.584.4838 VioletsofSaratoga.com Floral Jumpsuit by Gal Meets Glam in Ivory Coral combo, $158
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The Everything Saratoga Stores
IMPRESSIONS OF SARATOGA 368 Broadway Saratoga Springs 518.587.0666 ImpressionsSaratoga.com THE DARK HORSE MERCANTILE 445 Broadway Saratoga Springs 518.587.0689 DarkHorseSaratoga.com Celebrating the Saratoga Springs lifestyle, both Impressions of Saratoga and The Dark Horse Mercantile offer unique garments, gifts, home decor, memorabilia, and more! Meet Upset the Mini Dark Horse at SPRING 2019 SIMPLY SARATOGA | 23 multiple events this | summer!
Time to Accessorize! SPOKEN BOUTIQUE 27 Church Street Saratoga Springs, 518.587.2772 SpokenSaratoga.com
What's this about neon coming back? Well they say it always comes around again, and what better way then to introduce a 'POP" of fun than with a fun little wristlet fro Patrizia Luca!! Bright blossoms are always in bloom with our Jenny Krauss embroidered belts. Sunny days are always present with these beautiful pieces.
LIFESTYLES 436 Broadway Saratoga Springs 518.584.4665 LifestylesOfSaratoga.com
VIOLET'S 494 Broadway Saratoga Springs 518.584.4838 VioletsofSaratoga.com
New brand alert! Kelly Wynne "SORRY NOT SORRY" Satchel in Primrose & Proper. Convertible straps. Also available in Bread Wynner and Hot Mess Express. $315 24 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
There's no finer way to freshen up your footwear than with these Spring Step leather sandals. French inspired design, flower embossed and laser-cut sandal on a chunky stacked heel. $120.00
From Meghan Markle's favorite outerwear line! Soia & Kyo "ARABELLA" water-repellent slim fit coat with hood in Mist for those inevitable spring showers. $365.
Every ANN LIGHTFOOT necklace is inspired by the raw and delicate natural materials she chooses and is born of a devotion to design, beauty and elegance. Designed and created by hand in Connecticut. $66-$142
IMPRESSIONS OF SARATOGA 368 Broadway Saratoga Springs 518.587.0666 ImpressionsSaratoga.com
Needlepoint belts highlight Saratoga’s long time love with thoroughbred horse racing. A favorite pick for track goers these belts will complete any outfit during the track season. Available in two colors $99.99 at Impressions of Saratoga.
Designed by Patrick Knits and made in Toronto, Canada these beautiful woolen bags come in a variety of tartans. With the added Dark Horse tag these bags have been a hit with horse lovers and trendsetters. $99.99 available at The Dark Horse Mercantile.
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Thrill Seeker F
WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER PHOTOS PROVIDED
rom out of the darkness a horn sounds. You sense what is coming. Goosebumps pop out on your skin as the energy of the orchestra is met by a spectacular chorus of voices. The heart-thumping elation fills you with joy.
This is the Melodies of Christmas, a holiday extravaganza that broadcast director Bob English has been capturing for decades to share with WRGB CBS-6 television audiences.
It’s also an Albany Medical Center fundraiser that requires months of preproduction planning, nine cameras, four days of intense editing and an exciting rush of other meaningful challenges for his company, Luzerne Productions. It’s exactly the kind of project that English, a self-proclaimed adrenalinejunkie, thrives on.
In his 40+ year career in video production, English has worked with all three of the major local television news stations, filmed fundraisers and shot commercials. A demanding job where he is in control of all different aspects of production, he is confident because his mission has always been the same – to tell a great story. “I’ll plunge myself into it until I believe in the cause as much as they do. I have to. Everything I do, I’m constantly telling little stories. That’s essentially what I am: I’m a storyteller and your story becomes my story,” said English.
While directing live, local newscasts daily for more than 20 years, he was always looking to tap into the emotion fueling the story and formatted systems to handle any surprises that came up. “The challenge, of course, is time. You have 2 ½ minutes to break it down and put it back together again in the right way to get them right away,” he said.
A keen observer, he sees the value of all that is happening around him and how it fits into the bigger picture of world events. “I’m an avid reader and if you’re not doing so, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Newspapers can take a topic and delve into it a lot more. Without them, you’re not going to get the full story. Now we have 24-hour cable news stations too – they take a story, hash it out and tear it to shreds,” said English.
Beaming Sight & Sound
Starting at a very young age, English has been invigorated by people and the bustle of the behind-the-scenes action that happens backstage.
Proclaiming that he ‘hit the lottery’ when he met his wife of 19 years, Joan Taub, a Berkshire Hathaway Home Services realtor with a smoky alto singing voice, English said they regularly enjoy sharing a million laughs with a wonderful assortment of friends. “An awful lot of things interest me and whenever anyone asks me to do a project, my answer’s always, ‘yes!’” he said.
When the idea of delving into video gives you panicky sensations and sweaty palms, put yourself in trusted hands. “If you don’t have a video on your website you’re crazy because people will stop and they will watch it. There’s a million ways to do it. If you want to do something and you’re not sure how, think of me,” he said. For more information, go to LuzerneProductions.com
The lovely Joan Taub & Bob English in Paris
FORGED WITH PASSION WRITTEN BY TAMARA JOHNSON PHOTOS BY KEITH V. JOHNSON
n the town of Galway, Matt Lesniewski and his wife Becky run ML Knives out of their home on a tree-filled lot. If you didn’t see the neighbor’s house in the distance you’d think they were all alone in the forest, living the woodsman-artist’s life. After putting time in after work at his former career as a graphic designer, and Becky working nights at a truck stop pouring coffee and making sandwiches, the pair was able to make Matt’s knife making passion their full-time business—as it has been for more than 15 years now.
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A quiet and humble—yet serious—guy, Matt is passionate about the knives he makes—and the leatherwork he does for the sheaths, among other things, such as wallets. He’s also a talented artist in another right—He carves his skillful drawings onto the handles of many of his knives, and now also onto antiqued stag jewelry that he makes. While Matt kindly shared his prized sketchbooks for photos, there are bound books that customers can purchase from his site—such as, A Knife Makers Sketch Book: Vol 1—that feature many of his drawings (not to mention other books he has published). It is apparent that he is most fulfilled living a life that is all about the natural world. After moving to their larger space in the not too distant past, the pair has a sweet set-up, complete with a workshop / leather working studio, and website operation base. Not to mention a large storage space. In an out building is Matt’s forge, filled with anvils, blanks for creating blades, materials for the various handles, his two forges, and a bucket of cold water to cool the glowing red hot blades. There is also a white tent on the property for photographing product—which the couple uses for many of the images showcased.
Matt and Becky work together like a well-oiled machine. While some people say they could never work with their spouse, these two are proof that couples can not only make it work, but thrive while doing it. And thrive they are. Matt’s creations are in demand.
He specializes in hand forged Kepharts, along with a number of other knives designed for the “discerning” woodsman/woman. This is obvious from styles displayed on the ML Knives website, such as Woods Hunter Carry Knives, the Clip Point Hunting and 28 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
Field Knife, the Carry Carver Game Knife, and others such as the Nessmuk, Hudson Bay Camp Knife, and the many custom creations he crafts.
No matter what type of knife he is creating, however, everything is original. Matt prides himself on using the same techniques that an early 18th or 19th blade smith would have used. The steel he uses is high carbon (he states on his site that he primarily uses 1095 steel) for its ability to hold an edge and to be easily honed. Every blade is hand forged personally by Matt himself. The handles tend to be made from natural materials. Stag antler, bone, American hardwoods, Tiger Maple, Walnut, and other woods make up the majority of the handles, although he will use poly resin if requested for a custom order. Each piece includes a handcrafted sheath and Matt’s stamp, which is an understated ML. Most of the knives the couple showcases on Instagram and the like are sold before the posts even go up. Certain designs, such as the Kephart, have a tentative lead-time of 12-13 months. However, it is obvious from the photos that these knives are worth the wait. Matt treats each Kephart, game knife, Nessmuk, and custom piece—not to mention all the other designs he creates—with the care he would give his own personal pieces. From working with the blanks in his forge, to sculpting and smoothing the handle, to doing the leatherwork on the sheath, every detail is attended to with the same degree of passion Matt has brought to his work from the very beginning. While local to Saratoga County, and proud of it, Matt is known internationally, thanks in part to the fact that three of his
knives were made exclusively for the movie The Revenant, staring Leonardo DiCaprio. As Matt writes on his site, saying when they were used in the movie would create some spoilers for people who haven’t seen it yet, but if you look closely you’ll see his Skinner-type and Kephart-type knives in the film. Matt also made knives for season two of the television show, Outsiders. His work has also been written about in numerous publications, including The Washington Post.
After many years making knives, Matt’s pieces are beautiful, as well as functional. Get to know this practiced and soughtafter craftsman who resides right here in Saratoga County by visiting his website or social media platforms. No matter where his knives may travel, he is first and foremost a proud resident of New York state and creates everything he sells with this beautiful area in mind. It’s also where he tests his creations; so no matter what, the hunter, bush crafter, fisherman, re-enactor, woodsman, cowboy, mountain man or woman, and general knife enthusiast will receive a truly unique and highly functional work of art that stands up to anything mother nature will throw at it. SS Learn more about ML Knives: Website: ML-knives.com IG: @mlknives Facebook: ML Knives
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The Voice WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER PHOTOS PROVIDED
GETTING WHAT YOU’VE ALWAYS WANTED IS JUST THE BEGINNING.
Delaney Silvernell wanted to hold the spotlight in front of a national audience her entire life. This year, that dream became a reality when she appeared on NBC’s The Voice. Now her time on the show is over, but Silvernell’s still just getting started.
“There are so many things I want to do and to achieve. I’m so excited to have been on The Voice and am so grateful for it – but that’s not it for me. I’m going to continue to pursue being a singer and songwriter. It’s a really long road ahead,” said Silvernell.
Silvernell is a 6th generation Queensbury native, who grew up dreaming of being in the singing competition shows she watched on television. Her parents inspired in her the dedication and drive to follow her dreams.
the area, Delaney Silvernell graduated from Queensbury High School a year early, in 2014, to attend the prestigious Berklee College of Music. Silvernell auditioned twice to appear on The Voice before receiving the call that she’d earned a spot in the televised blind auditions round.
By this time, Silvernell had graduated from college and was working at a music publishing company in Los Angeles. “I was doing what I thought was exactly what I wanted to do, and I was super proud to achieve that, but when I got the chance to do something I wanted to do my entire life came up, I had to take it,” she said.
It was a year-long commitment that required her to quit her job and live in a hotel for several months. Delaney made it into the show’s second round before being eliminated. “Obviously, being on The Voice was an incredible platform for national exposure but I’m learning that exposure doesn’t equal success. Now I’m more driven than I’ve ever been.”
LIVING OUT LOUD
“The biggest inspiration for me – definitely – has been my parents. They are the hardest working people I know,” said Delaney.
Since her appearance on The Voice, Silvernell has given an inspiring speech for Queensbury students and sung three sold-out holiday shows at the Charles R. Wood Theater.
Feeling as if she’d exhausted her musical opportunities in
“It makes a statement and hits hard.”
Her father, Douglas Silvernell is currently a Saratoga High School Assistant Superintendent and her mother, Tammy Silvernell, is the Glens Falls High School Principal.
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The new year brings Silvernell’s release of a new original song, “Bow & Arrow” about the emotional hurdles of appearing on the show. SS
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FOR THE LOVE OF ANIMALS
…domestic and wild
ere are two more interesting stories from my time as the on-call Veterinarian for the Safari drive- through park in Northumberland. One was very funny, while the other one put me in a rather awkward position.
First the humorous story…
I was called to the park to check on an adult male lion who had somehow fractured off half of one of his lower canine teeth. Although I had plenty of experience in small animal dental issues, this was quite different. My first thought was to call my own dentist, who was also a good friend, to see if he had any interest in helping me examine and treat this lion. There was no hesitation. Dr. Valenti thought it would be a great adventure and what a story to pass on to his patients. When we arrived at the park the lion had already been sedated. Upon further examination we determined the appropriate procedure, and we had the appropriate equipment with us. He needed to have the tooth rebuilt with silver fillings. Fortunately, my wife Holly, was with us, as we needed an assistant to prepare the silver. After being given directions, she prepared the portions one after another until the job was done. Dr. Valenti said we used enough silver to fill more than 20 teeth!
WRITTEN BY DR. ROBERT J. SOFARELLI
My next call to the park involved a llama in labor...
She was having difficulty and had been in labor for hours. When I arrived, I expected her to be in a shelter or barn, but they had been unable to coax her to move, so I examined her right there.
A veterinary obstetrical glove goes all the way up to the shoulder - for obvious reasons. Most difficult births in hooved animals are caused by improper positioning of the fetus within the uterus. So, there I was standing -and up to my shoulder- trying to reposition this cria (*) when I heard a young child call out to his mother as they drove by "Look mom! What is that man doing to that poor llama?" Yes, a bit embarrassing!
Then due to sheer exhaustion - the llama went down on her side to the ground - taking me with her! As I lay on my side, I was finally able to reposition the cria and we delivered a healthy baby. Within about 90 minutes mother was back up and the new cria was standing and nursing. We were all so pleased with this happy ending. SS * the proper name for a llama's offspring.
After that episode, the lion was given the names Silver Fang by the park employees.
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Inspired by life,
COMPELLED TO PAINT
MATT CHINIAN WRITTEN BY DAN LUNDQUIST PHOTOS BY MARISA SCIROCCO
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or local artist Matt Chinian, painting is a somewhat focused, “intentional” way of paying attention to things… thinking about them, and then presenting / sharing / translating them through words and images to try and share a vision and values.
When I asked Matt how he came to his art, became gripped by it, he replied: “I observed the world and had to paint it.”
When I visited Matt's comfortable, well-used studio (a spacious converted garage with lots of natural light and a crackling pot-belly wood stove at his house in Cambridge), we had a wide- ranging conversation as I browsed the "walk-in album" of hundreds of his plein air works.
Here is a guy who lives in a stunning rural setting alongside a peaceful creek. He doesn't just see things, he observes and (I think) muses and "curates" the images and what they evoke for him. He gets a blank canvas (stacks sit on his tables), picks up a brush and after pausing, he selects colors from piles of tubes of oil paint. Then the magic begins to happen… the brush becomes an extension of his eye and imagination, and the paint is the medium that he uses to describe or translate his vision.
“I love paint. The pigment, the oil, the smell and feel of it. Color is not theoretical but a substance with properties. I love building pictures using shapes, values, color and texture. Painting is direct, there are
The space is rustic and comfortable. What might appear to be an “easy chaos” is Matt’s carefullyoutfitted studio. When he walked me around the property Matt explained how he had renovated the barn across from the studio. Impressed, I asked him about that; he was a carpenter specializing in traditional window restoration, but he wanted to show the world what he fascinated, as places, as compositions of shape and color and as a record of how things looked while he was there. Painting allows him to do that far better than restoration carpentry, as fulfilling as that was. “It was not easy to make a living in Cambridge New York with an M.F.A. degree, so in my early thirties I hired myself out at first as a general handyman carpenter. It was humbling. I learned a lot about human nature, and I enjoyed living and working in my newly-adopted home. Over time I did a lot of carpentry jobs for people, mostly as a one-man operation or with carpenter friends. It suited my disposition and fit perfectly into small town life.”
After about an hour -- and a cup of great, strong coffee -- I had to go, but a few thoughts crystallized. 34 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
no intermediary steps, no mechanical technologies and it needs no electricity to make or view. When the paint dries, my brush strokes freeze in time, they reveal the process, the action and intent with which they were made.
“When I factor in considerations for light and weather, I've invested half my effort before the first stroke of the brush. Having said that, the rewards for working from life are irreplaceable, the world is living, breathing, the light the air; always changing, always moving. My eyes, my mind engaged in discovery over time, they journey, and often play tricks, the results are unpredictable. As a realist painter I am dependent on the visual environment: I choose the scene, with its inherent nature, its history, its metaphor. I record it in paint.” The process itself — the “being in life” and digesting it, then putting a record, a story out there — is fun and fulfilling. Whether through the gift of painting or composing music or using words to tell stories. “My process begins with wandering. I go out, drive around in search of a scene, a place, a play of light. My search is as much of a finding within me and asking how I can express what’s in me, by focusing something that’s outside of me.
“There is an endless cycle of practical tasks and hours making panels, cleaning brushes. Lots of time on social media, managing photos, documenting the work, installing shows. There is discovery, always learning, always asking questions, navigating relevance, fighting sentiment. “The main event — the actual painting — is as meditative as it is pell mell. At times it’s draining in every way, and I can’t paint a fence.”
But when the creative serendipity (and focused effort) work and people get something out of it — find inspiration in images, are moved by music, enjoy and learn from stories, are intrigued, or best yet remember all or parts of it and possibly receive some inspiration — well, that’s the best.
In Matt’s words, “I want to create a commentary about the world I live in, what I see and what I focus my attention on.” And the funny thing about that part (the artist’s intent) is that one often has no idea when that second part (audiences’ engagement) really works. Or what its impact is.
But that’s okay. Some will engage, learn, and be moved... and in that is Matt Chinian’s fulfillment.
Matt will participate in the Open Studios of Washington County, July 19-21, and a one-day-only Pop Up Open Studio on March 31, 10-5. Visit MattChinian.com for more information.
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Done Right at stitches & time
WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY MEGIN POTTER
surprising number of the rustic tables, chairs and cabinets seen in Saratoga Springs businesses have been quietly supplied by artist-preneur Denise Murphy.
A humble straight-shooter, Murphy has been sewing together the feel-good farmhouse vibe into the fabric of the region since she opened Stitches & Time in 1987. It all started with quilts.
Piecing It Together
First learning how to sew Barbie clothes when she was 13-years-old on her grandmother’s black Singer sewing machine, just four years later Murphy made and sold her first collection of quilts. Now, her sewing machines are collecting dust even though there are still quilts she wants to make and a small corner of the Stitches & Time store does display bolts of fabric for sale. 36 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
The rest of the space is packed with everything from lip balm and wrought-iron accents to reclaimed relics and hearty furniture pieces. Supplied by a handful of consigners, pickers and contractors, Murphy makes most of all you see.
On the Level
Murphy has never limited herself to just one category of creating, but is more akin to successful rural farmers– she has her hands in all sorts of things.
On their 2-acre property, Murphy and her husband of 23 years, Joe, have raised five children. Expanding out of their 1874 farmhouse, Stitches & Time includes a main shop, a showroom, four outbuildings, and a barn workshop surrounded by an enormous collection of architectural salvage, lawn art, and stacks of curing wood. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
“I’m always out of room,” she said.
“I build my cabinets from the inside out. Their rustic-ness is homey and makes you feel good,” she said.
During the spring, Murphy can be found at D & L Tax Solutions. Her real passion however, is building in the barn where she is surrounded by images of Elvis Presley and hand-written quotes on the walls.
Which is why Murphy’s furniture can be found standing in businesses including The Saratoga Winery, Saratoga Tea & Honey Co., Saratoga Olive Oil Co., Boca Bistro and Harvest & Hearth – to name a few.
The shelves of unique jellies by the counter give you a taste of the thousands of jars that she puts up to sell at local businesses including Saratoga Apple and Winney’s Blueberries.
“This is what makes me happy and what makes my heart sing” reads one. In 2011, Murphy’s sister Kim, a Boone and Crockett Hunting Club record-holder, began working in the shop, which allows Murphy more time to create.
“I cannot wait to get into the barn. It’s like a sanctuary for me,” said Murphy.
This big love is easily seen in Murphy’s stately and generously-made furniture pieces.
Strong and sturdy, these are pieces with distinctive hand-hewn warmth.
“People absolutely love this stuff. They say, ‘Every piece you build, you build better’,” said Murphy.
With an influx of ideas and projects in the works, finding time to do them has been her biggest challenge. “There’s not enough minutes in an hour and enough hours in the day,” she said. SS Stitches & Time, 945 RT 29 E, Saratoga Springs, is open every day (except Wednesdays) 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
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Chef Rick and The Mansion of Saratoga The Power Duo Hard to Resist
WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY THERESA ST. JOHN
rides have many things in common. Their love for flowers, a gorgeous venue, a stunning dress, perfect weather, and a dream honeymoon, for starters.
Enter Chef Rick, an intricate part of Saratoga’s Mansion Inn, where he’s worked hard over the past 15 years helping make the bride and groom’s day seamless. Yes, the brides have a deep love for Chef Rick in common, too.
Chef Rick speaks fondly of childhood memories, recalling how he often used vegetables from his mom’s garden, creating toy monsters to play with before he ate them.
Early on, he was interested in becoming a pastry chef and started baking / decorating cakes when he was around 10. He felt like he was able to let his artistic side thrive when he spent time in the kitchen.
“I played with food growing up,” he states. “I figured, why not make a career out of it?”
He attended Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Dover, New Hampshire, one of 17 satellite campus locations stemming from the famous culinary school of the same name in Paris, France.
Chef Rick landed on the food prep and service side of the business for several years, worked as a personal chef, then spent some time on Stratton Mountain before finding his ‘home’ at The Mansion Inn. He smiles when he speaks of getting ready for his first wedding. “I was scared.” He tells me, with his charming grin. “It’s the most important occasion for a bride and groom, their families and guests. I didn’t want to mess it up.”
He loves when he can sit with the couple to talk about their personalities- what they envision their wedding day to be. Chef Rick follows suit. His culinary celebrations have included traditional menus for guests, as well as fun, creative foods.
One couple was very laid-back and had a blast sending choices out to the guests on their reception list. They could pick from beef, chicken, fish, and vegetarian. The meal itself would be a surprise. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
The bride and groom enjoyed the reactions as delicious burgers were brought out from the kitchen by Chef Rick himself. He’d made an 8oz Angus beef cheeseburger, a chicken spicy-crispy sandwich, a salmon burger, and a classic black bean burger.
“Working on this wedding was different and a great deal of fun. It showcased the bride and groom’s relaxed attitude towards life. The guests were thrilled, telling us that the menu was 100% perfect.” The Mansion Inn, built in 1866, sits on four acres of gorgeous landscapes. If the weather cooperates, the ceremony is typically held near the pond out back. A cocktail hour follows in the rose garden. Dinner is served under a tented deck, with dessert and dancing afterward in the barn.
If the weather puts up a fuss, they have a plan B in place and review it with the bride and groom during initial meetings, before contracts are even signed. “There’s a mesmerizing flow to the entire day. The group moves from place to place, enjoying it all.” Chef Rick has 300 weddings under his belt. He is present from the beginning. And while it is usual for most chefs to stay behind the scenes in the kitchen, Chef Rick’s trademark is being out on the floor… at a carving station, pouring wine, visiting with the happy couple.
The wedding season at The Mansion Inn begins at the end of April, running through mid-November. And during their shoulder season, smaller, more intimate ceremonies are held inside the historic home. Mid-week weddings are very popular at the Mansion as well. Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday weddings are all-inclusive and come with a reasonable price tag.
“It’s their day,” states Chef Rick. ”It needs to be all about them, every single second of it. Here at The Mansion Inn, we’re determined to do everything possible to make that happen, and then some.” No wonder the list of brides who love him keeps growing. SS
For further information on weddings and other events: TheMansionSaratoga.com
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RACING CITY BREWING CO.
WRITTEN BY KRISTEN SCHULTZ PHOTOS BY RANDALL PERRY AND THERESA ST. JOHN
It may be tucked back next to industrial buildings off Excelsior Avenue, but Racing City Brewing Co. could not feel more like home. Owners Tony and Debreen Oliva and their son, Anthony Oliva III opened the brewery in March 2018 with only one of their own brews on tap. Since then the brewery has boomed, appealing to locals and tourists alike. Tapping into their natural gift for hospitality, ability to recruit brewer Jurij Owad (formerly of Olde Saratoga Brewing Co.), and recent partnership with DZ Restaurants, the Olivas are off to a running start.
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Photo by Randall Perry Photography
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Photo by Randall Perry Photography
Photo by Randall Perry Photography
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“We want to embrace and embody all things Saratoga,” Debreen said.
And they have done just that. The main tap room features a horse racing motif, while two back rooms contain three dart boards and more than half a dozen cornhole games which reflect the relaxed community feel that Saratogians treasure. The tasting menu boasts 14 beers and four wines (from Oliva Winery), each with their own story. Grab one of the red stools at the bar Tony built himself and order a JustifIPA – a medium-bodied, slightly floral IPA with a bright nose and a hoppy, clean finish. It was one of their first beers, served at the brewery’s inaugural derby party last year, and named after triple-crown winner, Justify.
Tuesdays are brewing days when Tony and Owad work on recipes and fine-tune their year-round offerings as well as their seasonal beers like the Short Stack Black Lager which starts with a smooth black lager base and then gets a hit of sweet maple and hazelnut for a toasty, seasonal sip with a nutty finish. Among the other offerings are the Racing City Lager – a straightforward and balanced beer, and the Black Beauty nitro black lager that comes to the table with a dense, cascading head and malty, caramel notes. If you want to add some variety to your beer fridge, take home a 32 or 64-ounce growler of your choice, or a four-pack of Big Red IPA. If you’re looking for a non-alcoholic option, Tony and Owad have come up with a sparkling hop water. This zero-calorie, zero-sugar, zero-carb offering is just as refreshing and interesting as the brewery’s boozy menu items.
You don’t have to belly up to the bar to enjoy a glass of beer, wine or even a cocktail. Nearly 80 locals descend on Racing City Brewing Co. every Thursday for games of cornhole, and a dart league has begun as well. Guests can enjoy the suds and festivities all year as the building is heated during the winter, but during the mild summertime weather, large garage doors can open to let the sunlight stream in.
If you need something to soak up all the liquid enjoyment, the kitchen at Racing City Brewing Co. serves up more than boiled peanuts and bar mix. Opt for a large, warm soft Saratoga pretzel served with a side of beer-batter cheese sauce for dipping. Or, order a sharable plate of Mucho Nacho Man – corn chips topped with chicken, cheese, beans, salsa, jalapeños and sour cream.
Recently, Racing City Brewing Co. joined forces with DZ Restaurants – Forno Bistro, Chianti il Ristorante, and Boca Bistro – to offer more options for events. The Olivas had been dining with DZ Restaurants for years, starting when Tony, Debreen and their family started coming to Saratoga nearly 20 years ago. Like many, the family started coming for weekend horse races. They gradually started saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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Photos on this page by Theresa St. John
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staying for weeks, then longer, until finally they decided to just buy a house in town.
“It came to the point where we could renovate our New Jersey home or move to Saratoga,” Debreen said. The Olivas made the move.
Over the years they developed a relationship with DZ Restaurants, so when it became clear that they had the space to host larger events like holiday and birthday parties, but didn’t have the kitchen capacity, they partnered with the restaurant group.
“Courtney from the DZR sales team helped coordinate a couple events for guests at the brewery,” Nancy Bambara, vice president and COO of DZ Restaurants explained. “These events opened the door to discuss a bigger collaboration and the possibility of being the exclusive caterer.” As the exclusive caterer, DZ offers a variety of customizable menu packages ranging from a simple but elegant board of arancini, salami, pesto, stuffed bread, and caprese salad to multiple, chef-manned food stations.
This kind of collaboration represents the cooperative spirit of the community. “I think the more we can collaborate and support each other, the more successful we make Saratoga Springs,” Bambara said.
Collaboration, community and growth have been the hallmarks of Racing City Brewing Co. over the last year. Regular customers bring in Spa Citythemed home décor. The ideas for cornhole and darts came from brewery guests. Despite a rapidly expanding beer selection and recreational reasons to visit the brewery, the Olivas have been mindful to bite off only what they can chew. “It’s baby steps in everything we do,” Tony said. “We correct pitfalls quickly and we do it right. We are face-to-face with every person who comes in. We take the time to talk to people.”
“We make a point to connect with customers,” Debreen said. “We listen to their ideas. They’re great people. We go home at the end of the night and talk about who we met and what they had to say.” There will be no rest for the Olivas as they gear up for spring and summer. Racing City Brewing Co. will host a one-year anniversary party for the brewery as well as derby parties and summer events. The brewery is available for private events year-round. “It’s been great to see the organic growth,” Anthony Oliva, Debreen and Tony’s son who oversees the brewery’s marketing efforts said, “It’s cool to see that guests choose to come here to celebrate milestones and create traditions.” Good beer, good fun, good food and good friends? We’ll raise a glass to that. SS saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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Between The Lines A LOOK AT BOOK CLUBS IN SARATOGA WRITTEN BY CAROL GODETTE PHOTO PROVIDED
Bookclubs abound in Saratoga Springs. They can magically transform a solitary activity into a social experience and quickly build a sense of community among members. A group’s discussion opens perspective on thinking about the world and members more readily get to know their fellow readers on a deeper level. Local bookclub member Grace Frisone notes, “A bookclub opens our minds to new ideas. Sharing other people's vision and views and how we can look at the ‘same’ person, thing or circumstances and come away with completely different views is an aspect that forces us to open our minds and maybe become more tolerant.”
For some groups it’s all about the book; for others the food is the thing; and still for others, it’s a support group of like-minded people bringing a stronger sense of community to their lives. This series will take a closer look at some of the many groups in Saratoga Springs. If you are not currently in a club, or would like to explore others, check out the reading groups at Northshire Bookstore where five different clubs are run by the staff at the store each month. The Saratoga Springs Public Library also offers four different interest-based book groups open to the public.
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the American History Reading Group
at Saratoga’s Northshire Bookstore “Just jump in,” encouraged Mike Hare, bookseller and leader of the American History Reading Group at Northshire Books. Mike’s zest for history is immediately apparent but his real talent is his ability to select books describing important historical American events that somehow, the average person isn’t aware of. The group began two years ago and offers books on a variety of American historical topics; slavery, elections, wars, factory work conditions and social changes.
The evening I attended, 6 men and 6 women - 3 being first timers - shared a lively give and take discussion of the book The Great Halifax Explosion: A World War I story of Treachery, Tragedy & Extraordinary Heroism by John Bacon. The nonfiction book details a WWI munition laden ship, the Mont-Blanc, after its departure from NYC and the consequences of its collision with another ship outside of Halifax, Canada. Mike Hare commented that this was the group’s first selection that ventured outside of the US to Halifax, Canada and really detailed the “interplay between US and Canada in 1917.” He kicked off the discussion by admitting he was “unaware of the significance and intensity of the most powerful pre-Hiroshima explosion” described by author Bacon. He asked if anyone else felt that way, opening the door for comments, connections and questions among group members. No one person dominated the discussion and there was an easy, natural exchange among group members that I found informative and fun. One attendee had lived in Halifax and was able to give a present-day perspective on Halifax and the effects of the explosion, that are still seen today. Another member added that the “second half of the book was on humanity," which opened the group’s associations to a modern disaster all could relate to…9/11.
The group all disagreed with the adage “you can’t judge a book by its cover” and strongly felt the colorful, fiery cover of this book drew them into the story. Their enthusiasm for the book was contagious and I left eager to read this selection.
SO, WHAT OTHER BOOKS STAND OUT FOR THE GROUP? Destiny of the Republic by Candace Miller which detailed the assassination of President James Garfield remains a favorite of Mike Hare.
November’s selection Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72 by Hunter Thompson critically looked at the Nixon/McGovern presidential election also lead to a spirited discussion. Aside from remembering past reads, members were eager to hear about future reads. Mike shared the March 5th selection, 1777 by Dean Snow, about the Battle of Saratoga, adding that the “Revolutionary War is how we became a country.” Members were encouraged to visit the nearby Saratoga National Battlefield to supplement the text and many left the meeting with book in hand and a promise they would have a deeper understanding of Benedict Arnold. A shift from serious selections to a fun read, Big Hair & Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging ’70’s by Dan Epstein, was described as the April 2nd selection to kick off the spring baseball season. What could be more American than that? Author’s note: This group meets in the back of Northshire Bookstore at 5:30 pm the first Tuesday of every month and welcomes all, even if they haven’t read the book. Members get a 20 percent discount on the club’s monthly selection.
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VETERANS PEER CONNECTION
Making Sure No Vet Fights Alone WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY THERESA ST. JOHN
“My entire life has been, at some level, involved with the military...
in counseling, and helping make certain Navy wives had access to any number of resources available to military families.
I’m not sure how many people have heard of PFC Joseph Dwyer. I know I hadn’t, until just recently. He was a Suffolk County resident who’d joined the Army just days after the horrific terrorist attacks on 9/11.
When Saratoga County received grant money to help with Veterans’ services, Amy was offered a position working under director Frank McClement. She accepted, starting her job as Saratoga County Veterans’ Peer Connection Program Coordinator. She’s never regretted a moment of the opportunity.
I’ve witnessed the many contributions of veterans in this community. I want to make certain our veterans can continue to do that.” - Amy Hughes
Ultimately, he ended up touring in Iraq and once he returned to the States was diagnosed with PTSD. Tragically, Joseph’s mental illness drove him to take his own life in 2008.
The Saratoga County Peer Connection is made possible today through a grant program created by the NYS Senate, in honor of Joseph’s life and sacrifice to keep us all free.
Amy Hughes is a military wife. While her husband was out to sea, like so many other heroes defending our country, she was busy with three children, studying to earn her Masters Degree 48 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
She also spent time working at the Defense Centers of Excellence for PTSD & TBI as a counseling supervisor, dealing with veterans in an online setting.
Coffee Night started in Saratoga about 2 & ½ years ago. Amy visited several coffee shops in the area, asking if they’d be willing to donate space on a quiet evening for veterans to come in and mingle with each other over coffee. Although the idea sounded interesting, all but one declined her request. Saratoga Coffee Traders jumped at the chance to help local veterans. Tuesday night was their quietest and Amy was grateful for a welcoming place where people could meet, talk about their experiences if they chose to, while enjoying coffee and a meal together, paid for by the program.
For the first three months, only 3-4 people showed up. Amy states she began wondering what she’d been thinking of, what made her and others in the office believe a coffee meet-up could make a difference in a veteran’s life, anyway? “We’re not exactly sure what happened.” She tells me with a smile. “All of a sudden Tuesday nights were hopping. It became the busiest night of the week here.”
In 2017 a teacher from the Queensbury High School Advanced English class reached out to the Veterans Peer Connection. Students had just finished reading “The things they carried” by Tim O’Brien, would Amy consider bringing a few veterans to the classroom to speak with them about their own experience with war?
Seven vets volunteered to sit with the young people, to answer any questions they had about their military service. Afterward, the students were asked to complete a creative project based on what they took away from the veterans’ visit. It could be a journal entry, prose, an essay, or interpretive piece of artwork.
One veteran had spoken about TAPS – how hard those 24 chords were for him to play. A young female student wrote two very moving poems for her assignment. The first talked about the 24 hardest chords to play, from the bugler’s point of view. The other spoke about the 24 hardest chords to hear, listening from a person’s place of grief. “It’s so important, that the younger generations learn about the military, what our men and woman go through – in and out of combat – to keep our country free.”
The veterans involved with the peer-to-peer program range in age from 27-87. They cover several eras and many wars. The idea is to match vet to vet – using life experiences, age, common interests, even places of combat.
Now, on Monday nights, a group of veterans gathers under a roof to sing their hearts out. Thanks to a retired choir director from Queensbury High School and the willingness of The American Legion on West Avenue offering a safe space, a group of 14-16 people find solace and new hope with music. On March 14th they performed our National Anthem at Comedy Works on Broadway. It was the group’s 1st public appearance - everyone was so excited. Even the comedian was a veteran!
Students from Galway High School’s Graphic Arts department are in a friendly competition, seeing who can design the best logos, posters and other products for Amy to use in the peer-to-peer program.
With opportunities in mentorship, role modeling, guidance, motivation, and support, I’m not surprised in its success rate with helping veterans in Saratoga County. Our vets deserve all this and more. “A kind gesture can reach a wound that only compassion can heal.” Steve Maraboli To take advantage of their free services, learn about events, or to become a volunteer, call 518-884-4999. You can also visit VeteransPeerConnection.org. SS saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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THE PALMERTOWN RANGE TRAIL FIRST IN A SERIES OF FOUR
Hikers on the Palmertown Range Trail will be treated to views like this one of the Hudson River in Moreau Lake State Park. Photo by Jackie Donnelley WRITTEN BY DAN FORBUSH PHOTOS PROVIDED
Trails take a long time, says Julia Stokes. She would know; she’s been building them most of her life. After aiding in the launch of Saratoga Springs’ resurgence as the first director of the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, Stokes moved to the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation (OPRHP) where in the early 1990s she was named Deputy Commissioner for Regional Operations. In that position, she was responsible for all the state’s parks; east of Syracuse, south of the St. Lawrence River, and north of the Tappan Zee Bridge. Headquartered at Saratoga Spa State Park, Stokes at that time lived with her husband on five acres adjacent to Skidmore's North Woods, which sits at the southern terminus of the Palmertown Range. She walked her collie every day on its trails, and so she had a personal interest in a meeting she was about to have with Kurt Kress, a young Parks engineer who'd been assigned to the team that was developing a new master plan for Moreau Lake State Park.
BLOCKS OF GREEN
This was the mid-1990s. Niagara Mohawk had just sold its dams on the Hudson due to regulatory changes that prompted 50 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
the company to get out of the power-generation business and focus instead on just transmission. Having purchased 3000 acres of prime Adirondack forest around Spier Falls Dam and Sherman Island Dam, the Open Space Institute (OSI) had just transferred it to New York State and thereby quadrupled the size of Moreau Lake State Park -- from 700 to 4100 acres.
The question Parks officials were now asking: What do we do with this new land, which can offer the public spectacular new views of the Hudson and access to lakes and forest previously off-limits? Now Capital Facilities Regional Manager for OPRHP, Kress at that time was on the team assigned to answering questions like, what do we about these huge Niagara Mohawk transmission towers? Can we build trails under them? That took the team a couple of years to work out with Niagara Mohawk's lawyers, but they did it. Kress was specifically assigned to surveying all the ecological communities within an extended radius of the park. He walked into Stokes' office and rolled out on her desk a long map with a twisted line running along it from the North Woods to Moreau Lake. “That’s the Palmertown Range Trail,” he announced.
The result of groundwork laid by Saratoga PLAN and the Saratoga-Capital Region Parks Commission, this acquisition was essential to the vision of the Palmertown Range Trail. It provided the impetus in 2017 for OSI and PLAN to undertake a major study of the region. With extensive community input in the form of stakeholder interviews, focus groups and surveys, environmental consultants Alta Planning + Design and Bernuth & Williamson completed last November a 150-page recreation and conservation strategy. This will serve as the main reference to which everyone can now refer to in making virtually any kind of decision involving land.
For example, if you're a private landowner, you'll want to know if your property is particularly prized for conservation. If you’re interested in selling your land, you may have an interested conservation buyer. If you're not looking to sell, there may be other conservation or public access options, many of which may afford a financial incentive.
Julia Stokes and Kurt Kress saw the potential to create the Palmertown Range Trail in the 1990s while developing a new master plan for Moreau Lake State Park. Photo by Dan Forbush
Thirteen miles long, the trail Kress proposed included two state forests already in the public domain -- and thus easy to incorporate in the trail -- and other essential properties that weren’t. These included the undeveloped land around the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility and a large plot in Wilton that John Witt had bought for his Woodard Road development. “As we were inputting my data into my GPS locator, we could see these blocks of green in a line," Kress recalls. "That was the genesis for saying, 'someday, these blocks should be linked together with a coherent trail system.’" Stokes loved the idea, but she knew it wasn't going to be easy. Trails take a long time.
A STRATEGY FOR THE PALMERTOWN RANGE
Fast forward 20 years and we can see that much of that early vision is in place. Most importantly, 750 acres of undeveloped land around the Mount McGregor Correctional Facility are now attached to Moreau Lake State Park, providing access to two pristine lakes and a way - ultimately - to get to the popular Grant's Outlook on Mount McGregor's summit. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
If you work in town government in Saratoga Springs, Greenfield, Corinth, Moreau, or Wilton, you'll want to know the study's recommendations on zoning.
If you're an outdoors-oriented entrepreneur, you'll want to know the high-traffic areas that offer greatest potential in recreation-based tourism businesses, such as lodging, restaurants and cafes, rental shops, environmental education and guide services, camping, geocaching, and related businesses at appropriate locations along the trail system.
COMPLETING THE SPINE
With its forested granite peaks and steep valleys, the ruggedness of the Palmertown Range has served as a shield against developers, despite being directly adjacent to the highly developed Northway corridor. That’s why it still has a forest economy that includes Christmas tree farms, the harvesting of lumber and maple syrup, the manufacture of woodcrafts, and outdoor recreation centers.
The strategy concludes: "The myriad charismatic ecosystems, flora, and fauna found in the Palmertown Range can serve as an economic and quality-of-life asset for the community by providing place-based recreation unique to the location, relative to the Adirondacks, the Green Mountains, and the Hudson River." In 2016, the Open Space Institute acquired for $1 million the 282-acre Greentree Lake parcel. Adjacent to Lincoln Mountain State Forest's southern boundary, this will be a key piece of the Palmertown Range Trail's "spine," which is now about 70 percent completed, says Katie Petronis, OSI's northern program director. "There remains only a handful of parcels on which public access is needed to complete the spine trail. We are in touch and working with the majority of those landowners and are hoping to have the access phase of spine trail development completed in the next five years." SS
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MAGICIANS WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER PHOTOS PROVIDED
THE WEATHER IS BRISK but the further you venture up the mountain trail, the hotter you feel. One stumble leads to another, and you slip. The fall injures your leg. There’s no cell service. Now what?
You need a little magic. Having faith that an angel will happen to cross your path and help you out isn’t quite as reassuring as knowing that your certified wilderness guide will. “We can identify the start of hypothermia or if someone simply needs a Snicker’s bar because their blood sugar level has dropped. People don’t realize how quickly medical situations can develop. Guides are trained to prevent and manage situations to get everyone out safely. When you don't have the experience, simple mistakes can escalate into preventable rescue situations." said trail guide Allison Cascade Kozel.
In the wilderness, looks can be deceiving.
Sunny 40-degree weather at the base of the mountain can camouflage what will be an icy climb into the blizzard at the summit. To survive these treacherous conditions a certain level of knowledge and the right gear is crucial.
-“More and more people are flooding in, deteriorating the land, leaving trash, not carrying headlamps or wearing proper footwear. We see that people want to get out but they just don’t know how. Instead of discouraging people from being in the wild, we’ll show them how to enjoy nature safely and responsibly. ” she said.
There’s an influx of unprepared hikers needing assistance in the Adirondack Park, which is larger in size than Yellowstone, Everglades, Glacier, and Grand Canyon National Parks combined. “It’s easy to get mixed-up and confused. In some places there’s no actual marked trail. A deer path looks like a herd path and missing a turn can add many miles onto a trip,” said Kozel.
HEARING THE CALL
An inescapable connection exists between Kozel and the mountains. In 1976, her parents were the first couple to be married atop an Adirondack high peak. Her middle name “Cascade” is also the first of the high peak mountains she traversed when she was just five-years-old. As a child, her link to the land was strengthened by Grace Hudowalski, the first women to summit the 46 high peaks and by the time she was 13, Kozel had completed all 46 of the high peak climbs, as well.
As an adult, Kozel continued to hear the call of the wild. Getting out every moment she could, her adventures became more and more focused around helping other hikers reach their wilderness goals of camping, hiking or summiting a high peak.
“It was almost pulling me and without realizing it, I was building my dream job,” said Kozel. One of the people Kozel helped guide through the mountains was Schenectady-based real estate investor Jeff Buell. In 2017, Buell began a year-long philanthropic venture called, “Do the Next Good Thing”.
As the next step in his mission, Buell is investing in people passionate about doing good things for other people. One of the next three projects he’s supporting with these funds is Muddy Boots Guiding and Gear Rental, which was officially launched by Kozel and her team in February. 52 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
“It’s a really amazing opportunity to look at guiding in a totally out-of-the box way,” she said.
“Afterwards they say, ‘I can’t believe I did that!’ We want people to have that super joy feeling when they get to achieve their goal" said Kozel.
Whether you’re a beginner looking for a family-friendly outing, an expert training for the ultra-endurance climbs, or somewhere in between, they show you how to best explore the Adirondack Park and Catskill Mountains.
WHERE THE MAGIC HAPPENS
ADVENTURE-PRENEURING MATCH MAKERS
Muddy Boots adventure packages can make your dreams of adventure a reality.
“Our job is making sure your adventure is well matched to your skill and fitness level so the experience is fun and successful in the end,” said Kozel.
Muddy Boots will guide you every step of the way or hang back and help you remotely. A yearly subscription to their on-call remote pow-wows allows you to have an expert virtually by your side, answering your questions, preparing you for weather conditions and mapping out your route without incurring the expense of havinga guide accompany you in-person on every hike.
Another luxurious solution they offer is “chillamping”. Muddy Boots hauls in, sets-up your camp, and then carries it all back out when you’re done. They’ll even rent you top-quality gear at great prices.
“People buy all this stuff and then use it once. Instead, you can rent the equipment that you didn’t bring with you or you just don’t have. This allows you the opportunity to use the proper equipment, to try out high-quality products and all you need to do is show up,” she said. Up for a really big challenge? They’ll bushwhack with you back to an adrenaline rushing slide climb or bag multiple peaks with you in a day.
On a one-way hundred-mile hike? They’ll drop off food and toiletries and even shuttle you to your car.
Muddy Boots lets you see a waterfall, hike with your dogs, or get the VIP treatment at the park’s most pristine secret fishing spots (and then even prepares the fish for you!)
Even not-so-adventurous kids enjoy an outdoor experience if they’re listening to interesting stories with the right gear to keep them comfortable. “We tap into kids natural curiosities to keep them motivated and having fun. When they enjoy an experience, they'll want to do it again,” said Kozel.
All three of the Muddy Boots guides help people feel confident, safe and comfortable so they can open up and enjoy the day. “Everyone says, ‘I can’t wait to hike with you again. I felt like I’ve known you forever.’ That's because we all have this thing in common, which is wanting to be outside,” she said.
Take a Muddy Boots class, join a clinic, get empowered on a girlsonly hike or share something new with your co-workers and you’ll discover that in the greatest spaces the closest connections can form. “Hiking in general becomes a natural team-building experience. A bond occurs when you’re adventuring together,” said Kozel. SS Find out more by visiting them online at MuddyBootsGuide.com.
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Adirondack Trust Company provided by Adirondack Trust Company
t would be a challenge to list all the buildings in Saratoga Springs that Thomas R. Frost, Jr. has designed. Much like Tom, his buildings are understated, but thoughtful.
Influenced by his family, Tom always loved to draw and loved buildings. His grandfather and uncle were architects, while his father was a civil engineer and his mother was an artist. When he initially attended Princeton University, he intended to be a civil engineer like his father, but he found that it was not the best path for him. He turned to architecture, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in Architecture. During his last summer at Princeton University, he worked for the National Park Service in the Historic American Building Survey division in Philadelphia, measuring and drawing the attic structure of Independence Hall. Before attending Harvard University to further his education in architecture, Tom took a year off. He spent a year with the National Park Service in San Juan, Puerto Rico measuring and
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recording two historic Spanish forts - Castillo San Cristóbal and Castillo del Morro. His time measuring and documenting historic buildings with the National Park Service gave him a greater understanding of historic buildings, which would later help him in his career.
While attending Harvard, Tom came to Saratoga Springs for the first time in 1967 to visit his sister Natalie, who was attending Skidmore College. It was then he met his first wife, Sandra. He recalls of his first visit, “It was quiet. I liked Broadway and the architecture.” Little did he know at that time that he would make his own mark on Broadway. Upon graduating from Harvard University, Tom worked as the architect for the U.S. Virgin Island’s Planning Board. The following year, he and Sandra briefly lived in Saratoga Springs while Tom worked for an architecture firm in Albany.
WRITTEN BY SAMANTHA BOSSHART, SARATOGA SPRINGS PRESERVATION FOUNDATION PHOTOS PROVIDED
473 Broadway Adirondack Trust Company. Hand-Colored Rendering by Tom Frost
Sandra and Tom then moved to St. Thomas where Tom had his own firm. After three years of living there with their two young children, Christopher and Kate, Sandra and Tom felt it was time to move. “We both felt that Saratoga Springs was not going to sit idle for long – it was a town that was going to blossom and that it would be a good place to raise our children,” shared Tom. After a brief pause he went on to say, “And, we were absolutely right!”
In 1973, he opened Frost Architecture in Saratoga Springs at 368 Broadway. “At that time contemporary buildings were not being constructed in Saratoga Springs. Rehabs of historic buildings and additions to them were what was happening,” said Tom. Much of Tom’s career has focused on historic buildings. Over the years he has designed adaptive reuse plans for numerous carriage houses throughout the city, including the home he shared with his second wife Carole Tarantino, saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
1 Starbuck Lane, and his current office at 41 Long Alley. He has also designed many additions, including 658 and 779 North Broadway.
“Despite Tom’s ‘heavy duty degrees’ from Ivy League schools, his very nature is unpretentious. He is completely hands-on and quick with a dry wit. These traits carried through to the projects, whether it be his building designs or the Head of the Fish trophies he created,” shared Sue Davis of SD Atelier, who worked for Tom prior to establishing her own firm. She went on to say, “Tom always appreciates the historic character of buildings and has the ability to focus on the original details and reinterpret them in new ways. His unique design sensibilities and keen awareness of building construction combined with his appreciation of Saratoga Springs’ unique historic character is what I appreciated most when working with him.” SPRING 2019 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | 55
1 Starbuck Lane, Staircase photo by Gail Stein, 2017
Tom Frost in his boots, jeans, and Carthart jacket, hours before leaving for warmer weather in the Bahamas, standing in front of his home at 1 Starbuck Lane.
That sentiment is echoed by others. Over the years, he has done several projects for Charles Wait personally, as well as the Adirondack Trust Company. Tom designed the addition to his house on North Broadway and was responsible for the redevelopment of the drive-thru of the main branch of Adirondack Trust Company at 473 Broadway as well as the design of the Mabee Building at 31 Church Street. “I have always considered Tom an artist. However, he is not an artist who wants to design a flashy statement for his own name recognition. He is always thoughtful – he is respectful of the surrounding buildings and often taking cues from them,” said Charles.
It might surprise many that Tom’s favorite project is not the Pfeil Building, 340 Broadway; the Mabee Building; the Roohan Building, 431 Broadway; 116 Regent Street, home of Cory and Doug Ward; or one of his many carriage house projects. It is the redevelopment of the drive-thru, which most may not notice. “It always bothered me that the original drive-thru attempted to be part of the classic white marble bank building; it violated the architecture of it. The bank deserved to stand alone.” commented Tom. His buildings have a subtle presence –distinctly a 56 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
Head of Fish Trophies by Tom Frost, 2012
statement of their own time, yet respectful of their context.
In 2010, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation recognized Tom with a Spirit of Preservation Award for his lifetime achievements in preservation. Not only was he recognized for his extensive work that has been sensitive to the historic built environment of Saratoga Springs, he was also recognized for his dedicated commitment to the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation. He served on the Board of Directors and is a long-standing member of the Advocacy Committee, where he provides invaluable input. Over the years, Tom only has had two partners, Richard McConnell (1976-1983) and his current partner Matt Hurff. Matt, also a graduate of Harvard University, started working for Tom in 2001. “Tom is a total architect. He works through the process from start to finish – from drawings to in the field – to ensure it is built as it was designed,” shared Matt. This is perhaps why both Tom and Matt are always in boots, jeans, and Carhartt jackets. When asked what Matt appreciates most about Tom, he responded, “Tom looks at the entire built ecosystem. His goal is to make the whole better as opposed to only trying to make his building standout. Sometimes a
521 Broadway, Gas Station, photo by Shannon Rose Design, Web & Marketing
473 Broadway, , Adirondack Trust Company photo by Shannon Rose Design Web & Marketing
521 Broadway, 1976
473 Broadway, , Adirondack Trust Company photo by Shannon Rose Design Web & Marketing 795 North Broadway
building will come forward, other times it needs to be part of the background.” In 2010, Matt became a partner in the firm, which is now Frost-Hurff Architects. “Matt is thoughtful. I respect his talent and the relationships he has with clients. I’m very happy he will be the one to continue the firm when I retire,” shared Tom.
The Mabee Building of the Adirondack Trust Company at 31 Church Street, constructed in 2007, photo by Shannon Rose Design, Web & Marketing
Retirement is not far off for Tom. He is increasingly spending more time in Great Guana Key, Bahamas, where he and Carole built a home. When asked about Tom’s retirement, Matt quickly answers, “I will keep the Frost name on the door because he epitomizes the character of the work of the firm – contextual, but distinctly contemporary – taking tradition and evolving it to changing circumstances.”
There is no doubt that Tom has made a positive mark on Saratoga Springs. I hope he reflects fondly on his many accomplishments as he watches the sunsets in the Bahamas and enjoys his cold bottle of Budweiser. SS
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H&G Randall Perry Photography
Flip the page for the rest of the house
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Archite Randall Perry Photography
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cturally SPEAKING FOLLOW US AS WE EXPLORE SOME OF THE AREA'S UNIQUE SPACES...
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1920'S HOME ON LINCOLN AVENUE IS REVITALIZED BY SUCCESSFUL NYC DESIGNER WRITTEN BY MAUREEN WERTHER PHOTOS BY RANDALL PERRY PHOTOGRAPHY
Randall Perry Photography
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ee Stout is an interior designer, professor, and an avid student of the impact of space and design on human behavior. Born in Pittsburgh and a NYC resident for his entire adult life, Stout first visited Saratoga Springs in 2015 with friends who live in the region.
Nearing the end of a long and successful career in design that also included teaching at Pratt Institute, New York University and the New York School of Design, Stout was looking at options for retirement. With so many friends nearby and the appeal of Saratoga Springs, he decided to begin searching here for his next home. Lee continued to live and run his design business in NYC from his loft and studio in Hell’s Kitchen, now referred to as “Midtown West.” “I always liked the name ‘Hell’s Kitchen’ better,” he said, referring to the neighborhood’s reputation as one of New York’s cultural and artistic hubs.
Working with a local realtor, Lee began visiting Saratoga on weekends, searching for the right home. It took eight months, but when he saw the two-story white stucco home on Lincoln Avenue, he knew he had found the right house. “There was something about this house. It reminded me of one of my grandmother’s homes in Pennsylvania.
The house stands apart from many of the other homes that grace the broad, tree-lined streets of the city. Built in 1926, it was part of an architectural movement that began shortly before the turn of the century – the Vienna Secession. The movement was a response to the excessive ornateness of the Victorian era, with the secessionists’ rejection of “historicism” and its embrace of geometry and abstraction in architecture. Described as the German branch of Art Nouveau, it was most popular in Europe, particularly in Austria, Germany and Belgium. The house on Lincoln Avenue is an example of the movement’s influence across the Atlantic.
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Randall Perry Photography
Randall Perry Photography
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During my visit to his new home, Lee - who is a natural born teacher – pointed out the features of the house that are hallmarks of the secessionist style, particularly, the white stucco exterior and the home’s minimal decoration. As he explained it to me, the Vienna Secession allowed for what Stout calls “compartmental decoration” as a basic human need. Lee has payed homage to that philosophy in the simplicity and stark beauty of the rooms, accented with bright mixed media art on the walls and the furnishings that exemplify the artistic styles of the 1950s through the 1980s.
He also pointed out that Victorian decoration arose to cover bad craftsmanship, another fact that, as a fledgling student of design and architecture, I was unaware. Lee purchased the home in 2015 and immediately began to refurbish and re-design the space and surrounding property to fit his new lifestyle. Stout has spent his career designing and building interior spaces that serve as both artistic representations and functional living and working spaces.
His new home is an example of the effect
that design, and style has on behavior. The 3,200 square foot space is at once tranquil and invigorating. Large windows allow in natural light and high ceilings add to the expansive feel of the rooms. The furnishings and accent pieces create a tableau that renders itself to both observation and habitation.
The mostly white walls and ceilings of the main room and adjacent TV room create a brightness that is neither stark nor antiseptic. On the contrary, the bright clean space is accentuated by the geometric lines, with footstools and accent pieces in spheres, rectangles and squares that add to the room’s interest.
The newly redecorated and expanded kitchen is a combination of shapes, textures and colors that add both warmth and a feeling of industry to the space. The shade of gray that Lee chose for the cabinetry is chameleon-like, at one moment casting a violet hue and the next receding into a subtler blue-gray tone. It is a color that defies classification. And that is how Lee likes it.
“I like to pick colors that are hard to name,” he says.
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Randall Perry Photography
Randall Perry Photography
The upstairs has more surprises in store. With three bedrooms and two full baths, the pristine white walls of the hallway lead in to the warm, almost putty shade in the room Lee uses as his office. Down the hall, the guest bedroom is a soothing study in more pale and un-nameable hues, with a bold charcoal gray in the custom designed deep walk- in closet. The master suite is an inviting private enclave, with a spacious dressing room that separates the bedroom from the large master bath. Throughout, the quintessential subway tiles on the bathroom walls and showers bespeak a life spent in the design and artistic capital of the world.
Randall Perry Photography
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Randall Perry Photography
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Many of the furnishings in the house have been acquired by Lee throughout his career. Others come from local design stores. But each one echoes the influence of Avant Garde German, Danish and Italian designers. Lee confesses that he is an ardent fan of the work of Anchille Castilonli Aue Aulenti, Ettoire Sottsas and Mario Bellini. But he cautions me not to overlook the “lower end” designs to be found, especially through Ikea. Although the snow is still deep in the yard behind the house, Lee shares before and after photos of the space. “It was completely over-run when I bought the house,” says Lee, adding that he spent considerable time on his gardens. One of the many things Lee loves about living in Saratoga is the ability to grow and cultivate his flower and vegetable gardens in his oversized yard. “It’s very different from being an urban gardener,” says Lee, who started the roof garden in his New York City condo association.
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Randall Perry Photography
In addition to the gardens, Lee replaced an old ramshackle garage that he said practically demolished itself. The spacious new outdoor living space that he installed in the yard completes the home and works perfectly as a seasonal entertainment area.
When asked what he likes the most about living in his Saratoga home, Lee says it is the quiet at night that he enjoys. Having a home that is both sanctuary and artistic statement is another good reason for him to enjoy the next phase of his life in the city of horses, history and health. SS
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In the Kitchen
HELLO MY FOODIE FRIENDS. The quest for healthy eating is an ongoing task. My mom would always announce to her five children that; “You kids are going to learn to eat right!” This always puzzled us because we ate what ever she put on the table so we would always respond “OK, Mom”. It was beneficial to have her guidance to make those great food choices. We didn’t know any better however, if we wanted to snack there would be carrots, celery, and fruit left in bowls. I wish we had cell phones then to see five children all eating carrots and saying “What’s up Doc” to each other. Looking back; I believe it was around the time I got my driver’s license that I forgot about my training and made a lot of drive-thru choices. These habits appeared fine when I was young. However, as we age - our prior eating habits catch up with us - as we are kindly reminded of the need to work towards healthier, life-long habits. Our lives are hectic which has led to seeking “convenience” options and making “not the best” dietary and nutritional decisions. One of the practices that our family has been using, is having Healthy Meal ingredients delivered to us which we then prepare and cook. We have found the recipes delicious, the products fresh, and the recipes to include ideas and products we would not have normally selected. We also found that there are standard go-to tools and gadgets we use for each of our meals. It might happen slowly at first: A new, delicious chicken breast recipe requires a proper roasting pan and carefully measured ingredients. It also calls for minced, diced, and julienned add-ins. Or it could happen all at once: Mom drops by for a surprise visit and the only things on hand are plastic cups and a jar of peanut butter. Maybe it’s time to stop using cookbooks as coasters and instead turn to their intended purpose—which means new cooking supplies (and kitchen skills) are in order. Whether living and cooking solo for the first time or in need of a kitchen overhaul, we’ve picked FIVE of the most necessary tools to assist you with your healthy recipes. 72 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
Chef Knife: Also called a cook's knife, a chef's knife is one you'll reach for every day. Its wide, sturdy blade, comfortable handle and efficient rocking motion make it ideal for all-purpose prep. Best for: Everyday prep – from chopping and slicing to mincing, dicing and julienning.
Cutting Board: Our recommendation is either Epicurean or Catskill Craftsmen cutting boards. We also have beautiful hand made wood ones by local artisan Adam Cielinski. A sturdy, stable surface is essential when it comes to prepping your food. A wooden cutting board will help protect your knife from dulling quickly, as well as make cleanup a breeze. Measuring Cups and Spoons: You’re going to need measuring cups and spoons for most healthy recipes, anyway. But you’ll also want to pull them out when you’re serving up cereal, rice, pasta, or anything else that should be kept to a cup or could easily take over your entire plate.
Vegetable Peeler: Y-peelers have our hearts. If you've ever watched a line-cook peel thousands of potatoes or carrots, you'll know that it's significantly faster to use a Y-peeler than the swivel peeler alternative. They're easier to handle, and so cheap that when one gets dull, you'll just get a new one. Our gold standard has long been the Kuhn Rikon peeler.
Instant Read Thermometer: Easily (and quickly) check to see if your meat or fish products have cooked enough.
Now that you’re armed with new information and cool tools; get out there and “eat right”. Stop into your Neighborhood Kitchen and Cutlery store located at beautiful 33 Railroad Place right here in downtown Saratoga Springs and ask for John or Paula to guide you to the correct tools for your task. Remember my Foodie Friends; “Life Happens in the Kitchen”. Take Care, John and Paula.
Here is a delicious recipe to help you “eat right”:
GRILLED MONTREAL CHICKEN BREAST Ingredients 12 oz. Sweet Potatoes 4 oz. Snow Peas 1 Lime 2 Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts 1 Tbsp. Montreal Chicken Seasoning 1 fl. oz. Honey 0.17 fl. oz. Red Wine Vinegar 1 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes
You will also need: Olive Oil, Salt, Pepper, Cooking Spray, 1 Baking Sheet, 1 Grill Pan or Outdoor Grill, 1 Small Bowl, 1 Medium Pan • Move oven rack to top position • Preheat oven to 450 degrees • Prepare a baking sheet with foil and cooking spray Prepare the Ingredients
1. Halve sweet potatoes and cut each half into quarters lengthwise (using your Chef knife). Trim ends off snow peas. Zest and quarter the lime. Rinse chicken breasts, pat dry, and season both sides with Montreal chicken seasoning.
2. Roast the Sweet Potatoes. Heat a grill pan or outdoor grill over medium heat. Place sweet potatoes on prepared baking sheet. Drizzle sweet potatoes with 2 tsp. olive oil, ½ tsp. salt, and ¼ tsp. pepper. Toss to coat and spread into a single layer. Place on top rack in oven and roast 20-24 minutes, or until sweet potatoes are tender, lightly browned on top, and deeply caramelized on bottom. Remove from oven and set aside. 3. Grill the Chicken. While sweet potatoes cook, drizzle each chicken breast with ½ tsp. olive oil. Place on hot grill and cook 4-6 minutes on each side, or until chicken reaches a minimum internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove from grill and let rest 2-4 minutes. 4. Make the Hot Honey. While the chicken cooks, combine honey, vinegar, half the red pepper flakes, and a pinch of salt in a small bowl. Taste, and add remaining red pepper flakes if desired. Set aside to let flavors marry.
5. Cook the Snow Peas. Place a medium pan over medium-high heat. Add 1 tsp. olive oil and snow peas to hot pan. Cook, stirring frequently, 3-5 minutes, or until snow peas are lightly browned and tender. Season with ¼ tsp. salt and ¼ tsp. pepper. 6. Plate the Dish. Place sweet potatoes on a plate and drizzle with hot honey and lime zest. Place snow peas and grilled chicken next to potatoes. Garnish with lime wedges. SS
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ENTERTAINING Made Easy! Hi, I’m Jodie Fitz! I’m so excited to be sharing some of our family favorites with the readers of Simply Saratoga magazine! I have spent the last six years traveling in SIX (!) states cooking with kids & families…I can relate to the BUSY COOK! As my recipe collection continues to grow, I am starting to share some of the recipes that you will find at our house for meals… Enjoyed by both family… and friends! I am always experimenting & creating tasty bites, finding the simplest way to do it and love sharing great flavor and time-saving finds along the way.
BALSAMIC CHICKEN 4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs 16.5 oz constellation variety tomatoes by Nature Sweet (grape tomato size) 1 large sweet onion 1 cup balsamic vinegar 1/4 cup olive oil 1 tablespoon rosemary (crushed) 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning blend 2 teaspoons onion powder 1 teaspoon garlic powder 1/2 teaspoon sea salt 1/4 teaspoon black pepper Shaved Parmesan cheese Fresh sliced mozzarella cheese • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees
• Remove the skin of the onion. Cut the onion in half and the cut it into thin wedge like slices. Make sure to separate the onion pieces. • Whisk the balsamic vinegar, olive oil, rosemary, Italian seasoning, onion powder, garlic powder, black pepper and sea salt together in a glass bowl.
• Use 1/3 of the mixture to coat the tomatoes and onion slices. Use the remaining balsamic mixture to soak the boneless chicken for 30 minutes to an hour.
• Coat a large non-stick baking sheet with cooking spray, preferably olive oil. Spread the vegetables and the meat on the baking sheet. Bake until the chicken is fully cooked, approximately 25 minutes. • Before serving top each thigh with a few slices of fresh shaved Parmesan cheese and one slice of the mozzarella and then add the tomatoes on top. Balsamic thoughts: Pick up a good grade of balsamic; something aged.
You can always catch what’s going on in our lives at www.JodieFitz.com and www.facebook.com/jodiefitzcooks, or check out my new cook books - available on my website! 74 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
WRITTEN BY JORDANA TURCOTTE
s a teenager, I was constantly changing my room around. I loved that the room felt new and fresh and the placement of each object presented itself differently. I was able to gain new enjoyment in what I already had. Changing around a room can breathe new life into your home and make you “fall in love” all over again… without spending a dime! Spring is a great time for such a project...
Pick a room and do a quick sketch of the space, walls, windows and doors. If you want to get precise, use graph paper and use 1-2 blocks per foot for the perimeter. Grab your measuring tape and measure each distance. Then measure each piece of furniture. Just the numbers alone will show you if you can move a piece of furniture to a different wall. Think about the flow in the room. This is where some people look to Feng Shui to pick placement. You may not want your back to the door, or the view sitting in your chair to be a blank wall. Also, think about zones of function in the space – reachable for specific activities. Place your furniture with purpose.
To move the furniture, you need to empty them. Place things in boxes or piles in the hall or move all to one side of the room and then switch. Don’t forget what is on the walls! My favorite part of this process is not only can you deep clean each surface and behind everything because of the moving, you also get to touch each item in that room. This gives you the perfect opportunity to ask yourself if you need it, want it, and if you must have it in the space. It also allows you to find all of one type of item and zone it out (place like-with-like so you see how much you have of an item and place them together within the space, i.e. all the games to together on one shelf.) This process gives you a true opportunity to de-clutter the contents. You should find some trash and some items to let go of. Everyone does when they do this. Yay! Less stuff!
You can also take this process a step further and use this time to re-paint, patch walls, add new décor and curtains, etc. Any or all of these with your new furniture placement can completely transform a room from never used to the best place in the home. Pick a room and change things up! saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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Gardening PETER BOWDEN I welcome any sign that spring is near.
One of those signs is seeing the first bluebird of the season. Anyone who has ever seen one knows the feeling of surprise and joy that accompanies a bluebird sighting. Since they are not overly shy of humans and nest and feed in open areas, bluebirds are some of the easiest birds to watch and learn about. Bluebirds are territorial so once you’ve seen them in an area, odds are good that you’ll be able to visit and observe them on a regular basis. Those with a large lawn or property adjacent to open fields can attract their own resident bluebirds to enjoy on a daily basis during spring and summer. I am lucky to be able to host a pair of bluebirds, and the little effort needed to attract them to your yard is amply rewarded by the color and liveliness they add to the little bit of the world we call our garden. The easiest way to lure bluebirds to your property is to provide blubirdnesting boxes. If you would like plans for building a bluebird-nesting box, go to the NYS Bluebird Society website. If you purchase a bluebird box, all you need to know is where to mount it to attract bluebirds.
Your bluebird box should be mounted on a metal post. Mounting on trees is not advised, since it may allow predators to gain access to the box. Your bluebird-nesting box should be mounted with the bottom a minimum of 3’ from the ground. 4’ to 5’ is considered optimal. In our cold climate, the box should be mounted with the entrance facing southeast, away from our colder prevailing wind. Since bluebirds hunt for insects in lawns and meadows, it’s best to locate your box adjacent to these open areas. To help fledglings survive, try to place your boxes where there is a fencepost or tree within 100’ of the entrance hole. This will give young bluebirds an easy, safe perch to reach on their first flight from the box.
Since bluebirds are territorial, nesting boxes should not be placed closer than 300’ apart. If you have swallows in your area, they may compete with bluebirds for nesting boxes. In this situation, it may be necessary to place two boxes 5’ to 15’ apart. The swallows will occupy one box, leaving the other available for the bluebirds. Since bluebirds are on the increase in New York State, properly placing nesting boxes on your property is very likely to attract younger pairs of bluebirds with the possibility that they and their offspring will return to your area year after year. To lure nesting bluebirds to your area, have your nesting boxes up as early in spring as possible. If all goes well, you'll have a nice clutch of eggs by early May.
After that, it is simply a matter of keeping the boxes clean and safe. In fall or early in spring before the bluebirds arrive, the nesting box should be cleaned out. Remove any old nesting material and then scrape out dirt and debris with a putty knife or wire brush. Old nesting material should not be left on the ground near the nest but removed from the area to prevent parasites that can harm baby bluebirds in the nest. Washing out the nesting box with a spray of 1/10 bleach/water will sterilize the box, and it is ready for the season. 76 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
Thanks for the read!
Susan Blackburn Photography
A carefully curated selection of HOME DÉCOR ITEMS WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY COLLEEN COLEMAN OF CMC DESIGN STUDIO LLC Colleen Coleman is the Principal of CMC Design Studio LLC located in Saratoga Springs. With certifications in Kitchen & Bath Design, Aging in Place and True Color Expert, her curated design extends into all areas of her field including new construction, historical and major renovations. Her passion is in designing & customizing hand-crafted cabinets for all areas of the residential market.
Ah…dare I say it…SPRING! Birds are singing, we are planning our gardens and the bright, cheery colors are all around us! It’s time to put away those heavy blankets, open the windows and refresh your home! We are so fortunate to live in an area filled with local shops that have just what it takes to make our Spring decorating a breeze. IMPRESSIONS OF SARATOGA
Let’s jump right in to our outdoor decorations with this gracefully poised Bronze Resin Hors Planter I found at IMPRESSIONS on Broadway. Resting on your front porch or back patio, this 16” high x 24” long maiden is sure to be a show-stopper at your first gathering with it’s authentic rustic finish. No need to wager on its beauty!
And what is a Spring Fling without a little vino? Impressions just received these new Wine Growlers and Tumblers, both in Burgundy Red, Pearl White and Rose gold… yes, you guessed it…Red Wine, White Wine and Rose’. Made of stainless steel, double walled and vacuum insulated, these will keep your entire bottle or glass of wine nicely chilled as you chat the night away in front of the fire pit! And don’t forget, the Growler is great for picnics, Shakespeare in the Park, or your favorite day at the races over the summer! So much wine… so little time!
368 Broadway Saratoga Springs ImpressionsSaratoga.com 518 587-0666
THE DARK HORSE MERCANTILE 445 Broadway Saratoga Springs DarkHorseSaratoga.com 518 587-0689
Down the street at DARK HORSE, I fell in love with these Slate Serving Boards by JK Adams. Crafted in Dorset VT, these contrasting, light and dark gray tones are complimented with natural edges and cork feet to protect your table. With a simple piece of chalk, you can welcome friends or call out the cheese selection of the night! Have fun leaving notes to family or “I Love You” written on a coaster at bedside! saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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Need to spruce up the guest room for visitors? Pick up a few of the DARK HORSE signature Signs, celebrating the tradition of excellence in Saratoga’s racing history. Made in the USA of real wood, it highlights the reputation of Saratoga as “The Graveyard of Champions”, where the Dark Horses prevail!
THE DARK HORSE MERCANTILE 445 Broadway Saratoga Springs DarkHorseSaratoga.com 518 587-0689
It has been such an amazing day filled with sunshine, that I just had to take a ride to the FURNITURE HOUSE on Saratoga Lake to see what they have in store for the Spring season. Upon arrival, I was honored to meet Emily DiSiena, who will be slowly infusing her new energy into transforming the Furniture House brand into the next generation. Her eye for classic furniture made new for the 21st century is a nod to her years of experience growing up in the world of furniture under the discriminating eye of her father, Mario. With our sights set on Spring colors and style, we selected these two Hancock & Moore chairs, different in style, both quite stunning when updating any room. This beautifully, bold Handcrafted Yellow Leather Accent Chair is elevated to the next level by it strong curves and elongated tapered legs. Eight-way hand tied support offers a structural durability while the multitude of top grain leather options allows for self-expression in your home’s décor. I bet most of you could use a little yellow infused into your homes right now…So what’s holding YOU back from inserting a bit of freshness into your seating arrangement? Call me, let’s talk! If you love more of an open feeling, this Virgin Acrylic Chair option is right up your alley! Offering a feeling of floating on air, this top-strength acrylic is flawless, allowing your selection of fabric or leather to be the centerpiece of your layout.
Let’s talk area rugs... poor things... They have been stomped on, crushed and matted over the winter and need a bit of refreshing. CURTAIN AND CARPET CONCEPTS has new selections that will liven up any home. This 3’ x 5’ Sickle Leaf, Hand-Woven Area Rug, is crafted with wool and silk in shades of dark plum, cherry red, citrus and sunflower yellows all displayed on a beautifully neutral oat background. The sickle leaf design in this area rug became very popular after an early seventeenth century antique Safavide carpet was sold at Sotheby’s auction in 2013 for a record shattering $33 million. The bid was set to start between $6,000 -$7,000… Now that’s a spring investment you shouldn’t have to ponder over! 78 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
THE FURNITURE HOUSE 1254 Route 9P Saratoga Springs TheFurnitureHouseNY.com 518.587.9865
CURTAIN & CARPET CONCEPTS 146 Marion Avenue, Suite 7 Saratoga Springs CurtainToCarpet.com 518.886.1389
CURTAIN & CARPET CONCEPTS
A second gem is this 2’ x 3’ Cyprus Tree Woven Rug hand woven in India with tones of periwinkle within a cream background. The cypress tree is a Mediterranean favorite, offering a directional, visual statement and will invite the human eye to change course when displayed beautifully in your home. It’s so striking, I’m almost tempted to hang it on a wall!
Now for some accessories to brighten up our table tops, shelves and niches! At FINISHING TOUCHES, located just off the Northway Exit 16, I found these adorable Bunny Candles and Delightful Pillows. The petite cottontail is scented with lemon grass while the larger blue and pink options are more for the visual senses. Add some greens to your display, a small terracotta pot for height and your spring display is hopping! Want more out of your candle… Finishing Touches offers this locally made collection by Kobo. These Schuylerville treats are hand crafted from pure soy and come in three different scents; Catalan Calendula, Siam Poppy, and Heath Lavender. Here’s the bonus, plant the box, and you will grow a garden full of the flowers in which the scents are derived from! Now that is a great gift for the gardener in your life!
146 Marion Avenue, Suite 7 Saratoga Springs CurtainToCarpet.com 518.886.1389
217 Ballard Rd. Wilton FinishingTouchesStore.com 518.584.1490
Let’s be sure to take some time this Spring to stroll downtown Saratoga and linger through our shops in the surrounding areas for unique treasures for our homes and gift giving ideas. We are so blessed to be a part of such a great community. We all make each other stronger in supporting our local shops and eateries. I especially love meeting my readers and discovering how you have infused the spirit of Saratoga into your homes! Be sure to say “Hello” as we pass under sunny skies this spring! SS Until next time my friends,
Colleen Coleman of CMC Design Studio LLC AKBD, CAPS & True Color Expert “Creating Environments for Life” TM
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Home Steading A homesteader strives for maximum self-sufficiency in order to reduce reliance on others for the basic needs of food, shelter and energy.
Homesteading skills are piquing the interest of many people who are trying to be more self-sufficient and want to be closer to the land and provide real, unadulterated food for themselves and their family. This is the beginning of a series of articles on homesteading topics by Cornell Cooperative Extension staff; Jessica Holmes, Master Gardener Educator, Ashley Keatley, Agriculture Educator and Diane Whitten, Food & Nutrition Educator. Our articles will focus on gardening, raising chickens and other livestock, plus home food preservation, cooking from scratch, and more skills for homesteaders. Cornell Cooperative Extension offers classes, a list of upcoming events can be found at cceSaratoga.org, where you can also contact our educators. You can take homesteading to the degree you want to, by learning new skills. Some people will want to jump right in, but most people develop their skills and change their lifestyle over time. Make no mistake about it, homesteading is a lifestyle that’s work intensive, but very rewarding. The most popular homesteading skill is gardening. People like knowing where their food comes from, or what’s in it, plus there is great satisfaction in producing your own food. So, let’s start with gardening… 80 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
GROWING YOUR OWN
VEGETABLES WRITTEN BY JESSICA HOLMES, MASTER GARDENER COORDINATOR WARREN COUNTY AND HORTICULTURE EDUCATOR SARATOGA COUNTY, CORNELL COOPERATIVE EXTENSION
egetable gardening is a great place to start your homestead. No matter what your scale, there are ways to grow vegetables or herbs to suit your needs. You can grow on the ground, in pots, you can grow using vertical gardens and more.
Planning is an important part of starting a garden. You should start by making a list of your favorite vegetables, there is no point in growing something that will go to waste or that you don’t like. Figure out where you want to plant them and what spot would provide the best sunlight - at least six hours a day. Make sure it is warm enough and the last frost has passed. When choosing where to grow your vegetables, remember to check the size of the plant to decipher where to grow it. If growing in containers, make sure your containers have drainage on the bottom; this prevents root rot, insect and disease problems later down the line. You can also add a few inches of rocks to the bottom, so there is a place for the water to go, if you are not able to
have holes in the bottom of your container.
Your crop is going to need well-draining soil with a pH close to 6.5. Use a mixture of equal parts of compost, perlite, and garden soil when using containers and make sure to fertilize during the growing season. Many vegetables like lettuces and greens, carrots, onions, peas, peppers, radish, and more, are easily grown in smaller containers (one gallon) as well as most herbs such as basil, parsley, thyme, cilantro and rosemary. Vegetables that need a three to five-gallon container to grow in, include, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash and eggplant. Using decorative, fun containers can also be a great way to decorate your porch or the outside of your home, while at the same time producing enough food to sustain your lifestyle.
For more information please visit our website at cceSaratoga.org. SS
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Young Farmers Bear Risks, Savor Joys of
Living with Land WRITTEN BY HIMANEE GUPTA-CARLSON, FOR SARATOGA FARMERS' MARKET
Jason Heitman of Green Jeans Market Farm, photo by Pattie Garrett
Mary Helen with twins Summer and Solstice, photo by Jim Gupta-Carlson
January 1, 2018. A new year and a crisis at Squashville Farm. After a -20-degree night, our three-year-old goat Mary Helen fell ill. She refused to eat, her body temperature began to drop and by midday it seemed as if her vitals were shutting down. The vet on duty was out dealing with a sick cow. On the advice of a farmer friend, we gathered up blankets and wrapped Mary Helen up. Then, my husband Jim – the primary operator of Squashville Farm – got into the blankets and wrapped himself around her, using his body heat to keep her warm. There they lay for three hours. The vet called. It could be pneumonia or dehydration. She warned us that chances of survival were low but that she could come up to euthanize her if necessary. We continued to wait, tears piercing our eyes, hating to start the new year like this.
uch realities define farming: Where there is livestock, there is death stock. Alongside abundant harvests, some crops fail. At times, it rains too hard; at other times, not enough.
Farming is about loving this life - and around Saratoga - an increasing number are doing so. At the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, eight of approximately two dozen agricultural vendors began farming within the past five years. Four are new to the market this year. The reasons to farm vary: Consumer interest in local foods is growing. Farmers’ markets are proliferating. Farming offers an opportunity to work for one’s self and feed a community. Among the newcomers is Jason Heitman. His Green Jeans Market Farm offers micro-greens and other vegetables. Heitman obtained a lease on land in October 2017. Through the winter and early spring, he lived off savings and credit
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cards while prepping the soil, ordering and sowing seeds, and getting crops to grow. When his first markets opened in May he was ready with a few spring crops. Over the summer his offerings expanded. “Farming is a very good life,” he says. “I am able to provide for my family and my community. This gives me a great sense of purpose.”
When Mark Bascom and Lindsay Fisk took out a mortgage in 2016 to acquire land for their Owl Wood Farm, they knew they were putting their life savings on the line. “There are so many factors that can make a farm lose money,” they say. “The weather – flooding, drought, temperature stress; and then insects and disease, labor shortages, germination issues, or even after all of this, ultimately not being able to sell your product.” Yet, they note, “We enjoy being outside, not commuting, and being our own boss.”
Shane Avery, owner of Saratoga Urban Farm, calls up a love for digging his hands into dirt as he reflects upon his decision last year to grow microgreens and wheat grass for market. “I was raised in a gardening family and got my green thumb at a young age,” he says. “For me, farming the land I live on has always been about finding balance in the ecosystems around me with the crops I intend to grow.” Jim Gupta-Carlson recalls starting Squashville Farm in 2011, “with compost to get a vegetable garden started.” “And the next year we got our first hens and a rooster.”
The leap into market farming came in 2015 when we were invited to sell our eggs and vegetables at our Town of Greenfield Farmers Market, which didn’t have a farm in Greenfield among its vendors. “I think I’m most proud of ‘falling into farming,’ ” Jim GuptaCarlson says. “I didn’t grow up around farms or have a chance to intern. I just started.” My teaching and writing work help support Squashville Farm. Such outside income is vital as many farms operate at a loss or with a goal of breaking even.
Farming, however, can be profitable. Bascom and Fisk, for instance, earn enough to support themselves and to invest in the growth of Owl Wood through farmers markets, CSA subscriptions, and sales to restaurants, food co-ops, and wholesalers. “Farming as a business has led us to focus on being efficient,” they say. “It has pushed us to focus on reducing waste of all different types. This includes using resources, infrastructure, equipment, labor and time more efficiently. We likely would not have been pushed as far in this direction without the pressure to make a living with our farm.” At Squashville Farm, on January 1, 2018, the vet arrived around sunset. I walked her to the barn where Mary Helen lay. The vet examined her, gave her some medication and said, “I think she’s going to make it.”
Mary Helen’s grit defined our year. We stepped up both our vegetable and meat production, and joined the Saratoga Farmers’ Market, where we had long been volunteers, as vendors. Our year was rich with hard work, fresh air and new experience. And, on the first day of summer, Mary Helen gave birth to twins, whom we named Summer and Solstice. SS
Farmer Resources There is no formula for how to start farming. However, there are resources for getting started…
The Northeastern Organic Farming Association of New York’s winter conference takes place annually in January in Saratoga Springs. Organizations such as Cornell Cooperative Extension offer workshops throughout the year. Other farmers also are often willing to share advice and offer educational opportunities at their farms. Books also are available on such topics as animal care, soil health, and crop planning as well as marketing and bookkeeping. Here’s a short list to get you started: The Market Gardener: A Successful Grower’s Handbook for Small-Scale Organic Farming, By Jean-Martin Fortier
The Lean Farm: How to Minimize Waste, Increase Efficiency and Maximize Profits and Value with Less Work, By Ben Hartman
Farming While Black: Soul Fire Farm’s Practical Guide to Liberation on the Land, By Leah Penniman The Farmer’s Office: Tools, Tips, and Templates to Successfully Manage a Growing Farm Business, By Julia Shanks The Organic Farmers’ Business Handbook, By Richard Wiswall
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Spring’s Sweet Marrow WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER PHOTOS PROVIDED
idden deep inside the center of the maple tree is the sweet water that pours out of Matt Rathbun’s sap taps every spring.
From this sap, his family has been producing an ample bounty of syrup for more than 200 years. Even with all that experience however, Rathbun can’t predict if the sap will flow out in time to make enough syrup and other maple products for the statewide Maple Weekend celebrations.
“We never know how it’s going to be until the end. That’s the problem, but that’s Mother Nature,” said Rathbun.
A Treasured Tradition
Five generations of the Rathbun family have successfully weathered this waiting game.
This year, to prepare for the cycle of cold nights and warm days needed for the sap to flow, he’s putting in 8,500 taps to catch every drop that comes out. “It’s all hands on deck,” he said.
During these hectic days, his favorite aspect of the business is having his grandsons, ages 2 and 6 years-old take part in the family tradition.
“They do anything I ask them. They love coming over to the farm and running around. Getting to see them working right with me, those are the greatest moments. They get handfuls of the hard candy we make. They’re our taste-testers. Plus, the sugar house gets all full of steam when we boil, so that’s pretty neat to see,” said Rathbun.
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How Sweet It Is During the Maple Weekends, the Rathbun Maple Sugar House sees an average of between 700 and 900 people come through every day. “People come up from the city and don’t realize the time and effort that goes into making maple syrup. I see their faces while I’m explaining it to them and they always say the same thing; ‘Wow! That’s a lot of work!’” said Rathbun.
While some taste the sap directly, what many are really looking forward to are the old-fashioned pancakes and fresh maple syrup that the family serves up in their adjacent restaurant. The rustic wooden building seats 145 people and is open for extended hours during the Maple Weekends. Horse-drawn carriage rides through the sugaring woods are a quaint additional advantage of going to the farm during the event. A landscaper by trade when he’s not at the sugar bush, Rathbun appreciates the land and all it has given. “What more can you ask for?” he said.
Rathbun’s Maple Sugar House & Restaurant is located at 1208 Hatch Hill Road in Whitehall. They serve up hearty breakfast year-round, and if you hurry… you can make the last of the 2019 NYS Maple Weekend open houses on March 30th & 31st. They will be open from 7 a.m. until 3 p.m. For more information go to RathbunsMaple.com.
brad conklin WRITTEN BY MEGIN POTTER PHOTOS PROVIDED
Sometimes it takes years of looking at a piece of salvaged wood for the natural image waiting within it to reveal itself to sculptor Brad Conklin. “It’s just something that evolves. I use whatever the piece gives me, look at it and tweak it until I like it,” said Conklin. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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Revealing Wonder Brad Conklin’s Artistic Heirlooms are biomorphic sculptures that combine multiple woods and metal scrap in a way that catches his viewer off-guard.
“I like building stuff that no one else has seen. They just stand there and shake their head. That’s the reaction I’m looking for and that’s why I like the Saratoga show so much,” he said. Conklin is the featured exhibitor at the 2019 Northeastern Woodworker’s Association Woodworker’s Showcase. A five-time winner of the show’s People’s Choice award, this year he will display an entire collection of his work on the second floor of the City Center. “Everybody that’s seen my work and is affiliated with the show knows that it gets people talking,” said Conklin.
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Pushing the Limits The surprising form of Conklin’s sculptures challenges the imagination and confounds the laws of gravity.
“Tipping of the Trade” is a large ball of welded metal dangling from a wooden base that is built at what seems to be an impossible angle to the viewer.
“They notice something at first and see more as they move around it. Their reactions are pretty cool to me,” said Conklin.
In a “Wave of Rays” a school of 39 stingrays surge toward you almost as if trying to escape from a whale’s wide gape.
Like his piece “Food Chain” where an owl eyes a mouse who’s reaching for an acorn, Conklin is content to always be reaching for what the wood he finds (and the other woodworkers he meets) will lead him to discover next.
“What I enjoy most about the show is talking to the people. You see them year after year and they become your friends. You’ll never meet a high-stressed woodworker,” said Conklin with a laugh. SS The NWA Woodworker’s Showcase is March 30th & 31st, 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. at the Saratoga City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Springs. For more information go to NWAwoodWorkingShow.org
Embedded within a vase Conklin carved from a slab of 137-year-old black walnut is an antique nail and gate hinge. Working around the artifact buried within it, he adorned the vase with Osage orange wood stars, added a vine-choked maple stem, a burl flower head and Yellowheart butterflies. In one towering piece, six Canadian geese fly above a twisting spiral of 135 wooden leaves beside a glistening frozen pond surrounded by cattails. “My only limitation is to get it out of the door,” he said.
Restlessness is what fuels Conklin’s creativity.
“I don’t sleep well and I don’t sit well. I can sit and watch a television show until about the first commercial and then I’m out,” he said.
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March - April 2019
PHOTOS BY LINDSAY FISH
FRIDAY, MARCH 29 Astronomy Party Wilton Wildlife Preserve and Park, 80 Scout Rd., Wilton 7:30 – 9 p.m. Join us and volunteers from the Adirondack Skywatchers and the Albany Area Amateur Astronomers, Inc. to study the night sky, in all its beauty. There will be telescopes available and experts will be on hand to share their knowledge of the night sky. Please dress appropriately for the weather, as it can get chilly at night. Hot cocoa and refreshments will be served. Registration is required as “space” is limited WiltonPreserve.org
SATURDAY, MARCH 30 The Masquerade at Brookside Museum Saratoga County Historical Society, Brookside Museum, 6 Charlton St., Ballston Spa, 7 – 9 p.m.
DON'T MISS THIS MAPLE DAYS, see story on page 84 NORTHEASTERN WOODWORKER’S ASSOCIATION, WOODWORKER’S SHOWCASE, see information on page 89 saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
A fun evening of music, costumes, and entertainments at the historic Brookside Museum. Inspired by a fascinating newspaper article about an 1830 masquerade ball, this event invites attendees to join us for an evening of music, dancing, light refreshments, games, portraits and more. Wear nineteenth-century style clothing, creative masquerade costumes or other formal wear. Don your masks and spend the evening in a previous era while supporting the Saratoga County Historical Society. Cost is $25 per person for members, $30 per person for non-members. For more information call 518-885-4000. SPRING 2019 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | 91
WEDNESDAY, APRIL 3 Saratoga Job Fair - The Career Building EXPO Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. The first impression a candidate gives here is one that will last far beyond this opportunity. Meeting with an employer in any situation is important, so it is advised that candidates present themselves well: dress cleanly and professionally and have an open and energetic attitude. Get the skills and tips you need at Saratoga's Job Fair! For more information, visit cjdg.org.
THURSDAY, APRIL 4 2019 Children's Museum Annual Gala Prime at Saratoga National Golf Club, 458 Union Ave., Saratoga, 6 – 9 p.m. Please join us for our annual party in celebration of the wonderful work that is being done at The Children’s Museum at Saratoga. One of the only museums in the region that is focused solely on young children and is specifically targeted to provide exemplar learning experiences for this audience through play. The experiences that are provided, both in exhibits and programming, are aimed at increasing children's self-efficacy and strongly supporting their early childhood development. The annual party is a spectacular evening of dinner, live music, silent and live auctions, and a chance to learn more about the Museum’s impact on the Saratoga Springs community. Register online at cmssny.org/anniversary-gala/
FRIDAY, APRIL 5 – TUESDAY, APRIL 9 Saratoga Tattoo Expo Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Browse local and international tattoo artists and enjoy live music, entertainment and tattoo contests, awards and giveaways.
SATURDAY, APRIL 6 Sustainability Fair Skidmore College, Case Center, 815 North Broadway, Saratoga, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. A free community event celebrating sustainability awareness and opportunities. A diverse array of sustainability resources all in one spot to help make Saratoga a more sustainable city to live and work. The featured keynote speaker is Aaron Mair- environmentalist, scientist and 57th National President of the Sierra Club. Exhibitor booths and workshop presentation will include information on green energy options, composting, environmental justice issues, climate change, urban forest renewal, and more. The fair will also include tours of Skidmore’s geothermal and solar facilities, and an EV car show. Free admission. 92 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
FRIDAY, APRIL 12 – SATURDAY, APRIL 13
SARATOGA MOM PROM
The Capital Region Guitar Show
Holiday Inn, 232 Broadway, Saratoga Springs, 7 – 11 p.m.
Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga Dealers from the Northeast will be on hand to buy, sell, trade, and appraise your musical equipment. No matter what level of playing or interest you have, the Capital Region Guitar Show is sure to please the eyes, ears, and fingers. New this year will be the exhibit: "Les Paul from Start to Finish". Some of Les Paul's original equipment and guitars will be on hand in an interactive display of some great Guitar History. They are on Facebook. Admission is $7 with $2 off if you carry in a guitar or amp. Hours are Friday, April 12, 5-8 p.m. and Saturday, April 13, 10-5 p.m. Get that old gear out from under the bed and bring it to the show.
SATURDAY, APRIL 13 “Blue Needs You” 8K Run High Rock Pavilion, 113 High Rock Ave., Saratoga, 8:30 a.m. Over 600 runners participate in this unique race to support individuals seeking temporary respite from harsh winter conditions at Code Blue Saratoga Emergency shelter. This event has raised over $100,000 to support safe shelter since it began in 2005. As a participant, you can make a difference in the lives of individuals who are living on the streets. For more information and to register, visit CodeBlueNeedsYou.org/wordpress
Saratoga Mom Prom is a ladies’ night out for charity where women dance the night away wearing old prom gowns, bridesmaid dresses or their tackiest formal wear. It's a real prom with a DJ and crowning of the new prom queen. This is a wonderful, hilarious night in which women can have fun with friends and help a worthy cause. The prom festivities include lite fare, a cash bar, premier raffles, raffle baskets, a tarot card reader, caricature artist and a tattoo artist along with a dance contest and tackiest dress contest. The Saratoga Mom Prom is pleased to announce they have chosen Saratoga County Children’s Committee Back to School Program as their beneficiary this year. Over the last six years, Saratoga Mom Prom has donated $92,500 to women’s and children’s charities in their community. Saratoga Mom Prom sells out early each year. To make a reservation, please visit SaratogaMomProm.com
SUNDAY, APRIL 14 Autism Expo Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway, Saratoga, Noon – 3 p.m. Saratoga Bridges, in partnership with Skidmore College Psychology Department and Upstate NY Autism Alliance, will host this event as a resource for individuals
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with Autism Spectrum Disorders and their families. Exhibitors from Camps, School Programs Pre-K through College, Technological Apps for Autism and Recreation and Therapeutic Programs. Bounce House and Arts and Crafts. For more information or to be an exhibitor, contact Julie Marks at Jmarks@saratogabridges.org. Over 75 organizations represented from the Capital Region and beyond and over 900 families attend.
30th Annual Palm Sunday Polka Benefit Knights of Columbus, 50 Pine Rd., 1 – 5 p.m. Steve Coblish's 30th annual Polka Benefit for Saratoga Bridges. Polka music for listening and dancing pleasure. Music performed by The Polka Country Musicians from Jewett City Ct. Band performs from one until five PM. A cash bar and kitchen available. Raffles with Easter Baskets, 50/50 cash and other donations. Advance tickets available now until March 10 for $15 per person.
SATURDAY, APRIL 27 – SUNDAY, APRIL 28 Saratoga Invitational 2019 Saratoga State Boat Launch, Fish Creek Marina, Route 9P, Saratoga Join the Saratoga Rowing Association as they host the Annual Saratoga Invitational that draws dozens of teams and hundreds of boats. It's a competitive and fast event that will even thrill first-time spectators. Contact the Saratoga Rowing Association for more information at 518-587-6697.
SATURDAY, MAY 4 2nd Annual Ballston Spa Birdhouse Festival Wiswall Park, 39 Front St., Ballston Spa, 1 – 4 p.m. Music, booths and crafts for the kid in all of us. Free admission. If you’re the creative type, enter this fun competition to create the most unique, fun, different or crazy birdhouse. Prizes will be awarded. It’s open to everyone in and outside of Ballston Spa. No entry fee. If you’re not good with a hammer and nails, the Ballston Spa Public Library has pre-made birdhouses you can decorate. No charge. We also have banners that you can paint.
SATURDAY, MAY 11 Historic Homes Tour Various Locations, 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. This year’s tour will feature beautiful homes of the East Side neighborhood of Saratoga Springs, including: 150 Phila St., 144 Spring St., 29 Fifth Ave., 31 Fifth Ave., 38 Circular St., 115 Circular St., "Rehabilitation in Progress" at 34 Circular St., Caffe Lena, Condo at 55 Phila St., The Spencer Condominiums. The event kicks off with a Porch Party on Thursday, May 9 from 5:30-7:30 p.m. at Circular Manor. Tour tickets are $30 for SSPF members and $40 for non-members if purchased in advance. Tickets purchased day of the tour increase $5 each. Visit SaratogaPreservation.org for more information. 94 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
The Wesley Foundation Gala: Sailing into Summer The Lodge at Saratoga Casino Hotel, 1 Nelson Ave., Saratoga, 6 – 10 p.m. Don’t miss the must-attend theme party that kicks off Gala season in Saratoga. This nautical-themed evening to raise funds for The Wesley Community is presented by The Adirondack Trust Company. Sail into Summer with an evening of excitement and elegance featuring music by The AudioStars, Décor by Fine Affairs, a Silent Auction with packages from around the area, and so much more. Proceeds to benefit the mission of The Wesley Community – a vital non-profit organization that cares for seniors and those with long-term care needs.
SUNDAY, MAY 12 Kelly's Angels Mother-Lovin' 5K 2019 Orenda Pavilion, Saratoga Spa State Park, Saratoga, Registration 7:30 – 8:30 a.m. Kelly's Angels, Inc. is seeking runners and walkers for its 7th annual Mother-Lovin' Day 5K. The signature fundraising event raises funds to help local children who have lost a parent to cancer. Runners, walkers and supporters will come together on Mother’s Day. The family-friendly event attracts families from all over the Capital Region who wish to celebrate mom while raising money for “fun grants” for Capital Region children. Online registration $30, day of race registration $35. Free kids’ fun run for ages 9 and under – starts at 8:45 a.m. Mother-Lovin 5K starts 9:15 a.m. KellysAngelsInc.org.
THURSDAY, MAY 16 30th Annual May Day for Hunger Gala Canfield Casino, Congress Park, Saratoga, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. Make sure to get your favorite flapper dress or 1920s suit out. The gala will feature dinner and live entertainment. May Day for Hunger supports the Saratoga EOC food programs including the Food Pantry, Soup Kitchen, Mobile Food Pantry, Rural Food Delivery, Summer Lunches and Thanksgiving Baskets. Last year, Saratoga EOC provided over 115,000 meals to our neighbors in need. Tickets are $100 – 250. Get your tickets today: EventBrite.com/e/30thanniversary-may-day-for-hunger-tickets-56657754870
Shaken and Stirred Celebrity Bartender Party Prime at Saratoga National, 458 Union Ave., Saratoga, 6 – 9 p.m. Shaken and Stirred Celebrity Bartender Party is an annual fundraiser for UPH. The event is held on the patio and terrace. Local business teams compete against each other, bartending for the most tips, all of which go to support UPH. The team that raises the most during their shift wins the trophy. All proceeds from Shaken and Stirred go directly to UPH. Last year’s winner was Team DeCrescente Distributing Co. and, with the other 7 teams, raised over $50,000 last year. Join us for this year’s event and help us to crush that amount. For details, visit UniversalPreservationHall.org. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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n the doldrums of early January, I have my birthday. This year, I turned 66. Imagine that, sixty-six years old.
When I was a kid, I didn’t think I would live past 35 because that was old. I was born when my father was 30 and my mother was 26, but they always seemed so old to me. I remember when I married Jack, I was 33, my mother was only 57 and my father 63, younger than I am now, but they were old. The last time the whole family was together, my 16-year-old granddaughter said we all looked alike to her – old – all her aunts – 31, 35 and 48, her 46-year-old mother, and me – all the same – all - just old. I was happy to be lumped in with those young women, but the two who are 31 were not so happy. Jack died in 2017. He was 70. Not so old. Since then, I must work hard on being grateful. I am trying.
Right now, our six children and six grandchildren are all healthy and gainfully employed, all relatively happy. I am grateful for my children and their children, I am grateful that they (for the most part) like me, call me, want to talk to me, and see me. I am grateful for my friends, especially those who consistently reached out to me after Jack died, and who continue to do so. I am grateful that my daughter called me when she needed a new door on her bedroom and asked me to come and install it. I
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WRITTEN AND PHOTOGRAPHED BY KAREN KRASNY
am grateful that my grandson asked me to help him build a living plant wall for his applications to university. I am grateful that the 4-year-old pats the seat beside him when I walk in the room. I am grateful that the almost 2-year-old says “Gramma. Come. Play.” and “Gob”, which means “good job”. And that his father, my oldest son, Face Times me just to say hello. I am grateful that another daughter calls me when she wants me to be indignant and we end up laughing because I am indignant right away, before I even know what it’s about.
I am grateful that my children have a competition to see who calls me first on my birthday, so one of them called the night before and then there is a flurry of texts about whether or not that counts as it wasn’t ON the day. I am grateful that my youngest calls me the night before to tell me he is aware that the next day is my birthday, in case he forgets on the day.
I am grateful. Grateful that my youngest thinks to buy me flowers on my birthday and then actually does it. And because, when I wasn't home, he found a pitcher, filled it with water and put it on the table, so I would see them when I came in. I am grateful - even if the flowers are from a gas station and are mostly dead. SS
PHOTO PROVIDED BY THE GEORGE BOLSTER COLLECTION
FOR MORE ON THIS PHOTO SEE PAGE 104.
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Little Known Stories of
SARATOGA SPRINGS (Part 1) WRITTEN BY CHARLIE KUENZEL PHOTOS PROVIDED BY THE GEORGE BOLSTER COLLECTION
s the weather starts to warm and thoughts of summer begin to run through our minds, we are reminded that friends and relatives will soon be visiting us in our great city. These guests will count on you to help them with the tour guide duties to see and understand the history of this wonderful destination. When giving out this information it’s always best to dispense stories instead of lectures. Tell short funny tales of the city instead of long complicated stories – keeps them interested!
Here are a few stories that you might find intriguing; feel free to use these as you start your tour guide service this summer.
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In The Name *
The name Saratoga in the early days referred to the entire area, not just the village. Since this land was originally the territory of the Native American tribe, the Mohawk, the English version of the name, Saratoga, came from a Mohawk word Sarachtogue. The translation of the meaning of Sarachtogue is generally thought to be “area of the swift water,” or “area of the hillside near the great river (Hudson).” The Mohawk referred to the mineral springs as the “gift of the Great God Manitou” or just the “Medicine Spring” (High Rock). saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
The Canfield Casino
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in Real Estate *
Yaddo is a beautiful and prominent location in the city that the Trask family named when they re-built the mansion after it was destroyed by fire. Before it was called Yaddo it was bought by Jacobus Barhyte, who fought with the Americans at the Battle of Saratoga. Barhyte built a house and eventually operated it as a tavern and modest guest house that featured great trout fishing in the many ponds on the property. During the summer of 1825 Joseph Bonaparte, King of Spain and Naples, and brother of Napoleon I, arrived in Saratoga and stayed at the United States Hotel. While touring the area he visited Barhyte’s property and fell in love with its charm. Bonaparte made an offer to buy the property, but was dismissed by Barhyte. Bonaparte continued to raise his offers until the offer reached $32,000. When that offer was made Barhyte took his pipe from his mouth and said, “If it’s worth that to you it’s worth that to me…. No.” In 1783 as the American Revolution was ending, General George Washington was in Newburgh, New York awaiting a signed peace treaty to arrive from England. During this quiet time Washington decided to visit the battlefields of northern New York .When he arrived in our area he was traveling with a delegation which included General Phillip Schuyler, who was familiar with the waters of Saratoga and brought the group to the High Rock spring. Washington fell in love with the area and the waters of the spring and made an offer to buy the land. Unfortunately, the offer was refused and once again Saratoga Springs missed out on the chance to add prominent people to the list of land owners. * Famous
Anyone who was anyone in society in the 1800s came to Saratoga Springs during the summers, so the list of notable guests is long. Authors Washington Irving, Edgar Allen Poe, Samuel Clement, Oscar Wilde and James Fenimore Cooper 100 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
were all here at different times. U.S. Presidents, Washington, Adams, Jackson, Arthur, Van Buren, Cleveland, Pierce, Hayes, Buchanan, Filmore, Grant, Garfield, Harrison, T. Roosevelt and F.D. Roosevelt. Famous orators like Henry Clay, Daniel Webster, and Reverend Beecher all gave speeches in the village. * Win,
Place and Show *
In the later part of the 1800s, the most popular star of the theater, Lillian Russell, was a common summer visitor with her long-time friend Diamond Jim Brady. Lillian had the natural beauty and Brady had wealth made from the sale of railroad equipment. Whenever and wherever they went together they always generated a huge amount of attention. When Lillian went to the track she was always surrounded by a crowd, as she proceeded to engage in a game to pick the winners. In the early 1900s Lillian’s age began to show and her dominance at the track was challenged by a new theater heart throb, Louise Montague. One summer the two got into a contest to see who could pick more winners. The competition was heated, and Louise circulated the nasty rumor that Lillian knew nothing about horses and would close her eyes and stab the race program with a hat pin to pick the winner. At the end of the season, Lillian won the competition by just one win more than Louise. In an act of social grace, Lillian threw a party and invited many people including Louise. Louise arrived with a gift for Lillian from the Tiffany store on Broadway at the Grand Union Hotel. When Lillian opened the package, she found a beautiful silver three tined fish fork. Lillian thanked her for the gift and Louise then announced that next year Lillian could use the fish fork to pick win, place and show all at once. * Big
The race track and the Canfield Casino were the backdrop for stories of large gambling losses. One such story of gambling is connected to a man named John “Bet-A-Million” Gates. His enormous wealth came from the sale of barbed wire that he sold to ranchers settling the west. One day in August of 1902, saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
Gates went to the Saratoga Race Course and made a series of bad bets, resulting in him losing $400,000 at the end of the afternoon (worth about $4-5 million in today’s money). He left the track and had dinner at the Canfield Casino. After dinner, he began to play faro in the main parlor at a rate of $500-$1000 per turn of a card and lost $25,000. He asked to be allowed entry to the second-floor high stakes room where the stakes limit for faro was $2,500 to $5,000 on the turn of a card. By 10:00 PM he had lost an additional $150,000, making the total losses for the day to be $550,000 (with a value of about $5.5- $6.5 Million in today’s money). Upset with his continued losses, he asked to raise the limits to $5,000-$10,000 per turn of a card. This request was allowed by Canfield and he continued to gamble until 4:00 AM when he left for breakfast. With a change in his luck his total losses now were only $250,000 (about $3 million today) for the day. As he left the Casino for breakfast he was heard to say, “Not bad, I got some of it back”. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
Spots in Congress Park *
While walking about historic Congress Park look for these special little spots that are usually overlooked. Look for the letters “RAC” found in the black wrought iron fence in Congress Park next to Spring Street and near the public restrooms in the lower floor of the Arts Center. This was one section of the original gate in the fence around Congress Park. The letters stand for Richard A. Canfield, the last owner of the Casino. Walk to the Canfield Casino and as you walk up the steps to the entrance of the Canfield Casino above you will see the painted letters “CASINO” on the glass above the door. Scrutiny of the letters reveals the painted symbols of Hearts, Clubs, Diamonds and Spades all cleverly hidden in the letters of CASINO. Don’t forget to mention that the club sandwich was invented at the Canfield Casino and the potato chip was invented a few miles away on Saratoga Lake, at a restaurant called Moon’s Lake House.
Since you are now on the steps of the Canfield Casino, go inside to visit the Saratoga Springs History Museum. The museum is dedicated to telling the story of Saratoga. These are but a few of the stories of old Saratoga, I hope you can share these with friends and family. SS
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Rarely Seen Photos of WALWORTH MANSION In the early 1800s this location was the home of Judge Ruben Hyde Walworth, the last Chancellor of the State of New York. At that time the home was much smaller and was named “Pine Grove.” During the 1900s the home had additions added that greatly changed the look of the building and was eventually razed in the early 1950s. Today this location is a Stewart’s Shop on Broadway across from the City Center.
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OLD SARATOGA Springs WRITTEN BY CHARLIE KUENZEL IMAGES FROM THE GEORGE S. BOLSTER COLLECTION
WASHINGTON BATH HOUSE PRICE LIST These images are from the collection at the Saratoga Room located at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. Although not an image of the actual Washington Mineral Bath House, it is instead a record of the prices from 1938 compared to 1965. The Washington Bath House closed in the 1970s and is today the National Museum of Dance on South Broadway. A mineral bath for only $1.75 (1938) is a distant memory.
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IMPRESSIONS OF SARATOGA This building is located on the north-east corner of Phila Street and Broadway. The image clearly shows that years ago it was the home of the Saratoga National Bank. Today this building is home to Impressions of Saratoga, a wonderful destination to find many unique Saratoga themed items.
GEORGE BOLSTER AT WORK Famous photographer George Bolster in his Photographic Studio shown coloring by hand, original black and white images of locations in Saratoga Springs. If you stopped in to see George in those days, you always saw his bottle of Vichy and at least one apple next to his work area. Upon his death his photographic collection of over 325,000 images was donated to the Saratoga Springs History Museum, located in the Canfield Casino to be preserved for future use. 104â€‚ |â€‚ SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
WRITTEN BY JOHN R. GREENWOOD PHOTOS PROVIDED
t was a typical Saturday morning and I was putting the finishing touches on a replacement window I never finished trimming out. I finally decided this was the day to tackle that adventure. These are the simple projects I enjoy but tend to procrastinate over until guilt grabs me by the nape-of-the-neck and gives me a shake. I’m also easily distracted by shiny objects. Today that shiny object was a vintage book on a shelf next to the naked replacement window I’d orphaned weeks before. What I noticed as I was wiping caulk from my forehead was an old book my grandfather had given me back in 1963 when I was 8 years-old. I was still standing on the stepladder with the caulking gun tucked under one arm when I reached over to the top shelf of the bookcase and pulled out the 1894 book. The book, “The Cave in The Mountain” was written by Lieutenant R.H. Jayne. Google politely informed me, as I was taking my first coffee break (just minutes into my project) that the Lieutenant’s real name was Edward Sylvester Ellis. Ellis wrote under dozens of pseudonyms including Lieutenant R.H. Jayne. He was one of the more successful writers of dime novels during the 1800s. It is said that one of his books, “Seth Jones” was one of President Lincoln’s favorite stories.
The real shiny part is what I re-discovered inside the front cover of the century-old book. There I find an inscription from a Kathren Davis gifting the book to my grandfather in 1913 on his 14th birthday. Fifty years later he handed the book to me. I remember spending that day helping him around their home on East Avenue here in Saratoga Springs. Those were my Hardy Boys book reading days. “The Cave in The Mountain” was my grandfather’s 1913 equal, to my 1963 Hardy Boys Mysteries. I’m sure he gave me the book that day with his own boyhood memories swirling in his head. I hadn’t opened the book in years, but now that I had, it brought back chapters of cherished time spent with my grandfather. Having grandsons of my own now gave that inscription a special feel. The velocity at which
the years between being a grandson and being grandfather took place, inspired me to write this piece.
On the page opposite the inscription there was a newspaper clipping of his birthday party’s guest list. The party took place on Putman Ave., Fonda. I wondered if during my life, I’d crossed the paths of any of the descendants on that list. I opened the book once more—randomly, and there on page 29, this passage from the Lord Byron poem, “Darkness” caught my eye. “The world was void: The populous and powerful was a lump, Seasonless, herbless, treeless, manless, lifeless; A lump of death, a chaos of hard clay. The rivers, lakes and ocean, all stood still, And nothing stirred within their silent depths.” I read it over and suddenly realized I was watching a current version of the evening news. Fighting, violence and discord were running rampant. I stopped to catch my breath. I’d gotten all this from one little re-visit to an old book given to a young boy, once, twice, and maybe more. The world is becoming a lifeless lump and we must revive its vitality. We don’t need to go back to heydays or the good-ole-days, we need to recreate the good-new-days, the I-can’t-wait-to-get-started-days. We need to grab books from shelves with one hand, caulk windows with the other, and figure out that life is about doing both things at the same time, and doing it with vigor, purpose and positivity. Yes, I did complete trimming out the window and for some reason the view seemed crisper. It had to do with the added bonus I was gifted on this otherwise typical Saturday morning. That’s the way life should be. It should show up whenever it feels like it. But, like a book on a shelf, you have to be paying attention, so you don’t miss what’s inside the cover. SS
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Meet me under I’D RATHER BE AT... THE
THE RAFTERS KAYDEROSS PARK•SARATOGA
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y.
WRITTEN BY CAROL GODETTE AS TOLD BY GREG WROBEL, OWNER AND DESIGNER OF THE RAFTERS AT SARATOGA LAKE
M M U
2 1 0
S SARATOGA HISTORICAL SOCIETY EXHIBIT
Lena Spencer opened her legendary performance cafe, Saratoga Springs was graced with “mom and pop” residents willing to invest their time and talents into establishments to provide us with quality “after hours” entertainment. Residents newer to the area are unlikely to have a historical perspective on the now defunct Saratoga Bowl, Kaydeross Amusement Park, Rafters Bar, or the Community Theater. Yet, for nostalgic lifelong locals these establishments conjure up images of a simpler Saratoga. This series will take a look at the long-gone entertainment venues that once flourished and provided us with countless hours of amusement.
Artist HUD Armstrong, provided courtesy of Greg Wrobel. saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
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This 1942 photo from the George Bolster Collection shows the original dance hall that was the foundation of the Rafters.
How could a nightclub in the middle of nowhere become one of the largest, most beloved and longest lasting clubs in the Northeast? The answer to that question must include Greg Wrobel.
setting in a grove of old hardwood trees about 40 feet from a cliff overlooking Saratoga Lake. His overall theme would be “never a dead end and never a dull space.”
The year was 1973 and Saratoga Springs was having a resurgence. The Whitney Stakes Race had drawn a record crowd to witness the unfortunate upset of Triple Crown Winner Secretariat. Downtown Saratoga was being revitalized and Saratoga Lake’s Kaydeross Park, owned by locals Bobby D’ Andrea and William and Gen Wrobel, had just expanded to include a half mile of waterfront access. The Wrobels believed that “after 15 years the park was just starting to come into its own.” Their son Greg was a second-year architectural student at the University of New Mexico and asked his parent’s permission to build his second semester project on the top of the hill of their Kaydeross property- a nightclub with sound and lights. The footprint of the core of his structure would be the worn shell of a once popular dance hall. This abandoned structure had the idyllic
Hardwood floor boards were laid on the joist spaces. Greg was so proud of these that he assured they were waxed and buffed every night before opening, no exceptions. The restaurant floor was all flagstone, as was the entire patio, purchased from Granville, New York. A unique feature of the space was the vast amount of natural light. The restaurant walls were 50 ft. by 10 ft. tall panels of insulated glass that came from the John Hancock Building in Boston. (These were the windows that
Greg was an innovative thinker with a network of “go to people” and was able to hire “the best staff ever assembled”-key ingredients in creating a small business. “It was not enough to be the best out there, you had to be new and exciting and that was more luck than anything,” reflects Wrobel.
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Although Greg strived to create a unique structure, he wanted the essence of the Rafter’s experience to be the people. Greg wanted to create a building “to keep them there and to keep them together.” Patrons were never far from the core of the building and were always visually and audibly connected. Multiple balconies on the second floor were created and “hung” from the rafters, reinforced by horizontal 40-foot steel channel bars bolted to 20-foot wooden beams hauled from the Port of Albany scrapyard. Steel and wood cross beams bolted and welded together were hung by 12-14-foot solid steel rods reaching to the highest points of the beams supporting the roof structure.
In the 1960s the dancehall was a popular place for sock hops . Well known area DJ Boom Boom Branigan used to spin records in this popular spot. Photo credit George S. Bolster Collection, courtesy of the Saratoga History Museum
famously fell out over the streets of Boston and had to be removed.) “It was a case of, if you build it right, things fall into place,” adds Greg.
The ambiance was visually appealing. Upon entering, one’s eyes were drawn to the natural exposed wooden beams and up the two metal spiral staircases to plant-filled balconies. Most patrons recall the infamous 650 BMW motorcycle that hung from these beams, Wrobel’s reminder of a serious motorcycle accident that left him in traction for 3 months.
The interior of the restaurant was designed by Greg’s best friend at Taft Prep School, Stan Salfas who was then a budding film editor in New York City. He installed beautiful gas lamps above the tables lining the windows and in addition to the ubiquitous spot lighting, he designed walls of black plexiglass all lit up with the designs of heavenly constellations. On top of the stars, were large shelves of flowers lit up from behind. “It became an ideal wedding venue with the lake in view surrounded by the gardens with brick walls and iron grated fencing. At night the gardens were lit up with ever-changing colors,” adds Wrobel. Disco took off in the 70s. Every Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evening shortly after 9 pm Kevin Brower adjusted saratogaTODAYnewspaper.com
the theatrical lighting while DJ Tom Lewis prepared the Stan Hanna sound system to fill the space with tunes such as “I Will Survive” and suddenly the building became ALIVE. “Sometimes slowly or sometimes spontaneously exuberant, couples found the dance floor. The crowd started to define where the music was going and what kind of night it was going to be. Because it was our premise that recorded music played by the very best and presented by the highest quality sound system anywhere and supplemented by the best lighting we could buy nationally, it was a transcendent musical experience,” writes Wrobel. Disco began to fade around 1980 and the Rafters hit a slow period. Luckily along came Michael Jackson and his music video “Thriller”.
“We had just retrofitted the Rafters to be able to play musical videos and we had installed 4 large retractable screens in the main room. With Thriller being a hit, recording artists all came out with the video portion of their songs and that became a part of the music industry. And it forever became a mainstay of our format— music, lights and now video. Plus, with our original design of large open spaces connecting the second-floor seating to the main floor, people “up there” could easily see the videos,” comments Greg. SPRING 2019 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | 109
The popular nightclub probably didn’t need newspaper ads as devotees of the dance spot came from all over the area many Wednesday, Friday and Saturday evenings
Regulars Sig Pettkus and John Wynne-Evans dressed in sequins, rhinestones and feathers ready for another magical evening of dancing at the Rafters. Photo provided courtesy of Sig Wynne-Evans
To further add to the sensory experience, Wrobel purchased a laser light from NYC laser light expert David Infante. This was a challenging addition as the light had to be constantly water cooled. From the Brooklyn Navy Yards, Wrobel bought an all glass 25 ft. diameter circular dance floor. “Beneath the glass and in the steel network were a phalanx of 3 inch bulbs that climbed up the walls and into the ceiling so that you were surrounded by these bulbs reflecting off a pure glass dance floor. It was quite a sight,” proudly recalls Wrobel.
With 1500 to 2000 people passing through the door nightly, safety was a priority. “Williams Burns was with me from the very beginning and he was entrusted with safeguarding our patrons— literally millions of them. We had one rule, fighting was a lifetime banishment, which helped William Burns and his 15 strong security staff establish the peace. Bill had an enormous following with the race track people— he knew them all and word spread quickly that the Rafters was a place to be respected,” concludes Greg. Numerous regulars met their future spouses at The Rafters. One unforgettable couple was Sig and John Wynne-Evans. John was an actor who made the hat Janis Joplin wore on the cover of her Pearl album. He used the leftover pink and white feathers for his signature hat, earning him one of his many
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The 25 foot diameter glass lit dance floor was “quite a sight owner,” Greg Wrobel proudly states. Photo by Patrick Pipino
nicknames-Feathers. Sig Pettkus was mesmerized by the unofficial mascot of the Rafters, John Wynne-Evans. “He appeared out of the thick fog of the dance floor. His sequined outfit caught the laser lights and bounced them off in all directions. He grabbed me from standing along the side and we danced. The atmosphere …put us in a state of pure magic,” she wistfully remembers. They became a regular attraction on the dance floor and later unlikely lifelong partners. “The Rafters is no longer there, just as John is no longer on the earth. Some things never die, they only find an eternal life in our hearts,” she philosophizes.
In 1988, Greg’s parents and co-owner Bobby D’Andrea decided to sell Kaydeross Park to a group of developers headed by Robert Kohn. Many locals, including Greg’s mom, now enjoy living in Water’s Edge with their views of Saratoga Lake. Personally, I’d like to imagine them honoring the iconic Rafters on summer evenings by sitting on their patios listening to Donna Summer’s “I Feel Love.” Thirty-two years after closing, almost 300 former fans still post their memories on the Rafters Fan Club Facebook page. Greg created a living legend that flourished from 1973-1987, never to be forgotten. SS
SARATOGA READING ROOM INTRODUCTION WRITTEN BY CAROL GODETTE
riving by 148 Union Avenue, one hardly notices the stately 3 story white clapboard house with green trim. The building is tucked into a corner surrounded by a black iron fence and shrouded with shrubbery, marked by a small sign on the front screen-"SARATOGA READING ROOM.” Originally intended as a private social club for men only, The Reading Room was founded for Thoroughbred horse owners, trainers and breeders to read the daily racing papers before crossing the NYRA grounds for the afternoon racing. It later became an exclusive dining club serving breakfast, lunch and after-race cocktails for its members. Few local residents ever entered the building, unless they were there to work. From 19721989 The Reading Room’s kitchen and dining rooms were staffed by a group of young black athletes living on the west side of Broadway, which they referred to as the “Best Side” of Saratoga. Ernest “Sonny” Gooden, a 6”2” basketball star at Saratoga High School began as a dishwasher in the Reading Room due to his father’s job at the track. As positions in the Reading Room opened up, Sonny would recommend neighborhood relatives and friends. Two dish-washing positions became available and Sonny recommended his friend Eddie Pinn and his cousin Stewart White.
“We had fun and made lots of money,” reflects Stewart. Both teenagers knew if they worked hard, they could make serious money by being promoted to waiters. Within a few years, both were wearing the coveted white jackets of a Reading Room waiter. That’s when they got to meet people that may never have otherwise crossed their paths. For both Sonny and Stewart, the job was really about the relationships they built with the regulars. “We were so comfortable around them and they were equally comfortable around us,” said Stewart. In today’s world where stories of racism and prejudice are all too frequent, Sonny and Stewart didn’t experience any of this at the Reading Room. “Our boss wouldn’t stand for any disrespect. Once someone who came for sales week was disrespectful and the maitre d’ sent them packing. He had to apologize to us, or his membership would be revoked,” they both stated.
Pittsburgh Pirate owner John Galbreath and horse trader Stanley Petter were just a few of the patrons who were interested in Stewart's and Sonny’s personal lives. “We were all playing ball at the time, especially Sonny ‘cause he was the MAN,” jokes Stewart-referring to Sonny’s success on Saratoga High’s basketball court. (When Sonny was inducted into the Capital District Sports Hall of Fame, he was described as the best basketball player Saratoga High ever had.) “The people at the Reading Room got us ready for college. They went out and bought some of our stuff like trunks and supplies,” they fondly recall.
Stewart, Sonny and their friends worked hard and were good at what they did, always going the extra mile for their favorite patrons. Stewart describes the job as a “match made in heaven.” Eventually Stewart’s brother James was also hired. When James passed away two years ago, it inspired Stewart to document their experiences in the story “Saratoga’s Best Kept Secret.” Simply Saratoga is honored to bring you the first installment…
Photo by William Strode from "A Year at the Races " by Robert B. Parker and Joan H Parker
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A Story of Thoroughbreds, Wealth, Relationships and The Black Men & Women Workers At The Saratoga Reading Room AS TOLD BY STEWART WHITE
Chapter 1 THE BEGINNING
y name is Stewart White. This story is being told through the eyes of a then 18-year-old, young black man, who grew up being part of an era of hard-working black men and women, in the private world of the rich and famous. That era is a part of black history that has been around for many years. I am sharing my part of that history.
I worked at the Saratoga Reading Room for 17 racing seasons- from 1972-1989. I serviced and sometimes “rubbed elbows” with many of the who’s who list of members and their guests that walked through the Reading Room gates. Members such as Sonny Werblin (former owner of the NY Jets and President of the NY Knicks), Mr. Henryk deKwiakowski (aeronautical engineer and owner of Calumet Farm, a prestigious Thoroughbred racing farm that produced some of the greatest Thoroughbred horses of all time), George Steinbrenner (owner of the NY Yankees), Wellington Mara (owner of the NY Giants), Alfred Z. Solomon (a famous hat maker ), Charles Eble (former President and CEO of Con Ed),and C.V. Whitney (filmmaker, businessman and owner of a leading stable of Thoroughbreds).
The Reading Room included 6 rooms upstairs for members to stay overnight after a long day at the track. It was a men’s club, so during the morning hours, women were not allowed above the 1st floor. It wasn’t till the 1980s, that women were allowed honorary membership, but only after the death of their husbands, who had been members. When my cousin Sonny Gooden, who had started as a dishwasher at the age of 14, brought me on in 1972, there were zero black members. If you saw a black man or woman in the Reading Room- believe me, they were working! The only exception during those early years was a fair skinned, very handsome gentleman by the name of Cab Calloway. Calloway, a legendary jazz musician, was a guest of a member.
In those early years during the 70s, the entire working staff was black. We were a close-knit group made up of black folk who would migrate from their Southern roots or jobs on the railroad to find jobs at the racetrack. There was lots of money to be made in Saratoga during the track season. Lots of money to be made at the Reading Room. During those times, every behind-the-scenes employee was a black face and there were very few exceptions. The cooks, waitresses, bartenders, bathroom attendants, busboys, greeters, maître d’s, valets, and even whomever was running bets to the track – they were done by someone with a dark face. To tell you the truth, the members seemed to like it that way. A typical day at the club started at 5am. Our boss during the early 70s was Otis Buggs, a short older man with a noticeable limp. He was an old-school Southern man who you could tell, took pride in his role as leader of this group of hard workers. At this time, there were three of us youngsters working, all in our late teens. Sonny, myself, and our longtime childhood friend Ed Pinn. We used to marvel at the way the older waiters used to work. They were extremely hard workers who were very skilled in their craft. For being older, they could sure move!
There were three layers to a day at the Reading Room. Breakfast, lunch, and then members would return for cocktails after the races. Breakfast was very laid back. The menu was simple, consisting of hot and cold cereals, Saratoga’s famous hand melon, many typical breakfast items including eggs benedict, and the member’s favorite, our tiny little pancakes or crepes. 112 | SIMPLY SARATOGA | SPRING 2019
From "A Year at the Races " by Robert B. Parker and Joan H Parker, Photos by William Strode. Middle: Reading Room menu Cover
Stewart the football player, Sonny the basketball player
Photos provided by Stewart White
Sonny Gooden and Stewart White share their experiences in a recent interview with Simply Saratoga.
As young boys in the kitchen, we were curious about what went on outside the kitchen, so a lot of times we would wander about. We would go out on the porch or lawn and we got to know a few of the members who were there day after day. Frank Wright, a top trainer of Thoroughbreds and a former CBS racing analyst, sat at the same table every morning. He would talk with us along with Stanley Petter, a horse breeder out of Lexington, KY. Mr. Cot Campbell, who founded Dogwood Stable, the 1st known racing partnership in 1969, was also a favorite of mine. They were very friendly and we used to look forward to talking with them. They seemed to enjoy our youthful enthusiasm. After breakfast there was the typical prep for lunch. The lunch menu consisted of soups and hot or cold sandwiches. Members would come in with their families, eat a good lunch, and leave for the start of the races. The staff in the kitchen, from the preparers of the food, servers, all the way down to us dishwashers, worked well together. Lunch, though very fast paced, had a flow that ended up being very precise. We were like a well-oiled machine. One thing I used to notice was the money that the servers were pocketing, even though we knew that members signed for their checks. There were no cash transactions that took place at the Reading Room. Most of the tips for the servers consisted of 20% of the total check. A lot of members would also give a cash tip, on top of the tip included in the check. Members seemed not to be cheap. If you gave them good service, they were very good tippers. We took notice.
After having some down time while the races were going on and the club was basically empty, it was time to prepare for the members and their guests to return to drink, smoke cigars, and talk about their day at the racetrack.
A fringe benefit of working at the Reading Room was the crazy tips on horses we would get from the members. Everyone used to get their bets together for the runner who stopped by daily to run bets for the staff. Every now and then I would be asked to take a bet over for a member. I remember running a bet for Harry M. Stevens III, who at the time had food catering concessions around the country in places like Madison Square Garden, Shea Stadium and the Meadowlands Sports Complex. I mean, I was actually running! Mr. Stevens handed me $200 and told me he needed me to place his bet before the window closed. I was young and athletic. I made it in time. SS In the next installment, we’ll meet “The Old Guard” – due out May 17th
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Photos by Susan Blackburn Photography
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Our Spring Edition of Simply Saratoga, a Saratoga TODAY publication, has always been about fashion, creativity, passion… and creating the li...
Published on Mar 27, 2019
Our Spring Edition of Simply Saratoga, a Saratoga TODAY publication, has always been about fashion, creativity, passion… and creating the li...