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Winter 2018

The Winter Issue






11 A Good Read


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p. 34


Preserving Saratoga

Brunch... and so much more!

Samantha Bosshart had no problem finding the right property to feature in our issue all about “people” -Jim & Cheryl Gold

Artist Spotlight

p. 51

Meet the owners of the Bella Home Builders STUNNER from the 2017 Showcase of Homes!

Gives great advice

Farmers Hardware


51 Architecturally Speaking

Meghan Lemery



Home & Garden

p. 73

61 In the Kitchen

...with John Reardon

34 It's Prom Season...

Get some ideas for dresses, hair & makeup!

Olga Aleksandrova – a very inspiring (now) local artist

38 You're Going to Love Meeting These Six People!

Saratoga Central Catholic (& West Point!) graduate John Walsh

World War ll Veteran John P. Miller Saratoga High graduate turned cancer nurse, George Morris

62 Entertaining Made Easy

72 Post Time Memories

64 (Indoor) Gardening

73 Charlie Kuenzel looks back on...

...with Jodie Fitz

...with Peter Bowden

65 Birdwatching

...with Nancy Castillo

66 Simplify

...with Jordana Turcotte

With Dennis G. Hogan

The early (very early!) days of Saratoga Springs

76 Rarely Seen Photos…

From The George S. Bolster Collection

78 Welcome aboard our newest contributor...

John R. Greenwood

79 First in Carol Godette's series on Mom & Pop's Restaurants The Ash Grove Inn

Local lawyer Rick Partyka Retired teacher Karen Flewelling The local teen making a global difference… Calla Woodworth






Owner/Publisher Chad Beatty General Manager Robin Mitchell Creative Director/ Managing Editor Chris Vallone Bushee Graphic Designer Samantha Nock Advertising Designer Morgan Rook Advertising Sales Jim Daley Cindy Durfey Contributing Writers Carly Beckwith Samantha Bosshart Peter Bowden Nancy Castillo Jodie Fitz Dennis G. Hogan Haley Grant John Greenwood Carol Godette Megan Harrington Charlie Kuenzel Meghan Lemery Fritz Megin Potter John Reardon Theresa St. John Jordana Turcotte Maureen Werther


Blackburn Portrait Design Emma Dodge Hanson John Seymour Megin Potter Nancy Castillo Randall Perry Photography The George Bolster Collection Theresa St. John

Published by

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 © 2018, Saratoga TODAY Newspaper


From The Editor Traditionally, our first issue of Simply Saratoga magazine each year features PEOPLE… I meet so many interesting people in this role as editor of a regional magazine - and the ones I haven’t met yet – are being pointed out to me as someone I should know! …Gotta love that!! I have a diverse group here… Some you’ll know, others you may be meeting for the first time. They will impress you, challenge you, inspire you to do more, be more… and all are worthy of a few minutes of your time – enjoy! Being the start of a new year, it’s the perfect time for reflection… Just this morning, our publisher and owner Chad Beatty, was rehashing how exciting the past ten years have been since he embarked on this journey of a privately-owned publishing company and how far we’ve come since the days of just the newspaper. (In case you were wondering… yes, we’re still privately owned, we’re not affiliated with any other company, and we produce a weekly newspaper, as well as 20 magazines yearly!!) Speaking of how the years just fly by, I’ll be celebrating my fifth anniversary managing the magazine department with this year’s H&G issue due out in May! I can’t get over how fast that has flown by, but I’ve loved every minute.

I appreciate our loyal readers (and advertisers!) that have supported us – we know there are new publications popping in and out of our market on a regular basis, but we’ll just keep doing what we do best… Being a part of your life.

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I wish you all a happy, healthy and blessed New Year and thank you for corresponding. As always - I must close with a big THANK YOU to all our advertisers, without them, Saratoga TODAY couldn’t continue to offer these beautiful publications (in print, online and free of charge!) to the tens of thousands that read them each month! Please mention us by name (The Saratoga TODAY magazine, Simply… Saratoga) when visiting their businesses.

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Chris Vallone Bushee Creative Director/ Managing Editor (518) 581-2480 ext.201

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In Print & Online. Sign up TODAY for FREE email delivery of our publications!

Cover Photo by Blackburn Portrait Design of the Ellms Family Farm. See their story on page 21.


CONTRIBUTORS CARLY BECKWITH Carly is our newest intern, a senior at Saratoga Springs High School. She lives in Wilton, but hopes to end up in a city for college, to study creative writing, as she aspires to become an author-turned-screenwriter. Besides writing, she dances in her free time at Class Act—jazz, hip-hop, and lyrical. She also keeps busy with her job at Saratoga Saddlery (& International Boutique). Carly is very excited about being published with us!

SAMANTHA BOSSHART Samantha Bosshart joined the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation in 2008. As Executive Director, she advocates for the preservation of the unique architecture and rich heritage of Saratoga Springs. Samantha previously worked at Historic Albany Foundation and Galveston Historical Foundation. Samantha completed her coursework for a Master of Arts in Historic Preservation Planning from Cornell University and received a Bachelor of Arts in History from Indiana University.

PETER BOWDEN Peter has been the region's go-to garden guy for over 35 years. His knack for practical and concise explanations has served him well during his 20-year tenure as WRGB’s garden guy. He is an artist and avid photographer whose images have appeared in textbooks, magazines and travel guides. Peter lives with his wife, Sharon and their pets in an old house in the country.

NANCY CASTILLO Nancy is a co-owner of our local Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop, located off Exit 15 of the Northway. She writes The Zen Birdfeeder blog and has had her writing and photography published in BirdWatcher’s Digest and Watching Backyard Birds. You can occasionally hear her answering questions about birds on the WAMC VoxPop call-in program. Nancy and her spouse enjoy watching birds at their feeders from their log home west of Saratoga.

JODIE FITZ Jodie Fitz is a wife, working mother of three and the creator of the Price Chopper Kids Cooking Club. She released two cookbooks in 2015; The Chaotic Kitchen; a collection of recipes to help make the lives of busy families just a little bit easier when it comes to mealtime & Cooking Up Fun; designed to get kids taste testing & experimenting with foods.

DENNIS G. HOGAN Dennis G. Hogan was born in New York City and his story is a common one: his dad took him to Saratoga Race Course as a boy and he’s returned every year since. He is a writer and photographer with an appreciation for Thoroughbreds. He has previously written for ThoroFan and is a regular contributor to Equicurean Magazine. He lives in Westchester County, NY.

JOHN GREENWOOD John Greenwood is a leftover Saratoga milkman who loves to write, laugh and share stories. John and his wife Patricia have been holding hands since high school. By day he’s a Transportation Manager for Stewart’s Shops. On his off hours he’s an observer/writer/blogger who is quite content taking a walk or painting the side of his garage. Learn more at

CAROL GODETTE Born and raised in Saratoga Springs, Carol Godette’s fascination with neighborhood stores began at age 11 when she frequented Rowland’s. A passionate educator, Godette taught elementary school in the Saratoga School District for 31 years. Carol is a co-owner of the local Ben & Jerry’s franchise. Godette and her husband live in her childhood home where they raised their two children. She welcomes your comments and stories/photos on neighborhood stores via email:


MEGAN HARRINGTON Megan is a freelance writer who has written for a variety of publications including national magazines, local newspapers, and websites. When she’s not writing, she enjoys training for marathons and coaching fellow runners. After spending the previous seven years in New York City, Megan and her husband recently relocated to the Village of Cambridge and are loving their new community at the base of the Adirondacks.

CHARLIE KUENZEL Charlie Kuenzel is a native Saratogian who spent 36 years as a Science educator in the Saratoga School District before retiring 6 years ago. Charlie, along with Dave Patterson are the co-owners of Saratoga Tours LLC who for the past 16 years have educated and entertained thousands of visitors to the city with stories to tell the exciting history of our great city.

MEGHAN LEMERY FRITZ Meghan is a native of the Glens Falls Saratoga region. Her passion is to provide her clients and readers with the tools necessary to live a life grounded in peace and emotional well-being. She is an author and writer for various publications in Upstate NY and State College, PA. She is also the co-host for a monthly radio segment focused on how to improve relationships. She currently resides in State College, PA where she enjoys spending time with her husband and son.

MEGIN POTTER Megin is an expressive writer and artist with work published in books, newspapers, corporate communications and online. A resident of the region for over 20 years, she continues to discover anew the interesting people, places and products it has to offer. As a mother to her active young son, she is inspired to explore even more.

THERESA ST. JOHN Theresa is a freelance travel writer and photographer based in Saratoga Springs. Even though history was not on her radar while in high school, she has a deep interest in all things historical now. She has been on assignment for several magazines and is published in both print and online venues. Last year she traveled to Ireland on assignment, which, she states " was a trip of a lifetime." She is the proud mom to two young men and Nonnie to six rescued dogs, two chinchillas, and a bird. Life is good, she says.

JORDANA TURCOTTE Jordana Turcotte is a lifelong New Yorker and a Saratoga County resident since graduating from RPI. After staying at home for a bit with her children (now 10 and 8), she decided on the “rest of her life job” as Professional Organizer. Starting Simply You in 2008 fulfills a passion for organizing. When she isn’t organizing, you’ll find her volunteering at her kids’ school, being Mommy chauffeur or hanging out with her two rescue dogs.

MAUREEN WERTHER Maureen Werther is the owner of WriteForYou, a professional freelance writing service specializing in business writing, web and blog content, and creative non-fiction. Her articles, essays and white papers appear on the pages of businesses on the web and around the globe. She is also a regular contributor to numerous newspapers, magazines and journals throughout the Capital Region. She is the author of a soon to be published book, “Them That Has, Gets,” the story of historical 1790’s estate in Schroon Lake and the colorful history of its owners. Currently, she is working on a memoir detailing her roller-coaster adventures as owner of Pie ala Moe, a gourmet pie and tart company she started in 2008, in the midst of the recession.





Meghan Fritz is a psychotherapist practicing in State College, PA. Email

As we enter a new year many of us will make numerous resolutions in health, career, finances and relationships. It’s not uncommon to see gym memberships sky rocket at the beginning of January and plummet by March.


esolutions and goals are important and add to our growth emotionally, physically and spiritually; however, without a clear vision of what we want to accomplish we will likely sprint out of the start line only to become discouraged and weary by the end of the race.

One of the most effective ways to ensure success in meeting your goals for the year is to create a concrete vision of what you want. This can be done with a vision board. A vision board is a poster board or bulletin board filled with pictures, quotes or words… really anything that inspires you or reflects your goals. You can cut out pictures from magazines, print out inspirational quotes, take pictures of people, places and things that reflect your goals and post them onto your vision board. The idea behind this creative process is that you then have a clear picture of what you want and where you want to be in all areas of your life. This exercise is beneficial because it requires you to really stop and think about what you want. So often I work with individuals whose goal in counseling is to learn how to be happy. When I ask what happiness means to that specific individual it’s not uncommon for people to get frustrated and respond, “You know… happy, a happy life!”

The truth is what makes each of us happy and content in day-to-day life varies greatly. For me a daily goal of happiness would be to have some quiet time to read something inspirational and spiritually edifying; my husband on the other hand would define daily happiness as having an uninterrupted half hour of sports talk radio. Completely opposite ways of recharging our batteries yet both things bring us a sense of contentment and joy in everyday life. Most of the time people start to think more deeply about what makes them happy when they are extremely unhappy. They begin to pay attention and wake up to the small mundane details of everyday life because they feel a sense of joylessness and despair. Don’t wait for a crisis to stop and reflect on what brings you joy, peace and a sense of purpose. Take some time and develop your vision board. If the idea of creating a vision board is overwhelming to you and you are rolling your eyes in protest as you read this, chances are something deep inside you doesn’t really believe you are worthy of having everything you want. This resistance is a signal of low selfworth. Whenever resistance pops up, that is a nudge from our inner GPS system signaling us we have some work to do in the worthiness department. If you pick a picture of your dream home or a beautiful


picture of a couple enjoying a fun time together and you feel a sense of anger and/ or hopelessness, this is a signal that you don’t really believe you are worthy of having a home you love and a fulfilling relationship. Begin to tune in to the feelings you have as you create your vision board and when the resistance pops up, explore where that unworthiness was programmed for you. The simple affirmation, “I AM WORTHY” while you are collecting pictures will begin to reprogram you from some of the dysfunctional beliefs that were unconsciously downloaded in childhood and young adult life. Ask yourself where that unworthiness began and break the root of low self-worth. If you have some old wounds that are keeping you from seeing a vison for your future, reach out to loved ones, friends or a therapist for help in the healing process. The best gift you can give yourself in this new year is to allow yourself to heal from anything that keeps you from a life filled with joy and purpose. Start your year off with a clear vision of what you want to see manifest in your life in every area.



FARMERS HARDWARE 35 Maple Avenue, Saratoga Springs, NY 12866


Impossible Not to Love Bloody Mary

Cinnamon Bun French Toast

For those who haven’t yet visited Farmers Hardware at 35 Maple Avenue for breakfast, lunch or brunch, I have two simple words for you… why not? The iconic 1925 three-story brick building has an urban chic industrial vibe that rivals eateries in the West Village or the trendiest Brooklyn neighborhoods. And the fare is exceptional - period. When Farmers Hardware co-owners Julia Sanzen and Tyler Russell decided to open their breakfast, lunch and brunch venue, they initially considered opening a food truck or a “pop up,” and they’d already ordered a custom-designed shipping container cum portable commercial kitchen from a Canadian company, Ontario Ventures.

The Impossible Burger


breakfast or lunch. The menu she has created is an innovative blending of classics with her own unique take. Despite the recent spate of brutal weather, our indomitable Simply Saratoga trio bustled into the cozy first floor eating space on a frigid Sunday morning to find out firsthand what all the buzz was about. Although the arctic air had kept most people indoors, the brunch hall was still bustling with intrepid Sunday brunch lovers. Farmers Hardware has an open, casual and welcoming feel to it – the kind of place that would be equally great for an informal business lunch or a cozy intimate brunch for two. Customers place their food orders on the second floor and then wander to find a comfy seat at one of the long communal tables on the first and third floors. The food is served in deceptively simple and casual containers – no fancy dishware or glassware. Staff brings food orders to your table on trays, and condiments, napkins and disposable flatware are available at nearby stations.

Dragon Bowl Salad When they saw the stunning space, they were immediately sold on it. “It was like a match made in heaven,” says Tyler. Their vision for the threestory building was to create a “Brunch Hall,” similar to Boston’s Quincy Market or the open and airy Union Market in Washington D.C. They spent the next six months making the necessary repairs and upgrades to the building and connecting their portable kitchen to the second floor. Tyler is also owner of Storied Boards, a company that builds furniture and accessories from 100 percent reclaimed wood. All the tables and cushioned wooden blocks that function as seating in Farmers Hardware are made from local trees. The tap holes that dot the surface of the tables bear testament to the trees’ century-old service as producers of New York State maple syrup. For Julia, opening an eatery in her hometown of Saratoga Springs is something she’d been thinking about for a while. With a degree in health education from American University, Julia’s passion for combining wellness with great food guided her to the Natural Gourmet Institute in Manhattan, where she received her culinary training. She spent eight years as a chef in the city, working under such notables as Jean Georges and Rocco De Spirito. While Julia agrees that the number of quality restaurants in Saratoga has increased, there are still not a lot of options for people looking for well-prepared, healthy whole foods for

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The menu consists of Step 1- main dishes, followed by Step 2, which is an assortment of eclectic side dishes. The menu caters to meat lovers, as well as vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free diners. Guests can mix and match any combinations they wish, adding to the delightfully diverse dining experience. And what would brunch be without a Mimosa or Bloody Mary to start things off? Julia and Tyler recently added a “make your own Bloody Mary” station, a cleverly arranged area with everything one could possibly think of to garnish their drink, including large green olives, pickles, celery, even bacon and pepperoncini peppers. Julia and Tyler try to keep everything as local as possible, offering Pick Six vodka, One With Life tequila, and Saratoga Courage moonshine. There is also a great assortment of non-alcoholic beverages, including locally made Kru coffee, a “Nitrocino,” which is a cold-brewed coffee drink I could have sworn was a Sombrero. The Chef ’s Iced Tea is a crisp and refreshing blend of red hibiscus tea, cinnamon, ginger and citrus. But on to the most important part – the food. We were treated to three main dishes and four sides, each one better than the next. The cinnamon bun French toast was drizzled with a delightfully smooth cinnamon cream cheese glaze and topped with roasted apple slices – a perfect choice for lovers of a more classic breakfast fare. It was paired with a side of “sticky” bacon, a whimsical flavor combo of fennel, black pepper and brown sugar, perfectly crisped. The fennel evoked flavorings of the best Italian sausage, except it was bacon. And the brown sugar was sweet enough without overpowering the palate. For lovers of Greek yogurt, Farmers’ take on it includes

blending it with peanut butter and topping it off with shaved dark chocolate and cranberries. The Dragon Bowl Salad is one of the most popular lunch items on the menu and is an amazing combination of dried cranberries, roasted butternut squash, a coconut Thai quinoa that is to die for, chickpeas seasoned with cumin and a sunny side up egg, all arranged atop a generous mound of fresh field greens and topped with Thai peanut dressing. It was hard to decide whether the dish was best eaten one item at a time – to savor the individual flavors – or to combine them all together in an amazingly harmonious blend. While our trio was not unanimous in our “Simply the Best” designation, two out of three agreed that Eggs Shorty was our hands-down favorite pick for brunch. Julia has managed to kick Eggs Benedict up by more than a few notches, using braised beef from short ribs in place of Canadian bacon and a brown butter hollandaise resting on a grilled torta. Teamed up with a serving of sweet potato tots and a honey sriracha dipping sauce, or a side of crispy chili chickpeas, it made a winning brunch combo. But the surprise scene stealer of the meal was the “Impossible” – er, that is, the Impossible Burger. What makes it impossible is that it is made from potato protein, wheat, coconut, yeast and something called “heme,” culminating in a culinary creation that almost defies detection as a meat substitute. The Impossible Burger is the brainchild of a California-based company, Impossible Foods, and it is only available at a very select few restaurants in Los Angeles and NYC. Tyler, who has been a vegetarian for ten years, first sampled the Impossible Burger with Julia at David Chang’s famous West Village eatery, Momofuku Nishi. “We waited in line until 10:30 to order one of these burgers,” says Tyler, adding that, when they opened Farmers Hardware, they worked hard to get it on their menu. The Impossible Burger is still in only limited release nationwide. Farmers Hardware is thrilled to be the one and only New York restaurant, outside of the city, to offer the burger, and they hosted their “big reveal,” the Impossible Burger dinner with fries and Winners Circle on draft, to a select group of 70 ticket holders (two seatings!) on January 11th. Needless to say, the event was a tremendous success and made dozens of converts to the Impossible Burger. Suffice it to say that, after sampling one, you won’t go back to the garden-variety veggie burger ever again. We left brunch knowing that we’d just enjoyed one of the most unique brunch experiences in the region and vowed to return soon for more of Farmers Hardware. SS


199 Woodlawn Avenue




BEFORE I BECAME THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation, I would regularly walk my dog Sophie past my favorite carriage house in Saratoga Springs, 199 Woodlawn Avenue. It was not until several months after I had joined the Foundation in 2008 that I learned that one of my Executive Committee members, Cheryl Gold, lived with her husband Jim in this jewel box of a carriage house. As a young woman who was relatively new to the area and had never been an Executive Director before, I soon realized that this quiet slight woman with a crew cut and big red glasses was to be my trusted confidant. She had a wealth of knowledge and experience that I came to rely on greatly as I navigated difficult preservation challenges– the demolition of 23 Greenfield Avenue and 66 Franklin Street–early in my tenure as Executive Director. Cheryl was a dedicated member of the Foundation who had served on the Advocacy and Major Properties committees for over 30 years in addition to serving several terms as a member of the Board of Directors. She had a long distinguished career with the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, which concluded with her professional career as Assistant Regional Director of Saratoga/Capital Region of State Parks, where she was responsible for 17 state parks and historic sites. Upon completing her second six-year term on the Board in 2009, she remained on the Advocacy Committee. She was always someone I could rely on to give a thoughtful, balanced approach to any problem I faced whether it be preservation or personnel related.

Cheryl and Jim receiving a 2012 Preservation Recognition Landscape Award.

In 2011, Cheryl told me that she needed to step down from the Advocacy Committee for health reasons. Needless to say, I did not take this news well and I continued to call on her for advice and enlisted her husband to keep her engaged. I would periodically stop by their house with plans for a proposed project or I would ask Jim to ride with me to look at properties of proposed projects or those nominated for a Preservation Recognition Award in hopes that the next time he and Cheryl were out for a drive he would take her by, so she could weigh-in also. By sharing with Jim, I soon learned that this wiry gentleman, also had a treasure trove of experience JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 | SIMPLY SARATOGA  | 15

Ø Samantha Bosshart, Jim Gold, and Cheryl Gold, at the 2014 Spirit of Preservation Celebration that honored the Saratoga Spa State Park and the Saratoga Room of Saratoga Springs Public Library. Cheryl was very fond of both entities and served as the Honorary Co-Chair of the event.

199 Woodlawn Avenue

and knowledge to offer. For nearly 30 years, he had served as the Director of Historic Sites for New York State overseeing a wide-range of properties across the state and working with numerous community groups. Jim had also served as the Chair of our city’s Design Review Commission for 12 years. “When Jim and Cheryl started working for New York State Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, the New York State Historic Site System was in its infancy. When they retired, it was the envy of other states. From Fort Niagara near Buffalo, to Planting Fields on Long Island, to Schuyler Mansion in Albany, New York’s history is richer. Jim developed a state-of-the-art Conservation Program and Laboratory at Peebles Island in Waterford. Cheryl spent the last decade of her career in the Saratoga Region - she brought to every administrative challenge the protection of the historic and cultural resources of the region. She made the Spa State Park better and it is part of her legacy. Finally, Jim and Cheryl are the finest administrators I ever had the pleasure of working with,” remarked Julie Stokes, Retired Deputy Commissioner for Historic Preservation and long-time friend. As the Foundation embarked on the restoration of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial in Congress Park, in partnership with the City of Saratoga Springs in 2011, I asked Jim to join the committee that would oversee the restoration effort. For four years Jim tirelessly gave his time 16  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

Jim volunteering with Rumara Jewett to plant 600 pink and white geraniums at the Spirit of Life & Spencer Trask Memorial this past year.

Ù A photo of 199 Woodlawn Avenue when Jim and Cheryl purchased it in 1987.

to attend numerous meetings, assist with writing grants, and volunteer at fundraising events. It became evident to me and others, that the restoration of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial served as a welcomed distraction for Jim as Cheryl’s health continued to decline. With the completion of the restoration nearing, I feared that Jim would become disengaged so I asked him to join the Board of Directors. Initially he was unwilling to commit to a three-year term because of the uncertainty of Cheryl’s health. My solution - I suggested to Mayor Yepsen that he serve as her annual appointment to the Board. He accepted and is now serving his first three-year term. Since joining the Board he has filled the void that Cheryl left. He has joined the Advocacy, Race Course, and Executive committees, all committees that Cheryl once served on, as well as the Fund Development and Marketing Committee and the Board Nominating and Development Committee. However, the Golds’ dedication to preserving Saratoga Springs did not start with the Foundation. It started in 1981 when they bought their first house, 29 York Avenue, a house and carriage house they rehabilitated. While living there they always had their eye on the dilapidated carriage house at 199 Woodlawn Avenue - seeing its potential. They made inquiries about purchasing it, but to no avail. In 1987 on their way to dinner they drove by and saw a sign that it was

for sale. They immediately canceled their dinner plans to go home to call the realtor. In 1987, they purchased the 1897 carriage house and lovingly adaptively reused it into their beautiful home with its magnificent garden. While their carriage house is a contributing building to the Broadway Historic District listed on the National Register of Historic Places, their house was not located in a local historic district of Saratoga Springs. Therefore, it was afforded no protections against insensitive exterior changes or demolition, a recent trend in their neighborhood. Cheryl and Jim did not want their house–in the future–to meet the same fate as 23 Greenfield Avenue, 49 State Street, and 89 State Street. It was a long-time goal to add their house to the local historic district to provide Design Review Commission oversight. On June 7, 2016, along with their neighbors at 200 Woodlawn Avenue, Cheryl and Jim voluntarily added their property to the local historic district.

Donor and Grants, and Strategic Plan committees. Barbara Glaser, who served as Honorary Co-Chair of the Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial and a founding member of the Pitney Meadows Committee Farm, said “Jim Gold is a gift to any organization he is a part of– whether he is serving on the Board, wielding a paintbrush, or developing a site plan for an historic site. He brings his intelligence, experience, and quiet presence to any role he plays and is respected and valued by all.”

I echo Barbara’s words and know that Cheryl is with Jim every step of the way when he gives back to our community. We are so fortunate to have had two amazing people that are as good as gold! SS Founded in 1977, the Saratoga Springs Preservation Foundation is a private, not-for-profit organization that promotes preservation and enhancement of the architectural, cultural and landscaped heritage of Saratoga Springs. To learn more, become a member, or make a donation, please visit

Not only had Cheryl and Jim been incredibly generous with their time and talent, but also their treasure. They had always made meaningful gifts to the Annual Fund and any special project that the Foundation has undertaken – Spirit of Life and Spencer Trask Memorial, Gideon Putnam Cemetery, and the Frederick Allen Lodge, to name a few. In 2016, they also donated $25,000 to create a Special Project Fund for the Foundation to fund education initiatives and rehabilitation projects. Sadly, Cheryl passed away on July 30, 2016, and our community lost a dear friend and advocate of preservation as well as a dedicated supporter of the Saratoga Springs Public Library and open space preservation. To honor her memory, many gave and continue to make gifts in her memory to the endowment fund of the Foundation to provide long-term financial stability to the organization. Prior to Cheryl’s passing, Jim and Cheryl both felt strongly about preserving the viewshed of the Pitney Farm on West Avenue. Since early 2017 Jim has volunteered countless hours at the Pitney Meadows Community Farm, recently joined its Board of Directors, where he serves on the Building and Grounds,


Field Horne strategizing correct storage and cataloguing strategies, in the midst of the newly-renovated collections storage at the History Museum

Saratoga Springs History Museum

Working to Preserve and Expand Saratoga’s Rich Heritage WRITTEN BY MAUREEN WERTHER PHOTOS PROVIDED


FROM BEFORE WORLD WAR II, LETTERS AND PAPERS OF A SARATOGA FAMILY, MINUTES OF A CLUB, OR THE LEDGERS AND CORRESPONDENCE OF A BUSINESS? If they can help tell the story of our city, they may be valuable acquisitions for the History Museum’s archival collection. Send an e-mail to with a brief description of what you have.


he Saratoga Springs History Museum was founded in 1883 as the Saratoga Historical Society and it was one of the earliest organizations of its kind, collecting and assembling a trove of photographs, documents and artifacts from across Saratoga County.

Located in the famous Canfield Casino, the museum’s focus over time has narrowed to the city of Saratoga Springs, its rich history, and stories of the people who came here to live, play and prosper. In 2015, soon after local historian Field Horne completed “Saratoga Springs: A Centennial History,” which he compiled, edited and coauthored with 24 other authors and historians, he turned his attention to the archive room on the third floor of the Casino. The room, which is part of the History Museum, contained an impressive assortment of documents, letters, maps, and artifacts concerning Saratoga Springs and the surrounding area. Unfortunately, it was in a serious state of


disarray, with precious materials in peril of being permanently damaged or even destroyed. “The shelves were crammed, one entire wall of the room was occupied by a row of file cabinets – which should never be used to store old documents – and there was no order,” said Horne, as he took me on a recent tour of the museum and archive room. The Museum relies almost exclusively on volunteerism, said its Executive Director, Jamie Parillo. The last time a professional person oversaw its archives was 1991. Consequently, things were improperly handled, misfiled or left uncategorized. For Horne, who has served as Curator for the National Museum of Racing and as Director of the Saratoga County Historical Society, indexing and cataloging are second nature. Having spent a significant amount of time in the archives room during his research for his book, he knew how badly in need of attention the neglected archive room was.

Once his book project was completed, Horne approached Parillo with an offer to put the archives in order. Naturally, Parillo accepted the generous offer and, in January 2016, Horne and several other volunteers began the arduous and painstaking task of combing through every document, every photograph, every hand-written letter, indexing, cataloging and safely storing them for posterity. Documents that had been shoved into metal file cabinets are now carefully stored in acidfree folders and dustproof archival boxes. The temperature and humidity levels in the room have been regulated, and the 35-year old air conditioning system that was leaking water into the room has been repaired. There are no more metal clips holding precious papers together that can damage old parchments. The result is order where there was chaos. For Horne and the team of steadfast

volunteers, there is still cataloging, indexing and identification of images and documents to complete. The next step, says Horne, is the creation of a Guide to the Collection, with every single box, folder and map holder to be meticulously defined. For Horne, the most important takeaway from this exhaustive and exhausting process has been the realization that, after 200 years of collecting the city’s history, “We really only have the papers of ten families,” he said. The Museum’s overarching goal now is to fill out the collection. The challenge is getting the word out to families and to try to find treasures that will enrich our knowledge of the city’s cultural, economic and commercial heritage and growth.

dusty attics or dank basements. Horne has purchased many an item at local auction that have turned out to be a valuable source of history about the early families who settled here from around the country. He laments the dearth of information about old businesses and organizations – many of which he and his team know about through time-consuming examination of old photos using magnifying glasses and jewelers’ loupes. Horne hopes that word of the restoration of the Museum’s archives will spread and members of the community who uncover old family materials will allow them to become part of the rich heritage of Saratoga Springs for future generations. SS

Many people don’t realize the historical value of old items they have stowed away in

Linda Bullard & Lorrie Anthony organizing oversized documents from the 19th century Gloria Dalton at work on the History Museum’s large photograph collection



Photo by Blackburn Portrait Design

Saratoga Families...

Photo by Blackburn Portrait Design



Chip & Sally Ellms

Magnolia the Pig

Photo by Blackburn Portrait Design


If you live in the greater Saratoga area, chances are, you’re already familiar with the Ellms Family Farm. Each year, as the weather turns cooler, the farm’s fall activities and cut-your-own Christmas trees are some of the best ways to celebrate the holiday season. The Ellms’ property is located on the border of Charlton and Ballston Spa and the family’s patriarch, Chip Ellms, thinks the spot can’t be beat. “We believe we have a great location. We’re close and easily accessible to Albany, Schenectady, and Saratoga Springs. There’s a good population within an hour’s drive of us.” It’s safe to say that Chip Ellms is an expert in seasonal fun, but that wasn’t always the case.

Trees for Troops loading day

a colleague suggested that Chip and his dad, Bud, start a tree farm on their land in Charlton. Chip and Bud planted their first trees in 1984 and by 1990 they were ready to sell. And from there, Ellms’ Christmas Trees was born.

Chip grew up in Massachusetts and earned a degree from the University of Maine in pulp and paper. Shortly after, he started working for a supplier in the paper industry. Chip moved to the Saratoga area in 1983 and says, “I found this wonderful New England-looking home in Charlton.” With 65 acres, Chip and his family enjoyed everything a country life had to offer (with the conveniences of Saratoga just a short drive away!).

After a few years, Chip says, “We began attending National Christmas Tree Meetings and met people who also had pumpkin patches and corn mazes.” At this point, Chip decided the time was right to diversify and expand. In 1998, he retired from the paper industry and says, “Piece by piece we kept buying more land, including the barns and outbuildings. We finalized our last purchase in 2000 and began attending meetings to learn more about direct selling on the farm.” Starting in 2003, the Ellms family began preparing the farmland for things like corn mazes, pumpkin patches, slides, and agricultural activities. Over the course of two years, they bulldozed the land to make it flat, installed roads, and put in a parking lot. The Ellms Family Farm and its fall activities opened for business in 2005.

While growing up in Massachusetts, Chip says, “My father and I used to raise trees as a hobby” and while working in the paper industry, he met others who grew their own trees for fun. Eventually

Chip is thankful for their success and says, “The best part of this whole thing, besides working with my father, was that eventually my grown children were able to come home and work for the


Planting Pumpkins

Garth, Ashley, Sarah & Chip

farm.” His three children and seven grandchildren all live on the property and Chip says, “We have seven grandchildren that we don’t have to get in the car to visit!” Both the Ellms Family Farm and Ellms’ Christmas Trees are family run businesses. Chip’s wife, Sally, serves as the bookkeeper, HR person, and PR person. Meanwhile, Chip calls himself the Operations Manager. The eldest son, Garth, will soon be a majority owner and daughters Ashley and Sasha are part owners. And the Ellms’ are already preparing for the next generation! Chip and Sally are the proud grandparents to seven grandchildren: Aven (15), Calla (12), Ryah (10), Atli (8), Harper (8), Kinley (5), and Clover (5). Although its busy season is in the fall and winter, running the farm is a yearlong process. Chip says, “We plant trees in the early spring and then plant corn and pumpkins in early June. We work on weed control and maintenance throughout summer and then open for business in mid-September.” They close just before Christmas and then start it all over again the next year. During slower times, Chip and Sally enjoy all that the area has to offer—they keep a sailboat in Mayfield on the Sacandaga reservoir and enjoy golfing for exercise. And while they love

upstate New York, the family enjoys traveling internationally for agri-tourism ideas and inspiration. Chip and Sally have traveled to places like Cuba, Alaska, Portugal, Italy, and France with likeminded farmers. Chip is also a former president of the Cornell Cooperative Extension Board of Directors, a former Saratoga County Chamber of Commerce board member, and a former Saratoga PLAN board member. Giving back to the community is a priority for the family and this is highlighted by their work with our country’s servicemen and women. The Ellms’ property is a collection point for trees that are collected and shipped to enlisted military members and their spouses. Sally works with local farms and garden centers to procure donations and once they’re collected, veterans and active-duty soldiers load the trees for transport. With a love for their community (and each other), the Ellms Family is a great asset to the Saratoga area. Whether you come for the pumpkin patches or the Christmas trees, you’ll not only be supporting a local business, you’ll be making memories. SS


Artist Spotlight:

Olga Aleksandrova


Argyle Pleinair Painting - oil on canvas board, 14x11 inches


uring World War II, the Nazi forces surrounded St. Petersburg, Russia. Struggling to survive the biting cold winter, food and water were scarce.

“It was easier for the artists than the people who thought about their stomach. Art is aesthetic and makes people care in their soul. The soul helps their body exist. I think people should think more about their soul,” said Olga Aleksandrova.

Curiosity Combines with Courage As a child in Saratov, Russia, Aleksandrova would accompany her mother, a decorative artist, when she went to work. “I started to use a brush as soon as I was able to hold it. I did it with her and I loved it,” she said. By the time Aleksandrova was 12 years old, she decided to pursue art as a career, and at 15 won a placement in a specialized decorative arts program. While attending college in Moscow, she began studying architecture and met her former husband, a sculptor. “I saw him, and I said, ‘Oh, I want to try that too.’” In 2001, the family, which now included daughter Valentina, moved to Colorado. “It was hard to adapt. Everything was so different. I was learning every day. When there’s nothing else to learn, it gets so boring. I need change every day, something new to see, something new to create,” said Aleksandrova. 24  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

Skills that Speak for Themselves Despite still not speaking English very well at the time, Aleksandrova was able to secure a position building architectural models, a job she still enjoys doing on a freelance basis today. In 2012, she moved to Queensbury, and has since completed a diverse list of artistic projects in both residential and commercial spaces. Working in the construction trades added to her technical expertise. Her portfolio of completed 3D models includes the Peekskill Firehouse for the Voorheesvillebased Mitchell Associates Architects. Able to work in a variety of styles and materials, her murals can be seen at George’s Restaurant in Lake George, St. Paul’s Indian Orthodox Church in Albany, and Nicole Byrne’s Pediatric Dentistry in Gansevoort. She’s painted sets for Adirondack Studios, and Broadway Upstate Theater. “My spectrum is petty huge,” she said.

An Artist’s Dream When Aleksandrova’s other two daughters Alta, now 10, and Anya, now 13, were young, she hosted an art-based childcare program in her home. “There was music and dancing. It was all paint and pencils all around,” she said. Enriching children’s education through art is a dream of hers to continue with in the future. “In school, they tell them what to do and they repeat after the teacher. They don’t teach kids creativity. Each of them is unique. Each of us is unique. They should be free to think and create what they want,” said Aleksandrova. Now a single mother of three, Aleksandrova said she feels proud and grateful to be able to support her family doing what she loves in this region – a place that has fresh food, cultural activities, and beautiful natural scenery year-round. “I think it’s a heaven here. It feels like it,” she said.


For more information go to Follow her on Instagram @aleksandrova_artistry.

Wise Cat - acrylic on plywood, 22x30 inches

Personal Exhibition at NY Capitol Building for Russian American History Month, April 2016. ©Valentina Sergeeva


New location now open in Saratoga County!



he Habitat for Humanity ReStore located in South Glens Falls opened on September 2nd 2017, inviting the Saratoga and neighboring communities with an opportunity to offer their support to an incredible cause. Habitat for Humanity has been working to provide affordable housing for those less fortunate since its founding in 1976. The ReStore, a specific brand of Habitat, is a project in which volunteers can donate furniture, home appliances, construction materials, etc. to the store. All the proceeds from these items are then donated to the home builds. This is a wonderful option for people who perhaps have recently redecorated or renovated their homes and do not want to throw away their old furniture but do not need it in their own home anymore. Now, they have the option to donate their furniture or home appliances to the Habitat ReStore and be a part of the Habitat for Humanity mission.

The actual creation of the South Glens Falls ReStore was about a three to fouryear process in which the local Habitat division had to demonstrate that the community here could support a local ReStore. This means that the local

Habitat affiliate had to demonstrate that it could support building more than one home per year, which is why they increased their home builds from one house per year to two per year starting in 2016. There is also a study done on the community to determine the best location and whether it is strong enough to support a ReStore. One of the many reasons this organization is so incredible is because it incorporates such a community effort. In regards to the one to two years of strategic planning that went into the ReStore, the Skidmore Saratoga Consulting Partnership assisted in developing a strategic plan early in the process. The honors business program at Skidmore included a team of business major students who are asked to perform a semester-long business analysis to assist the strategic planning efforts that go into the ReStore. After succeeding in this process and meeting all the standards required, the building that now houses the ReStore began undergoing renovations in March and is now open to the public since September. Since then, this generous community has been given a


chance to use their skills and resources to help in any way they are able. Habitat Board President, Tammy DiCara, attests to the success of the new ReStore saying, “this is truly appealing to volunteers because now everyone has something to do that is helpful.” This organization is truly an example of the team-work and community effort that exists, and is able to make all this possible. Habitat’s largest support group, the Saratoga Builders Association, raised $23,500 from the Showcase of Homes in 2016, which was donated to building 26 Cherry St. in Saratoga Springs. The Showcase of Homes hosts annual “open house tours” open to the public for three consecutive weekends every year. It is $20 for the tours and the proceeds continue to help Habitat fund their builds. The Showcase of Homes fundraiser, sponsored by the Saratoga Builders Association, helps Habitat throughout the entire year with services and donations. The Saratoga Builders Association has even pledged 50% of labor and materials to Habitat – for its last three builds. “This would not be possible without that kind of support,” says Tammy.

Another example of the community teamwork involved in this cause comes from La Femme Home Builders, LLC. La Femme, one of Habitat’s key partners, is owned and founded by Lisa Breen. Lisa is also on the Habitat Board of Directors as the Construction Chair, volunteering her time to plan the builds as well as making sure that the services and projects are lined up exactly how they are supposed to be. She organizes contractors, vendors, and volunteers in order to make sure everything runs smoothly, including the remodel of the ReStore. The Habitat ReStore has a great team of people who are volunteering every day to make its success possible. ReStore manager, Charles Burd, “is a perfect fit for this job” says Tammy. Charlie manages the multitude of donations and sales, as well as the diverse team of volunteers that the ReStore is so happy to have. “The reward is experiencing and being a part of the enormous generosity of our community,” says Charlie. “Seeing the amazing outpouring of donations, working alongside an outstanding team of volunteers giving so much of themselves, and of course our customers” is what makes his role in the organization so fulfilling.

promotion, marketing, and social media. “I am very proud of everything we have accomplished,” says Ania. “We have a strong network in our community and amazing leadership in our affiliate.” The families who can apply to be home owners make up 40-70% medium income families in their area. Their applications are received through the organization’s website, which are then addressed by the volunteer board members. Roughly twentyfive applications on average are received every year. Habitat requires families to complete a minimum of 500 hours of labor on their home, which is a wonderful opportunity

for homeowners to feel a sense of accomplishment knowing that the home they own is one that they have helped to build with their own hands, alongside the many volunteers. Tammy explains that this is important because by moving these families into home ownership, they are breaking the cycle of renting. “In most situations, we are really the only resource for that kind of change in their lifestyle.” No matter how much time you may or may not have on your hands or what skills you may possess, the Habitat for Humanity ReStore is a wonderful opportunity for you to become a part of this generous and ever-growing family. SS

Ania Macejka, the Chair for Public Relations and Marketing, has been on the Board of Directors since July of 2016 and is primarily responsible for putting together press releases and coordinating the press with the media. The past year for Ania has mainly consisted of the build on Cherry Street in Saratoga Springs, as well as coordinating the first ever Women’s Build Day, the Earth Day Donation Drive, as well as the opening of the ReStore. Since the ReStore’s opening, Charlie and Ania have been working together endlessly on the store’s


MEET... Vance & Peter Gailor



Left to Right: Vance, George Russell, Bart Sikoryak, Doug Dowd and Mike Brown


Car guys have a deep-seated passion that often starts early. This is especially true for Vance Albertson – he was even born in a car. The parking lot of Albany Medical Center was as far as Vance’s parents could make it before their third child made his debut appearance. It was an event that put in motion Vance’s lifetime spent in and around cars.



Several years ago, his company, Peter Gailor Landscaping, also on Maple Avenue, helped with the only change to the shop’s exterior since a 1995 addition was built.

ENGINEERED EXCELLENCE Married to his wife Brenda for 43 years, Vance credits her as a major daily driving force in his life.

Vance worked as a mechanic, a salesman, a service writer, and did insurance appraisals before becoming the manager of Upstate Auto Body Works on Maple Avenue in 1992. “She’s probably the reason for a lot of my success. I had this problem before… where I couldn’t get “The building was in disrepair and the business volume was next to nil. I said, ‘I’ll the mattress separated from my back. She’s up at give it my best for 90 days, and see if I can turn it around. I like a challenge’,” he said. 5:30 a.m. and now, so am I,” said Vance. Vance has been a fixture at the front desk of Upstate Auto Body ever since. Because Humor has also helped him maintain perspective. of the good, solid, trusting relationships he’s built in the past 26 years, he has “You have to have humor. If you don’t add humor to become known as the “Mayor of Maple Avenue.” your daily diet, you will be left in the corner shaking. “You don’t just dabble. If you do a job, you do it well. Be honest and be right with Every man lives three lives – his life at work and with the people,” said Vance. his coworkers, his life with his spouse, and his life If a customer came in for a quick correction to their vehicle (a repositioning of the with his mind and his thoughts,” he said. bumper or a bit of rubbed off paint) he was willing to accept chocolate chip cookies Vance is now retiring from his life at work to enjoy as payment, he said. more time at home with Brenda, their Airedale Terrier, “Kimber,” and their black cat, “Magic.”


“Watching him through the years, what really amazed me was his method of doing business. He’s compassionate. When people came in, they’d be in a crisis, and he’d settle it right down for them,” said Peter Gailor, Vance’s close friend of 22 years.

“The time is right. There’s another life out there without telephones and stress,” he said. SS

“He’s like the father I didn’t have. The heart-to-heart conversations – they’ve been huge,” he said. 28  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018



Pictured left to right: Sam, Joseph, Michele & George

aratoga’s Downtown prides itself on its unique, vibrant selection of locallyowned businesses. Regal Barbershop, a new addition to town, is no exception!

Located on the north side, it is owned by the Jacob brothers; Joseph, Sam, and George. Regal Barbershop offers quality men’s haircuts and shaves, while providing their clients with a relaxing lounge experience. One of the three owners, Joseph, explains that his two brothers George and Sam have a great passion for their barbering skills. They have truly mastered the skill and love the interaction with their clients. “It is not easy to find traditionally trained barbers,” says Joseph. Regal Barbershop also offers the utmost convenience for their clients, in that they are open seven days a week with appointments available through online booking.

This family business dates back long before Regal Barbershop’s opening in 2017, and quite far away from Saratoga. Barbering in the Jacob family originates back to 1980 in Syria, where the brothers worked at their father’s local barbershop. Joseph moved to the United States in 1993, working as a lawyer in Albany. When his brothers came to the U.S. in 2014, they began working in Manhattan until the three of them found the right place to open their own business. Finding the ideal location in Saratoga Springs, they opened at the end of July in 2017, stating that it was the perfect fit... “a small town, with a vibrant, big-city feel.” The Jacob brothers were looking to provide a “traditional looking, upscale lounge for men,” says Joseph, to make their customer’s barbershop experience relaxing and easy-going.

The brothers worked with space designer, Michele Ahl, to bring their vision to life. With her personal design business, 2B Design, LLC, as well as with Columbia Cabinets on Broadway, Michele used her design expertise to create the traditional, upscale barbershop feel that the Jacob brothers had envisioned. Regal Barbershop also boasts a selection of beautiful artwork by local artist, Gary Zack, who happens to be their landlord. “A very locally supported effort has happened to welcome these wonderful brothers to our community,” says Michele. As of right now, their goal for Regal Barbershop is to fully invest in providing the highest quality of barbering service, while making their clients feel as welcome as possible. SS




is one of more than 100 established, nonprofit entities, within the national Honor Flight Network. The collective group has a singular mission; to escort our remaining WWII Veterans to Washington DC, and the memorials erected there, in their honor. To date, they've flown over 1,000 men and women to Washington, hoping to thank them in some small way for their service. I first met this group of selfless volunteers at the Saratoga Race Course. It was a Sunday afternoon in 2015 and a dozen WWII, alongside Korean War Veterans, were being honored by The New York Racing Association, during the tracks' Military Appreciation Day. I, like many others, cannot help but show emotion when meeting a United States Veteran. I'm reminded of young lives lost during wartime, our soldiers trudging through the muck and mire of foreign lands, sometimes sacrificing their own life in combat, to keep America free. This particular Sunday was meant to be a celebration of that service. And it was. I watched young military men and women wait in line to talk to their

heroes. I listened, as they were regaled with stories of war-torn countries and amazing acts of bravery. A10-foot tall Uncle Sam made an appearance, entertaining veterans, while smiling volunteers guided each wheelchair into the winner's circle, to watch a race dedicated to them. A few weeks later, I met with Rhonda Cooper, veteran coordinator of Leather Stocking Honor Flight, over a cup of coffee. Serving 15 counties around Albany, Massachusetts and Vermont, she expounded on the group's determination to ensure our remaining WWII vets attend an all-expense paid trip to Washington. Because we are losing our WWII vets at a rapid rate now, they get priority when applicants are selected for the 5 flights a year. But, Rhonda explained, the group does consider Korean War veterans as well, when there is a seat available. Volunteer guardians are assigned to care for one vet on the day of the flight, and each pays for their own ticket with Southwest Airlines. Some guardians are family members, others are friends of the vet's family, while others are complete strangers. Like I was. I was matched with a WWII Veteran named Tom. I spoke with Tom and his wife a few weeks before our Honor flight,

driving to their home, just a few miles away, to meet in person. When they learned I had no family in the military, they asked why I would want to be Tom's guardian. I smiled, then got a bit tearyeyed. “It's the least I can do, to say Thank You.” “But, you've never even met me.” Tom said, sipping his coffee and looking at me over the rim of his cup. “You didn't know me when you enlisted and got shipped off to Guam, either.” So, it was a done deal–we were flying out together–on a life-changing trip to DC. I think there were 98 of us on that Southwest flight. When we arrived at the Albany airport, escorted by police cars with blaring sirens, the sight was amazing. People we'd never seen before lined the sidewalks and stood shoulder-to-shoulder in the lobby. They held signs thanking veterans for their service. They shook hands and clapped WWII vets on the back. There were heart-felt speeches by government officials, patriotic music from a neighboring high school band, and lots of uplifting emotion before we boarded the plane. When we landed in Maryland, the scene was the same; people reaching out to thank service men and women for fighting to



protect our future, children walking up to veterans, shaking their hands and asking about where they'd fought during the war. The day was filled with surprises. I won't go into them here, so they can remain surprises for the next Leather Stocking Honor Flight. I will say that the day was packed with emotion for all of us. Standing in front of memorials with our charges, watching their eyes fill up with the memory–of what–we didn't ask. We were there to listen if they wanted to share. And eventually they did–with us and with each other. By the end of the day we shared a common bond and felt as if we'd been friends forever. We landed at Albany's International Airport around 11 p.m. Everyone was tired and wideawake at the same time. We kept playing the day over and over again in our heads. When we entered the terminal, it was surreal–crowds of people had come out again. They lined the lobby, the stairwells, the sidewalks. All we could hear were the words “Thank you for your service,” and the sweetest greeting of all - “Welcome Home!” To say there wasn't a dry eye in the room is an understatement. Leather Stocking Honor Flight borrows the words of Will Rogers, who says it best on their web-site. “We can't all be Heroes. Some of us have to stand on the curb and clap as they walk by.” SS

HONOR FLIGHT Where There's a Will, There's a Way







The prom is traditionally filled with anxiety-inducing decisions beginning with whether to go, who to go with, and to what to wear. The Mom Prom takes all that pressure away, creating an event for adults that high school proms could only dream of.

Of Proms Gone By

While many horror stories have emerged from the depths of high school prom experiences gone wrong, Gail Veitch actually liked both of the ones she went to.

“I really enjoyed my prom. I was going with someone I really cared for, and he cared for me,” she said. It was 1966, and she was going to the Saratoga Springs High School’s junior prom with the boy she’d been dating for six months. The following year, she moved and went to prom, actually a senior ball in Oneonta. She wore the same dress, a long fitted pink and white lace gown. She went with the same boy, Michael Veitch, who is now her husband. While the Veitches once again live in Saratoga, Michael is not invited to accompany his wife to the Saratoga Mom Prom. No men are.

Empowering Women

up to our ankles in torrents of water. We had wet hair and it was still the best time of our lives,” said Veitch. Dancing to good music and enjoying tasty foods, the women-only event encouraged tacky dress and sisterhood. There was the freedom to have fun, with proceeds going to the Zonta Club, a women’s advocacy organization. “We just laughed and laughed the whole night,” remembers Veitch. They immediately started planning to host a Mom Prom in Saratoga.

A New Tradition

Seventy-eight people attended the first Saratoga Mom Prom, held in 2012. Now, that number has swollen and been capped at 300, with tickets regularly selling out months in advance. While the number of people in attendance and the location has changed over the years, the central mood and purpose of the event has remained the same.

“It’s really a unique event. There’s no pressure, no competing, no criticizing. All that drops away. Everyone is there to have a good time. The sisterhood really comes out,” said Veitch. To date, the Saratoga Mom Prom has raised $66,500 for local women’s and children’s charities. When founding member Susan Ingmire died, a scholarship fund in her name was developed.

When a group of seven female friends went to the first Mom Prom in the area, held in the basement of Proctor’s Theater, “Suzi was the heart and soul, and the impetus of why we started this,” said Veitch. Last year, the $1,000 scholarship they had no idea they’d come out changed women. was awarded to Saratoga High School senior Madison “It was pouring rain. When we got out of the car, we were DeGeorgio to advance her studies.


For Those We Hold Dear

The Saratoga County Children’s Committee (SCCC), a children’s charity that began helping area kids in 1947 with the formation of The Empty Stocking Project, has taken over organizing the Saratoga Mom Prom since Ingmire’s death. Veitch, a mother of five, has been a member of the group for 30 years. “With this particular organization, all the money is given away to kids. It’s a real hands-on community that helps children year-round in crisis situations,” said Veitch. For example, a school nurse recently informed them that there was a family dealing with a terrible infestation of bedbugs and their home had become inhabitable. That same day, the SCCC secured new mattresses and bedding to be delivered and set up in the home before the children returned from school. “It’s a very easy situation for a crisis to be adverted in a couple of hours with an organization like this. We’ve just quietly been doing what we do for 70 years,” said Veitch.

Impressed By the Worst Dress

The loudest thing you’ll find at the Saratoga Mom Prom is the dresses. While Veitch goes each year in a hot pink dress she found at Treasure’s Thrift Shop, other attendees creative choices have included a dress made entirely out of duct-tape, one with an enormous hoop skirt, and ladies wearing long gloves and carrying light-up parasols, recalls SCCC planning committee member Erin Smith. “There are awesome dresses – the tackier the better. It is so much fun. It’s such a great feeling – so warm and welcoming,” said Smith. Everyone is out of their seats dancing, enjoying the candy buffet, drinks and light fare. Auctions, raffles, photos, and artists add to the jovial atmosphere. “Everyone is out to have a good time. The dancefloor is packed with women letting loose and having fun. If you go alone, you’re not going to be alone by the end,” said Smith. A “Say Yes to the Prom Dress” pop-up shop can even help you find the cheapest, gaudiest prom dress possible. For more information go to



It's Prom Season!



Check out the video!





to Success


Before he became a Lieutenant Army Aviator piloting a UH-60 M Black Hawk helicopter, John Walsh sought out other challenges. “He likes a challenge, and to go from one to the next,” said John’s mother, Lucy Walsh.

RISING UP Their small tight-knit family always did things together while he was growing up, said Lucy. John’s compassion, communication skills, and easy-going demeanor coincide with a strong sense of civic duty and a determined work ethic. While he was a junior in high school, his father, James Walsh, a dentist at Saratoga Springs Family Dentistry, encouraged John to volunteer at Saratoga Hospital where he met someone who would change his life. John had been the captain of the football, basketball, and baseball teams while attending Saratoga Central Catholic School. After speaking with a graduate of the United States Military Academy (also known as

West Point) however, John decided to focus more on academics and improving his SAT test scores. He was given a congressional recommendation from Chris Gibson and went to West Point after graduating from Spa Catholic in 2012.

“We let him make decisions on his own, and live by them,” said Lucy.

WITH THE COURAGE TO RISK IT “This is one of the hardest places in the whole US that I could go,” said John. He graduated with a mechanical engineering degree in 2016. Then he went on to United States Army Aviation Center of Excellence in Fort Rucker, Alabama where his performance earned him the Distinguished Graduate Award this past October.


REWARDS BECOME THE REALITY Learning to fly a helicopter was the hardest thing John had ever done. “People think it’s intuitive, like driving a car, but it’s not. It’s a skill set that people haven’t ever experienced. It’s an overwhelming experience. You can’t just get in a helicopter and fly it. Flight training is a long, exhaustive process. People don’t realize how difficult it truly is to fly a helicopter,” said John. The precise movements required to confidently handle the controls was something John struggled with. He stayed focused on his end goal -of transporting troops, cargo, and equipment however, and with time, excelled. “The thing that drove me most to aviation was the challenge – it was an exhilarating concept,” he said.

“I didn’t hear a lot of his speech because I was so nervous for him,” said Lucy. It was one of His perseverance paid off. only two times she’d felt fear for her son. The other was when he was just learning how to fly. “I think every flight is truly inspirational. Each flight is amazing in itself,” said John. SS “My fear was that he’d get there and not like flying. I thought, What if he’s gone this far and hates flying? But his instructors said he was a natural at it,” she said.




AT AGE 93, JOHN P. MILLER FITS INTO HIS US ARMY UNIFORM AS IF HE WAS STILL 18. That’s how old he was when he received his letter from the United States government, informing him that he had been called to duty. Given the fact this his son is the well-known chef, Dale Miller, John’s trim appearance is even more of a feat.

I recently had the honor and privilege of spending time with John and members of his family at Dale Miller’s home, seated comfortably around the kitchen island with a charcuterie board and the most amazing tomato soup to keep us warm on a bitterly cold winter afternoon. John was in full uniform, his cap placed at the same jaunty angle in evidence in the old photos that lay spread across the nearby dining room table. Alongside the photos is a picture frame that holds the many medals John received during his tour of duty, one that took him from Casablanca to the beachhead at Anzio and eventually into France. During that time, John was wounded twice and both times returned to the battlefront to fight alongside his fellow soldiers. John shows no signs of slowing down any time soon and his jauntiness is not confined to the rakish angle of his cap. His sharp wit and keen sense of humor cannot help but bubble to the surface, as he regaled me with stories from his time in service to his country. It was on a June morning in 1943 that John received his diploma from Amsterdam High School. That same afternoon, a draft notice arrived in the mail at his home in the small town of Tribes Hill, NY. John officially entered the United States’ Army 34th Infantry, 168th Regiment, Company B on July 1, 1943 and was assigned to the weapons platoon as a machine gunner. By February 1944, John and his regiment were transported to Casablanca, eventually making their way to Anzio Beach, where the Americans had been taking a shellacking and were badly in need of reinforcements. John describes the beach as a flat 10 square-mile stretch, packed with troops, artillery, ammo dumps, evacuation hospitals and wartime suppliers. “LSTs (Landing Ship Tanks) arrived nightly loaded with even more supplies. When the ships left in the morning, they carried the wounded soldiers back to Naples.” The surrounding hills were crawling with German troops and guns. John recalls one powerful gun the Germans had, which was mounted on a railway car and pulled into a train tunnel during the day to keep it safe from American pilots searching for targets on the ground below. “We called the gun ‘Anzio Annie,’ and one shell could demolish a stone building or sink a ship.” John recalls that the Germans were in a perfect position to spot any movement on the beach below and, during the day “nothing moved.” But at night, the area turned into a “beehive of activity.” A German radio propagandist – Axis Sally – liked to report that the entire 34th Division would be returning to America in a


Piper Cub and that they should surrender and save themselves from certain death. By May of that year, John received his first wound, a mortar shell that ripped through his thigh. “The shell was so hot that it cauterized the wound,” he recalled with a grin on his face that belied the gravity of the situation that he and his fellow troops endured. “A buddy got me into a Jeep,” he said, adding that they didn’t realize until later that they had made their way to the Jeep by walking on the wrong side of a tape that separated them from a mine field. Talk about luck. John spent his first convalescence at a hospital in Napoli where, ironically, Mt. Vesuvius happened to be erupting. He recalled watching the lava flowing down the side of the mountain, just a few miles from the hospital. A short three months later, John returned to action, this time in Fauglia, Italy. John recalls that they were positioned in an olive orchard. It seemed fairly quiet, so John opened a can of Army-issue beans to eat. About that time, the Germans opened gunfire on the troops and John felt something wet and sticky on his right ankle and left buttock. He’d been hit with shell fragments. Each time John was injured, his mother received a telegram saying that her son had been “slightly wounded in action” and that they would keep her informed of his condition as they received more reports. Small comfort.


By the third time John re-entered the field of battle, his Company had been sent to Firenze (Florence). As the troops progressed across Italy throughout the long winter, John recalls one of the highlights was finally receiving parkas to wear, instead of the bulky brown Army coats they’d been wearing. Men would cut holes in their sleeping bags for their arms, so they could stay warm as they were shooting at the enemy. By the following April, the German Army was in chaos and his Division succeeded in blocking off the escape routes heading to Austria. The American 34th Division had succeeded in capturing the German 34th Division. There is so much to John’s story, it would take a book to do it justice. And John knows how to tell a story! He entered the war fully believing that he would not return alive to American shores. When questioned about his survival, John shrugged his shoulders and attributed it to luck. However, he also recalled how anxious he was to return to his army unit. He felt guilty about being in the hospital and he was in a hurry to help his fellow soldiers, who had also become friends. But John’s stories aren’t all sad. He loves to joke about becoming something of a wine connoisseur during his time in Italy and France. He also talks, with a twinkle in his eyes, about the lovely ladies he met abroad. It doesn’t take much time with John to see what a charmer he is. Dale jokes about taking his dad on a trip back to Italy and Switzerland about ten years ago. “We were always on the

lookout for people who resembled my dad,” laughs Dale, referring to his father’s “winning” ways with the opposite sex. Despite his joking and his seeming nonchalance, John understands – perhaps better than most – the fleeting nature of life and how quickly it can be taken away from us. “Nobody knows. It can happen in the next thirty seconds.” But his philosophy is, “When you stop laughing, you might better be dead.” It wasn’t easy for John to see so many of his comrades dying on the beaches, in the countryside and in the worn-torn cities of Europe. “A lot of the guys with me who were killed should’ve been the ones to get those medals. I firmly believed that I would not make it home alive.” But John did make it home and he went on to become a wonderful husband, father and grandfather. After being discharged from the Army, John worked for the NYS Canal System until his retirement in 1983. He has also served as a volunteer in his local fire department. While he no longer goes on calls to put out fires, he and another veteran stay behind to make sure the firefighters have hot food waiting for them when they return from a call. John has also proudly ridden in the annual Tribes Hill Memorial Day Parade ever since the town started holding a parade. And he was invited to be part of the “Honor Flight” to Washington D.C. a few years ago, where he and other veterans were honored for their service. Most importantly, John’s children, grandchildren and greatgrandchildren cherish him. “He has been the most amazing Dad that anyone could ask for,” says Dale proudly. SS


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Craig, Sharon & George Morris


ach evening when George Morris walks out of Providence Portland Medical Center, he reflects back on the day, and asks himself one question, “What is one thing I did today that made someone’s life better?”

After graduating from Saratoga Springs High School in 1992, Morris was an accounting major at SUNY Oswego. Although he liked the math classes he’d taken in high school, he found his college courses tedious. That’s when his advisor said to him, ‘Find the polar opposite of accounting. You would do exceedingly well in something else.’ This turned out to be working in the oncology field, which he’s done now for 13 years; first as a Registered Nurse, and for the last year and a half as a Clinical Trials Research Nurse. What inspired him to work in oncology happened when he was just 12 years old.

CANCER’S PROGRESSION Experiencing headaches, George’s mother Sharon Morris, went to the doctor and was diagnosed with a massive brain tumor. After undergoing a craniotomy, George’s grandmother Celia Nahama, took care of her daughter while she recovered. Celia didn’t tell anyone that she too, had been diagnosed with cancer until it was too late. The disease spread from her colon throughout her body leading to her death in 1989.


George has had a melanoma as well. While he doesn’t often share his family history of cancer, he said that it still has an impact. “Because I have a cancer history myself, it gives me the unique perspective of understanding the patients and what they’re going through. It resonates differently with someone’s who’s gone through it,” he said. Although Sharon’s tumor did grow back, it is benign and she was able to continue her nursing career for a total of 47 years before retiring. George remembers feelings of pride and awe at the number of people from the community that would seek out her expertise. They came up to her when the family was out to dinner, asking her to diagnose pains they were experiencing, or for advice with other health problems they were having. “It burned an impression in my head, but I thought nursing was a female thing to do, so I didn’t equate it right away as something for me to do,” said Morris.

UNCOMMON KINDNESS There’s a joke that George likes to tell people about how he was able to become a nurse: “If you could spell RN back then, they’d take you,” he said. His extraordinary compassion however, tells the story of a nurse who goes to remarkable lengths for his patients. “I don’t mind going above and beyond when I know it means so much to someone,” he said.


With so many patients to see and documents to fill out each day, he acknowledges it can be a hard emotional burden on medical professionals to see someone in the hospital as more than a patient. “It’s interesting when you take the time to talk with someone – to pull up a chair and just listen. To truly just sit there and be present – it’s amazing when you do that,” he said. For example, there was the woman, who upon hearing she would be moving into hospice care due to her advanced breast cancer diagnosis became visibly distressed. George discovered it was the anticipation of not being able to see her dog again that was truly upsetting her. George called her husband, and arranged for him to bring the dog into the hospital so she could say her goodbyes. Complicated emotions arise through the heart wrenching realities of pain and death he experiences in his profession. In another instance, George arranged for an inmate to be escorted into the hospital to see the grandfather that raised him one last time. “When life is literally taken in front of your eyes, it gives you an appreciation for everything we take for granted every day,” said George. It’s this appreciation for life that gives George his optimism, a trait realistically founded in the knowledge that people need to have something to believe in to bring them joy. “Laughter, hope, optimism, while free, can sometimes be hard to find,” he said.

I don’t mind going above and beyond when I know it means so much to someone.” A BIRTHDAY TO REMEMBER Perseverance in the face of enormous odds rewarded George when, in 2011, he was able to share his birthday with television host Ellen DeGeneres on her popular afternoon talk show Ellen. With the help of his friends, he was able to submit more than 50 requests for tickets. After numerous phone calls with producers, running up and down many flights of stairs in the hospital to find an unlocked exit door and receive the good news from the show’s staff during a live televised broadcast, George found out he’d receive two tickets to the show. Thankful for his colleague’s role in his good fortune, and knowing that she hadn’t been on a vacation for 19 years, he requested, and was rewarded with a ticket for her to attend, as well. While there, he met not only star Ellen, but also celebrities Julia Roberts, and Colin Ferrell.

“That place is electric. Never in my life have I been in a spot so electric with excitement, happiness, and utter joy,” said George. He was given multiple gifts, including tickets for a Las Vegas vacation which he shared with his parents. “It was an added bonus that after all that, I got to do this, too,” he said.

REVOLUTIONIZING CANCER TREATMENTS George’s generosity extends into his current groundbreaking research, as well. “I have learned the role of a nurse can translate so many different ways,” he said. Working with cancer patients who aren’t responding to traditional treatments, his research allows them to have investigational drugs at no cost to them. “They look at me like I’m their last hope and say, ‘If it doesn’t help me, maybe it will help someone behind me’. Sometimes they are the first human in the world to ever receive this drug, and I was the first person to administer it. It’s mind-blowing to me – it’s amazing,” said George.

Hi Ms. O'Toole! Remember me from high school?


Karen Flewelling Retired Teacher, Still Has Many Lessons for Us to Learn



lthough Karen Flewelling may have retired from her teaching career, she continues to teach the rest of us the important lessons of humanitarianism and volunteerism.

You only have to spend a few minutes with Karen to realize she is a woman who gets things done. The retired school teacher and field hockey coach has traveled to 16 countries and counting, from South America and Africa to southeast Asia. The original goal of her humanitarian travels was to deliver pigs, goats and chickens to families in dire need of food, as well as economic stability. She gives an animal to the neediest people in the villages she visits, with the understanding that, once the animals have bred and given birth, the animal’s owner in turn gives an animal to someone else in need. The seemingly small gift of livestock can make a monumental difference in the lives of these people. Soon after Karen began, she discovered an even more basic need that wasn’t being met – the need for clean, safe and easily accessible water. Karen was in El Salvador in 2009 when she saw firsthand the distances villagers – mainly women and children – were forced to


travel daily to fill their buckets, jugs and baskets with water and haul their burdensome – and often tainted – load back to their villages. Karen wasted no time in obtaining funding and building her first well. Since that time, Karen has continued in her efforts to bring water to people most in need of it, recently branching out to help villages, hospitals, schools throughout Ethiopia, Ghana, Tanzania and other countries. In April, Karen will embark on a six-week trip to Ghana, Ethiopia and Tanzania. A lot of the work is getting done by local laborers during the months that Karen is back home in Saratoga, arranging for funding and purchasing the equipment needed to dig and install wells. “They’ve been working in Ghana for quite a few months,” said Karen during a recent phone conversation. The drillers were hired in the beginning of December and on the 30th, she got a call from one of the villagers there, screaming, “We have water!” In April, Karen will go there to see the hand pump that is now in the village and provides clean water to all.

This girl is in charge of 44 cattle in Uganda, she walks them to water everyday This is the only shirt this 9-year-old boy has, he herds 44 cows to water each day in Northern Uganda

From Ghana, Karen will return to Ethiopia. When she was there for the first time two years ago, she visited the Catherine Hamlin Fistula Clinic in the Tigray region of the country. A fistula is an abnormal opening between two organs. For pregnant women without access to medical help, a fistula occurs during prolonged labor and pushing, resulting in incontinence and infection. Women suffering from fistula are ostracized, isolated and in many cases, forced to leave their communities. During her visit to the clinic, she saw women in the throes of labor and childbirth, as well as men with a variety of illnesses being brought in on stretchers. “These people were going through all of this without a drop of water,” she told me. While she doesn’t yet know exactly where she will be able to build the next well, she is hopeful that it will help the hired workers and the patients at that clinic.


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Karen is encouraged that this year, the CEO of the Hamlin Fistula Clinic has trained women who’ve recovered following fistula repair surgery to read, write, do basic math skills and to sew. The goal is to set these women up to re-enter their communities with a trade that will foster their economic independence.

Karen reached out to the Soroptimists for help in financing the project and they responded by funding the purchase of a treadle sewing machine, a yardstick, cloth and a small calculator for the women to take back with them to their village and set up their new business. On the third leg of her trip, Karen will be returning to Tanzania for the tenth time. While she is there, she will be building two solar-powered deep bore hole wells. While these are more expensive to build, they are more efficient and are more cost effective in the long run. She buys all the necessary tools and equipment from manufacturers in the country she is working in, which is a benefit to the local economy. Although water has become the key component of her humanitarian efforts, Karen continues to supply animals and seeds to the villages she visits. By having the livestock and plants for farming, they can hopefully earn a living and care for their children and elderly. Karen will be joined in Ghana and Ethiopia by another resident of Saratoga - renowned photographer, Emma Dodge Hanson. Emma has been traveling with Karen for the past several years, documenting the lives of the people she meets – and the profound effects that Drilling for Hope has on their lives – through her stunning and compelling black and white photography. Emma’s recent show at the Spring Street Gallery illuminated the work that Karen has been doing around the world. Karen’s work is possible through the generous donations of individuals and groups such as the Saratoga County Soroptimists, The Rotary, Latham Circle Soccer, and numerous churches around the region. For more information about Drilling For Hope, and how you can help, visit Karen’s website at Karen’s book by the same name is also available online at Amazon. SS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 | SIMPLY SARATOGA  | 45

A thirst for knowledge is awarded with ...



first glance, Rick Partyka is a small-town lawyer, practicing in Amsterdam, NY in the firm started by his father. But looks can be deceiving. In some circles, Rick is referred to as Sir Richard. In 2016, Rick joined the ranks of about ten thousand people worldwide who have been knighted into the prestigious Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. Rick has a passion for champagne. While some people enjoy hobbies like stampcollecting or bird-watching, Rick prefers to sample and collect champagne. His passion began more than 20 years ago, when he and his wife visited a friend who lived in the Burgundy region of France. The trip became an annual event for the couple and, on one trip, they decided to venture east of Paris, toward the Champagne region. During this trip, they passed by several homes with signs telling people that champagne was available for sale.

“We knocked on a door of one of these homes and were invited in to sample their champagne,” said Rick. In contrast to the bigger “houses,” like Moet, these smaller houses produce about a half million bottles of champagne each year. Places like Moet produce 50 million or more bottles each year. “I loved the idea of going to a house where I spoke to the family who cultivated the vines, picked the grapes, blended and bottled their

passion,” said Rick, and his quest began–to taste champagne from every producer in France. The couple traveled to, Epernay, the capital of Champagne, and toured a large house there, learning how champagne is produced. They purchased a guide book and discovered that there are more than 10,000 houses of champagne. Undaunted by that number, Rick and his wife set about methodically tasting one variety of bubbly at a time. Their aspiration was to taste all the Bruts and then move on to the Rose's. In 1999, he became a Chevalier du Tastevin, an organization that roughly translates to “Knights of Burgundy.” In the process, Rick began to build his own impressive wine cellar, bringing back bottles of champagne in their suitcases. “If our suitcases were overweight, we were compelled to chill and consume some champagne before returning home.” A tough job, but somebody’s got to do it. Nearly 25 years later, in June 2016, Rick met a Swiss couple who were members of the Ordre des Coteaux de Champagne. They told him about the order and explained the process involved in becoming a knight. “You need sponsors, called godparents,” said Rick. The couple was willing to act as his sponsors and Rick filled out the application. Then, in March 2017, Rick received notice


that he had been accepted. The ceremony and dinner took place at Palais du Tau, an annex of the Cathedral of Reims – where French kings prepared for their coronation and ensuing feasts. “It’s very unusual for someone like myself to become a member,” explained Rick, adding that “most knights are affiliated with the vineyards, or with the sales and distribution of champagne. “However, the Ordre does reserve some places for people like ambassadors. So, I was with a very nice crowd,” added Rick, laughing. For Rick, a hobby that began more than 20 years ago, has culminated with a distinction he never expected to receive in his life. In the meantime, he has become an expert in champagne and he continues to travel to France every year. He is humble, however, about his knowledge. “I’m still learning about champagnes – it’s a long journey. One thing I do know is that the American public is missing out on the boutique champagnes that you can only get in France,” says Rick. He doesn’t even buy from the larger houses, preferring to visit France and obtain bottles for his cellar from the smaller houses he has come to know so well. So, book your tickets, but get some pointers from Rick before you embark on a tour of the bubbly! SS

Pictured here is the soccer team. You can see their “ball” at their feet (and how many kids own shoes), the ball is made of weeds and plastic scraps. Karen always gives out new, real soccer balls and the kids scream!

CALLA WOODWORTH A Local Teen Making a Global Difference



first met Calla Woodworth in June at the Spring Street Art Gallery. Her mother is photographer Emma Dodge Hanson, and she was exhibiting photos from a recent trip to Uganda that she took with Karen Flewelling, founder of Drilling for Hope. Thirteen-year-old Calla was also on that trip and, in preparation for it, she raised funds and bought pigs for 22 needy families in the impoverished village they visited.

Calla was born in Ethiopia and adopted by her parents while she was still an infant. Even so, Calla’s roots to the land and people of Africa are deeply important to the articulate and outgoing teen, who calls Saratoga Springs her home.


While part of that connection springs from Calla herself, another part of it comes from her mother’s dedication to her children’s global education and social awareness. Emma grew up in a family that “walked the walk” when it came to raising awareness of the plight of others and helping those who need it most. Emma’s mother was an international disaster relief photographer. Emma recalls there were always fresh-air fund kids or political asylum seekers living in their home. “My mother believed that you didn’t need to have an empty bedroom and you can change someone’s life by letting them in,” says Emma. Calla was only eight years old the first time she travelled to Tanzania with her mother and younger brother Ryder to teach English to HIV-infected children. It was immediately apparent that Calla had a talent for teaching. Her mother recalls being “wildly frustrated” with the unruly students, whom she could not seem to get quiet and focused. She decided to let Calla take over. While Calla’s students were not much younger than she was, she managed to capture their attention, getting them to clap and sing together in no time.

Calla and her mom, Emma, in Uganda.

Calla remembers that trip fondly, calling it “a ton of fun,” adding how great it was to be able to teach the Tanzanian children English and talking about how eager they were to learn. She explained that children in Africa who speak English have better chances of being accepted into the country’s private schools, something that can mean the difference between poverty and getting ahead. “Calla has been strong since day one,” says her mother proudly. “I call her the prow of my ship. She has no fear. We’ve lived in eastern Europe and she took her first steps on the bridge over the river in Prague.” Calla went on her first Outward Bound adventure at 11 years old – the youngest age allowed by that organization. “We canoed and backpacked along the Delaware Water Gap,” says Calla.

Girls at a school, drinking clean, safe water.


After that, Calla tackled her first trip out of the country on her own, to Costa Rica. She says she is most proud of that trip because she handled all the paperwork, preparation and other details on her own, including navigating the ins and outs of traveling to another country without a parent. She stayed in Costa Rica for four weeks with a group counselor and a team of other young people. Their job was to build sidewalks and paint and refurbish a school building in a small village, while staying as guests of the villagers.

Calla has been strong since day one,” says her mother proudly. “I call her the prow of my ship. She has no fear. ”

Emma said that she went on several similar trips growing up, which gave her a deep understanding of the people and the culture of the places she visited. “You have to put in the work to understand the place you are visiting. You have to go and live in an average person’s home. You’re not going to get that same kind of understanding of a culture by sleeping in a room with a chocolate on the pillow,” says Emma. The trip to Uganda was made in conjunction with Karen Flewelling, founder of Drilling for Hope. Emma learned of the organization about five years ago and she has been traveling with Karen ever since. Karen, a life-long educator and humanitarian, first began traveling to Africa and South America to deliver goats and pigs to needy families. On a trip to El Salvador in 2009, she saw firsthand exactly how hard it was for the villagers to access clean, potable water. In response, she built her first well, work that she continues each year in a different place. Before Calla left for Uganda, her job was to raise money to buy pigs. She learned of a local organization called “Youth²,” which was created to engage young people to think about important social issues and create

volunteer or social action projects for youth and by youth, according to its website. The organization provides financial and organizational support to other young people, helping their ideas become reality. Calla decided to apply for a grant through Youth² and it was her first time giving a formal power point presentation in front of a large group of adults and peers. “Calla doesn’t love talking to strangers or asking for money,” said Emma. But, she prepared everything entirely on her own, creating handout packets to go along with her power point. Emma recalls that Calla was quiet on the way to the presentation and, when they got

to the front door, she turned to her mom and said, “I think I’m gonna be sick.” Then, she walked through the door. Not only was she awarded the grant. Other people overheard Calla talking about her upcoming trip at a local café and walked over, handing her money. In the end, she raised an additional $200, for a total of $700. “That money changed so many lives,” said Emma. It is hard for the average person to understand the impact a pig can have in the lives of an impoverished family. For a village to have pigs means nutrition and income. When the sows give birth, they can sell the pigs to other villages. But the villagers must give one of the piglets to another member of the village who is in need. “It’s part of the bargain, and they have always kept their side of the deal,” says Emma. Calla has already decided that she wants to become a teacher. She loves working with kids, but she thinks she will teach at the college level. She still has plenty of time to decide. In the meantime, it’s a sure bet that Calla Woodworth will continue making a difference in the lives of others. SS



Randall Perry Photography



Architec Randall Perry Photography


cturally SPEAKING

Follow us as we explore some of the area's unique spaces...



A Dream Home Overlooking the Lake


For Scott and Cindy Rajeski, building their home at 7 Cedar Bluff Court overlooking Saratoga Lake wasn’t their “first rodeo.” But they are happy to say that it will be their last. After spending a Saturday morning visiting there, I can personally attest that they’d be silly to ever want to live anywhere else. Located at the highest point on Cedar Bluff, the 4,200-square foot home has just about everything a homeowner would want: panoramic views of the lake, spacious rooms that flow into one another, lofty ceilings with exposed beams, complete smart home technology – in other words, a home that is ideal for tranquility and serenity, as well as for entertaining. Scott, who has worked for General Electric, Global Foundries and now is President and CEO of Latham Pool Products, spent much of his career traveling around the globe. He and his wife Cindy, a teacher, have lived in homes up and down the East Coast while raising their two sons.

Randall Perry Photography Randall Perry Photography

Randall Perry Photography


Cindy grew up in the Potsdam region on Norwood Lake and she has always wanted to have a home on a lake. While Scott admits that, after having built or renovated several homes over the years, he was ready to embrace “the simple life,” as he puts it, perhaps owning a condo in town. Cindy wasn’t ready to give up on her dream of a lake home however, and it was all over when the couple visited 4 Cedar Bluff Court during the 2015 Showcase of Homes. They put in an offer on lot #7 almost immediately. Although the property was probably the steepest in the neighborhood, when Cindy and Scott walked it and turned to see the breathtaking view of the lake just below, that was it. “We put the money down that day,” said Scott. Two years later, the Rajeskis moved into their dream home shortly before Thanksgiving. When I visited them in December, they were still settling into their newly completed home – and loving every inch of it. Randall Perry Photography Randall Perry Photography

One of the things that makes 7 Cedar Bluff Court such a distinctive home is the care, time and attention to detail the couple put into its construction, design and décor. And they are quick to heap praise on their architectural engineer, Tonya Yasenchak, for “getting” the couple’s vision and transforming it into a reality. To put it simply, “she nailed it,” says Cindy. “She spent a lot of time with us, asking us questions about how we live and what was important to us.” Even the small details, like having a separate pantry area and a space for their exuberant golden retrievers to have their food bowls tucked discreetly behind the kitchen area, was done exactly as the couple envisioned it. One of the things the couple loves most about Yasenchak’s design is the use of space – nothing is wasted. They also wanted to avoid rooms that were cut off from each other and only connected by hallways.

Randall Perry Photography

“We didn’t want or need elaborate entryways and staircases,” says Scott. Upon entering the home through the upper level, you are immediately immersed in the feel and flow of the home. The ceiling-height fireplace in the main living area, the dark wood, and the wrought iron railings that accent the curved stairs to the lower level, all work together to create a harmony and flow that invites you further into the home. Scott’s office to the left of the entryway has ceiling to floor windows and a doorway out to the veranda that spans the entire length of the house. The windows continue along the length of the home on both levels, offering an ease of access to outdoor living space that is perfect for the lake-view home. The kitchen, which is open to the living and main dining areas, is an epicurean’s dream. The nearly ceiling-high white cabinets are the creation of Dawn Zarrillo. Even the highest spaces are easily accessible and are another example of no wasted space. And with two ovens, Cindy and Scott can easily prepare for family dinners and parties of all sizes. Cindy spent a lot of time researching the fabrics, flooring, color schemes and interior design for the home. One of the features that stands out is the


Randall Perry Photography


Randall Perry Photography Randall Perry Photography

Randall Perry Photography

lighting selection. “From January through March this past year, transformed it into a wine-lover’s dream. The iron gate entry we spent Saturdays going through lighting books,” says Cindy. into the cozy area echoes the wrought iron railings on the The couple worked with Gail Beatty of Wolberg Electric, and nearby staircase and allows a splendid view of the cork Cindy credits her with helping them to find not only the right floors and wine racks illuminated by authentic “candle light” styles, but also the right size fixtures to accommodate the sconces on the walls. scale of the home. Cindy points to the drop lighting over the “To think this was just going to be empty space,” says Scott. island in the kitchen as an example. “We looked at them in the The couple credits DePaulo and Bella Builders with the showroom and Gail suggested that we buy the next size up. design and the many built-ins that are found throughout the And she was right.” Smaller fixtures would have been dwarfed home. Bella Builders has a reputation as a premier homeby the high ceilings and exposed Douglas Fir beams. builder in the region, a fact that is firmly in evidence at 7 While the home is multi-level, there are two separate entrances Cedar Bluff. The Rajeski’s credit DePaulo’s experience and on each floor, and both levels have spacious bedrooms that are vision with the size, scale and grandeur of the home. both rustic and luxurious. The baths are all done in cool shades In addition to their own accumulated wisdom, acquired of grey and neutral tones, giving a calming effect. from years of building and renovating homes, the Rajeskis Because the couple loves to entertain, the lower level has a relied heavily for advice on the professionals at Bennington large living and entertainment area, with a bar and seating Furniture in Glens Falls for their selection of furnishings, areas that are ideal for enjoying sports events – or any window treatments and fabrics. “They were wonderful,” other excuse to have a party – with friends. Scott and Cindy exclaims Cindy, crediting Andrea Chenier and Kaitylnn worked with Eric Goodness, of Saratoga Custom Carpentry Johnson for helping them create the thematic elements that in Clifton Park, for the bar. Scott says that he had the initial are carried throughout the house. concept, and with the help of Eric and Dave DePaulo of Bella The couple’s choices also had to be “dog-friendly,” adds Cindy, Builders, they planned it all out and added the all-natural pointing to the European-oiled flooring they ordered through clear coated cherry ceiling, which adds to the pub-like Floor Master in Glens Falls. “If one of the dogs scratches the ambiance of the bar area. flooring, we can fill it in with a furniture marker.” The flooring is The lower level also boasts a gym, complete with both stunning, durable and easy to clean and maintain. professional padded flooring and universal equipment that would meet the needs of even the most serious body-builder. The rooms are divided by statuesque barn doors, which were made by Rich Purdue, of Adirondack Naturals Rustic Doors, Further down the hall is the Wine Room, which the couple a woodworker and furniture designer in Glens Falls who only says would have probably become a closet until DePaulo 58  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Randall Perry Photography

makes solid wood doors. “He designed the doors exactly as they had been detailed in the architectural drawings,” says Scott. The rear of the home is also designed with spacious relaxation and entertaining in mind. The kidney-shaped pool in the back yard is a “Fiji” Viking Fiberglass pool, custom built by Latham Pools and installed by Mike Giovanone and Concord Pools. The pool is surrounded by a spacious patio, firepit and a screened-in veranda with a view of the yard and woods beyond. After spending time with the Rajeskis in their new home, its easy to see why 7 Cedar Bluff Court received so many awards at the 2017 Showcase of Homes, including workmanship, landscaping, interior and exterior design, best kitchen, best interior floor plan and best interior decorating. Scott, who was present during the Showcase tours, playing the role of “bartender,” was thrilled to hear the reactions of people who came through the home. “Listening to all the ‘wows’ was a lot of fun.” And for Cindy, well, let’s just say that her dream of having a home on a lake has come true – in spades! SS

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In the Kitchen WITH


Scaling Down... A variety of scales are available at John's shop, Compliments to the Chef 33 Railroad Place (next to Bow Tie)

HELLO MY FOODIE FRIENDS AND WELCOME 2018! One of the definitions of the word Resolution is: a promise to yourself that you will make a serious effort to do something that you should do; He made a resolution to lose weight. (He resolved to lose weight) Her New Year's resolution (Her promise to do something differently in the New Year) is to exercise regularly. Making New Year’s resolutions and resolving to change and improve yourself and your life is an almost unavoidable part of the transition to a new year. Though it’s a pretty well-documented fact that most New Year’s resolutions fail, we keep making them—and we’re not alone. The custom of making New Year’s resolutions is most common in the West, but it happens all over the world. Losing weight, eating healthier, getting fit, improving our health, or getting back in shape are among the most popular resolutions made every New Year’s. Unfortunately, this is a resolution that we tend to remake year after year. It can be daunting when your list of New Year’s Resolutions is as long as your holiday shopping list. In addition to the post-holiday slump, not being able to keep your resolutions by March, February

…or even late January may increase your anxiety. When your holiday decorations are packed up and stored away, the frustration of an unused gym membership or other reminders of failed resolutions can make the later winter months feel hopeless. However, it is important to remember that the New Year isn’t meant to serve as a catalyst for sweeping character changes. It is a time for people to reflect on their past year’s behavior and promise to make positive lifestyle changes. By making your resolutions realistic, there is a greater chance that you will keep them throughout the year, incorporating healthy behavior into your everyday life. Making healthier food choices can help with improving the quality of your diet. However, regulating the size of food portions is a simple process that can help with weight loss. Weighing out food before it is eaten is a convenient method of controlling portion sizes and is something you can easily do at home with basic kitchen equipment. A digital kitchen scale helps with measuring. A pointer to assist with weighing: Weigh out the desired portion size. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a standard portion for most meats and fish is 3 ounces. Look for portion size information on packages and use on-line resources such as to learn

about the recommended portion size of other foods. Weigh the food before it has been washed or cooked. Place the plate of food on the scale. The calibrated scale will measure the weight of the food only. Remove or add more of the foods until you reach the required portion. You can remove the plate as many times as you like provided that you do not press the tally button for a second time. For Food Safety reasons, you need to wash the plate thoroughly with hot water and detergent between weighing different foods. Keeping our promise to scale down as a part of those New Year’s resolutions can require using the right tools to make it work. Stop by Compliments to the Chef located at 33 Railroad Place in Saratoga Springs to select a digital scale to assist with weighing ounces, pounds, fluid ounces, grams, and milliliters – and stay in touch, so we can compare notes and encourage each other to keep our promise to ourselves.

We wish you all a happy, healthy (and fun!!) kitchen in 2018!! Remember my Foodie Friends;

“Life Happens in the Kitchen.” Take care, John and Paula SS



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 J 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.

VEGETABLE BEEF SOUP Baby it’s cold outside!

…and that is precisely why soup is on my stove top and ready to warm things up around here. Like you, my weeknights are B-U-S-Y and I like to keep my time in the kitchen to a minimum. This soup recipe tastes great, but even better, you can make it in 30 minutes. Just follow my time saving tips to make this ‘winner dinner’ that’s packed with lots of delicious veggies that are even easier to add in thanks to new products in the produce aisle.


• 3 lbs lean ground beef • 2 zucchinis (medium sized or see my time saving tip below) • 1 ½ lbs carrots (see my time saving tip below) • 1 lb frozen corn • 1 sweet onion • 3 – 14.5 oz cans of Italian styled diced tomatoes with basil, garlic & oregano


• • • • • • • • •

32 oz organic beef stock 2 cups water ¼ cup finely grated parmesan cheese 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning 1 tablespoon onion powder 2 teaspoons sea salt 1 ½ teaspoons garlic powder 1 teaspoon coriander ½ teaspoon black pepper

1. Start by browning the ground beef over medium heat. Stir frequently. 2. While that is browning, simply dice your onion into small pieces and prep your zucchini by cutting it into quarters.

2. Carefully drain any excess juices from cooking the meat once it’s fully browned. 3. Add in the cut zucchini, the sliced carrots, the frozen corn, the diced onion,

the three cans of diced tomatoes, the beef stock, the water, the Italian seasoning, the onion powder, the sea salt, the garlic powder, the coriander & the black pepper. Bring the soup to a boil, stirring frequently. Reduce the heat to medium/low & simmer until the vegetables are soft. Approximately 15-20 minutes. Stir in the parmesan cheese just before serving,

4. Serve alone, over cooked pasta, cooked rice or cooked barley. Made too much? NEVER! I always keep my pasta, rice or barley to the side. I only add it in as I am serving each bowl, because I FREEZE any excess soup for future use. And, I never freeze it with the starch in the mix. When I’m ready to thaw and use, I simply make the rice, pasta or barley fresh.

TIP # 1

Time Saver Tip #1: Buy your zucchini pre-sliced. If the yellow squash comes in the packet, it’s fine (it will taste extra delish). If you have a good knife, you can stack three pieces at a time to cut them…

TIP # 2

Time Saver Tip #2: Buy

your carrots pre-peeled & sliced.

You can always catch what’s going on in our lives at and, or check out my new cook books - available on my website! 62  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018


Gardening WITH


moisture so avoid overwatering. During summer, you can let your cyclamen go dormant by holding back water. It will lose its leaves for the summer, but the tuber will stay alive and will spring back to life once you start watering again in the fall. Like the amaryllis bulb, cyclamen has a dormant season that's the opposite of our growing season. Perfect for a houseplant, don't you think?

Winter's Green Haven

During the short days of winter, houseplants in our small but sunny front room get lavished with appreciation and attention. It's a wonderful place to read and shake off cabin fever and Seasonal Affective Disorder. Spring arrives in our front room on any sunny winter day. Every once in a while, a plant follows one or the other of us home. Many are small flowering houseplants that add some cheer to the greenery. One of my favorites for a touch of color is primrose polyanthus. Primrose comes in a wide variety of flower colors from white to dark purple and just about every color in between. Once they finish flowering, snip off the spent blooms. Keep them lightly moist, and in late May or early June, you can transplant them into a part shade flowerbed outdoors. They are hardy to -35° and can easily make it through our winters and return for many years.

Another favorite is streptocarpus or Cape Primrose. Streptocarpus isn't a true primrose but is named for the similarity of the puckered leaves to primrose polyanthus. Streptocarpus is a native of South Africa and isn't winter hardy here. They flower regularly and can get quite large and live for many years. If you keep your home on the cool side, you can still enjoy flowers if you choose cyclamen. Cyclamen are happiest at temperatures well below 70°. The flowers last many weeks. Cyclamen grow from a tuber that stores

Another reliable flowering houseplant is the kalanchoe. Kalanchoe's flowers last a long, long time if you don't overwater. In the home, kalanchoe needs a sunny south-facing window to thrive. If you move it outside in the summer, it will need a little protection from strong afternoon sun. It isn't winter hardy here in zone 5, but it will flower regularly in a summer bed or patio planter. If you rescue kalanchoe before frost in fall, it will provide more flowers to enjoy inside over winter. I'm lucky to have a room with nice windows that face south. In "light challenged" rooms, you'll want to seek out plants that can thrive in low light. Two champions for low light are Heartleaf Philodendron and Pothos. Heart leafed Philodendron and Pothos are both vines, so they are popular in hanging baskets. They can both be attached to a trellis and grown in an upright fashion. Neither needs any direct sun at all and can thrive even across the room from the nearest window. Another durable houseplant that can handle low light is Sansevieria. Sansieveria (aka Mother-in-law's tongue) is a tropical plant that loves to be warm. There are many forms, but the tall narrow leaf varieties add a nice green touch to the corner of a room. Sansevieria can easily live for many years with proper care.

them. Often, we'll put a saucer under a plant to keep water from ruining our floors or furniture. These saucers don't do the plants any good. If you leave a plant standing in a saucer of water (as pictured below) overnight, you just drowned about 30% of the roots. Once drowned, those roots are dead forever. The plant's leaves will start to brown at the tips. Naturally, most folks see these brown tips and think the plant needs MORE water and continue to drown it over and over again, eventually killing the whole plant. Most plants tolerate dryness better than sogginess. Remember, plants "breathe" with their roots as well as their leaves. If air in the soil is constantly displaced with water, they drown. Think of it this way: you can survive a lot longer without a drink of water than you can under water without any air. The same is true for your plants. Since you can root some plant cuttings in water, I think many folks believe keeping their plants soggy wet all the time is a good is not! It is much safer to let your houseplants get a little wilty from dryness than keeping them wet all the time. Roots that are a little dehydrated can bounce right back, but drowned roots are dead forever. The best care is less care when it comes to houseplants.


Never leave plants standing in water

No collection of houseplants would be complete without an Aloe Vera. Aloe Vera is not only an easy-to-grow houseplant but is handy to have in the kitchen. The gel you find inside the thick leaves of aloe vera is useful for treating minor burns as well as other skin problems. Aloe is easy to grow but does prefer a bright window. Everyone should have an aloe in the home. Over the years, I've learned that the #1 way that folks kill their houseplants is by drowning




Female Northern Cardinal White Pine tree filled with cones

Moldy birdfood is bad for birds

Birdwatching White Pine cone and seeds

with Nancy Castillo

WHERE WERE THE BIRDS? If you watched for or tried feeding the birds this past fall, you no doubt noticed that there was a very noticeable absence of birds. Even if your birdfeeders were clean and the birdseed and suet fresh, you had NO BIRDS! I don’t know about you, but I thought the silence and lack of life and movement in my yard was so depressing. My yard is normally filled with birds providing a cacophony of bird calls and sounds. Cardinals and chickadees, woodpeckers, jays and others usually provide a constant parade to and from my birdfeeding stations. But then, starting around mid-August, the yard went silent. No chickadees. No titmice. Not even jays. An occasional woodpecker or two would visit in the morning and at the end of day. But all those long daylight hours in between were sad, still, and quiet hours. Meanwhile, in the trees and shrubs surrounding the yard, a bounty of natural foods was becoming available to wildlife. Pine trees bore massive amounts of cones, each one filled with seeds. As late summer progressed into fall, the cones opened and fell, covering the ground with pine cones and millions of delectable seeds. Birches did the same, bearing more cone-like catkins than I’ve ever seen, bursting with nutlets for the taking. Plentiful insect sources also remained available through September, October and November as mild temperatures kept insects and bugs around and active. And snow didn’t cover the ground until a week into December, so all these natural food sources remained available to foraging birds. Birdfeeders that were filled in August were largely untouched by the birds during this period of nature’s bounty. If you weren’t tending to the birdfeeders, the food they contained absorbed the moisture of rains during three long months, and the seed and suet went bad. Mold and bacteria formed and seed clumped into one solid mass of bad. In nature, so many wildlife behaviors can be explained by the search for food. When food is abundantly available in nature, like it was last fall, birds and other wildlife take advantage of natural food sources. (You probably saw fewer squirrels and chipmunks during that period too!) As those natural food sources become depleted or covered by snow or ice, and as temperatures reduce the number of insects and bugs, birds return to the offerings at our birdfeeding stations.

All along, if you maintained a clean birdfeeder with a small but fresh supply of food, birds were “bookmarking” our yards. They were taking note of where to return when they needed an easy source of quality food. As snow covered the ground in early December and multiple nights had temperatures in the teens (and stayed there all day), birds finally, after a long 3+ months, started returning to birdfeeders. Juncos started covering the ground, woodpeckers enjoyed the suet, and jays gobbled down the Bark Butter Bits. By mid-December, we were almost getting back to normal! So as birds return to your birdfeeders, be sure to check on the quality of the offerings. A birdfeeder filled with the same food that has been in it since fall will not attract birds. So if you haven’t already, take time now to check your feeders, clean them and refill them with new fresh birdfood. Birds do appreciate your help, especially during winter, when the days are short and the nights can be bitter and the bounty that made them so sparse during the fall is now covered with a blanket of snow.

FAQ: SHOULD I FEED CRACKED CORN TO THE BIRDS? A: Ah, a common fallacy! Cracked corn may be an inexpensive

grain to throw out for the birds to eat, but it creates many problems at your birdfeeders and in your yard.

First, it tends to attract hordes of birds that you don’t particularly want en masse at your birdfeeders (like house sparrows, pigeons, and starlings). Conversely, it does not attract the bird species that most people hope for at their feeders (like cardinals, chickadees, woodpeckers, goldfinches, titmice, etc.) Nutritionally, corn offers few calories, little fat and even less protein for the birds, all of which help bird survival during the winter months. No-mess sunflower, peanuts, black oil, nyger, suet, and safflower are so much better sources of the nutrients birds need. Cracked corn also spoils quickly when it gets wet. Of all the birdfoods we sometimes offer, corn is the most likely to become contaminated with aflatoxins, which are extremely toxic. And during the summer months, the natural sweetness of corn attracts bees and wasps to your birdfeeders, which could keep birds away. So I’d recommend you pass on cracked corn for birds. It’s a lot of trouble for little gain, especially when there are so many other better birdfood options out there. SS JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018 | SIMPLY SARATOGA  | 65


Positive Purging Stuff. We all have too much of it! The abundance of it usually makes us feel bad about ourselves and/or stressed out.

But–and wonderfully I might add–in most cases when there is a need, such as a natural disaster or family without, we easily give what we have! Why is it so hard then to let go… just for the sake of letting go? I believe the heart of the matter is that we hate to see usable things get thrown out. It is just so wasteful. We see the money lost, feel the annoyance of an item unused or just the fact that the item represents something that is past its prime or from a different time in our lives. Without the pop up need we hear about, we can foster continuous positive purging if we seek out an organization or two that are always in need. Think of the types of items you need to work on purging, and then evaluate multiple organizations that are in need of those items. Maybe meet the director or visit the site to see how they provide their service and the types of people that come in. Getting personally invested in the agency will give you the incentive to support them. If you constantly have outgrown children’s clothes, find an agency that gives clothes away to low-income families or families that foster. If you are an avid reader, support the Books for Troops. If you travel a lot and get hygiene samples, consider a men’s shelter or domestic violence home. If you have a surplus, I am sure there is a location in need! 66  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

Set up a spot in your home for the purged items. When you fill a bag or box, it is time to take and donate it. This system ensures that when you find an item you don’t want, that you can walk it directly to the bin and take it out of circulation of your belongings. This bin or box also ensures there are rules for physically getting them out of the house. Often, items chosen to go become clutter again because the pile or bag sits in the garage or corner of the closet and doesn’t leave the house. The personal relationship with the organization(s) prompts the mindset of getting it really out and to them, because it is needed. If you have a wide assortment of items to purge, a broader agency that responds to all types of needed help and disasters may be the way to go. Keep their lists handy and pick multiple times a year to do a pass-through on belongings and bring to them. This helps you, but also keeps things coming into them to use as needed. Veteran’s Miracle ( is one, as well as Catholic Charities and the United States Committee for Refugees (USCRI). And, most churches do a lot of outreach within their respective communities. So, if the thought of letting go of items into the trash seems wrong, adopting the positive purging mindset can shift how you think about it with the result of doing good; it’s a win-win of you letting go and them receiving! SS

January - February Compiled by Carly Beckwith


is a popular annual event in Saratoga Springs, bringing the spirit of winter to the Spa City with a week full of live music, special events, great entertainment and of course… Chowderfest! Winterfest 2018 runs the week of February 2 - February 24, 2018 Each year the festival draws crowds of people excited to attend the annual festival and the unique events it brings to the Spa City. The week includes a beer sampling, Chowderfest and much more! There will be all kinds of fun and entertainment going on throughout the Spa City all week long! For more information:

SATURDAY, JANUARY 20 2018 Cabin Fever Luncheon

Saratoga National Golf Club, 11 a.m. | 458 Union Ave. Saratoga Springs Soroptimist International of Saratoga County (SISC) is excited about our

Cabin Fever Luncheon cont. 2018 Cabin Fever event! Cabin Fever, an annual fundraising luncheon, provides a platform for individuals to gather, network, and raise money for a tremendous cause – improving the lives of women and children locally, nationally and internationally. In 2018, Cabin Fever is themed ‘Talk About It’ narrowing our focus on human trafficking. For more information, call 518.581.1201 ext. 4184 or e-mail | Cost is $75

SATURDAY, JANUARY 27 23rd Annual Frost Faire

Saratoga National Historic Park, 11am-3pm | 648 Route 32, Stillwater With snow, bring your snow tube or plastic sled and enjoy the sledding area behind the visitor center! Enjoy horse-drawn wagon rides to Tour Stop 1 and back. Join a noontime nature walk and scavenger hunt, enjoy a campfire and hot cocoa, or enjoy a number of indoor activities such as crafts, games, and dancing! Best of all, admission to the Frost Faire is FREE!



Downtown Saratoga Springs, 11a.m. - 4 p.m. Come enjoy samples of Chowder from 50 restaurants in Saratoga. Once you taste them all, you can vote for your favorite. Bring your furry friend for a bowl of chowder just for them. For more information, visit

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4 19th Winterfest 5K Snowshoe Race

Saratoga Spa State Park, 12 p.m. Come one, come all, to Saratoga’s Annual 5K snowshoe race! Have fun while getting exercise with your friends and family during this race. If no snow is on the ground, it may be turned into a trail race. Lunch and t-shirts are provided for those who register. Loaner snowshoes are available. For more information, email

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 10 Saratoga Frozen Springs Classic Pond Hockey Tournament

Saratoga Spa State Park The event will be held on Friday, February 9th through Sunday, February 11th, 2018 at the Saratoga Spa State Park and will once again be sponsored by Labatt Blue! Registration is $400 per team or $100 per person for 1-3 players. Single registrants will be placed on a Free Agent List. Payment of the registration fee is required by Sunday, February 4, 2018. Teams/Free Agents will not be officially accepted into the Tournament until full payment is received. If payment is not received by the due date, the team will forfeit its position and an alternate team will be selected. Teams are required to have a minimum of 4 players on their roster and a maximum of 8. All players must be age 21 or older. The overall winning team will be awarded trophies at the close of the event and their 2019 registration fee will be waived. For more information, visit

SATURDAY, JANUARY 20 Annual Moonlight Ski and Snowshoe at Camp Saratoga

Camp Saratoga, 80 Scout Rd Gansevoort | 6:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. Join us at the popular and highly anticipated Annual Moonlight Ski and Snowshoe at Camp Saratoga on Scout Road. Luminaries will glow along 2.5 miles of groomed trails. Along the way you will find fields and forests, warming bonfires and plenty of hot chocolate. The terrain is suitable for all levels and ages and includes a smaller 1-mile loop. Participants can drop-in anytime during the evening, no registration is needed. Snowshoes and cross-country skis will be available on a first-come first-serve basis and rentals cost just $5. This event is weather permitting. For more information call (518) 450-0321


Chowder fest ©John Sey


FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 16–18 The Flurry Festival

Saratoga Springs City Center, 522 Broadway Saratoga Springs Friday: 7:00 p.m. - 1:00 a.m., Saturday: 9:00 a.m. - 1:00 a.m., Sunday: 9:00 a.m. - 5:30 p.m. The Flurry is well known as the best winter weekend ever for dancers and music lovers of all ages, featuring more than 300 performers! Events this year will include a huge lineup of programs for families with young children, many new and exciting programs, and all ages fun with international music and dance events, non-stop swing and contra dancing, jamming and music instruction, storytelling and more. For more information, call (518) 384-3275 or visit

TUESDAY, FEBRUARY 20–24 Saratoga Beer Week

Downtown Saratoga Beer enthusiasts mark your calendars for a five-day, city-wide beer celebration: The 7th Annual Saratoga Beer Week is February 20-24. The 2018 Saratoga Beer Week promises fun, food, and fantastic beer! With multiple beer-centered events scheduled over 5 days, locals and visitors alike will enjoy top regional and national brews while seeing the best of what Saratoga has to offer, including restaurants, hops, and hotels.


Hall of Springs, 108 Avenue of the Pines, Saratoga Springs, 7 p.m. - 11 p.m. An elegant cocktail party where the Hall of Springs is transformed based upon the annual theme, featuring live music, themed hors d'oeuvres and cocktails. Now in its 7th year, this fabulous event has quickly become a must attend winter event in the capital region. Tickets: $100 ($110 after February 1, 2018) For tickets or more information, visit or call (518) 584-9330.

WEDNESDAY, MARCH 28TH Changemakers

Prime at Saratoga National, 6:30 - 9 p.m. 458 Union Avenue, Saratoga Springs Changemakers is a celebration of the people and programs that help create a community free of relationship and sexual abuse. Awards ceremony, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, live entertainment Tickets $75/person.


Synclaire Rowen

Daniel Irizarry

Owner, Elizabeth Conant





very third Thursday evening of the month, the local talent of Upstate New York come together at The Studio: Greenfield’s Performing & Visual Arts Center, for an open mic night event known as “Express Yourself.” Everyone is welcome!

There have been performers ranging from 80 years old to 4 years old, musicians from Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and, “...we once even had a kid named Mike drive 11 hours from Indiana to perform in the showcase.” Students from Saratoga Springs, Ballston Spa, Spa Catholic, and Waldorf have all performed, whether they be rappers, singers, piano players, guitar players, spoken word artists, poets, ukulele players, actors, etc. “Last year, we even hung student art (paintings and ceramics) from Waldorf and Saratoga Springs High School for people to look at. All artists deserve to be heard and I believe that the warm environment

of Express Yourself is perfect for it,” said Synclaire Rowen. Synclaire Rowen, also known by her “rap name” as Scrambled Grandpa, a graduate of Saratoga Springs High School and now a student at The City College of New York, founded Express Yourself in May of 2016. The first two events that were held were listening parties for Rowen’s mixtapes, with a few groups gathered to perform as her opening acts. The first Express Yourself didn’t end up taking place until October 20, 2016, with a mere six performers and 30 people in the audience. In November, both those numbers doubled with 12 performers and 60 people in the audience. By December, people caught on and the open mic night was now hosting 15 performers and 120 people in The Studio! “It was crazy; there weren’t enough seats for everyone. We had people standing in the back and all throughout the place,” Rowen beamed.

Charlotte O'Reilly 70  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

She makes a point to shout out Jenny Dahnke, her mom and dad, Daniel Irizarry, Dylan Jaques, and of course Elizabeth Conant, the president and artistic director of The Studio, for allowing the artists to utilize her space for these magical nights. However, Conant is just as grateful to Rowen as she states, “Express Yourself put us on the map.” Other than the open mic night events, The Studio also hosts yoga sessions, art lessons in painting, drawing, ceramics as well as exhibits, a classical jazz concert here and there, and you might even witness a theatre production! “The mission of The Studio is to provide professional support for non-professional artists,” Conant concludes, encouraging anyone to contact her with ideas for new showcases or events.

out for Kerell and his new piece of work titled “Parachutes,” anticipated to come out early 2018 on all platforms! The open mic nights have become a safe place for other artists too, just like Kerell. Charlotte O’Reilly, another regular, used to dread performing due to nerves. With the supportive community and environment The Studio provides, she’s now able to do what she loves with no fears. It took a while for her to realize it, but Char now knows music is what she wants to pursue for her future, and signed up for The Voice’s open call auditions in Boston this month! Also, similar to a good chunk of the artists of

Express Yourself, Charlotte writes and performs her own songs… a stool and a guitar is all she needs to fill the room with her alternative vibes. Express Yourself means a lot of different things to a lot of different people, but, “To me Express Yourself means inspiration, collaboration, creation, performance, and connection. It has become a nonjudgmental, warm, welcoming environment for people to experiment and express their talents,” said Rowen. She sees spreading this kind of community and involvement is vital to our society. “Believe me when I say it, artists and musicians will save the world.” SS

Rowen’s dream is that Express Yourself will continue for as long as it can–so far, so good. When she left for college, she handed the torch down to Daniel Irizarry, otherwise known as Cryptic, a current senior at Saratoga Springs High School. He’s been involved in Express Yourself since the beginning, mixing and mastering Rowen’s “Summer Tape” and even opening for the Kickbacks. Raised on jazz, salsa, etc., Irizarry curated his own taste for music around age 7 or 8, which is also when he started writing his own raps. He credits his style of writing to his father, a fellow writer, whose speeches and poems inspired him. At age 11, Daniel produced and posted his first song to Soundcloud. Now, he has 60+ songs posted as well as an upcoming album set to hit iTunes/Apple Music (and of course, Soundcloud) on February 15… his 18th birthday! Ironically enough, the album is titled “Never Turning 18.” As for his future endeavors with Express Yourself, Irizarry aspires to carry the same energy Synclaire always has and gather more performers, especially of different varieties; Express Yourself is all about diversity. Speaking of “diversity” – which is also the name of a group of regulars who perform, whether it be together through collaboration or as individual artists – we move on to Kerell, a fellow member of the group who was just recently verified on Spotify about a month ago! For Kerell, writing and performing is how he gets his message out there, using music as a second chance to say the things he never got the chance to - outside of the studio or off-stage, since he considers himself to be pretty shy. “Music has allowed me to get out of my social shell,” Kerell emphasizes. In fact, his favorite part of Express Yourself is meeting new people “with such developed minds and a genuine energy.” “Imma always come back to do this, the love is crazy,” he adds. Look


Post Time Memories

with Dennis G. Hogan

Clockwise from top left: Valerie Buck and Serena, Cosmic Serenity, Wendy Cyr and Serena

Cosmic Connection

Valerie Buck kept one eye on the road, switched off her GPS and assured me it was safe to talk.

“You’re driving?” I asked. “Yep. I’m delivering a horse to someone who’s adopted.” She said. “Who’s the horse?” I asked. “She’s my one-eyed mare. I got her from Mike Hoffman of Red and Black Stables, he’s sent me a few in the past. She was trained by Phil Serpe, who really cares about his horses once their racing career ends. She was not an easy horse to place but she’s going to a good home.” “What happened to her?” I asked. “She got some debris in her eye. It was deeper than they thought and she ended up losing the eye. She had the surgery in 2015 and came to me the day after.” “What’s her name?” I asked. “Cosmic Serenity. I call her Serena.” “So she’s off to a new home?” “Yep. She’s going to Connecticut.” I wondered where in Connecticut, but with the GPS turned off it wasn’t really a fair question. And what did it matter? Valerie had again managed to place a rescued animal in the hands of those who’ll provide the care and love these beings so desperately need. Finding homes for off-track Thoroughbreds is only one facet of the work Valerie’s done since she founded her non-profit organization ACTT Naturally, four years ago. There have been equine assisted learning programs for troubled teens, veterans suffering with PTSD, and victims of domestic abuse. She’s also

rescued and re-homed dozens of dogs. Yet there’s a certain place in the universe for those who care for animals with special needs. I asked Valerie what are the challenges of caring for a one-eyed horse. “Well, most of what we do with horses is done from the left: we lead them on the left, mount them on the left. Though Serena lost her left eye so when she came to me, simply walking through a stall door was a challenge for her. “I immediately taught her how to lead from her other side, so she could see me. I also put her through a lot of challenges, like crossing a creek - difficult things to help her learn a different way. “She really enjoyed it but she wasn’t a horse that was going to participate in our programs; it wouldn’t have been safe for her. And the less I did with her made her unhappy so I realized I needed to find her a home. Though this was a challenge because of the eye. “Then I got a call from Wendy, and everything fell into place.” Wendy Cyr wasn’t ready to adopt but sometimes one makes a connection to an animal and it seems like it’s all just meant to be. I spoke with her by phone at her Harwinton, Connecticut, home. “The last horse I had was a registered Quarter Horse that I got as a yearling. We had her for 25 years. Her barn name was Serena, she was grey and blind in one eye. “And the first horse I had, when I was 11, was an off-track Thoroughbred. He was in a pasture with a pony and got kicked in the eye. So I guess I have a thing for off-track Thoroughbreds who are blind in one eye. (laughs) “I talked to my husband, and we really weren’t prepared to adopt. We have a four-horse barn


but we needed new fencing, etc. We thought ‘maybe in a year or so we’d do something,’ but when I came across Cosmic Serenity, which is her Jockey Club name, and when I learned she was called Serena, that she was grey and blind in one eye, I was like, ‘Oh man! This really does feel like it was cosmically meant to be.’ “I asked my husband, ‘Do you think I should go meet her?’ And he said, ‘If you don’t go you’ll always wish you had.’ “I wasn’t sure but thought ‘If it was meant to be I’d find a way.’ “About the same time, I learned of a farm close by that needed someone to feed and water, and do turnouts, and they would allow one to keep a horse there in exchange, so I figured it might work out - it seemed all very connected. “So I called Valerie, told her we’d love to have Serena, and so far it’s been wonderful. She’s only five but she seems to have an old soul.” Valerie’s placed about a dozen horses in new homes. I asked her what it’s like to transfer a rescued animal into the hands of a new owner. “It’s amazing.” Said Valerie. “When somebody rescues an animal from me they’re not just rescuing one, they’re rescuing two - because they’re making room for me to take another one in. Finding homes for these animals refuels my passion for what I’m doing and why I’m doing it.” And sometimes it’s more than a new beginning. Sometimes there’s a special connection - like it’s all written in the stars. If you’d like to support ACTT Naturally, there’s a ‘paint and sip’ party at The Parting Glass on January 20, and a Salsa and Chili Cook-off at the Argyle Brewery, in Cambridge, scheduled for March. To learn more or make a donation please visit SS






High Rock Sketch




very city has a story and every story has a beginning. The story of Saratoga Springs starts long before it was known as the “Place to see and be seen.” Centuries before the thousands of summer guests visited the grand hotels and drank the famous mineral waters, the Native Americans of this area - the Mohawk - used the springs, planted crops and hunted the fields and forests of the area.

The Mohawk had named this area “Sarach-to-gue” which to them meant the area of the great salt springs or the hillside of the great river. A city would not be found in this area for centuries later, until permanent European settlers came to the area in the later years of the 1700s. On November 2, 1708, Queen Anne of England granted 13 people land with the royal act called the Kayaderosseras Patent. According to the Mohawk, the name Kayaderosseras, meant “the country of the lake of 74  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

the crooked stream,” and of course that would be the crooked stream that flows into Saratoga Lake – the Kayaderosseras. This patent was for a huge tract of about 400,000 acres of land that was located west of the Hudson River and north of the Mohawk River. The tract was not awarded until years later when it was somewhat reduced in size and finally surveyed in 1769-70 and broken into 25 allotments with 23 allotments that are each divided into 13 equal lots. Two of the 25 allotments plus a five-mile square of land (5,029 acres) was given as payment to the surveyors and others that helped with the surveying and conveyance of the land. On October 22, 1771 at the Brock Tavern in NYC, the grantees drew lots to determine ownership of the 13 lots in each of the 23 allotments. The most important allotment to Saratoga Springs history was lot #12 of the 16th allotment that would become

Early Saratoga

most of the land making up the city today. Lot #12 was drawn in the name of Rip Van Dam and was 2,800 acres in size. When all 23 allotments were divided, Rip Van Dam had received about 30,000 acres which is the equivalent of 46.875 square miles of property. Since Rip Van Dam had died in 1749 the land went to his heirs. The original thirteen patentees were Johannes Beekman, Rip Van Dam, Anne Bridges, Nanning Hermance, John Tudor, Johannes Fisher, Joris Hooglandt, John Stephens, John Tatham, Adrian Hooghlandt, Peter Fauconnier, May Bickley and Sampson Broughton. When the land was being surveyed it was a piece of the then - very large- Albany County. Saratoga County is not formed until February 7, 1791. The area of the present-day city of Saratoga Springs was very sacred to the Mohawk mostly because of the healing waters that flowed from the springs. The Mohawk kept the waters of the High Rock secret and protected it from visitation from area settlers. The High Rock spring was referred to by the Mohawk as “The Medicine Spring of the Great Spirit.” The story is that it was not until 1771 that the Mohawk allowed the first European to visit the area to take the waters. In that year an ill Sir William Johnson, who served as Agent for Indian Affairs for the British, was carried by the Mohawk on a litter to visit what many believe was the High Rock Spring. In Sir William’s account of the event he refers to visiting a spring “northward of Schenectady.” Since the Mohawk respected Johnson as a friend and they knew he had been suffering from a lingering illness that they felt could be remedied with the use of the waters at a spring, they probably brought him to the High Rock. During his stay of four days at the spring, he drank and bathed with the waters and at the end of those days he felt stronger and walked most of the way back to his house in the Mohawk Valley. Soon after his arrival home he wrote to friends to tell the amazing story of the curing powers of the High Rock. New knowledge of the mineral springs began a strong push by interested settlers to be able to buy land in the area and build near the springs. After deals with the Mohawk were arranged, the first area of the city to be settled was around the High Rock Spring which became known as the Upper Village. The city’s first permanent settler to the Upper Village was Alexander Bryan in 1787. Eventually settlers would also build in the area around the Congress Spring that was discovered in 1792 and that became known as the Lower Village. Over time the two villages would grow to be one, with the name Saratoga Springs.

Sir William High Rock

One year after Putnam’s Tavern and Boarding House was opened, Gideon added an addition to the hotel because of its successful first year of operation. Eventually the expanding Tavern and Boarding House became known as Union Hall. The Putnam family owned the hotel until 1865 when it changed its name upon change of ownership to the Grand Union. By the 1870s the Grand Union would be one of the largest hotels in the world. In 1811 Gideon starts construction When Gideon Putnam and his wife Doanda came to Saratoga Springs of another hotel across the street from the Union Hall and called it in 1789, the path of the city changed forever. They immediately began Congress Hall. Unfortunately, Gideon fell from the scaffolding during to see the wealth potential from harvesting the timber of the area and construction and died in December of 1812. Doanda lived until 1835 understood the concept of the saying “If you build it -they will come.” and was a tremendous force in not only keeping the family together, Gideon built a sawmill and began to turn the native white pines into but in the daily business operations of two major hotels and assorted shingles, shakes and barrel staves. Gideon later recognized that the properties. A New York City social writer commented in his column mineral springs were a draw for tourists to come to the city for their after a visit to the Union Hotel, “I can’t understand if the name of health. At first, Gideon and Doanda leased land and as their wealth Union Hotel describes the national union of the states or the quality of increased, they bought 300 acres of land to start the Lower Village the Putnam family.” near the Congress Spring. He would build the first hotel in 1802, Before Gideon died he posted a list of the “rules of the springs.” It was called Putnam’s Tavern and Boarding House, located on the northwest Gideon who set forth the idea that the water would always be free at corner of Broadway and Congress Street. Area residents laughed at his the spring. This custom set the stage for the social patterns for summer initiative since the land around the boarding house was really in an visitors for the rest of the 19th century and made Saratoga Springs a very unsettled thick pine forest with no other settlers in the immediate area. different social experience from other summer destinations. People lining As the Putnams’ success continued, they continued to buy land, built up without preferential treatment at the springs to “take the waters” each a bath house, tubed the springs and donated land for a church, school morning helped to define the social interactions of the summer. The and burial ground. Gideon and his wife Doanda laid out the early vision of Gideon and Doanda Putnam helped to define the early years of streets of the city including Broad Street at a width of 120 feet, to be the city as a health resort. Saratoga Springs was now poised to grow from later called Broadway. Washington Street and Phila Street were named a wild pine forest to be a very unique city that would become the number one tourist destination in the United States in the 1800s. SS after Putnam children. The Putnams’ vision changed the city forever.





This image was taken at the top of the stretch looking toward the finish line, with the old betting shed on the right. Before pari-mutual betting was established at the track, bookies occupied the betting shed and all betting took place there. The betting shed was removed, and an extension of grandstand seating was added in the 1960s.

One of the very large hotels in Saratoga Springs during the mid-to-late 1800s, it occupied the space that today’s Visitors Center building occupies on the corner of Broadway and Congress Street. It had a short existence because it burned October 1, 1874 after opening in the summer of 1872.

Larger version on page 73.



This is an image of the second floor of the United Methodist Church. This Washington Street landmark has recently undergone preservation and has been renamed UPH (Universal Preservation Hall.) This area is undergoing renovation as a future performance space.


Town Hall is what we call City Hall today, located at 471 Broadway. Built in 1871 you will notice how tall the building appears in this image because the bell/clock tower was still in place. The city’s insurance company made them remove the tower after a similar tower fell in Chicago and posed a possible risk to safety in the early 1900s.





hen I headed off to the Saratoga Springs Public Library on a subzero night last February I never imagined that I would discover an archive of family albums sitting on a shelf in the center of the library’s Saratoga Room. I was born in 1955 at the Saratoga Hospital and I have lived and worked my entire life within minutes of the library. I’m embarrassed to say, this was only my second visit to the gold mine called, “The Saratoga Room.”

to the early 1900s. I was speechless. I had seen some of the photos growing up, but I had no idea my grandfather had shared such an extensive collection. I was even more stunned that I stumbled on it by accident. I spent the rest of the evening savoring every page of my discovery. The list of winter activities you can enjoy in Saratoga is a long one. You can stretch your legs in the State Park or go heritage hunting at the Saratoga Springs Public Library. On that cold February night, I’m grateful I chose the latter.

On this night I was researching a story for my personal blog. I was greeted by Victoria who kindly guided me to areas where she thought I might find what I was looking for. My favorite section is where you’ll find shelves of old Saratoga Springs phone directories. The amount of history you can excavate from them is endless. Better yet is the * Note - I mentioned to Victoria that my grandfather’s middle initial was warm nostalgia you experience thumbing through pages and pages of incorrect on the box label. He was Elmer J. Greenwood. J for John, my names and businesses long forgotten. In another section you will find great-great grandfather, the man I was named after. For some reason shelves of vintage Saratoga High School Year Books dating back more that small typo now carried a little more significance. SS than a century. It was there moments earlier that I discovered my father Ralph had been named “Jiviest” in the 1942 Saratoga yearbook. Who knew?

Minutes later I was prowling the large shelves located in the very center of the room. Each shelf contains tagged boxes of material from various Saratoga families, city departments, and local businesses. Many are packed with photo albums and newspaper clippings. I continued to scour up and down the aisles like a beagle on a rabbit track hoping to find something unexpected. Within minutes that’s exactly what happened. It didn’t have anything to do with what I’d come there for, but I’d just unearthed a different treasure! There, in the heart of the Saratoga Room while bent over like 6:15 (6:15, a term my father, the “Jiviest,” enjoyed using to describe what he looked like when his back would go out) I spotted a tag with my grandfather Elmer Greenwood’s name on it. I’m sure I let out an audible gasp. I stood and turned toward Victoria sitting at her desk. “Excuse me Victoria, I think I found something. Can I pull this box out?” She came right over. I’m sure she could hear my heart pounding. I pointed to the label on the box, “That’s my grandfather.” She quickly cleared a spot for me and I set the box down. With the same anticipation and excitement of opening a buried treasure chest I slowly removed the lid. Inside were a halfdozen albums of various sizes and shapes, all of them related to my grandfather’s long history with the Saratoga Winter Club and the North Eastern Speed Skating Association. There were photographs, newspaper clippings, and programs from skating events dating back 78  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

Elmer J. Greenwood & Robert Walton Sr. (Walton's Sport Shop)

East Side Rec facing Granger Avenue • 1928

Sparkling Windows & Stone Walls: DINING OUT IN TWENTIETH-CENTURY SARATOGA Take a tour with us through Saratoga's old eating establishments as Carol Godette features a different one in each issue of Simply Saratoga Magazine - Enjoy!


ining out or plating in? This option wasn't available for Saratogians of the '60s and '70s. Recently a friend boasted that although his wife didn't cook, she "plates a beautiful dinner" - referring to her ability to transform local take-out specials into artistic creations. The popularity of “Take out Tuesday” offerings has helped sustain year-round business and is a relatively new aspect of our local culinary scene. Although this particular phenomenon isn’t unique, Saratoga Springs’ mom-and-pop restaurants have had a rich history - from the purported invention of both the potato chip and the club sandwich - to the famous and infamous clientele that have savored their cuisine. Perhaps due to zoning laws that limit fast foods chains with large footprints or the discerning tastes of the racing crowd and resident summer artists, local mom-andpop restaurants have been the rule rather than exception within our city limits.

Today, sidewalk cafes are essential elements of our local restaurant scene. This was not the case for the eateries listed in the Saratoga Springs 1963 Chamber of Commerce's Centennial brochure.

Author’s note: “Restaurants” in this series are defined as full service, sit down meals with wait staff service.

City Hall first approved an outdoor patio for Broadway's Triple Crown Restaurant in 1977. Permit laws loosened in the 1980s, paving the way for other restaurants to construct the patios we now associate with our local favorites.

In the "pre-café" days of the 1960s, dining at a full-service restaurant was a rare treat for the average family. I remember what a special occasion it was every year when our family celebrated my parent's anniversary at The Trade Winds. Each of us dressed in our Sunday best. If a fellow patron neglected to wear a sport coat the Trade Winds staff was instructed to ask, "May I lend you a dinner jacket?" For many locals of 2018, dining out is no longer a yearly or even monthly event etched in our minds. This series will focus on some of the mainstays of our local mom-and-pop full service restaurants. Each issue this year will explore a beloved establishment of yesteryear- the Ash Grove Inn, Lillian's, Lou's Luncheonette, Ma Demartino's, Mother Goldsmiths - and will finish with two remaining veterans Pennell's and The Olde Bryan Inn. Settle in and be prepared to once again enter into the world of the sparkling French-paned windows of the Ashgrove Inn, the PEB lined caricatured walls of Mother Goldsmiths, and the stone covered, cave like walls of the Trade Winds' vestibule. SS

Postcard of the Trade Winds Restaurant • circa 1970


This 1934 photo shows the original structure named “The Product House” before the current French pane windows were installed. ©Saratoga History Museum, George S Bolster Collection


“I think the Ash Grove was one of the most magical places

Saratoga ever had. Sparkling light was reflected from floor to ceiling off of the glass paned windows and peacocks roamed around the backyard. The memories of it tug at my heart,” wistfully recounts city resident Lois Kolakowski Radke.

Since its inception in 1934, the Ash Grove Inn was a magical spot for many Saratogians. Nestled in a grove of poplar trees, the business was the brainchild of Edward B. Ashton. Originally created as part of the Ash Grove Farms, Edward envisioned a farm that raised food for guests of an inn and restaurant called The Product House. When Mr. Ashton originally created the farm in the late 1920s, he bought up 1,200 acres of surrounding farm lands including the Denton Farm and the Loacton farm, spending a reported $1,200,000. The rolling farm fields created a beautiful backdrop for the restaurant. However, Mr. Ashton’s untimely death in 1937 prevented him from fully achieving his goals. The family closed The Product House at the beginning of World War II and then sold it in 1949 to Ned Sherster. Five years later, the restaurant changed hands and was purchased by local residents Andrew and Lucy Desidoro. Jean Desidoro Humiston remembers her surprised reaction when her father Andrew announced that he “bought a restaurant.” Even as 80  |  SIMPLY SARATOGA | JANUARY/FEBRUARY 2018

a teenager, she immediately realized this would be a lot of work for her dad and family. Her initial reaction proved to be correct. Like many “mom and pop” businesses, this was a family operation. All five children helped in various capacities- son Andrew charmed customers as the bartender, daughter Bobbi was a popular waitress, twins Angela and Amelia and their sister Jean worked in the pantry and tended the salad bar and mother Lucy was “on call” for various tasks such as last minute grocery runs. There was always work to be done: from washing each of the French pane windows (a two day job for 3 of the Desidoro women); to cleaning out the koi and goldfish pond at the end of the dining room; or picking the fresh tomatoes in the garden behind the restaurant. One of the restaurant’s draws was the concrete lined goldfish pond at the end of the dining room. Once, when cleaning it, Jean and Lucy Desidoro netted the 16 koi & goldfish and put them in the upstairs bath tub while they scrubbed the pond out. They were disappointed when they returned to a drained tub of dead fish. ©Saratoga History Museum, George Bolster Collection

John Greenwoods’ grandparents 50th wedding anniversary dinner at Ash Grove Inn

Ash Grove Inn Poem by John R. Greenwood

ABOVE: Matchbook cover of Ash Grove Inn LEFT: A 1950s Chamber of Commerce local map showing Ash Grove Farms.

However every week, the five siblings joined their mom for Sunday dinner in the bar area. Often their dad was too busy working to join them. Nonetheless, his hard work paid off as he successfully ran the restaurant for nearly 30 years, attracting customers mostly by word of mouth. Professional Chef Craig Gosselin, now of Louisville, Kentucky credits Chef Andy Desidoro and the Ash Grove as “starting his journey in commercial cooking.” At 14, he began working there part-time. He recalls, “The Ash Grove Inn provided aged beef and pork. We always had beautiful pieces of meat hanging in the walk-in refrigerator that aged into the awesome steaks and chops we offered. The menu had lamb, frog legs, lobster (fresh and tails) and some fine dishes. Midway down the dining room was a satellite grill pit against the rear of the restaurant. In that beautiful cooking area a guest could select a fresh cut of beef, pork or even a lobster tail and have it grilled to perfection right where they could watch. I can still remember the delicious popovers and corn bread sticks that we made in the restaurant for the guests to eat.” No wonder George Balanchine of the NYC Ballet, “really preferred the Ash Grove Inn to any place in Saratoga,” according to Joanne Furio, author of Remembering Mr. B. Other restaurant reviewers described it as a “resplendent restaurant with gorgeous views out back.” (Wayne Perras) Celebrations of all kinds were regular occurrences- Eagle Scouts and fire auxiliaries held their yearly banquets; the Bar Association held dinners; numerous graduating classes celebrated their reunions there and most of all, countless couples from Dr. and Mrs. Leo Roohan to Minnie and Fred Bolster to David and Julie Casner chose the magical spot for their wedding receptions.

hardwood floors well worn with age soaked with years of parties and dance large open windows to the fields behind where cows once grazed and milk was born panes of pain now cracked and sore shattered in dreams of what once was those who remember in numbers declining they too sit restless waiting for another order to be placed

The unique setting was the perfect background for memorable wedding photos and the window wrapped dining area facing the sprawling landscape captured the magic of a couple’s special day. Jean Desidoro and her husband Gerard share fond memories of their reception at her father’s restaurant- minus the fact that they had to clear out of the dining area by 4 p.m. to accommodate a high school reunion her father had booked that same day! Another intriguing aspect of the Ash Grove involves paranormal activities. David Pitikin detailed many of these incidents in his book entitled Saratoga County Ghosts. Owner Desidoro never saw any ghosts but he did note that the slated bar area was made of former gravestones that had once been located on the Ash Grove Farms. After the Desidoros sold the restaurant in the 1980s to Marlene McKinney, George Bolster was asked to come and take a publicity photo early one morning when the restaurant was vacant. However, when the photo was developed, it showed a man sitting at a table in an engineer’s hat in the vacant dining room. He appeared as if by magic. It was believed to be Edward Ashton, a railroad buff and the founder of the Ash Grove. Marlene (of the Mangino family) continued to improve the restaurant and later sold it to its current owner Dan Jewett. It was plagued with heavy fire and smoke damage in October 2004 and is currently vacant, waiting for its next chapter. SS

Ash Grove Inn today


Looking forward to Spring ...our Spring Issue that is! Due out March 16, 2018. For free email delivery of our publications visit Photos by John Seymour




Simply Saratoga Winter 2018  

Our Winter Edition of Simply Saratoga features PEOPLE! Some you'll know others you'll be meeting for the first time, but they're sure to imp...

Simply Saratoga Winter 2018  

Our Winter Edition of Simply Saratoga features PEOPLE! Some you'll know others you'll be meeting for the first time, but they're sure to imp...