Altamont: My first childhood home – #atozchallenge

A is for Altamont: First of twenty-six posts in the April 2017 Blogging From A to Z Challenge on the theme “Whispering Chimneys: My Altamont childhood” — where my genealogy journey began. Wish me luck!

Altamont, N.Y. — R.D. 1 to be exact — was my first childhood address. How I ended up there is an interesting tale.

In the early 1950s my parents and maternal grandparents decided  to buy a large house, move in together and start a family business. Sounded like a plan…sort of.

“We didn’t really know what kind of business, just something we could earn money at,” Dad told me.

My parents lived out-of-state then, and I was just six months old. But Dad quit his job and they headed back to upstate New York where they had grown up.

“I can hardly believe it now,” Dad said. “There I was, twenty-six with a wife and a baby, and I was essentially unemployed.” Even more amazing, Mom was on board with this scheme.

“We packed you in a picnic basket and off we went,” Mom told me. A picnic basket? I asked.

 “Actually, it was a wicker bassinet you could put in the car,” she explained. “Everyone used them back then.”

That’s me standing on the porch of our 1850s farmhouse near Altamont , N.Y. (circa 1954) . My early life on the farm, where I lived through the first grade, contributed to my sense of family and heritage. Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

Finding the farm

Our first destination was my maternal grandparents’ house in  Gloversville, New York — my mom’s home town.

That’s where we spent Christmas in 1950.

Meanwhile,  my parents started shopping around for a home big enough for the five us and the future family business. They looked in nearby towns, but the houses were small for the price.

So they widened their search into the country and that’s when they found the farm. Dad captured their excitement in an essay he wrote years later.

A young family came upon one of these mansions and was hypnotized by its ten acres of land, big red barns, and a few tourist cabins. They could find so many possibilities that they could not wait to own this historical marvel. This was the start of the great adventure!

So they bought the farm, named it Whispering Chimneys, and the great adventure has stayed with me all of my life!

Please join me daily in April for #AtoZChallenge snippets about my early life on the farm and how those formative years contributed to my sense of family and heritage.

Up next: B is for Birds and Bees and Aunt Rita: My first genealogy lesson. Please stop back.

© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

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13 thoughts on “Altamont: My first childhood home – #atozchallenge”

  1. Our parents and forebearers were more adventurous than we are today. They had to be! I love stories like this.

  2. A lovely introduction to Whispering Chimneys that makes me want to find out more. I wonder if the wicker basket was what we call here in Britain a Moses basket but that was fitted out with pretty cotton padding for babies.

    1. Could be. I saw some photos online of both types. Of course, not the safest “car seat” for a baby — but cars went much slower back then and seemed to be made of cast iron 🙂

    1. Thanks for your visit, Anne. It’s funny…for years I had this romantic vision of myself as a baby in an actual picnic basket. Only as an adult did I find out it was a bassinet 🙂 Look forward to following your blog during the challenge.

  3. Hi Molly,
    I think there is a follow up blog post – you leave readers wondering, what was the family business that was started? Was there a family business? What happened?

    Also, I wasn’t sure I was going to participate. I had a theme I wanted to do, but knew I didn’t have the time to do it, so had to think what could I do in a reasonable amount of time this year.

    BTW, I did talk with my cousin about genealogy and found out a lot more information since last year.

    Maui Jungalow

    1. Yes, the story of the business plans will definitely be coming, bit by bit as the alphabet unfolds. Glad you were able to connect with your cousin! Will stop by your blog again…or maybe see you on AZChat, if they do it again this year. Happy blogging!

  4. That sounds amazing and funnily enough, my family did something similar. Moving 400 miles to have three generations under one roof on the off chance that we might be able to set up a shop.

    Cait @ Click’s Clan

    1. Hey Kristin. Thanks for stopping by. My early childhood was a period of transition away from the extended-family households that were more common in the 19th and earlier 20th century. I’m glad I caught the tale end of this era, because it was a genuine education being the little person among adults in my formative years. Looking forward to your posts, too.

      1. When I was growing up,my maternal grandparents lived downstairs from us in a flat during my college years. My paternal grandparents always had a multigenerational house with several of their children continuing to live there and eventually a grandchild too.

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