E is for Elephants, mastedons and local excursions. Fifth 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!
I have fond memories of the elephants, mastodons and local excursions that I experienced as a young child. Here are highlights of some memorable outings in the vicinity of our Altamont, N.Y., farm.
Ringling-Barnum Circus (Schenectady). This is probably where I saw my first elephant. But what I vividly remember was the clown who rushed up and fake-kissed my mom to the laughs and applause of the crowd. He appeared from nowhere in a blur of polka dots and gave Mom a dancer’s dip to add a flourish to his antics. My goodness — how exciting!
Museum mastodon (Albany). In 1866 an excavation in Cohoes, N.Y., unearthed an excellent mastodon skeleton. In the 1950s I saw the mastodon on display at the State Education Building in Albany. But what I remember most was the hairy replica displayed with it. My tiny jaw dropped as I gazed up at what looked like a towering elephant with giant tusks — and wearing a fur coat. Amazing!
Gene Autrey’s stage show (Troy). From 1950-56 the Gene Autrey Show starred the country-singing cowboy and his comic sidekick Pat Buttram. My parents sat me by the T.V. to watch — and in March 1955 my mom drove me in heavy snow to their personal appearance in Troy. The duo sang and told jokes up on the lighted stage — and I was awed, at five, by my first theater experience!
Thatcher Park (Altamont). Even more awe-inspiring were tales of the Native Americans who once bravely traversed nearby Thatcher Park. Some followed a precarious trail through a crevice way up on the cliff face — astronomically higher than the steep hall stairway to my second-floor bedroom! I remember swimming in a pool jam-packed with children in the bucolic park — an early introduction to the natural settings I’ve grown to love.
Catskill Game Farm (Catskill). Opened in 1933 as a giant petting zoo, this 900-acre Catskill Mountains farm featured sheep, deer and donkeys in the early 1950s. During my first visit at age four, I came face-to-face with a gentle burro eager to eat the tiny food pellets out of my hand! Sadly, this landmark closed for good in 2006 — but my childhood memories of the Game Farm endure.
Up next: F is for Freddie Freihofer: My T.V debut. Please stop back!
© 2017 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.