Zipping off to Altamont, NY: My parents settle into family life #atozchallenge2024

Z is for Zipping off to Altamont, NY: My parents settle into family life. Last of 26 posts in the April 2024 Blogging From #AtoZChallenge. Theme, My Life: The Prequel (in Snapshots) — adding my parents’ story to the family history mix. Thanks for joining me on the journey!

We have now arrived full circle on My Life: The Prequel (in Snapshots) — which outlined the lives of my parents Norm and Peg (Laurence) Charboneau, both before and after they met, married, and started a family.

Once I joined the family, to be followed later by two brothers then two sisters, my parents were on their way to the family life they both envisioned. But the first step, in their twenties, was setting up a permanent household.

A permanent household

This they accomplished by zipping off to Altamont, N.Y., along with my maternal grandparents Tony and Liz (Stoutner) Laurence, in search of a house large enough to accommodate a growing family and to start a potential family business.

That’s me standing on the porch of our 1850s farmhouse on Route 20 in Albany County, N.Y. (circa 1954). Photo by Norman J. Charboneau

Mom, Dad, and my grandparents looked around the Albany and Schenectady, N.Y., area, but nothing suited. According to Dad, the houses were too small, too expensive, or lacked enough property. Then they discovered the ideal 1850s farmhouse on 10 acres in Altamont, N.Y.

Christmas 1952 at Whispering Chimneys in Altamont, N.Y. I’m in front with my parents Peg and Norm. Behind them, from left: my maternal grandmother Liz (Stoutner) Laurence, my paternal grandfather Wm. Ray Charboneau, and my maternal grandfather Tony Laurence. My paternal grandmother Mary (Owen) Charboneau’s shadow is visible at left. Photo by Mom’s sister Rita Mary Laurence/Scan by Molly Charboneau

Excited about the farm

Dad captured my parents’ 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!

1951: The barn at the farm in Altamont, Albany Co., NY that would become my grandfather’s shop. Scan by Molly Charboneau

There was a barn with outbuildings for my grandfather’s automotive and machine shop. One of the buildings could be picked up and relocated near the main road, Route 20, for my grandmother’s antique store — and there was studio space in the house where she could teach painting classes.

Whispering Chimneys Antiques, my maternal grandmother’s antiques and collectibles shop at the farm. Scan: Molly Charboneau

Also near the road were three cold-water cabins and a rental office, which Mom could operate for fatigued drivers looking to stay the night. (It didn’t work out as well as planned, though — which you can read about in Peg: My post-war mom.)

And Dad? He’d get a regular job with a paycheck and benefits at the General Electric plant in nearby Schenectady, N.Y. (He also had farm-based aspirations about gardening and raising chickens — but they didn’t pan out well, either, which you can read about in Norm: My post-war dad.)

A great adventure for us all

Thankfully, my parents and grandparents bought the farm in a wave of enthusiasm. They named it Whispering Chimneys — the third place I’d lived in my young life, but the first home I remember.

I wrote about my six years on the farm for the 2017 A to Z Challenge, chronicling my early childhood there. And Dad was right about one thing: It was indeed a great adventure for us all!

Up next, Reflections and Recap of My Life: The Prequel (in Snapshots). Please stop back on May 2! Meanwhile, congratulations to my fellow A-to-Z bloggers and many thanks for everyone’s visits and comments along the way.

© 2024 Molly Charboneau. All rights reserved.

12 thoughts on “Zipping off to Altamont, NY: My parents settle into family life #atozchallenge2024”

  1. I want to read those other posts to find out more about Whispering Chimneys. I love the name though it sounds like it may have been drafty in the winter! How wonderful that your grandparents were so close during your childhood!

    1. Thanks, Corrine. Yes, it was windy, but I was a youngster and I don’t remember it being a problem. I fact, it was a big wonderland to me, which is still conjured up by the sight of wild strawberries or the scent of black-eyed Susan flowers.

  2. It’s interesting how some ideas work and some don’t, but if you start with a large enough blank slate, a lot of ideas can be explored. That farm looks amazing.

  3. Congratulations on finishing the Challenge once again. I am forever amazed with the amount of physical memories you’ve been able to inherit or find – what a treasure trove. You always remind me of something random – today it’s Route 20. I’ve never been on it as far as Albany County but we have driven on a lot of the New York State portion and we enjoy its beautiful scenery. I read a book published in the 1920’s or 30’s on the “Cherry Valley Turnpike” -a motorists guide- what a historic road.

    1. Route 20 is stunning, especially in the hilly areas east of Syracuse. Before the Thurway was built, it was a major truck route — always bustling with traffic, including my school bus that picked me up early in the morning at the end of our long driveway. Great memories!

  4. I want to go back and devote more time to all of these stories, they are so well done. Thanks for sharing them and congrats on completing the A-Z!

  5. Congratulations! And nice wrap up and segue into your other family life A to Zs. Seems like a nice book if you put them all together.

    1. Thanks, Kristin, and great idea about book. I have enough copy from ten years of blogging to create a few books. My goal is to get started!

Comments are closed.