Friday, December 11, 2009

Christmas In The City

The Rensselaer Youth Bureau and The Boys & Girls Club partner to present:


Boys & Girls Club, 544 Broadway Rensselaer, (518) 465-3403

Residents of Rensselaer are welcome to join in the holiday festivities!!

Free food, activities, crafts, and meet Santa in person!!

Come judge the Chili Cook-off between the Police Dept. and the Fire Dept.

Also, the Boys & Girls Clubs's annual 50-50 Super Raffle is now in full swing. With each $100 donation, participants will receive a chance to split the pot with the Boys & Girls Club. In addition, your raffle ticket is also your ticket to the organization's annual cocktail party from 6 to 8 p.m. Dec. 15 at Casey's Restaurant. Tickets are available from any board member, by calling 465-3403, or by stopping by the club located at 544 Broadway.

Doane Stuart Christmas Chapel

The Doane Stuart School will celebrate its annual Christmas Chapel at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday at the school, 199 Washington Ave. Call 465-5222 for information.

This traditional, candlelight celebration is open to the public. All guests are asked to bring a new, unwrapped toy, to be placed under the Christmas tree; toys will be donated to local charitable organizations.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Library Events

December Events at the brand new Rensselaer Public Library
[676 East Street, Rensselaer, NY - the former Dollar Store building].

Computer Class
"Introduction to Microsoft Word"- Thursday, December 10th at 6:30 PM. Sign up is required, space is limited.

Saturday Family Storytime
"Gingerbread" Sat., Dec. 12 at 1 PM. Listen to stories and decorate cookies. No sign up required, but children must be present at start time to participate.

Friends of the Rensselaer Library is a support club that raises money and advocates for our library. New members welcome! Next meeting, Mon., Dec. 14 at 6:30 PM.

Game Day- Dec. 29th, all day, games and activities for kids ages 10-14. Drop-In Crafts will be available on the 29th, 30th and 31st.
Photos are from the library's grand opening in November (click to enlarge). Come check out this great new facility!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

Book signing

Ernie Mann will be signing "Railroads of Rensselaer" at Friar Tuck in the Rensselaer Train Station, Friday, December 11 from 4pm to 6pm. There should be an adequate supply of books.

Superintendent Reynolds to Retire

The Record: Rens. school chief to retire
Gordon Reynolds, the superintendent of Rensselaer City School District, will call it quits at the end of next June after a 33-year career in education.

Military Promotion

NYS Div. of Military & Naval Affairs: Rensselaer Soldier Receives New Rank, New Responsibility
... William Harrison from Rensselaer, NY (postal code 12144) and serving with Det 1 Company C, 1-69th Infantry is promoted to the rank of Private 1st Class.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Eagles Fundraiser

Times-Union: Eagles to present money to fire victims
A service organization will give funds they raised Saturday to victims of an Oct. 18 fire that destroyed two homes and damaged two others.

Recent News Roundup

I've been too busy to blog recently. Here's a round-up of recent news stories:

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Football All-Stars

Times-Union Sidelines Blog: Class D Football All-Stars
Rensselaer, the 2009 Class D champions, dominated the individual awards...

Monday, November 16, 2009

Library Book Signing Update

NOTE: The Railroads of Rensselaer FaceBook Site put out a notice saying that Ernie Mann wouldn't be signing books at today's ribbon cutting, as incorrectly stated in the Times-Union article. He will be at the Saturday Grand Opening, but he will only have books available for sale if they come in on time. You are welcome to bring books purchased elsewhere and he will sign them.

Apparently three separate employees at Border's claimed Ernie's book signing on Nov. 7 was "by far the biggest turnout for a local author we have ever seen." Border's sold out of their books in 4 minutes and Ernie's personal stash sold out in about 20 minutes more. Follow the FaceBook link at the top to see photos of the first book signing.

Library Article

Times-Union: Rensselaer gets a new library
City prepares for Monday ribbon-cutting for a bigger, better location

The city will soon have a new library in the old Family Dollar store with twice the space and more off-street parking.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

November 13, 1909: Hair Restorer

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].
Silver Threads among the Gold

Women and men get old very young nowdays. It seems as if there is something in the strenuous life we are all living that deprives the hair of its coloring matter and gives the hue of age to the brow of youth.

Use Nature's Hair Restorer and get back your youthful looks. All Ladies and Gentlemen use it. Don't be discouraged because you are real gray it will bring your hair back to its natural shade.

Travelling salesmen, men and women that are employed in stores must use it. Gray haired people are not wanted these days.

Nature's Hair Restorer is not a dye, just a harmless natural restorer. Call or Address.

Mrs. Kathleen Mowers
1551 Broadway Rensselaer N. Y.

This ad ran regularly in the 1909 Rensselaer Eagle. "Silver Threads Among The Gold" was a popular song about loving someone even though they're growing old and gray. Several intolerable recordings by sopranos are available online, but the best version I found was Harry Ellis's 1911 recording.

The "hue of age to the brow of youth" line also sounds like a quote. I doubt this was her reference, but "hue of age" was in John Trumbull's truly catty 1771 poem "Advice to Ladies of a Certain Age". Enjoy that one...

There was more than one "Nature's Hair Restorer" around back then, but it could have been "Henna D'Oreal" (1920 ad from Meyer Druggist). This concoction of henna and herbs was described in the Twenty Sixth Report of the New Hampshire Board of Health (1920) : "Contains copper as an essential ingredient, and therefore falls within the class of objectionable metallic hair dyes, although not so reprehensible as the lead preparations."

If you click on the B. Paul ad, you'll see it says to "Beware of inferior substitutes", which is ironic, as this product was a knock-off of L'Oreal Henne (see Federal Trade Commission v. Balme, 23 F.2d 615, 2nd Cir. 1928).
Federal Trade Commission v. Paul Balme, trading under the name and style of B. Paul. Charge : Using unfair methods of competition in the manufacture and sale of a hair dye, designated as “Henna D’Oreal,” which simulates the trade name and wrapping of a hair dye sold by F. L. Leben (Inc.), long and favorably known as “L’Oreal Henne,” and by falsely advertising his product as a new French coloring providing the only harmless coloring in the world, with the effect of misleading and deceiving the purchasing public... (Annual Report of the Federal Trade Commission - 1921)

Friday, November 13, 2009

Profile: Thomas Nardacci

The Business Review: 40 Under Forty: Thomas Nardacci

Thomas Nardacci, 34, founded Gramercy Communications four years ago because he saw a need in Tech Valley for a smaller public relations agency that is dedicated to client service.
His grandparents owned a butcher shop for 50 years on Broadway in Rensselaer. “They worked 365 days per year, and I learned the value of hard work from them..."

Doane Stuart Chapel Dedication

The Record: Video: Doane Stuart chapel ecumenical

The Doane Stuart School’s chapel, which was dedicated on Tuesday, has relics from several different religions including Christian, Judaism, Buddhism, and Islam.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Library Grand Opening Set

I was delighted to receive an e-mail with this sneak preview of the new Rensselaer Public Library. (Click to enlarge.)

Library Grand Opening & Ribbon Cutting: Mon., Nov. 16th at 3 PM.

Open House: Sat., Nov. 21st, 11am-2pm.

Featuring local author Ernie Mann signing his newly p
ublished book "The Railroads of Rensselaer"

Music and Children's Activities, Refreshments Served

New Library:
676 East Street, Rensselaer, NY (the former Dollar Store by Amtrak). This location has parking and is handicapped accessible. Check out this PDF of their new floor plan. Watch the library's Events Page for information.

If you don't have a library card, this would be a great time to get one. Did you know you can search for a book online, save it in a wish list, and order it to be delivered to the library when it's available (and return it to any local library, regardless of where you picked it up)? You'll get an e-mail when the book arrives, and another just before it's due, and you can renew online. If you're in a hurry, you can even see which libraries have the title checked in, so you can drive right over to get it. Pretty slick!

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rams Win Super Bowl

The Record: Rams roll to Class D title

Times-Union Sidelines: Rensselaer wins the the Class D Super Bowl

Stammel Leads Recount

The Record: After recount, Stammel winner in District 6
Stammel, a Republican, led Democratic challenger John Mooney by a mere four votes based on unofficial results released Tuesday evening. After absentee ballots were counted Friday, he is ahead by a count of 1,189 to 1,163.

November 13, 1909: Famed Poet

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].


Will Carleton, America's greatest living poet, author of "Over the Hills to the Poor House", will appear at the First Baptist church on Wednesday evening, Nov. 17. This will be Mr. Carleton's third appearance in Rensselaer. He always packs the house.

Home and public entertainments in 1909 included reading aloud, and "pioneer poet" Will Carleton's works were well known. He rose to fame with "Over the Hill to the Poor House", about an old woman abandoned by her married children, and "Betsey and I are Out", about a divorce. He also wrote "Converse With The Slain" to honor the Civil War dead on Decoration Day 1877.

Like many authors, Carleton toured extensively doing lectures. From Will Carleton: a biographical study by A. Elwood Corning:
Like all public lecturers Carleton's experiences were many and varied; some were humorous, some thrilling. Having returned from a Chautauqua trip to Illinois, in August, 1909, he writes of a series of adventures not down on the programme. "Was held up by a railroad wreck just ahead of me," he says, "then started for destination by automobile; gasoline stopped serving when stranded ten miles away from the city in which I was to lecture. Went into a farm-house to telephone ahead. A woman was making large cookies each about as wide as a saucer. I recollected all at once that I had had no dinner, so begged for some of the cookies and was told amiably, but inexorably, that I could have just one, as she was cooking for threshers. I tried hard to get another for the chauffeur, but failed. I divided with him, however, then went on again at about thirty miles per hour when we soon ran against an obstruction that came within an ace of making the machine turn a complete summersault. Finally proceeded again, reflecting how I might have lost my life and a two hundred and fifty dollar fee. Had just time to don a white vest and black coat and face several thousand people."

Friday, November 6, 2009

Rams Still Winning

The Record: Rensselaer looks to repeat in Class D
The Rensselaer High School Rams just keep winning and winning — they are 16-0 against Section II Class D competition since 2008...

Times-Union: Rensselaer looking for repeat
Rams one win away from its eighth Section II title

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Upcoming Events

There are lots of events in Rensselaer over the next week. Scroll to the bottom of the blog for the calendar, and click on the events to see more details, click on "More Details" for links:

Sat., Nov. 7:
  • Open House, Rosewood Rehabilitation and Nursing Center, 11am-1pm
  • Book Signing, Railroads of Rensselaer, Borders at Crossgates, 2-4pm

Sun., Nov. 8
  • Breakfast Fundraiser for Fire Victims, Leonardo DaVinci, 320 Broadway, 8am-12pm
  • Veterans Service Parade, Rensselaer, 10-11am (unconfirmed - please comment if you have details)

Tue. Nov. 10
  • Doane Stuart Interfaith Chapel Dedication, 199 Washington Ave. (Business Attire), 5-7pm
  • Shine a Light on Lung Cancer - George Educ. Center, UAlbany E. Campus, 6-8pm
  • Sewer System Discussion - Bulmar Communications Bldg, HVCC, 7-8pm

Thur. Nov. 12
  • North End Neighborhood Assoc. Meeting, First Baptist Church, 1101 Washington Ave., 7-8:30 pm

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Democrats Win Rensselaer

The Record: Wrapup of Rensselaer County town races
Mayor: Daniel J. Dwyer
Common Council President: Harry Adalian
City Clerk: Maureen Nardacci
City Treasurer: Susan L. Lupian
Ward 1: Marion Webber
Ward 2: James D. VanVorst
Ward 3: Philip Elacqua
Ward 4: Gretchen Euvrard
Ward 5: Dominick M. Tagliento Jr.
Ward 6: Brian J. Stall
Ward 7: James F. Casey Jr.
Ward 8: Richard J. Mooney
Ward 9: Margaret M. VanDyke

Times-Union Local Politics: Down to the absentees in Rensselaer
The city of Rensselaer’s next representative on the Rensselaer County Legislature will be determined by the absentee ballots.

Take a look at the Alderperson votes by ward. I hope we take advantage of the 2010 Census to redistrict and combine some of these wards, which would lower our cost of government. Do you really think we need more than 5 or 6 wards?

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Students Plant Trees

News 10 - WTEN: Rensselaer streets lined with new trees thanks to students [with video]
A large, white "X" marks the spot in Rensselaer's Riverfront Park where one of two dozen new trees is being planted across the city.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Rudy's Closed to Overhaul Menu

Times-Union Table Hopping: V&R in Rensselaer temporarily closed for menu tweak

October 30, 1909 - New Reservoir

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].



Company is to be Congratulated on Having Such a Good Reservoir Built - Details of its Construction

The new reservoir of the Rensselaer Water Co. is so nearly completed that probably not later than a week from today it will be filled with water and the Third street tower will not be in use. The completion of the big reservoir which has a capacity of 6,000,000 gallons, is another one of the big pieces of work whch Messrs. Leahey & Shufelt, well known local contractors, have successfully consummated.

It is proposed to make the connection between the pipe line on Third street and the reservoir on Friday of next week, providing that everything goes all right and no untoward event prevents it. It is a day's work to make this connection and during that time it will be necessary to turn the water off from a portion of Third street. Possibly 15 houses will be shy on water for a few hours, but the pumps will be going direct to the mains for the one day in order to keep up the fire pressure.


Work on the reservoir was started in July and a big force of men went to work. The reservoir is oblong, on the top 308 feet by 258 feet. The bank has been raised two feet higher than the original plans called for. The reservoir is lined with concrete excepting for a space of two feet at the water line, where it is paved with big heavy stones. This is done so that the action of the ice will not bother the reservoir.

When the big reservoir is in use and the use of the tank has been abandoned the fire pressure at the lower levels in the city will be 115 pounds. This is regarded by hydraulic engineers as an excellent fire pressure service and there would be no difficulty in throwing a stream for a half dozen of them over any house in any section of the city. On the upper levels the fire pressure will be ample at all times.

It is not proposed to take down the old tower until next spring at any rate until the reservoir has proven satisfactory. It may be that there will be a leak in the reservoir and the pressure would be thus diminished. However, this is only a possibility and the contractors say that there could be no leak. The old tower will be maintained through the winter months to fall back on in case of necessity.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Ballot Measures

Times-Union: Measures face little opposition
Adirondack power line, inmate work rules both go to voters Nov. 3

Adirondack Council: Constitutional Amendment on November 2009 Ballot [with map]
The New York State Legislature agreed to put on this fall’s ballot a Constitutional Amendment that would allow a land swap along State Route 56 in Colton so the NY Power Authority and National Grid can avoid an environmentally disastrous six-mile detour through the woods in bringing a new power line to Tupper Lake.

Neither the New York State Sheriff's Association nor the Correctional Association of New York (both quoted in the article) has anything on their web site about the inmate work rules.

T-U Endorses Mayor Dwyer

Times-Union Editorial (blog version): Mayor: Dwyer

Times-Union: Business is issue in mayor's race

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pope's Appointee Educated in Rensselaer

A famous alumnus of St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary was appointed by the Pope to lead the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace. St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary was run by the Franciscans in Rensselaer, NY, and was closed in 1989.

Catholic News Service: Pope names Ghana's Cardinal Turkson head of justice, peace council
During a special synod dedicated to peace and justice in Africa, Pope Benedict XVI named African Cardinal Peter Turkson as head of the Vatican's justice and peace council.
Born Oct. 11, 1948, in western Ghana, he studied at St. Theresa's Minor Seminary in Amisano and Pedu before attending St. Anthony-on-Hudson Seminary in Rensselaer, New York, where he earned a bachelor's degree in theology.

Ghana Business News: Ghana’s Cardinal Turkson gets closer to becoming first black pope
Ghana’s first Catholic Cardinal, Peter Appiah Turkson is closer to becoming the first black pope ever of the Catholic Church.

A few reference links:

Public Meeting: Sewer Study

Times-Union: Sewer system discussion set at HVCC
An update on study plans for repairs to inadequate sewage systems along the Hudson River will be held Nov. 10 at Hudson Valley Community College.

The study is being done by cities of Albany, Troy, Watervliet, Rensselaer, Cohoes and the village Green Island as a condition of their water pollution permits under the federal Clean Water Act. ...

When: Tue., Nov. 10, 7 p.m.
Where: Bulmer Communications Building at HVCC [campus map].

Monday, October 26, 2009

T-U Rensselaer Blog?

The comments on this post ("Hello!") to the Times-Union's East Greenbush blog include a discussion about starting a Rensselaer blog on the T-U site. Anyone interested in participating should probably e-mail the editor, Michael Huber.

However, I can't agree with the commenter that adding a volunteer blog means the "fourth estate" is alive and well - citizen blogging is not reporting. The residents of the City of Rensselaer need:

  • 1) Government transparency (budgets, agendas, and minutes available online)
  • 2) Consistent political journalism (reporters attending the meetings regularly and telling the ongoing stories)
A blog should not be expected to substitute for either of those things - it should just fill in the gaps. I can only hope that if this happens, it's approached with a constructive point of view by the bloggers (and commenters), and serves to encourage the professional journalists to get beyond the fires and arrests to tell more important stories.

Harbor vs. Seaweed

The harbor may have to be modified or dropped from the design of the de Laet's Landing project, so as not to disturb the underwater vegetation. The article below is currently hidden behind a pay wall, but a few paragraphs are visible.

The Business Review: Seaweed stymies U.W. Marx plans for Rensselaer harbor project
Underwater vegetation—seaweed, essentially—is forcing big changes to a proposed $250 million to $300 million riverfront marina, residential and office development with views of the downtown Albany skyline.

In the meantime, you can read the State Environmental Quality Review Findings Statement. Go to the Rensselaer Riverfront Redevelopment Google Group and click on "DeLaet's Landing SEQR Findings_FINAL.PDF" (excerpt below).
Findings Statement - Rensselaer Waterfront Redevelopment Project
V. Project Impacts
4. Impacts to Flora and Fauna: The proposed action proposes reshaping and engineering of Hudson River shoreline adjacent to the project site. Habitat areas for sturgeon, mussels and other aquatic species have been indicated in the Albany waterfront area. Additionally, there are submerged aquatic vegetation beds with potential ecological significance that would be negatively impacted by reconfiguration and engineering the shoreline. DEC Environmental Resource maps indicated that the project is located within the vicinity of one or more rare animals. A site-specific habitat study, however, confirmed that no rare or endangered animal species were present.
Here's the U.W. Marx site for the project. Learn about the State Environmental Quality Review here.


Times-Union: De Laet's Landing delayed by weed
State wants waterfront project reworked to protect 'water celery'

Sunday, October 25, 2009

October 23, 1909 - Rensselaer Home Telephones

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].


More Than 200 Telephones Have Been Installed Thus Far and More Will Be Connected Up as Fast as Men Can Do The Work

The first 200 Home telephones have been installed in the city and today are being connected so that by Monday of next week they will be in good working order. ... The advent of the new telephone system has been awaited with no little interest by a number of business men of the city who believe that the new company will give good service at a low cost.

Rensselaer has hundreds of railroad men who are usually called on the telephone. They will be enabled to install the new independent 'phone at a small cost per month and are assured of being called when needed.

The cable that was recently strung across the river is the largest submarine construction of its kind in this section of the country. It carries 300 pairs of wires which will be more than sufficient to handle the increased business of the company for a long time to come.
One end of the big switch board in the central office in Albany has been reserved for the use of the Rensselaer business. ... When you pick up your receiver in this city and ask for a party in Albany you will get a much quicker response than if you were first obliged to ask for the number from a local operator and she in turn transmits it to Albany to another operator.

The telephones in use are of the well known Dean make which are manufactured at Elyria, O. ... The company proposes to have a Rensselaer directory of its own and to give Rensselaer a place on the telephone map.
There are some clues to the technology in this article, but not enough. Telephone systems in 1909 could either be "magneto" or "common battery", and Dean Electric Co. of Elyria, OH (one of the largest manufacturers) made equipment for both. I can't determine which system Albany had, to know which equipment was installed in Rensselaer.

Magneto systems were rung by turning a crank on the phone, generating a voltage to ring the switchboard operator (and all the other phones on that circuit of the party line). A big battery on each customer's phone provided power for transmitting the voice. (See April 1913, Popular Mechanics, "Practical Telephony - Part I"). You can see a Dean Electric 1908 mageneto wall phone at

Common Battery systems were more modern, easier to install and cheaper to maintain. (Albany Home Telephone's central exchange may have pre-dated adoption of the common battery systems.) The customer's set didn't need a bulky magneto generator to ring, or a big battery to talk, since the power was supplied from the central office. This allowed for smaller wall phone cabinets and slim "candlestick" desk sets like these.

In 1905, Dean Electric filed a patent for a Party Line Telephone System (Patent 842,772) with selective signaling, an innovation which would ring only the intended party's phone. This must have made listening in on your neighbors' conversations a bit more challenging...
On the party line, 1917
Billy Murray (Vocalist), Jack Mahoney (lyricist), Percy Wenrich (composer)
Listen | Download MP3 (#3246) | Download Sheet Music PDF

When a girl says "Bill, I love you so," And your wife's voice says "Is that you, Joe?" Then it's fifty fifty, boy, you know,
When you're talking on the party line.

Friday, October 23, 2009

Sister McGeady Honored

Sister Mary Rose McGeady, board member of the St. Paul's Center in Rensselaer, is being honored by Senior Services of Albany for achievements in Health and Human Services. From the profiles of the 2009 Third Age Winners:
... Sister McGeady has been instrumental in keeping St. Paul’s Center focused on the larger causes of homelessness, potential remedies, and the necessity of social and political activism on behalf of the indigent....

Times-Union: Seniors honored for civic contributions
... The Third Age Achievement Awards honor individuals age 60 and older who contribute in various fields of endeavor.

Breakfast Fundraiser

Times-Union: Rensselaer raises funds for victims of blaze
The Rensselaer Eagles will hold a pancake breakfast fundraiser for those who lost their homes in a fire on Green Street on Sunday.

When: Sunday, Nov. 8, 8 a.m. to noon
Where: Leonardo da Vinci Lodge, 320 Broadway, Rensselaer

Previous post: Early AM Fire on Green St.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Debate Cancelled

The candidates debate planned for Thur. Oct. 22nd has been canceled.

Here is the list of candidates. A few have links to web sites or biographies - you should check those out.

UPDATE: Harry Adalian, Democratic candidate for President of the Common Council, has posted his planned opening and closing remarks on his blog.
As you know the debate was canceled as there were issues with our Republican counterparts. I regret not being able to spend an evening with you and will miss the exchange of information for your benefit.

If you are a candidate who has also posted your positions on your web page, blog, Facebook page, etc., please e-mail

Tuesday, October 20, 2009


If you haven't seen the 1946 movie "Dragonwyck", you can watch it this Friday, Oct. 23 at 10pm on Turner Classic Movies (available on Netflix). Dragonwyck is a dark, suspense-filled gothic romance set in Hudson, NY in the 1840's - the era of the Dutch Patroons and the Anti-Rent War.

The movie stars Gene Tierney and Vincent Price (as the Patroon), and has Harry Morgan and Jessica Tandy in supporting roles (they're so young you might not recognize them). Ignore the fact that the 1946 NY Times called it "the most grandiose and obvious repetition of the Bluebeard story that we have seen" and check it out.

After you've seen the movie, I highly recommend reading Anya Seton's book "Dragonwyck". (I linked to Amazon, but don't read their Editorial Review - it gives the whole plot away and spoils the end - try this spoiler-free Customer Review). The book is available through the Upper Hudson Library System, and is worth reading - you can decide which has the better ending - it was changed for the movie.

Perhaps inspired by the Fatal Hudson River Steamboat Race of 1852, the book also has great descriptions of steamboat races on the Hudson (imagine engines working so hard that ashes and burning sparks rained down on the passengers). There were no hair-raising steamboat races in the movie though - that must have been beyond their special effects budget.

Firefighter Agility Lawsuit

The Record: Firefighter fights dismissal
A former city firefighter has filed a lawsuit against the city of Rensselaer claiming his job was terminated after he failed an agility test that allegedly some of his colleagues were not required to perform.
The lawsuit was filed about two months ago by Paul Felts III, and his attorney Mark Walsh.

Monday, October 19, 2009

Ernie Mann Profile

The Record: Five Questions: Ernie Mann
Ernie Mann is a Rensselaer resident and longtime railroad memorabilia collector who recently authored “Railroads of Rensselaer,” which was published under Arcadia Publishing’s Images of Rail series. Mann will be signing copies of his book at Borders in Crossgates Mall on Nov. 7 from 2 to 4 p.m.

Earlier post: Ernie Mann's "Railroads of Rensselaer"

Early AM Fire on Green St.

News Channel 13: Early morning fire burns part of Rensselaer block
RENSSELAER -- Fire broke out early this morning, destroying several homes and displacing four families.

The Record:
Five homes hit by fire
... No one was injured in the blaze, which began in an unoccupied home at 17 Green St. and spread to adjacent residences on the street, Foust said....

Times-Union: Fire destroys Rensselaer homes
...The house, which was vacant, burned to the ground. A second house at 19 Green St. sustained heavy damage and must be torn down....


The Record: Relief fund set up for fire victims

The Rensselaer Eagles have started a fund to help out people left homeless after a suspicious fire destroyed two homes and damaged three others early Sunday.

Donations: Key Bank, 16 Second Ave. or any other branch
Breakfast fund-raiser: Nov. 8, 8am-12pm, Leonardo DaVinci, 320 Broadway, Rensselaer

Saturday, October 17, 2009

October 1909 - New York Telephone Ads

100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

New York Telephone was advertising heavily in the Rensselaer Eagle throughout the Fall of 1909, as the competing Rensselaer Home Telephone service was about to become active. These ads were part of AT&T's strategy to publicize the Bell System's universal service as an institution of American Life [see Bell System History - Year of Decision]. The ads emphasized the benefits of owning a Bell System phone, from ordering coal to finding a fourth for playing bridge. (Click these to enlarge - my favorite is the plumbing emergency...)

The telephone industry in 1909 was an open competition, since the second of Bell's key telephone patents had expired in 1894, allowing independent phone companies to flourish. AT&T's A Brief History: Origins says that over 6,000 independent phone companies had been established by 1904 - but their systems didn't connect, so companies competed on "network effect" - how many people you could reach on their system.

Here's the Hudson River Telephone Co.'s ad from the Directory for the year 1907 of the cities of Albany and Rensselaer.

Rensselaer Eagle ads for Albany businesses would often say "both phones" to indicate they had a Hudson River Telephone number and an Albany Home Telephone number.

I believe that by October 1909, the Hudson River Telephone Company provided Rensselaerites access to the Bell System. [In September 1909, the Central New York Telephone and Telegraph Company had merged into New York Telephone, bringing with it the property and franchises of the Hudson River Telephone Company, which Central had purchased in March 1909 - reference Annual report of the Public Service Commission, Second District, Volume 3].

Oct. 9, 1909:

A schoolhouse without a telephone would seem strangely isolated in these days of constant communication.
Parents know that the school is always within call and this knowledge gives them a sense of security and comfort. The Bell Telephone carries the same confidence into all the relations of life. Your friends are brought within reach of your voice by the Universal Service of the Bell System.

Oct. 30, 1909:

It is wonderful how much satisfaction can be obtained from a talk over the Bell Telephone.
A letter carries words, but the Bell Service has been brought up to such a point of perfection that the modulations of the voice are clearly heard. The cheery tones show that the talker is well and in good spirits. The call may come from a suburban village or a distant city, but within the limits of the carrying power of the voice the Bell System carries the tone as well.

Nov. 13, 1909:

An hour saved in summoning the plumber by telephone may save the price of several years of service.
It certainly saves a lot of discomfort and worry. The Bell Telephone keeps the household in constant touch with all the resources of civilization and is instantly available in any emergency. It also keeps the household in constant touch with the broader outside world by means of the Long Distance Service of the Bell system.

Friday's Football

Times-Union: Rams run past Lake George

The Record: Rensselaer clinches No. 1 seed in Class D

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Doxie Dress Up

Just for fun, check out Doxie Dress Up, an Etsy shop featuring Penny, the miniature Dachshund. (Unlike Ralph Lauren, Doxie Dress Up doesn't have to photoshop their model to make her look so long and thin!).

With cold weather arriving prematurely, what could be better than a custom-made Cozy Coat, or better yet, The Dog's Pajamas?

Monday, October 12, 2009

"Rensselaer County’s Hudson River"

Kathy Sheehan, Rensselaer County Historian, will explore the history of the towns and cities that border the Hudson River from Schodack to Schaghticoke using historic maps, photographs, letters etc. from the Rensselaer County Historical Society archives.

October 18, Sunday, 2 PM, Rensselaer City Hall, 62 Washington Street.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Rensselaer City Candidates 2009

Daniel J. Dwyer (D), Incumbent
Edward S. Kosinski (R, I, C)
President of Common Council:
Harry Adalian (D): Web; Facebook; Twitter
Gloria Fonda (R, I, C)
City Clerk:
Maureen G. Nardacci (D, I), Incumbent
Ashlee E. Giacalone (R, C)
City Treasurer:
Susan L. Lupian (D) , Incumbent
Claude P. Manna, Jr (R, I, C)
Ward 1:

Marion L. Webber (D)
Dawn M. Gillan (R, I, C)
Ward 2:
James D. VanVorst, Jr (D, I)
Albertine M. Felts (R, C), Incumbent
Ward 3:
Philip J. Elacqua (D)
William J. Lithgow (R, I, C), Incumbent
Ward 4:
Gretchen A. Euvrard (D)
David M. Gardner (R, I, C )
Ward 5:
Dominick M. Tagliento, Jr (D), Incumbent
Bernard Maskell, Jr.
(R, I, C )
Ward 6:
Brian J. Stall (D, R, I, C ), Incumbent
    Ward 7:
    James F. Casey, Jr (D)
    Frank J. McClellan (R, I, C)
    Ward 8:
    Richard J. Mooney (D, I), Incumbent
    K D MacDonald, Jr. (R, C)
    Ward 9:
    Margaret M. VanDyke (D)
    Dennis R. Walters, Jr. (R, I, C)

    Rensselaer County Legislator, District 6 (City of Rensselaer)
    John M. Mooney (D, W)
    Michael E. Stammel (R, I, C), Incumbent

    If you see any mistakes above, or if you are a candidate with a web page, blog, Facebook page, LinkedIn profile or professional biography that you want linked to your name, please e-mail

    There's a Ward Map in the City Clerk's office, or find your Ward at NYS Polling Place Lookup (they call it "Election District").

    Attend the League of Women Voters Candidates' Debate at the Rensselaer High School Auditorium, Thur., Oct. 22nd, 7-9p.m if you have questions or comments for the candidates.

    October 9, 1909 - Life on Mars

    100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

    No Life On Mars?

    The nearness of the planet Mars to the earth has again made acute the question of whether or not it is inhabited. The most staggering blow to the theories of life on Mars is the report of the Lick observatory that no water vapor exists in the Martian atmosphere. Professor Percival Lowell, who is the most prominent advocate of the life on Mars theory, had already stated that he found evidences of both water vapor and oxygen. To test the matter definitely the Lick observatory astronomers placed their instruments on the top of Mount Whitney, which is not only one of the highest peaks on the continent, but has the added advantage of an exceedingly dry atmosphere. Thus the amount of water vapor in our own atmosphere was reduced to the lowest possible point. Comparative spectroscopic observations were made of Mars and the moon. The results, according to the Lick scientists, showed practically the same results from both bodies. As the moon is admitted to be without water vapor, this would seem to settle the question.

    Even admitting the correctness of their findings, however, the question is not entirely decided. The so called Martian canals, with their waxing and waning lines, supposed to be due to the annual growth and disappearance of vegetation, have yet to be explained. As in the case of the polar controversy, science will not render her verdict until the evidence is all in.

    The "polar controversy" referred to whether Frederick Cook or Robert Peary first reached the geographic North Pole. In 1910, Peary said Cook faked it in 1908 - Peary probably got within 5 miles in 1909. ("The North Pole: its discovery in 1909 under the auspices of the Peary Arctic Club".) Ken Burns' "National Parks" mentioned Cook's 1906 false claim of reaching the top of Mt. McKinley (video: "Denali: The First Climbers").

    The Victorians believed Mars was inhabited (see A Mars Timeline - an Italian astronomer observed "channels" in the 1870's - mistranslated as "canals", this suggested deliberate construction). Mars was still a hot topic in the early 1900's, when astronomer Percival Lowell addressed the issues of "Mars and its Canals" and "Mars as the Abode of Life". Read more about the Lick Observatory's 1909 Mars observations at "To Climb the Highest Mountain" (History of Astronomy, V.20, NO.2/61/JUN, P. 77, 1989).

    In the popular culture, H.G. Wells had serialized "The War of the Worlds" in 1898. "Edison's Conquest of Mars" by Garrett P. Serviss was also from 1898. Fiction in 1909 included "Zarlah the Martian" by R. Norman Grisewood and "Mirrikh: or, A woman from Mars" by Francis Worcester Doughty.

    One hundred years later, we're still unraveling the mysteries of Mars and the Moon, observing deposits of ice on Mars (New York Times, 9/28/2009: Red Planet May Be Better Known as the Wet One) and crashing a probe on the moon (Science Daily: Rocket Smash Could Find Moon’s Water Ice, Expert Says).

    Thursday, October 8, 2009

    Flu Shot Clinics

    Click here for a Flu Clinic Locator (seasonal flu shots only) from the American Lung Association. (I linked to a search for 3 miles from 12144, but you can redo the search.)

    Wednesday, October 7, 2009

    Meet Your Candidates

    Thanks to Rich Mooney for posting the following election season events on his 8th Ward Website.

    North End Neighborhood Association, Pot Luck and Meet the Candidates Night
    First Baptist Church, 1101 Washington Ave, Rensselaer, NY
    Thur., Oct. 8th, Dinner at 6, Meeting at 7pm

    Meet the 8th and 9th Ward Alderperson Candidates Rich Mooney and Peggy Mink-VanDyke
    Angie B's, 1204 Washington Ave, Rensselaer, NY
    Thur., Oct. 15th, 6-7p.m.

    League of Women Voters Candidates' Debate
    Rensselaer High School Auditorium
    Thur., Oct. 22nd, 7-9p.m.

    Electronics Recycling

    The Record: Get rid of old electronics

    Rensselaer County government, along with e-Lot, will sponsor an electronics recycling day Oct. 17 in the upper parking lot of the Rensselaer County office building located at 1600 Seventh Ave [Troy].

    Residents can drop off appliances and electronics for free but there is a $50 charge for televisions and $5 each for computer monitors.
    Residents who wish to attend the event are asked to enter the upper parking lot by Congress Street. The event, sponsored by the county Environmental Management Council, an office of the Legislature, will run from 9 a .m. to 2 p.m.

    Monday, October 5, 2009

    Eerie Tales at Crailo

    The Record (Greenbush Life): Fort Crailo a spooky look at the Hudson River Valley

    On Oct. 17, The Fort Crailo Historic Site in Rensselaer will be the place to hear all about some of the more eerie tales of the Hudson River and surrounding areas.

    For the past four years, Fort Crailo has taken advantage of their old Dutch cellar, decorating it for the Fall/Halloween season and gathering listeners to sit in on tales of yore.
    After the story times, which are 2 p.m. for kids, and 4 p.m. for older kids and adults, there will be refreshments and a craft for all to join in.
    Crailo Historic Site is at 9 1/2 Riverside Ave. in Rensselaer. Check out their Facebook Page too.

    St. Joseph's Closure

    CBS News Channel 13: Church in city of Rensselaer closes for good [video]

    Parishioners at St. Joseph's gathered Friday night to reflect and share memories of their church.

    Tuesday, September 29, 2009

    Rensselaer's History Research Center

    Rensselaer's 8th Ward (Rich Mooney): History Lessons about our City

    The Record
    (For Greenbush Life): Dedication of the History Research Center slated

    The public is welcome to attend the formal dedication of the Rensselaer City History Research Center. at 2 p.m. Oct. 4. The dedication, display and reception will be held at the center on the second floor of Rensselaer City Hall, 62 Washington St., Rensselaer.

    The Research Center is dedicated to provide materials for research and information about the City of Rensselaer and its predecessors, Bath on the Hudson , East Albany and Greenbush. ...

    Today's posts both involve renovated schools - the Rensselaer City History Research Center is located in the former Fort Crailo Elementary School, where the City Hall moved in 2008. To learn more:

    A Green School Renovation

    The Record (for Greenbush Life): Green where possible… Doane Stuart School’s new campus

    The building at 199 Washington Ave. in Rensselaer won’t be sitting vacant anymore, which would most likely have been its fate, had Doane Stuart School not declared it its new home.
    “One of the ‘greenest’ things we did was to move into the building…rather than build new"...

    To see the renovated campus: Doane Stuart Pics

    Monday, September 28, 2009

    Yankee Doodle Band

    The Record (Greenbush Life): Yankee Doodle Band notes more than eight tuneful decades

    When the members of a Rensselaer-based band put trumpets and trombones to their lips, they are continuing a tradition that began 82 years ago. That makes it the oldest American Legion band in the country.

    The Fort Crailo American Legion Yankee Doodle Band, as its website notes, “traces its origins to 1927 when a group of American Legion members formed a Drum and Bugle Corps.

    You can see the the Yankee Doodle Band at these upcoming events:
    Sat., Oct. 10, 1pm: Columbus Day parade, Albany
    Sat., Oct. 17, 9am: American Heart Association Heart Walk, Colonie NY
    Sun., Nov. 8, 10am: Veterans' Service parade, Rensselaer
    Tue., Nov. 11, 11:11am: Veterans' Day parade, Albany

    Here's the Yankee Doodle Band in Rensselaer's 2009 Memorial Day Parade.

    Sunday, September 27, 2009

    Firehouse Brickwork

    The exterior of the Washington Ave. firehouse seems to be nearing completion, and the partitions are going up inside. At last month's North End neighborhood meeting, we learned that the firehouse will be open by January, but they're hoping to finish it much earlier.

    Here are a couple of shots from the past week (click to enlarge).

    Saturday, September 26, 2009

    September 25, 1909 - Fire Parade

    100 Years Ago: From The Rensselaer Eagle [NY 41 Rensselaer 93-32173].

    Rensselaer did not host a Hudson-Fulton celebration in 1909, as the state did not come through with promised funds. Instead, there was a big parade of all the fire companies.

    For the first time since the new fire apparatus was received last winter the citizens of Rensselaer will have the opportunity to view the department as a whole. Such an opportunity has not been given for the reason that when the apparatus did reach Rensselaer cold weather was at hand and it was not feasible to have a parade.

    But this afternoon the citizens are promised a treat. The firemen, in their neat, well fitting uniform, and the policemen in their best clothes will march about a route that takes the parade past every one of the fire houses in the city. ...

    I couldn't resist adding this notice of bids for the 1909 fire department:
    Sept. 6, 1909 - Mr. John Salt, City Clerk: In answer to bids for supplying fire department is as follows: No. 2 white oats, 68 1-2c per bushel; Timothy hay, $19 per ton; loose timothy hay, $19 per ton; oat straw, $17 per ton. Respectfully yours, Peter J. Mahan, Rensselaer, N. Y.

    Sept. 13, 1909 - To the Honorable Board of Fire Commissioners, Gentlemen: We, the undersigned will furnish by your order or order from the City Clerk to the fire houses to the amount of 400 bushels of oats, at 75¢ per bushel; 10 tons more or less of baled hay, $20 per ton; 10 tons more or less of loose hay, $20; 10 tons more or less oat straw, $17 per ton. Yours truly, Waugh & Berry.

    Com. M. Murphy moved that bids for feed department be rejected on the ground that same are excessive. Carried.

    Haying scene, St. James (Long Island)

    Frederick Ruther, 1909,

    Lewis Wickes Hine also took wonderful photos of haying in New York and New England, but they were dated simply 1907-1937, too broad a range for me to use. See them on Strip 10 and Strip 12 in the collection of the George Eastman House, Rochester, NY.

    Friday, September 25, 2009

    Funds for Flood Prevention

    News Channel 13: Rensselaer gets $1M for flood damage [video]
    Thirteen months after flood waters slammed into Rensselaer, causing millions of dollars in damages, the city is getting some help.

    The Record: State funds received for flood prevention
    The new money, which is coming from two funding sources in the Assembly, will go towards clearing the areas along the Mill and Quackenderry creeks since collapsed culverts and restrictors likely caused the flooding.

    Earlier Posts: