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At SPAC: Free Caffè Lena Concert Series, New Gazebo Stage, Film Series Announced
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Three Sundays of free music, a new gazebo, and nearly three weeks of film screenings highlight some of the new amenities at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center this season, the organization announced Wednesday at the Hall of Springs, during its annual meeting.
A “Caffè Lena @ SPAC” Concert Series – in reciprocity of the recent “SPAC at Caffè Lena” series will take place on SPAC’s gazebo stage from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday afternoons, June 11, July 9 and Aug. 27.
“We look forward to bringing people from all corners of our community together to experience the exhilaration of live music performances, without the barrier of cost,” said SPAC President and CEO Elizabeth Sobol.
The musical lineup, thus far, features Birds of Chicago, The Pines on June 11; The Steel Wheels, Twisted Pine, Honeysuckle and Western Den on July 9, and Soul Inscribed, Sweet Megg & The Wayfarers, and Let's Be Leonard on Aug. 27. Fans are welcome to bring in food, drink, blankets and lawn chairs for the concerts. Food concessions will also be available. In the event of rain on the day of performance, the concert location will shift to Caffè Lena, on Phila Street.
Also new this year: SPAC will host the Saratoga Film Forum at the Spa Little Theatre from July 20 – Aug. 2, and Aug. 23 - 28. Many of the films screened during the series will feature subjects with connections to artists, composers, choreographers or works that are part of SPAC’s summer programming. The film schedule will be announced in the coming weeks.
The venue’s new gazebo, which will feature an increase in square footage of 133 percent over the current one, will be named after the late Charles R. Wood – who in addition to his other regional accomplishments was a member of SPAC’s board during the ‘90s. The Charles R. Wood Foundation awarded a $150,000 grant to SPAC that will underwrite the cost of replacing SPAC’s aging gazebo stage.
According to SPAC’s 2016 Revenue Statement issued Wednesday, $10 million in operating revenues topped approximately $9.85 million in operating expenses, resulting in a net surplus of approximately $152,000.
Neighbors: Snippets of Life From Your Community
Who: Joe Deuel, photographer, sound man.
Where: Caffè Lena.
You’re a native Saratogian. How long has your family been here? What did they do?
I’m the fifth generation. And everyone in town knew my dad. He was a pro bowler in the ‘50s and had a photo studio on Phila Street. Later, he ended up being the manager of Saratoga Bowl and Hi-Roc Lanes. I kind of grew up in bowling alleys.
How long have you been interested in photography?
I always had a camera in my hand, from the time I was eight. It was a cheap little thing and I was always shooting pictures. Later, they had a photo club when I was in junior high – it’s the Lake Avenue School now - and the first time I saw a print develop, that was it.
Do you remember the first time you came to the café?
I was in 12th grade and came here with two friends from high school. This was late ’72 or early ’73. Utah Philipps was recording his album called “Good Though!” That was my introduction to Caffè Lena. Utah turned out to be a real influence, a real teacher.
You have been the sound man at Caffè Lena for several decades. How did that start?
I came here to do the dishes one night and got wrapped up in the place. Someone asked me to do the sound one night for Peppino D’Agostino, the Italian guitar wizard. I helped him turn a few knobs, then Lena kind of stuck me on it and there was no getting out.
What are your lasting impressions of Lena, who died in 1989?
Lena was pretty complicated and fascinating in a lot of ways. I remember I’d go out on Thursdays and buy all the groceries for the weekend and come in and do sound and wait tables at the same time. On the days I wasn’t here I’d asked her, “Why don’t you call me, so I know you’re OK, or if you need anything.” So, she’d call me every morning. She was like my alarm clock. The first thing I did every morning was get a phone call from Lena, and we’d chat. It was sad when that stopped.
You have probably had many a-brush with fame?
This town’s crazy because with SPAC here. You can be sitting in Desperate Annie’s and the guy sitting next to you is Donovan. A friend of mine was sitting in the Parting Glass once, and Tom Waits walked in - still wearing his bum clothes from (filming the movie) “Ironweed,” and they were about to boot him out of there. Robert Plant came in one night. This town’s full of funny things. The first time the Talking Heads played at SPAC, the band showed up at the Bijou where we were watching Fear of Strangers, who were a great Albany band. I was wearing my Harley jacket and my Ramones T-shirt and Jerry Harrison walked up to me, laughed and said: Nice shirt. That cracked me up. We ended up chatting for a little while.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Saratoga Springs during your lifetime?
The bottom line for me is that I can’t afford to live here anymore. One thing I always looked for in apartments was how far the walk was from the café, because I was here all the time. Now it’s a 10-mile drive for me. It was such a threadbare, defunct town in the ‘70s. The stores on Caroline and Phila were pretty much shut down. There were some old stores on Broadway that had been there forever, then the mall came and that made it worse downtown. There were some great places I miss to this day, like Mabbett’s and Farmers Hardware. Even though the town now is gleaming and successful it’s gotten a little too precious. I think the ‘80s, when things started to come around, was a wonderful time here.
Saratoga Springs Resident Earns “Man of the Year” Honors After Raising More than $58k for LLS
The harsh facts are these: someone is diagnosed in this country with a blood cancer every 3 minutes, and an estimated 1.2 million people are either living with, or are in remission from leukemia, lymphoma or myeloma - which will take the lives of more than 58,000 Americans in one calendar year. But, there are signs of positive progress.
The five-year relative survival rate has more than doubled for people with Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin Lymphoma, and more than quadrupled for those with myeloma and leukemia since the early 1960s, according to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society. LLS is the largest voluntary health organization dedicated to funding research, finding cures and ensuring access to treatments for blood cancer patients.
Saratoga Springs resident Joe Kakaty believes it is possible eradicate blood cancer in our lifetime.
“Cancer affects everybody, from the spectrum of a survivor to being a friend or having a family member who has cancer. Leukemia is in my family,” Kakaty said. “We felt: let’s do something.”
Enlisting the help of his wife, Josey, and the couple’s three children - Bella, Joey and Kenny – the family embarked on a 10-week fundraising campaign which secured more than $58,000 via more than 500 different donors for LLS and resulted in Kakaty being named the Upstate New York/Vermont Chapter of The Leukemia & Lymphoma Society’s 2017 Man of the Year.
The family’s 10-week campaign included a dozen fundraising events at a variety of Saratoga Springs restaurants, a house event – catered pro bono by Augie’s Family Style Italian Restaurant – and an online social media strategy. A website remains active for those interested in making donations at: http://www.mwoy.org/pages/uny/alb17/jkakaty.
Staging 12 events in 10 weeks can be grueling work for anyone, but Kakaty said the family grew closer to one another in pulling together to make the campaign a success.
“We were invigorated. Whenever we felt a little tired it was easy to overcome, because we thought of what the families have to go through,” he said.
Kakaty was one of nine candidates who signed on to participate in the 10-week campaign. In all, the nine candidates raised more than $311,000 and Kakaty said he was touched by the generosity and humanity of donors, whose online contributions poured in from across the country, often with an attached note that shared their own personal story.
The three Kakaty kids recorded a song for the campaign and will continue to dobate a percentage of proceeds earned through the music to the leukemia society. The video may be viewed on YouTube here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=grvkObff1l4.
May 19th - May 25th
John A. Oakes, 32, homeless, pleaded on May 9 to felony attempted assault DWI in connection with an incident that occurred in Saratoga Springs.
Fred F. Albright III, 35, of Saratoga Springs, was sentenced on May 10 to one year in jail, after pleading to felony DWI.
Manuel Olmo, 48, of Saratoga Springs, pleaded on May 5 to felony DWI in connection with an incident that occurred in Saratoga Springs.
Justin M. Lematty, 28, of Malta, pleaded on May 5 to felony criminal mischief in connection with an incident that occurred in Malta.
Edmund G. Currier III, 63, of Corinth, pleaded on May 8 to felony DWI in connection with an incident that occurred in Saratoga Springs.
Kimberly J. Voigt, 53, of Ballston Spa, pleaded on May 8 to felony DWI in connection with an incident that occurred in Ballston Spa.
Two Plattsburgh men face multiple charges after allegedly breaking into a vending machine at the Holiday Inn. Police said Nicholas A. Lord, age 24, and John W. Rotondi, age 52, entered the Holiday Inn at approximately 2 a.m. on May 11, stole the contents, a money container, and caused significant damage to the vending machine. The container and tools suspected to break into the machine were discovered during a traffic stop shortly after the alleged incident.
Both men were charged with the following misdemeanors: possession of burglar tools, petit larceny, criminal possession of stolen property, and criminally using drug paraphernalia; and felony criminal mischief. Lord was additionally charged with operating a motor vehicle impaired by drugs, and failure to keep right. Both suspects were arraigned and sent to Saratoga County Jail in lieu of bail.
Edward J. Shusta, age 28, Saratoga Springs, was charged on April 30 with criminal mischief in the fourth-degree, a misdemeanor.
Jordyn A. Kelly, age 22, Amsterdam, was charged on April 30 with speeding, and aggravated unlicensed operation- a misdemeanor.
Raymond J. Brown, age 51, Saratoga Springs, was charged on April 30 with misdemeanor DWI, misdemeanor aggravated unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, and failure to signal a turn.
Shane M. Comfort, age 39, Gansevoort, was charged on April 29 with aggravated unlicensed operation – a misdemeanor, and failure to signal a turn.
Alexander C. Moen, age 24, Columbus, Ohio, was charged on April 29 with two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief.
Billy Joe E. Ryle, age 40, Saratoga Springs, was charged on April 29 with third degree assault, and endangering the welfare of a child – both misdemeanors.
James L. Sheeran, age 29, Ballston Spa, was charged on April 29 with misdemeanor DWI, and a driving violation.
John R. Hile, age 60, Wildwood, Missouri, was charged on April 29 with misdemeanor DWI, and failure to keep right.
Marc A. Gambaro, age 51, Saratoga Springs, was charged on April 29 with misdemeanor DWI, and passing a red traffic signal.
On Saturday night May 13, city police closed South Federal Street by the Stonequist Apartments to pedestrian traffic after receiving a call regarding a black duffel bag left unattended. The contents of the duffel bag were found not to be of any threat and the owner of the bag was eventually identified. No criminal activity was involved and the scene was opened back up approximately 60 minutes later.
Matthew J. Marry, age 28, and Kristine C. Tiger, age 27, both of Saratoga Springs, were each charged on May 5 with two misdemeanor counts criminal possession of a controlled substance, and one misdemeanor count criminally using drug paraphernalia, following the execution of a search warrant on Crescent Street. The search warrant was the result of an investigation into the residence and possible illegal narcotic activities taking place. Both were arraigned and sent to Saratoga County Jail in lieu of $1,000 cash bail.
Sean M. Warkentin, age 33, Saratoga Springs was charged on April 28 with false impersonation, a misdemeanor.
Erin L. Cmuchowski, age 23, Chatham, was charged on April 28 with misdemeanor DWI, and speeding.
Chadwick E. Miner, age 35, Hadley, was charged on April 27 with aggravated unlicensed operation third degree, a misdemeanor.
Wesanne B. Visscher, age 35, Corinth, was charged on April 27 with misdemeanor DWI, false impersonation, criminally using drug paraphernalia, criminal possession of stolen property, endangering the welfare of a child - a Leandra’s law offense due to the fact that an 8-year-old child was in the vehicle at the time, petit larceny, and the felonies: aggravated DWI, and aggravated unlicensed operation/ under the influence.
Student Athletes Give Back: Saratoga Baseball Hosts Benefit Game
SARATOGA SPRINGS – This year’s senior game carried extra importance for the Saratoga Varsity baseball team.
In addition to honoring the team’s senior players, the May 13 non-league game against Schuylerville was also used to raise money for cancer research. To this end, the team raised money in a number of ways, including selling t-shirts. Saratoga Coach Andy Cuthbertson decided that the money should be raised in the name of Tracy Hogben, a long-time Saratoga Springs City School District substitute teacher, recent full-time employee at Lake Avenue Elementary, and parent of five children currently enrolled in the district alongside her husband, Gordon. Three of their children – Gordon Jr., Harrison, and Griffin – play baseball for Saratoga.
On Oct. 18 of last year, Hogben suffered a seizure at home, which led to her diagnosis on Oct. 25 of a Right Frontal Lobe Primary Brain Tumor. After 13 days at Albany Medical Center and a craniotomy, Hogben was found to have an Oligodendreglioma, a Grade 2 primary brain tumor.
Hogben attended the benefit game and threw out the first pitch in front of around 500 people in attendance. Both the Saratoga Springs and Schuylerville communities have taken part in raising money, and have, as of May 16, raised $4,989. Donations are still being collected, and once collection is finished, the money will be donated to the Albany Medical Center Brain Tumor Research Fund.
“The community did a fantastic job of stepping up to support one of our own families in need,” Robin Chudy said. “The money raised will be a donation to Albany Medical Center as it will provide resources to continue to look for possible cures for cancer.”
According to Chudy, many parents got involved by setting up food tables for the game, as well as by creating a program for the game that included pages dedicated to the Hogben family, as well as pages for all seven senior players. Far from just working towards a noble cause, it was a great day all around for the Blue Streaks as they beat Schuylerville 6-0.
Al photos by www.photoandgraphic.com.
Skidmore-Saratoga Partnership Benefits Students and Businesses
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Officially known as MB 360, the Saratoga-Skidmore Consulting Partnership (SSCP) offers invaluable benefits to both Skidmore College students and local businesses. Headed by Colleen Burke, SSCP gives students from a variety of degree paths hands-on experience working as consultants for local businesses.
For the businesses themselves, they gain insights from a diverse and often international pool of young minds. Students in the program come from degree paths as varied as business management, English, psychology, and more, as well from countries all over the world, like Japan, Swaziland, Haiti, Germany, and Brazil.
As a manager in the program, Maya Reyes has been with SSCP for two semesters. During her time, she worked with Saratoga TODAY to help the publication stream-line its visual identity, as before, the design would vary significantly from page to page. Reyes and her team helped the paper develop its “blue box” strategy, making it cohesive across the whole publication.
“We undertake a lot of market research, including extensive focus groups and group surveys, so we learn how to do those things at a professional level,” Reyes said about the academic benefits of the program.
Robert Pierce is another student who has been with the program for the last two semesters. Among the projects he has been a part of, perhaps the biggest was with Death Wish Coffee. After the local extra-strength coffee company landed a commercial during Super Bowl L in 2016, the company’s national profile grew exponentially. Pierce and his group helped the company scale its practices to help meet higher demand while staying as efficient as before.
Pierce also worked with Battenkill Valley Creamery – run by Skidmore alum Seth McEachron – to help the company develop new growth strategies that focused on telling the company’s history.
“This course has been everything for me,” Pierce said. “It’s all I talk about in job interviews, it’s all employers ask about, and... I can talk about this course for hours on end. Professor Colleen Burke has been the most supportive figure in my life, in regards to job hunting, motivating me, and helping me find my true skills.”
Holocaust Survivor Shares Story with Saratoga Students
SARATOGA SPRINGS – In a talk full of warmth, humanity, and disarming humor, Holocaust survivor Hedi McKinley spoke to an audience of Saratoga Springs High School students about the horrors she escaped and about the things she hoped people would take away from her story.
The school’s Loewenburg Auditorium was packed for the assembly on May 16. According to Ron Schorpp, a teacher who helped bring McKinley to the school, eight classes had confirmed that they would be coming beforehand, with an estimated 12 showing up in total. In addition, students had permission to leave their classes to attend if they wished.
McKinley was 18-years-old in Austria when she remembers the Nazis arriving in her hometown, noting that November 1938 had been the coldest month for the country in 20 years. Around 10 p.m. one night, she answered the door to find two boys, about 16, ordering them to get out. While they were told not to bring any of their possessions, McKinley managed to hide the house keys in her bra, which she credits with saving her life. With the help of her then-boyfriend Max – being half Jewish and half Catholic, he was permitted to wear a Nazi armband and stay safe on the streets – she fled to England, where she had been able to secure a travel visa by writing letters to names in a phone book asking for a job as a scullery maid. While she made it safely out of the country, she would lose at least 12 family members to the Holocaust.
In one of her moments of unexpected humor, McKinley noted how she had a rough time making it as a maid at first.
“I couldn’t do anything,” she said. “I couldn’t even boil and egg.”
Later, thanks to an American uncle, McKinley was able to come to America, albeit without Max, who deemed the country “fascist.”
After finishing her story, McKinley took questions from the audience, most of which were about her life since making it to America as a refugee. She talked about returning to Austria and her hometown, a painful trip which she nonetheless makes frequently. Since she now receives sums of money from the Austrian government as recompense, she prefers to give the money back to the people of Austria. On these return trips, she spends the money on “whipped cream and chocolate cake,” as well as Austrian white wine, which she recommended heartily. She also told her story of visiting Max years after leaving him to go to America, humorously noting that he married a woman who “looked just like” her. Ultimately, she was glad not to have married him. One of the biggest eruptions of laughter from the assembly came when she recounted first seeing Adolf Hitler in a procession through her hometown.
“He was not a very good looking man,” she said.
Photo header by Thomas Kika.
May 12th - May 18th
Francis H. Joy, 34, of Ballston Lake, was charged on May 4 with four counts of attempted rape in the first-degree, three counts of sexual abuse in the first-degree, and one count of sexual conduct against a child, in connection with allegations of an incident to have taken place in Malta in 2017. Joy is suspected of having sexually abused and attempted to rape a child less than 13 years old on multiple occasions, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s office. Joy was arraigned in Malta Town Court and held in lieu of $30,000 cash, or $60,000 bond.
James A. Garafalo, 21, of Saratoga Springs, pleaded on May 4 to felony criminal contempt, in connection with an incident that occurred in Wilton. Sentencing scheduled for June 27.
Timothy P. Sims, 26, of Malta, pleaded on May 4 to felony burglary, in connection with an incident that occurred in Milton. Sentencing scheduled for July 6.
James L. Mosher, 51, of Moreau, pleaded on May 2 to sexual abuse in the first-degree, a felony, in connection with an incident that occurred in Moreau in December 2015. Sentencing scheduled for June 27.
John D. Miller, 44, of Albany, pleaded on May 2 to criminal possession of a forged instrument, a felony, in connection with an incident that occurred in Malta. Sentencing scheduled for June 27.
Linda M. Sims, 24, of Ballston Spa, pleaded on May 2 to fourth degree conspiracy, a felony, in connection with an incident that occurred in Milton. Sentencing scheduled for June 27.
Donnell J. Bertrand, 28, of Schenectady, was sentenced on May 2 to three years in state prison and five years of post-release supervision, and one year in jail to run concurrently, after pleading to one count second degree assault and one count third degree assault, in connection with an incident that occurred in Malta.
Leah H. Detroye, age 19, Porters Corners, was charged on April 27 with criminal mischief, assault, and endangering the welfare of a child.
Hayden M. Jacobs, age 26, Corinth, was charged on April 27 with petit larceny.
Graham T. Bodwell, age 57, Ballston Spa, was charged on April 26 with operating a motor vehicle with a suspended registration- a misdemeanor, and having no/expired insurance.
Nathan J. Surprenant, age 30, Saratoga Springs, was charged on April 26 with two felony counts of assault, and two misdemeanor counts of resisting arrest.
Victor Demarco, age 59, Mechanicville, was charged on April 25 with aggravated unlicensed operation, and failure to stop at stop sign.
Tyler J. Traquair, age 27, Colchester, Vermont, was charged on April 25 with aggravated unlicensed operation, and speeding.
Hallie E. Gudzan, age 31, Albany, was charged on April 25 with aggravated unlicensed operation, and failure to stop at a stop sign.
Christopher L. Spenello, age 30, Saratoga Springs, was charged on April 25 with criminal sex act in the third degree/ lack of consent, and rape in the third-degree. Both charges are felonies.
John A. Maier, Jr., 76, of Ballston Spa, was charged on April 26 with illegal voting, a felony. It is alleged Maier voted more than once in the 2016 General Election, having filed an absentee ballot with the Pasco County, Florida Board of Elections in October 2016 as well as casting a vote on Nov. 8, 2016 in the town of Milton, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office.
Jayme L. LaQue, 37, of Milton, was charged on April 21 with third-degree arson in connection with a suspicious fire incident at her residence.
Daniel C. Parent, 19, homeless, was charged with first-degree robbery, and second degree assault – both felonies, in connection with an alleged incident that occurred April 10 in the town of Ballston. Parent is suspected of being one of several people who chased a 28-year old male victim into a parking lot on State Route 50 where they punched, kicked, and hit him with a tree branch, which caused injury, and forcibly took the victim’s boots, according to the Saratoga County Sheriff’s Office. He was sent to Saratoga County Jail in lieu of $25,000 cash, or $50,000 bond.
Anthony M. Perez, age 24, Amsterdam, and Mathew C. Budniewski, age 28, Goshen, were each charged on April 23 with unlawful possession of marijuana, and criminal possession of a controlled substance.
Michael R. Sawicz, age 21, Glenville, was charged on April 23 with misdemeanor DWI, and aggravated DWI.
Elizabeth A. Weber, age 33, Mechanicville, was charged on April 23 with misdemeanor DWI, and speeding.
Anthony R. Rubino, age 53, Pequannock, New Jersey, was charged on April 22 with aggravated unlicensed operation, and failure to stop at stop sign.
Lamont L. Wilson, age 45, Schenectady, was charged on April 22 with aggravated harassment in the second-degree.
Marques D. Taylor-McConner, age 21, Mechanicville, was charged on April 22 with misdemeanor DWI, failure to keep right, speeding, and making an improper left turn.
Corey D. Collins, age 25, Glenville, was charged on April 22 with speeding, aggravated unlicensed operation in the first-degree, a felony, and misdemeanor DWI.
Hale Oprah: Local Artist Hopes Kids’ Book Inspires Audience with Winfrey
SARATOGA SPRINGS – Susan Hale strolled the streets of her ancestors, one recent weekday afternoon.
“My family originally came from Boston, and it goes pretty far back,” she said, tracing a lineage from 20th century Union College Professor Edward Everett Hale Jr. to 19th century artists Susan Hale and Philip Leslie Hale; 18th century American patriot Nathan Hale – who famously said "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country," just prior to being executed for spying on British troops - to Massachusetts minister John Hale, whom the history books remember for his involvement during the Salem Witch Trials of 1692. More than 250 years later, his fictional portrayal appear in Arthur Miller's play “The Crucible.”
It was at some of Saratoga Springs’ most prominent venues – most gone, some still in existence – where her great-great grandfather, Rev. Edward Everett Hale, delivered popular sermons in the late 19th century during biennialUnitarian Conferences that drew attendees from across the northeast.
It is Hale’s own talents, which stretch across a broad spectrum of the arts, that brings her to Saratoga Springs on this day. One project in particular – a children’s book she wrote and illustrated titled “Follow Your Dreams!” – Hale hopes will inspire an audience with Oprah Winfrey. The media giant is slated to speak at Skidmore College’s commencement at the Saratoga Performing Arts Center on May 20.
“I want to give a box of books to Oprah’s school in Africa. How do you do that? When I heard that she was coming to Saratoga…I don’t know, it would be a dream to get my books to Oprah, because the story is about positivity, and persisting in spite of bullies,” Hale said.
In 2007, Oprah opened the Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, a competitive boarding school in Johannesburg, South Africa, that offers education to disadvantaged students from across the country, Skidmore College will recognize Winfrey's commitment to education through her academy. One of the graduates of Winfrey’s school will also be receiving a Skidmore degree.
The protagonist of Hales’ illustrated book is “Pickles,” a real-life pot-bellied pig who the author took in, in 1997.
“I always wanted a pig - since I was a little kid, like Arnold on ‘Green Acres.’ She was a perfect house pet. She rode in the car with me across the country, from here to L.A., and after the book got done Pickles would come with me to school assemblies and book store signings,” said Hale, who received a bachelor of music degree in classical organ performance from Wheaton College in Illinois.
“Pickles is the neglected one who no one ever hears and who struggles to be heard. She sees a Fairy Pig Mother, who says to her: don’t let them get you down, just follow your dreams,” explained Hale, whose own markers of a lifetime of achievement spill out from the confines of her oversized briefcase. They include flyers promoting “The Pickles Power TV Show” that broadcast on Schenectady’s cable access, clippings from Los Angeles newspapers about her potbellied pig trying to make it big in Hollywood, images from Pickles’ media photoshoots, and prototype T-shirts emblazoned with the words: Dare To Dream - Pickle Power!
“I dream big,” offered Hale, whose oil paintings have been exhibited and classical concerts performed from the South American country of Ecuador to the northern climes of Saratoga Springs. (A clip of her performance at The Grove last summer of Rachmaninoff’s “Prelude in G Minor” may be viewed at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=36LEhH7-NKg). In October, she is slated to perform at Carnegie Hall. “That’s been a longtime dream,” Hale enthused.
After Pickles passed away, the book project went on the back-burner, but Hale said she has a renewed interest in updating the illustrations and re-issuing the book.
Pickles’ dream is to be a singer and the book illustrated the challenges she faces and overcomes to reach her goal. Hale also sings a narration in an accompanying CD. “Follow your dreams,” Hale asserted.” I’m living proof.”
For more information about the book “Follow Your Dreams,” go to: http://www.picklepower.us/, and for Susan Hale, go to: http://www.susanbhale.com/home.html.
Neighbors: Snippets of Life From Your Community
Who: Joe Cutshall-King.
Where: Saratoga Springs Public Library.
What are you doing today?
I’m giving a talk on the story behind the story of “The Burning of The Piping Rock,” which is a novel I wrote about the Piping Rock Casino here in Saratoga in 1954. The book is fiction, but it’s based upon real characters.
When did the book come out?
What prompted you to write the story?
My family. I learned things about my own family in light of what happened when I was writing the book. It turned out to be a horrifying story, actually.
What was your family’s connection to the story?
My dad was a pharmacist. He worked as a manager for MacFinn’s Drugstore, which was at 396 Broadway in those days, and his boss was James Leary – who was, shall we say, extremely close friends with the Mafia – who ran all the casinos. When I was older, my dad told me that he sold the arsonist the materials to burn the Piping Rock, so that started my interest in it.
How much did you know about the story when you were a kid?
I was born in 1947 and at first, it was very secret. Gradually, as my family got further and further away, decades after the incident, they told the younger kids. But I never heard all of it, it was in bits and pieces.
You were born in Saratoga, but abruptly moved to Washington County?
We fled. One day I was playing on Lincoln Avenue and the next day I was being shoved in a car with everything we owned and we left. We went to Fort Edward just to get away from it.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in Saratoga Springs during your lifetime?
The improvements on Broadway. The vibrancy. I hear people lament that it’s gotten so expensive, but I’ll tell you: this is heaven. Beautiful and live-able.
You’ve written a screenplay of the novel. If a film were made, who would you like to see in it?
Jon Hamm to play my father. My dad was extremely good looking.