Pottersville Model Railroad Builders Win Auction, Must Raise Money to Pay the Tab

You could forgive Clarke Dunham if the events of the last few months have him feeling as if he were a character in a Frank Capra movie — special dispensation, naturally, accorded to anyone who calls Pottersville home.

Railroad parade in Pottersville - ReBath of Albany

The Dunham’s railroad attraction in Pottersville.

Faced with financial difficulties, he and his wife, Barbara, were about to lose Tthe Station, a model railroad that attracted millions during the holidays to the former Citigroup building, in Midtown Manhattan, during its 17-year run there.

Since 2011, the Station has been part of Railroads on Parade, a small roadside attraction the Dunhams run just north of Lake George. But when the business failed to turn a profit, a financial backer, John Couri, of Ridgefield, Conn., forced the Dunhams to sell the train exhibits at auction.

The Dunhams thought the four railroad displays would be split up and dispersed to individual buyers.

“We were prepared to kiss it all goodbye,” Mr. Dunham said.

The auction took place on Veterans Day. The Dunhams placed modest bids of $25,000 each for two of the railroad sets, far less than they were expected.

To the Dunhams’ surprise, their bids went unchallenged. With no other bids, the Dunhams negotiated to pay $75,000 for all four railroad displays, keeping them together and resurrecting hopes that they could one day return to New York City.

“The fact that we’re suddenly back in the game, we’re elated,” Mr. Dunham said. “The whole thing is kind of Capra-esque.”

There is still the matter of settling the tab before a Dec. 20 deadline. For that, the Dunhams have help: Lucius J. Riccio, a former New York City transportation commissioner in the Dinkins administration, said he planned to start a campaign on Kickstarter. To Mr. Dunham, 77, a Broadway set designer who has been nominated for two Tony Awards, the Station is an art form that also captures both New York City and railroading history.

“Clarke’s train station was a masterpiece,” said Mr. Riccio, an engineer, Columbia University adjunct professor and former Metropolitan Transportation Authority board member. “I just loved looking at the exhibit with all its wonderful details and intricate train movements. I guess I’m naturally attracted to transportation-related things of any size. I have a childlike interest in the model railroads he displayed.”

“But really, what kid of any age wouldn’t love it? Did you see the excitement displayed by the kids who saw it? Clarke’s exhibit was a tremendous addition to New York.”

Railroad Parade in Pottersville - ReBath of Albany

Barbara and Clarke Dunham in September at Railroads on Parade in Pottersville. Credit Nathaniel Brooks for The New York Times

The Station was displayed in Manhattan from 1987 to 1990 and from 1996 to 2008, when Citigroup withdrew its sponsorship.

Mr. Dunham said his preference is for Railroads on Parade to remain intact at its current location, run as a nonprofit entity, and to have the Station brought to New York each year as a seasonal show.

“It only takes a day to put everything in a truck and move it,” he said.

But Mr. Dunham realizes that the first priority is to raise enough money to finalize the sale. In Capra’s “It’s a Wonderful Life,” the main character, George Bailey, lived in fictional Bedford Falls, which, under a scenario presented by a guardian angel, would have become sinister Pottersville had George taken a different path in life.

In the end, of course, all ended well: George’s friends came forward with enough money to save the day, if not the town. The Dunhams would welcome a similar Hollywood-type ending, but they recognize that it may not come easily.

“The only problem with reality is that when you wake up from the dream, the hard work is always still ahead,” Mr. Dunham said. “So, you just go ahead and do it.”

This story was originally published in the New York Times.

Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park toasts new partnership

Nearly 17 months after opening a production plant in the woods of Saratoga County, the Shmaltz Brewing Company is branching out to offer its “chosen beer” at Capital Region retail establishments.

Shmaltz Brewing Co. in Clifton Park - ReBath of Albany

Jeremy Cowan, left, owner of Shmaltz Brewing Company and Jeff Vukelic, president of Saratoga Eagle, pose for a photograph inside the brewery on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, in Clifton Park, N.Y. (Paul Buckowski / Times Union)

Under a new partnership, Saratoga Springs distributor Saratoga Eagle Sales &Service started delivering Shmaltz’s craft beers to stores, bars and restaurants across the area. The arrangement vastly increases the beer producer’s reach into its home market, while giving customers greater access to its flavors, which are brewed in huge vats off the Northway’s Exit 10.

“This is a big deal for us,” Jeremy Cowan, owner of Shmaltz Brewing Co., said Thursday. “The beer culture around here has come so far, so quickly.”

Previously, Shmaltz’s “He’brew – The Chosen Beer” was distributed by Craft Beer Guild Distributing of New York, located near New Paltz, and available only in “boutique” bars. Last month, Cowan switched to Saratoga Eagle. It’s now available at more than 100 upstate locations. The Saratoga-based distributor is delivering Shmaltz brands to retail businesses in 12 counties, including the Capital Region.

“You’re going to get quality beer that may not have been available before,” said Jeff Vukelic, president of Saratoga Eagle. The goal is to reach more beer drinkers in neighborhood pubs, family restaurants and corner grocery stores. Four locations in Clifton Park’s shopping district off the Northway’s Exit 9 already carry Shmaltz products, including the chain restaurant Buffalo Wild Wings, which started ordering it about two weeks ago.

“It was one brewery that guests kept mentioning,” said John Vilca, manager at Buffalo Wild Wings, which offers 24 beers on tap, including two from Shmaltz. Shmaltz’s Hop Manna, an India Pale Ale that contains 6.5 percent alcohol, is one of the restaurant’s fastest selling brews, Vilca said.

Cowan and Vukelic say their partnership reflects a shift in the beer market. Establishments that three years ago considered craft beer a “weird” option are now jumping at the chance to sell it, Cowan said. Vukelic founded Saratoga Eagle in 2005 as a distributor of Anheuser-Busch Co. products, but in recent years has expanded into moving craft beers. It also delivers beer made by Davidson Brothers Brewing Co. in Glens Falls, Common Roots Brewing Co. in South Glens Falls, Paradox Brewery in Schroon Lake, and soon, Druthers Brewing Co. in Saratoga Springs.

“Everybody wants local now — local beef, local produce and local beer,” Vukelic said. The beer distribution company has 200 employees and operates out of the Grande Industrial Park.

Cowan founded Shmaltz Brewing Co. in San Francisco in 1996. Last July, he opened the 20,000-square-foot brewing facility with a tasting room in Clifton Park. Shmaltz produced 15,000 barrels of beer last year. It intends to increase that next year to up to 30,000 or 35,000 barrels, Cowan said. He said 10,000 barrels of beer equals about 130,000 cases.

He’brew now sells across 37 states through 40 wholesalers and nearly 5,000 retailers. Shmaltz recently more than tripled its full-time staff in Clifton Park to 15 workers. “It has been an adventure,” Cowan said.

This story was originally published in the Times Union.

DIY Friday: Easy to make Thanksgiving Decor

DIY Friday Tips from ReBath of AlbanyWith Thanksgiving just weeks away, I’m sure you have many things on your mind to prepare for the big family dinner. You probably know who is coming and what size turkey you will need. You probably know who is bring what dessert and who will sit at the ‘kids’ table. Those things come up every year around this time and therefore are easily on your to do list.

But what about your Thanksgiving decor? Does your home look festive? Why not create a few things to give the day a more special feel.

Of course there are thousands of DIY Thanksgiving decor ideas out there. We did a little research and found a video that incorporated a few great projects.

The video below shows a fabulous idea for an easy Thanksgiving table center piece. you can get many of the items to make this craft at the dollar store.

If you have kids or kids that come to visit on Thanksgiving, the Thanksgiving day tree shown in this video is a great activity for the day. Kids can write the things they are thankful for on the leaves.

This video has some great ideas to add Thanksgiving decor to your home easily and for little money! Take a look.

Hope you got some festive ideas! If you try any of these, feel free to share a photo of your project on our Facebook page.

Guilderland Mom Runs Marathon to Teach Daughters About Goals

Bridgette Chorbajian, a stay-at-home mom from Guilderland, has cheered her husband Gil through six marathons. But this past Sunday, it was her turn, as she ran the TCS New York City Marathon. As Chorbajian crossed the finish line in an impressive 4:40:18 in bone-chilling weather, her husband and two daughters cheered her with handmade signs, pompoms, and cowbells.

Guilderland mom runs marathon to teach her daughters about goals - ReBath of Albany

Bridgette Chorbajian at the finish of the New York City Marathon Nov. 2

This New York City race was Chorbajian’s second marathon; the first was 15 years ago in Buffalo.

This time, her inspiration was to show her two young daughters what is possible when you put your mind to a goal.

To train for the Big Apple marathon, Chorbajian, 48, joined the Fleet Feet distance running group in Colonie, training with a “great running community” on Sundays and doing speed workouts on Thursday evenings.

She and her husband often run a 10-mile loop around neighborhoods bordering their home on Baneberry Drive; she also runs with a close friend, Sarah Tanner. “If I had a 20-mile run, she’d try to do 10 of them with me, just to keep me going.” One of her daughters, Emily, age 10, rides her bike alongside her in the last four miles to keep her motivated. Her ideal running conditions are a 50-degree day with minimal sun. On Sunday, temperatures in the 40s and whipping winds made running conditions difficult for the 50,000 runners.

While Chorbajian runs to relieve stress and to stay fit, her push to run another marathon was to set an example for her two daughters, aged 9 and 10, who just started cross-country at Pine Bush Elementary School.

“It’s a great thing to show our kids that you can do something healthy for yourself,” she says. “They’re used to cheering my husband on, so they think it’s pretty cool.”

Deciding to enter the lottery for the NYC Marathon was nervewracking. “I think when I found out that I got the lottery, I was completely shocked and completely nervous,” says Chorbajian. “But to be honest, it was the encouragement of my husband that motivated me. He said, ‘You’ve got this. I know you can do it. You have the determination. You’re very strong.’ ”

Chorbajian ran the Big Apple race with her husband’s youngest sister, Andrea. Although Andrea trained in New York and Bridgette in Guilderland, they run at almost the exact same pace, and stuck together for all 26.2 miles through the five boroughs.

Her other motivation while running? Howard Stern. “I started listening to his interviews with different singers and movie stars, because I just got so sick of my music,” she says. “He definitely passes the time when you’ve got hours to run.”

Her goal was to finish the race between 4:10 and 4:20, taking it slow and enjoying the skyline, the sites and the cheering crowds, 10 deep at some points. While her final finishing time was about 20 minutes more than she hoped, she still enjoyed every minute.

“Despite the extremely high winds, the New York City marathon is an amazing experience. The crowds and cheering never stopped for 26.2 miles. I would highly recommend it to any runner.”

This story was originally published in the Times Union.

Clifton Park’s Talia Denis performed National Anthem at Madison Square Garden

Clifton Park resident Talia Denis has a budding musical career that got even bigger this past weekend when she performed the National Anthem at the start of Sunday’s New York Rangers game.

Talia Denis performs at Madison Square Garden - ReBath of Albany

Talia Denis, from Clifton Park, performed the National Anthem at the Ranger’s game this past Sunday. Photo credit: official Talia Denis Instagram.

The teen  learned all the correct lyrics and rehearsed the difficult melody in preparation for her performance at 5 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 19 at Madison Square Garden to kick off the Rangers vs. San Jose Sharks game. The game was televised, giving many of her hometown fans the opportunity to see her.

Talia Denis, 13 has been composing, singing, and recording since she put out her first demonstration single at age eight. That effort led to her recording her first real record in 2011 with New York City producers Zak Soulman and Michael Visceglia. From that effort her talent began to get recognized by a wider audience and the increased recognition led directly to the offer to perform before Sunday’s Rangers’ game.

“It all came about as the result of Talia’s growing popularity,” said her father and manager Stan Denis. “We were contacted late last week by Madison Square Garden. They asked if Talia would sing for both the Rangers and the Knicks. I think the offer has a lot to do with her approaching a million views on You Tube. It’s the momentum.”

The performance before the Knicks game has yet to be finalized.

Stan Denis said his daughter will perform the song live, a cappella, wearing a Rangers jersey. The performance will be compensated and the entire family also will enjoy food, beverages, and tickets to the game.

“They’re expecting 25,000 people at the game plus the TV audience,” Stan Denis said. “It’s a big deal. Rangers fans are real fanatics. It’ll definitely be the largest audience that has ever seen Talia perform.”

Denis said he and his daughter checked out the song’s official lyrics and he had Talia sing it for him several times before he accepted the offer.

“She’s been asked to sing the National Anthem many times in the past and we’ve always refused,” he said. “But you can’t turn this down. Madison Square Garden is the Holy Grail. It’s a world renowned venue.”

Denis said the offer proves to him that Talia’s musical skills are seen as having value by others and also lets he and his wife Kimberly know that the work they’ve done in recent years with their daughter’s musical talent is working.

“Singing the National Anthem is not something Talia normally does,” Denis said. “She’s a pop rock singer. The offer shows me she’s on the national map. Singing the National Anthem at Madison Square Garden is an honor most people will never get. When they ask you, you have to say yes.”

Denis said his daughter understands there will be a big echo in the hall and that there will be a vocal delay. She is already preparing and looking forward to the afternoon rehearsal. And she is learning all the words.

“I didn’t want her to be one of those foolish Americans who didn’t know the words,” Stan Denis said. “This is big. It’ll be on TV. You know someone out there will hear it if you miss a word or make a mistake and I didn’t want that to happen.”

In 2014 Talia Denis released her latest full length album, “So Alive”.

Information for this post came from The Saratogian.

DIY Friday: Halloween Mummy Candles

Halloween is just weeks away and I’m sure many of your kids are very excited to dress up and go trick or treating. Many of you may be looking for fun Halloween crafts to do with your kids to satisfy their Halloween excitement.

I found this video on how to make this adorable mummy candle on Youtube and I thought what an easy project to do with young children.

For this project you will need:

  • Mason jars or canning jars
  • An old white pillow case
  • a hot glue gun
  • some googly eyes
  • scissors

First you will want to glue your googly eyes right to the jar using your hot glue gun. Then cut your pillow case into strips. They don’t have to be perfect because you are going to overlap them. Put a little glue on the jar and begin wrapping the fabric around the jar. You will want to add some glue in a few other spots to make sure it sticks.

Tip: Don’t wrap the fabric too thick because you want the candle light to shine through.

Check out the helpful step-by-step video here:

Hope you enjoy this craft and have a Happy Halloween!



Celebrating 75 Years of Marriage for Guilderland’s Couple

Joseph and Sarah Hrachian have been married for 75 years, and they have the mighty old pipe organ at the former St. Peter Armenian Apostolic Church on Fifth Avenue in Troy to thank for bringing them together.

You could say it was a match made in heaven, or at least the celestial upper register of ecclesiastical music.

Guilderland Couple Celebrate 75 years of marriage - ReBath of Albany Blog

98-year-old Joseph Hrachian and his wife, Sarah, 94, who recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary, sit on their couch in their home on Thursday, Sept. 25, 2014 in Guilderland, N.Y. (Lori Van Buren / Times Union) Photo: Lori Van Buren

In 1935, Adrena Hrachian, Joseph’s older sister, was the organist at the church and 15-year-old Sarah Kenosian was her assistant who turned the sheet music pages during Sunday services.

“My sister told me there was this pretty young girl working with her, but I said she was too young,” recalled Joseph Hrachian, 98.

His sister countered: “But she’s growing up, she’s beautiful, and she’s from a good family.”

Hrachian finally relented and went to meet Sarah. “My sister was right,” he recalled. “She was beautiful and utterly wonderful. I was hooked.”

And was it love at first sight for the future bride?

“I liked him because he had a car,” recalled Sarah Hrachian, 94. “Anyone who had a car in Watervliet in those days was special.”

They got married on Sept. 3, 1939. He was 23 and she was 19. Theirs was a chaste four-year courtship. He bought her a gold cross necklace for her 17th birthday.

“But our first child was born nine months and 20 minutes after the wedding,” he said with a roar of laughter.

These days, she’s hard of hearing and he has to shout across the room and often repeat his punch lines for her. He does not seem to mind.

On the couch, posing for a photographer, he needed no prodding to caress her hands and give her a loving kiss on the lips.

Times were tough in 1939 for both families — working-class Armenian immigrants who fled persecution from the Turks and settled in Watervliet — and they held a double wedding with Hrachian’s sister, Vergin, to reduce costs. The groom’s mother made all the food for the reception, including the Armenian delicacies and desserts.

But when the wedding flowers arrived and the florist demanded pay for the $25 bill before he would release the arrangements, nobody had the cash.

“I was so sad when I saw him taking the flowers away,” Sarah recalled. Just then, the best man, Ernie Kershaw, stepped forward, pulled out his wallet and paid the florist without saying a word or making the family feel ashamed.

“Ernie was a wonderful guy and my friend for life,” Hrachian said.

The Hrachians sat together in their Guilderland home recently and reflected on the remarkable longevity of their union that has produced three children, five grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren and a tight-knit family that still centers around their church, St. Peter’s, which moved from Troy to Watervliet. Joseph Hrachian, whose given first name is Suren, was a longtime trustee of the church and assisted its construction.

The couple graduated from Watervliet High School, he in 1934 and she in 1938.

He is a gregarious fellow possessed of a sharp wit and deadpan humor. He owned dry cleaning businesses: Master Cleaners in Albany and Guilderland and later Executive Cleaners at Stuyvesant Plaza. His wife raised their kids and worked part time on bookkeeping for the business.

Both are in relatively good health and are still in their home, with daily visits from their children. They are considering moving into an assisted-living center early next year because their large yard is a challenge to maintain and his doctor advised him to stop chopping firewood a few years ago.

“We look great and nothing hurts,” he said. He added that his stylish cravat is less a fashion statement and more to keep the chill off a stiff neck.

“Oh, c’mon, that’s a little much,” said his wife, who uses a walker and has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

She is the great leveler to his emotions, which he wears on his dress-shirt sleeve.

He gave a speech for the 100 or so guests at their 75th wedding anniversary party on a recent Sunday, which was held at their church. His basement is filled with an archives of his speeches, which he gave at every birthday and special family function.

“He missed his calling. He should have been a minister with all his sermons,” joked their daughter, Lucille. “In all seriousness, they’ve been wonderful parents.”

“They’ve been so supportive to everyone in the family,” said their daughter, Barbara. “They held us all up and they’ve been the hub. Everyone gathers at their house for every big event.”

For more than 50 years, their mother made a large family supper each Sunday with spaghetti and meatballs and the sweet, sugary scent of katah, an Armenian coffee cake.

“After 50 years I quit and I never made spaghetti and meatballs again,” she said with a satisfied shrug.

Hrachian noted that the couple was married on the same day that Britain and France declared war on Germany in response to Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

“Our marriage was a glorious battle ever since, which she usually won,” the groom said with a laugh.

Much like life itself, his stories are full of asides and detours and digressions, anything but linear.

“I could talk and talk and talk,” he said. And one is inclined to believe him.

This story was originally published in The Times Union.

Stop by the Henry St. Harvest Festival Sept. 21

Head over to Henry Street for the 5th Annual Henry Street Harvest Festival! Celebrate autumn with local businesses, vendors, festive food, live entertainment, and activities for kids!

Henry Street will be closed from Lake Avenue to CarolHenry St. Harvesst Festival 2014 -  ReBath of Albanyine Street. Entertainment includes live music, a dance performance, seasonal snacks, pumpkin decorating, face painting, a dunking booth, and a live broadcast from 101.3 The Jockey.

Henry Street Harvest Festival is one of Saratoga Springs’ most fun family events, and each year brings bigger crowds! Last year more than 1,000 people came out and supported this event. This year will be even bigger!

The 2014 Henry Street Harvest Festival also features a special memorial tribute for Mana Behan, a beloved community member, yogi, and healer, organized by One Roof Holistic Health Center.

For More Information Call: 518-450-1273
Information for this post came from:http://www.saratoga.com/event/henry-street-harvest-festival-25656/.

Cancer patient, fiancé prepare to wed in Schenectady

Jahaysia Graham gets some help from her mother, LaToy Sheffield, ...

Jahaysia Graham gets some help from her mother, LaToy Sheffield, as she tries on wedding dresses Saturday at Bridal Gallery by Yvonne in Latham. Graham’s 4-year-old sister, Niyari Crippen, also joined them on the outing.

When Jathyis LaJuett got down on his knee to propose to Jahaysia Graham a few weeks ago, the thoughts racing through his mind were likely the same any guy would have at a moment like that.

“I didn’t know how she would react or what the answer was going to be or how her mom or anybody would feel,” the 20-year-old explained.

But he had something much more troubling to consider: Jahaysia is battling cancer and is under hospice care.

The two met about four years ago, when Jahaysia’s family moved across the street from Jathyis’ mother in Schenectady. Jathyis said he thought Jahaysia was wonderful from day one.

“She’s the sweetest, most beautiful [girl],” he said. “She’s very generous, loving, caring, everything you could think about. She is, in my eyes, perfect, too. I look past the sickness. You know, it’s not really about that.”

A little over a week ago, he popped the question.

“It wasn’t really nowhere special,” he lamented. “It was at home.”

But Jahaysia didn’t seem to mind. She was very surprised and emotional, he recalled.

Her answer was “Yes.”

Jahaysia, who’s 19, was diagnosed with osteosarcoma in January 2013. Her mother, LaToy Sheffield, said the disease has made her middle child weak and short of breath. Fluid is building up in her daughter’s abdomen and must be drained.

The good news is, Jahaysia is in love, and there is a wedding in the works. Sheffield is trying hard to focus on that.

Aware of how serious Jahaysia’s illness is, the newly engaged couple decided to plan their wedding quickly. It will be held Friday.

When The Community Hospice staff got wind of their plans, they offered to help organize the event and support it with money from the organization’s Wish Fund. Fueled by donations from the community, the fund is tapped to help people achieve their goals and dreams while under hospice care.

The Community Hospice put up a Facebook post about the upcoming wedding Saturday night, complete with pictures of Jahaysia trying on wedding gowns. The post went viral.

“I’d say our average post gets maybe 80, a couple hundred ‘likes.’ That’s our norm,” said Laurie Mante, executive director of The Community Hospice.

Within 13 hours, the post about the wedding had already received about 150,000 likes and donation offers were flooding in from all over the country. As of Tuesday afternoon, the post had racked up more than 346,000 likes and had been shared close to 12,000 times.

“We were overwhelmed at how much people were just willing to jump in and be part of it. We had people offering to bake cakes who were in Colorado,” Mante said.

A woman who owns a children’s boutique in New Jersey is sending a flower girl dress. Someone in Arizona is shipping a guest book and ring bearer’s pillow. A donor in Florida is making personalized wedding favors. Local businesses have stepped up to contribute attire, food, rings, flowers, entertainment, tents, chairs and more.

Jathyis said the outpouring of support has blown his mind. Initially, the couple had envisioned a small wedding with maybe 40 or 50 guests.

“But once we put it on Facebook, everybody wanted to come and see and is excited. A lot of people will be there,” he said.

Jathyis said he’s excited, too, but mostly for his bride-to-be.

“She’s getting everything that she’s wanted, and she’s happy,” he said.

Sheffield said she’s very pleased with the young man her daughter has chosen to marry.

“Just to be the age that he is and come into my daughter’s life and just want to be a part of enjoying every moment, every day, every minute with her, rather than to be, you know, going off and doing what other 20-year-olds do at this time and age, I just really appreciate him,” she said. “He’s with her 24-7. I feel like he almost postponed his life to be there for her, and he doesn’t even take a second thought. He doesn’t even bat an eye at it.

“I’ve been with the both of them when she’s in the hospital. He just constantly rubs her and asks her if she’s OK and kisses her on the cheek and calls her beautiful. It’s amazing.”

This story was originally published for The Daily Gazette.

DIY Friday: Build Your Own Tree Bench

DIY Friday Tips from ReBath of Albany - Tree Bench

How to build your own wrap around tree bench.

The hot, humid days of summer are winding down so it’s the perfect time of year for a backyard project that will last for years to come.

See the big tree in your backyard? Is there anything exciting about the way you use it in your decorating? Sure, you can plant some flowers around it or maybe you have an old tree swing from when the kids were little. Why not give that tree a new purpose?

Build a wrap around tree bench so you can sit under it comfortably and read a book or chat with the neighbors.

This video we found has a great tutorial, with easy to follow instructions. You will need a few tools for this project: miter saw, straight edge, 1/4″ spacers, drill, level, can of sealer nuts and washers.

Before heading to the store, take a look at the video to see what you need. Then come back and watch it a few more times to make sure you know exactly what the plan is. This project may take a little bit of know-how, but it’s not too expensive. The one in the video cost only $125.