`toga party

Years and years ago, this would be back around 1986 or 1987, I think, my friend Brian from Toronto came to town, and he and I spent a day driving out to Saratoga with a stop at Johnstown on the way.

(From this you might infer Brian was interested in military history, and you would be right. Then again, Brian was interested in everything. Well, no, not everything, but a lot of things.

(So, for example, along the way he suddenly stopped the car and backed up about a tenth of a mile on the shoulder — no, this was not on the Thruway; Brian was not an Interstate kind of guy — to get out and examine an ancient and disused gasoline pump standing near the road. I think he may have said it dated from the 1930s. He proceeded to regale me with all sorts of information about its manufacturer, their competitors, their rise, and their fall.

(For another example, the next day I had to work but I’d told him about the Landmark Theatre, the old restored movie palace in downtown Syracuse, and mentioned it was generally open so he could go in, see the murals in the lobby, and peek into the auditorium. That night he told me he’d parked at a meter, gone into the building, and met the manager who invited him to look around. About four hours later someone found him in the basement examining the furnace. He told them he had the manager’s permission to be there but decided maybe it was time to return to his car. He hadn’t been ticketed yet.

(He told me he once took a week to drive from Toronto to Buffalo, and I could believe it. Brian was a civilian employee of the Canadian Army; a truck driver, but only during the cold half of the year. They needed more truck drivers then, because some of them drove snowplows. Brian didn’t drive a snowplow, but nevertheless did have six months off in the warmer seasons, and that’s the sort of thing he spent his six months off doing.

(Anyway, that was Brian.)

The only times I’ve been to the Saratoga area since then have been a few times for the Dance Flurry, but this month Kenny has an assignment in social studies to write about Gen. Horatio Gates, and I said, “Field trip!” Off we went this morning, stopping at neither Johnstown nor gas pump, to visit Saratoga National Historical Park. I don’t offhand remember why Brian and I didn’t go on the tour drive back then — I don’t think we ended up going far from the visitors’ center — but Kenny and I did today. Finished up after the (early!) sunset and headed back home.

I don’t know what effect it’ll have on Kenny’s report, but he enjoyed it and I think he’ll remember it.



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