The following is a Point of View from Voorheesville author Sandra Paige Sorell. She shares the stories and memories passed on to her from her father who grew up in Delmar. This is Part One of a two-part series.
I was recently at the Bethlehem Veterans Memorial Park to visit my father’s memorial stone and to reflect. My sister and I purchased a brick for Dad a couple of years before he died. He was very proud of that gift. After a quiet visit I sat down on one of the benches and remembered…
My dad was Dr. Harry Worthington Paige (1922-2003). He grew up in Delmar as part of the Greatest Generation, graduating from Bethlehem Central High School (class of ’41) when it was located on Kenwood Ave — the building that is now the middle school. As a young kid, he and his sister Jeanne (Martha) Paige lived on 5 Rural Place near the Restifo family. When Dad was 16 and Aunt Jeanne 15, they moved to the new family home at 16 Douglas Road. This house remained the Paige family home until 1996 when my grandmother, Ruth Converse Paige, died at the age of 99.
Dad was a writer and a storyteller and he talked often about growing up in Delmar. His childhood was a magical one full of fun, friends and innocence.
As a kid, Dad’s fun consisted of playing with his yo-yo, shooting marbles, collecting stamps and playing games like Kick the Can or dodge ball in one of the many open lots in Delmar. Climbing trees was another favorite activity, especially since Delmar was densely wooded in the 1930s and 1940s, before the migration to the suburbs and building boom. He, like many of his friends, was a Boy Scout, and that occupied a good deal of his time.
Dad was a prolific writer. He told me that he sold his first story when he was 12, during the Depression era. He said he felt very guilty accepting money for the sale as so many men were out of work, and families were going hungry at the time.
Life was relatively simple when Dad was growing up. A Paige family excursion to Warner’s Lake for a picnic and swim on a hot summer day was considered a real adventure. I remember hearing the story about my grandfather, Montfort (Monty) Paige, a notoriously slow driver, receiving a speeding ticket on one of the family trips up to the Helderbergs. He was mortified. An occasional trip to the Hawkins Stadium to see the Albany Senators baseball team was a big deal too. Then there were summertime excursions to Mid-City in Menands near where Montgomery Ward used to be in that massive building on Broadway. He would take a red and yellow United Traction Company bus there to enjoy the park and cool off in the large pool.
Dad went to Elsmere Grade School when it was a brand new school. His mother, a former Latin teacher and Syracuse University graduate, was a member of the PTA there.
Of all the stories Dad told, the most vivid in my mind were of his days spent at his beloved alma mater, Bethlehem Central, where he met my mother, Ruth Killough (class of ’42), an accomplished athlete and field hockey star.
Dad’s best friends were named Prue, Van Zandt, Chesbro, Oliver, Hartzel and Murray. There were other names too that I’ve forgotten over the years. Some 20 years and one world war later, quite a few of Dad’s buddies returned to the Delmar area to live, work and raise families. Some of their children became my classmates at Bethlehem Central in the 1960s.
— Sandra Paige Sorell