Sunday, August 02, 2009

She Remembers

When Dorothy McChesney remembers that October morning, the images come flooding back in a fractured jumble of colors.
The 4-year-old girl who lives inside the 86-year-old Moriah woman recalls the excitement, the pageantry and that there were thousands and thousands of people around her.

"It was beautiful, very colorful. Something of that size, it certainly was an important event," said McChesney, who was the oldest of three sisters, a standing that earned her the right to go to the event.

"I remember we drove there. There was mother and dad, an uncle who was a few years older than me and two ladies who were friends of the family," she recalled of the trip that took the group of six from their native Troy to Saratoga.
"In those days, you could sit on someone’s lap," she said.

It was Saturday, Oct. 8, 1927 — the weekend Al Jolson first appeared on theater screens as "The Jazz Singer," an early movie with sound that signaled the end of the silent film era.
It was the day Babe Ruth hit a two-run homer in front of 58,000 fans at a then-young Yankee Stadium to complete a four-game sweep of the World Series and secure the 1927 championship for the team nicknamed "Murderer’s Row."

In Saratoga, 170 miles away, McChesney sat in a crowd of 160,000 people who had gathered to listen to speeches by the governors of the states of New Hampshire, Connecticut, Vermont and New York.Adolph S. Ochs — the publisher of The New York Times — had the job of introducing the "distinguished visitors" in attendance who represented foreign nations.
Dancers from Skidmore College performed an interpretive dance depicting the passing of time, from the Ice Age to the Battle of Saratoga.McChesney sat on bleachers in the once bloodied fields that resulted from the battle that took place there exactly 150 years before that October day.

Beneath rows of red, white and blue flags, everyone, it seemed, wore a hat. They are forever captured in the images and home movies preserved in the museum collection at the Saratoga National Historical Park.
The pageantry of 1927 marked the official opening of the battlefield and boasted 6,000 participants who took part in the events. Preparations for the ceremony took an entire year.
Today, more than 60 original paintings created by 28 regional artists depicting the area in and around the historical park will go on display at the Saratoga Arts Center, 320 Broadway in Saratoga Springs. The exhibit, titled Views from the Battlefield, will run from Aug. 1 to Sept. 26.

The Post-Star, July 31, 2009
By Saratoga Bureau writer Thomas Dimopoulos.


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