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Bring in da Funk ...

So, what the heck were we doing in Troy, New York? Staying at a hotel that looked like a throwback to the 1960s? Well, maybe that was appropriate ... this was a history tour. Troy is a fascinating, funky place, a horizontal sliver of a city, sitting on a hillside. It seemed that if it rained too much, the whole shebang could just slide into the Hudson River.

Troy was where Mom lived for a few years as a young girl, in rented houses with her family. I thought she wanted to show us those places, but surprise, she didn't really. OK, next reason: Dad spent a year at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI) before moving on to bigger things like fighting in World War II. And I had the address of two places he lived while there as a student. One we found, the other ... well, the street turned out to be an alley with no frontages, no addresses.

Peter also went to RPI, which is now considered one of the "new Ivies" — academically elite colleges outside of the original Ivy League. So that's a point of pride in Troy. Peter & I had been for a visit last year; this time he showed everyone else around RPI. We went to the campus on another hot morning to get some exercise with Kurt, Tina, Erin (preparing for cross country), Kelsey & Joe. Peter enjoyed walking around, seeing what had changed and what he remembered.

We also went into the Armory (1920), which looks like a castle but is an old gymnasium with locker rooms and trophy cases. It was absolutely stifling with no AC on probably the hottest day yet. It had that familiar smell of years of sweaty action — I love that "aroma", and the memories it triggers (Tully Gym at FSU). On one of our trips to Geneva with Dad in the late 70s, we stopped in Troy, and the RPI Armory was one place he took us. Troy pictures

Peter walking the campus of his alma mater

Our hotel in Troy.

The armory at RPI

Gathering in the lobby before our next outing

On to Albany

The main reason we were in the area was to visit the Albany Medical College Library. In its archives was the thesis of John Newton Rippey (grandson of the Captain John Rippey) written in 1862 as he studied to be a doctor. (Back then it only took a year!) Mom had seen the thesis many years earlier and wanted us to see it also. So we had arranged to visit the archives, where librarians Karyn and Sue showed us the document and other Rippey artifacts. It was "handle with care," meaning we had to use plastic to touch the pages.

The thesis called "Cell Life" was written in a beautiful script. We read through parts of it ... it was nice to see the kids so interested. After J.N. graduated, he practiced medicine in his hometown, Geneva, before becoming one of the first to enlist when volunteers were called at the outbreak of civil war. So, in addition to his Revolutionary War grandfather, Joe learned that he had a 3-great grandfather in the Civil War — pretty impressive to have ancestors in such important events in American history!

Karyn and Sue also brought out a later photo of J.N. Rippey. After serving as a doctor during the Civil War, he became a minister in Nebraska. They also had a hand-written letter he had sent to the College, and a copy of his obituary from a local paper. It was a very detailed account of his life and surprisingly, his death. Kurt especially was amazed at the minute-by-minute description:

Dr. Rippey walked from his home to St. John's church yesterday morning, and after the service was taken home in John T. Earl's automobile. He had helped the family to dinner, but did not eat any himself, as he complained of pains in his chest.

At the solicitation of his wife, Dr. Rippey retired to his room. The pains in his chest becoming more severe, the family physician was summoned. When Mrs. Rippey was unable to get the doctor at his office, Dr. Rippey suggested that she try the house, which were the last words he spoke, before lapsing into unconsciousness, in which condition he remained until death ended his suffering.

So it was an interesting visit. Also notable, as we left the library and walked across the parking lot, we may have been on the hottest place on the planet at that moment. Albany Medical College pictures

At the Albany Medical College libray. Joe holds a photo of his 3-great grandfather.

J. N. Rippey as a young Civil War doctor.

Looking at J.N. Rippey's thesis

Game Time

John and Lori are Houston Astros fans, and John's always looking to visit their minor league teams. He found out the Astros had a Single-A club in Troy, the Tri-City ValleyCats ... so of course we had to see them while we were in town.

The game was at Joseph L. Bruno Stadium ("the Joe"). And it was "Italian" night at the park, so Kurt was happy, nothing like some pasta with your baseball. It was a great time; the teams were impressive, good pitching, very crisp infield play and some nice catches in the outfield. John was interested in seeing the Astros top prospect, Max Sapp. While he was espousing opinions and information and color commentary about the Astros(as only he can do), as in "We signed this guy ...," a spectator asked him, "Are you with the team?" We got a kick out of that.

We were also entertained by the antics of the kids around us. And really, the whole event was designed for kids. From between-inning contests, to letting kids dance on the dugouts, to 7-year-old singer little Anthony as entertainment. They also have the cutest logo/mascot. Don'tcha just love minor league ball?

John gave Joe a ball and pen before the game, and Joe got an autograph from Luis Lebron, closer for the visiting Aberdeen Ironbirds. He did pitch in the late innings, but Joe didn't get to see him. The gang from East Longmeadow decided to head home instead of spending the last night in Troy. So we said goodbye as they left before the game ended. John, Lori, Mom, Peter & I stayed for all 11 innings, followed by a fireworks show. A fitting end to the day and our tour. Game pictures

Twilight at the Joe.

Uncle John & Kelsey

Fireworks finale

Leaving Troy via the Green Island Bridge

We left Troy the following morning ... Mom took her time and the scenic Route 2 back to our house. But the week wasn't over yet ...

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