Racing Centennial

  • Jul 20, 2013
  • Richard C. Lasselle

Picture: The 1963 Saratoga Thoroughbred Racing Centennial Board of Directors at a meeting at the National Museum of Racing on August 3, 1963. The members seated from left to right are: James H. Minnick, Mrs. Elaine E. Mann, Arthur J. Kearney, Fred Eaton, and Angelo Tarantino. Standing, from left to right are: F. Skiddy vonStade, John S. Wyld, the Honorable John L. Ostrander, Demetrios A. Sazani, Howell E. Jackson, and Newman Wait Jr. (Times Union Archives) Interestingly, Newman Wait Jr. (also known as Pete) was the Treasurer of the Board, and he lived in Wilton at that time. His son, Charles Wait, is the Chair of the Saratoga 150, and Charles lived in Wilton until the mid seventies. He attended Wilton School #5 on Kings Road before moving to Saratoga Springs.

Growing Up In Wilton - Part 5

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Originally Published: 7/20/2013

Some of us in Wilton can remember well the 1963 Saratoga Thoroughbred Racing Centennial. What a celebration we had throughout the summer of 1963. Although I was only a junior in high school, it was a celebration that I have never forgotten. Today, we are again celebrating our terrific racing history in Saratoga. As we participate in various events of the Saratoga 150, we will create wonderful memories of festivities that we will never forget!

1963 Automotive Festival

One of my fond memories of the Centennial was the Automotive Festival that was held in two huge tents in the old Grand Union parking lot across from Congress Park on Broadway. The auto show was on display for about a week, and this picture was from the July 22, 1963 Saratogian. Carole Wilhelm Parkhurst is pictured in a 1903 Oldsmobile that was on display. The article states: “Mayor James E. Benton is honorary chairman. General chairmen are Lawrence Lasselle, G. Stuart Rowley and George D. Smith.” Other chairmen were Robert Walton, trophies and awards; Carole Wilhelm, housing; Burt Bryant, set-up and control; Howard DeFreitas, publicity; John LeRoux, tickets, and Theodore Grey, legal. Some of the exhibitors were Alfred Moses, Ray Heath, James Helenek, John Welgan, Douglas Dowd, Carroll Auto Sales, Thurlow Woodcock, Lawrence Lasselle, William Weller, Vincent Patrick, and Art Russell.

My dad, Larry Lasselle, had a lot of fun during the centennial celebration dressing up as Abraham Lincoln.  Although he was a lot shorter, I recall so many comments about how much he looked like President Lincoln.  The 1955 T’Bird that I am standing behind originally belonged to Burt Bryant, and we showed it in the Centennial Car Show.  My dad and I later restored this car, Ray Yeager put special paint on it, and we enjoyed showing it.

This is the  fifth of several columns by Dick Lasselle about various aspects of life in Wilton. Dick grew up on Putnam Lane in Wilton, just off Jones road, and now lives on property that was part of the Putnam farm originally owned by his great-grandparents. Dick’s sister, Linda Baker, and his mom, Doris Lasselle, are contributing toward the development of these articles.