My Top-5 Local Childhood Spots
Growing up in the Capital Region in the '80s and '90s was awesome! I had some favorite places that I used to always love to go back to. Maybe some of yours are on my list?!
I grew up an only child and with that people just assume that means I was spoiled. I would love to say that's true, however like a lot of families, we fell on hard times. I didn't get to play every sport I wanted to, I didn't have big elaborate vacations or expensive battery-operated Barbie cars like a lot of my friends. Though, this may be why I'm so laid back with what makes me smile as an adult. Some of my favorite memories growing up happened right here within the Capital Region and while a couple of these places no longer exist, they were a staple for many.
Hoffmans Playland - originally in Latham
While I was never a fan of the clown on the sign (one of my fears) I loved the colors, the fair-like feel, the smiles on people young and old. My Dad worked a lot of nights, so I remember Mom and I taking that drive and being surprised with an hour or two at Hoffmans.
Hoffmans Playland is still around in its new form renamed to Huck Finn's Playland and located in Albany.
The Catskill Game Farm
It closed its doors in 2006 after 73 years in business. I guess I should've known from an early age that I was pretty passionate about my love of animals. This was always so exciting. I loved feeding whatever animals I could, especially the goats. This was before YouTube let me know that they yell and make Taylor Swift songs so much more entertaining, but I still loved them. I don't think I got to experience it a lot, but it was enough to stick with me all these years later.
To some it may be considered the hottest tourist spot in our area and it can definitely be mobbed at different times but it always has fun stuff to do. I always loved hitting the big arcades, the wax museum, the Great Escape, Pirates Cove Mini Golf, all the ice cream!
This might seem a little weird to some, but for me, completely normal. It was what I grew up surrounded by. For almost as long as I can remember my parents were setting up at Flea Markets to earn extra money (at times, our only form of income.) Whether in Latham at Guptills, New Lebanon, Woodstock, Saratoga and various other locations locally. Honestly, because of this part of my childhood I'm pretty good at knowing what items will sell and what won't, to top it off I'm just pretty good at selling things in general now. It comes in handy for gas money or putting towards a concert ticket here and there. I wish I had pictures from this but unfortunately it was before digital and film/developing wasn't always cheap!
Miss Shen Softball
I tried a couple athletic-type hobbies growing up; ballet was not my thing (sorry, Mom), karate was fun until there was the chance I could seriously injure myself, but softball? That was for me. I started at the age of 6 and now, at 32 I'm preparing for the upcoming season! I'll never forget going into my second season playing, I stepped up to the plate at practice and my dad yelled out, "Wait, wait! Marissa, what are you doing?" He was referring to what side of the plate I was standing on. I'm a righty for just about everything, including throwing but for batting lefty just felt comfortable for some reason. I got up there, I smacked the ball and he said, "Okay, we're good!" I've played first base, short stop, one time they had to carry me out in the catcher equipment because I was too small and these days I'm at second base.
I was on the freshmen team at Shenendehowa in 1999 which was undefeated, but I always found myself loving Miss Shen more than anything. I miss those days.
What were your favorite spots growing up? Did you play any sports? Dance? Girl or Boy Scouts? Any clubs?