History rolls in (with photo gallery)

Pulled from his Thursday morning classes by his dad, 11-year-old Jim Cesare IV got a hands-on histor

Pulled from his Thursday morning classes by his dad, 11-year-old Jim Cesare IV got a hands-on history lesson from the cannon turret of an M-47 Patton Tank.

Cesare just needed a little boost over the tank track so he could join his father in the tank, which is the first artifact secured by the American Locomotive Company Heritage Museum on Maxon Road Extension.

Located near Freemans Bridge, the museum formally accepted the loaned tank on Tuesday in a ceremony that included a proclamation from Schenectady’s acting Mayor Gary McCarthy. In the mayor’s proclamation he talked about the role of the museum, which will highlight items manufactured by the American Locomotive Company during its more than 100 years of production just a few blocks away. The company made tanks during World War II and produced 60,000 locomotives.

“The M-47 Patton Tank is just the first of many vintage Schenectady-built products to be welcomed back home,” McCarthy said.

The day was made possible by Mark and Jack Pollard, a father-and-son team of collectors from Altamont, who own several military vehicles. After loaning the M-47 Patton Tank, the Pollards still have three other tanks, nine artillery pieces, jeeps and armored cars.

The M-47 Patton Tank was one of the last tanks manufactured by ALCO and was used for training purposes by the American

military before it was sold to the Italian government. The Pollards obtained the tank about 12 years ago when they purchased it from a collector in Indiana and transported it back to New York on two tractor-trailers.

Mark Pollard said they completely refurbished the tank, which is now fully functional, except for its weapons. “When we received it, it was totally disassembled,” he said. “One of the hardest things was to acquire missing parts.”

Assembling it from manuals, Jack Pollard said the project sometimes became a trial-and-error effort. “[We’d] put it together and take it apart if it’s wrong,” he said.

Even though Jack Pollard won’t be able to ride this particular tank around while it’s on loan, he said the most fun with his vehicles comes from the joy other people have with them. “It’s fun to see the kids,” he said, as Jim Cesare sat quietly on the tank.

But youngsters aren’t the only ones who get a kick out of the tank, as 48-year-old Jim Cesare III, museum director, appeared to be giddy about his museum’s giant attraction.

The elder Cesare was upbeat about the museum, as it played right into his main interests. “I love trains and … I love military history. So this place ties in both,” he said.

While he couldn’t point to a specific incident that sparked his interest in military history, Jim Cesare III confirmed a story his mom told about a train he got in second grade that ignited his passion.

In the spring the museum will have its grand opening, but it will display the tank on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. Cesare said they plan on expanding their collection for the grand opening. “We’re trying to obtain another tank or two,” he said. “Anything that ALCO manufactured is what we’re trying to obtain.”

He hopes the museum eventually can get enough money to hire a professional director to take over his job. More immediately, the museum has a meeting in October with a prominent designer. The museum is moving into an existing building that is being renovated.

The ALCO Heritage Museum is seeking grants and donations. Anyone interesting in contributing may go to www.ahts.org.

Categories: Schenectady County

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