If Alice Baum wants to have a family reunion, all she has to do is take a stroll down the road. Her five children and 14 grandchildren all live on the same stretch of Western Turnpike that she and her husband, Ray, have called home since 1973.
The couple, who will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary in June, couldn’t be happier that their offspring haven’t strayed far from the nest.
“What’s been so wonderful about this extended family is they all help one another and they’ve all grown up so close together. It’s been a wonderful thing,” Alice Baum said.
Alice and Ray Baum, who both grew up in Rumford, Maine, met in high school.
“I was a sophomore, he was a junior,” she recounted. “I fell in love with him and we’ve been together ever since.”
Ray Baum attended The University of Maine, and Alice studied to become an X-ray technician at the nearby Eastern Maine Medical Center in Bangor. The couple got engaged when he was a college junior.
“We struggled as any young couple would. We lived in Maine in a small apartment. I ended up working to put him through his final year of college,” Alice Baum said.
After graduation, Ray took a job with Hamilton Standard in Connecticut.
“He was a design engineer for them … They were working on the Apollo moon project and he did design work for them, worked on the backpack program for the moon walkers,” she recounted.
The couple lived in Connecticut for six years and had three children there — Maura, Steven and Brenda — before moving to Portland, Maine, where Ray worked for General Electric for two years. There, they had a third daughter, Stacy.
In 1972, the family moved to Scotia when Ray took another job with GE. They only lived in the village for a year before deciding to head for Delanson.
“We wanted to move to a farm, and so we left a beautiful Colonial house and moved to this rundown house out here that was really bad and everybody said, ‘You are crazy,’ ” she recalled.
The Baums added a sheep, some chickens and a cow to their little farm.
“We had them tied to chains here and there because we didn’t have a fence,” Alice Baum recounted.
As the years went on, Aaron, child number five, came along, and the family’s home was renovated a little bit at a time.
“The kids learned how to do chores and learned how to grow a garden. They didn’t think it was very much fun but they learned how to have a work ethic, and apparently they didn’t hate us too much because after they went to school, they came back home,” Alice Baum said with a laugh.
As the kids grew up and got married, the Baums deeded parcels of their 50-acre property over to them. Maura, Steven, Brenda, Stacy and their spouses built homes there. Aaron moved a mile up the road to a house given to him and his wife by his in-laws.
Neighbors have taken to calling the Baums’ stretch of Western Turnpike “Baumtown.”
With all of the Baums living in such close proximity, large family functions are frequent.
“When we get together for birthdays, we do it like once or twice a month, we call it ‘Cake and Chaos,’ ” Alice Baum said. “The kids are here and buzzing all around. We have the only paved driveway. All the grandkids come over to Grandma and Grandpa’s house to ride their bikes in our driveway.”
The elder Baums had a pool installed in their backyard and in the summer, the extended family gathers there to swim.
“I sit in my chair and I hear my grandkids in the backyard. … I love to hear their voices,” Baum said.
Despite the fact that they see each other all the time, the family vacations together too, and they never fight, she assured.
“It’s just been a wonderful ride, it really has,” she said.
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Categories: Schenectady County