We Serve Wayward Strangers at the 2022 Albany Center Gallery Members’ Show

Last year, I used a pack of Efke 820 infrared film and a yellow filter (along with my Kodak Medalist II camera, “Kodak Red”) to capture this creepy shot of the old Toll Gate Ice Cream parlor in Slingerlands.

We Serve Wayward Strangers. Kodak Medalist II camera, Efke 820 infrared film, with Wratten R78 filter. Photo (c) Chuck Miller, all rights reserved.

And if you’re wondering why this print is named We Serve Wayward Strangers, it’s a sly reference to the old Twilight Zone episode “To Serve Man.” Go watch it on your Paramount+ streaming service. I won’t spoil the twist.

It was a “triple red” winner in Competition Season 2022 – three second-place silks (Iowa, NYS Fair, Durham Fair). In addition to its appearance as a wall-hanger at BUILT (it sold, yay) and at the New Jersey International Photo Exhibition, I’ve decided to enter We Serve Wayward Strangers as my sole entry in the 2022 Albany Center Gallery Members’ Show, and will deliver a framed 16×20 print to the gallery this afternoon.

We Serve Wayward Strangers is one of my photos to which I still bear an emotional attachment. I loved visiting the Toll Gate Ice Cream shop and noshing on their comfort food and tasty ice cream. As a kid, I remembered that the Toll Gate adjoined a post office (I believe the Trustco Bank branch now uses the post office’s old quarters), and that the building behind the Toll Gate was a ladies’ clothing store known as the Clothes Horse – which 5-year-old me thought was funny, in that why would someone have store to sell clothes to a horse?

In 2017, the Toll Gate closed down – the owners suffered a series of bad breaks and could not keep the store open. Sadly, the building’s facade fell into disrepair; creeping ivy overloaded the quaint structure. Truth be told – a few days after I captured the We Serve Wayward Strangers image, someone showed up with a weed whacker and cleaned off all the invasive ivy.

I still have some pictures of the Toll Gate, including images that survived the Great Hard Drive Crash of 2020. Those photos bring me pleasant memories of a more innocent time. But even then, having this image in my arsenal is still a powerful shot in and of itself. One that I’ll always remember.

And I chose it over my 2022 eclipse photo as my sole Albany Center Gallery submission for that very reason. And I’m good with that.

Albany Center Gallery’s Members Show opens December 2nd at the Gallery’s downtown studio. Definitely visit it, it’s worth your consideration.