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Dancing with the Queen, Marching with King
The Memoirs of Alexander "Sam" Aldrich
Dancing with the Queen, Marching with King
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Sam Aldrich - Author
Gerald Benjamin - Foreword by
Excelsior Editions
Price: $24.95 
Hardcover - 273 pages
Release Date: September 2011
ISBN10: N/A
ISBN13: 978-1-4384-3987-7

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Summary Read First Chapter image missing

A lively and entertaining memoir of a life in public service to the city and state of New York.

When he was twenty-five, Sam Aldrich danced with Queen Elizabeth II in London. By the time he was thirty-seven, he was marching with Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma. Recounting the journey between and beyond those two points, and musing over the irony of the contrast they represent, is the subject of this remarkable and entertaining memoir.

After a cosseted childhood in New York’s silk stocking district, including weekends on Long Island’s Gold Coast and summers in Dark Harbor, Maine, Aldrich was expected to follow in his father’s footsteps and pursue a career in high finance. “Dancing with the queen of England was just a small function of the privileged life and family into which I was born,” he writes, “and events such as this would be a regular part of my upper-class, well-traveled social life.” Instead, and to his parents’ chagrin, he chose decades of hard work in the public sector, serving as deputy police commissioner in New York City, director of the New York State Division for Youth, executive assistant to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, president of the Brooklyn Center of Long Island University, and commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation, before entering teaching full-time at midlife.

Illustrated with photographs from Aldrich’s personal collection, this lively memoir offers personal insights into New York State politics and history. Whether working to develop an effective system for rehabilitating juvenile offenders in New York City, trying to find an environmentally sound means for development in the Hudson River Valley, or teaching public policy at SUNY’s Empire State College, Aldrich shows what it means to follow one’s passions and interests, and to take the gifts one has been given and use them to try to make this world a better place.

“Aldrich’s recollection of events is prodigious, and he tells his life story with a fair amount of introspection and humor. The book is an intriguing insider’s look at [New York] state history over the last half-century.” — Hudson Valley Magazine

Dancing with the Queen, Marching with King is a capably written memoir [that] captures a fascinating life during one of the liveliest times in modern history.” — Schenectady Daily Gazette

“Every day, it seems, some notable moneymaker announces that he’s retiring ‘to make a difference in the world,’ as if his previous career had been a vain and useless waste of his talents. Maybe it was; if so, more’s the pity he didn’t get down to making a difference earlier. That’s what Sam Aldrich did, in public (and private philanthropic) service. Now, for his endgame, he has written a rare and wonderful memoir of what it actually means to make this kind of difference. His book is full of satisfactions, disappointments, and laughter. It is must reading for any young person who wants to go and do likewise. There are bonus chapters as well: a brilliant account of the 1965 March on Selma, and of how to release a cow trapped under a manure spreader in sub-zero weather.” — Nelson W. Aldrich IV, author of Old Money: The Mythology of Wealth in America

Alexander “Sam” Aldrich has a long history of public service to the city and state of New York, having served as a deputy police commissioner in New York City, director of the New York State Division for Youth, executive assistant to Governor Nelson Rockefeller, president of the Brooklyn Center of Long Island University, and commissioner of the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation. He has taught commercial law, public policy, and urban and environmental studies at Skidmore College, the University at Albany­–SUNY, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and SUNY Empire State College’s Center for Distance Learning. He lives in Saratoga Springs.


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Table of Contents

1. Dancing with the Queen

2. Who is SAM? 

3. I Have a Dream

4. Marching with King

5. Honored with Deep Roots

6. Education

7. Marriage and Milbank

8. On the Beat

9. Angel’s Pal

10. Was I Officer Krupke?

11. From Minnow in the City to Big Fish in Albany 

12. Campaign Loss and Harlem Triumph

13. Rioting 101: A Man and His Plan

14. The Hudson River Valley Commission and Storm King      

15. Board Memberships

16. Nineteen Years with Nelson 

17. Sing Sing 

18. Erastus and Me 

19. Aboard Strider 

20. A Full-time Teaching Career 

21. Phyllis

22. A Farmer’s Life for Me? 

23. Fatherly Farewell

24. Parks Commissioner

25. The King Funeral

26. The Road to Meadowbrook 


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