June 20 – Happy Birthday John Gomulka

Gomulka2I met former Amsterdam Mayor John Gomulka just once. William Johnson, my old sociology teacher at Wilbur Lynch High School, invited the City’s Chief Executive to come speak to our class. His appearance was highlighted by an awkward moment. The family of one of my classmates had recently moved into the Amsterdam Housing Authority’s apartments for low income families, on Division Street. The student told Gomulka that his mother had finally found a job after a long search and shortly thereafter received a letter from the Authority, advising her that since her income was going up so was her rent. The student asked the Mayor how his Mom could ever hope to get ahead and move out of the “projects” if every time her income went up the rent went up as well. Gomulka looked at my classmate, hemmed and hawed and finally said “That’s the way the system works.” All of a sudden this kid, who was usually quiet in class and never said boo, just started going off on the Mayor. “What kind of answer is that? We’re going to be stuck there the rest of our lives? You’re the freaking Mayor, can’t you change things? etc. etc. The rest of us just sat there with our mouths open until Mr. Johnson finally interrupted by thanking the Mayor for coming.

John Gomulka definitely knew how the “system” worked. He had been part of it for a very long time…

You can read the rest of my story about this former Amsterdam mayor in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

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