August 25 – Happy Birthday Gerard “Pup” Isabel

PupPeople who serve prepared food as a profession have been much in the news around here recently. The arguments why they should or shouldn’t be paid a minimum of $15 per hour are appearing all over my Facebook page. Its amazing to me how some who are against the raise stereotype and insult an entire profession. You keep reading  descriptors like lazy, uneducated, no ambition, unskilled etc. and if you’re like me, you wonder if these people have ever met just one waiter or waitress they respected and admired or really got to know. I myself have met many but then again, my Mom was a waitress for many years so not only did I meet them, they and their families became big parts of my childhood. I remember how many times they served a booth full or counter full of rude impolite people and kept smiles on their faces and how many times the tip they were left amounted to one percent of the check. I remember their horrible hours, the times they came home with cuts, burns, sore backs and blistered feet and how incredibly hard they worked, yet had to “hope” the folks they waited on recognized and respected their efforts to earn a “living wage.”

Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant was one of the most liked and respected waiters in Amsterdam history and he happened to also be one of the most intelligent guys I’ve ever met in my life as well. His name was Gerard Isabel but everyone knew him better as “Pup.” He was the son of the legendary Alex Isabel, who was one of Amsterdam’s all-time great athletes and coaches. Born on August 25, 1925, Pup graduated from SMI in 1943 and from Siena with a degree in political science. He was also a proud veteran of the US Navy serving his country during both WWII and the Korean War. In 1955, he married his beloved Angela and together they raised three boys who they adored and to whom they devoted their lives.

Pup held a number of daytime jobs as a young man. He worked at GE, he sold insurance and he sold advertising for WCSS but what he also did was wait on tables at Isabel’s, his Uncle Guy’s wildly popular restaurant on Amsterdam’s West Main Street. For 38 years he wore his famous gray jacket, white shirt, black tie and black slacks and waited on one side of that eatery’s famous “booth room” while a similarly attired Louie Frollo waited the other…

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

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