May 4 – Happy Birthday Karen Tambasco DeVed

TambascoI thought I had good reason to trust the May 4th Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant. My Dad was a close friend and neighbor of both her parents as a child. He was in their wedding and he was also godfather to her older sister Diane. When she and I landed in the same class at Guy Park Avenue School, the Tambasco/Cinquanti friendship entered its next generation.

That’s why what she did to me when we were in fourth grade came as such a shock. Every winter the City of Amsterdam’s Recreation Department would turn the Guy Park School playground into a skating rink and the kids in Amsterdam’s West End and Henrietta Hill neighborhoods would spend their evenings between Christmas and March gliding together across the ice. Everyone except me that is. I was probably the only kid in Miss DeRose’s fourth grade class who still didn’t know how to skate and had no burning desire to learn. That’s why when my pals finally convinced me to give it a shot one night, my heart really wasn’t in it.

I was wearing my brother Jerry’s hand-me-down hockey skates which presented a first obstacle. At the time, my feet were already as big as his which meant his three year-old blades were at least two sizes to small and I had to force my toes into right angles to get them to fit.

When I got on the ice, I did nothing but fall for the first fifteen minutes and in one memorable spill, I hit the back of my head so hard I’m pretty sure I suffered a concussion. But I finally figured out that I could stay upright if I took a series of rapid little step-strokes. I wasn’t skating, I was  chopping ice but at least I was standing up. That’s when Karen Tambasco and her best friend and partner in mischief, Mary Jo Condello showed up and asked me to join their skate line. They told me all I had to do was…

The rest of Karen Deved’s birthday post will be published in the second editionof A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which will be available for sale right after Thanksgiving. To make sure you get your hands on one of the first copies, join my mailing list here.

The first edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam NY Birthdays, which features my birthday posts for 320 current or former Amsterdam residents, is currently being sold at Liberty Fresh Market, on Route 30 in Amsterdam. You can also purchase it online here.

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