Albert Partyka came to Amsterdam from Poland at the beginning of the 20th Century, but unlike so many of his fellow countrymen, he did not got to work in Amsterdam’s rug mills. Instead he became a builder and started his own contracting business. A few years later, he opened up Partyka’s Market, which would become a Reid Hill institution. He also married Mary Przybylo and the couple had five children, three boys and two girls. It is their son Edward who is today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant. Born on June 4, 1923, he graduated from Lynch High School 18 years later and got a job at the former American Locomotive Company plant in Schenectady. He then joined the US Navy in April of 1943 and was serving as a Machinest Mate on a transport and supply ship that was serving US Military bases in the Pacific.
On December 13, 1944, some of his shipmates had transported a work party of Construction Battalion members to an island in the Aleutians. While the ship was sitting off shore, the work party had completed their mission and were in the process of being returned to the ship. Though the weather had been fine all day, a strong unexpected storm had begun to brew and the resulting heavy seas capsized the motorized landing vessel that was being used to transport the SeaBees to and from the island. That’s when Ed Partyka volunteered to return to the island in the ship’s only remaining rescue vessel, a large rowboat, to pick up the three remaining members of the work crew. With his shipmates looking on, the Amsterdam man had almost made it to shore when the huge waves from the raging storm capsized his boat. The officer of the work crew pulled Partyka out of the surf and brought him to shore. Not only had the ship lost both its rescue boats, the storm was now in full force and the gale force winds were endangering the stability of the vessel. It had to be taken out to sea, leaving the work crew and their brave would-be rescuer stranded to deal with one of the worst winter storms in Aleutian Island history…
My complete birthday post for Edward Partyka will appear in the new second edition of A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam, NY Birthdays, which will be available before the 2016 Holiday season. On June 30, 2016, I will also once again begin distributing an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that will include the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty people whose birthdays I will recognize each month. Each newsletter will also include an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.
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