I forget what Mass it was at old St. Michael’s Church. I think it was a Sunday early-morning one like 7:00 or 8:00 AM but it could have been a weekday. What I do remember was that my older brother Matt and his good friend and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Bobby Belive were serving as altar boys and I believe St. Michael’s Cuban priest at the time, Father Mauro was the celebrant. Back then priests in the Roman Catholic Church said Mass with their backs to the congregation at the ornate elevated original altars that served as the ceremonial focal point of every Catholic house of worship. At one point during the mass, the two altar boys had to stand up from their kneeling position on each side of the first stair of the altar, meet in the middle, genuflect, go up each side of the altar, grab the priests chalice and the huge book known as the Missal and then carry them back down the steps, meet in the middle and then put the two items they had just retrieved back up on the altar but on opposite sides of where they had been.
Well during this maneuver, Bobby Belive somehow dropped that huge red book and the gold stand it sat on, making an enormous crash and causing both Bobby and my brother to start laughing. My brother was laughing so hard that his eyes must have closed because on his way back to his position in front of the altar he kicked over the set of hand bells that altar boys rang during special parts of the Mass, making another enormous racket and causing the two of them to laugh so hard that you could actually see their bodies tremor. Meanwhile, Father Mauro is trying to go on with the Mass, but now most of the thirty or so folks in the pews are laughing like crazy as well. It was “holy bedlam” on Grove Street that morning for about five minutes. It was one of the funniest moments of my childhood and also the last time the nun who used to schedule which altar boys would serve which mass ever put the names “Bob Belive” and “Matt Cinquanti” together.
In addition to being good friends and altar boys, my brother and Bobby were also two of the very best musicians in the city’s history. Matt was a gifted pianist and Bobby was one of the best drummers this town ever produced. I happened to play the trumpet when I was a kid and was in the Amsterdam High School concert band as a sophomore. Robert Kent Kyler was the very talented director of that group but it was Bobby Belive who controlled the beat. He was also the drummer for a local band called “the Dynamics.” They used to play dances at the old Columbian Center on East Main Street…
My complete birthday post for Bob Belive 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. I also distribute an Amsterdam, NY Birthday Blog Monthly Newsletter that includes the full birthday posts for three of the twenty-to-thirty people whose birthdays I recognize each month. Each newsletter also includes an Amsterdam Birthday Quiz that will test your knowledge and memory of people and events in your hometown.
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