During the first ten-to-twelve years of my life, feeling hard cold linoleum beneath the soles of my bare feet was part of the waking-up process. Even though Amsterdam was known as the Rug City, most of the floors in the upstairs’ and downstairs’ flats in Amsterdam’s West End were covered with that less expensive hardened linseed oil or resin based material. Your Dad had to have had a really decent job or a good connection with one of the big bosses in an Amsterdam rug mill back then for you to have your toes meet warmer and toastier tufted carpet when your Mom yelled “Time to wake up” on a school day morning.
But today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant knew a revolution in floor covering was coming when he returned to Amsterdam from military service during World War II. New materials and new manufacturing processes were driving the square foot cost of carpeting down to a point where most everyone could afford it. Between the 1950s and ’60s, carpeting went from being the preferred floor covering in just the formal rooms of the well-to-do, to just about every room of every house in every neighborhood in town. Most of the square yards laid here in Amsterdam were purchased from Carpetland.
John Torani’s parents came to Amsterdam from Pisciotta in Southern Italy at the beginning of the 20th Century. He attended Amsterdam schools and like so many before him, started working in an Amsterdam rug mill until called to duty in WWII. It was after returning to Amsterdam that the idea of opening a store in Amsterdam to sell carpets. Partnering with his brother Vito and brother-in-law, John Morrell, he opened the very first version of Carpetland in a storefront on Forbes Street….
My complete birthday post for John Torani 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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