Amsterdam’s most popular Men’s & Boys’ clothing stores were very much a father-son business model for over a century until no more existed. That genetic retail trend started way back in 1871 when Isaac Adler opened up his store on Amsterdam’s East Main Street and brought his boy Julius into the business in 1891. It ended when Paul Guttenberg made the decision to close up Mortan’s in the 1990’s, a store named after and started by his dad. In the middle of those two legendary male apparel merchandisers was the great run of the John L. Bebb store. Unlike Adler’s and Mortan’s, Bebb’s was a father-son operation from the day it opened at 24 Market Street. John the father had been a highly respected manager of other Rug City mens’ clothing stores for years when he decided to partner with his two boys, Warren and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant Leslie to open up his own establishment. It would become Amsterdam’s go-to place for men’s and boys’ wear for the next 30 years until it too closed in 1954. Leslie Bebb was born in Amsterdam on September 5, 1891. He graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1909 and before joining his dad and brother in the business, was clerk of the Amsterdam Board of Education from 1912-to-1920. That tenure was interrupted by his service in the armed forces during WWI. He married Amsterdam native Emma Beck and they had a son whom they named after his Uncle Warren. Leslie passed away in July of 1968. Amsterdam educator Nancy Rad and FMCC Foundation Director Lesley Lanzi are both Mr. Bebb’s granddaughters.
Alfred Lamanna came into this world on September 5, 1921, one of four sons born to Lawrence and Louise Delli Veneri Lamanna. He grew up on Forbes Street, attended East Main Street School, delivered newspapers in the East End for the Schenectady Union Star, was an altar boy at St. Michael;’s Church and graduated from Amsterdam High School in 1940. He then attended Siena College, Catholic University and St. Bonaventure before following his older brother Joseph into the priesthood. He completed his theological studies at Christ the King Seminary in New York City and was ordained by Bishop Edward Gibbons, in Albany, NY on June 11, 1949. He said his first Mass at his home parrish of St. Michaels the next day and it was followed by a celebratory dinner at Amsterdam’s Century Club, with his brother, Fr. Joseph Lamanna serving as master of ceremonies. During his over half century as a working priest he has served parishes in Herkimer, Fulton, Montgomery and Schoharie Counties, establishing strong Catholic Youth Organizations wherever he went. In the 1960’s he also was appointed director of the American Committee on Italian migration and helped get the 1965 Immigration and Nationality Act passed by Congress. This act abolished the quota system and replaced it with a preference system that focused on each immigrant’s skills and family relationships. Though he is now 95 years-old, retired and living in Herkimer, Father Lamanna continues to say Mass.