September 28 – Amsterdam Birthday Bits

sullivanThere is no doubt that the mom of longtime television variety show host Ed Sullivan was an Amsterdam, NY resident whose maiden name was Elizabeth Smith. Her family lived on Garden Street. There’s also no doubt that Sullivan’s dad, Peter Sullivan was also at one time an Amsterdam resident. His widowed mother, Florence Sullivan had relocated to the Rug City  with her six children from Saratoga in 1883, after her husband had died. She moved her brood into an apartment on Cornell Street, which back then was in the middle of a neighborhood dominated by Irish immigrants and referred to as “Cork Hill.” At the time of that move, Peter Sullivan was already 23 years old. According to a column written by well know local historian, Bob Cudmore, Peter Sullivan helped support the family by working in one of Amsterdam’s broom factories. He also got involved in local politics, serving as a Montgomery County Supervisor in the early 1890’s. But by the time Sullivan married Elizabeth Smith at St. Mary’s Church in September of 1896, he had become a full-time resident of New York City, working as a customs inspector. He then took his new bride back to the big city to live and they had their first child there in 1899. a son they named Florence. Tragically, the boy died in infancy and was buried in the Sullivan family plot in Amsterdam’s St. Mary’s Cemetery. Two years later on September 29, 1901, Elizabeth gave birth to twin boys and the couple named them Edward and Daniel. Sadly, Daniel Sullivan died the following year when he was just ten months old and he was buried next to his older brother in the St. Mary’s family plot. At this point its pretty easy to understand why this young couple, who had undergone so much tragedy in their lives would make frequent trips to Amsterdam, seeking the comfort and support of their respective families come. But the question remains, did a young Ed Sullivan actually ever live here?…

sol222I know  Solly Mishkin was born on September 28, 1905, but I’m not sure where. Baseball-Reference.com lists New York City as his birthplace but I found another story about him online that indicates he was born in Los Angeles. I do know he went to high school and college in California and after he graduated, he started a professional baseball career in 1927 as a first baseman in the very competitive Pacific Coast League. Two years later he came east to join the New York Yankee organization as a minor league player and then a manager during the World War II years. The Yankees sent him to Amsterdam in 1946 to take over as manager of their Class C Rugmaker farm team, which like every franchise in the Canadian American League had been idle during the World War II years…

vanallenUnlike the first two, today’s third Birthday Celebrant was born (September 29, 1978) and raised in Amsterdam. Dave Van Allen stuck around his hometown long enough to have a great time growing up here, get a good education and make friendships and memories that will last a lifetime. And before he left to become a world-class digital animator and graphic artist he performed one of the most clutch step-up efforts in Amsterdam High School football history. It was November of 1995. The Amsterdam Rugged Rams had just captured the Section II football championship and then played their way to the State Championship game versus Lake Shore High School at the Carrier Dome in Syracuse. Just a few minutes into the game, Amsterdam’s talented center, six foot-two inch, 185 pound Tarek El-Gohary went down with a game-ending injury. Head Coach Frank Derrico turned to his line coach, Gary Cudmore and asked “What do we do?” Cudmore didn’t hesitate, he sent in Van Allen. Noting that he was just five foot-five inches tall and weighed just 155 pounds, Derrico told me after the game that he was concerned Van Allen would be overmatched because the Lakeshore defensive lineman he needed to line up against was forty ponds heavier and  about eight inches taller. Its a good thing Van Allen wasn’t concerned at all…

My complete birthday posts for Ed Sullivan, Sol Mishkin and Dave Van Allen 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.

The monthly newsletter is free. If you’d like to receive it, just make sure your name and e-mail address are included on this list.

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