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? I have read that Peter and Elizabeth Sullivan actually did for a time rent an apartment in the building that once housed Johnny’s Seafood Restaurant, across from St. Mary’s Church on East Main Street when Ed was very young. By the time the future television legend was five years old however, the family had moved to Port Chester, NY. He would grow up to become a very popular syndicated entertainment columnist for the New York Daily News and then host of his legendary television Sunday evening variety hour on the CBS Network, the Ed Sullivan Show.

vanallenUnlike Ed Sullivan, today’s second 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 because he played flawlessly, not screwing up a snap or missing a blocking assignment the entire afternoon as the Rugged Rams captured their first state title school history. After high school he went to Munson-Williams Proctor Art school for Animation. He graduated with honors from there and then attended the University of the Arts in Philadelphia winning the school’s President’s award for best animation. He remained in the City of Brotherly Love for the next decade running his own company. He is currently the Digital Creative Director for Westgate Resorts in Orlando, Florida. He is married to the Former Elizabeth Tecza of Guilderland NY.

Sullivan and Van Allen share there September 28th Birthday with this Amsterdam hero!


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