Before Nicolino’s Restaurant on Route 30 north of Amsterdam was Nicolino’s, the site used to be the home of a restaurant called Butch’s Drum. Why the name? “Butch” was Vernon (Butch) Robertshaw, an Amsterdam native born on the Fourth of July in 1907. After graduating from Amsterdam High School in 1924 he got a job as a dyer in the Bigelow Sanford rug mills and worked there for the next 30 years, until the company pulled out of Amsterdam.
Fortunately for Robertshaw, he was also a drummer, who had spent years of weekends playing with several local bands throughout the Capital District area. So when he lost his job in the rug mill in 1954, he opened up “Butch’s Drum,” which was actually a combination nightclub restaurant. The recipe for success worked quickly. With his own combo providing musical entertainment nightly, area folks began flocking to the new spot for dinner, dancing and drinks. Butch became almost as well-known for his infamous baked beans as he was for his drumming.
He married his wife Ethel in 1933 and they were the parents of two sons. Ethel passed away in 1960. He was active in the community, serving as a member of the Perth Central School Board of Education and getting involved with the Mason lodges in Amsterdam, Gloversville, Johnstown and Albany.
Butch Robertshaw died in July of 1972 at the age of 65. The key take-away from Butch Robertshaw’s life story is that he was much more a leader than a follower. When he worked in the rug mill he became a boss in the dying room. When he got laid off from that job, he started his own business. Yes he was one of this area’s most popular musicians for 50 years but he was also one of its most respected as well. Robertshaw was elected president of the local musicians’ union for 35 consecutive years.e and events in your hometown.