July 18 – Happy Birthday Joseph T. Yund

117856930_1420525784The surname “Yund” was a much respected one in Amsterdam, NY for close to a century and it was today’s Birthday Celebrant who originally brought it to this Mohawk Valley community and first established the family’s heritage of business acumen. Joseph Theodore Yund was born in the Alsace-Lorraine region of France on July 18, 1823. France and Germany have fought over the ownership of this region for hundreds of years, which explains why its population includes people of both French and like Yund, German descent.

He started his professional life as an apprentice spinner but soon joined the French army, serving under Napoleon III for eight years, including two years as a member of a regiment based in Paris. After being discharged from service in 1850, he returned to Alsace-Lorraine, married his wife Louise and started his family, which would eventually consist of three sons. In 1854, he made the decision to move to America and came directly to Amsterdam, which at the time was a budding center of textile manufacturing and always in need of experienced spinners.

Then in 1864, Yund decided to go into business for himself, manufacturing brooms out of a shop he opened on what is now Guy Park Avenue, near St. Luke’s Church. A few decades later, his son Thoedore would build the Yund Mansion near that property. The home still stands and serves as the office of Amsterdam accountant, Michael Zumbolo.

Two years later, Yund made another career switch, opening a retail furniture and cabinet making business at 87 East Main Street. It would be as a merchant, at this location that Joseph Yund would become best known and very wealthy. He ran the store for seventeen years and then handed over the reigns to his son Theodore and retired.

Yund was one of this city’s earliest, most devout and most generous Catholics. He took an active role in the establishment of St. Joseph’s Church, the first congregation for Amsterdam’s German Catholics. In addition to raising and donating significant funds toward the construction of the parish’s church on lower Guy Park Avenue, Yund personally supervised its construction.

During his long retirement Yund became famous locally for his long daily walks around the city, accompanied by several conversations with friends and passers by along the way. He died in the early morning of May 23, 1903 at his home at 240 East Main Street, a bit more than two months short of his eightieth birthday.

(Two of Yund’s sons would become partners in one of Amsterdam’s most successful knitting mills. This other Amsterdam knitting magnate shares their father’sJuly 18 birthday.)

 

July 17 – Happy Birthday Don Brown

dbrownDon Brown was an outstanding citizen of Amsterdam. When you add up all of the important things he did during the 93 years he lived here, there is no more accurate way to describe him. Let me show you what I mean.

Don Brown was born here in the Rug City on July 17, 1921. He fought for his country in WWII, serving in the Pacific theater of the war with the US Army. When he returned home he became an active member of two of the most active Veterans’ organization’s in our community’s history, Wyszomirski Post 701 and Bergen Post 39, the latter of which he at one time served as Commander.

Don Brown was a hard-working entrepreneur who invested here in Amsterdam. He started out his career in retail as a salesman in the old Dangler Appliance Store. In the 1960’s he opened Brown’s Record Store at 14 East Main Street which later he expanded to also offer gift items. That business remained open in our City’s downtown for 20 years until Don retired. Don also owned and operated B&B Clean Up Company as a separate enterprise.

Don was active in his Church. He was a familiar face and pillar of my boyhood parish, St. Michael the Archangel on Grove Street. He served as an usher for many years and then Eucharistic Minister and altar server. He frequently administered communion to the sick and elderly in Amsterdam’s hospitals and homes for the elderly. When St. Michael’s closed Don continued in these important roles at Our Lady Of Mt Carmel.

Don Brown was a dependable community volunteer. I’ve been an active blood donor most of my adult life and during the last ten years, I’ve done most of my donor-ing at Amsterdam’s Masonic Temple. In fact the very last time I saw Don alive was in the Temple’s large basement hall where as a Red Cross Volunteer he was usually the guy in charge of managing the snacks and juice distribution. Don was also very active in our area’s Senior Citizen organizations, serving as Chaplain of both the Ft. Johnson and Iroquois chapters.

Above all, Don Brown was a wonderful and loving family man. He and his beloved wife Toni were married for 69 years. The two of them were devastated by the death of their son and only child Don L. Brown in 1986. They remained devoted to their six grandchildren for the rest of their lives. Toni’s death in 2012 was a terrible blow for Don.

Don Brown was one of those people that you saw everywhere; downtown in his well-run store, marching in a parade, visiting someone in the hospital, passing the basket at church, going to a grandchild’s concert in school, or handing you an apple juice and package of Lorna Doons at a blood drive. But whenever you did, he was usually doing something nice for somebody else. As I wrote up top, Don Brown was an outstanding citizen of Amsterdam.

 

July 16 – Happy Birthday Shorty Persico

24831_391817347146_210318_nWhen Amsterdam’s Carmen “Shorty” Persico was on a boxing card, regardless if the fights were taking place in the Rug City or one of the many other upstate New York communities that comprised the Adirondack section of the Amateur Athletic Union back in the 1930’s, the young South Sider was usually a crowd favorite. He was built like a fire hydrant, short for a lightweight but packed with muscle. The problem was his reach. He often fought much taller opponents in his weight class who had longer reaches. He therefore had to work twice as hard as a typical boxer to defend himself and get good punches landed. But round after round and fight after fight he was able to do just that. Its why regardless of what town he was fighting in, the fans took to this condensed dynamo and cheered him on and none cheered harder than his legion of admirers from Amsterdam’s South Side.

Shorty Persico was without a doubt one of the all-time most popular members of Amsterdam’s Port Jackson neighborhood and his boxing exploits as a young man were only a small reason why. He had the sort of friendly, outgoing and respectful personality that made him instantly likable. How likable? When he joined the Army to fight for his country, Luigi Lanzi’s old restaurant on Bridge Street was filled to capacity to pay tribute to Shorty the day before he left for basic training in January of 1941. Those assembled included Amsterdam Mayor Arthur Carter, Mt. Carmel Pastor John Reidy and Recorder Sports Editor Jack Minnoch.

When he returned from four years of action in the Pacific he married his beloved Philomena “Phil” Morini. He then opened what would become one of the most popular bars in the history of the Rug City and called it Shorty’s Tavern. It was located on Broad Street next to the legendary Pepe’s Bakery and for the next 25 years, it became “the place to go” for good drinks, great food and the opportunity to talk to one of Amsterdam’s most respected, kindest and well-liked sports personalities.

I will never forget the first time I ever met Shorty. My older brother used to hang out there and would one day marry Shorty’s oldest daughter Maria. He took me to his Tavern for one of Shorty’s famous sausage and provolone sandwiches. Shorty reached over the bar with his Popeye-sized right arm grabbed my right hand in a vice-like grip, looked me straight in the eye and told me what a pleasure it was to meet “Jerry’s little brother.” I could instantly tell this wonderful man sincerely meant every word that had just came out of his mouth. He treated me, my brother and our friends as if we were family not customers and we all came to love him. I’m not exaggerating when I say that he was  “perfect” for the role of a South Side tavern owner. He sponsored our softball teams, made sure we acted responsibly and bragged about our accomplishments like a proud father.

His heart was even bigger than his huge biceps. He was constantly helping folks in the neighborhood who were down on their luck and he was a big contributor to his beloved Mt. Carmel Parish. Shorty donated the money for the beautiful bell tower that is located on the grounds of that church. In addition to Maria, he and his wife Phil had two sons, Felix and Anthony and another daughter Louise, all of whom he adored. When Phil died a week before Christmas in 1971, a part of Shorty went with her. A year later he sold the bar and retired. During the last six years of his life, Shorty suffered from dementia but his eyes would still twinkle when he’d see me and he’d still shake my hand with that vice-like grip. Even though his death was expected, when it finally came in 1997, it hit the entire South Side hard. Those of us who were fortunate to have known him were most sad because we realized those who came after us would never have that same wonderful opportunity. It truly felt as if an era had ended.

His Tavern still stands and still uses his name. It should never be called anything else.

In 2017 I wrote an article entitled “All-Time Top Ten Amsterdam, NY Boxers in which I included Shorty Persico. You can read it here. 

 

July 15 – Happy Birthday Laverne Turnbull

Usually, the current and former Amsterdam residents recognized on this Blog have accomplished something worthy of note in one field or another at some point in their lives. But the heart and soul of this City has always been comprised of people who have not so evidently done so. They are the people who wake up every day and go to work at ordinary jobs to support their families. They live their lives serving others, usually their children, spouses or perhaps aging parents, sacrificing many of the better things in life so that there is enough food in the fridge, the rent or taxes get paid and they can make those payments on the braces for their kid’s teeth while their own decay away.

From the outside looking in, the lives of these unrecognized folks may seem boring, but that’s only because you don’t really know them. I’d like to introduce you to one I used to know.

A few years ago while doing research for one of my Amsterdam books, I came across an old obituary for a person named Laverne Turnbull. I knew him quite well and had no idea he had passed away in February of 2014 at the age of 89. When I clicked on the Tributes & Condolences link of his Riley Mortuary Obituary listing, I found none had been left. At first that saddened me but not for long.

Laverne and his beloved wife Nina were regular customers of mine at the old Ralph’s cocktail lounge that used to be located on Market Street on the current site of Dr. Andolina’s office parking lot. I bartended at Ralph’s every Friday night during my college years and can honestly say that while doing so, I met some of the nicest people it has ever been my pleasure to know.

Laverne did most of the maintenance work at the Alexander Rest Home in Hagaman, NY and Nina was a hard-working purchasing agent for the Greater Amsterdam School District. They had two sons, David and Dean, both around my age.

I have never met two people more in love than Nina and LaVerne were with each other. Now don’t get me wrong, they certainly had their share of arguments, perhaps over something one of their boys had done or because LaVerne would want one more draft beer when Nina, who only drank Coca-Cola’s was more than ready to go home. But for the vast majority of those Friday nights, this couple would sit on those black leather bar stools and simply enjoy being with each other. They’d discuss their workdays, what they needed to pick up at the store, the conference they had with one of their sons’ teachers, or an article in that day’s Recorder. They’d always remember our discussions from the previous week and want to know if I passed the Economics exam, if my fiancee liked the movie or if my Mom was feeling better.

Ralph’s usually had a live band playing Friday nights so the three of us would often sing along together, usually C&W tunes and boy did Verne have a horrible singing voice. Nina had American Indian blood in her ancestry and she was so proud of it. I remember one night, perhaps on Halloween, she showed up at the bar in full Indian regalia with Laverne introducing her lovingly to everyone as his “squaw.”

Now I’m the first to admit I know nothing about what Laverne and Nina’s lives were like 24/7, but during their long-ago Friday evening date-nights at Ralph’s, they were two people completely content being with each other. My memories of them sitting there at the end of that large, heavily varnished, oak-topped bar help remind me that folks who are satisfied and happy with what they already have are much richer than those who are not. Laverne Turnbull may not have received any condolence messages on his obituary listing and he may have never got his name in the paper for starting a business, winning a case or scoring a touchdown but he was a rich man because he had something nobody else did and he loved her with all his heart. Rest in piece Laverne.

July 14 – Happy Birthday Bob Belive

I forget what Mass it was at old St. Michael’s Church. I think it was a Sunday early-morning one like 7:00 or 8:00 AM but it could have been a weekday. What I do remember was that  my older brother Matt and his good friend and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Bobby Belive were serving as altar boys and I believe St. Michael’s Cuban priest at the time, Father Mauro was the celebrant. Back then priests in the Roman Catholic Church said Mass with their backs to the congregation at the ornate elevated original altars that served as the ceremonial focal point of every Catholic house of worship. At one point during the mass, the two altar boys had to stand up from their kneeling position on each side of the first stair of the altar, meet in the middle, genuflect, go up each side of the altar, grab the priests chalice and the huge book known as the Missal and then carry them back down the steps, meet in the middle and then put the two items they had just retrieved back up on the altar but on opposite sides of where they had been.

Well during this maneuver, Bobby Belive somehow dropped that huge red book and the gold stand it sat on, making an enormous crash and causing both Bobby and my brother to start laughing. My brother was laughing so hard that his eyes must have closed because on his way back to his position in front of the altar he kicked over the set of hand bells that altar boys rang during special parts of the Mass, making another enormous racket and causing the two of them to laugh so hard that you could actually see their bodies tremor. Meanwhile, Father Mauro is trying to go on with the Mass, but now most of  the thirty or so folks in the pews are laughing like crazy as well. It was “holy bedlam” on Grove Street that morning for about five minutes. It was one of the funniest moments of my childhood and also the last time the nun who used to schedule which altar boys would serve which mass ever put the names “Bob Belive” and “Matt Cinquanti” together.

In addition to being good friends and altar boys, my brother and Bobby were also two of the very best musicians in the city’s history. Matt was a gifted pianist and Bobby was one of the best drummers this town ever produced. I happened to play the trumpet when I was a kid and was in the Amsterdam High School concert band as a sophomore. Robert Kent Kyler was the very talented director of that group but it was Bobby Belive who controlled the beat. During concerts and sometimes even during band practices, Kyler used to call on Bobby to play the drummer’s classic song “Wipeout.” Nobody and I mean nobody could play it any better than this guy could.

He had this amazing ability to play exactly what a song or event needed. It was Belive who created what I consider to be one of Amsterdam’s most famous sounds, the original drum cadence that propelled the Amsterdam High School Marching Rams to their first championship in a national competition. I will never forget the night in 1969 when the band returned from winning their first national competition at the Indianapolis Speedway. The first thing folks lined up on Main Street heard was the Bobby Belive-led drummers beating that cadence and as it grew louder and louder, the band suddenly appeared, marching over the crest of the river bridge and the crowd started roaring. It was the moment in time that the Marching Rams were transformed into the pride of this city and it was Bobby Belive’s classic and creative beat that defined it.

He was also the drummer for a local band called “the Dynamics.” They used to play dances at the old Columbian Center on East Main Street.and that place would be jammed with folks who loved listening to Bobby. I lost touch with him after high school and later learned he had completely given up playing the drums. But I could still visualize him with a pair of drumsticks in his hands. He was incredible.

Fast forward to January of 2019. The Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation is trying to come up with a summer full of Saturday evening concert ideas and one of them is to celebrate the glorious history of local Amsterdam bands by reuniting some of the old groups our community used to dance to for a reunion concert on Riverlink Park’s outdoor stage. I can’t tell you how thrilled I was when my phone rang a few weeks later and the voice on the other end said “Hi Mike, this is Bobby Belive.”

To make a long story short, on July 27th, 2019, Bobby and the 21st Century version of the “Dynamics” will be back in Amsterdam, NY for the Rockin River Reunion at Riverlink Park. Three simple words of advice; Don’t miss it!

July 13 – Happy Birthday Ray Manarel

AmsterdamR58The first-ever Amsterdam Rugmaker team took the field at Mohawk Mills Park in 1938. They were managed by “Pepper” Martin. Not the “Wild Horse of the Osage” Pepper Martin from those great St. Louis Cardinal Gashouse Gang teams of the thirties. This was Admiral “Pepper” Martin, a career minor leaguer who became a player-manager in his thirties.

His 1938 Rugmaker team ran away with that year’s Can Am League regular season pennant on the strength of a superb starting rotation that included today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, a big right hander from out near Rochester, NY named Ray Manarel. Born on July 13, 1915, he had been a baseball and basketball star in high school. The Yankees signed him a first time in 1936, while he was pitching for Brockport State Teachers College but Manarel asked for a release from his contract so he could accept an athletic scholarship to attend Clark University in Massachusetts.

After graduating from Clark, Manarel was convinced to give minor league ball a shot and he signed with the Sydney Mines, a Canadian team in the just formed six-team D-level Cape Breton-Colliery League. He had a sensational first season, going 9-3 with a microscopic ERA of 1.45. That earned him a new contract from the Yankees and promotion to Amsterdam.

That 1938 Rugmaker team went 79-40. Manarel was a huge reason why. He went 15-5 as part of the best starting rotation in the league that also included Duke Farrington (17-5) John Cahill (17-9) and Orin Baker (15-4). Manarel also often helped his own cause with his strong hitting. He averaged .294 for the Rugmakers that year, and belted 2 home runs.

The consensus of the entire Yankee organization was that Manarel was headed to an outstanding big league career with the parent club. Unfortunately, after compiling a 24-7 record during his first two seasons of professional ball, he suffered an arm injury and never again appeared in another game. Instead he became a history teacher in Massachusetts, served in the Navy during WWII and then became a professional management trainer for General Motors in Bristol, CT. He also served as a Yankee scout in the New England area for a number of years. He and his wife Virginia had two daughters and two sons, one of who, Charles, was killed in action during the Vietnam war. Manarel died in 2002 at the age of 86.

 

July 12 – Happy Birthday Joe Mason

Born on this date in 1918, his real name was Joe Messineo but he grew up to become “Joe Mason the barber,” one of the kindest men it has ever been my pleasure to know, He gave me my first haircut at his barbershop located on the corner of Division and Guy Streets and just about every two weeks after that milestone event, me and my two older brothers would make the three block walk to his shop from our home on Leonard Street and “get our ears lowered.”

Joe was an active member of the Knights of Columbus. I still distinctly remember the mass at St. Michaels Church about 60 years ago, when I was sitting next to my Dad and the honor guard of Knights walked down the center aisle of that beautiful sanctuary. Each guy in the procession wore a feathered hat and carried a sword. All of a sudden one of them winked at me. It was my barber, Joe Mason. Man I thought that was neat.

Joe was also the host of an all Italian radio show broadcast by Amsterdam’s WCSS radio station. He spoke fluent Italian and lots of homes on the City’s West End and Southside had their radios tuned to 1490 when his show came on.

Joe was a lifelong resident of Amsterdam. He enlisted in the Army in 1943 and served a three-year hitch. He also worked at General Electric for ten years. But he was born to stand behind that classic barber chair wearing his white smock and use his scissors, combs and razors to make hundreds of male heads look a heck of a lot better walking out of his shop than they did walking in.

For quite a while, the other chair in Joe’s shop was manned on Saturday mornings by a young Ralph Fedullo, the son of another West End barber and a schoolteacher. Back then, Amsterdam’s barbers, like our bartenders doubled as the town’s psychiatrists. As they snipped away at your hair, you would tell them about every problem you had during the two-week periods since they last cut your hair. Joe was an expert listener. He’d nod his head and sympathize with you. Young Ralph on the other hand would actually dispense advice, some of it rather bold if I remember correctly.

I used to love sitting there in Joe’s shop and listening to all that grown up conversation about everything imaginable. When a subject got sensitive, the grown ups all started speaking Italian because they didn’t want us kids to hear. I can still see the combs sitting in the blue-colored disinfectant in the Barbisol container on Joe’s counter. I can still feel the hot shaving cream he’d apply to the back of my neck and the prickly scrape of his straight edge razor along my hairline and the instant relief I’d feel when he’d apply the Pinaud Talc to my just-shaved skin.

Joe was such a well-liked member of our community. Back then the car and foot traffic past his corner was about 1,000 times heavier than it is now and all those people knew Joe Mason. Drivers of cars would beep their horns, walkers would wave to him and on many occasions, Joe would walk over to the window and click his scissors against the plate glass to acknowledge them.

I think it was the Beatles in the mid sixties that changed the way young men got their haircuts. We all let our hair get longer and suddenly every two weeks became every two months and “barbers” were slowly replaced by “hair stylists.” Joe eventually retired and then devoted the rest of his life to helping others. He was a fixture in our local hospitals and nursing home’s, visiting the sick and elderly, cutting their hair and just sitting and talking to them. His marriage to his lovely Louise was certainly the highlight of his life. It lasted 65 years and produced their beloved daughter Janice and two grandchildren who Joe absolutely adored. In 1983, my Dad had a massive stroke at the age of just 57. Joe Mason went to visit him in the hospital and was talking to him when he suddenly died. Knowing his good friend Joe was there with him has always been a comfort to our family.

Joe’s time to rejoin his beloved Louise came in May of 2009, when he had reached the age of 90. Whenever I drive pass his old shop I think of him, standing there clicking his scissors against that window.

My old barber shares his July 12 birthday with a former West End neighbor of mine, who went through a harrowing experience at the tail end of WWII.

 

 

July 11 – Happy Birthday Salvatore “Sam” Pepe

samPepeThough he would end up following in his father’s footsteps and become one of Amsterdam’s most popular and most gifted bakers, Salvatore “Sam” Pepe could have been just about anything he wanted to be. But above all else he was a good son and when his family needed him to keep their Southside landmark bakery going strong, he answered their call and spent the rest of his working days making sure Pepe’s Bakery remained the baked goods institution it had grown to become under his father, Ralph.

For thousands of Amsterdamians, stopping at Pepe’s on Broad Street for a loaf of their famous Italian bread was as much a Sunday morning ritual as going to church. Young Sam had grown up working there. He joined the US Army in 1943 and spent his war years with the Fifth Army’s Special Service Engineers, serving in both the European and Pacific Theaters. When he was discharged in 1946, he went to Siena College and earned a degree in biology. He also had the mind of an engineer and was a whiz at fixing anything mechanical. GE recognized his ability and hired him to work in their Rocket Propulsion Lab. That’s when he was called back to the family business.

At first he teamed with his brothers Al and Ralph Jr. to run the Bakery. Then in 1972, Sam took over as sole proprietor. He and his amazing wife Geraldine were the proud and loving parents of five boys and the entire family was put to work in the business. In 1986, two of Sam’s sons Ralph and Paul assumed ownership of the bakery and Sam retired to the family’s well kept home on Amsterdam’s Princeton Street. Perhaps sort of retired was a more accurate description for that stage of his life because he continued to go to the bakery just about every day to help out his boys and fix anything in the place that needed fixing.

His marriage to Geraldine lasted 60 years. And if you ask his 5 boys, Sam was as good a father as he had been a son. When he died in October 2012, Amsterdam lost one of its finest citizens. Happy Birthday Sam!

 

July 10 – Happy Birthday David Carlucci

carlucci222David Carlucci was born in Amsterdam, NY on July 10, 1949 and got important exposure to  business and music early on. He was the son of Joe and Roseanne Stelly Carlucci. His dad came home from service in World War II and started the Port Jackson Painting Company, which he would later merge with Otto Greco’s painting firm to form Amsterdam Painting and Decorating, one of the most successful businesses of it’s kind in the city’s history. Roseanne Carlucci played the banjo and used it to entertain David and his sister throughout their childhood.

When he entered Wilbur Lynch High School in the early sixties, he was introduced to another individual who would have a significant impact on his future career. I was just a little kid at the time but I do remember when Bert DeRose made Carlucci a regular presence on that elegant Lynch auditorium stage. DeRose used him as both an actor in many of his productions as well as a valuable member of his backstage crew. Those teenage moments spent both in front of and behind that curtain helped propel him toward what became a distinguished career in the entertainment industry.

After graduating from Lynch in 1967, he attended Oklahoma City University, where he earned a degree in theater arts in 1972 and went to work for a local performance theater in Oklahoma City. After marrying Amsterdam native LouAnn Cotugno in 1975, he got his big break in 1977, when he was appointed Operations Manager of the Saratoga Performing Arts Center. I remember how nice it was to see this local Amsterdam guy running around the SPAC stage, all mic’d up, making sure everything was absolutely perfect for some of the greatest musical artists in the world who played that wonderful venue every summer. I also remember when budget cuts in the early nineties forced the cutback of his job to a part-time position. Though his brilliant career at SPAC was over, Dave Carlucci’s impact on this country’s music industry was just beginning.

In 1993, Carlucci began an 11-year stint at Chicago’s House of Blues Concerts, Inc. During that time he produced and managed an average of 80 major entertainment events annually while overseeing two different performance venues in the Windy City and a staff that ranged between 400 and 600 employees.

In 2004, he began a three-year tenure as President and Executive Director of The Bethel Woods Center for the Arts, a new performance venue that was being built alongside the field that served as the historic site of the Woodstock Music Festival.

In 2008, he headed back to Chicago to serve as VP and GM of the world renowned Chicago Theatre. His Dad would have been proud of him because in addition to overseeing 100 major entertainment events annually, Carlucci’s efforts helped increase the critical revenues derived from food and beverage sales by an average of 17% annually.

In 2011, Carlucci hung out his own shingle and became an independent consultant to the entertainment industry. That was just a nice way of phrasing the fact that Carlucci was ready to give up his full-time job to spend much more time with a family he adored.

Dave and LouAnn raised a daughter and a son and they are thoroughly enjoying their role as grandparents. In fact, the Carlucci’s relocated to the Houston, Texas area a few years ago to be closer to their daughter and grandson.

July 9 – Happy Birthday Walter Martin

There has never been a City of Amsterdam firefighter who loved his job or his profession any more than Walter Martin. The native of Amsterdam’s South Side was born on July 9, 1952. He was a tough and sturdy Amsterdam High varsity football center and middle guard for Gene White and John Los-coached Rugged Ram teams and he was a key member of the backstage crew for Bert DeRose’s Drama Club productions. Martin graduated from Lynch in 1970 and by 1972 he had become an Amsterdam firefighter. Over the next four decades he would rush to thousands of fires and emergency situations in this city, become one of the department’s very first EMT’s, earn “Firefighter of the Year” honors twice and even deliver a baby.

By the time he retired in 2012, he had risen to the rank of Battalion Chief and become one of the most knowledgeable experts of the history, traditions and technologies of fire fighting in this city’s history. And though he no longer actively works for the AFD, he remains closely connected to those who do and is constantly called upon whenever a question about this city’s firefighting history arises. He also maintains the largest known collection of Amsterdam firefighting equipment and memorabilia in existence and to underscore his passion for the profession he’s devoted his life to, Walter and his wife Mary Beth make their home in the old AFD Station 5, which is located on the corner of Division and Henrietta Streets, in Amsterdam’s West End.

(This long-ago Amsterdam resident, one of this town’s most sought after knitting mill managers was also born on July 9.)

(This former Amsterdam Rugmaker shortstop was also born on July 9.)