Answers to Amsterdam, NY “Order in the Court” Trivia Quiz

Briskie

Answer to Question No. 1: His name was Robert Briskie and he joined the Amsterdam law office of James Doyle in 1957, replacing Bob Sise. Briskie passionately defended the manager of a local movie theater who had been charged with public obscenity, telling the local newspaper he would take the case to the Supreme Court if necessary to overturn the guilty verdict of the local judge.

Hardies on right

Answer to Question No. 2: Charles E. Hardies Jr. was used to living on the fringe of the spotlight. His father had been considered sort of a legal legend around these parts as both a district attorney and corporate counsel. His sister had married Malcolm Atterbury, Jr, the son of a very wealthy Pennsylvania railroad executive, who went on to become a well known Hollywood character actor. So when the younger Hardies was sworn in as Montgomery County DA in the early 1970’s, it seemed as if it was his time to shine. Alas, his timing proved poor. The state investigation into city gambling and public/police department corruption knocked him off balance and he was never able to fully recover.

von Wiegen

Answer to Question No. 3: Erich von Wiegen had arrived in Amsterdam in the late seventies with a flamboyant reputation as a hard-charging malpractice attorney. His son’s unfortunate accident mellowed him and he spent the next few years devoted to the child’s recovery.

Aison

Answer to Question No. 4: Amsterdam City Court Judge Howard Aison made it his mission to turn his courtroom into a profit center.

Cortese

Answer to Question No. 5: Phil Cortese served both Mayor’s Parillo and Duchessi as Corporation Counsel before becoming Montgomery County Family Court Judge.

 

 

Salmon Sr.

Answer to Question No. 6: Carl Salmon Sr. began his family’s streak of dispensing legal expertise and services in Amsterdam in 1911.  First his son Carl Jr, and now his grandsons, James and Del have continued the practice, now in it’s 107th year.

Sherbunt

Answer to Question No. 7: As administrator of the Wasserman Foundation, Amsterdam attorney Norb Sherbunt had significant influence as to how grants from the Foundation’s assets could be expended. He used that influence to steer the organization’s funds to the installation of lights at Lynch Stadium, the home field of Amsterdam’s Rugged Rams. Friday night football instantly became Amsterdam’s very favorite thing to do.

 

Tomlinson

Answer to Question No. 8: The correct choice is C. Guy Tomlinson served as Montgomery County DA and is currently the Surrogate Court Judge but has not served on the State Supreme Court bench.

Barnett

Answer to Question No. 9: The correct choice is C. Joe Barnett was a popular Amsterdam attorney for many years but never served on the bench in any capacity.

Wollman

Answer to Question No. 10: The correct choice is D. Paul Wollman was a City Court Judge at one time but it was his son Joseph Wollman who served as Family Court Judge and not Paul.

Insogna

Answer to Question No. 11: The correct choice is D. Richard Insogna was one of Amsterdam’s busiest private attorneys for a very long time but was never the Montgomery County DA.

Vicinanzo

Answer to Question No. 12: Dave Vicinanzo is the oldest of the seven children born to former Amsterdam attorney Vince Vicinanzo and his lovely wife Anne. Their sons and daughters have certainly proved to be a most impressive achieving brood. Dave’s brother Paul is a retired US Navy Captain and is currently in charge of USAID relief efforts in Africa, the Middle East and Indo/Asia.  His brother Phil is the only sibling still in the area. He went to Harvard and has master’s degrees from the University of Kent in England and RPI.  He has worked in a NYC hedge fund for many years. His sister Marie went to Cornell and obtained a masters at NYU.  She works in the pharma industry. His sister Jeanne graduated from Cornell and after getting her masters married an attorney and settled in Scarsdale where they are raising seven kids of their own. His youngest sister, Anne captained the cross-country team at Duke, where she received an engineering degree.  She moved to DC and helped design what is now called the Capital One Arena where the Capitals and Wizards play. Youngest child Matt graduated from Harvard and and is now a highly specialized eye/brain surgeon in private practice in Alabama and on the faculty at the University of Alabama Medical School. Dave’s dad passed away but his mom Anne is doing well at 85 and still summers on the Sacandaga.

Snook Borst

Answer to Question No. 13: Daisy Snook Borst was born in Amsterdam, NY in 1886. Her dad was a member of the same Snook family for whom the Snook’s Corners hamlet in the town of Florida and Snook’s Corners Rd. are both named.She became the first woman ever admitted to Albany Law School, where she graduated at the very top of her class in 1912. When she passed the New York State Bar, she became the first Montgomery County-born female lawyer in history. She would go into private practice with Amsterdam attorney James Ferguson, becoming the first practicing female lawyer in the history of the Rug City. She became the first female president of the Montgomery County Bar Association in 1950.

McCoski

Answer to Question No. 14:  The candidates for Montgomery County District Attorney in the 2016 election were Kelli McCoski and Howard Aison. McCoski was victorious that November, winning nearly sixty percent of the vote.

Francisco

Answer to Question No. 15: The correct answer is D. Jeff Francisco has never served in the office of Corporation Counsel.

Kosinski

Answer to Question No. 16: John Kosinski. When Kosinski died in March of 1974, his fellow Amsterdam attorney Fred Partyka called the Amsterdam native “one of the Polish giants” for proving that Amsterdam’s Polish-American community could prosper in America.

Breier

Answer to Question No. 17: Marcus Breier was the last Amsterdam Mayor to have a law degree though he never practiced law with it. His predecessor as Amsterdam Mayor, Frank Martuscello was the last practicing lawyer to serve as Amsterdam’s Mayor.

Sise

Answer to Question No. 18: Former Montgomery County Family Court Judge Bob Sise played minor league baseball in both the North Atlantic and Canadian American Leagues back in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s.

Tracy

Answer to Question No. 19: The former Amsterdam DA who defended Lemuel Smith on those burglary charges was Charles Tracy, whose brother was the AHS baseball coaching legend, Jack Tracy.

Wilkinson

Answer to Question No. 20: The Amsterdam lawyer pictured above is Ned Wilkinson, son of an Amsterdam banker and brother of a heroic WWII pilot who was killed in action. The charismatic Wilkinson established one of the most successful law practices in Amsterdam history before a brain tumor felled him in 1986 at the age of just 57.

Horigan

Answer to BONUS Question No.1: The Amsterdam lawyer pictured above is Richard Horigan, who many considered to be Amsterdam’s best defense attorney during the second half of the 20th Century.

Rosalie & Mike Riccio

Answer to BONUS Question No.2: Her name was Rosalie Aulisi Riccio. Her father was State Supreme Court Justice Felix Aulisi and she was married to long-time City Court Judge Michael Riccio, whose pictured with her in the above photo.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Amsterdam, NY Trivia Quiz: Category – Streets & Neighborhoods

This category tests your knowledge of the geography and history of some of Amsterdam’s best known thoroughfares. Today’s featured street is Guy Park Avenue. You’ll find the answers to today’s questions beginning  right beneath the final question:

1) In 1960, there were four different schools operating on Guy Park Avenue. Can you name them all?

2) Five different congregations have operated Houses of Worship on Guy Park Avenue since I was born in 1954. Can you name three of them? (Hint: two of these houses of Worship are no longer in operation)

3) Can you name the three supermarkets that operated on Guy Park Avenue, all located between Guy and Wall Streets during the 1960s?

4) More Amsterdamian’s have been born on Guy Park Avenue than on all the other streets in our city combined. Can you explain why this is true?

5) What was the name of the street before it was renamed Guy Park Avenue?

6) Where did the name Guy Park come from?

7) What Amsterdam industrialist was the first resident of this Guy Park Avenue home?

8) Which of these well known local television personalities once lived on Guy Park Avenue?
a) Tim Welch
b) John Allen
c) Don Decker
d) Rip Rowan

9) Which of these well known former Amsterdam residents DID NOT at one time reside on Guy Park Avenue?
a) Judge Robert Sise
b) Whitey Murray
c) Recorder Sports Editor Art Hoefs
d) Amsterdam merchant and former mayor, Seely Conover
e) US Congressman Sam Stratton

10) Which of these local businesses was never located on Guy Park Avenue?
a) Quandt’s Wholesale Foods
b) Hardies Electric
c) Morrison and Putnam’s
d) Kem’s Cleaners

Bonus Question: A local public school was named after a one-time resident of the 231 Guy Park Avenue home pictured below. Any idea what school I’m referring to?

The answers to today’s Amsterdam Trivia Quiz questions appear below:

Guy Park Elementary

Answer to question number 1: The four schools in operation during the 1960s were Theodore Roosevelt Junior High School, St. Joseph’s School, West Spring Elementary and Guy Park Avenue Elementary.

Trinity Lutheran

Answer to question number 2: The five Guy Park Avenue houses of worship include the still active Trinity Lutheran Church, First Baptist Church and Congregation Sons of Israel synagogue and the former St. Joseph’s Catholic and Emmanuel Presbyterian Churches.

 

Acme ad from 1966 Amsterdam Recorder

Answer to question number 3: The three Guy Park Avenue-based supermarkets that were once located between Guy and Wall Streets were the A&P, Grand Union and Acme Supermarkets.

Answer to question number 4: The reason the majority of babies born in Amsterdam came into this world on Guy Park Avenue is because for close to sixty years both Memorial and St. Mary’s Hospital were located on Guy Park and St. Mary’s, the only remaining hospital in the city today, still conducts its maternity activities there.

Answer to question number 5: Before it was renamed Guy Park Ave, it was called Spring Street because of the natural spring that flowed beneath it.

Guy Johnson’s home in Guy Park

Answer to question number 6: The name “Guy Park” came from “Guy Johnson” who was a nephew of Sir William Johnson, the man who first settled the land on which Amsterdam is located. Guy joined his uncle in America in the 1770’s and eventually married Sir William’s daughter Polly. Sir. William gave the couple a square mile plot of land alongside the Mohawk River. Guy Johnson built his house on that plot and the square mile estate became known as “Guy Park.”

 

Answer to question number 7: The original owner of this still-standing majestic home on upper Guy Park Avenue was David Chalmers, founder of the Chalmers’ Knitting Mill that once dominated Bridge Street on Amsterdam’s South Side.

Rip Rowan

 

Answer to question number 8: Though he was born in Schenectady where his Mom Clarissa hailed from, long-time WTEN News sports anchor William “Rip” Rowan Jr. did his growing up in Amsterdam, NY. He resided on the lower “200 block” of Guy Park Avenue and he graduated from Lynch High School in 1953.

Whitey Murray at Little Giants’ 50th Anniversary Celebration

Answer to question number 9: The correct answer is “b” but though Whitey Murray never lived on Guy Park he spent a large part of his life there. The founder of the Amsterdam Little Giants Football League ran the Texaco Gas Station that was situated opposite the top of Guy Street, where the Stewarts store is now located.

Answer to question number 10: The correct answer is “c”, the long-time Amsterdam music store Morrison and Putnam’s was last located at the corner of Division and Wall Streets, at the site now occupied by the New Dimensions Health Clinic. The other three businesses were all long-time Guy Park Avenue addressee’s. Among these businesses, only Hardies Electric remains in operation though in a new location on Clizbe Ave.

Clara Bacon’s Guy Park Ave. residence
Answer to today’s Bonus Question: The home at 221 Guy Park Ave. belonged to former Assistant Superintendent of Amsterdam City schools, Clara S. Bacon and her husband.

Amsterdam, NY Trivia Quiz – Category: Politics

How good is your knowledge of Amsterdam’s political history? Here are ten questions that will test your memory of candidates and office holders from the Rug City’s past. How many can you answer correctly? The answers are posted after the final question, below:

1) This guy ran for Mayor more often than anyone else in Amsterdam  history. Who was he?

2) In his first effort to become Amsterdam’s representative in the New York State Assembly, this guy lost a 1980 election to Glen Harris? He has not lost another election since. Who is he?

3) Which of the following women did not serve as an Amsterdam city alderwoman?
a) Marie Gavry
b) Lesley Lanzi
c) Kim Brumley
d) Lorri DeRossi

4) He was Amsterdam Mayor in 1954 when the Sanford Rug Mills announced they were abandoning Amsterdam. Who was he?

5) Which of the following individuals was never a candidate for Amsterdam Mayor in a general election?
a) Joe Jacobs
b) John Mycek
c) Richard Insogna
d) Chuck Bigler

6) Can you name the four candidates who ran for Amsterdam mayor in the 1979 election to succeed the retiring John Gomulka?

7) This individual is the only person to serve as both Superintendent of Amsterdam City schools and Amsterdam Mayor. Can you identify this person?

8) The 1968 election for state assembly between these two Amsterdam natives pitted a powerful veteran politician versus a young and rising upstart and resulted in a shocking upset. Do you remember who the two candidates in this historic race were?

9) Who were the three candidates in the 2011 election for Amsterdam Mayor?

10) Which of the following individuals did not lose a primary bid in their effort to become a candidate for Amsterdam Mayor?
a) Joe Pepe
b) Ed Hardies
c) John Betz
d) Robert Going

Bonus Question: In what year was the former Sanford family home on Church Street officially donated to the  City of Amsterdam?

Correct Answers for Today’s Quiz are below:
Carter

Answer to question number 1: Arthur Carter ran for Mayor a total of nine times, winning five of those elections.

Tonko

Answer to question number 2: Paul Tonko

DeRossi

Answer to question number 3: d) Lorri DeRossi never served on the Amsterdam Common Council but her youngest daughter Gina did.

Deal

Answer to question number 4: Burtiss Deal

Richard Insogna
Answer to question number 5: The correct answer is c). The late Richard Insogna was a well known Amsterdam attorney but he was never a mayoral candidate. Former City Corporation Counsel Joe Jacobs was the unsuccessful Democratic Party nominee for the office in both the 1953 and 1959 elections. Former Montgomery County Surrogate Court Judge Mycek lost to Republican Frank Martuscello in 1955 and Bigler, the one-time Montgomery County Administrator finished third in his race against Paul Parillo and winner Mario Villa in the 1991 election.
Mario Villa

Answers to question number 6: Mario Villa who won the election was the Republican candidate. One time Amsterdam city firefighter Dan Brojakowski was the 28-year-old candidate of the Democrats. Vito Dandreano ran on the Liberal ticket and Pete Phelps was the Conservative Party candidate.

Lynch
Answer to question number 7: Wilbur H. Lynch
Krupsak
Campbell
Answers to question number 8: Mary Ann Krupsak became the first woman to represent Amsterdam in the state assembly when she defeated the incumbent, Don Campbell, who had held the office for 18 years.
Thane

Answer to question number 9: Incumbent Mayor Ann Thane squeaked out a second term in the 2011 mayoral election by defeating former Amsterdam Mayor Joe Emanuele and veteran alderman Bill Wills.

John Betz
Answer to question number 10: John Betz was the only one of these four choices who actually received his party’s nomination to run for Mayor when he became the Republican candidate in the 1967 election and was beaten by John Gomulka. Former alderman Joe Pepe lost his 1987 bid for the GOP nomination to then City controller John Blintz who in turn lost the general election to Democrat Paul Parillo. Ed Hardies, the long-time owner of an Amsterdam-based electrical contracting firm and Commissioner of Public Works under John Gomulka, lost his 1979 bid for the Democratic mayoral nomination to Dan Brojakowski. Former Montgomery County Family Court Judge Bob Going lost the 1983 Republican primary to Mario Villa.
Answer to Bonus Question: The Sanford family deeded the home to the city upon the death of John Sanford in 1932.

Amsterdam, NY Trivia Quiz – Category: Sports

How good is your knowledge of Amsterdam sports history? Here are ten questions that will test your memory of outstanding athletes and teams who have provided Rug City sports fans with plenty of special moments. How many can you answer correctly? The answers are posted after Question number 10:

1) This former Harvard Avenue resident was a three time winner of the prestigious New York State Amateur Golf Championship. Can you name her?

2) He was the first football player in Section II history to score 200 points in a season Who was he?

3) Can you name two Amsterdam residents who played Major League baseball?

4) Who was the first girl in the history of Amsterdam High School’s cross-country program to qualify for the NY State Championship Meet?

5) Can you name the last boy and the last girl to break the 1,000 point career mark for the Amsterdam High School boys’ and girls’ varsity basketball programs?

6) In 2016, he became the first Amsterdam native to win an Athlete of the Year honor for a major Division 1 college conference. Who was he?

7) She was the first female to wrestle for the Amsterdam High School’s Varsity Wrestling program. Who is she?

8) Only one former basketball player from St. Mary’s Institute and just one from Bishop Scully were able to score more than 1,000 points during their high school basketball careers. Can you name both players?

9) Can you name two former Amsterdam Rugmaker Baseball Players who made Major League All Star teams?

10) Amsterdam High School Varsity Baseball Coach Brian Mee’s 1973, ’74 and ’75 teams set a New York State record for consecutive victories. How many games did they win during their historic streak?

Bonus Question: Who is the former Amsterdam High School football player pictured at the beginning of this quiz? (Hint: One of his sons later played football for Brown University)

Correct answer for question 1

Dianne Wilde

Correct answer for question 2

Brian Niezgoda

Correct answers for question 3:

Roger Bowman
Steve Kuczek
Jack Hammond
Jake Reisigl

Correct answer for question 4:

Olivia Lazarou

Correct answers for question 5:

Kory Bergh
Giuliana Pritchard

Correct answer for question 6: Izaiah Brown, who won Big Ten Indoor Track Athlete of the Year award as a freshman at Rutgers in 2016.

Izaiah Brown

Correct answer for question 7: 

Nicole Benton

Correct answers for question 8:

Bill Bresonis for St. Mary’s
Cappy Wells for Bishop Scully

Correct answers for question 9:

Vic Raschi

 

Lou Burdette
Bob Grim

 

Gus Triandos

 

Spec Shea

Correct Answer for question 10: 53 straight games

Brian Mee

Correct Answer Bonus Question: 

Gene Catena: 1948 AHS Football MVP

Amsterdam Memorial Day Memories

For most Amsterdam residents past and present, their most poignant memories of Memorial Day include the annual parade and the wonderful patriotic ceremonies and speeches that still take place each year in the early morning of that solemn day at each of the area cemeteries and war memorials. My own memories of Memorial Day traditions begin before the day itself. My Uncle and Dad were long time members of Amsterdam’s Frank Sirchia Am-Vet Post. Every spring before Memorial Day, their post used to put the flags on the graves of all the dead veterans buried in Amsterdam’s cemeteries. What made this task extremely time consuming was the mediocre and inconsistent burial records each cemetery maintained at the time. It was pretty much known which veterans were buried in each cemetery but a map showing where each of their graves were located within that cemetery did not exist. As a result, someone needed to walk each row of each cemetery looking for each veteran’s grave. Since all the members of the Post had full time jobs during the day, the search at each cemetery didn’t begin until after dinner, usually about 6:00 PM, which meant you had about three hours before darkness fell. That’s why my Uncle used to always bring me along to help and that’s how I first met the other members of Amsterdam’s Sirchia Post. Guys like Red Botch who used to run a diner up on Prospect street right across from the Clock Building; the Picciocca brothers Tony and Johnny; the Manganelli boys, Nick and Ralph; Tony Marcellino the mason, Joe Campochiro the house painter; Mareo Tambasco the insurance agent and Joe Callella, the only guy in the group who did not tend to use four letter words as an adjective every now and then. I have to tell you, those spring evenings, walking through our local cemeteries with that group of middle-aged men, putting flags on the graves of people who served this country was one of the nicest memories of my childhood.

First of all, it impressed upon me just how many folks from this community fought for our country. Keep in mind that this was the mid 1960’s when the Vietnam War was raging and a large portion of Amsterdam’s WWII vets were just reaching 40-years of age and still very much alive. I remember when we’d come across the grave of someone the guys knew while growing up in Amsterdam and they’d say things like “Boy could this guy hit a baseball” or “Remember his sister? She was a doll. Whatever happened to her?” Once in a while, when we’d come across a grave of a fellow WWII Veteran killed in action who the Post members had known especially well, there’d be instant silence and three or four of them would stand together around the grave and say a prayer and you’d see at least one wipe a tear from his eye. On Memorial Day mornings, the Post would serve as the honor guard for the annual Mass said at St. Joseph’s Cemetery. Since I played the trumpet when I was a kid, I became one of the Post’s official buglers for a few years. I used to love seeing all these guys show up at that cemetery all dressed in their uniforms. They’d joke around like crazy and insult each other mercilessly right up until drill sergeant Johnny Picciocca got them into formation. As soon as he ordered them to attention, the joking ended, those smiles disappeared and they did their best to become acting soldiers again. They marched in step to the outside altar, stood proudly with the colors through the entire mass, fired a three-shot volley in honor of the heroes at rest around us and stood at proud erect attention while I played taps. One of the things this group of proud and respectful veterans usually never did was talk about their own experiences in the War. I used to beg my Uncle to tell me what fighting in Africa and Italy was really like but he’d always change the subject. Now I realize how hard it had to be for members of their generation to relive what must have been some horrific memories. But what they never failed to do was spend so many spring evenings of their busy lives and every Memorial Day morning making sure their fellow veterans who left this Earth before them were appropriately recognized and honored. Like I said, some great memories from my childhood.

On this sacred and solemn day it is most fitting that we remember the hundreds of Amsterdamians, who have made the supreme sacrifice for their country. We also honor the thousands of Rug City men and women who stepped forward from every generation, who left this Mohawk Valley community and their loving families to take up battle all over this globe so that we may live in freedom. May God bless each and every one of these gallant human beings.

So Long Flip!

Phillip “Flip” Bracchi was a one and only, a special edition who came to represent everything about Amsterdam’s lower South Side neighborhood that gives that area both its charm and its edge.

If you had never met Flip and walked into Herks with him behind the bar, your first impression could be anything from amazement to disbelief depending upon the topics of conversation swirling around you. When he was working he didn’t tend bar, he was more like performing on a stage, dishing out more derogatory nicknames, personal insults and inappropriate personal questions than the great Don Rickles ever did in a Las Vegas lounge. Mr. Bracchi knew how to work an audience. He was an unabashed and uncensored sage on any topic, person or place one could imagine. Some of his proclamations, beliefs and conclusions were so bluntly stated it was not uncommon for the person listening to respond “There is something seriously wrong with you!”

I loved when Flip told a story. He was like a human jukebox filled with them and regulars sitting at the bar would actually make requests to have their favorite one retold. “Flip, tell him about the time you went with Vinnie and Chickie to have coffee!” One of the things that popped in my head when I learned Flip had passed was “I hope someone has a video of Flip telling a story.”

As hard and tough as he seemed on the outside, those who knew Flip best knew he had a heart of gold. I was not a Herk’s regular but I got there enough times for him to get to know me and me him. The last time I saw him was a couple months ago. His daughter had brought him to the bar after a doctor’s visit and it was sadly clear that the relentless cancer was taking its toll. But as bad as he looked and as sick as he must have felt, he spent the next hour or so making us double over with laughter. Only Flip could turn having a deadly disease into a laughing matter. Before I left, I went over to him to say goodbye and as we shook hands he said to me “I loved your new book. Buddy you can write.” I certainly wasn’t expecting Flip to pay me such a nice compliment and it turned out to be the last thing he ever said to me. My deepest and most sincere condolences to Flip’s son, daughter, grandchildren and his army of regular customers. There will never ever be another like him!

Ten Amsterdam Veterans From Ten Different US Wars

One of Amsterdam’s proudest legacies are the men and women from this community who served in the US Armed Forces. That legacy extends all the way back to 1776 and includes participation in every major armed conflict that has taken place since. In this Bonus List I profile ten Amsterdam veterans from ten different wars. I preview the first two of those profiles below:

Korean War – Frank Cassetta grew up on Mathias Avenue. He enlisted in the US Army in 1951 and was sent to fight in Korea the following year. Promoted to Master Sergeant while there, on December 23, 1952 he was one of the leaders of an assault force about to attack a heavily fortified enemy hill near Sataeri, a city situated just to the northern side of the present day border between North and South Korea. As the patrol was moving up a narrow valley to position itself for the attack, one of the soldiers tripped an explosive device, alerting the North Koreans of their location. Frank’s patrol came under intense fire and was greatly outnumbered. As the American soldiers scrambled, they triggered another booby trap and with enemy grenades and small arms fire pouring down on them from both sides of the valley, their situation became bleak. Though Frank had been wounded himself, he made two, not one, two perilous trips back into the field of fire to retrieve injured comrades and bring them to safe cover. He then returned to direct friendly fire against the enemy positions and realizing that additional support was essential, he volunteered to make his way back to contact reserve forces for assistance. While attempting to do so, he was mortally wounded by enemy machine gun fire. He got a Silver Star.

Revolutionary War – A one-time resident of Amsterdam, NY had the distinction of serving as a member of the Minutemen regiment, the legendary unit that fired the first American shots at the battles of Lexington and Concord. His name was David Shepard. He was born in Westfield, Massachusetts on October 23, 1744. He attended Yale University in the 1760’s and became a doctor. He settled in Chester, Massachusetts where he began his medical practice and became involved in local politics as a committeeman. New England of course and particularly Massachusetts became a swirling hot bed for the anti-British sentiment that would soon spread throughout the colonies. As relationships between the Crown and colonial leaders in Boston unraveled, Committees of Correspondence were established throughout Massachusetts as rebellious emergency governments to oppose British rules. Shepard was appointed to Chester’s Committee. When the Patriots received word that British troops were planning to raid their hidden arms supply stashes near Concord, local Minutemen militias from throughout the state converged on the site. Shepard volunteered to serve as surgeon to the regiments and it was he who treated the very first American soldiers wounded during the revolution. He would later take part in the Battles of Ticonderoga and Bennington. After the war, he was selected to represent Chester at the Constitutional Convention for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts in 1788 where he voted with the majority in favor of ratifying the first US Constitution. He then returned to Chester, where he continued his medical practice and remained active in town politics until 1802, when he purchased a farm in Amsterdam, NY and relocated his family to the Mohawk Valley settlement. Shepard’s spread was located at the top of what is now Steadwell Avenue and he lived and worked it till his death in 1818. The farm would much later become the sight of Fairview Cemetery.

Remember, if you’ve purchased a copy of my new book; Fifty Amsterdam, NY Top Ten Lists, I will be e-mailing you a copy of this completed list within the next few weeks. If you’d like to order a copy of the book so you can also receive all the additional bonus lists I’ll be distributing during the next 12 months, you can order your copy here.

I already have the e-mail addresses of all the folks who purchased the book online or directly from me. If you purchased your copy from Liberty Fresh Market, the Book Hound, or this year’s Festival of Trees please e-mail me (cinquantim@genium.com ) with your e-mail address so I can send you the new Top Ten lists I continue to compile.

Top Ten Nicest Places in Amsterdam to Visit

What are the ten nicest spots to visit in Amsterdam, NY? By nice, I mean places that will make you say to yourself “Hey self, this is a really nice place to visit, I need to come here more often!” In this fifth Amsterdam Top Ten Bonus List, I attempt to identify ten such locations. In the next few weeks I’ll e-mail the completed list to everyone who has purchased a copy of my new book of 50 Amsterdam Top Ten Lists. I’ve previewed three of the spots that made the list below.

St. Stanislaus Church – The splendor of this particular “nicest Amsterdam place to visit” is sort of disguised by the fact that from the outside it looks kind of ordinary as far as “houses of worship” go. But when you get inside, it’s a whole new ballgame! When you sit in the pews and gaze at the architectural features of the sanctuary of St. Stanislaus Roman Catholic Church on Amsterdam’s Cornell Street you can’t help but be at least a bit awestruck. Having researched quite a bit of this city’s history, I can appreciate the structural and decorative splendor of this house of worship even more because I know the place was built 120 years ago and the construction technologies that were employed were archaic by today’s standards. The complex ornately decorated series of arches that support the ceiling of the church are stunning. Just as impressive is St. Stan’s magnificent altar, topped by alcoves of gilded arches, each containing pairs of beautifully painted images of Catholic saints. The multi spired original back altar reminds me of a cathedral in and of itself. Every nook and cranny of this amazing Church seems to draw both your vision and your spirits upward towards heaven and serves as evidence of the strong faith and devotion of the people who built and maintain it. You don’t have to be Catholic or even believe in God to be knocked flat over by the beauty of St. Stanislaus’s interior but seeing this place may just convince you to rethink both.

World War I Veterans’ Memorial Park – In his book “Annals of a Mill Town” the wonderful Amsterdam historian, Hugh Donlon wrote about how Rug City residents during World War I supported their soldiers from home. One such effort was called the “War Chest” in which over 10,000 Amsterdam residents contributed a quarter a week. All those hard earned quarters added up to over $380,000 by the war’s end and there was enough cash left over to have the majestic $35,000 Veteran’s Memorial designed and constructed on a beautiful setting at the western tip of the city. The Park, which sits at the intersection where Guy Park Ave, Division and West Main Streets meet, was dedicated on July 17, 1925, just seven days after my Dad was born. It was built as a tribute to Amsterdam’s World War I Veterans. As soon as it opened, it became one of the West End’s favorite places to visit, play, flirt and take wedding and family photos. I have a slew of black and whites from the 1940’s showing my dad, his two sisters and my grandparents posing in and around this venue. If you lived west of Henrietta Street growing up and especially on Guy Park Avenue by the time the 1960s rolled around, that Veteran’s Memorial Park was your all-everything playground. It was our baseball field in the summer and our tackle football field in the fall. We’d race our bicycles around the base of the monument and use the park’s silver painted Spanish-American War-era cannon to conduct war games and defend Amsterdam from an invasion by an imaginary foreign army. My brothers me and our friends spent large chunks of our childhood doing all these things in that park. I still remember the thrill of hitting my first home run over the head of the giant bronze soldier that stood atop the memorial. You quickly learned how to hit a baseball straight-away because if you pulled it to left or right fields there was a real good  chance the hard ball would smack into the windshield of one of the stream of cars traveling west toward Fort Johnson. A large cast-iron urn that used to be located smack in the middle of the park added an element of danger to our end-of-the-city football games. Getting smashed by former Giant linebacker Lawrence Taylor paled in comparison to getting unexpectedly blindsided by that damn urn. In the 1980’s I brought my own four children to this park and today I bring my grandkids. The ballplayers and bike racers have disappeared and the place is usually forlornly empty. After a period of neglect and thanks to the efforts of concerned area veterans spearheaded by retired Amsterdam postal worker Tom DeLuca, the site was spruced up and continues to be well-maintained. A bubbling fountain has replaced the infamous urn, the silver cannon was repainted gold and they erected a huge flagpole where the imaginary pitcher’s mound used to be. But I still love going there as do the grand-kids. They sit up on that cannon, lobbing imaginary shells at the enemy approaching from the west. They race around the monument and usually stand on the granite benches that are molded into it as we read the names of the brave Amsterdam men who fought in the first World War, which are engraved on the memorial’s six giant plaques. If you’ve never been there I urge you to pay this place a visit. The reason it was built, how it was financed, and the memories it generates are all worth remembering forever.

The new Pedestrian Bridge connecting the Watefront Park to Bridge Street on the South Side has created a three-part destination that currently is the nicest place in Amsterdam to visit. During a Summertime Saturday evening, when there’s a concert going on in the Park, there’s absolutely no better place in town to be. You can drive down to the south side, park your car and then have dinner followed by a relaxing picturesque stroll across the Mohawk, reviewing some local history and passing by Amsterdam’s beautifully done 9/11 Memorial along the way. The concerts themselves are always outstanding and if you are younger and more energetic than me, when the music stops playing you stop for a nightcap before getting back in your car and heading home. I can almost guarantee that during that ride home someone in your car will make the following statement “That was a very nice evening, we need to do this again!”

Hundreds of Amsterdam residents have already experienced what I’ve written above for themselves. The question this City needs to answer is “How can we motivate folks from outside the community to do the same?”  

Remember, if you’ve purchased a copy of my new book; Fifty Amsterdam, NY Top Ten Lists, I will be e-mailing you a copy of this completed list within the next few weeks. If you’d like to order a copy of the book so you can also receive all the additional bonus lists I’ll be distributing during the next 12 months, you can order your copy here.

I already have the e-mail addresses of all the folks who purchased the book online or directly from me. If you purchased your copy from Liberty Fresh Market, the Book Hound, or this year’s Festival of Trees please e-mail me (cinquantim@genium.com ) with your e-mail address so I can send you the new Top Ten lists I continue to compile.

Ten of Amsterdam’s All-Time Greatest Sports Siblings

Who are the greatest sibling athletes in Amsterdam, New York’s history? That’s a difficult question for anyone to answer but one thing is for sure, the one’s I’ve recognized in this Top Ten Bonus List are worthy of consideration. In today’s post, I preview three of my picks.

Joanne Davey
Jack Davey

The Davey’s – No list of All Time Greatest Amsterdam Sports Siblings could possibly be complete without including the Davey clan. For three decades beginning in the 1980’s, the daughters and sons of Jack and the late Joanne Davey provided fans of both Bishop Scully and Amsterdam High Schools’ interscholastic sports teams with one outstanding performance after another. John, Mike, Topher, Bryan, and Nick Davey have all played a huge collective role in the amazing long-term success achieved by the Rugged Rams’ football program while sisters Theresa, Christine, Lisa, Marie, Amanda, Meghan, and Ashley have done the same for ladies basketball, track & field, cross country etc. There’s little doubt that genetics played a role in their ability to handle both the talent and responsibility requirements of performing well in sports competitions. Father Jack was one of the greatest athletes in the history of St. Mary’s Institute. Joanne Davey gets my vote as one of the most amazing women in our city’s history. In addition to being an incredible mom to sixteen children she was widely acknowledged to be one of our community’s most skilled nurses and was the supervisor of nursing at St Mary’s Hospital. This couple’s genetic link has continued through yet another generation of outstanding athletes. Christine Davey married former Scully sports standout Tom Stanavich and thus far four of their ten children (football stars Brett, Bryan and Dale and their younger sister, track and x-country star Gaby)  have put together stellar interscholastic sports careers at Amsterdam High School. One of my favorite Davey siblings is brother Joe, who when he played Wee Men baseball had one of the sweetest and most powerful baseball swings I’ve ever seen. Unfortunately, poor eyesight prevented him from playing at the high school level but it has not stopped him from becoming one of the all-time greatest “fans” of interscholastic sports in Amsterdam history.

Steve & Eddie Kuczek

The Kuczek Brothers – Jack Tracy deserves to be described as “the legendary Amsterdam High School Varsity baseball coach.” He developed some of the greatest teams in Capital District scholastic sports history during his three-decade tenure mentoring purple and gold baseball beginning in the 1930’s. But if he were still around today, he’d be the first to tell you that he owed much of his success as AHS skipper to two Polish Immigrants named Joe and Agnes Kuczek. Their six sons anchored the infields of about fifteen years worth of Tracy’s most successful teams. John and Ben Kuczek came first in the mid thirties. John was a first baseman and Ben the first of three great shortstops the family would produce. The middle two, Eddie and Steve were probably the most talented of the siblings. Tracy called second baseman Eddie the greatest all-around player he ever coached and shortstop Steve was the only one of the Kuczek’s to make it to the big leagues. The two anchored the middle of the infield for two straight years worth of undefeated Tracy teams. Mack came along next. He was a great hitter, played a solid third base and was the best pitcher in the family. The baby brother was Bernie Kuczek, an outstanding hitter and outfielder who extended the Kuczek AHS diamond legacy into the 1950’s. And talk about a family serving its country, the five oldest Kuczek’s all served in the US Army during World War II. Eddie, Steve and Bernie all went on to play collegiate ball for Colgate. The Kuczek’s were not one dimensional when it came to sports either. They were also outstanding ice skaters and starred on local hockey and speed skating teams.

Dolly Lazarou
Costa Lazarou

Dolly and Costa Lazarou – Greek immigrants Michael and Bessie Lazarou were both employed in the Sanford rug mills and raised a family consisting of five sons and a daughter in their home on Amsterdam’s Arnold Avenue. All of the Lazarou siblings were gifted physically but it was the youngest two boys Aristotle (a.k.a.Dolly) and Costa who shined as athletes. Dolly was a legend in Amsterdam’s Knot Hole League, one of this city’s very first youth baseball organizations. By the time he got to high school, his blazing fastball helped Amsterdam’s varsity baseball team go on a two-year unbeaten streak. Then in 1942, he signed a contract to pitch for the St. Louis Cardinals and in his debut season in the minors he went 3-2 for the Cards’ Jamestown, NY affiliate. Meanwhile his baby brother Costa was becoming one of the all-time great three-sport athletes in Amsterdam High School history as a quarterback in football, a point guard in basketball and the greatest catcher in the school’s history on the baseball diamond. Several big league teams were interested in signing Costa and Rug City sports fans were hoping that the Lazarou brothers would become Amsterdam’s version of the DiMaggio’s some day. But World War II got in the way. Dolly enlisted in the Navy in 1943 and Costa followed him in ’45, joining that same branch of the service smack in the middle of his senior season of AHS basketball.

Olivia Lazarou

They both returned home safely but the disruption to their careers dashed their hopes of playing Major League baseball. So instead they dominated Amsterdam’s semi-pro ranks for the next two decades, turning Mohawk Mills Park into a brotherly fiefdom. Both were considered among the best golfers in town and you didn’t want to wager either of them in a bowling match either, especially Dolly. Both of them are gone now but the Lazarou high school sports bloodline still flows in this community. Their great niece Olivia Lazarou was the Foothills Council Champion in Girls’ Cross Country in 2017 and finished second in this year’s Section II finals.

I have seven more memorable sets of Great Amsterdam Sports Siblings on my newest Bonus List. I will share them all via the next issue of my newsletter. This will be the fourth Amsterdam NY Top Ten BONUS List I’ve completed and it will be distributed to all those folks who purchase a copy of my new book; Fifty Amsterdam, NY Top Ten Lists. If you purchased the book, I will be e-mailing you a copy of this complete list some time during the next three weeks. If you’d like to order a copy of the book before then so you can receive this Bonus List plus all the additional bonus lists I’ll be distributing during the next 12 months, you can order your copy here.

 

All Time Top Ten Amsterdam Short-Lived Businesses

Flash in the pans! Here today gone tomorrow! Whatever happened to…? Amsterdam has certainly had its share of businesses that experienced short lifespans. In my next Top Ten Bonus List, I describe ten such enterprises. Here’s three entries from that list, not in any particular order:

The Carl Company Store in the Amsterdam Mall – One of the truly nice things Amsterdam, New York’s controversial downtown shopping mall brought to the city was The Carl Company department store that opened there in 1981. Though that particular Carl’s outlet was only in existence for about a decade, the company that owned it could actually trace its beginnings back to 1891, when Charles W. Carl opened up a dry goods store in Medina, NY and then followed that up by opening up similar stores in nearby communities. In 1906 he sold all of them and took the money and his family to Schenectady, NY where they opened the flagship Carl Co. Department Store. It quickly became one of the Electric City’s favorite shopping destinations. It took awhile before the Carl’s started expanding to other locations and when they did, they did so slowly and stuck close to home, opening two new locations in the suburbs of Schenectady in 1954 and 1963 respectively. In 1973 they entered the Saratoga market and in 1976, Clifton Park. Meanwhile, more than a few Amsterdamian’s used to make shopping trips to downtown Schenectady pretty regularly and Carl’s flagship store was one of the reasons why. The business had been advertising to the Amsterdam market with newspaper ads for generations, especially at Christmas time so when they were approached by Mall developers to take an anchor store position they decided to take the plunge and the water they dove into was perfect at first. It quickly became one of Amsterdam’s and my family’s favorite shopping stops. Though it was much smaller than the behemoth big box department stores anchoring Colonie Center and Mohawk Mall, The Carl Company Store in Amsterdam carried just enough products and variety to make it well worth the trip. I can’t tell you how many times I rushed down there to grab a birthday or anniversary gift, a dress shirt or a pair of well-priced khaki pants. And the store’s small but well-staffed restaurant became a favorite lunch spot for me and my wife. It was when Carl Co. announced in February of 1991 that it was closing all of its stores that I knew the Amsterdam Downtown Store was going to eventually collapse as a viable retail shopping center.

7 Flags Raceway – Fifty years ago this month a brand new business opened up in the space once occupied by the Regent Movie Theater on lower Market Street in Amsterdam. Nearby Fonda, NY had stock car racing. Further north up Route 67, Saratoga was a Mecca for horse racing and on a cool Friday night in November of 1967, the old Rug City became the home of slot car racing. Slot cars are powered miniature autos that are guided by slots or grooves in the tracks on which they are run. Back before PlayStation game systems existed, miniature slot car tracks were as real as it got when it came to live action replication of an actual sports activity. Many of my friends had slot tracks set up in their homes. The craze wasn’t just for kids either. Hordes of adults who always dreamed of getting behind the wheel of a real race car were able to capture a similar thrill by controlling a toy version of one. Ralph Fisher was one of those adults and slot car racing became his favorite hobby. But Fisher also had some entrepreneurial blood flowing in his veins and he decided to turn his hobby into a business. He and his wife invested in three huge custom built slot car tracks, each wide enough to accommodate eight cars. They set them up inside the long vacant Amsterdam cinema. They hung checkered flags off the front marquis and sold spiffy and pricey slot cars from the theaters old concession stand. Customers rented racing time on the tracks and on weekends the Fishers sponsored actual races for different age groups and classes of cars. Entry fees were charged and trophies awarded the winners. When it first opened, Amsterdam teens including me flocked to the venue. But gradually, the novelty wore off. Before too long the Fishers moved the business to a smaller East Main Street storefront that was less expensive to heat and light than the drafty old Regent and not long after that, Seven Flags Raceway had become another Amsterdam memory.

Amsterdam Star – With the advent of the Internet, viral marketing and social networking the term “buzz” has taken on a whole new meaning and dimension in the 21st Century. But way back in 1994, when Steve Picciocca Jr. and Dave Dalfonso left their jobs with the Amsterdam Recorder to start their own weekly newspaper, the “buzz” they were able to create within this community achieved cyberspace level speed and voltage. Then two years later, when another former Recorder staffer named Brad Broyles decided to join the pair and invest in the venture, the Star became a daily and for the next couple of months, the war was on between the two publications for the eyes and subscription dollars of Amsterdam’s newspaper readers. It ended just 78 issues into the daily Star’s run, when the upstart suddenly and without prior public warning, folded. But it was sweet while it lasted. Though Picciocca’s background was as head of the Recorder Circulation Department, he was also a very strong and creative writer and his Star columns and editorials were must reading. Dalfonso on the other hand, was one of this city’s most effective media ad sales professionals during his days at the Recorder and he brought that expertise and his contact list with him to the Star. They published the Star in the same no-fold tabloid format of the New York Daily News and they made it a morning paper so they could beat the Recorder’s evening edition to Amsterdam’s doorsteps. The fledgling broadside certainly had a steep mountain to climb because the Recorder claimed a three-to-one advantage in subscriptions which made their ad space an easier sell. But Picciocca and Dalfonso were young, energetic and in it for the long haul. Evidently Broyles did not share their enthusiasm because he suddenly and unexpectedly closed down the business, disappointing thousands of local news enthusiasts who hated to see the Amsterdam Star cease operations.

I have seven more memorable short-lived Amsterdam businesses on my newest Bonus List. I will share them all via the next issue of my newsletter. This will be the third Amsterdam NY Top Ten BONUS List I’ve completed and it will be distributed to all those folks who purchase a copy of my new book; Fifty Amsterdam, NY Top Ten Lists. If you purchased the book, I will be e-mailing you a copy of this complete list some time during the next three weeks. If you’d like to order a copy of the book before then so you can receive this Bonus List plus all the additional bonus lists I’ll be distributing during the next 12 months, you can order your copy here.

I already have the e-mail addresses of all the folks who purchased the book online or directly from me. If you purchased your copy from Liberty Fresh Market or the Book Hound, please e-mail me (cinquantim@genium.com ) with your e-mail address so I can send you the new Top Ten lists I continue to compile. I was also recently interviewed about my new Amsterdam Top Ten Lists book by the one-and-only Bob Cudmore for his outstanding Historians Podcasts Series. You can listen to that interview here.