October 5 – Happy Birthday Tim Zepperi

timz222Tim “Zip” Zepperi was a classic Amsterdam West Ender. He grew up in a huge four-family apartment house next to the old St. Agnello Club on West Main Street, the oldest brother in a family of seven kids. As a youngster, his posse included Johnny Nasso, Frank Valiante and Moses Hopkins and their childhood was filled with street football, whiffle ball games, school dances and plenty of sitting on various front porches in the neighborhood, arguing over the best ballplayers, the prettiest girls in school, who the best Beatle was and their favorite TV shows.

In high school the thing with girls began getting more serious. Timmy fell in love with a Ram cheerleader named Gerri and that love would last for the rest of his life. After graduation, he went to work at Amsterdam Printing and never left. Tony Greco and him coached the Blue Junior’s team together in Little Giants and became best friends for life. Later he helped Tony take over the Maroon Wildcats and create a kids football dynasty that would last a decade.

I always thought him and Gerri were a perfect couple. They fit and worked together like a pair of warm gloves on a cold winter day and when it came to their greatest accomplishment as a couple, daughters Trish and Amy, they sort of defined what loving and supporting parents were supposed to be like.

When I think of Zip certain scenes keep popping in my head. I see him holding a beer in front of his house on Guy Park, cheering and making jokes that afternoon way back in the 1980’s when Kirk Douglas was honored here with a parade. I see him up in that tiny announcer’s booth that used to sit alongside the Little Giants football field at Veterans. In between calling the games he’d yell out greetings to spectators as they came into the park. I see him playing softball up on the four diamonds with younger brothers he loved so much. I see him up at the Lynch Football Stadium, sitting up high in the bleachers with the entire Zepperi clan, cheering on the greatest running back in the history of the Rugged Rams, his beloved nephew Justice Smith. I see him down Russo’s standing at the end of the bar with Johnny, Frankie, Tony and Mo, holding a cold one and talking real loud in that classic half-hoarse-sounding Zip voice of his. I see him in the Lynch and AHS Auditoriums, at one of the hundred or so musical concerts Trish and Amy participated in. Both our daughter’s played the oboe together all through school and he’d always jokingly say to me “Of all the instruments to choose from they pick the oboe!”

He fought the cancer that would claim his life hard as hell. But after a bone marrow transplant failed, Timmy passed away on October 2, 1992, just three days short of his 40th birthday. The WestEnd of Amsterdam lost a good one that day.

“Zip” is one of my all-time favorite nicknames but if anyone needed a nickname it was this long-ago member of Amsterdam’s upper class!

Mr. Patrick H. Reilly 1937-2019

He was as talented, caring and unselfish a person as we’ve ever had in our midst. Pat Reilly was an incredibly gifted coach and a unique and  effective classroom teacher who touched so many lives in a very positive way.  He easily made my book’s Top Ten List of all-time greatest Amsterdam coaches but if I had ever put together a Top Ten List of the greatest Amsterdam love affairs, Pat and Audrey Reilly would have been at the very top of it. My deepest sympathies to his wife, his daughters & grandkids, his wrestlers, softball players and students.
Here’s how I describe Mr. Reilly’s career as AHS Wrestling Coach in my book:

There was no Amsterdam High School wrestling program when Pat Reilly was hired to teach history at the Wilbur Lynch High School in 1965, This guy started it from scratch, nada, nothing! Three decades later, thanks to his passion, skill and leadership, the school had one of the best mat programs in all of Section II.

Here’s what his grapplers produced during his career as head coach: 267 dual meet victories; 9 Big Ten titles; 3 Sectional championships; 10 individual Section II crowns, and 25 individual Class A champs. Is it any wonder why the high school’s wrestling room is now named the Patrick H. Reilly Hall of Fame Wrestling Gymnasium? Mr. Reilly also served as head coach of AHS Softball at both the Varsity and JV level. One of the most beloved figures in the history of Amsterdam High School athletics, he was named to the Section II Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2009, the New York State Wrestling Hall of Fame in 2010 and the AHS Hall of Fame in 2015.

His was a life well lived. Thank you Mr. Reilly for all you did for this community.

October 3 – Happy Birthday Tony Murdico

murdico2Born on October 3, 1915 Anthony “Tony” Murdico was just eight years old when he, his parents and four brothers moved to Amsterdam, NY in 1923 all the way from Reggio di Calabria, Italy. By the time he was fourteen, he had a job in the Mohawk Carpet Mills and he advanced steadily until he was given the coveted position of weaver.

Organized labor attempted to infiltrate the mills in 1942, when the CIO (Congress of Industrial Organizations) inducted the State Labor Board to conduct an election to form a local chapter. Despite plenty of pressure from management, the workers voted to unionize and Local 489 was formed. Its first Shop Steward was Tony Murdico.

If you’re familiar with the structure of labor unions, you know the Shop Steward position is a key to any local chapter’s ability to be effective, especially at its inception. It is the position that recruits new members, makes sure they are performing according to contract, supports them in any workplace issues with management and develops the spirit of unity that is so essential to gaining the strength and leverage necessary to bargain collectively with effectiveness. Tony did a solid job in the position. In 1946 he became the local’s Recording Secretary and in 1952, he ran for President and won. His leadership was put to the test almost immediately when that same year, Local 489 joined textile workers at factories throughout the Northeastern US that went on strike for increased wages. In Amsterdam, it was known as the “big strike” and it lasted for 12 long weeks. In the end, the workers got an 11-cent increase in their hourly wage and though Tony would vocally resent the meagerness of that raise for the rest of his life, his members had remained unified and their respect for Murdico’s leadership grew. Murdico would remain chief executive of the Local for the next 27 years. He also served as President of the Amsterdam Joint Board of CIO, which included Chalmers, Fownes, Bigelow-Sanford and Mohawk Mills

As meager as that eleven-cent raise seemed, Mohawk’s management was not happy their workers had organized. They began looking south to the non-union labor markets and sure enough, within a few short years they started transferring large scale manufacturing operations in that direction. By 1969, the last 250 of what used to be 4,000 manufacturing jobs in Amsterdam’s carpet industry were eliminated.

By then the company was called Mohasco and Tony continued working there until 1980, retiring after a total of 51 years of employment. He and his first wife Marina raised a son and a daughter. After Marina passed away, he married his second wife, Delores. Tony was an active member of St. Michael’s Church and the Knights of Columbus. He was also a very good baseball and softball player in his day and a pretty talented bowler as well. He served on the city’s Recreation Commission and if you listened to Amsterdam’s local talk radio shows back then, you frequently heard Tony call in to share his knowledge of the Carpet City’s past, passionately present his astute opinions on the issues of the day or give listeners an update on the ripeness and quality of this year’s tomato patch. One of the saddest days of his life occurred in 1992 when the Mohasco complex erupted into flames. He stood across the street from the inferno, watching with tears in his eyes. Tony lived to be 97 years old, passing away a week before Christmas in 2008. He was an Amsterdam original.

This Amsterdam born, nationally recognized cardiologist was also born on October 3.



October 2 – Happy Birthday Spec Shea

spec-sheaFrank “Spec” Shea spent his first season of organized ball in Amsterdam, playing for the old Rugmakers and living in the old Amsterdam Hotel. The year was 1940. A native of Naugatuck, Connecticut, he had been signed by the Yankees after pitching impressively in a 1939 collegiate summer league following his senior year in high school. The guy who signed him was the legendary Yankee super scout, Paul Krichell, who also signed Lou Gehrig, Tony Lazzeri, Phil Rizzuto and Whitey Ford. His real name was Francis Joseph O’Shea but he had dropped the “O” when he played in that summer league, much to his Dad’s consternation. In an interview of Shea, which appears in the excellent book entitled “Baseball’s Canadian-Amsterdam League,” written by Rug City native David Pietrusza, the pitcher explained how he almost packed his bags and went home after his first start for Amsterdam against Gloversville;

“…The first game I pitched against Gloversville, and they jocked me real bad. They got eight runs in the first inning, and I couldn’t get anybody out. I said, “Professional ball’s real tough…. I better pack it up and go home.”

“Eddie Sawyer was our manager, and he found out. I was over in the clubhouse packing and he sent someone over to get me and talk to me. He said ‘You’re not going no place,’ and he explained all the things that could happen, you know. If you leave, you’re going to get a blacklist from baseball, this and that. So I said, ‘Well, all right. I don’t know what I’m going to do though.’

“So the next time out I pitched against Gloversville on their home court, and I think it was a two-hitter I pitched and shut them out. And that got me on my way, but the first game I pitched I thought, ‘Oh, gee! This is tough.’ Like he [Sawyer] said to me after the game, ‘Your rhythm, your coordination, was way off. You weren’t pitching. You were just aiming and throwing.”

In that same interview, Shea described his concern about a bonus the Yankees had promised him if he proved he belonged in professional baseball; “They had an agreement with me. If I stayed with the club until July 4th, I was going to get a bonus, and I’m sitting in the Hotel Amsterdam [that night] and Eddie

Sawyer came down and he said ‘I hope you get it because you’ve done a good job for us so far.’ We’re sitting there, and he come over and he said ‘Did you hear anything yet?’ I said, ‘No. It’s getting near 12 o’clock, and if I don’t get it by then, I don’t.” So Krichell came walking down the stairs, and he come over and sat right across from us, and I said, “That’s the guy, Ed. I don’t know what he’s going to do, but I’m going to wait till 12 o’clock, and if he don’t say nothing then I’m going to bed.’ So, Jesus, about five minutes to 12, he come walking over, and he said, ‘Well, we’re supposed to talk about a bonus here today.’ And Sawyer says, ‘Jeez, I hope you’re gonna give the kid a bonus. He’s helping the ball club, and this and that.’ He [Krichell] says, ‘˜Well, he’s coming along. He’s got to improve and get a little better than that.’ Jeez, the Yankees hated to give you anything at that time, so he finally said, ‘We’re going to take a chance. I’m gonna give him the bonus.’ He gave me a check for $250. You’re talking about a lot of money. Christ, you’d think it was a big deal!”

Shea finished his 1940 Rugmaker season with an 11-4 record. He spent the next two seasons climbing up New York’s minor league ladder and the three after that serving his country in WWII. He then went 15-5 for the Yankee’s Triple-A team in Oakland, finally making the big club in 1947. Spec went 14-5 as a rookie for the Yankees and won the AL All Star game plus beat the Dodgers twice in the 1947 World Series. He would have been AL Rookie of the Year as well but back then only one player in all of baseball got that award and Shea finished behind Jackie Robinson. Yankee announcer Mel Allen gave him the nickname the “Naugatuck Nugget.” Spec than hurt his arm the following season and never again achieved the level of success he had during his first year in pinstripes and was finally traded to the Senators in 1952. He pitched very well during his first two seasons in Washington winning 23 games and losing just 14 times for a very bad team. He called it quits after the 1955 season. He was 29-21 as a Yankee and 56-46 for his eight-season big league career.

After leaving the game, Shea returned to his hometown where for the next couple of decades he served as Naugatuck’s director of recreation. He also helped Robert Redford learn how to throw a baseball for the Hollywood star’s role as Roy Hobbs in the movie “The Natural.” Spec Shea died in 2001 at the age of 81.

Shea shares his October 2 birthday with a guy who rose to the Number 2 position at Mohasco Corp. when it was still Amsterdam’s biggest employer.

October 1 – Happy Birthday Art Hoefs

2hoefsArt Hoefs had to be one of the busiest people in Amsterdam. At one time in the early 1960’s, my family lived next to his on upper Guy Park Avenue and I can attest to the fact that during those three or so years, the guy was almost always working.

He was born in Amsterdam, NY on October 1, 1917 and was raised on Caroline Street with his three brothers and a sister. He was a cheerleader with his classmate Isadore Demsky (aka Kirk Douglas) at Wilbur Lynch High School where he graduated in 1934. His youngest daughter Kim told me that he then attended Union College and studied journalism.

A talented percussionist, Art was a featured drummer in local bands all his life. He played with popular Amsterdam bandleaders like Dean Dale, Tony Brooks and Dusty Miller. Kim told me that her Dad also took classes at both the Columbia School of Journalism and Julliard School of Music and while in New York City, he worked for the New York Mirror newspaper and played drums for both Broadway and burlesque shows and also with the Gene Krupa Band.

During WWII, he was a member of the Army Air Force Band. After the war, he started his career in sports reporting first with the Schenectady Gazette before moving over to his hometown Amsterdam Evening Recorder in 1960, where he became the well-known and highly respected Sports Editor of that newspaper in ‘64.

Talk about a hectic schedule, on Saturday nights during the summer he could be found up at the half mile dirt oval known as Fonda Speedway where he served as the official timekeeper and the head of publicity during the glory days of that famed venue’s stock car racing. Art was also the head of publicity for NYRA for several years and every August, he’d make frequent visits to the Flat Track in Saratoga during the afternoon and once in a while he’d even meet Dean Dale at the harness track in the evening as well.

During the school year you’d find him in the press box at Lynch Field for Saturday afternoon Amsterdam High School football games and at the scorer’s table in the always-too-warm Lynch gymnasium for Tuesday and Friday night AHS Varsity basketball contests plus he’d follow both those teams on the road. He’d often times cover St. Mary’s and later Bishop Scully games as well. And he’d get up to Perth and Broadalbin and over to Fonda to cover the big games of those schools as frequently as he could.

So he’d spend his nights attending this area’s sporting events and his days at the Recorder offices writing about them, composing his weekly “Art of Sports” column and organizing the sports section for six editions of the Recorder each and every week. And don’t forget, he was still playing drums at various Amsterdam nightspots on weekends plus playing in the pit orchestra’s of at least a couple of Bert DeRose plays every year. On top of all that, he and his wife Gladys raised a family of six kids split evenly between boys and girls.

You had to wonder how on earth any person could keep up such a hectic pace for the over three decades he was at it. And he didn’t just go through the motions. Art Hoefs was very good at what he did. He knew every major scholastic sports figure within an hour’s drive of Amsterdam personally. He was on a first name basis with major national names as well, including the legendary thoroughbred trainer Hollie Hughes and several members of both the New York Yankee and New York football Giants organizations. He’s the guy who coined the legendary phrases “Fabulous Five” and “Rugged Rams” and his annual “Christmas wishes” column became one of the most popular Recorder-read features in the history of that paper.

The late nights, impossible deadlines, and rushed meals had to be a grind but you’d never know it by the end product Art turned out day after day, year after year. He kept right on going till he retired in 1978. They gave him a memorable roast at Bishop Scully to commemorate the occasion. Unfortunately, that retirement only lasted three years. His family buried him with his drumsticks probably because there was no room for his typewriter. It was an honor to be able to say that Art Hoefs was a friend of mine. He was an Amsterdam original.

This long-ago AHS athlete who became an expert in technology transfer was also born on October 1.

September 30 – Happy Birthday Andy Heck

Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant is in a position where he could visit anywhere in the country traveling in a top-of-the-line custom RV while towing a sleek new boat, which he could use to cruise whatever body of water he encounters along the way. But that is not how Andy Heck travels. Instead of driving on roads in one of his Alpin Haus vacation homes on wheels, he runs and cycles over them and instead of enjoying a lake or river in a boat, he swims across them. Heck is an avid participant in Ironman competitions, not because he expects to win them, but because he thrives on the challenge of completing them and improving his personal best times in the grueling process.

Andy has never been a stranger to tackling tough challenges. He earned his CPA after graduating from Siena in 1988. In 1992 he left his accounting firm job in Albany to take over the Presidency of Alpin Haus from his dad, Bud Heck. He immediately began working to grow the already huge recreation products provider by taking on new products and opening new locations and his efforts have achieved spectacular results. What I admire most about the way he runs the business is the way he’s always on the lookout for tools to keep his workforce educated and motivated.
He and his lovely wife Lorraine raised three kids who all have joined the staff at Alpin Haus. About the only time you will ever catch Andy sitting down is when he’s rooting on his beloved Siena Saints basketball team in his Times Union Arena court-side seat. The Heck family is one of Amsterdam’s greatest success stories and Andy Heck has been instrumental in making sure that story continues.

September 29 – In honor of National Coffee Day

sugarbowlThis is my Grandmother’s sugar bowl. And that’s the spoon that came with it, when she purchased it sometime during the early 1920’s. The sugar it held sweetened every cup of coffee my grandfather ever had in their house in the West End of Amsterdam, and every cup my Dad, me and my four kids ever had there as well. That’s about 75 years worth of caffeinated brew for the Cinquanti family spanning four generations.

My Grandfather, who died in 1960 was the patriarch of our family’s coffee consumption habits. In his house, sugar was the first thing you put in the cup, never the last. He would always use a giant light-blue soup-bowl sized cup and it would take three spoonfuls of sugar to coat the bottom of it the way he liked it. Next came the perfectly percolated, steaming hot Eight O’Clock brew poured from my grandmother’s old black and silver pot which had to be held with one of her mopeens to keep from getting second-degree burns during the pouring process.

The volume of the pour was critical. Nobody in my family ever drank their coffee black. In fact, we all drank it very light. But none of us ever used half&half or cream. Instead it was always whole milk, poured out of glass quart bottles, which Nobby Fryc the Milkman would place in the insulated tin milk box on my grandmother’s front porch every week.

Only my grandmother and aunt were ever allowed to pour the coffee. They both had this genetically imbedded measuring system in their right wrist joint that automatically stopped pouring when the coffee was exactly three-sixteenths of an inch from the rim of an adult’s cup and precisely double that space for the cups they would pour for the younger members of the family.

The remaining vacant space was then filled with Nobby’s milk leaving exactly enough liquid ripple room to permit the cup to be slid along the smooth porcelain-topped kitchen table (now stored in my basement) to where each family member was sitting without spilling a drop. That’s when the slurping began.

It was my grandfather who taught me everything I knew about the art of slurping coffee. Once your cup was placed in front of you, you did not pick it up. You grabbed the handle and bent your head down to the rim where you proceeded to breathe in hard through your mouth not sipping but instead suctioning the hot liquid in between your lips. You sucked enough coffee out of your cup so that you could pick it up without spilling any and take the first actual sip. The objective of the sipping was simple yet essential. You needed to consume enough of the coffee out of the cup to permit you to add the next ingredient without causing the dreaded overflow.

What other ingredient did my family members add to our coffee? There were actually several possibilities. Again, it was my grandfather who established the precedents. He’d put corn flakes into that big blue cup in the morning. He would submerge about ten Royal Lunch crackers in there at lunch time and those dimpled biscuits would absorb so much of the liquid it formed a pasty, heavily sweetened gruel. At night, for desert, he’d go with at least a half-dozen Sunshine Oatmeal cookies.

I personally never did the corn flake thing but I became a devoted aficionado of both the Royal Lunch Cracker and Sunshine Oatmeal Cookie coffee stews for much of my childhood. As I mentioned earlier, the trick was not to permit a drop of the coffee in your cup from going anywhere except inside your mouth. If, you miscalculated the level of vacant space necessary to get all your crackers or cookies into the cup without spillage you’d hear my Grandfather repeat his favorite line of condemnation for a poorly executed effort, which was “God darn ya!” But if you did it just right, you’d look up toward his spot at the head of the table and he’d have a little smile on his face and you’d hear his trademark “heh-heh-heh” expression of pride and approval.

How times have changed. If I ever poured any of my grandkids a cup of coffee, their parents would disown me and if I ever put three spoonfuls of sugar into anything they drank, their Mom’s would press charges. But I do intend to show them their great great grandmother’s sugar bowl and maybe even give them the Cinquanti-family slurp lesson. Heh-heh-heh!

September 28 – Happy Birthday Michael Lynch

31713_Lynch_Michael_DOB_19482I entered Amsterdam’s Wilbur Lynch High School as a sophomore in September of 1969. Just six months before that, a graduate of that school had been killed in Vietnam. He was an Army medic in the 5th Infantry and on March 15, 1969, his mechanized unit was on patrol between Cu Chi and Tay Ninh, South Vietnam when, their convoy of Armored Patrol Carriers was ambushed by the enemy. When the two lead vehicles were hit with rocket-propelled grenades, this young hero from Amsterdam rushed to help and as he was bending down to assist a wounded soldier he was hit by small arms fire and killed. His name was Michael Lynch.

Michael Lynch had been an active member of the school’s Drama Club, serving as its President in 1966 and appearing in several of the Club’s productions during his high school years. I remember as a kid going to see Camelot in 1966 and being absolutely amazed at how professional the whole thing was. It was hard to believe you were sitting in a high school auditorium and not in some theater on Broadway. That’s how good the actors, actresses, musicians and stage crew performed. Michael Lynch played the absent-minded King Pellinore in that production and he was so good I still remember him in that role today, almost fifty years later.

Bert DeRose, the Drama Club’s advisor described Michael as being someone who acted much older than he was. He was loved and highly respected by his friends. He was always trying to do the right thing and he had this amazing sensitivity for others. For example, the only reason he went to Vietnam in the first place was because he gave the issue a lot of thought and decided he had an obligation to go and serve his country. At the time, he was in the middle of his college education at SUNY New Paltz and had a student deferment. He could have done what so many of his generation chose to do and completely avoided the situation that caused his death. Instead, explaining his just-made decision to DeRose in the parking lot of a local grocery store, he told his old mentor he just didn’t feel right knowing others his age were there in harms way and he was not.

By 1969, the US public’s support of America’s involvement in the war had just about dried up. To illustrate just how upside down the situation had become, that October, our high school hosted a symposium-like event that featured a local Amsterdam priest, rabbi and minister along with the GASD Superintendent and one of the district’s building principal’s who all told us students that the war was a mistake and the US should withdraw. This is while alumni from the school, many of whom had siblings sitting in the audience of that event, were still fighting in that country.

At that same time the memory of Michael Lynch was as fresh as could be and his friends wanted to honor him. So they and Mr. DeRose came up with the idea of a scholarship in his name that would go to a deserving graduating senior who was planning to attend college and pursue a career in the theater. Now they could have immediately started asking others to contribute to the scholarship fund but instead they reached into their own pockets to come up with the cash for that first year’s award. Like the friend they loved and who’s memory they were honoring, they felt it was the right thing to do.

Many of those same friends and Mr. DeRose got together again four decades later and decided it was time to make sure the memory of Michael Lynch lasted even longer. They conducted a successful campaign to get the recently renovated Wilbur Lynch auditorium renamed in Michael Lynch’s honor. He so loved that elegant Amsterdam venue.

This one-time Rugged Ram Super Sub  was also born on September 28. Though I’m certain his parents lived in Amsterdam, I’m not certain if this legendary television star with a September 28th birthday ever actually did.

September 27 – Happy Birthday Sam Stratton

Samuel_S._Stratton_94th_Congress_1975As each year passes, the memory of the strong political legacy established by todays Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant continues to fade but make no mistake about it Sam Stratton was a powerful political force in his day. He represented the City of Amsterdam as a conservative Democrat in the House of Representatives for 30 consecutive years, from 1959 until illness forced him from office. His seniority made him a ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and from that perch he was able to get loads of dollars from the US defense budget earmarked for Capitol District expenditure. He probably was personally responsible for keeping the Watervliet Arsenal operating the last fifteen years of its existence and the dollars he steered to GE helped maintain employment levels at that company’s Schenectady facilities for at least a generation.

Stratton was born in Yonkers, NY on September 27, 1916 and moved up to Schenectady with his family as a young boy. He saw service in the Military in both WWII and the Korean Conflict as an intelligence officer. He earned degrees from the University of Rochester and Harvard and then got elected Mayor of Schenectady. Though it was a very weak office back in the 1950’s it gave him the political base and exposure he needed to make his successful bid for Congress.

My favorite personal memory of Stratton occurred over a span of time. When I was a teenager I played taps for Amsterdam’s Sirchia Am Vet Post whenever they were asked to serve as the honor guard and firing squad for a local event. That’s why I was present at a dedication ceremony for the Fifth Ward Veterans’ Memorial at which Stratton served as the keynote speaker.  After the Sirchia Firing Squad fired their third volley, I began my first note of Taps, when all of a sudden I was interrupted by what sounded like a cannon shot. Luigi Lanzi, who must have been in his eighties at the time, had come out of his old restaurant across the street from the park and fired his shotgun as his own special tribute. Everyone laughed and we all ended up at his bar after the ceremony, where Stratton shook my hand and blew a few notes on my trumpet.

Fast forward six or seven years and I’m now a student at Albany State coming out of the Student Union Building on a beautiful spring day, heading toward my next class. Coming up the stairs directly in front of me is Stratton with an aide. We exchange greetings and he asks as we pass “Still playing the trumpet?” That’s what you call a master politician and Sam Stratton fit that label perfectly.

Stratton actually had a residence in Amsterdam for a while on upper Guy Park Avenue. I’d see him jogging by my house from time to time. He passed away in 1990.

This other September 27th Birthday celebrant belongs in the Amsterdam Softball Hall of Fame!



September 26 – Happy Birthday Fanny Dean French

Fanny Dean
Fanny Dean

It was Amsterdam’s wedding of the year in 1904. A September 21st, Wednesday evening affair that witnessed Mr. Charles Edward French, son of Dr. S. H. French, the most prominent physician in the Rug City, wed today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Fanny Dean, the daughter of Luther Dean, one of Amsterdam’s most successful businessmen. The wedding ceremony took place at the former First Reformed Church, which still stands on the corner of Arch and Center Street in this City’s South Side. The reception that followed was held at the bride’s parents home at 80 Locust Avenue, where guests were served a “sumptuous” sit-down wedding dinner by Caterer McElveny of Albany and were entertained by Zita’s Orchestra, which was also from Albany.


Charles E. French
Charles E. French

The new Mrs. French had graduated from Mt. Holyoke College in 1899. At the time of their wedding, Mr. French was the treasurer of the Amsterdam Savings Bank. He would later serve as president of that same institution for 60 years! The couple would have two children, a daughter Eleanor who was born in 1908 and a son Marcus, who came along five years later. Tragically, the boy would die in 1929 from a streptococcic throat infection at the age of 16. Eleanor French would end up graduating from Holyoke like her mom and then marrying a magician and professional bridge instructor named Ralph Blessing. The couple would return to Amsterdam where they opened the Marel Gift Shop up on Route 30 in Perth and lived at 42 Van Dyke Ave for many years. Fanny Dean was an active volunteer for several local organizations. She would spend the last five years of her life, seriously ill as a patient at the Amsterdam Memorial Hospital.She passed away on August 7, 1964. Her husband followed her to the grave three months later.

80 Locust Ave.
80 Locust Ave.
Amsterdam's old First Reformed Church
Amsterdam’s old First Reformed Church