September 23 – Happy Birthday Fran Sikorski

sikorskistationHarry Truman was still President, there were only 48 states in this country and the carpets of both Mohawk and Bigelow-Sanford were still being produced in this town when Casmier and Albina Sikorski opened their Amsterdam, NY service station at 33 Prospect Street in 1949, right in the middle of one of this city’s busiest and most chaotic intersections. For the next 34 years this hardworking Rug City couple dedicated their lives to making that business successful and to raising a family. Then in 1983, Casmier died.

Most betting folks back then would have probably given you odds that there would be no way that family-run business would still be around for another 34 years. And when you look at how that industry and Amsterdam itself changed over just the past couple of decades, the odds that Sikorski’s would still be going strong today would have even been steeper. Coleco and its thousands of employees are gone, taking their thousands of cars with them. Chain convenience retailers like Stewarts took over the gasoline business and automotive technology continues its transition from mechanical to digital. But Casmier and Albina had been developing a secret weapon, today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, their son Fran Sikorski.

Fran successfully transformed the business from a gas and service station into a modern hi tech car and engine repair center. He invested heavily in the latest analytical technology and made sure his mechanics were properly trained on how to use it. But there were a few key things Fran did not change from the days Casmier Sikorski opened up the place. He made sure Sikorski’s goal continued to be to treat each customer as fairly as possible by making sure they performed each repair as cost-effectively as possible. Translation? They never overcharged. They stood behind every single thing they did. If they made a mistake they admitted it and corrected it on their dime. Were they perfect? No, but they tried to be and that’s all a customer can ask.

After almost 70 years in operation, Sikorski’s is no longer owned by a Sikorski. Fran and Jackie sold their beloved car service and repair center to one of their long-time employees.

Like Casmier and Albina, Fran and Jackie raised three children all boys and the couple have been dedicated members of the Amsterdam Elks Club for many years. The story of Amsterdam really can be told by weaving together the life stories of its people. The story of Fran and Jackie Sikorski is one of hard work, strong family values and giving back to their community.

 

September 22 – Happy Birthday Peter Urban

Urban2The invasion of Western Europe may have enabled the Allies to defeat Germany in WWII but it certainly brought life-altering tragedy to a young Amsterdam woman named Anna Urban. Within a matter of a few weeks, this Rug City native received notifications that her brother Lt. Vincent Dargush had been wounded in France, her twin brother Anthony Dargush had lost his life there and Peter Urban, her beloved husband of less than two-years had also been killed in action in the fighting that followed the June, 1944 D-Day invasion of Normandy.

Anna had married today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant in a double ring ceremony in November of 1942 in an Atlanta church near her new husband’s Ft. Benning, Army base in Georgia. That is where Private Urban was attending parachute school. Urban, his wife and both her brothers had all attended Wilbur Lynch High School. He had been working at Mohawk Carpet Mills until being drafted into the Army in April of ’42. He was shipped overseas in December of 1943, where he spent three months in Ireland and two more in England, preparing for the D-Day jump. As we now know, parachute troops played a key role in the invasion, dropping in many cases behind enemy lines to capture key strategic locations in advance of the Allied landing forces. The fact that it took almost two months for the Army to notify Anna Urban of her husband’s June 8th death is probably indicative that his death was not discovered until advancing Allied troops reached the area of Urban’s jump target. Anna would later remarry. She passed away in 2005.

 

September 21 – Happy Birthday Joe Constantine Jr.

jconstantineThey would descend upon that gas station like an Apache raiding party. The three of them would usually announce their presence by jumping on the black air hose about fifty times each and the sudden loud and repeated clanging of that bell would startle the hell out of me. Then they’d come crashing through the front door and start rampaging all through the station. One would head for the tool bench, another would go down in the pit and the third would start pressing keys on the cash register while all three would beg me to let them wait on the next car that pulled in.

They were the Constantine brothers, Matt, Anthony and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant Joe. They had an older sister and I think a younger brother but it was always these three who showed up together. Joe was the oldest of the trio. They were the children of Joe Constantine and his wife Gilda and Gilda was the sister of Joe Montuoro, who was my boss and the owner of Montuoro’s Sunoco Station. Joe and Gilda’s mother lived in the house next to the gas station so every time the Constantine’s came to visit her, they’d make my dinner-time and weekend work shifts at the station a bit more interesting and challenging.

As crazy as they were, I could tell even way back then that these guys had a curiosity about everything that would serve them well in whatever field of endeavor they chose. They asked a ton of questions, the majority of which I could not answer but they kept asking anyway. The boy’s dad was a local heating and cooling contractor (Joe’s Refrigeration) and was also a pretty skilled carpenter who had built the family home up on Tremont Avenue. He made sure each of his boys came to work with him and he taught them all how to do whatever they did the right way.

While still in his teens, Joe Jr. was constantly on job sites with Joe Sr. which gave him the opportunity to work with all sorts of different tradesman. He took a real interest in carpentry and by “real” interest I mean that what really excited him most were jobs that required a huge amount of thought, creativity and detail. The more difficult the spec the more young Joe enjoyed the challenge and he told his parents, he wanted to start his own business. They encouraged him to go to school before he did so and get some business training and he followed their advice and got an associates degree in construction technology from Fulton Montgomery Community College. But it wasn’t the degree he got there that became the key to his subsequent success as an independent builder and carpenter. It was instead a girl he met there named Jules Tomkins. She was a computer whiz with a natural talent for marketing and business and when she became Mrs. Joseph Constantine and business manager, Constantine Builders took off.

One of Joe Constantine's Jaw Droppers!
One of Joe Constantine’s Jaw Droppers!

Now during all this time I had completely lost track of the Constantine brothers because I was busy raising my own family and building a career. And then one day someone asked me if I had seen the house Joe isabel was having built up where the old Henrietta Heights playground used to be. I had not, so I took a ride up there. The place was massive and though perhaps a bit too ostentatious for that neighborhood, a very impressive structure none-the-less and a true challenge for any builder. When I found out that the home was being built by Joe Constantine Jr. I was shocked because I had no idea the kid who used to jump up and down on that gas station bell was building anything at all, much less jaw-dropping homes.

I learned that Joe had his brother Anthony working as his lead builder. Meanwhile his brother Matt had taken over their father’s refrigeration and heating business and was doing all of the HVAC systems in Joe’s new construction projects. The brothers who used to invade that gas station on Main Street were now taking over this area’s market for upscale homes.

Joe Constantine still spends ten-to-twelve hours a day on the job. He still cherishes projects that require lots of creativity and detail. Thanks in large part to the influences of working for his dad, Joe’s a “Green Freak” too. He was committed to designing in energy efficiency and air quality in his very first build and he remains ahead of the curve in that critical area today. A Constantine-built home means low heating bills and no new-house smells.

Constantine Builders celebrated its thirty eighth year in business in 2016 and though he still loves what he does, Joe looks forward to some day retiring to a home in the Adirondacks. I wonder who will build it?

This Amsterdam native with a Viking nickname was also born on September 21.

 

September 20 – Happy Birthday Carl Salmon Jr.

Carl S. Salmon Jr.
Carl S. Salmon Jr.

There’s a few things that haven’t changed in Amsterdam in over the past hundred years. The Chuctanunda still flows into the Mohawk. The Amsterdam Free Library is still going strong. And if you need a lawyer, you can still find an attorney named Salmon in the Amsterdam phone book. Of course you may not be able to still find an Amsterdam phone book because nobody uses them any more in this age of cloud connected cell phones and contact lists.

Carl Salmon Sr. began his family’s streak of dispensing legal expertise and services in this Rug City of our’s way back in 1911. He was born in Potsdam, NY and went to school to become a teacher originally, then switched to accounting and finally the law. He had a brother Del who was already a lawyer in Schenectady who helped him begin his studies, which he completed at Albany Law and after passing the New York State Bar in 1911 he opened his first office at 31 East Main Street here in Amsterdam on December 1 of that same year.

Carl S. Salmon Sr.
Carl S. Salmon Sr.

As it turned out, these were wise professional choices. His career zoomed and he became one of our town’s most prominent and successful citizens of all time, serving three terms as Mayor in the 1920’s and also becoming Montgomery County Surrogate Court Judge. He also became a father. He and his wife Hortense gave birth to a son, today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Carl S. Salmon Jr. on September 20, 1920.

Young Carl attended public schools here until high school and then graduated from the Manlius Military Academy. He then went to Cornell Agricultural School in 1941 for his undergraduate degree before following in his dad’s footsteps and attending Albany Law. World War II and service in the Army Air Force interrupted his studies but he returned to complete them and pass the bar and then convert his Dad’s practice into a father & son law firm in 1947.

That same year, Salmon married Lois Ann Frankel. They would raise four sons. Two of the boys would become attorneys and continue to operate the Salmon family law firm in Amsterdam today.

Unlike his father, Salmon would never hold political office or wear the robe of a judge.Instead he focused on building one of the busiest law firms in the area, representing many local businesses and individuals. He also began shifting the firm’s mission by getting it more involved in setting up trusts and estates. Salmon was also heavily involved in the Amsterdam community. He was of the Jewish faith and a longtime member of the Temple of Israel. He was an active member of the Liberty ARC Board and Montgomery Traditional Services for the mentally ill. He also served as chairman of the Civil Service Commission and was a member of the board of directors of the former Farmers National Bank, which was later known as State Bank of Albany.

Salmon’s first wife passed away in 1973 and he would marry a second time in 1975 to Leila Kirshen Newhouse. He and his second wife donated their lovely home on Locust Avenue to Liberty and then later relocated to Oregon, which is where her family was from. Carl Salmon Jr. died there in 2005 at the age of 84.

This former Amsterdam fashion store owner was also born on September 20.

 

September 19 – Happy Birthday Baldy Verderese

Angelo “Baldy” Verderese (on left) at entrance to his 10 Reid Street restaurant

I’ve been eating pizza for over sixty years and I’ve had the opportunity to do so in the very best pizza parlors of Brooklyn, Chicago and Florence, Italy. Per capita, no other City on the face of this Earth had as many excellent makers of Pizza as Amsterdam, NY has had over the years and the dean of them all was a wonderful guy everyone knew as “Baldy”.

That was the famous nickname of today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Angelo Verderese, and also the same name he used for the restaurant and tavern he opened in 1954 at 10 Reid Street. That’s right, Baldy Verderese opened an Italian food restaurant smack in the middle of the biggest Polish section of the city and despite the evident contradiction in ethnic culinary traditions, it was a smash hit from the start.

Baldy was born on September 19, 1922 in Amsterdam. He grew up on Forbes Street, attended public schools and when World War II came, he joined the Navy and served on the crew of the U.S.S. Massachusetts. He saw plenty of action in both the Atlantic and Pacific on board that battleship and then came back home to Amsterdam, and began his career as a chef and pizza maker.

For the first ten years of that career, Baldy rolled his dough and ladled his sauce at Boggie’s Fourth Ward Hotel, the East Main Street eatery that used to be located on the old Lou’s Supermarket block of that Rug-City neighborhood. Everything about Baldy’s pies was just a bit different than any other pizza sold back then and the entire city noticed and loved that difference. Boggie’s proprietor noticed too and began featuring the fact that Baldy was making the pizzas there in all of their newspaper ads. That exposure helped make the name “Baldy” synonymous with “the best pizza in town.”

Baldy married Virginia Campochiro in 1950 and they had a son, Angelo Jr. the following year. By 1956, the need to take care of his growing family helped him make the decision to open a place of his own. When he could not secure the financing to buy a building on James Street, he turned to a second option, leasing the space at 10 Reid Street.

Baldy’s Tavern & Restaurant opened just before the 1956 Holiday season and he was welcomed and well patronized by Reid Hill residents from the start. Many had been Boggie’s patrons but once he moved uphill, dialing VI 2-9652 and ordering a Baldy’s pie became almost as popular a neighborhood activity as playing a number at the corner store or attending mass at St. Stan’s.

Verderese’s friendly personality and kind heart made it easy to fall in love with the guy and the Polish community of Reid Hill quickly adopted him as one of their own. In fact, they made him the first non-Polish voting member of the Polish American Veterans.

A second son, Rick had been born in 1959 and by 1964, the stress of running the business was wearing on him. Baldy got a job at GE and worked there for the next twenty years. The Iarusso family took over the Tavern and kept its name Baldy’s. That proved to be a wise move.

When he retired, Baldy finally had some time to enjoy himself. Always an avid bowler, he took up the game of golf and fell in love with it too. Losing his wife in 1992 was a terrible blow but he thoroughly enjoyed being a grandfather to Angie Jr.’s two girls and Ricky’s three. But just four year’s after he lost Vergie, Baldy lost his own battle to cancer and passed away at the age of 74.  He left behind his pizza recipe with his son, my good friend Angelo. So I still get to enjoy a Baldy’s pizza every now and then. Guess what? It’s still the best in town.

Baldy shares his birthday with this legendary Amsterdam educator.

 

2019 Greater Amsterdam School District Hall of Fame Quiz

The Greater Amsterdam School District’s fifth annual Hall of Fame Induction Dinner is scheduled for Friday, September 20 at the Perthshire. The Hall of Fame Class of 2019 consists of ten deserving individuals and two legacy teams. In addition, a display (accompanying photo), which includes the names of every AHS Student since 1931 who earned Valedictorian or Salutatorian honors will be added to the District’s Hall of Fame.

See if you can answer the following questions about this year’s inductees. You’ll find a link to the correct answers at the end of this quiz.

1. This young powerhouse was Amsterdam’s first NY State Public High School Wrestling champion, the program’s first Eastern States Classic Champion and the first AHS wrestler to break the 250 career victory mark. Who is he?

2. She is the daughter of a former Amsterdam orthopedic surgeon, who now has an M.D. (and Ph.D) of her own and serves as an Associate Professor in the Departments of Pediatrics and Molecular & Human Genetics at Baylor College of Medicine. She is also the director of the Bone Marrow Failure Program at Texas Children’s Hospital in Houston. What is this brilliant woman’s name?

3. This former Amsterdam High School Physics teacher was born on August 5,1908 in a small village in Russia to Jewish parents, when that huge country was still a monarchy, and under the rule of the Romanov’s. Who was he?

4. He was considered the “Godfather” of the Greater Amsterdam School District’s instrumental music program. What was his name?

5. This Amsterdam native was paired on the anchor desk of a Boston TV news program with Natalie Jacobsen in the early 1970’s. Their on-air chemistry was instant and dynamic propelling their newscast to the top of the ratings. The couple’s off-air chemistry was pretty hot as well and the two were married in 1975. That made them the very first husband and wife co-anchors paired together on the same major market  newscast in television history. Who was this Amsterdam-born new anchor?

6. After she set a school record for most career three pointers (59) by an Amsterdam High basketball player between 2006 and ’08, this hot-shooting guard then put together a stellar hard-court career at Skidmore before earning her Medical Degree at U of Buffalo. What’s her name?

7. In 1995, Amsterdam Kicker Alvaro Montes nailed a last-minute 23-yard field goal to provide the winning points as the Amsterdam Rugged Rams captured the 1995 State Championship. What was the name of their opponent?

8. This amazing athlete was a gifted wide receiver on offense and a tough, ball-hawking safety on defense. He also punted the ball and returned kicks for some of Coach Pat Liverio’s greatest teams, including the 2005 State Champions. He was also a gifted basketball player for AHS and a sprinter and jumper on the School’s track and field squad. Who is he?

9. This amazing softball pitcher averaged 16 strikeouts per game while leading the AHS Softball team to its first Sectional Title in a quarter century back in 2005. Her first name is Sara and her last name was Puglisi back then. What is her last name now?

10. First hired as a Spanish teacher in 1961, this 2019 HOF inductee climbed the career ladder during his 30 plus year GASD tenure. He also served as a department chair, assistant principal, principal, director and finally superintendent. What is his name?

11. Probably because he coached the lines of two different Amsterdam High School State Championship football teams, his contribution to another sport often gets overlooked. In the early 1980’s he became head coach of an AHS Track & Field Program that had fallen on hard times and turned it into one of the School’s most popular and successful sports. Who was this outstanding mentor?

12. The 2007-08 AHS Girl’s Basketball Team will be inducted into the Hall of Fame this year. Who was the head coach of that team?

CLICK HERE FOR THE CORRECT ANSWERS

September 16 – Happy Birthday Joe Riley III

pictureofjoe2When I wrote his original Amsterdam Birthday post in 2016, I put Joe Riley III in the same “likable”category as apple pie, Friday night high school football and hitting an exacta at the flat track. Simply put, he was one of this town’s all-time most well-liked individuals. Born on September 16, 1952, he was the oldest of the four Riley boys born to Joe Jr. and his wife Mary Ann, who was the sister of long-time St. Mary’s and Bishop Scully three-sport coach, the late Dutch Howlan. The boys also have a younger sister named Marybeth.

Joe Riley III attended SMI through eighth grade and then Bishop Scully, graduating in 1970. He was into sports his entire life and he was very good at all of them, earning several of those huge green “S’s” in high school for his play on Uncle Dutch’s basketball, football and baseball teams.

After graduating from Scully, he went on to Niagara University. He then returned to his hometown and started his one-man version of a “jobs program!” I met him for the very first time when he umpired one of my Shorty’s softball games in the early seventies. He also became a familiar site wearing one of those zebra shirts at Capital District high school gymnasiums as he evolved into one of this area’s best high school basketball referees. I used his moving company every time I’ve moved to a new home in this city. He also served as Montgomery County Coroner forever plus he and his brothers operated Riley Mortuary on Division Street, which has been in their family since 1921, when Joe’s great grandfather Arthur Riley bought into the business.

Joe married the lovely Karen Murphy and together they raised four kids, Kathleen, Patrick, Dennis and  Anne (though when I asked him once how many kids he had, he told me five if you count Chris Leonetti, who was Joe’s best friend and constant companion).

Tragically, Joe passed away in March of 2019 after a valiant struggle with cancer. It is still difficult to accept the fact that he is gone. When I found out he passed I wrote the following: “Here’s the God’s honest truth. There was not one time ever, either when I had business with him or ran into him somewhere, that I didn’t come away from the encounter thinking to myself “Joe Riley is one of the nicest people I ever met” He was always an absolute joy to be around, an exceptionally funny, witty, sincere, caring class act, an Amsterdam gem. His death last evening leaves a huge hole in both the spirit and personality of this city.” Happy Birthday Joe!

About a year before Joe’s illness was discovered, I asked him if he could move a piano from our home in Amsterdam to the fourth floor of a Brooklyn townhouse that had just been purchased by my youngest daughter and her husband. She lived on a hugely busy, one-way, very narrow Brooklyn street and the only way up to their place was a winding staircase, consisting of about 70 steps. As I was explaining the logistics of the horrifying and near impossible task I could actually see the famous twinkle in Joe’s eyes slowly fade away. He should have simply said: “Mike are you out of your mind?” but instead he told me he’d get back to me with a price. I spoke to him at least twenty times after that and Joe never once mentioned that piano. It’s still sitting in my front hallway.

Ironically, that piano once belonged to another guy who, like Joe Riley was born on September 16th.

 

September 15 – Happy Birthday Alex Torrez

Alex Torrez y Los Reyes Latinos
Alex Torrez y Los Reyes Latinos

Today’s featured Amsterdam Birthday celebrant is the most popular Latino resident in the city’s history. Unfortunately he doesn’t live here anymore. Alex Torrez came to Amsterdam with his family from the Bronx when he was just 14 years old. He credits his Mom for his love of music because she played the radio in their Bronx apartment 24/7, always tuned to Latino music channels that featured the the music of Latin legends like Machito, Tito Puente and Tito Rodriguez.

Then the family moved upstate to Amsterdam. For a community noted for its large Latino population, Alex was shocked by the total absence of the music he loved so much. He could not believe that there was no radio station or local music store he could turn to so he did the only thing he could. He decided to form a band of his own. This was in 1980 and though their were plenty of Latinos living in Amsterdam, very very few of them were musicians so in addition to teaching himself how to play bass guitar, Alex became a music teacher, introducing some of his neighborhood friends to the music and musical instruments needed to evolve into a Latino band. And when he couldn’t find fellow Latinos he called on some of his Anglo friends to join his group. They started practicing their instruments individually and then jamming and rehearsing together as a group from the time they got out of school till they had to get home for dinner. In addition to keeping them off the streets and out of trouble, they started sounding pretty good. They called themselves Alex Torres y Los Reyes Latinos and began accepting gigs at any and all kinds of community functions.

It wasn’t long before the band caught on big in Amsterdam’s Latino neighborhoods and soon thereafter in Latino communities outside of Amsterdam as well. Before you knew it, they began recording their own music and were getting invited to bigger and bigger events throughout the northeastern United States. They started winning awards and getting asked to play for bigwig public figures including New York Governor George Pataki and Bill and Hillary Clinton. They hit the big time officially in 1999 when the group’s fourth album entitled Entre Amigo was a Grammy Award semi-finalist.

In addition to Torrez, Los Reyes Latinos featured Nicholas Lue (assistant director, piano, vocals), Miquel A. Cruz (lead vocals), Jimmy “Pelu” Fontanez (bongos, tambora), Todd Fabozzi (congas), John Bronk, Kevin “Pan” Hendrick, Brian Patneaude, Terry Gordon, Mike Perry and Chuck “The Mime” Yurgans (trumpets), Ken “Snoopy” Olsen and William “Professor” Merkley (trombones), Juan Carlos Marrero (timbale), and Angel “Sweet Pea” Dueno (guira, vocals).

As his popularity grew Torrez became the unofficial spokesman for Amsterdam’s Spanish community on all sorts of issues. He also opened a popular Latino music store in the East End of the city, which became the base of operations for his band and a popular destination for Amsterdam’s Latino music lovers. As the band became more popular, its demands on Alex’s time grew exponentially. Then the Internet developed into everyone’s preferred source for the music they purchased and Alex decided to close the store and move his base of operations to the larger market around Albany. In February of 2015, he and his Latin orchestra were invited to tour and perform in the People’s Republic of China. The young man who bought the Latino beat to Amsterdam is now bringing it all over the world.

Torres shares his birthday with this well-known and respected Amsterdam jurist.

September 14 – Happy Birthday Tom “Flick” Flint

fit_softball_lgEvery Labor Day for over twenty years running, just about everyone in and around this community who loves the game of softball gathers up at the Four Diamonds at the bottom of Lindbergh Avenue for the best softball tournament this City has to offer. Its called the Recorder Robert Flint Memorial Fast Pitch Softball Tournament. It has become a sports institution in this city and the person most responsible for making it so is the eldest son of the tournament’s namesake, the late Tom “Flick” Flint.

Born on September 14, 1961, Tom had started playing recreation softball in the late 1970’s as a catcher with the DePalma’s team and earned his nickname for the way he used to flick the ball from the top of his ear when he threw it. He later switched to pitching and joined a new team, the Mohawk’s in 1990. During the next two decades he evolved into one of this town’s best fast-pitch softball hurlers. Softball was a genetic thing for the Flint’s and there’s no doubt that Tom inherited his love for the game from his dad, a former Recorder Newspaper employee who played the game passionately for years. That’s also why when the memorial tournament began, Tom became its driving force as Director. He spent large chunks of his life making sure the event was a top-shelf softball affair every year and he certainly succeeded.

Flint didn’t just organize the event, he and his Mohawks competed in it as well and in 2010 the team won its second straight Tournament title. The following April, he discovered he had cancer of the esophagus. In an outstanding article about Flint written for the Amsterdam Recorder newspaper by Dan Kelly, Flint was shocked by the news. He told Kelly at the time that didn’t smoke, he was in great physical shape and the only symptom he had experienced was a chronic upset stomach. Then all of a sudden he finds himself sitting in front of a doctor who is telling him he’s got cancer and the chances of survival are just 15-to-20 percent. The news certainly floored him but Flint had always been a fighter. He had a seven-year-old daughter at home he adored and a beloved fiancée he planned to marry. He intended to fight the cancer as hard as he could and he knew the treatment required to do that would be difficult on him physically so he made sure others would step in and keep his beloved softball tournament going.

Tom’s first round of treatments ended that August so when Labor Day rolled around Flint was able to make it to the tournament games as a spectator. Each year, Tom and his younger brother Matt would decide who receives the event’s lifetime achievement award handed out during the closing ceremony. But Matt didn’t give Tom a vote in 2011 because so many people had come up to him and told him the award had to go to Tom. When it came time to present the plaque, Tom’s sister read the following inscription to the assembled crowd: “Tom ‘Flick’ Flint began playing in the Amsterdam Recreation Softball League 30 years ago for De Palma’s. After joining the Mohawks, Flick became a top-notch pitcher and feared hitter. He has gone on to become a respected umpire and outstanding tournament director. Tom is loved by his teammates and revered by his opponents. Simply stated, Flick is Amsterdam softball.”

Thomas “Flick” Flint passed away on October 26, 2012 at his Romeyn Avenue home after a valiant struggle with esophageal cancer. He was 51 years old. He loved life, he loved his family and he loved playing softball.

The 2019 version of the Flint Memorial Tournament was just completed over Labor Day Weekend. Many who played in the Tournament over the years have also gone to their final resting place. The following Facebook post from Tom’s brother Matt Flint does a beautiful job describing what this event has come to symbolize for Amsterdam’s softball community:

“Huge thanks to all the players, umpires, and spectators who made this Flint Softball Tournament such a success. It is humbling to know how much it means to so many people. For my family it is a way to honor our father Bob, our brother Tom, and our mother Mary. To many others, they play in honor of loved ones passed. Great people like Jack Terwilliger, Carol Hoefs, George Rivera, Paul Karutis, Chuck Parslow, Dick Hartig, Bob Cetnar, Rich Auricchio, Mike Garrison, Adam Jackson, and Pat Cushing. They are always alive in our memories and never more than this weekend where their stories are shared with family and friends. Thank you.”

 

September 13 – Happy Birthday Chris Marcil

marcilI continue to be amazed by the talent and accomplishments of folks who come from my hometown. If you’ve ever found yourself laughing during an episode of Frasier, or Beavis and Butt-head or the old hit comedy News Radiothe chances are pretty decent that it was a script line written by Amsterdam native Chris Marcil that was making you chuckle.

He was born on September 13, 1963 at Amsterdam’s St. Mary’s Hospital, the son and second of three children born to Market Hill residents Ed and Diane Marcil. His dad had begun teaching at Perth Central the year before that and would end up becoming the last superintendent of that district before it merged with the Broadalbin School District in 1987. The elder Marcil was a driving force behind that merger and I remember admiring his gracious ceding of the Superintendent’s position to his Broadalbin counterpart, rather than let it become a bone of contention in the merger process.

Meanwhile, Chris Marcil graduated from Bishop Scully High School in 1981 and then went on to Yale University, where his roommate was a kindred soul and native of Omaha named Sam Johnson. After graduating from the Ivy League school the pair stuck together professionally, accepting writing assignments with the New Yorker, Mademoiselle and the New York Times and then serving a stint as editors at National Lampoon.

From there it was on to television when they joined the writing staff of the groundbreaking TV series Beavis and Butt-head in 1992 and then wrote the pilot for its spinoff, Daria. Those stellar credits brought the pair widespread recognition in the industry and they were soon moving to LA and taking over as story editors for the hit TV comedy News Radio and eventually becoming co-executive producers of that show. Next came Frasier and the pair’s first two Emmy Nominations for Outstanding Comedy Series. During their tenure with Frasier, the show became the most Emmy Award–winning series of all-time with 37 wins.

In an interview with TV Land, Marcil and Johnson explained that they write comedy by sitting around a table in a locked room with their staff of writers trying to make each other laugh at stories about each other’s lives. The pair has lots of experience with that method since they’ve been trying to make each other laugh since their days as college roommates.

Their most recent small-screen success story was the TV Land Network half hour comedy, Hot in Cleveland, which starred the ageless Betty White. Marcil and Johnson were executive producers of the show, which enjoyed a six-year run that ended in 2015.

This pair’s most current project was the NBC comedy Crowded,about two recent empty nesters whose two grown daughters unexpectedly move back home, as do the husband’s retired parents. It debuted in May of 2016 but was cancelled after just one season.

There’s no doubt in my mind you’ll see this Amsterdam native’s name popping up in the credits of another new hit comedy special before he retires.

Chris Marcil’s brother Peter Marcil, another Amsterdam native was the New York City-based investment banker working with Montgomery County and the Canadian-based investment firm, Clairvest Group that spearheaded the failed 2014 effort to bring a casino to Amsterdam.

 

Marcil shares his September 13 birthday with this former Amsterdam native who also worked for a time in the entertainment industry. She never achieved the widespread fame or success Marcil has but her Birthday post was one of my favorites.