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.

September 12 – Happy Birthday Nicholas Ephraim Young

220px-nicholas_youngI remember actually feeling a bit disappointed when it became common knowledge that Abner Doubleday was in fact not the inventor of baseball. Why? Well there was that beautiful Baseball Hall of Fame ballpark down in Cooperstown named after the guy, which I always thought was about as perfect a tribute as possible for the person who invented my all-time favorite sport, even if it no longer is “Our National Pastime.

But Doubleday doesn’t need credit for inventing the game to go down in history. After all, he had a pretty distinguished Army career and fired the first shot in defense of Fort Sumter which is where the Civil War began. Then during the battle of Gettysburg, it was Doubleday’s division of 9,500 men who held off 16,000 Confederates in one of the fiercest defenses of ground in US Military history.

It was during the Civil War that the soon-to-soar flame of Doubleday’s role in the beginning of baseball probably got its fuel. By the time the War began, early versions of the game were already being played throughout the North and especially here in New York State. That’s why baseball games became a favorite pastime for Union Army troops, waiting to march into their next battle. And it is at this point of my story that I get to introduce today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Nicholas Ephraim Young.

Born in Amsterdam, NY on September 12, 1840, Young’s family had taken up residence in Old Fort Johnson almost 100 years after Sir William Johnson had built the two story stone structure a mile west of this city. Young’s father, an owner of an Amsterdam mill was evidently well-to-do, affording his boy the opportunity to attend Amsterdam Academy and to have enough spare time available to learn to play the game of Cricket and become quite good at it. But when the War between the States reared its ugly head, Young did not avail himself of the rich folks’ option of purchasing a substitute to fight for him. Instead, he enlisted in New York’s 32nd Regiment, eventually landing with the Signal Corps, where he became in-the-field tent mates with John F. Dwyer, an Amsterdam, NY plumber who would one day become Mayor of his hometown.

Both soldiers had become fond of baseball during their Army hitch and would often participate in games while in between marches and battles. It was during one such lull in the action, while bivouacked in Virginia that Young and Dwyer decided to organize a game between soldiers from New York and troops from other states. They called the team of Empire Stater’s the “New York’s” and the other squad the “United States.” Young pitched for the New York nine and Dwyer was the catcher. Though I cannot locate a final score, it was reported that 15,000 spectators showed up for this contest including generals and a bunch of newspaper reporters and the event got nationwide publicity. As both captain and manager of the New York team and an organizer of the game, Young’s name was prominently mentioned in these accounts. Thus began his public affiliation with the sport that would end up getting him elected as the fourth-ever President of the National League.

After the war, Young secured a position with the US Treasury Department in Washington DC. In his spare time there, he joined an amateur baseball team called the Washington Olympics and became the club’s starting right fielder.  It was Young’s suggestion that a group of baseball enthusiasts representing teams from major Northeast and Midwest US cities meet to discuss forming a national league of teams in 1871. The meeting was successful and it resulted in the formation of the National Association. At first the rules of the Association were very informal. Any professional team was permitted to join simply by paying dues. Teams created their own schedules and played against opponents of their choice. The only other requirement of membership besides the dues provision was that each team had to schedule a certain number of games against each other ball club in the Association.

Young became owner and manager of the Washington team as well as the first ever secretary of the National Association. When the National League was formed in 1876, Young became its very first secretary and treasurer as well and then served as the NL’s third President from 1881 until 1903.

He was well-liked and nicknamed Uncle Nick but he had a tendency to let the owners of the league’s most prosperous franchises dictate. He also wasn’t strong enough to stop the fighting and rowdiness that was marring many of the league’s games during the 1890s. When the rival American League formed in 1901, many of the NL’s best players, tired of this violence, jumped to the new league whose leaders had promised to enforce a cleaner style of play. The NL decided to follow suit and elect new leadership, forcing Young out as president. He then returned to his job at the Treasury Department. Young died in Washington DC at the age of 76 in October of 1916.

Young shares his September 12 Birthday with this former Amsterdam attorney who back in the 1960’s developed a reputation for being a non-conformist.

 

September 11 – Happy Birthday Harvey Chalmers II

chalmers4Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Blog Celebrant was born on this date in 1890. He was the son of a wealthy industrialist and he took over the largest pearl button manufacturing operation in the world after his father retired in 1943, just a bit before zippers and plastic buttons took over as the fasteners of choice in the World’s apparel industry. By 1966, the two Amsterdam plants he and his family had operated at the foot of the Chuctanunda Creek were both gone, demolished to make way for the new arterial system.  At its zenith the business employed as many as 1,000 workers. Meanwhile, Harvey Chalmers II had happily transformed himself from industrialist to well respected historical novelist. It was making buttons that made him rich but writing books that made him happy.

Harvey’s parents were Arthur A. Chalmers and Emma Appleton Chalmers who made their home in Broadalbin, NY. He was educated in Amsterdam’s public schools and then after a two-year-stint at Williams College, he completed his four-year degree at Yale in 1914, where he became an intercollegiate fencing champion. He worked briefly for a company in Boston before enlisting in the Army and serving in the Medical Corps as a lieutenant during WWI. It was upon his discharge from the service that he returned home to Amsterdam to join his father at Harvey Chalmers & Son, the button manufacturing company first started by his grandfather and namesake.

The company had perfected the process of transforming pearl clamshells into buttons. The shells Chalmers used as raw materials were scooped up along the banks of the mighty Mississippi River and transported in railroad cars to Amsterdam. They were then punched and drilled into millions of buttons. Whole neighborhoods of Amsterdam housewives used to earn piece-rate compensation working at home by sewing the finished buttons onto the cardboard cards on which they were sold to end users by retailers around the country.

Once his factories ceased operation, Harvey Chalmers was able to begin his second career as a historical novelist. He would eventually complete and have published 8 books which included such titles as “West to the Setting Sun,” “Joseph Brandt, Mohawk,” “Birth of the Erie Canal,” Last Stand of the Nez Perce,” “How the Irish Built the Erie,” and “Tales of the Mohawk.” His novels were distinguished by their extreme detail and historical accuracy. Chalmers enjoyed researching the history he used in his novels even more than he enjoyed actually writing them. In the process, he became an expert on the history of the Empire State and was often called upon as a consultant on that topic by the New York State Education Department.

Perhaps the only thing Chalmers enjoyed more than working on his novels was fishing, particularly fly-fishing. That’s what he was doing early in the evening of October 6, 1971 at Cieply’s Pond in North Broadalbin, NY, when he suffered a fatal heart attack and died at the age of 81. He had two children, a daughter who married George Carter and moved to Cambridge, MA and a son, Arthur II, who would become a realtor in Schenectady, NY

 

 

 

September 10 – Happy Birthday Donna Purnomo

Donna

Whenever I hear the maiden name of today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, the first memory that flashes in my mind is of her as a teenager, dressed in this full body dog costume playing the role of Nana, the Darling family’s irascible pet dog in Bert Derose’s 1969 AHS Drama Department’s production of Peter Pan. Donna Metallo was a key member of that late 1960’s early ’70s ensemble of outstanding young thespians who helped DeRose put together a memorable string of hits on the famous Wilbur Lynch auditorium stage.

I remember Donna had this wonderful singing voice and a very funny and outgoing personality that made her a pleasure to be around and a joy to share the stage with. When she graduated from Lynch in 1970, she had decided to pursue music as a career and she went on to earn degrees in Music, Theater and Education at Long Island University.

Fast-forward to today and you will find Amsterdam’s Donna Metallo has become Albany’s Donna Purnomo, the co-owner of  Yono’s, one of the Capital Region’s most popular and critically acclaimed dining spots. Her husband is the flamboyant Indonesian Chef Widjiono Yono Purnomo. His resume is distinguished by an education at the illustrious Culinary Institute at Hyde Park, work experiences in some amazing dining venues, and a cookbook filled with a signature blend of contemporary American cuisine uniquely and dynamically flavored with Yono’s native Indonesian influences.

You could say it was “love” that pushed Donna into her current career. Yono was a superb chef with a charismatic personality but no practical business experience. So when this couple married and decided to go into the restaurant business, it was Donna who switched careers and dove into the operations and management end of the business. She certainly learned her lessons well.

Though I’ve tried to dine at Yono’s on at least three occasions, I’ve not yet done so but my son has had the pleasure and I know several folks who do so often. They’ve all told me how impressed they are with not just the unique and delicious food but also the atmosphere. It’s Donna who created and manages every aspect of that atmosphere and her superb talents in this area have not gone unnoticed. She has twice received the Restaurateur of the Year Award. She’s the first recipient of the Toque Award from two Chapters of the American Culinary Institute and a recipient of the Governor’s Award. She also has served as a multi-term President of the New York State Restaurant Association. Did I mention she also serves as Yono’s talented Pastry Chef?

The Purnomo’s have two children. Their son Dominick manages the family’s second eatery in downtown Albany called An American Brasserie as well being the Chef-Sommalier and Maitre d’ of Yono’s. Their daughter Alexandra is a Manhattan schoolteacher.

Yono’s is located on 25 Chapel Street in Albany. The phone number is 518-436-7747.

 

September 9 – Happy Birthday Mary Van der Veer

One of Van der Veer's portraits.
One of Van der Veer’s portraits.

Whenever I catch myself feeling the slightest bit sorry for myself, I think about the very real and significant struggles that people with physical and developmental disabilities face in their lives every single day. Not only must they figure out how to accomplish life’s tasks in spite of their disability they must overcome the stigma society places on people who don’t look, move or talk like “normal” people do.

These folks don’t want your pity. What they do want are opportunities to prove that they belong in the same neighborhoods, workplaces and social gathering places that people without disabilities congregate. They want the chance to prove their disability doesn’t define who they are or limit what they can accomplish. This explains why it was actually an honor for me to learn about and write about an individual who just might be the most accomplished artist in the history of Amsterdam. Her name was Mary Van der Veer and she was a talented enough painter to have studied under Whistler in Paris and have her canvased creations win medals and be chosen for expositions and exhibits all around the country and the world. But what could never be seen when you looked at one of her beautiful landscapes or portraits was the woman with deformed hands and back, whose atrophied legs were paralyzed by a severe case of infantile paralysis when she was just three years old.

Van der Veer's Arnold Avenue studio/home was a barn that was converted by her dad.
Van der Veer’s Arnold Avenue studio/home was a barn that was converted by her dad.

Mary Van der Veer was born on a farm just outside of Fort Hunter on September 9, 1865. It was there that she was struck with crippling polio as a very young child. Her miraculous journey from a severely disabled toddler to an incredibly gifted artist probably would not have been possible without her amazing parents. She was the daughter of John and Jennie Van Evera Van der Veer. Her dad went into the residential construction business. He built several homes in Amsterdam’s Market Hill neighborhood and moved his family into one of them, on Lincoln Avenue.

Van der Veer’s parents never coddled their daughter and if they had tried to, something tells me little Mary would have told them to cut it out. She grew up into a bold, unafraid young woman with an incredible passion for art, all of which enabled her to overcome her handicap with incredible determination and amazing effort to become a highly skilled artist. So skilled, that she was accepted to study at the prestigious Academy of Design in New York City and one of her paintings was selected for exhibition at the 1893 Worlds Fair in Chicago.

She then went to Europe a first time to study with the American artist James Whistler, who chose a Van der Veer self-portrait for a 1900 exhibit he put on for his students. Back in America, she continued her studies at the Philadelphia Art School where fifty of her paintings were featured in a one-woman exhibit in 1904. That same year, one of her paintings was awarded a bronze medal at the St. Louis Exposition.

In a 2007 essay about Van der Veer, Amsterdam, NY-born historian Bob Cudmore described a woman who “smoked cigarettes, bobbed her hair and travelled in wheel chairs and on crutches.” She was also known to curse pretty liberally.

Just before World War I, her father disassembled a barn up on Amsterdam’s Market Hill and reassembled it into a charming combination home and studio for Van der Veer that still stands on today’s Arnold Avenue. The finished home was featured in a “House Beautiful” magazine pictorial in 1915.

After the war Van Der Veer returned to Europe where she focused on painting landscapes in Holland, her family’s ancestral home. When she came back home to Amsterdam, she created some of her most memorable works associated with this area, including local landscapes and portraits of area notables, like Recorder Publisher William Kline and Annie Allen Trapnell, the founder of Amsterdam’s Century Club. A collection of her work can now be viewed at the Walter Elwood Museum at 100 Church Street in Amsterdam.

Miss Van der Veer was a life long member of Amsterdam’s Second Presbyterian Church. She had one sister, who married Amsterdam businessman James Smeallie. Mary Van der Veer passed away suddenly at the age of 79 in May of 1945.

September 8 – Happy Birthday William Claus

 

w200-1902Sir William Johnson was famous for his ability to get along with Indians and with women. Though he was never formally married, he had at least 16 children that we know about and was rumored to have fathered even more. One of his known daughters was a girl named Nancy. She was one of three children Johnson had with a white German settler named Catherine Weisenberg. Nancy, who was more commonly known as Ann married Christian Daniel Claus, a German-born silk and tobacco trader who had come to America on a speculative deal to obtain those items. That deal had gone bad and lacking the money necessary for the return voyage home, he ended up becoming the tutor of the son of the English King’s Indian Agent in Pennsylvania. That agent introduced him to Johnson, who served as the Crown’s Indian agent for the Northern Colonies. Claus moved north to this area and married Nancy Johnson in 1762 and their son William, today’s Amsterdam birthday celebrant was born three years later, on September 8, 1765, at Fort Johnson.

As the grandson of this area’s most prominent citizen, there is little doubt that William Claus was one of the greater Amsterdam area’s first young “blue bloods,” sort of like being a Sanford heir at the beginning of the Twentieth Century. His parents had hoped to send him south to New York City to obtain a formal education but before they could do so, rebellion began breaking out throughout the Colonies  and the entire Johnson family was forced to flee to Canada in 1775.

Young William began his military career in the British Army at the age of 12 in 1777, as an orderly in his Uncle, Sir John Johnson’s camp. There is evidence that five years later, he took part in the successful British raids against Fort Dayton and Fort Herkimer. Those raids were led by Mohawk Indian Chief Joseph Brant, whose older sister Molly had been Sir William Johnson’s last live-in consort before he died in 1774. By the end of the War, Claus had advanced to the rank of lieutenant and would later become a captain.

By 1788 Sir John Johnson had become the crown’s superintendent of Indian affairs in Canada and though it took him a while to do so, he was able to get his nephew William and appointment as a deputy superintendent. As soon as Claus took over the title he found himself in conflict with Joseph Brant, who wanted the Indian tribes of the Six Nations to have the right to sell land. Claus opposed Brant’s effort and after seven years of diplomatic wrangling with the British government, he was successful in thwarting it.

When the War of 1812 came, Claus led his units of militia troops competently and fought bravely for the British side. After losing two wars on the North American continent, the British decided to stop trying to dominate the native Indians of Canada and instead help them develop reservation-like settlements. Claus was lauded for his sincere advocacy of Indian interests during this transformation. So one of Amsterdam’s earliest highly-privileged bluebloods  evolved into a much respected member of Canadian society. Cancer would clam Claus’s life in 1826 at the age of 61.

September 7 – Happy Birthday Vincent “Jim” Iannotti

Vincent-Iannotti-1434368509Back in the 1970s I went to work for America’s Litterbug King, the late Tom Constantino at The Noteworthy Company, which was still headquartered on Church Street in Amsterdam at the time. One afternoon he swept into my office and said, “Come with me I want to take you to one of my favorite spots in this city.”

We got in his Chrysler Imperial and knowing how Tom loved to eat, I was hoping we were going to a restaurant. Instead, we drove up to Market Street and pulled into the Shell Gas Station that used to be located on the same corner that now is home to the Fast Trak Mini Mart. I had never been there previously and before we opened our doors there were at least three guys surrounding Tom’s car. One was filling his gas tank, another was washing his windshield and a third was opening his hood to check the oil.

Tom took me inside the station and walked directly into one of the large service bays and directed me to “Look at this floor! Have you ever seen a gas station floor this clean in your life?” I had to admit, the floor was unbelievably clean, not an oil stain or dirty tire track to be found anywhere. The tool racks were just as neat and every wrench, screwdriver and vise grip looked like it had been waxed with polish. The place absolutely sparkled. Since I myself had worked in a West End gas station as a teenager for five years and that place constantly looked as if the Exxon Valdez tanker had cracked open inside it, I was absolutely amazed by the pristine cleanliness of this Market Street auto oasis.

By the time we returned to the station’s front room the three guys who had been working on Tom’s car were back inside. That’s when I found out they were brothers as Tom introduced me to Ralph, Carl and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant, Jim Iannotti. There were, I believe two other male siblings who worked at the station named Floyd and Jerry, neither of whom were there that day. It was evident to me on that visit just how much pride these guys took in their place of business and their treatment of their customers. The bell signaling another customer had pulled up to their pump just kept ringing pretty constantly during the 15 minutes we stood their talking and every time it did, Ralph and Carl sprang into action with bounces in their steps.

I did not find out till years later that Jim Iannotti’s real first name was Vincent. Unfortunately, since they leased the station from Shell, when that oil company pulled its gas out of the Amsterdam market another company stepped in and purchased the property out from under the Iannotti boys and the brothers were forced into retirement. Jim outlived Ralph, Carl and Floyd. He reached the age of 97, passing away in June of 2015.

Just before we pulled away from the pump, Tom opened his window and yelled “Hey Jimmy, where’s my free litterbag?” All the brothers started laughing at the man whose company made those popular ad specialties by the millions. But Jimmy ran behind the counter, reached down and came back out holding one in his hand.

September 6 – Happy Birthday Chris Carpenter

Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant happens to be a new friend I made this year. His name is Christopher Carpenter. He wasn’t born in Amsterdam but I’m glad he decided to make this place his home. Why? Because he cares about other people and he gets involved in things that help improve the quality of life in this City. When that kind of person joins your community, it’s what I call a “community win”!

I met him initially through politics. When I decided to run for Mayor this spring Chris was one of the local Democratic Party Committee members who went out and got petition signatures for me. I had heard his name before and had actually wanted to meet him ever since he organized the stirring memorial tribute on the MVGO Bridge for the folks killed in the tragic limousine crash in Schoharie.

He’s the kind of person you like instantly. He has a great sense of humor, a wide range of interests, he stays current on the news of the day and he is a wonderful conversationalist. He is also passionate about politics but he’s one of the folks who has come to realize that talking about differences is much more effective than attacking each other over them. And he writes amazing prose too.

The biggest love of his life is his beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter Emmalee! Just the mention of her name makes him light up like a Christmas tree. I’d known him for months before I found out he had a chronic illness that kept him in constant physical pain or that he suffered through years of personal struggles.

That’s because every time we’re together he has a smile on his face and he’s busy doing something for someone else. He spends his Tuesday’s volunteering at the Amen Soup Kitchen and this summer he became a member of the Amsterdam Waterfront Foundation’s Board of Advisors and the positive impact he made was both immediate and much appreciated.

So if you see this tall, good-looking guy with arms full of ink at the ItaliaFest this weekend, wish him a Happy Birthday. By the way, Chris is starting a brand new Facebook page for people who live in Amsterdam. He’s calling it “Family and Friends of Amsterdam NY” and he wants it to be a place where we can discuss our great city, share stories, talk about events, our schools and promote local businesses. All he asks is that you treat each other with respect and dignity. I know I’m looking forward to joining and hope you do as well.

This Amsterdam-born former big-league baseball coach was also born on September 6th.

September 5 – Happy Birthday Bill Cooper

cooperWhen you put the word “architect” together with the place “Amsterdam, NY” only one name comes to mind for most long-time city residents and that’s Bill Cooper. Every time I pull my tee shot on the seventh hole at Amsterdam Muny and go searching the edges of the patch of weeds and woods that separate the left side of that fairway from the contemporary styled, self-designed former residence of Mr. Cooper, I’m reminded of his years of designing structures in this area.

Cooper was born on this date in 1922. He graduated from Lynch High School in 1940 and became a 1st Lieutenant in the Army Air Force during WWII. During the Normandy Invasion, he flew on the crew of a cargo plane flying resupply missions to US troops fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

After the War, like so many returning American servicemen, he took advantage of the GI Bill and went to RPI, where he got his degree in Architecture. His first job was as an assistant architect with the State of New York. He then accepted a position as staff architect with Amsterdam’s J.L. Finlay Construction Company and then in 1956, finally hung out his own shingle and opened his own design firm.

The Cooper designed Teepee Restaurant on the eastern edge of Amsterdam.
The Cooper designed Teepee Restaurant on the eastern edge of Amsterdam.

Some of his most notable work includes the Clara Bacon Elementary School and the former Amsterdam Federal Savings Bank headquarter building on Church Street (now a branch location of First Niagara Bank.) Cooper also designed the Montgomery County Infirmary, the Montgomery County Office Building in Fonda, NY, the Gloversville City Hall and Fire Station, and the Liberty Enterprises headquarter building off Route 5S. His most impressive feat, the modern and stunning A-framed former Teepee Restaurant building unfortunately now sits unused and in disrepair but it was truly Cooper’s best work on the local landscape.

Cooper died in March of 2013 at the age of 80. Cooper’s wife and three children survived him but his architectural firm is now, like this esteemed citizen, a fond and respected Amsterdam memory.

September 2 – Happy Birthday G. Wallace McQuatters

wallymcq222It was Herb Shuttleworth who convinced the Board of Mohawk Carpets to purchase a Canadian American League franchise in 1938 that would become the Amsterdam Rugmakers, a Class C minor league affiliate of the mighty New York Yankees. But it wasn’t Shuttleworth who made the operating decisions for the organization. That job belonged to a young tax accountant in Mohawk’s finance department by the name of G. Wallace “Wally” McQuatters.

McQuatters was born in Saratoga Springs, NY on September 2, 1898. His dad Andrew had been born in Scotland and came to this country as an exercise boy with a prominent Scottish racing stable that ran its world class racehorses at the Saratoga flat track. The elder McQuatters then switched to the Sanford racing stable and moved his family to Amsterdam in 1901, where he would go onto become a highly effective jockey for the champion thoroughbreds trained at Hurricana Farms.

While his father helped the Sanford family gain fame in their favorite sport, Wally would do the same for Amsterdam’s second royal family of carpet. He went to work for the Shuttleworth’s as a Mohawk tax accountant in 1928. When the Rugmakers were purchased, a new tax entity called the Mohawk Mills Association was formed to run them and Herb Shuttleworth appointed McQuatters the General Manager and Treasurer of that association. At first, he was still expected to fulfill his full-time accounting duties with the rug company. If he had any doubt of what his priorities were, the annual stipend of just $100 he received for running the baseball operation served as a clear reminder. But over the course of the next decade, not only did McQuatters leadership help create a very good winning baseball team and a beautiful minor league ballpark, his ability in the front office earned him the respect of such notable big league baseball executives as the legendary Yankee GM, George Weiss.

Since all the player personnel decisions were made by the parent organization, McQuatters job was to make sure the team had everything it needed to compete at home and on the road, get the community to support the club and keep the MMA operating in the black. In Amsterdam, NY native David Pietrusza’s excellent book,  “Baseball’s Canadian American League,” the author describes two instances that provide a glimpse of just how all-encompassing McQuatter’s Rugmaker responsibilities were.

Herb Shuttleworth wanted to install lights at Mohawk Mills so that workers in the Amsterdam mills, could get to the games easier and more frequently. He and McQuatters drove down to GE in Schenectady and spent $10,000 for a state-of-the-art set. When they had all been installed, Shuttleworth and McQuatters walked out to the power shed that was located at the outer edge of the park to turn them on. When Shuttleworth saw the size of the power box and switch and realized how much power was about to flow through it to turn on all those lights, he coyly told McQuatters he could have the honor of pulling the switch. When McQuatters demurred to his boss, Shuttleworth insisted, this time a bit more sternly and a very nervous Wally did as directed and the diamond at Mohawk Mills Park was artificially illuminated for the first time in its history.

On July 12, 1942, just eight days before the Rugmakers were scheduled to play an exhibition game against the parent club Yankees at Mohawk Mills Park, an arsonist(s) set fire to the wooden grandstands and they burned to the ground. The business manager of the arch-rival Gloversville Glovers called up McQuatters and graciously (yeah right) offered the use of his team’s park for the Yankee exhibition. The offer was quickly refused and McQuatters went to work. Not only did he get the entire grandstand rebuilt in ten days, he increased its capacity by 200 seats to boot. McQuatter’s thought his biggest challenge in the rebuild would be the park’s lights. The heat of the blaze had actually softened the metal poles that held them high in the air. The weight of the lights then bent the poles over till the tops were touching the ground. But the baseball Gods were with McQuatters because as the poles cooled, they straightened and by the time the grandstand work had been completed the poles were perfectly erect once again. The Yankees came to town on July 20, 1942 , a record crowd of over 4,000 fans showed up and a city that needed a reprieve from the horror of entering a World War were treated to a glorious day of baseball.

When the Yankees ended their affiliation with the Rugmakers after the 1951 season, McQuatters continued on as Mohasco’s tax department head and manager of the Mohawk Mills Association until he retired on the last calendar day of 1958. That retirement did not last very long.

On the evening of May 22, 1960, he suffered a stroke in the kitchen of his home at 293 Guy Park Avenue. Rushed to nearby St. Mary’s Hospital, he died at noon the next day. He left behind his wife, the former Stella Donohue and three adult children. He was just 61 years of age.

This September 2nd Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant wrote many episodes of Gunsmoke, one of the most popular television series in history.

This September 2nd Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant was a good and longtime friend of mine who loved this City deeply.

This September 2nd Amsterdam Birthday Celebrant developed a process for manufacturing synthetic quartz, which changed the world’s electronics industry.