March 17 – Happy Birthday Ed Hotaling

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The first time I met today’s Birthday Celebrant Ed Hotaling, was indeed memorable. It was the summer before I began my first semester of college and I was desperate to get a full-time job that could help me pay tuition. Hotaling Florist needed a new delivery person and I had someone who knew Ed well, recommend me. I got a phone call telling me to come in for an interview.

I showed up at their Division Street location bright and early the next morning and met Ed and his brother Bill. They asked me a bunch of questions about my background and then Ed said, “Come on kid. I’ll take you over to the greenhouse and introduce you to my brother Jack.” Jack was the third and perhaps most important of the Hotaling brothers because he ran the family greenhouse, which was located off of Daniel Street on Amsterdam’s Southside.

As we walked out the rear exit, Ed threw me the keys to the then-familiar blue and white delivery van and told me he wanted to see how well I could drive. I entered the driver’s side, put my foot on the gas and turned the key in the ignition.

As most of you know, the most recent Hotaling Florist location was right alongside the main branch of the Amsterdam Savings (now First Niagara) Bank.  At the time this incident took place, the only thing separating the Hotaling back parking lot from the Bank’s lot was a rickety chicken wire fence.

As soon as I turned the key that van started bouncing and lurching forward like a tightly cinched rodeo bull, stopping no more than an inch from that fence. I looked at Ed and he looked at me and he said “So you’ve never driven a standard before?” I lied in response, telling him I had but it had been a long time ago.

Instead of firing me on the spot…

You can read the rest of my story about this former Amsterdam florist in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

February 16 – Happy Birthday Larry Sollecito

sollec.imageSchenectady’s GE main plant has played a critical role in Amsterdam’s economy for the past 100 years and especially after the rug mills deserted our city in the 1950’s. There were very few residents of this town from my generation who did not have at least one member of his or her extended family working somewhere in that huge complex at one time or another. Many of them who did were initially hired as part of the company’s apprentice program. That’s how  today’s Amsterdam Birthday celebrant, Larry Sollecito became a GE employee, apprenticing as a pattern maker in the now-demolished Bldg. 99 back in the early 1970’s…

You can read the rest of this story in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

February 5 – Happy Birthday Adam Kline

Today’s Amsterdam Birthday Blog celebrant was truly one of Amsterdam’s first Renaissance men. Adam Kline was born In Fort Johnson in 1818, His father was a successful farmer but Kline was determined not to follow in his footsteps. Instead, in 1839 he made the two-and-a-half mile move west to the village of Amsterdam where he hoped to pursue a career as a carpenter. He got a huge career break when an Amsterdam carpet mill could not find anyone willing to build a new and complicated type of weaving machine…

You can read the rest of this story in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.

February 3 – Happy Birthday Edward J. Kelly

Long before Home Depot and Lowe’s built their big box stores on Route 30, Amsterdam was the home of several family owned lumber yards. One of the most successful was Kelly Lumber. Many of us can well remember Kelly’s pristine, well-organized yard located on Edwards Street in Amsterdam. It was the go-to place in this town for the latest in building materials and today’s Amsterdam Birthday Blog celebrant Edward J. Kelly, was a big reason why…

You can read the rest of this story in my new book “A Year’s Worth of Amsterdam Birthdays.” To order your copy, click here.