Thursday, May 26, 2016
Amsterdam, NY ,



A shopping tour

Saturday, August 23, 2014 - Updated: 4:08 AM


For The Recorder

I'd like to go back a ways -- not too far -- to see if the Mohigan market rings a bell with those who read these letters.

The floor of the Mohigan was covered with sawdust. They had a butcher's shop, fish department, groceries and a bakery. That's where I was employed. The manager's name was George Pacifico and the head baker was named Horst Schevenhi. He was a master baker from Europe. I went to work at 2 a.m. I did all the doughnuts and ran the proofbox, where the bread was raised. Baking became a lost art with the advent of supermarkets. They had their own bakery departments and low-balled everybody on price.

Next door was a child's clothing shop run by three beautiful people -- Goodman Greenspan, his wife and his mother. Further down the street was Castler's market and J. C. Penney. If you hang a left at J.C. Penney, at the end of the block was an A&P. It was run by Haslett Quackenbush. I remember him for several reasons. In the summer, when it was hot, the chemical waste in the Mohawk River coupled with the smell of dead fish posed a serious odor problem. He'd cure this by placing a pound of Bohar Red Circle or 8 O'Clock Coffee in the grinder, and then turn the exhaust fan on. It smelled heavenly.

It was a very narrow store and he had a long pole with a clamp on the end to retrieve toilet paper and Quaker Oats which were up high and out of reach. He'd figure out the bill with a pencil on the back of the large paper shopping bags, and he didn't make any mistakes. He also married a classmate of mine, Peggy Hyatt.

There was another A&P supermarket on the corner of Garden and Union streets. Lanzi's eventually occupied that building.

My mother had a very nice apartment on 53 Union St., picket fence, very well kept. Her landlord was Mr. Mancini who, along with his wife, ran the bus depot when it was located where Schell's drug store is now. I'm sure that you old timers remember Schell's was located where the car wash is now. Joe, Peter and Greta, all winners.

We also lived on 87 Union St., across the street from Jack and Mary Harrington. Mary was in my room at SMI and Jack was a year behind. Mr. Harrington, Jack's father, was the postmaster. Jack always dressed sharply. You'd have to call him handsome. He was no Jim Sheridan but he tried. I remember this house quite well because on the day I ran away from the LaSalle Institute I went on side streets to avoid going home. I was hungry. I knew my mother would feed me but she would also convince me to turn myself in. I didn't want that kind of pain. It was a Sunday night and I slept in the grass on the front lawn of Wilbur Lynch High School. I didn't factor in the dew (it was July) so I was ringing wet and freezing the following a.m. From my vantage point on the hill I could see my mother hanging up clothes. She could not see me. If you remember, Mondays was wash day, and Saturdays were bath days.

I hated to take baths then. Now it's one of the greatest happiness that I have. Thanks to my family, I get seven baths a week.

I have to remember 53 Union St. because my mother always told me if the pipes froze, or the furnace gave out, a phone call to Mr. Mancini and he was there within a half hour. Also, at the bus depot, they had the best 25 cent cup of coffee and the greatest collection of odd ball candy bars that I ever saw.

Next week we'll finish up visiting downtown. How great it was to live in this era and absorb the smells and memories -- the friendliness of everyone we saw.

See you next Saturday.

Thanks for reading this far.

JAMES SHERIDAN is an Amsterdam

resident and a frequent contributor.


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