The Boys of Albany. Not Just Names on the Vietnam Wall

There are 37 names on the Vietnam Wall from Albany, NY.

USA Capt. Thomas J. Bergin, 30, 3/14/64
USAF Maj. Theodore R. Loeschner, Jr., 37, 4/24/65
USMC Pfc. Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz, 21, 4/26/66
USA Spec 4 Keith Knott, 19, 5/9/66
USA Pfc. Robert G. Burrell, 19, 8/2/66
USA Pfc. Arthur J. McNally, 23, 10/17/66
USMC Lance Corp. William F. Ditoro, 22, 1/7/67
USA Spec 4 Richard J. Mosley, 20, 1/27/67
USA Spec 4 Donald J. Sheehy, 20, 5/5/67
USMC Lance Cpl. Rich Rockenstyre, 18, 8/31/67
USMC Capt. William M. Van Antwerp, Jr. 30, 9/16/67
USA Pfc. Frank Maleca, 20, 10/13/67
USA Spec 4 Ralph J. DiPace, 20, 10/21/67
USA Spec 4 Gerald H. Slingerland, 10/26/67 (a day after his 19th birthday)
USA Spec. 4 Robert J. Winters, 22, 11/9/67
USA Spec. 4, Edward A. Finlay, 19, 12/6/67
USA Corp. Willam M. Seabast, 22, 1/31/68
USMC GY Sgt. Anthony N. Valente, 38, 2/27/68
USMC Cpl. Bertram A. Deso, 20, 3/1/68
USMC Lance Cpl. Michael G. DeMarco, 21, 4/11/68
USMC Corp. John J. Vennard, 34, 4/17/68
USA Staff Sgt, Robert J. Smith, 22, 4/18/68
USMC Pfc John C. Fiffe, 18, 5/8/68
USN, Fireman, Joseph S. Ott, 20, 7/14/68
USMC Pfc. Kevin J. McArdle, 18, 8/18/68
USMC Maj. Harold S. Lonergan, 39, 2/23/69
USA Spec 5 Christopher Brow, 23, 2/26/69
USMC Lance Cpl. Richard J. Leahy, 22, 3/6/69
USMC Pfc. 1st class, Clifford G. LaBombard, 19, 4/15/69
USA Spec 5 Charles Chandler, 20, 4/18/69
USMC Pfc. John W Gladney, 19, 7/4/69
USA, Spec 4, Thomas K. Ryan, 18, 8/2/69
USA 1st Lt. Stanley A. Brown, 23, 11/1/69
USA Spec 4 Lewis C. Ouellette, 19, 4/13/70
USA Corp. Samuel W. Williams, 21, 7/26/70
USA Staff Sgt. Daniel E. Nye, 25, 11/28/71
USN Lt. Ralph P. Dupont, Jr., 24, 5/16/72
USMC Lance Cpl. Ashton N. Loney, 5/15/75

They came from all neighborhoods – Pine Hills, Arbor Hill, North Albany, West Hill,  New Scotland and the South End. They lived on  Myrtle Ave, Livingston Ave.,  Clinton Ave., Second Ave., Emmett St., Madison Ave.,  First St., Washington Ave., Lark  Dr., Magnolia Terrace, Hunter Ave.,  So. Main Ave. and Ontario St.

A very small number were college graduates.  Most had just completed high school when they joined the service – they were graduates of Albany High, Philip Schuyler, Milne, Cardinal McCloskey, and VI.

Most were impossibly young… 18, 19, 20. (There is an old Bellamy Boys lyric, “..they sent him off to Vietnam on his senior trip”.)

Some enlisted, some were drafted and, and in the time honored Albany tradition, several had brushes with the law and Albany’s justice system offered them the “choice” – jail or the Army.

Their deaths span 11 years.  The first to be killed was an Army captain “observer” who died in 1964.  One was an MP  who died defending the US Embassy during the Tet offensive of 1968.  Most died  in the harsh and unforgiving provinces of Vietnam during the War’s brutal years of 1967 -1969. The last one to die  was a Marine killed  in the Mayaguez “Incident” by the  Khmer Rouge in 1975. His body was never recovered.   He was not even a US citizen (he was from Trinidad, but his mom lived on Lark Drive).  His name, as well as the others killed in the “Incident”, are the last names on the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

An astonishing number died within their first 4 months in Vietnam. Johnny Gladney, who was a year ahead of me in Jr. High and High School,  was killed after being in Vietnam less than a month – on the 4th of July.

During  the 10 months of my junior year in high school, 15 boys died.  This is Smalbany, so you always knew the boy, or you knew his sisters/brothers  or  his cousins, or a friend of a friend.

The City moved on, but underneath, people felt a sadness and then  they went numb – just like the rest of the country. The killing seemed inexorable.  There was no way to stop it – it went on and on and on.

They are more than names.. each one has a story.  One was a long distance runner who could fly like the wind.  One was an avid reader; he won a Boy’s Club prize for  reading the most books when he was  11. Another was fascinated by flying, so he became a helicopter pilot. Some were quiet and reserved, some were outgoing and  boisterous.

8  boys were from the same class in Albany High and all members of the same Hi-Y club,  They all enlisted  in the Marine Corps.  The bond between 2 of the boys was so strong, that after the death of one, the other, sensing his own imminent death, begged to be buried next to his buddy when his time came.  They rest together in St. John’s Lutheran Cemetery – one Catholic and one Protestant.  A third boy from that same group died a year later.  ( See Semper Fi – In life and Death for the store of Rich and Mike.)

Here are pictures of some of the boys/men.

Christopher Brow
Christopher Brow
Ashton Loney
Richard Rockenstyre
Richard Rockenstyre
Bertram Deso
Bertram Deso

Vietnam sheehy1967 Grayscale - 4777veitnam OTT 1968 - 7093

Theodore Loeschner
Theodore Loeschner
Lewis Ouellette
Lewis Ouellette
Clifford LaBombard
Clifford LaBombard
Michael DeMarco
Michael DeMarco
Donald Sheehy
Donald Sheehy
Edward Findley
Edward Finlay
Gerald Slingerland
Gerald Slingerland
Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz
Hans Jorg Rudolph Lorenz
Harold Lonergan
Harold Lonergan
John Fiffe
John Fiffe
John Gladney
John Gladney
Keith Knott
Keith Knott
Richard Mosley
Richard Mosley
Ralph DiPace
Ralph DiPace
Robert Smith
Robert Smith
Stanley Brown
Stanley Brown
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Albany Business College Albany N.Y.

The Albany Business College was a private, for profit  educational insitution and  was a maintain of the city for over a century.  It was established in 1857  as a subsidiary of Bryant and Stratton in 1857 by C.E. Prentice, John Carnell and Benton Hoit.   In later years it severed its affiliation with Bryant and Stratton and was privately owned.

It was originally located at 51-53 North Pearl St.  In 1889 it moved into a grand building, designed by Edward Ogden at  the corner of North Pearl and Columbia Streets in downtown Albany.  

The College moved  twice more in the 2oth century; first to Washington Ave,. 19 133 and then to Central Ave outside the City limits,  to an old Vallee’s restaurant site in the 1970s.  It closed in 1988, and was purchased by Bryant and Stratton, coming full circle.

ABC, as it as known, was sort of a family tradition. A great grandfather from Cohoes attended in the 1880s, a great uncle graduated in 1890, a great aunt in 1918 and another  uncle in 1956.

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c 1915
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c. 1910
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c. 1910
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c 1920

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c. 1905
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1909
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c. 1910
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c. 1910
1912_Employment_Desk_Albany_Business_College
Employment Desk 1912
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c 1895

abc 1927 - 6667 1

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abc 1967 - 0008

If you are on Facebook, consider joining “Albany.. the way it was.”, a FB Group devoted to memories of Albany, NY.  Here’s the link.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375351089205442/606197369454145/?notif_t=group_comment

Echoes of Pine Hills/Madison Ave Albany NY

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Corner of Madison and Partridge c 1973
Dutch Oven Bakery   1938
Dutch Oven Bakery 1938
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Lake and Madison c 1920s

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School 4 Madison and Ontario
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c. 1953
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Madison looking east near Ontario, Vincentian on right and School 4 on left
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1950s

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Steamer 10
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1940s
1915
1915
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1967
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c. 1955
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early 1950s
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Mike Flanagan.. second owner of Petit Paris Restaurant mid 1960s and musician extraordinaire.
The Westerly Apts.. S. Main Ave.  Constructed in the early 1900s
The Westerly Apts.. S. Main Ave. Constructed in the early 1900s
The Betty Schuyler Restaurant
The Betty Schuyler Restaurant 1940s

 

Joe's Maitre'D
Joe’s Maitre’D
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c 1959
Madison between Quail and Ontario, north side c 1973

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Service station/Garage corner of W.Lawrence and Madison 1930s

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Walter's  c. 1958
Walter’s c. 1958

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Old NYS Museum Albany NY

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The old NYS Museum in the wonderfully iconic State Education Building was a garden of earthly delights. Tens of thousands of  NYS school children visited  the museum during its 60 some odd years, until it closed when the “new” Museum in the Cultural Center in  the Empire State Plaza opened in the 1970s.

9353424451_b4ce44d14f_zBut for the children of Albany, especially the baby boomer kids of  the ’50s and ’60s,  the Museum was special. It was a source of infinite wonder; it was our own very, very  cool playground.   The Museum was on bus lines; it  was located within walking distance of  two ethnically diverse neighborhoods, Arbor Hill and the South End,; both teeming with children.  And it was free.   When kids in Albany sighed, “I’m bored”,  many an Albany mother replied, “Go to the Museum”.  That was  the big deal about the old Museum.. it was kid friendly.

Rotunda NYS Education Building
Rotunda NYS Education Building

The Museum was on the 5th floor; to get there you passed though the grandeur of the State Ed Building.   The exterior of the building is magnificent and imposing with its massive 36  Corinthian column colonnade.  But it’s even more  gorgeous inside.  The scale is part of it; but it’s also a stunning example early 20th century Beaux-Arts architecture. The central rotunda with a barrel vault ceiling and stupendous chandelier are awe-inspiring. It never failed to take my breath away.  Even the rowdiest kids calmed down, lowered their voices and stopped fidgeting,  sensing they were in the presence of something special. 960x540 (1)

When you reached the Museum floor, the first thing  you saw was a replica of the Gilboa prehistoric forest, filled with ancient fossilized tree stumps and  wonder of wonders, a waterfall.  I don’t know about other kids, but for me, it was so peaceful, it was the equivalent of a Zen garden.

Picture-23-600x364But then the fun began.  The old  Museum was really a museum of natural history. Just up the street was the Albany Institute of History and Art. It had an excellent collection of old Dutch paintings, china, furniture and artifacts, and 2 Egyptian mummies!  But other than the mummies, the Institute held little attraction for most of us kids.  So when I think about the old Museum,  it’s impossible not to think of the movie, Night at The Museum.

Where you went next depended on your mood.. did you want to go visit the Iroquois Indian diorama exhibits?  I remember the first time I saw them; I swear it was if the pages of a National Geographic had come alive. There were Native American artifacts… huge pots and best of all, arrow points and arrowheads. Arrowheads were part of our Akbany childhood. Between digging in back yards and playing in the residential, commercial and public constructions sites that dotted the city for 2 decades, kids were always finding, them.  They were a staple of school “show and tell”.  But the Museum placed them in context.. you  understood that cool thing you found dated back thousands of years.  And then you looked back at the Iroquois exhibits and began to have a better understanding of the people who used them.

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You could visit the huge Cohoes mastodon; one of three on display. or maybe a stroll through the  taxidermy  animal collection (which I found sort of creepy.)  The paleontology collection was amazing.. rows upon row of cabinets of miilion year old fossils,  There were botany and biology exhibits; beautiful illustrations of the birds, flora and flowers we saw in our yards and park, and those funky mushrooms we saw growing in the woods.

mastdon

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The fossilized sea life and shells were pretty nifty. I  still love a curvaceous wentletrap or a nautilus.

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G-11366Every time I visited, there seemed to be something new.. or something I’d missed. I first fell in love with

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Pyrite

sedimentary rocks; fascinated by the layers and strata in limestone and shale.  But there were so many choices.. the sparkling Herkimer Diamond, the “man made diamond”, iridescent quartz of all hues, meteorites, minerals and rocks that shimmered like gold or looked like coral.

The was a tall (maybe 4′)  pillar of rock salt that showed the tongue depressions of decades of New York school children who had licked it.  And we licked it too, just like our parents and aunts and uncles had done before, (I always called it Lot’s Wife.)

There was a bunch of rocks that glowed in the dark in a small room.  Recently someone said that the State Museum was the perfect “group date” for young teen kids in Albany.  You could go into the little dark nook and steal a first kiss.  The Museum had it all.

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A friend’s father was the building superintendent of the State Ed Building; I’m still jealous.

If you are on Facebook,  you might want to join the  Facebook Group, “Albany …the way  it was”, to share  your memories of Albany, NY with others. Here’s the link.

https://www.facebook.com/groups/375351089205442/606197369454145/?notif_t=group_comment

The Albany Billiard Ball Company

The Billiard Ball factory was in my neighborhood when I was growing up.  It was located on Delaware Ave. just south of Whitehall Rd.  There’s a strip mall today.  It was a fixture of my childhood, belching smoke  (God only knows what was in it.)

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John Wesley Hyatt (1837-1920) was the inventor of the celluloid billiard ball. Celluloid, besides being the base of photographic film, was a substitute for ivory, long the prime substance in billiard ball manufacture. The Hyatt “composition” ball, with a celluloid base, dominated the sport until the 1960s.

It went out of business in the mid  1980’s.

Early Photo of Factory

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Women inspecting and packing billiard balls in the 1930’s.

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Marker Identifying site of factory. 

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The Billiard Ball Factory c 1985  (Courtesy of the Albany Times Union.)
The Billiard Ball Factory c 1985 (Courtesy of the Albany Times Union.)
Billiad Ball Co  factory workers late 1970s  (Courtesy of the Albany Times Union.. Bob Richey Photo Archive)
Billiad Ball Co factory workers late 1970s (Courtesy of the Albany Times Union.. Bob Richey Photo Archive)
Billiad Ball Co  factory workers late 1970s  (Courtesy of the Albany Times Union.. Bob Richey Photo Archive)
Billiad Ball Co factory workers late 1970s (Courtesy of the Albany Times Union.. Bob Richey Photo Archive)
Special U.S.  Bicentennial Billiard Ball (Courtesy of Joseph Caruso, whose mother workedin the factory at That time.)
Special U.S. Bicentennial Billiard Ball (Courtesy of Joseph Caruso, whose mother worked in the factory at that time.)

The Colonie Summer Theater

The Colonie Summer Theater was THE place for summer entertainment in the Albany area in the 1960’s.  It went by many names over the years: the Colonie Musical Theater,  the Colonie Summer  Theater, the Colonie Colosseum,   and the Starlite Theater, but to locals, it was always “The Tent”.  It was the  place many baby boomer kids saw their first theater production or professional musical act.   It was theater in the round .. there was a sense of intimacy.   When it opened, there were only about 2,000 seats. It was summer theater at its best.

Some nights it was hot and steamy and still,  but there always seemed to be a slight breeze blowing through the flaps of the brightly striped orange and green iconic tent. Other nights, the excitement of the show vied for attention with the crashing and booming of  thunder and flashes of lightning.

tent 1958   colonie

1958

My family went  to the Tent at least 3 or 4 times each summer. The memory of the sights and smells of The Tent are right up there with Coppertone, swimming pool chlorine and orange Popsicles when I think of summer.

I was raised in a family with a love for  theater, especially musical theater.My brother and I were weaned on Rogers and Hammerstein LPs and gorgeous Technicolor movie musicals.  But nothing prepared me for the my first real musical theater at The Tent.  It was  thrilling and exciting,,, there was a sense of immediacy that was wonderful.  The actors and actresses entered down the aisles… right next to where you were sitting. In that small venue, it was almost like they were performing just for me.  The sound of the pit band was bright and clear.

The Tent was started by Eddie Rich, a New York City producer, in 1958.  He created  a venue that brought headliners and somewhat colibniw 1958past their prime headliners from all over, and from all aspects of show business; actors, singers, dancers, musicians.  The first production was Damn Yankees.  We went. I remember being gob smacked, and wandering around the neighborhood for at least a week singing “Whatever Lola wants, Lola gets, and little man, Lola wants you” at the t0p of my lungs, anywhere and everywhere.

My most vivid memory is a performance of Brigadoon, the Lerner ad Lowe  musical about a small village in Scotland that appears magically, once every 100 years, and then vanishes again.   There is a chase  scene in Act II.  When it began in the Tent… the performers used very inch  of the theater, running up and down the aisles; we became part of the performance.  It was if there was no distance between us.. we, the entire audience and the  actors were one. For an 11 year old, it was one of the most thrilling experiences, something only avilable in such an intimate setting.  

colonie 1958

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Rich died in 1968, but the theater continued. Joe Futia took over operations and built a new, permanent structure in 1969 that replaced the old tent, but it was still theater in the round.  Even in the new building.. the farthest seat was  just over 50″ from the stage. The actual “theater’ events became  fewer over time,- but I recall seeing Gypsy and The Solid Gold Cadillac with Martha Raye in the 1970s.   Futia was terrific at booking the hottest bands and comedians of the time, at the peak of their celebrity.. Blood, Sweat and Tears, Eddie Murphy, Iron Butterfly  in one night gigs, but there were also Las Vegas style acts, like Wayne Newton, Tom Jones and Jerry Vale,  with week-long runs.

In the late 1970s, a revolving stage was constructed.  The acts started to change – a lot of country/western; there were boxing matches.  There were no more week-long productions. I think the headliners were getting ‘bigger” and didn’t want to play a smaller venue.

And then abruptly in the late 1980’s The Tent closed its doors.. mid-season.  The operators at the time canceled all remaining shows – leaving angry ticket holders. It re-opened for the 1988 season.. under the aegis of Northeast Concerts.  The first act was a double bill – Three Dog Night and America.  The Tent was now the Starlite Theater.

But the next decade was a struggle – there were several owners and it never managed to become financially  feasible again.  The halcyon years of the 1960’s and even the 1970’s were gone.  The baby boomers were occupied elsewhere.. with children and mortgages, and there were other options fro summer entertainment throughout the Capital Region and the Berkshires.

The last season was 1997; the Starlite never re-opened. It fell in to sad disrepair and was finally demolished in November 2012.

Notices and memorablia from some of the Tent performances:  1958- 1971.

 

1958-1959

colonie 1958 (2)colonie  1959  oklahomacolonie  bells 1959colonie  1959 jamaica

colonie rusell 1959

1958 1

1959  4

1959

1959N 3

CAN CAN 1958merry widow 1959

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1960-1962

colinie 1962 wildactecolonie 19601960  1colony 1962

Albany NY Knickerbocker News 1961 - 7485

Line at “The Music Man”  1962

music man 1962

colonie 1962

colonie 1962 (4)

colonie 1960 3

colonie 1961

colonie 1962 (2)

1960

Schenectady NY Gazette 1960 Grayscale - 2039

1963 -1966

Troy NY Times Record 1963 - 4543

colonie 1965

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colonie 1966 (2)

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colnie 1966

Albany NY Knickerbocker News 1966 - 7113

colonie 1966

Albany NY Knickerbocker News 1966 - 5712

Schenectady NY Gazette 1966 Grayscale - 7055

1967

colonie 1967 (3)

colisum dave clark five

Albany NY Knickerbocker News 1967 - 2330

1968

Albany NY Knickerbocker News 1968 - 6389

colonie 1968

Troy NY Times Record 1968 - 7401

Troy NY Times Record 1968 - 7304

1969/70

Schenectady NY Gazette 1969 Grayscale - 9351

Schenectady NY Gazette 1969 Grayscale - 6965

Schenectady NY Gazette 1969 Grayscale - 7383

Schenectady NY Gazette 1969 Grayscale - 7845

Schenectady NY Gazette 1969 Grayscale - 8300Schenectady NY Gazette 1969 Grayscale - 8679

1971

Troy NY Times Record 1971 - 5108