The Little French Church Albany NY

There once was a little jewel of a church, the Church of the Assumption, located at 107 Hamilton Street. In its location there is now a parking garage for the Empire State Plaza. It was known as the Roman Catholic French Church. It was originally named L’Assumption de la Ste. Vierge.

The church was formed in the early 1860’s by a group of French Canadian emigres who left Canada t come to the United States.

The Church was established in 1869 . The first structure burned and it was re-built in 1892.catholic-page265It was demolished in 1963. Early records were maintained in both Latin and French. The parish was re-created as Our Lady of Assumption Church in Latham. Here are some photos of the 1892 church interior and a photo printed in KN on August 15 1944; a man giving thanks for the American liberation of Paris. There is also a poignant interview with the long time Pastor of the Church.. just before it went under the wrecking ball.

assumpt stained

assumoptioin 4

assumption interior

assumptioin

assumpton aug 15 1944

church od the assumptioin  june 29
Interview with Monsignor Grattan June 1963 (Albany Knickerbocker News – fultonhistory.com)

catholic-page271

See http://www.olalatham.org/PDF/History%20Part%20I.pdf for additional information, the source of many of these imagss

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The Public Market Albany NY

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Albany NY Open Air Market early 1800s by James Eights

 

In the  early 1800’s Albany’s open air public market was located at the intersection of State and Market Street (now Broadway).

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 Over time the market are moved north, as real estate in the City center became more costly. By the early 1880s  it was held once a week and located at the top of the State St. hill, just below Eagle St. and the State Capitol.

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 By the late 1880’s it was re- located  near the base of the Madison Ave .  In the early 1890s, over some opposition who wanted located closer to the Hudson River and railroad lines,   it was relocated to the Lyons Block.   This was a large open area below the Lyon’s Printing Company Building.  It was bounded by Grand, Hudson, Beaver and Daniel Streets.  In the early 1930’s, there was again sentiment to move the market farther south,closer to the River. Those efforts were unsuccessful, and in the mid 1930’s the market was enlarged, through the demolition of buildings on Philip and  Grand Streets.  The market remained in that location for about 30 years.  However, the Lyons Building was demolished in early 1964 to make way for construction of the Empire State Plaza, and the land around it appropriated for the same purpose.

I think my last visit to the Market was in 1963, when  I went with my grandfather to buy flats of petunia to plant for my grandmother for Mother’s Day.  I was about 12, and had no idea I would never see it again.

Here’s a reminiscence by Charlie Mooney, a columnist for the Albany Knickerbocker News, about the old Public Market.

Albany NY Knickerbocker News 1964 - 1326

1890s
late 1880s
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c. 1890
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Lyon Building when first constructed in 1892

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AFD Fire Dept. Hook & Ladder #1 on parade. Public Market  Looking northeast on Beaver and Grand St. October 1910 albany ny early 1900s .
AFD Fire Dept. Hook & Ladder #1 on parade
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c. 1910
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1912

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market place grand and beaver

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West Point cadets drilling in the Public Marketplace 1918
1920s
1920
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Albany Open Air Market c. 1922

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1185259_10201289338266856_1247889850_nMarket  in the 1930s

1930s  beaver and grand  1
Overflow from Lyon’s Block on to Market St. mid-1930s
1933
1933

lyons

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1936

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1961 A couple of years prior to the demolition

demolition january 1964 lyons

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.)

Rich and Mike-Vietnam. Semper Fi… in Life and Death

A U.S. Marine, Mike DeMarco, killed in Vietnam in April, 1968, who wanted to be buried with his buddy, Rich Rockenstyre, another Marine and good friend, killed in Vietnam in August, 1967.   He sensed his own imminent death, and begged Rich’s mother  to allow him to be buried next his buddy when the time came.

They were 2 among a group of about 7  boys, all friends, who went off to the War,  3  of whom died, as did others from Albany.

buddy

rockenstyre  demarco  1968-1  funeral

RICH

rockenstyre obit 1967rocky oct 67

Mike

demarco 1968  april 17   part 1mike april 17  oart 2

See my blog post about the other  35 from Albany who died. Not Just Names on the Wall

Albany NY  on the Vietnam Virtual Wall

Albany NY
CPT THOMAS JAMES BERGIN SP5 CHRISTOPHER BROW 1LT STANLEY ALTON BROWN
PFC ROBERT GEORGE BURRELL SP4 CHARLES CHANDLER LCPL MICHAEL GREGORY DE MARCO
CPL BERTRAM ANTHONY DESO SP4 RALPH JOSEPH DI PACE LCPL WILLIAM FENTON DI TORO
LT RALPH PETER DUPONT Jr PFC JOHN CHARLES FIFFE SP4 EDWARD ARTHUR FINLAY
PFC JOHN WILLIE GLADNEY SP4 KEITH ROBERT KNOTT PFC CLIFFORD GEORGE LABOMBARD
LCPL RICHARD JAMES LEAHY MAJ THEODORE R LOESCHNER Jr MAJ HAROLD SHERMAN LONERGAN
LCPL ASHTON NATHANIEL LONEY PFC HANS JORG RUDOLPH LORENZ PFC KEVIN JOSEPH Mc ARDLE
PFC ARTHUR GERALD Mc NALLY PFC FRANK MELECA SP4 RICHARD JOHN MOSLEY
SSG DANIEL EUGENE NYE SFPFN JOSEPH STANLEY OTT SP4 LEWIS CHARLES OUELLETTE
LCPL RICHARD ROCKENSTYRE SP4 THOMAS KEVIN RYAN CPL WILLIAM MICHAEL SEBAST
SP4 DONALD JAMES SHEEHY SP4 GERALD HOWARD SLINGERLAND SSG ROBERT JAMES SMITH
GYSGT ANTHONY NICHOLAS VALENTE CAPT WILLIAM MEADON VAN ANTWERP Jr CPL JOHN JOSEPH VENNARD
CPL SAMUEL WILLIE WILLIAMS SP4 ROBERT J WINTERS

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

The Paradise Show Boat .. The Floating Night Club

The Paradise Show Boat

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3For three years, the Paradise Show Boat Club was THE place to go in the Capital District.  It booked some of the biggest acts  and exuded a glamour and vitality unique to the 1930’s.

The Paradise Show Boat started out as  a 5 masted schooner called the “City of Portland”.   When she was launched  in 1916 she was the largest single-deck wooden vessel ever built in the United States. She weighed more than 4000 tons and was over 300 feet long.   The City of Portland was commissioned into the United States Navy during World War I.  After the War end she hauled cargo. mostly in southern waters near New Orleans,  various Florida ports and Central America.

However, in 1924, on trip in the Northeast, she became water-logged  in the Hudson Highlands off the New Jersey coast.  She ended up,  badly damaged, at the docks in Perth Amboy,  N.J. 

In late 1930, she was purchased  by Edward Berry and John Moncello with the intent to turn her into  a floating pleasure boat in Albany.  She was towed up the Hudson to the port of Albany, near the Albany Yacht Club. Her 5 masts were reduced to 3.   Major renovations were envisioned.  There would be a dining room,  dance floor, miniature golf course and tennis courts;  all the amenities one might find at the time on an ocean-going cruise ship.

Lloyd Vanfbenscoten, a local man from Altamont (a small town outside of Albany),  was engaged to decorate the ship. While he was waiting for the ship to be ready for his work, he set up camp in Albany and painted the wonderful old murals on the walls of the old Boulevard Cafeteria  (now Ristorante Paradiso – how coincidental is that?)  on Central Ave. and Robin St.

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In the photo below,  the City of Portland is docked in Albany, near Madison Ave and Riverside Park. 

 

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The intended renovations did not materialize quickly. For a while she lay at anchor in the Schodack Creek. The proposed fittings were much scaled back  to a just dining room and  a dance floor.    Finally, in 1933,  she was anchored and ready for business in Troy, not Albany.  Albany City officials would not permit her to be moored in the Port of Albany. She was towed across the River and found a home at  the bottom of Fulton Street in Troy.  The Paradise Show Boat was open.

cp 2 1933The Paradise soon became a wildly popular local venue, offering major talent and drawing large crowds.   The major headliner  to play the Show Boat was  the wonderful Cab Calloway and his Cotton Club Orchestra.

cp 1935

Cab Calloway affiche

cab-calloway-and-his-orchestra-1936-1-m

 

Cab Calloway and his Orchestra

Cab Calloway.. REEFER MAN

http:///www.youtube.com/watch?v=D44pyeEvhcQ

Another headliner was Ina Ray Hutton and her Melodears. She was  one of the only female band leaders, with an all  female band. Hutton toured with the Melodears for five years.  Known as the “Blonde Bombshell of Rhythm,” she often danced and sang as she conducted. Ina was known for fabulous gowns, ranging from the glamorous to the almost scandalous.  The audience expected sex appeal and she gave it to them, often changing costumes 3 times within a show.

cp 1935 ina

INA RAY HUTTON

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The Melodears

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Troy NY Times 1934 - 1522Most of the other bands that  played The Paradise were well known,  from their recordings and radio broadcasts. They included Ted Blake and Bennie Meroff, who had close connection with Jack Teagarten and Bix Beiderbeck , and the Blue Barron, who would go on to have one certified hit in the late in 1940’s, “Cruisin’ on the River. 

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But  there were other acts.  Some nights the lineup looked like a Broadway revue of the time, and others, more like a classic night club floor show.  There was a “house band” comprised of local musicians; it played regularly on WGY.  There were  fan dancers and  vaudeville acts like the Gould Sisters from the old  Orpheum Circuit who sang and did musical impersonations.   Carlton and Juliette were a Latin dance duo from Havana who were said to have popularized the Cha Cha in later years. Phil Regan was the “singing Irish Cop”, a handsome tenor who went on to appear in a number of movies in the 1930’s and 1940’s.  Gypsy Nina was a well-known  dark beauty who sang and played the accordion.

Most often the acts made the circuit in and around New York City, Long island, Upstate New York  and New Jersey in  night clubs and supper clubs.  Some, like Edith Murray, a singer, appeared in one of the first one reel  “talkies”.  Others, like Mildred Roselle,  a blues singer, appeared in Broadway revues,  clubs, and was a recording studio singer.

Some of the music was sweet, perfect for dancing “cheek to cheek”. but there was plenty of jazz, swing and blues.  There was something for every audience; “society singers”  to acrobatic acts.  While some performers were ‘regulars”,  most of the acts changed regularly  so there was always something new. There were tea dances on week-end afternoons; charities and club booked the Paradise for fund-raising and special events.

Charlton and Juliette

Binghamton NY Press Grayscale 1940 - 2715  carlton ND jULIETTE

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GYPSY NINA

http://www.britishpathe.com/video/gypsy-nina

phil regan thge singing cop

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Phil  Regan  NICE TO SEE YOU

[ youtube= http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EU-YzirGbis]

I think my favorite act is Elvera Gomez and her Canadian Rockets.. if only for the name.. but there is a great graphic in the ad too.

plattsburgh-daily-press-1935-november-1936-april - 0373

1934

Troy NY Times 1934 - 3453Troy NY Times 1934 - 3549

Troy NY Times 1934 - 3944

1935cp 1936

Schenectady NY Gazette 1935 Grayscale - 6285

1936

Schenectady NY Gazette 1936 Grayscale - 1174

Schenectady NY Gazette 1936 Grayscale - 1174

cp 1936

In the Show Boat’s last summer season, 1936, the

In summer, 1936, the Paradise moved to Crescent Beach,  about 5 miles north of Albany, up Route 9, to a site on the Mohawk River. However, it appears that, while she was towed back to Troy in fall, 1936, she never re-opened.

cp 1936 4

It  was the Hudson River  itself that did in the Paradise.  She survived the spring floods  of 1936,  and being smashed by millions of tons of ice that clogged the River in the  winter.   But it was the possibility that she would break her moorings and smash into the Congress Street Bridge, destroying the only direct automobile and bus route into Troy that made the Mayor of Troy and his Police Commissioner demand that the Paradise be moved in December, 1936.  By this time the Paradise seems to have been acquired by new owners.  The demands for her removal went unheeded  several times.  FinTroy NY Times Record 1973 a - 3690 2ally, in 1937  the Paradise was sold at auction for scrap.  

cp 1

cp 1036 3

cp 1937  1sr