Focus on History: Beech-Nut sponsored Earhart flights
With yet another dead end in the search for what happened to aviatrix Amelia Earhart, it is worth noting that Beech-Nut Packing Co., then based in Canajoharie, was one of her sponsors.
Beech-Nut sponsored Earhart’s 1931 cross-country flights in the Pitcairn Auto Gyro. The craft combined features of an airplane and a helicopter.
Earhart is pictured in the cockpit of the auto gyro bearing a Beech-Nut logo in a photo at Canajoharie’s Arkell Museum. Beech-Nut paid for the 1931 cross-country flights to publicize its chewing gum. Earhart was to make a stop in Canajoharie that year, but no account could be found of the trip.
Earhart’s Lockheed Electra disappeared on a round-the-world flight in 1937. Beech-Nut now makes baby food and is located in the town of Florida.
Amsterdam native Michael Sargalis remembers an East Main Street pizza shop called Napoli’s opposite Lurie’s Department Store. “They had the first and last outdoor window service to order a large slice to go, while a chef threw dough up into the air,” Sargalis wrote.
Sargalis recalled that Amsterdam’s Mohawk Theater not only showed movies but also put on live shows in an empty lot on East Main Street. Michael and his brother Ed used to dress up as Yogi Bear and Boo-Boo to promote Saturday cartoons.
The Mohawk Theater opened in 1949, a remodeling of a theater known first as the Lyceum and then the Strand. The Mohawk was owned by the Schine Theater chain, based in Gloversville. Mayor Burtiss E. Deal cut the ribbon for the opening attraction, “Take Me Out to the Ballgame,” starring Frank Sinatra. The Fort Johnson Drum Corps played. Tony the performing horse was on hand, and there was a motorcade featuring the Amsterdam Rugmakers.
The Tryon Theater, owned by Brant Corp., also opened in 1949, on the site of the McGibbon block, leveled by a spectacular fire in 1943. “Champion,” Amsterdam native Kirk Douglas’s breakthrough boxing movie, was the opening attraction. The line to see “Champion” extended onto Church Street.
Entrepreneur Edward C. Klapp opened the 1,400-seat Rialto in 1917 at the corner of Market and Grove streets. In 1933, the Rialto became part of the Schine chain and was known for stage performances by the likes of Jack Benny and Burns and Allen.
In 1939, the Rialto was chosen as one of 27 theaters for the premiere of “Drums Along the Mohawk.” The movie also premiered in Gloversville, Schenectady, Utica and Albany. Stars of the film such as Lynn Bari, Arleen Whelan and Joan Davis came to Amsterdam for a parade and a welcome from Mayor Arthur Carter. The Market Street crowd apparently got out of control but no injuries were reported.
The Walter Elwood Museum of Amsterdam has in its collection the diary of carpet weaver James Kindon, who sailed for America from England in the 1890s.
“On Sunday, we encountered a very heavy gale of wind and rain,” Kindon wrote. “The rain was so strong that it blew the waves mountain high.” Kindon had a fiddle for entertainment on the crossing and “plenty of eatables” for the trip, including ham, biscuits, jam, brandy and ginger ale.
At first, Kindon worked in New Jersey but by 1892 had joined the ranks of carpet workers in Amsterdam. He kept track of the lengths of carpet he wove each day and time spent servicing the loom. He translated the pay he received in dollars into English pounds. He also kept a record of the girls he courted.
The 1910 city directory listed Kindon and his wife, Ada, as residents of 12 Eagle St.