Two businesses on Forest Ave. in Amsterdam stand the test of time
Two long-standing Forest Avenue businesses, Mohawk Dairy and Tuman’s tavern, were profiled in the Rockton booklet published as part of the recent tour of that part of Amsterdam.
Zygmunt Rzeszotarski started home deliveries of milk in 1932 from his Mohawk Dairy operation on McNeir Avenue. At the time there were about 40 dairies in Amsterdam according to Dorothy Domkowski of Historic Amsterdam League.
The family built its own milk processing plant on Forest Avenue in 1962. By then only seven dairies remained in Amsterdam. The operation and the store grew. Paper cartons replaced bottles in 1974. In 2004, milk processing was turned over to Dean Foods.
Home delivery ended more than 30 years ago, but Mohawk Dairy trucks continue to deliver products to schools, medical facilities and restaurants in a large area in upstate New York. The Mohawk Dairy Store at 260 Forest Ave. has grown as a deli, beverage and grocery business.
Zygmunt Rzeszotarski turned over Mohawk Dairy to his son Richard, who in turn handed over the firm to his sons Rich and Robert. Rich is president of Mohawk Dairy today.
William Tuman, a Polish immigrant, founded the establishment that bears his name in 1932. He and his wife, Helen Skonieczny Tuman, turned the dry goods store purchased from the Noble family into a restaurant and bar at 373 Forest Ave.
The tavern, across the street from the upper mill of Mohawk Carpets, prospered. In later years Tuman’s son, also named William Tuman, operated the tavern with his wife, Nadia Papura Tuman, handling the kitchen.
For many years the family lived in the tavern building. The younger William Tuman worked at the family business while earning a degree from Siena College in economics. He also built a home for the family at 71 Clizbe Ave.
His daughter, Debbie Tuman Ficaretta, recalled that Teresa Scialabla and Rose Masaitis waited tables and Anna Saul helped in Tuman’s kitchen.
Frank Szykowski purchased the business in 2006, and Tuman’s Restaurant continues in operation today.
Duck and cover
Edward F. Cushman, Amsterdam’s school superintendent, was among educators who issued instructions for surviving an atomic bomb attack in 1950 at the behest of the state Education Department.
Cushman wrote in his memo that students should get to cover if an air raid warning was given before the attack — a public shelter, the nearest building, your own cellar, even a tree “to shield you from burns” or a thick wall that was to protect you against gamma rays.
If there was no warning and just a blinding glare in the sky, the superintendent advised pupils to turn their backs “and drop to ground with face on arm, eyes closed” for a full minute.
If indoors, the memo advised students to drop to the floor or under desks, tables or beds with their backs to windows “because of breaking glass.” If there was time, the advice was to run to the basement and stay down for at least one minute.
There was advice on what to do after an atomic bomb attack.
“Wash yourself hard, all over,” Cushman wrote. “Lacking soap and water, rub with paper or cloth. This cuts radioactive contamination (most likely after an underwater burst or if wind or rain spread air-burst radiation).
“Eat and drink nothing that has been exposed to radioactivity. Tight containers — probably cans — are the one sure protection. A Geiger counter will spot radioactivity in food or clothing.
“Obey the directions of proper authorities. They must aid wounded, put out fires, clear streets, repair communications and so on. In the first hours of a burst, you can help by doing just as you are told.”