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More on Raymond Overbaugh, the gunsmith

By Bob Cudmore
Monday, February 20, 2012

The Feb. 4 column about artistic gunsmith Raymond Overbaugh led to responses providing more information and an appreciation of Overbaugh’s skill.

Overbaugh modified German Mauser rifles into deer-hunting firearms and did other gun work at his shop and home on Route 5 near Cranesville. When Route 5 was modernized, he and his wife, Olive, and son George moved to Tribes Hill.

John Roberts, of Fort Johnson, said Overbaugh’s shop in Tribes Hill was in a one-car garage on Second Avenue Extension that was converted into a machine shop. Roberts’ father, Richard, was a gun dealer who had his retail operation, Roberts Enterprises, on Second Avenue Extension.

After Raymond Overbaugh’s death in 1960, his son continued working at the shop until it was taken for the expansion of Route 5. George Overbaugh died in 2008 at age 81 and was living on Stoner Trail Road.

His obituary reported that he had a deep interest in guns and old cars, and he enjoyed playing banjo and keyboard.

Floyd King wrote that he is the proud owner of a Ray Overbaugh rifle, modified from a German Mauser and other parts.

“Every deer that I shot, went down, and I never had to chase a deer after I had shot it,” King wrote.
King wondered how many hunters in the area still have Overbaugh rifles. His rifle has the ebony and ivory decorations Overbaugh used to make his firearms distinctive.

RADIO PIE

Back when Amsterdam radio station WCSS was on Midline Road, legendary disc jockey Bill Pope was lamenting on the air that people didn’t bake pies any more.

Eleanor Kosinski, who lived on Midline Road, was in the midst of her weekly pie baking at that moment. According to her daughter-in-law, Karen Kosinski, “When one came out of the oven, she sent her son Daryl pedaling his bike down the street to deliver a hot one to Bill Pope at the station!”

After starting as a sports reporter at WGY in 1944, Pope went on to be one of the most popular early rock and roll disc jockeys in Albany in the 1950s. Making a gag out of his baldness, the Schenectady native became “Curly Bill.” Even when he was in his 40s, Pope had such rapport with young people that he was known as “Mister Teenager.”

In 1961, Pope left Albany and moved to Amsterdam to manage a new radio station, WAFS. That station today is WVTL.

After six months, Pope left WAFS for a radio job in Glens Falls. Soon, he was back in Amsterdam, selling commercials and hosting music shows on WCSS, then managed by the late Phil Spencer Sr.

Spencer said that Pope never let longtime vision problems slow him down: “We used to do 85 percent of our business in Amsterdam back then. I would drive Bill downtown and park behind Bosco Greco’s gas station opposite the post office. Bill and I were the only salesmen. I’d work one side of the street. He did the other. We’d meet in the afternoon, and I’d take him back to the station, where he did his Rolling Home Show.”

Pope left WCSS in 1976 to work for Joe Isabel at Gateway Cablevision in Amsterdam, where Pope did a television talk show for more than a dozen years.

On his record shows, Pope told stories about musicians and kept things moving with his trademark self-deprecating patter, “This is Curly Bill, micside, starting on that second cup of coffee. Bill, no one wants to hear that, let’s ask Vic Damone to step to the microphone and sing, just like this. One and two and ...”

Anyone with a suggestion for a Focus on History topic may contact Bob Cudmore at 346-6657 or bobcudmore@yahoo.com.

 
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