Cudmore: Future movie star liked a good doughnut


Izzy Demsky, who became the actor Kirk Douglas, went to Vidulich’s Bakery in Amsterdam from time to time in the 1930s for his favorite doughnuts.

Virginia Vidulich O’Brien also remembered that when she was attending high school at St. Mary’s Institute during the Great Depression, she had an in with the basketball team because of her family’s business.

Her father John would give his youngest daughter the key to the 63 Guy Park Ave. store when St. Mary’s played at home.

After the game, “Vidge,” as she was called, led a parade of basketball players and girlfriends to the bakeshop where they enjoyed the treats inside.

“It helped with my popularity,” said O’Brien, shortly before her death in 2010.

Her father was a native of Austria who came to America with his parents at age 14 in 1898. Born into a family of seven, he and his wife Josephine Guiffre Vidulich also had seven children. Josephine was a native of Genoa, Italy.

Vidulich was baking in Amsterdam by 1919.  In 1930 John and his brother Anthony opened the 63 Guy Park Ave. bakery.

Eventually John became sole proprietor.

Doughnuts were cream filled, jelly filled or plain — plain doughnuts were three for a nickel. Vidulich’s also featured charlotte russe, pumpernickel and other breads, sticky buns, coffee cake or kuchen, plus special kuchen for Christmas and Easter.

In addition to his shop on Guy Park Avenue, near the former junior high, John Vidulich operated another bakery for some years on Market Street in the Rialto building.  His brother Nicholas was proprietor of a bakery at 300 Locust Ave. and his brother Martin operated the V & T Bakery also near the old junior high on Guy Park Avenue.

In 1953 John Vidulich’s health declined and the bakery was taken over by his son John, Jr.  The father died that year.  John Jr. relocated to the corner of Glen and Lincoln avenues on Market Hill.  A popular item in newspaper ads from the 1960s were Vidulich’s chocolate doughnuts.

The bakery closed in 1971 and John Jr. went to work at Dan Dee Donuts at 169 Market St. after selling his equipment to the new company. The matriarch of the family, Josephine Giuffre Vidulich, died that year.

In addition to his baking skills, John Jr. was a well-known local golfer.  His brother Larry Vidulich was golf pro at the Antlers in Fort Johnson, Amsterdam Muni and ultimately at the North Shore Country Club in the Chicago area.

John Sr.’s daughter Virginia Vidulich married Richard O’Brien of Glens Falls when he was a student at Dartmouth College. They lived in Saratoga Springs. Virginia worked for many years in press relations and other jobs for the Saratoga Harness Track.

She conducted tours for school children in the morning hours  She received kudos from Amsterdam sports columnist Art Hoefs in 1968 for her role in Howard Tupper’s television coverage of the harness track on WRGB television.

For 20 years she was the director of the Saratoga Harness Hall of Fame.  And she was the first woman named to the Communications Corner of the National Harness Racing Hall of Fame in Goshen, N.Y.

Amsterdam resident Diane Hale Smith visited O’Brien shortly before she died and took her sticky buns from a then new but now closed Amsterdam bakery, Dolci on Bridge Street.

“They got her personal seal of approval,” Smith said.

O’Brien recalled Smith’s mother — Dorothy Bennett Hale — who used to work at Morrison Putman’s Music Store on Market Street and oversaw listening booths where O’Brien and her friends could enjoy recorded music of the day for free.

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