Chronicling one of Amsterdam’s lost neighborhoods

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Categories: Fulton Montgomery Schoharie, News

 

Reader Karen Koehler Davis said that her father Frank “made the most delicious baked goods” at Koehler’s Bakery at 34 Guy Park Ave. in Amsterdam from 1948 to 1958.

Davis wrote that the bakery was across from the former St. Joseph’s Church: “My mother worked in the store attached to the bakery. I relieved her. [My parents] both worked long hours, starting during the night.”

Davis and her brother went to the family bakery for lunch each day when they attended St. Joseph’s School across the street. They even walked to the bakery for lunch when they attended St. Mary’s High School several blocks away.

“We feasted on pizza and the most delicious baked goods.” Davis said. She said she is “astonished by the quality and prices of baked goods today compared to the quality and prices my father charged then.”  

Koehler’s newspaper ads from 1955 promised “delicious, spicy and homemade” baked goods. Brownies were 8 cents. Large well-filled eclairs cost 12 cents. Banana cream, pumpkin and chocolate whipped cream pies were well under a dollar each. A seven-layer cake called “Do bash” cost 59 cents and Danish coffee rings were 49 cents each.

Nearby students from the former Theodore Roosevelt Junior High on the same side of Guy Park Avenue would frequent Koehler’s Bakery, Quandt’s and Shelly’s Markets for lunch and after school snacks.

Davis wrote, “Quandt’s had the best French fries I have ever tasted. Shelly’s had the most delicious fried oysters.”

The Koehlers lived in one of the lost neighborhoods in Amsterdam, where buildings were torn down during the urban renewal era in the 1960s and 1970s.

At the east end of Guy Park Avenue where they lived the buildings were demolished to make way for construction of a highway, Route 30 south, starting in 1968.

Historian Hugh Donlon said Amsterdam’s urban renewal projects consisted of new highways, a downtown shopping mall and public housing.

All three initiatives involved building demolitions.

Rosemary Cocca Forrest of Amsterdam also grew up living in the lost neighborhood at the end of Guy Park Avenue. Forrest was born in 1937 at 15 Guy Park at the corner of William Street.

Her family members have passed away, including her brothers Ted and Frankie, her mother Angelina DeConno Cocca and her father, Pelligrino Cocca.

Forrest wrote, “My father had his shoe repair shop on the south side of Guy Park Avenue until he relocated into our remodeled basement. I remember the sign: Peter Cocca’s Shoe Repair.

“The house next door to us was owned by the Petrucci family. Gus Petrucci owned a barber shop and on the other side of his business his wife Fannie and son Pete ran a grocery store. The penny candies they sold were quite popular with the kids.”

Forrest also had a high regard for Quandt’s French fries. She said when she was young Quandt’s would clean out their freezer once a week and made a lot of noise when the ice was thrown on the roadside to melt.

She recalled enjoying Quandt’s raw clams on meatless Friday. Forrest said businesses came and went in the neighborhood: Quandt’s and Shelly’s Market, ice cream stores and flower shops. There were plenty of residences on Guy Park and William Street and many friends to pay with.

When she traveled by car on what became Route 30 South or Market Street, Forrest would say, “I was born on this road.”

She added, “I shall always remember that block but it is the ‘lost block’ since many people have forgotten it and there are those who will never know it was there.”

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