On Christmas Day in the late 1940s we used a machine called the Recordio to make records to send to Aunt Winnie and Uncle Al Gulloni who, with Al’s daughter Sylvia, had recently moved to Inverness, Florida.
First sold in 1939, the Wilcox-Gay Recordio, made in Charlotte, Michigan, enabled consumers to make their own records by using a microphone or audio from an embedded AM radio.
Wilcox-Gay sold blank records in metal or plastic.
Johnny Cash and Les Paul supposedly used these player-recorders in their early careers. My uncle had operated an appliance repair shop in Scotia and moved to Florida to advance his retail career.
Our Recordio might have been a gift or at the least we got a deal on it. Unlike later cassette tape recorders, you couldn’t record over a Recordio Disc once you created it.
That was a problem in our case in that as a young child I was a show-off, fond of off-color words. My father would say, “Bob, say Merry Christmas to Aunt Winnie and Uncle Al.” I would respond by saying, “Poop!”
The Recordio made the move when our family relocated up the hill to Amsterdam’s Peter Lane in 1957, a few years before Wilcox-Gay went out of business.
At some point our machine and Recordio discs were discarded.
One of Amsterdam’s holiday sights during the industrial heyday was the lighted outline of a Christmas tree on the Clock Building on Prospect Street, headquarters of Bigelow-Sanford Carpet.
Richard Ellers, now of Ohio, recalled a cold Amsterdam December in 1943. Ellers said the snow crunched underfoot. He listened to the Salvation Army bell ringer and traffic on the street below his family’s East Main Street flat. “I can still hear the clink-clink-clink of snow chains,” he said. “Occasionally every third or fourth clink would be counter pointed with a double thunk, which was the sound of the ends of a broken chain slapping the underside of a fender.”
During World War II Mohawk Carpet sent gift boxes to each of the mill’s soldiers. The 1943 box included candy, playing cards and a greeting card from company president Howard Shuttleworth.
The city had a Christmas parade in 1947 featuring a balloon train. A picture shows parade watchers spilling out onto East Main Street to view the engine.
The Mohawk Mills Chorus appeared on NBC television in 1949 singing Christmas tunes with Roberta Quinlan on her Mohawk Carpet Showroom program.
At midnight Mass on Christmas Eve, the main lights at St. Casimir’s Roman Catholic Church on East Main Street were turned off, smaller lights were turned on and candles were lighted. A parishioner recalled the church looked magical.
The matrons at the Children’s Home orphanage on Guy Park Avenue in the 1950s asked each child to list three things wanted for Christmas. One resident remembered getting paper dolls and white socks.
In the 1950s Amsterdam held a Christmas Festival at Coessens Park in the East End, organized by Mayor Thomas F. Gregg. Santa talked to the children and animals were brought in from an Adirondack tourist attraction.
In the 1950s Larrabee’s hardware store on Market Street sold Lionel and American Flyer model trains at Christmas. Each brand installed a model railroad layout.
In 1962 Auction City on the Amsterdam-Schenectady Road advertised it was displaying the largest Christmas stocking in the world, over 6 feet tall.
When Amsterdam High School social life was dominated by sororities and fraternities, a high point was Phi Delta Sorority’s Christmas formal. In 1963, the event was held at the Century Club on Guy Park Avenue. The girls asked boys to attend.