Cudmore: The South Side Servicemen’s News

PHOTOGRAPHER:

The front page story in the Servicemen’s News from February 1945 eulogized the pastor of Amsterdam’s Mount Carmel Church, Rev. John Reidy, who died that month.

Father Reidy was remembered for his judgment and advice during his 16 years as pastor.

He also was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan.

“The body lay in state at Mt. Carmel Church where an honor guard chosen from the many societies of the church kept vigil,” wrote the News. The priest was buried at St. Agnes Cemetery in Cohoes and Rev. Harold McKeon, at least temporarily, was handling spiritual duties at Mt. Carmel.

Full of newsy community events, sentiment and occasional humor, the Service Men’s News was dedicated to the “South Side boys” from Amsterdam in World War II.

Another item read, “Harold Sweet (the ice man) was still traveling with 1944 truck plates when apprehended by the State Police. His only comment, ‘Sorry, officer, I have new ones but I have been so busy delivering ice to war workers that I haven’t had time to put them on yet.’  P.S.—No fine. Case dismissed.”

The Fifth Ward Service Flag Committee put out the News and Angelo “Susie” Sardonia was managing editor.

Some speculate Sardonia’s nickname stemmed from a crush he had on a girl named Susie.

His daughter Maryann Salm said the nickname could have come after her father formed his band in the 1930s — Susie’s Washboard Band, also known as Susie’s Swingsters.

Susie’s Washboard Band was a hit at the 1930 Sportsmen’s Show in Amsterdam and at Leggiero’s gas station on Bridge Street, where the band drummed up business on Wednesday nights.

Sardonia worked at Chalmers Knitting Mill and its successor Montco, heading the knitting room, dye house and maintenance.

He also co-owned a tavern named Susie’s on Bridge Street across from the mill. He was married to Helen Reichel and they had a son and two dughters.

Salm said, “Dad was never drafted. I think The Servicemen’s News was a way he could help. That little newspaper was quite an undertaking.”

The News reported that Tony Fabozzi broke his shinbone in the final minutes of a basketball game between St. Mary’s Institute and Amsterdam High School.

Tony had scored 19 points when injured.

St. Mary’s won the game, the talk of the town for days.  The editor commended sportsmanship shown on both sides.

 “This department takes its hat off to Sgt. Al Peters, who recently returned from the South Pacific and who donated a pint and a half of blood for Mrs. (Tony) Alexander,” wrote the News about a woman who had an operation at St. Mary’s Hospital.

“Hurrah for our boys who are doing so much to bring comfort to anyone who is in need regardless of race, color or creed. Mrs. Alexander is resting comfortably as we go to press.”

The Mohawk River had given up its ice pack in February, “Our sympathy to the Public Works Department, who soon will be ridding the streets of the cinders spread on during the severe freezing weather.”

After the war, Sardonia was instrumental in building the Fifth Ward Memorial Park on Bridge Street. He served over 20 years as Fifth Ward alderman, from 1944 to 1948 then from 1958 to 1973, when he lost an election to Lawrence Morini.

Longtime friend Bert DeRose recalled that in one campaign, Sardonia organized a Kettle Band, young people banging on tin cans and buckets drumming up votes for Sardonia.

Sardonia’s wife Helen died in 1968. In 1972, Sardonia married Margaret Schultz, a widow with two grown children.

Angelo Sardonia died at age 76 in 1987.

Categories: News

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