There was trouble at the Ivy Leaf the night of Friday, April 11, 1947. The Ivy Leaf was a tavern at Forbes and Schuyler streets in Amsterdam’s East End operated by a woman named Smith.
It was a frequent after work stop in those days for my aunts, Vera Cudmore and Gladys Morrell. They lived together (with my grandfather Harry Cudmore) east of the Ivy Leaf on Forbes Street and worked west of the bar at the Fownes glove mill shipping room on Grove Street.
Patrons nicknamed the Ivy Leaf the Kneepad Inn. It was in a basement on a steep hill. Winter tipplers sometimes resorted to crawling out on their knees so they wouldn’t tumble down the hill when they hit the icy sidewalk.
My aunts frequently pointed out that they visited the Ivy Leaf for food and conviviality more than drink. In the 1940s, the tavern advertised a roast beef dinner with cabbage, mushrooms and all the trimmings for 25 cents.
Three police officers in two squad cars responded to what a Recorder newspaper headline called a “grill rumpus” at the Ivy Leaf in 1947. One was Sgt. Andrew Celmer, who went on to be police chief, another was Officer Adamski and the third was Officer Anthony J. Liberis.
Liberis’ son John said his father in later years would sometimes meet a man who had been involved in that brawl who would remark, “You threw me against a wall.”
The newspaper account was as follows: “The fracas was in full swing when law arrived and the participants who claimed to be separatists could not be distinguished from the belligerent group. After affairs has been brought under control, information gathered showed that efforts of one of the brass rail habitués to demonstrate a trick of some kind had brought on the disturbance, the hocus pocus having failed to meet with approval of the spectators.
“With more effective magic, the officers were made to disappear without arrests after a checkup showed there was no bloodshed.”
Officer Liberis was an Amsterdam native of Lithuanian heritage, born on John Street in 1918. His parents were Joseph and Ursula Liberis.
A strong man, Anthony Liberis lost out on a chance to take part in a major weightlifting championship when he was drafted in early 1941.
He volunteered for the paratroops and served with the 82nd Airborne in the Aleutian Islands, Anzio in Italy and elsewhere. His feet were almost lost to frostbite, a problem that came back to trouble him at the end of his life.
Right after the war, he joined the Police Department. He married Helen Pawloski, who had grown up on Forbes Street, at St. Stanislaus Church on April 28, 1946.
He also played football for the Amsterdam Zephyrs, injuring his knee and causing the police chief to warn him that he might have to choose between football and police work.
By the 1950s, Liberis had switched to the Fire Department, where he retired as a battalion chief in 1980.
John, born in 1947, was their only child. The family lived on Glen Avenue. John said his father sometimes would be tempted to switch jobs yet again to make more money at Amsterdam’s carpet mills. But his wife convinced him to stay in the fire service as he was building up a pension.
John married an Amsterdam woman, Susan Senko, and moved to Schenectady.
Helen Liberis died in 2001. She had worked at General Electric in Schenectady and three Amsterdam businesses: Peoples Silk Store, Lurie’s department store and Empire Devices. Anthony Liberis died in 2002. They were buried at Saratoga National Cemetery.