Focus on History: Amsterdam High School’s hardworking class of 1945

PHOTOGRAPHER:

The war that dominated their high school years was drawing to a close as the Amsterdam High School class of 1945 yearbook reported that students would not forget 1944’s D-Day assembly and the 1945 memorial service for President Franklin Roosevelt.

Richard Ellers, voted by classmates the wittiest and noisiest boy, witnessed the Presidential funeral and wrote a first person account for the school paper, The Item. Ellers, who died last year, became a journalist with Ohio’s Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper.

Class member Jesse Henderson served as a physician in Schenectady. The late Thomas Constantino became president of Amsterdam’s Noteworthy Company, which morphed into today’s Sticker Mule.

Voted senior class president was Louis DeLuca Sr. It was a good choice. DeLuca held the class together by forming a committee who organized reunions every five years until 2005.

Louis married his high school sweetheart, Madaline Smith, and they moved to Harvard Street where they raised four sons.

Louis worked in the printing business with his classmate Tom Constantino at Noteworthy. For 23 years, DeLuca taught printing and photography at Amsterdam High. He helped students gain employment in the printing industry.   

John Tesiero’s yearbook picture stated, “Pleasure before business.” Tesiero would reverse that prophecy to become one of the region’s most successful businessmen, president of Cranesville Block and owner of the downtown Amsterdam Riverfront Center. He and his wife had their own booth at the popular Raindancer Restaurant. 

Another member of the class was Roger Bowman who starred on the high school baseball team that had a five-year, 47 game winning streak which ended with a 1-0 loss to Norwich. 

Bowman went on to pitch for the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates. His major league career ended in 1955 and he died in 1997. 

Students endured a coal shortage during the war. It was so cold that classmate Durward DeGroff came to school in his pajamas.

The 1945 class roster reported that my oldest cousin, Myrna Cudmore, wanted to be a missionary and probably would be “saved.” She married Baptist minister George Hawthorne, whose family had moved to Amsterdam from New Jersey to work in the carpet industry. Myrna and George’s sons, Joel and George, also became Baptist pastors.

Myrna Iris Cudmore Hawthorne passed away peacefully at age 95 in her home in Silver Spring, Maryland June 16. Her daughter Peggy and family lived across the street. 

Myrna’s son George had died May 30 at age 65. Myrna’s husband George passed away many years ago. Both George the father and George the son struggled with Polycystic Kidney Disease.

Myrna was the only child of Stanley and Viola Cudmore of Amsterdam, who spent the last years of their lives in Silver Spring with Myrna and her family. Stanley had come to Amsterdam from Torrington, England, with his father Harry in 1911. Stanley and Viola, a hairdresser, lived on Arnold Avenue. Stanley worked for Herbert Singer at Amsterdam Printing. 

Myrna went to Oneonta State teachers’ college and taught elementary school in five states including New York and Maryland. As a minister’s wife, she served in many churches alongside her husband, including a church in Gloversville.  Her faith and her family were very important to her. 

Myrna and I had periodic phone chats in recent years, talking about family and friends she knew in the Amsterdam area. As our relatives passed away there were some subjects that only were recalled by Myrna and me.

Myrna attended the Montgomery Hills Baptist Church in Silver Spring for over 50 years. Because of pandemic inspired electronic communication, we were able to watch her thoughtful memorial service via Zoom. 

Categories: Opinion

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