Amsterdam resident James J. Sheridan has contributed memories of war hero John Blanchfield, who died last November at age 88. Blanchfield was a German prisoner of war who led 100 American prisoners to safety at the end of the World War II in 1945.
Sheridan said Blanchfield and his brothers were good looking. “All were scholars and athletes and all had a great sense of humor. They came to school impeccably dressed.”
Their parents were James and Teresa Blanchfield of Trinity Place. James Blanchfield was circulation manager of the Recorder.
Sheridan said his mother, Ursula, had a daily routine when she sent her children to school at St. Mary’s Institute. “I lived on Market Street at the time and when my mother lined my two sisters and me up at the door, prior to leaving for school, she always checked us, to see if we had clean underwear on and took a bobby pin to our ears. Her comment was always the same, ‘You kids can look just as good as the Blanchfields if you try.’ They were the yardstick used to measure how far you had to go in this world.”
Praying to Kateri
Sheridan said he suffered shattered legs and a fractured skull when hit by a truck after running out into the road in front of St. Mary’s Church on East Main Street when he was 9 years old.
Sheridan wrote, “My mother was a staunch Catholic and took me to the Auriesville Shrine six times and had the relics of Katherine Tekakwitha and Father Isaac Jogues applied to my legs and in a few months I was walking.”
A job in a day
Adelmo Camacho arrived in Amsterdam from Puerto Rico on a Sunday in June. It was 1950 and industrial decline was still some years off. Camacho was working at his first job the next day, making pocketbooks for Central Leather.
“When I came here, you could have a job, quit the job and get another job in that same building with another company,” Camacho said. “If you didn’t have a job here it was because you didn’t want to work.”
When the Amsterdam Rugmakers played at Mohawk Mills Park in the 1940s, admission was 40 cents and a scorecard cost 5 cents. The park today is named Shuttleworth Park in honor of Herbert Shuttleworth, carpet mill executive and former president of the Rugmakers.
My parents, Clarence and Julia Cudmore, attended many Rugmakers games. The firemen who were at Engine 6 across from our flat on Pulaski Street have said my father was disappointed that his son was hopelessly non-athletic.
“You were so clumsy,” one of the firemen told me at a gathering to honor him and other World War II veterans. My father never made an issue of it.
The late John Szkaradek recalled a woman named Charlotte Snyder who attended every Rugmakers game and rang a loud cowbell. An older gentleman who worked as a carpenter was at all the games, helping the umpires call balls and strikes.
As a youngster, Szkaradek tried to get into Mohawk Mills Park for free by finding baseballs that had been hit out of the park. If that didn’t work, he and other children resorted to peepholes in the park fence.
Free admission to local football games played by the Amsterdam Zephyrs was easier. “All you had to do was ask one of the players to carry in their helmet,” Szkaradek said.
When circuses came to town, they paraded up Church Street to Karp’s Park on Crouse Street. According to Szkaradek, free admission could be secured by helping the circus set up.
Bob Cudmore is a freelance columnist. Opinions expressed in his column are his own and not necessarily those of the newspaper. Reach him at 346-6657 or firstname.lastname@example.org.