The Stoney Lane tavern on Van Vranken Avenue in Schenectady used to be Red’s place.
Alexander DeMarco bought the tavern in the city’s Goose Hill section during the late 1940s.
“He was a redhead, [and] everybody called him Red,” said Steven Barbro of Rotterdam, DeMarco’s son-in-law. “I even called him Red.”
Photos of DeMarco’s 41st birthday party from 1953 appeared in the Oct. 28 edition of Capital Region Scrapbook.” The Daily Gazette’s history department asked for help in identifying people in the birthday pictures and three other photographs. More than a dozen people telephoned or emailed names of their relatives and friends.
The DeMarco pictures seemed to spark the most interest. Initial callers said the party must have been for Francis Aloysius “Red” Collins, who was a bartender at Stoney Lane. In the group photo, Collins is the second man from the left. Just his head and shoulders are visible.
“The family said he was very well liked,” said Bonnie Doin of Niskayuna, Collins’ granddaughter. “He worked full time at the General Electric Co. as an inspector, then he’d go to work as a bartender. He had two full-time jobs.”
Collins lived at 1940 Avenue B, so the trip back home after last call was a short one. Doin said people could always recognize her grandfather. “He had flaming red hair, so he was Red Collins,” she said.
At first, history detectives could not figure out why a man in a bow tie was cutting Red Collins’ large cake. “Nobody seems to know who he is,” said Mike Bennett, current proprietor of Stoney’s Irish Grill, the former Stoney Lane. “It seems he might have been a local politician.”
Not quite. Last Monday, Barbro called with more accurate details. Alexander “Red” DeMarco was born Dec. 11, 1912, and sharp bow ties were favorite fashion statements. “He was a dresser, always dressed up,” Barbro said.
Barbro said DeMarco owned the tavern into the early 1970s. He died in 1991.
Margaret Alesio has been able to name others at the birthday party. Her father-in-law, Samuel Alesio, is the man in the suit standing to the right of DeMarco (as the viewer looks at the photo). Sam’s brother Patrick Alesio is the man in the suit to the left of DeMarco. The brothers owned American Body Works.
Santo Cannavo is in the second row, right under the “Y” in the “birthday” part of the sign.
“He came here as a young boy from Italy and met and married my mother, Mary Militello,” said MaryAnn Cannavo Hilton, Santo’s daughter. “He worked at the family business, Modern Shoe, which was located on Smith Street. The tavern was a very popular neighborhood hangout and still is to this day.”
Bennett added that there was some talk about the patrons from 60 years ago at his bar this week. “It brought back some memories,” he said.
Doin said Red Collins was 77 when he died Oct. 19, 1982.
The meat market gang
Family members also saw familiar faces in the group of butchers at Louis Cohen’s United Market, which was at 407-421 Hamilton St., just off Broadway at the corner of Dakota Street. Cohen, who opened the business in 1946, kneels in the center of the front row. Candeloro Dalonzo is next to him, at the left.
Joseph Konieczka is also in the first row, the last man on the right side of the picture. Sigmund Pachucki is in the back row, the smiling fourth man from the left. Thomas J. Walsh is standing in the back row, just to the right of the wrapped meat.
Ed Augustyniak Jr. of Rotterdam recognized his father, Ed Augustyniak Sr., the sixth man from the left in the back row, next to the hanging beef.
“He was a meat cutter his whole life,” Augustyniak said. “He was probably 25 years old there. He worked at a number of different markets in the area; he was really good at his job. We used to get some good steaks.”
The guys were posing for a promotion in 1949. Augustyniak said the sides of beef hanging in the center of the photo were part of a contest. Customers tried to guess the total weight for a prize.
Kathy Kuon also saw a face from her past.
“My father-in-law is the first man on the left in the front row,” Kuon said in an email. “His name is Charles Kuon and he died before my children were born and we have no pictures of him.” The family has one now.
Still no IDs
Two mysteries have not been solved, at least for now. The names of the 1948 “phonograph girl” and the 1950 gang from State Sporting Goods are still lost in time.