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Scrapbook: Many enjoyed the Kelly clambakes

Scrapbook: Many enjoyed the Kelly clambakes

Time for a breath of summer during the chill of winter — and a clambake with Ed and Dan Kelly.
Scrapbook: Many enjoyed  the Kelly clambakes
Ed and Dan Kelly's catering crew keeps busy during a dinner, most likely at the Rotterdam Republican Club, around 1976. From left are Angie Fioriello, Jean Kesczy, Marguerite August, Ed's son Joe Kelly (at slicing machine), Julie Fioriello (partially o...
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Time for a breath of summer during the chill of winter — and a clambake with Ed and Dan Kelly.

Capital Region Scrapbook recently published a group shot of Ed and Dan with about 20 friends at one of their famous late-summer clambakes. Family members have sent along several others, and say the picnics were always held on club grounds owned by the American Locomotive Co.

People didn’t have to wait until August or September to visit the Kelly boys. They ran the family-owned tavern on Hattie Street, a business opened with their father — also named Dan Kelly — in 1942.

Family members remember the mahogany bar, wooden stools and knotty pine boards. When television became the darling gizmo of the day, the brothers invested so patrons could watch baseball games, pro fights, Milton Berle and commercials for Schlitz, Norelco and Chevrolet.

Dan Kelly provided entertainment — folks say if he talked to people even once, he would always remember their names. Ed was the chief cook, manager and bookkeeper.

The Kellys eventually began their clambakes. They also catered weddings and other banquets.

Joe Kelly, Ed’s son, was just a kid during some of the clambakes. He said the affairs lasted all day — food was available during the late morning and early afternoon, with the big meals coming later. There would be athletic contests and games of chance.

Joe’s sister, Patricia Kelly Smith, also remembers the Kelly picnic days.

“Clambake food was the best ever,” she said. “Morning sausage on rolls, vats of homemade clam chowder, raw clam bar. Chickens for the dinner were baked to perfection back at the restaurant and brought over.”

People who worked with the Kellys enjoyed their jobs and the brothers’ company. Group photos show bunches of smiling people after suppers were served.

Pat used to talk to the ladies who worked in the kitchen.

“They were hilarious,” she said. “Rose was my father’s right hand. She ran the downtown Kresge’s lunch counter for years and was a world class baker. I swear that these ladies told me everything I ever needed to know about life, in full detail.”

Ed Kelly died in 1975; Dan passed away in 1988.

“During the early ’80s, the corner bar was kind of going away,” Joe Kelly said.

The business was later sold to another owner — who retained the Kelly name. The business has been closed and the building shuttered for nearly 20 years now.

There are better memories.

“To this day, people come up to me and ask me about the old Kelly stuff,” Joe Kelly said. “It’s pretty funny.”

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