For most people, the story about George Senator is lost in time.
Not for Bob Cudmore. The longtime radio and television personality and author of several books about Mohawk Valley history knows Gloversville native Senator was living in Dallas on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated — Nov. 22, 1963.
Senator was close to one of the players in one of the nation’s greatest tragedies — he was rooming with Jack Ruby, who would later kill JFK assassin Lee Harvey Oswald.
The Senator story is one of the lost links to famous people packed into Cudmore’s new paperback book, “Lost Mohawk Valley.” The 192-page book contains about 80 photographs and stories about Fort Plain inventor William Yerdon, the Tamarack Playhouse, Amsterdam’s Bishop Scully High School and the valley’s old carpet mills, among others.
“It was so much a part of my life growing up and so many others,” Cudmore said of the famous rug manufacturers. “I wanted to kind of take a look back at the people I think in the past I’ve tended to, and maybe some of the other folks who write about Amsterdam history, have focused on the movers and shakers, the Sanford family, the Shuttleworth family. And those are good stories. I just wanted to get into more of the real people who worked there, including my father.”
That’s why Sue Fraczek is in the book. She worked in the mills during the 1940s, ’50s and ’60s and typically earned $45 a week.
“When I talked to her about her experiences, she emphasized the fact that she had another life,” said Cudmore, who also writes The Daily Gazette’s weekly “Focus on History” column. “She liked to read the classics.”
People might be surprised to learn the parents of Ed Sullivan, the famous Sunday night TV showman from the 1950s and ’60s, married in Amsterdam. And Samuel Goldwyn, the movie mastermind of MGM motion picture fame, once lived in Gloversville.
The Senator story is one of the highlights. Cudmore uses interviews Senator gave to the Warren Commission, which investigated the assassination, in 1964. George carried his connection with Ruby with anguish and anxiety. “I feel I will always be pointed at, if anybody knows my name of the nature of the condition that surrounds me,” he said.
Other stories are about the sweetheart relationship between Jessie Zoller of St. Johnsville — no relation to Schenectady education icon Jessie T. Zoller — and famous music composer John Philip Sousa.
“They really did love each other,” Cudmore said. “But her father forbid her from marrying Sousa because he didn’t think Sousa would amount to anything. Of course, he did.”
Fort Johnson’s speed skaters of 1940 are in the book, so are Teddy Roosevelt’s visits to the Mohawk Valley. Cudmore also wanted to include Bishop Scully High School. Like other places in the book, Scully only exists in memory.
“Bishop Scully [High School] was one of several Catholic high schools that, in actual fact, Bishop Scully opened in the ’60s,” Cudmore said. “This was the last school he opened and it was named for him, Bishop William Scully. The school didn’t last that long, from 1966 to 1990. I would say quite a few of the movers and shakers of today in the Amsterdam area are Scully graduates.”
The book is available at the Old Peddler’s Wagon gift shop in Amsterdam and book stores such as the Book Hound in Amsterdam and The Open Door book store in Schenectady, among others.
Cudmore will talk about “Lost Mohawk Valley” stories Saturday at 2 p.m. at the Schenectady County Historical Society at 32 Washington Ave, Schenectady. Admission is $5; society members are free.