Brothers Joseph and Martin Dybas opened the Music Box at 18 Market St. in Amsterdam in 1946. Martin decided to start the music store after coming home from serving in World War II.
Records were hot items at the Music Box, especially with the introduction of long-playing records in the late 1940s. The store had listening booths where customers tried out the latest hits before buying them.
A grand opening advertisement said the store carried instruments, accessories, novelties, sheet music, instruction books, records, albums and needles.
The Music Box boasted, “Professional musicians in attendance at all times.” Joseph taught guitar. Both he and Martin played with popular dance bands of the day, Marty Fontana’s Knights of Rhythm and Butch Robertshaw’s Orchestra.
Amsterdam native Joe Inglese recalled learning how to play the guitar at the Music Box in about 1964 when he was in seventh grade.
Inglese wrote, “I expressed to my father an interest in taking guitar lessons. My dad's close friend, the late Joe Iannotti, was an accomplished self-taught guitarist and advised us that Joe Dybas would be a good teacher. So it was that I started taking lessons from Joe Dybas.
“Walking into the Music Box was like a trip back in time. Both Joe and Marty were a wealth of knowledge. Joe was very patient and encouraged me each week to practice the lesson and did not push me on until I had mastered it. I still have those basic guitar books with Joe's notes for me in the margins.”
The brothers were Dybases on both sides of the family. Their mother’s maiden name was Antonina Dybas and Antonina married John Dybas.
Antonina sang the old Polish songs to her children at their home on Crane Street on Reid Hill and most of her offspring were musical. Her son Walter played trumpet in local polka bands. Son Alexander played the saxophone but was more into finance. He was secretary-treasurer of Amsterdam Federal Savings & Loan, commonly known as the Polish bank.
Daughter Virginia Dybas Czelusniak spent many years singing with the highly regarded Paderewski Singing Society of St. Stanislaus Church. She also sang with a choir at the Inman Center.
A music-related document from the Dybas family is a 1937 program from the 10th anniversary concert of the Mohawk Carpet Mills Band. Alexander Dybas played saxophone and brother Martin played clarinet.
Another Dybas relative is former city alderman and supervisor David Dybas. In addition to his political interests, David Dybas is an accomplished accordion player. When he was younger, he played with bands including the Hi Tones, Musicannes and Paul Capp Combo.
In opening the Music Box, Joseph and Martin Dybas were entering into competition with a long-established Amsterdam store that also was on Market Street, Morrison & Putman. When urban renewal forced businesses to close or relocate in about 1970, the Music Box closed. Morrison & Putman, established in 1900, relocated and for some years was in a building at Division and Wall streets.
THE MEDICINE SHOW
Doctor Wood’s Medicine Show came to Amsterdam in the 1930s and 1940s, according to several people who were young children at the time.
Dr. Wood set up at a parking lot on Park Street near the Bigelow-Sanford carpet plant. Sometimes the show took place on a field at the city limits on Locust Avenue.
Attractions included a woman with a huge snake, exotic dancers and a humorous skit called “Ten Nights in a Barroom.” There was a contest to find the person who could scream the loudest. Salesmen hawked cure-all medicines, but there was no charge for the show.