In response to a recent column on the rye bread at Maldutis Bakery in Amsterdam’s East End, Park Hill native Tom Pikul wrote that Third Avenue in his neighborhood was baker’s lane.
Park Hill had a large population of Polish Americans a generation ago who patronized Belmont Bakery, Allen’s and SD Bakery.
Located at Belmont Place and Third Avenue, Belmont Bakery was originally operated by Samuel and Katherine Wojnar.
At the end of World War II, their daughter Albina, who worked for the U.S. Signal Corps, married Marine Cpl. Raymond Piech, who grew up on Amsterdam’s Reid Street.
Ray Piech operated the bakery after the war, specializing in rye bread but also making wedding and birthday cakes. He and his wife moved to Broadalbin.
Pikul said, “He had the most delicious rye in town in my humble opinion. It was a rich glossy light-brown crisp crust with a delightfully elastic dough and super tangy and pleasantly chewy. A real delight. I’d always eat a couple of slices simply plain. It’s sad that we’ll never taste it again. Ray died in his nineties in Florida.”
Allen’s Bakery at Third Avenue and Grand Street in 1931 was operated by Anna Allen, widow of Joseph Allen.
Pikul said, “They had an excellent, very tasty rye loaf and were also known for their delightful pastries, especially the spice cake. Nate, from Poland, ran it with his wife and two sons, Kenny and Rich, as well as the Lis brothers who drove the trucks and helped with the baking. Rich still makes great rye bread to honor his father.”
The third bakery was SD, at Third Avenue and Park Street, near the former Bigelow-Sanford carpet mills.
Pikul said the bakery was run by a Polish family and made excellent rye bread. “They had two beautiful beveled glass countertops which they wouldn’t sell upon closing unless you bought the house with them!
“When they did go out of business long ago, all of a sudden the laundry hung out on the clotheslines on the hill had no soot on the wash. For years everyone blamed the paper mill, but the bakery used lots of coal.”
In response to the Maldutis Bakery column, Carol Natale wrote, “Getting rye bread from there was a treat in our house.”
Lithuanian-American Amsterdam native Ben Kroup especially enjoyed the light rye sold by Maldutis, “Covered with slabs of cold butter, a thick, warm slice was a meal in itself.” He said Maldutis bread was on the menu at the former Nicholaus Restaurant in downtown Schenectady.
My cousin Sylvia Gulloni Easterling wrote, “I remember this bakery from the early 1940s, going to pick up the bread. We lived on John Street.”
Longtime East Ender Emil Suda wrote he and his mother often passed by Maldutis Bakery walking home from downtown. He said the shop got his attention “probably for the neat arrangement of breads in the two windows, one on each side of the center door.”
Suda said, “I commented (one day) on the delicious looking bread in the window and perhaps we should get a loaf? My mother took me up on that thought, purchasing a loaf of rye which was shared that night at the supper table.”
And reader Carol Slezak wrote, “My aunt and uncle, Helen and Al Pikul, worked at the Federal Bakery. It was on Main Street between Grants and the (big bank) building. When we were growing up, for our birthday parties, my uncle would make us colored bread for the sandwiches. I am in my 70s and still remember the pink, green, or blue bread.”