Category Archives: Schenectady


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Freihofer's receipt

Everyone in the Capital District remembers Freihofer’s. In my mother’s day and before, they were the major home-delivery bakery. You put the Freihofer’s sign in your front window and the truck (and before that, the horse-drawn wagon) would stop and bring fresh bread, cookies and cakes right to your door. Even when I was a child in the early ’60s, the Freihofer truck still came by. At that time they were also famous for a local children’s television program featuring Freddie Freihofer. Every child dreamed of appearing on that show. Freihofer’s still exists, but no longer as a family owned bakery. Now the name may be as well known for the nationally prominent women’s 5K road race as for their breads and cookies. There’s no more home delivery, alas.

This receipt, like some of last week’s entries, was from my grandfather’s short-lived drive-in restaurant in Aqueduct.

Schenectady Gazette

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Schenectady Gazette receipt 2
So while we’re enjoying a trip through my grandfather’s receipts folder, let’s have a look at this stylish invoice from the Schenectady Gazette. This is his second notice to pay for a classified ad in the Gazette in 1957. There’s a lovely cut of the Gazette building (alas, now gone), and the gentle but firm reminder that “This advertisement was charged to you as an accommodation, and prompt payment is expected. May we have your remittance in the next day or so. Thank you.” No business today asks for anything in the next day or so.

Schenectady Union-Star

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Schenectady Union receipt
Almost exactly 54 years ago, my grandfather took out a classified ad in the Union-Star, Schenectady’s evening newspaper Most likely the ad was for his drive-in restaurant near Aqueduct..
The Union-Star shut down in 1969, theoretically becoming part of the Albany Knickerbocker News (which became known as the Knickerbocker News-Union Star). I don’t think most Schenectadians cared much for getting their news from an Albany newspaper. The Knick News closed down in 1988. The Union-Star’s offices and printing plant, located on Clinton Street, right next to the Schenectady Savings Bank, were torn down almost immediately after the paper closed to make a parking lot for the bank.

Ter Bush and Powell

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Ter bush and powellTer Bush and Powell was once one of the most well-known insurance firms in Schenectady and surrounding areas. They had offices throughout New York State. No more. Whatever is left of it is now part of a company headquartered in Wilmington, Delaware, just like everything else. (And if you think all that headquartering makes Wilmington a shining city on the Christina River, I can tell you different.) The Ter Bush and Powell name was unceremoniously dumped in 1984, after only 78 years of prominence. And this ghost sign, which for all I know may be gone by now too.

Dying ain’t getting any cheaper, either

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Funeral receipts 005
While we’re plowing through piles of bills, receipts and credit cards, let’s have a look at this invoice for my great grandfather’s funeral expenses. Today the Baxter Funeral Home is part of a chain, but in 1963 it was still being run by Eugene Baxter. Why did they choose Baxter when my great grandfather lived in Scotia (in one of the older buildings in the village, still standing) at the time? No clue.
The font of the typewriter used to type up this invoice was quite unusual, by the way. There were very few typewriter fonts back then (it wasn’t until the IBM Selectric came along with its ball head that changing fonts became practical on a typewriter), and most of them were some variation on a standard oldstyle (meaning evenly weighted) serif.

Whatcha gonna do when the rent comes round?

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Rent receipt
My grandfather once, for a very short time, ran a drive-in restaurant on Aqueduct Road outside of Schenectady. it was right about where the bike path crosses Aqueduct Road, where there is now an auto parts business. His landlord (Ken Williams?) didn’t know how to spell my grandfather’s last name (he wasn’t the only one, though the spelling hints that perhaps he couldn’t pronounce it, either), but maybe it was okay because $65 a month, even in 1957, doesn’t seem like a lot of rent for a commercial property. On the other hand, Aqueduct Road was hardly a highway at the time, and even today doesn’t seem like the kind of place where you would plop down a drive-in restaurant and expect it to do any kind of trade. It didn’t.

If you don’t know, Aqueduct was named Aqueduct because it was once home to, what else, the Rexford Aqueduct. The Aqueduct carried the Erie Canal across the Mohawk River, from Rexford on the Saratoga County side. Remnants of the old structure still remain alongside the current Route 146 bridge.

Need your receipt?

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Wallace Armer receiptFor you youngsters out there who may never have seen one, this is what receipts used to look like. If they were to have any detail at all, they were handwritten, usually duplicated using a sheet of carbon paper tucked into the receipt pad. This one from Schenectady’s gone but not forgotten Wallace Armer Hardware is unusually legible.

Mohawkville: I Want To Go To There

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1862 Schenectady Directory Mohawkville.png

1862: “At Mohawkville, in the town of Rotterdam, situated 2-1/2 miles south of Schenectady, one of the healthiest and most splendid locations for a village in the state, is the thread and twine manufactory of Henry M. Crane.

“The number of inhabitants  at present is about 300. The grounds of Mr. Crane are superb, being laid out in parks and magnificent drives of various lengths. Mr. C’s business we find, extends through every state in the Union. Persons wishing a nice drive will be very much gratified and surprised at the beauty which this little village affords, and will always find Mr. C. willing and ready to show them through his grounds.”

Not sure where Mohawkville was, or whether Henry Crane is related to Cranesville (which is on the north side of the river).

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Groceries and Insurance

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1862 Schenectady Directory Carley groceries and insurance.png

Well, I think it’s a little interesting that in 1862, A.F. & G.C. Carley, wholesale and retail dealers in family groceries, actually billed their dealing in wines, brandies, gins, bourbon, Monongahela & magnolia whiskeys above their flour and boneless pork offerings. They had their priorities. And while you were sampling the Monongahela, you might step next door (or maybe it was in the same store) and see to your life and fire insurance.