Hoxsie!

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Another wonderful ad from Hoxsie! George W. Hoxsie, “The Genuine Original,” ran the largest bottling establishment outside of New York (well, if it weren’t true he couldn’t print it, right?) at 25 Hamilton Street in Albany. That’s either the land of parking lots now, or it’s just possible that the Hoxsie bottling plant still stands. More research must be done!

Joel Munsell

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It’s not possible to be interested in Albany history and not to owe a debt of gratitude to Joel Munsell. He was a Massachusetts native who came to Albany in 1827 and established himself as a printer and publisher. In 1850 he began the publication of his “Annals of Albany,” which along with numerous other publications preserved the history of this ancient city at it was known in the mid-19th century. We happened upon his tombstone in Albany Rural Cemetery today while out for a bike ride. It’s been 131 years since his passing, and yet he is one of the authors I read the most. That seems accomplishment enough.

If you want to know more about the man, the wonder of Google books, which  presents us with his “Annals,” also presents us with a brief biographical sketch.

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Union Nurseries

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C. Reagles was no Louis Menand, but his Union Nurseries in Schenectady did have a wide reputation and his plants and seeds were sold by catalog all over. That Barrett Street address was probably pretty close to Union Street, hence the name. I like that C. Reagles and Son pledged themselves to use every exertion to render continued satisfaction to their customers and the public.

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Airway Motors

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I don’t remember ever hearing of Airway Motors, and a search turns up very little, but in 1940 at least they were a going concern right in the heart of Rensselaer, just a short hop from the Dunn Bridge. The space where they were located was likely obliterated by the new Dunn Bridge ramp in the late 1960s. A Chrysler-Plymouth dealer that apparently also dabbled in house trailers, they advertised in the Altamont Enterprise in the mid-1950s, which seems strange given the distance.

If they don’t have it, you don’t need it.

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1862 Schenectady Directory Walker Groceries.pngThe last great store in Schenectady to carry just about everything was Wallace Armer Hardware, which gracefully closed its doors about 20 years ago. But Armer was clearly descended from a long tradition of general stores in canal towns that carried a little bit of everything. In the case of James Walker’s store on State Street in 1862, that everything ranged from groceries to agricultural implements, house furnishing goods to wood and willow ware, rope, twine and cordage, coal oil and lamps, bird cages, fishing tackle, brushes, and who knows what else.

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Albany Beef

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In my experience, no one who has ordered a fish dinner in Albany, least of all someone who has ordered it in a pleasant riverside setting, appreciates being reminded that sturgeon were once so plentiful and such an important part of the food supply that they were referred to without irony as “Albany Beef,” nor do they appreciate the intimation that that fish fry on their plate might have more river sturgeon than ocean haddock to it. But once they’re fried they all taste the same.
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The Railroad Fireman’s Dream

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The Albany Journal printed an article in August, 1884 titled “The Railroad Fireman’s Dream”:

“A remarkable accident occurred to Mr. Douglass M. Irish, a resident of No. 49 Colonie-street, about 10:30 o’clock Wednesday night. He is employed as a fireman on the Central Railroad, and as he sat asleep by an open window he dreamed that he heard a shrill whistle of danger from a locomotive, which was blowing for a signal to cross the upper bridge. Instantly, without awakening, he leaped forward through the window, dreaming that it was his own engine, and that he was to reverse its motion. He landed about 10 feet below upon the sidewalk, at the very edge of an embankment 10 feet high. Several persons who resided down stairs were sitting upon the piazza near by and saw the man fall. When they reached him he was unable to rise. He sustained serious injuries both to his knee-pan and internally.”

Just a note for those who don’t know — a railroad fireman makes fires, he doesn’t put them out. The “upper bridge” is the Livingston Avenue Bridge, which features prominently in local history and my psyche. And the thought that there could be anything that would be described as a “piazza” on Colonie Street is a little mind-bending.