South Side Service Men’s News
A poignant yet humorous publication from February 1945 has surfaced called Service Men’s News, dedicated to the “South Side boys” from Amsterdam n World War II.
The Fifth Ward Service Flag Committee put out the News and Angelo Sardonia is listed as managing editor. However, the four-page newsletter is signed by a woman named Susie, who may be Susie Sardonia who used to lead Susie’s Washboard Band in the 1930s and 1940s on the South Side.
Amsterdam native Joe Inglese found the Service Men’s News in old papers belonging to his grandmother.
The front-page story eulogizes the pastor of Mount Carmel Church, Reverend John Reidy, who died February 16, 1945. Father Reidy was remembered for his judgment and advice during his 16 years as pastor. He also was a Brooklyn Dodgers fan.
“The body lay in state at Mt. Carmel Church where an honor guard chosen from the many societies of the church kept vigil,” wrote the Service Men’s News. The priest was buried at St. Agnes Cemetery in Cohoes and Reverend Harold McKeon, at least temporarily, was handling spiritual duties at Mt. Carmel.
The News reported that Tony Fabozzi broke his shinbone in the final minutes of a basketball game between St. Mary’s and Amsterdam High School. Tony had scored 19 points when injured and St. Mary’s won the game, which was the talk of the town for days. The editor commended sportsmanship shown on both sides.
In the Men’s Bowling League, the Leggiero team was tied with the Columbians. Armory Grill was only four games out and the Altieri team had won 20 of 24 matches. The editor wouldn’t bet a “second handed apple” on who will win. Ernie Leggiero, Shep Romano and Nick Caputo (described as “the great giant of Ballston”) were leading in individual scores. The News reported that the runways were being cleared for South Side bocce ball play.
Dennis “Junior” Hassenfuss had broken his shoulder at work and was at City Hospital. Carl Agosta was home after two weeks recuperation at St. Mary’s Hospital in that era before shortened hospital stays.
“This department takes its hat off to Sgt. Al Peters who recently returned from the South Pacific and who donated a pint and a half of blood for Mrs. (Tony) Alexander,” wrote the News about a woman who had an operation at St. Mary’s Hospital. “Hurrah for our boys who are doing so much to bring comfort to anyone who is in need regardless of race, color or creed. Mrs. Alexander is resting comfortably as we go to press.”
The Mohawk River had given up its ice pack and the fear of flooding was passed, “Our sympathy to the Public Works Department, who soon will be ridding the streets of the cinders spread on during the severe freezing weather.”
Louis Martuscello and William Meyers of the Army and Earl Billington of the Marines had received honorable medical discharges and returned home. There were 20 South Side soldiers home on leave. Six men had left for basic training. The Fifth Ward Memorial Fund had passed $5000.
Private Phil Marone was convalescing at Fort Ord, California from a recent ailment and asked for letters from home. The News wrote, “Boy what vitamins mail contains. Here goes, Phil, for a hundred letters a day.”
Another item read, “Harold Sweet (the ice man) was still traveling with 1944 truck plates when apprehended by the State Police. His only comment, ‘Sorry, officer, I have new ones but I have been so busy delivering ice to war workers that I haven’t had time to put them on yet.’ P.S.—No fine. Case dismissed.”