Monday, September 28, 2009

Downtown Utica NY memories

Been a lot of changes in Utica NY downtown but the most memorable, of course, was the season of Christmas shopping. Throngs of people were elbow to elbow on the sidewalks and crossing the intersections. Remember when the Boy Scouts of America stood on both sides of the intersection holdng bamboo poles to restrain the shoppers when they arrived at the intersection. And, although there were traffic signals, the Boy Scouts synchronized their bamboo poles raised up and down with the traffic light. The boy scouts took their jobs seriously. They stood ramrod straight, always looking ahead. Reminded me of the Guards at the Buckingham Palace in London.
There was one person who also took his job to heart. And that was Johnny Martorella, an elevator operator of one of the three elevators in the First National Bank Bldg, now named the Adirondack Bank Building. In its heyday, the elevator operators were required to wear uniforms. And John, although an endomoph, was extremely kind and considerate of his passengers. I recall once when I was in his elevator, a mother and child were also there. Once the elevator began its ascent, the child began to cry and complain the elevator was going too fast. Johnny stopped the elevator, turned to the child, assured the child he would drive very slowly, not too worry. And he did. What a guy. At Christmas time, Santa Claus was extremely generous in the presentation of Christmas gifts. Santa was representing the tenants of the building. Then automation reared its ugly head, Johnny obtain employment in the Mayro Building, Genesee St and Bank Place, then that place installed automatic elevators, then to the Gardner Bldg where England and McCaffrey Drug store was on the ground floor. That buildng used an odl clunker but the die was cast and Johnny was forced to retire. Johnny was a small person but had a gigantic heart. You can visit my website, to view a black and white 16 MM movie on Utica, 1941.

1 comment:

brian bluff said...

Wow. Great post. Most of these events occurred before I moved here, but its nice to be aware of the good old days!!