A guest post by Jack Guthy. Our thanks to Jack for sharing with us the lost soundscape of his childhood home.
In the mid-1940s, my family and I lived in an apartment at 273 Hudson Ave., across from the Melody Inn, during an era of live music and lively crowds, described in William Kennedy’s O Albany!
I was about ten at the time and remember it fondly. My bedroom was in an alcove in the front of our apartment, looking down on the avenue. During the summer, our windows were always open, day and night.
At the end of the workday, the Melody would come to life. Laughter and music and conversation would spill out onto the cobblestone street and echo up and down the brick canyon.
At night, I would fall asleep, reassured by this soothing cacophony. Closing time would bring a sudden increase in the noise level and then a strange silence.
The silence was broken by milk wagons from the Norman’s Kill Dairy down the block, heading off to make deliveries, wheels grinding and horse hooves clip-clopping and slipping on the cobblestones. The growling of trolley cars on Hamilton St. soon followed.
My Hudson Ave. youth was a rich concert in three parts.
Editors’ note: Many of Jack’s older neighbors did not share his affection for the Melody Inn. In 1948, they successful petitioned the State Liquor Authority to prevent the bar from reopening after it was closed for a violation of the liquor law. Grace E. Bovie, who owned 285 Hudson Ave., complained that during the summer months, when the Melody was open, she would “have to close my windows and stuff cotton in my ears in order to sleep.”