Reminiscences of
Dave's Grill in Troy

Many thanks to Bill McGrath of Clifton Park, Saratoga County, NY, for
contributing his reminiscences of this Troy landmark of the 1940s and the 1950s.

Dave's Grill

I wonder if some of you may remember Dave's Grill?

Dave's Grill was on 5 Cross Street, just up from another well-known Troy grill, the Snuggery Inn. Cross Street, for those not familiar with Troy streets, is the side street near Marty Burke's South End Tavern.

Dave's Grill was a popular spot for families on a hot summer night. Cars would park all over the road in front of the grill, and the wife and kids would sit in the car while the husband went into the grill to get drinks. He would come out of the grill carrying a beer tray of drinks and perhaps a small box (not bag) of the old-time Blue Ribbon potato chips. Does anyone remember them? The parents would sit in the cars and enjoy their drinks while the kids would play games on the quiet back street. As kids ourselves, we who lived near Dave's Grill would join in and play hide and seek etc. with the children. There would literally be dozens of cars parked there, with everyone sitting in their cars enjoying the hot nights.

As children, we would leave our house on Burden Avenue and walk through our back yard to go visit Mary O'CONNOR, who was my Great-Aunt Mame, and her brother, Charles O'CONNOR. If we wanted soda from the bar, there was a small passageway with a telephone that led to the bar. You had to knock on the door with a coin, and eventually a bartender would come to the door and take your order. As kids, we would sometimes bring a bucket to get beer for our MCGRATH grandparents who lived next door to us on Burden Avenue. My grandfather, Thomas MCGRATH, and his wife, Nora KENNEDY MCGRATH, both from Thurles, County Tipperary, Ireland, would enjoy their beer with friends from Ireland, sing songs like "The Maid of Sweet Carew" and have a good cry in their beer.

I imagine it was a hard life in the O'Connor homestead. There were no hot water, no refrigerator (only an icebox) and no central heating. In the cold weather, Charlie would have a coal fire in the stove in the sitting room, where Mame presided in her rocking chair alongside a large table which was under a large colored glass dome. As the night wore on, Charlie would heat bricks on the stove which would then be carried up to warm the beds in the unheated upstairs rooms. If we got a little rambunctious, Mame would give us a warning that "Charles will give you the gate", so we then would quiet down.

The O'Connor home with the attached Dave's Grill was torn down more than 40 years ago now, but I still have a vivid impression of the buildings and the good times we had there growing up. One memento I still have from the building is a photograph of the Burden Water Wheel, when it was already a ruin and most likely being dismantled. I found this photo in the O'Connor home. All my O'Connor and McGrath ancestors worked at the Burden Iron Company.

The owners of Dave's Grill were Dave DUFTY, who was born in England and died in Providence, Rhode Island on April 6, 1961, and his sister-in-law, Mary C. O'CONNOR, who died in Troy on October 12, 1963. Dave was married to Julia O'CONNOR. Mary ("Mame") and Julia were sisters of my grandfather William O'CONNOR and were my great-aunts.

The grill, which was open for about 20 years, was attached to the side of the O'Connor family home. My great-grandparents were Timothy O'CONNOR, born in Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland, and his wife, Catherine MCCORMICK O'CONNOR, born in Dunbin, County Louth, Ireland. They lived at Cross Street from the 1870s until their deaths in 1912 and 1923. My mother, Mary Elizabeth O'CONNOR MCGRATH, even lived at Cross Street with the extended O'Connor family for her first few years, until her parents, William O'CONNOR and Mary CARROLL O'CONNOR, moved behind the Cross Street house onto Burden Avenue. My mother spent the rest of her life at 739 Burden Avenue, and when she married James MCGRATH, the boy next door at 741 Burden Avenue, they lived all their married life on the second floor of 739 Burden Avenue.

© 2003-2004 Bill McGrath

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