A By-Gone Era Revisted

Bob Landrio displays oldtime Mobil gas pumps and a 1948 Dodge Club Coup outside his Town Line Museum, 3261 Route 29 in Johnstown, which makes a perfect entree to memorabilia focused on 1962 but including many more years, evoking nostalgia for the past. Admission for tours is free by appointment. (The Leader-Herald/Eric Retzlaff)

JOHNSTOWN — Do you remember when regular gas was 28 cents a gallon, bread was 17 cents, milk 21 cents and soda 10 cents?

Town Line Museum on Route 29 can bring back those memories and many more.

Focused on 1962 and thereabouts, Bob and Deborah Landrio have room after room of scenes and artifacts that evoke recollections, such as a soda fountain, jukeboxes, an arcade with pinball machines, a grocery store, a working player piano and many other such memorabilia.

People approaching the museum for a tour immediately realize they are entering a bygone era when they see old Mobil pumps and a 1948 Dodge Club Coup.

Landrio said he chose 1962 because, he said, “it just seemed to be the year I enjoyed the most.”

“Gloversville was booming. You couldn’t find a place to park on a Friday night.”

“I had friends in the nighborhood, and we were all working on cars.” His dad bought him his first car for $10 when he was 13—a 1950 Pontiac. “I started tinkering with that.” And he built hot rods.

“Family was a big thing back then. In the summer we would go up to my grandparents camp in Caroga—cousins, uncles, aunts.”

Caroga was also in its heyday then, and many of his exhibits reflect what he saw there.

“I wanted everything to look like Caroga Lake,” he said.

He recalls that 1962 was a pivotal year when graduated eighth grade at what was once Our Lady of Mount Carmel School in Gloversville and entered the former Bishop Burke High School, also in Gloversville.

“At 13 and 14, boys were playing with toys and playing outdoors,” he said. “All of a sudden you weren’t playing with your friends” but taking girls to the movies.

The museum grew out of Landrio’s “fascination with old things,” he said. “I was interested in how things work. I was taking apart radios and cars and putting them back together again.”

“I never knew I would have a museum,” he said. “I loved to do restoration.”

That led to his starting a business called Solid Gold Amusements, through which he repairs and restores old coin-operated machines, such as jukeboxes and slot machines.

After his father-in-law died, his mother-in-law gave them seven acres on which they built the museum and his wife started a botanical garden to sell flowers and help people design their own gardens.

Landrio organized the museum into rooms with differing exhibits, sometimes adding manikins to simulate life as it once was. Period music creates the mood. Although his focus is 1962, he has some artifacts dating make to the turn of the 20th century.

Between Memorial Day and Labor Day, Landrio gives free tours by appointment, with a full tour lasting about two hours.

“The best groups I get are class reunion groups,” he said.

“Most people who have been here have been here twice,” he said. “People are saying ‘you brought back a lot of memories.’”

Learning is a two-way street. He informs people during the tours, but they often tell him things he doesn’t know, he said.

Speaking of the times he grew up in, Landrio said, “We lived in the best era with the best cars, the best TV programs, the best movies, the best songs. There was respect. You respected adults. You respected people’s property.”

Television has gone downhill, he believes.

“Everybody is either naked or shooting and blowing up things,” he said. “I hate watching TV.”

By Patricia Older

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