I recently had a conversation with Guy Gamello, who I consider one of our town’s most revered individuals. He’s known to many of us locals as The Mayor of Main Street.
Since the 1970s, he has worked hard to successfully build and operate his barber shop on Main Street in Valatie, where he continues to work to this day with his daughter Linda. Many of you know him as a master barber, someone who transcends time and restores faith in traditional values that seem forgotten in our modern era. Perhaps you’ve viewed portraits from the Guy Gamello Collection that are on display at MHG, or during a haircut have had the pleasure to engage in conversation with him on topics such as his time in the military or what it was like for him growing up in our area as a young man.
Guy is a well-respected member of our community who’s been here long enough to see Valatie change many times over. In the not too distant past, Main Street Valatie was the go-to shopping center for all of Northern Columbia County, with two pharmacies, a grocery store, butcher, two clothing stores, and much more. While discussing the current environment, Guy explained to me how he coined the phase “survivor business” to describe how most businesses on Main Street are able to exist mainly due to relatviely lower rent costs when compared to other locations such as a shopping strip or a mall. Small businesses here, such as his barber shop, remain relevant because they offer services demanded by locals and visitors alike, while offering a genuine, small town nostaglic feel that is largely lost in current times.
Guy is an active member of The American Legion and he truly believes people are appreciative of Veterans and those who currently serve. He was drafted and served during the Korean War, following in the footsteps of his three older brothers who served in World War II. His brother Sam Gamello is credited with being the longest standing member of The American Legion and was honored as a Grand Marshall on Veterans Day several years ago. When the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, marked the start of WWII, Valatie had a population of 1200. During that time, our town lost at least 14 young community members who were killed in combat and many gold star moms were regretfully honored for their loss.
In the sprirt of Veterans Day, I strongly believe each of us should at least take a short moment from our busy schedules to honor and respect those who have served and sacrificed while protecting our country. Thank you, Guy Gamello, for your service and bravery, and for helping me put things into perspective. And thank you to all Vets, men and women, who have served our great nation. While we so often are preoccupied with distractions in our busy lives, be it family, work, politics, entertainment, etc., we all owe a debt of gratitude to our Veterans for their service protecting us and our way of life.