Thursday, February 24, 2011

Before 3D ... Was Repopularized, Richard Copley Was Tinkering


Jim Kevlin/
Elaine Downing, Oneonta, tries out the glasses Stereopticon expert Richard L. Copley developed as a simpler way to enjoy the 3D experience.

At age 10, Richard Loren Copley bought his first photo darkroom, mail-order from Montgomery Ward.
As a high school student in West Milford, N.J., in the 1950s, he developed plans for a stereo tape recorder, which – as guitarist Les Paul was then doing – would also lay sound on sound.
One teen-age summer, he was a draftman for the Navy.
As he explained it in an interview, “I really enjoy the idea of recording life experiences as accurately as possible, both eyes, both ears, or whatever.”
So it was very much in character that, in the 1980s, he became intrigued with Stereopticon slides, those Victorian-era double images that, when peered at through a special viewer, turn flat images into 3D.
By that time, the former public-school teacher had retired from The Craftsman, a 150-artisan shop that he and wife Mary Ann operated on Dietz Street through the 1970s, to their Arnold’s Lake refuge.

First, a little background.
As Copley explains it, when we look at an object, each eye sees it from a slightly different angle.  That slight shift is what allows us to see things in three dimensions – height, width and depth.
The old Stereopticons duplicate that.
At the outset, Copley tried to create that slight shift with one camera and a couple of mirrors, with no success. 
So he went down to Woolworth’s, picked up a couple of $10 cameras, lashed them together side by side, ganged the shutter function, and there it was:  One snap, two images from slightly different angle, and ...
Eureka! 3D.
“I took pictures all over,” said Copley.
He’d mail the film out to be processed and printed, then would paste the prints side by side.
“I didn’t have antique viewer, so” – the tinkerer again – “I made a couple of viewers with cheap magnifying glasses.  One for myself.  One for each of my kids.” (Son David is now a physical therapist in Burlington, Vt., and daughter Annette Holahan is a school psychologist outside Rochester; both were Milford Central valedictorian.  There are eight grandchildren.)
Since, Copley’s collection has expanded, as he demonstrated at a lecture he delivered at the Oneonta History Center Sunday, Feb. 6, to a rapt crowd. 
There was a two-lens camera from the 19th century.
There was an antique viewer, along with three or four dozen slides from Oneonta and Cooperstown.  There was a second viewer from mid-century.  And there were inexpensive glasses frames, made of cardboard, one Saran Wrap-like lens red, the other green.
As the 20th century neared its end, Copley had become interested in anaglyphs – two exact images, but chromatically different, usually one red and one green.
With those glasses on, the eye covered with the red lens only sees the green, and vice versa.  The result:  Another way to achieve the 3D effect.
Anaglyphs evoked a boyhood memory:  Post World War II, some comic books used the method to allow young fans to view their superheroes adventures in 3D.  Very cool, indeed.
You can imagine that someone of Copley’s inquisitiveness wouldn’t be interested in just 3D.  As time passed, he wedded his Stereopticon discoveries with two of his early interests:  English and history, his sub-subjects while studying to be a teacher at William Paterson University in Wayne, N.J.
Through the Web, he discovered the Library of Congress’ cache of Civil War Stereopticon images, made from the original glass negatives.  He downloaded them, restored the images and, using a free app downloaded from the Web, created the matching red and green images.
The outcome was a book, “The Civil War:  A History in 3D,” self-published in 2009.  Inside each dust jacket is one of those cardboard viewers.  You, the reader, yes, can experience the Civil War in 3D.
(Copley’s book is available for sale at the Oneonta History Center, The Green Toad Bookstore and The Farmers’ Museum gift shop, or through a Web site,
Since then, Copley discovered another online cache of Stereopticon slides, this one at the New York State Library’s Web site, and he downloaded, restored and recreated two dozen slides of Otsego Lake and Cooperstown, and of Oneonta, primarily interiors of churches, but also some street scenes.
He made common cause with Bob Brzozowski, Greater Oneonta Historical Society executive director, and is in the process of borrowing and transforming as many local Stereopticon slides as he can locate.
“I’ve always been interested in finding as many views as possible,” Copley said, “getting them out of people’s closets to where the public can see them.”
So if you have any, here’s your chance to introduce them to a larger world:  Copley will have his computer at the History Center 10 a.m.-noon on Saturday, March 5, to scan in any images the public may bring in.
He and Brzozowski are creating an album of the images that will be available for viewing at the History Center.
And if there’s sufficient interest, who knows?  Perhaps “Otsego County:  A History in 3D.”

IF YOU GO:  Richard Copley will copy your Stereopticon slides for inclusion in the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s permanent collection 9 a.m.-noon Saturday, March, 5, at the Oneonta History Center, 183 Main.

Angie Neilsen and Bill Swain sample Stereopticon slides after Copley’s lecture at Oneonta’s History Center.
Because of Cooperstown’s popularity as a resort, Copley found many Otsego Lake slides.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Gamble On Future? NO WAY!

With Puppets’ Help, She Teaches Kids Better Way To Make Million

Carol Mandigo, Laurens, a partner in Catskill Puppet Theater for 35 years, joined LEAF in 2009 and  is using her puppetry skills in a curriculum showing pupils in Oneonta and Cooperstown that there are more certain ways to make a million than gambling.  (LEAF, based in Oneonta, stands for “Leatherstocking Education on Alcoholism/Addictions Foundation.”)


Once upon a time, there were Three Little Pigs.
And once upon a time, Carol Mandigo performed with Catskill Puppet Theater before joining LEAF in November 2009.
Mix those two narratives and, for many Otsego County youngsters, the story will never be exactly the same. 
Yes, there’s still this Big Bad Wolf.  And the pigs, now named Clank, Frank and Click. 
The wolf advises Clank to build a house of cards (not hay), and Frank to building a house of poker chips (not sticks).  But prudent Click spurns the wolf’s advice and builds a sturdy house of bricks.
The wolf huffs and puffs, and Clank and Frank’s houses collapse.  Happily, they avoid being the Big Bad Wolf’s supper by taking refuge at Click’s.
The point is this:  Cards and poker chips won’t ensure security.
But Mandigo and LEAF Executive Director Julia Dostal’s curriculum, introduced at Oneonta’s Riverside and Valley View elementary schools in January and Cooperstown Elementary and Center Street School in the past few days, isn’t about scaring youngsters onto the Straight and Narrow.
Instead, she believes, “point people at where you want them to go.”
You may be surprised to learn that 38 percent of Americans believe that only by winning the Lottery will they ever be millionaires, but “the odds against that are astronomical,” Carol said.
Through the magic of compound interest, she continued, “kids have a chance to accumulate wealth in a real way.  They could be millionaires if they want to.”
A pack of cigarettes, for instance, costs $10 these days.  If instead of buying a pack a week, a 17-year-old invested the $10 at 5 percent, by age 27 he/she would have $7,000.
It may come as no surprise that Carol developed a puppet show to dramatize her point.
And with illustrations by Mark Drnek of Sweet Home Productions and a $6,500 grant from Wilber National Bank, she created a children’s book, “Click Saves The Day,” and a curriculum for fourth and fifth graders.
Mandigo launches the curriculum with a three-class introduction.
Class One begins with a pre-test, to get an idea of the youngsters’ attitudes toward gambling.  “Kids will know a lot more than you think about gambling,” Mandigo said.  “They just don’t know it’s a bad thing.”  The puppet show follows, then a discussion on the show.
Class Two, the book is read, with the kids taking various parts. A video is played showing a gambler, in such despair that he tries to throw himself over Niagara Falls, being rescued.  (True story.)
 But, in line with Mandigo’s approach, another video relates the story of a 14-year-old who developed a $50,000 portfolio by investing his allowance in Nike, video-game companies and other products he enjoyed.
In Class Three, the students discuss their ideas and dreams.  In a recent class, one boy wanted to be an architect; another, a “recycler.”  A little girl said, “I want to sing.”
Mandigo then departs, but teachers are left with a full curriculum that incorporates math – figuring out compound interest, for instance – social studies and literature.
The goal of the class is “financial literacy,” with avoiding such pitfalls as gambling to achieve life goals.
As they say in the $450 billion gambling world, however, the cards are stacked.
As the interview began with Carol, Julia Dostal had to dash off to Albany for an emergency strategy session:  In his budget message, Governor Cuomo announced the state will seek to generate another $3 billion in gambling revenues in the next year.
He also announced:  He’s eliminating $2 million in anti-gambling money dispensed by the state Office of Alcoholism & Substance Abuse Services.

Jim Kevlin/
Sweet Home Productions’ Mark Drnek illustrated “Click Saves the Day,” an updated “Three Little Pigs” fable.

Dedication Made Mount Otsego Ski Patrol Something Special


Joyce Ehrmann photo
Cooperstown Ski Patrol, Mount Otsego, circa 1962-63:  seated, from left, are Carol Ann Parshall, Fred Doolittle, Dr. Francis F. Harrison, George M. Ehrmann, Bill Leslie and Greg Hall; standing, from left, Dr. Alfred Jaretski and Bucko Clark

In the summer of 1938, Minot “Minnie” Dole of New York City and Greenwich, Conn., confided at great length with Roger Langley, who knew every name in skiing that was important. 
Minnie’s wife Jane and their family were at the Ely Camp on Upper St. Regis Lake in the Adirondacks.  It was here that Minnie Dole started forming the organizational requirements and regulations for a ski patrol. 
Minnie knew that the National Red Cross in Washington, D.C., was anxious to find a way in the winter sports field. The fledgling National Ski Patrol System (NSPS) would obviously be an ideal vehicle. 
A Red Cross member, Dr. C.M. Thompson, became the first NSPS medical director, and created the accident report cards to be filled out by a ski patrolman. 
He also wrote the original “Winter First Aid Manual,” copyrighted and published in 1938, which became the NSPS bible.
In any volunteer organization, incentive and reward for outstanding  and devoted service is essential.  Minnie Dole came up with the idea of two different types of ski patrolmen, local and national. 
A local patrolman would be eligible for promotion to national when he had proven qualities of leadership, devotion to patrol work, tact in handling problems with skiers, and proven efficiency in first aid.  
The 10th Mountain Division was formed because of this idea.  I might add, with a great deal of pride, that our son Eric is a lieutenant colonel with the 10th, and has been deployed to the war zone twice. Our other son Greg is a retired lieutenant colonel USMC. Joyce and I are very proud of both of them. 
In 1938, all existing Ski Clubs were asked to form their own ski patrols.  The National Ski Patrol was coming into national existence.
In November 1939, the Cooperstown Ski Club was organized with Dr. Francis F. Harrison as its first president and he and his wife, Carlotta, went to New York City to meet with Minnie Dole and learn how to form a local ski patrol, The Cooperstown Ski Patrol. I have a picture from 1941 showing Carlotta and Francis Harrison, Les Hanson, Ed Moakler and Lu Kio.
During World War II, Mount Otsego was closed.  As far as my research shows, it was started up again in the winter of 1946.  The Harrisons were in charge of the ski patrol with the help of their daughters, Barbara and Ann, their son Dirck, Les Hanson and Fred Doolittle 
Their daughter Barbara also helped teach skiing, and there are at least two or three other people involved, but I could not locate any records as to what their names were.
I do not have much information from the late ‘40s to the early ‘50s.  After this time frame though, the following people were on the ski patrol (as far as I can remember and my research shows): Ted Fuery, Nick Sterling, Dr. James Mithofer, Dr. John Mithofer, Dr. Alfred Jaretski and Fred Doolittle.
From the middle 1950’s until the area closed in the early 1980’s, participants included Dr. Harrison, Fred Doolittle, Dr. James Bordley IV, Bucko Clark, myself, Bill Leslie, Sheldon Hansel, Charley Michaels, Sam Hoskins, Dr. Douglas Barnes, Dr. Rod Carter, Ed Leslie, Greg Hall (former junior patroller) and Junior Patroller Carol Ann Parshall (for a few years).
Fred Doolittle was a national patroller and also served as section chief. Other national patrollers were Dr. Harrison, Bucko Clark, Harry Peplinski, Charlie Michaels and myself.
The Patrol was dedicated to helping the skiing public.  We tried to take excellent care of accident victims.  Skiing is a sport that is fraught with danger and you have to be careful, ski under control and know your limitations.
The Cooperstown Ski Patrol held refresher courses in winter first aid and CPR before each skiing season and during the season we would practice on the hill.  I even made a 8 mm movie on first aid in February 1968, 42 years ago, which I still have in my possession. We underwent training in what causes an avalanche and how to probe for possible victims.
The section we were in always had competitive first aid contests, and our ski patrol always did very well.
At the start of the day, patrollers would go up the T-bar and rope tow and make sure safety gates were working, so if a skier did not let go, he or she would hit the safety gate and the tow would stop.
At the end of a day’s skiing, we would do a sweep of all the trails to make sure that  all the skiers were down safely and not left on the hill.
Dr. Steve “Mike” Jas-tremski worked at the T-bar and at the end of the day he would ride down on his snow shovel, quite fast I might add. 
During the Cooperstown Winter Carnival, the patrol would sponsor a cross-country ski race from Mount Otsego to various places, such as the Hickory Grove Inn and Daring Dutchess (Dukes Oak).  We did this with alpine skis and it was quite a race.
We had cook-outs on the weekend and I would play accordion at noon time, for a rather European atmosphere.
Bucko Clark was a hang glider pilot, so sometimes when we were having a slow day we would fly hang gliders down the main slope with our skis on. 
The whole patrol was composed of a bunch of characters. The injured skier we took care of got the very best of care.  The patrol was made up of expert skiers who had skied the best that Europe had to offer and also out West here, in Vermont, and in New Hampshire at Tuckerman’s Ravine and Mount Washington.
Other people who helped us with  winter first aid were of course our wonderful physicians from Bassett Hospital, Paul Mullin (former section chief) and his assistant Dick Dunn from the Utica Ski Patrol, and Fran Combar (former section chief), Snow Ridge Ski Patrol (also one of the founders of the Otsego Sailing Club.)
In my article about Mount Otsego last year I forgot to mention that Jack Mitchell also helped to transport skiers.  Also Ed Gozigian, our local attorney, was a very gifted, stylish skier.
I have tried to make this history as complete as I can with the information that I have.  If I have left out anything important please call it to my attention.
The winter of 1981-82 was the last year of operation for Mount Otsego.  Poor winters had taken their toll.  Liability insurance quadrupled in just one year, competition from the larger  ski areas had increased, new equipment was considered, but in the end the financial burden was to high.  Mount Otsego closed.
It was a wonderful era that is long gone, but good memories will linger for many years.  As I have said before we had more fun than people should every be allowed to have.  Every member of the patrol was very devoted to serving the skiing public and Mount Otsego.

George Ehrmann, Richfield Springs, National Ski Patroller #3574, was a patrol leader for two terms at Mount Otsego, a certified winter first aid instructor & CPR.  In 2008, he was awarded a lifetime membership in the National Ski Patrol.

Winter Carnival Events At Clark

Bowling Tournament
Final Standings
1.  Kyle Amsden & Rich Potratz   1359
2.  Jeremy  & Laura Davidson   1336
3.  Dominick Zeh  & Bernie Zeh Jr.   1328
4.  Dominick Zeh  & Bernie Zeh III   1318
5.  Chris Harloff  & Mike Davis   1295   
6.  Spencer Vann  & John Vann   1291
7.  Wade  & Kim  Stahl     1274
8.  Gillas  &  Linden Summers   1267
9.  Chelsea  &  Cheryl Beckwith   1267
10.  Lucas Busse  &  Mike Boyson   1266
11.  David  & Peter French     1263
12.  Rachel  &  Bill Fort       1251
13.  Dennis Dibble III   &  Dennis Dibble Jr.    1244
14.  Noah  &  Jesse Greenblatt   1239
15.  Teddy Trosset & Michael DeSimone Jr.  1238 
16.  Reed   &  Drew Porter     1209
17.  Garrett  &   Mike Bonadies   1206
18.  Michelle   &  JoAnn   Zeh     1204
19.  Ashley  &  Margorie  Robin   1200
20.  Michelle Zeh  &  Katie Falk   1194
21.  Eric  &  Maria  Deysenroth   1191
22.  Ken   & Dwayne Stahl     1160
23.  Chelsea  &  Dennis Beckwith   1139
24.  Natalie  &  Steve Fountain   1121

Youth High Game W/HDCP  Kyle Amsden  256
Youth High Series W/HDCP  Kyle Amsden  717
Adult  High Game W/HDCP  Mike Boyson  307
Adult  High Series W/HDCP  Mike Boyson  725

High School Boys
Free Throw Contest
1st Sam Bowen
2nd Jake Chase
3rd Jason Cadwalader

Middle School Boys
Free Throw Contest
1st Jordan Gutierrez
2nd Jack Donnelly
3rd Thomas Schulz

Middle School Girls
Free Throw Contest
1st Mallory Arthurs
2nd Kristen Ratliff
3rd Caroline Leonard

Elementary Girls
Free Throw Contest
1st Amanda Parsons
2nd Abby Gutierrez

Winter Carnival Event Results

Here are contest winners at the 2011 Cooperstown Winter Carnival on the theme, “Sun, Surf & Snow.”

Raffle Prize Winners
1st Prize: Glenn Lane
2nd Prize: Steven Purdy
3rd Prize: Connie Mattice
4th Prize: Lorna Wilhelm

tropical Paradise Parade
1st Prize: Cooperstown Girl Scouts/Cub Scouts
2nd Prize: Cooperstown Graduate Program
3rd Prize: Susquehanna SPCA

Waikiki Watermelon-
Eating Contest
Youth: Ana Buchholz
Adult: Josh Karpoff

Island Indulgences
Dessert Lovers Contest
Audience Choice: Susan and Greg Roth
Best Youth: Maddie Curtis
Best Individual: Susan Carr
Best Restaurant: Doubleday Café

Aloha Means Goodbye
Chili Contest
Best Restaurant: Alex & Ika
Best Individual: David and Donna Borgstrom

Volcanic Blast
Chicken Wing Contest
Best Restaurant: Cooleys
Surf, Sun and Sand
Snow Sculpting Contest
Adult: Karl Dykstra
Youth: Rock Family
Business: Iverson Electric

Rip Tide Drink Contest
Audience Choice: Doubleday Café
Judges Choice: Vets Club

Cooperstown’s Got Talent
1st Place: Avery Aldridge
2nd Place: Mary Hage and Friends
3rd Place: The PC’s (Will Weldon and Peyton Carter)

Lip Sync Show
1st Place: Don Raddatz, Pat Dietz and The Court
2nd Place: Cooperstown Graduate Program (Andrea Cohen)
3rd Place: Diane Ducey

Surf’s Up Youth
and Adult Sled Races
8 and under: Isaac Greenblath
10 and under: William Freedman
12 and under: Annie Hage
15 and under: Jonny Hage
Adult: David Borgstrom
Overall Champion: David Borgstrom

Cheesecake Contest
1st Place: Sherry Wyckoff of Something Wonderful Catering
2nd Place: Myra Searles of Doubleday Cafe
3rd Place: Janet Faure

Smullens Run
10K Mens Champion: Mike Rutledge
10K Womens Champion: Nancy Potter
5K Mens Champion: Adam Melson
5K Womens Champion: Andrea Ulrich

Coloring Contest Winners
Ages 0-3 First Prize: Rose Crowson
Second Prize: Anthony McCoy, Kaleigh Davis,      Kellshya Roseboom, Devon Blush, Brighton Lance Logue and Layla Logue
Ages 4-7 First Prize:  Antonia Palmisano, Brooke Burrows
Second Prize: Vincienza Palmisano
Third Prize: Anna Greene
Ages 8-12 First Prize: Lucy Meehan
Second Prize:  Cate Nolan
Third Prize:  Gavin Lesko

HoF To Celebrate Black History Month During Public Schools’ Winter Break


Through exhibits, movies and artifacts, The National Baseball Hall of Fame is celebrating Black History Month Feb. 21-25, which is also winter break for local students.
Daily,  “Artifact Spotlight:  Remembering the Negro Leagues,” may be viewed on the third floor.  At 1 p.m. Wednesday, a special look back at the Negro Leagues is planned.
At 1 p.m. Monday, “There Was Always Sun Shining Someplace,” a film on the Negro Leagues that includes interviews with Hall of Famers  Satchel Paige, James Cool Papa Bell, Buck Leonard and others will be aired in the Bullpen Theater.
At 1 p.m. Tuesday, “Buck O’Neil and Black Baseball in Chicago” will be shown in the Bullpen Theater.
At 11 a.m. Wednesday, “Curator Spotlight: Pride and Passion,” features a tour through that exhibit by an HoF curator.  (30-45 minutes)
1 p.m., Thursday, a movie, “Pitching Man: Satchel Paige Defying Time,” in the Bullpen Theater.
The Hall of Fame is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m.  Admission gives entry to all offerings.  $19.50 for adults (13 and over), $7 for juniors (ages 7-12).  Members, children under 7, free.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

45 Reasons to Attend the 2011 Cooperstown Winter Carnival

1. You will finally have an occasion to wear the floral print shirt you got for Christmas years ago.
2. When is the next time you will be able to ride a wave in the dead of winter?
3. Be served breakfast at the Cooperstown Lions Island Pancake Breakfast Saturday and Sunday.
4. Support local businesses who have donated generously to make winter a little more fun.
5. Make some memories with your kids as you help them make a snow-surfer on the Village Library lawn.
6. Practice your hula
dancing during the Rip Tide Carnival Cooler.
7. Start your weekend off right by enjoying the
Carnival Fireworks Display over Otsego Lake.
8. Even your dog can get out and socialize with his puppy friends at the SPCA Dog Show.
9. Tire your kids out by letting them jump around in the Inflatable Bouncy House on Saturday.
10. That way you can stay out later at the Hang Ten Hangout and enjoy great bands at the local area bars.
11. Have you ever been to a Pig Roast in the middle of February?
12. Don’t feel guilty about indulging in all the samples during the Dessert Festival – we need judges for the fan favorite prize!
13. Run off the extra
calories on Sunday at the Bob Smullens 5k and 10k Run.
14. Channel Chevy Chase in Christmas Vacation during The Sled Stampede races.
15. Show everyone that you are the best hula hooper in town at the Hula Hoop Contest.
16. The chance to check out the bamboo ice sculptures in Pioneer Park.
17. You heard correctly, the lip-sync contest is BACK!
18. Make sure you get enough fruits and veggies in your diet at the Waikiki Watermelon-eating contest.
19. Test your bartending skills at the DUVEL
Pouring Contest at the Pit.
20. Sample a number of different wines and find your favorite at the Paper Umbrella Wine Tasting on Saturday.
21. You could be one of the lucky people to win a raffle prize announced at the Last Stand Chili Contest and Carnival Closer.
22. Join your neighbors on Main St. for the Tropical Paradise Parade or enter to win cash prizes!
23. See if your kids
inherited your moves at the Children’s Disco held at the Cooperstown Fire Hall.
24. Trade your flip-flops for bowling shoes at the
Bowling Tournament held at the Clark Sports Center.
25. If you get cold, warm up at Doubleday Field and enjoy hot food and
beverages at the Beachfront Warming Tent, served by the CCS Softball Team.
26. Check out “Muppet Treasure Island” at Movie Float Night at the Clark Sports Center pool.
27. Enter your chili in the Aloha Means Goodbye Chili Contest and Carnival Closer and see if you can 

        bring the title of “best chili” home!
28. Get free entry to the National Baseball Hall of Fame and Museum all weekend by wearing a 2011 Winter Carnival button.
29. Try luau-themed drinks made by competing bars and good music at the Rip Tide Carnival Cooler and Drink Contest.
30. Win the Cross Country Ski Race on Saturday
afternoon beginning at the Clark Sports Center.
31. See which Cooperstown high schoolers are named to the Carnival Court during Saturday’s Pancake

32. Listen to some
talented youngsters take part in Kid’s Karaoke at the Masonic Lodge Building on Sunday.
33. Win a prize for your art by entering the Surf, Sun and Sand Snow Sculpting Contest on Saturday
34. Show everyone what that you’ve got what it takes at the Cooperstown’s Got Talent show.
35. Stop by the Winter
Carnival Farmer’s
Market in Pioneer Alley on Saturday morning and the TREP$ Marketplace in the Cooperstown Middle/High School Gymnasium on

Saturday afternoon.
36. Wear grass skirts and say things like ALOHA and not get funny looks from your neighbors.
37. Catch “Lilo & Stitch” during the Cabin Fever Film Series on Friday
evening at the Hall of Fame.
38. Learn about the hauntings of Cooperstown by taking a Candlelight Ghost Tour during the weekend.
39. Warm up with the
Soup ‘r Chili Luncheon at the First Baptist Church.
40. Back, back, back, GONE. Participate in the Homerun Hitting Showdown in Lakefront Park.

41. Test your shot in the HOOPLA Free Throw and Three Point Contest at the Clark Sports Center.
42. Dig in during the
Volcanic Blast Chicken Wing Contest.
43. Enjoy a Spaghetti
Dinner to benefit the Susquehanna SPCA On Saturday evening from 5-8 at Templeton Hall.
44. Try some great
Cheesecake at the 12th annual Cheesecake Tasting at the Cooperstown United Methodist Church.
45. Be apart of a 45-year tradition of the best
community in America.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


20th U.S. President From Sturdy Stock: Worcester Pioneers

James A. Garfield’s official White House portrait was painted by Calvin Curtis (1822-93), a noted artist who painted many eminent Americans of this day.


Before the American Revolution, this was Indian country.
During the Revolution, the mighty Iroquois picked the wrong side, allying with the British in ravaging the Mohawk Valley, including the raid into Cherry Valley.
Indirectly, that led to one of Otsego County’s more direct connections to the American presidency:  James A. Garfield’s family ties to Worcester.
The Cherry Valley massacre provoked Washington to send out the Clinton-Sullivan Expedition, commemorated annually in the General Clinton Canoe Regatta down the Susquehanna to Bainbridge.  Bainbridge is near the former Oqaga, the Iroquois stronghold the Expedition razed.
The long and short of it, when the Revolution ended, the upper Susquehanna Valley was pacified, and young men from crowded New England – many of them with land grants in appreciation of their service in the Continental Army – flooded here.
One of them, Solomon Garfield, moved in 1790 from Spencer, a hamlet in Worcester, Mass., to Cherry Valley.  In 1797, the new Town of  Worcester, N.Y., broke away from C-V – Town Historian Marilyn Dufresne is unsure if there was an explicit connection.  (In 1808, the towns of Decatur, Maryland and Westford broke away, leaving Worcester as we know it today.)
Solomon built a log cabin on a hilltop just beyond the east end of the village and farmed there.  The house that now stands behind the State Historic Marker was built decades after the original cabin burned, although it is on Garfield land.
Although he survived the Revolution, Solomon’s end – a tree fell on him when son, Thomas, was just 7 – was the first of a string of untimely deaths of Garfield men, according to Mrs. Dufresne.
Thomas would die of smallpox in 1801, age 28.  His son Abram “singed his lungs” when his crops caught fire, dying in 1833, age 34.  
Abrams’ son James became the second president to be assassinated: by Charles Guiteau, a disappointed officer seeker, on July 2, 1881, in the Baltimore & Potomac Railroad Passenger Terminal in Washington D.C.  He died on Sept. 19, 1881, in Long Branch, N.J., where he’d been sent to recuperate. 
The gunshot didn’t kill him, but sepsis, the result of attending physician Dr. Willard Bliss’ ignorance – hence, “ignorance is Bliss” – of Dr. Joseph Lister’s new understanding of the importance of maintaining cleanliness.  (Guiteau was hanged nonetheless).
As you can imagine, Worcester had heralded the elevation of its not-quite-native son.  There was some talk locally that Garfield was, in fact, en route to visit his ancestors’ hometown when he was shot.
Through Garfield, Worcester has linkages to other history happenings. 
Abram Garfield, Solomon’s brother – James’ middle name is Abram – fought in the Battle of Lexington & Concord, and signed an affidavit averring the militias were peaceable and fired upon without provocation by the Redcoats.
Also, the president’s mother, Eliza Ballou, was the daughter of Hosea Ballou, a founder of Universalism in the U.S.  (Her uncle was a Colonel Seward of Decatur.)
Mrs. Dufresne said the president’s dad, Thomas, fell in love with Eliza when she was a girl and he a boy and the Ballous lived in Westford a while en route to Ohio.  When Thomas grew up he headed west, young man, to Ohio, where he found his first love.
Stories exist of the sturdy Garfields, foremost one regarding Thomas, when a 500-pound grindstone was brought from Albany to a local tavern.
“While help was being obtained to unload it Garfield, who was present, remarked that he could unload it alone and carry it on his back to Tusculum (in the neighborhood of the Garfield cabin).
“The replay was made that upon doing so the stone should be his,” according to a reminiscence of a Rufus Storrs.  “Whereupon Thomas selected a stick and fitted it to the eye of the stone, placed it on his back and carried it to Tusculum, with but one rest on the way.”
The Ohio Thomas found must have been similar to what Solomon had found in Otsego County: “still covered with dense forests, and the Garfields were obliged to clear the land for their farming.  They built a cabin” – similar, no doubt, to what Solomon built here – 20 feet by 30, and in this cabin James Abram Garfield was born on the 19th of November, 1831,” according to the “History of the Attempted Assassination of James A. Garfield,” by John Stuart Ogilvie.  (It was published in 1881, between the time of the shooting and the 20th president’s death.)
The Worcester Garfields were buried in the village’s first burial ground in the community center, but they didn’t rest in peace.  In 1903, the cemetery was dug up to make way for a bank, according to a clipping Mrs. Dufresne supplied from the New York World.
“No special effort has been made to find the remains of the grandparents of the late president, the reason given that no one was quite sure in just what place in the quarter-acre graveyard the graves were,” the newspaper reported.
“While the excavations were being made, many bones were discovered, and rotten pieces of wood were found which had been used as grave-markers near the spot where, tradition says, the bodies of the Garfields lay.”
What bones were recovered were placed in a lot behind First Presbyterian Church on Main Street, and later moved again to Maple Grove Cemetery.  Mrs. Dufresne is on the cemetery board and knows the property well, but has never found any stone marked with the Garfield name.
The one Garfield in the Worcester phone book, Dr. Robert, is no relation, a receptionist at his office said.  Queals are likewise no longer in this parts, but there are numerous Frenches and Ingallses in the county, some of which may be related to the president by married.

PRESIDENTS & Otsego County

AFTER THE WAR:  During his retirement tour of Revolutionary War battlefield, George Washington visited the scene of the Cherry  Valley Massacre on July 31, 1783, and the next day stopped at Cooperstown, where General Clinton had dammed the Susquehanna en route to razing Oqaga.

LITTLE VAN, LOST: In 1839, while he was the eighth president of the United States, Martin Van Buren attended a party at Samuel W. Beall’s Woodside Hall, the Greek Revival mansion at the top of Main Street, Cooperstown.  He wandered into the garden, got lost and it took an hour to locate him.

AT THE FAIR:  In 1885, his last year in office, 21st President Chester Allen Arthur, a former New York governor, attended the Central New York Fair in Oneonta’s Belmont Circle neighborhood.

SHAKING HANDS:  The year before, in September 1884, Gov. Grover Cleveland – later the 22nd and 24th president – got off the train en route from Elmira to Albany and shook hands with folks at the station at the bottom of the former Broad Street for 15 minutes.

DOUBLE WHAMMY:  At different times, both Theodore Roosevelt (26th president) and William Howard Taft (27th) stayed the night at Congressman George Fairchild’s Oneonta home, now the Masonic Temple at Main and Grand.  In 1900, Fairchild had founded International Time Recording Co., the future IBM.

GOVERNOR VISITS:  As governor, FDR spent a night at The O-Te-Sa-Ga in August 1930, then spoke to “an enthusiastic crowd” the next morning in front of the Hotel Oneonta.

Graveyard Intrigues The World

Editor’s Note:  This is an excerpt from a 1903 article in the New York Post describing the controversy over the Garfields remains.

After a bitter clash between sentiment and commercialism in the Village of Worcester, a bank there has secured the right from the town to build a new banking-house upon the site of the graves of the grandparents and great-grandparents of President Garfield.  The excavations have been made and the masonry is in course of construction.
No special effort has been made to find the remains of the grandparents of the late president; the reason given being that no one was quite sure in just what place in the quarter-acre graveyard the graves were.
...The graveyard, located in the heart of Worcester, was many years ago abandoned as a burying ground, and it had become overgrown with weeds.  The boys used the few remaining headstones as bases in their ball games.
... James Nelson, a resident of Worcester, has in his possession a letter from President Garfield written shortly before his assassination, wherein he expresses a hope to be able to soon visit Worcester and attend to the last resting places of his ancestors.  One of the places which he was intending to visit on the trip he was about to take was Worcester.
No need was paid to protests of the minority of the citizens that a preservation of the burial plot in some suitable way would be creditable to the town.

Thursday, February 3, 2011


St. Mary Lives In Generations Of Students’ Memories

Jim Kevlin/
Frank Signor, Class of 1939 at St. Mary’s School, is second from the right in the back row of the black-and-white photo.  His daughters, Kittie Townsend, in foreground, and Joanne Braman, upper left, also graduated from St. Mary’s.  Mrs. Townsend now teaches there, and her son, Scott, now 29, at right, and daughter, Rebecca, 26, third from left in second row of photo at left, also graduated from the Oneonta parochial school.  It’s typical of St. Mary’s multi-generational reach.


It’s rare these days – ever, really – to hear parents talk about a school in such glowing terms.
“As soon as you walk through the door, you get a feeling of peace, camaraderie.  There’s goodness there,” said John Kennedy, one of 11 siblings who graduated from St. Mary’s School. “And when the kids come home, they bring it with them.”
His son Johnny, 6, is in first grade, and Maura, 4, Carly, 2, and Stephen, 5 months, will follow in the footsteps of their older  brother.
At St. Mary’s, “peer pressure is the pressure to be good, to learn, to want to be part of something that’s bigger than themselves,” said Kennedy, a five-year employee of Covidien in Hobart.
The other evening at Southside Mall, where St. Mary’s parents were sharing their experiences with the parents of prospective students,  Dawn Schuman, declared, “St. Mary’s is not just a school, it is a joy.  My kids run into school; they cry when there’s a snow day.”
Kitty Townsend, a St. Mary’s graduate who teaches there today – her dad, Frank Signor, graduated in 1939; her children, Scott and Rebecca, in the 1990s – can’t imagine school without Christmas.
Her fourth-graders make a Jesse Tree, which traces the Prophets’ revelations from creation to Jesus,
Please See and an Advent Calendar, which charts the days to the Nativity.
St. Mary’s School is no stranger to an uncertain future.  Thumbing through the school archives the other day, there was a headline from 1969:  “St. Mary’s To Remain Open.”  The story quoted Father John Caldara, then-pastor of St. Mary’s Roman Catholic Church, as saying “for the time being” the school was safe.
“The time being” turned out to be 42 years – two generations – during which the school left its 1924 building at Elm and Walnut for a campus on Oneonta’s east end.
In 1969, the school had 200 students.  Today, it has 50, Grades 1-6, and given Diocese of Albany guidelines that a healthy school should have 12 students per grade, questions have been raised anew about St. Mary’s future.
The questions, however, have brought forth an outpouring of affection.  Parents rallied Wednesday, Jan. 26, saying they would  raise $40,000 to keep the school open.
As it turns out, money alone is not a factor, according to Principal Patricia Bliss, who said the school is sufficiently endowed to cover whatever amount of tuition that, subject to need, is necessary to bring enrollment up to the desired 70.
More of a challenge is the relatively good quality of local public schools, and distance – public schools are only required to bus students in from a 15-mile radius, she said.
“We need children,” said Bliss, a Cooperstown native who moved back to the principalship after two decades teaching at Catholic schools in New Jersey.  “Then we can work on the other things.”
The economy’s a factor, too: Since the Great Recession arrived, students from Sidney and other towns at the outer end of St. Mary’s service limit have dropped away. 
Generally, there are fewer school-age children; Andes, it turns out, has only one kindergartner this year.  And the demographics have changed.  Kitty Townsend remembers her generation of Pondolfinos:  13 children.
Still, Bliss said, St. Mary’s pupils are taught a state-approved curriculum and are at the top end of state tests.  Students don’t have to be Catholic, but of those who are, “The values the parents are teaching at home – faith-based values – are being taught in school:  respect, caring, love of God, love of one another.”
St. Mary’s was built at the end of the wave of Catholic school construction. 
The first Catholic school was also a St. Mary’s, opened in Philadelphia in 1782.  The Bill of Rights, guaranteeing freedom of religion, resulted in the spread of parochial schools, as did the flood of Catholic immigrants that followed Ireland’s Great Famine, beginning in 1845.
The Sisters of Mercy – they would teach in Oneonta decades later – arrived from Ireland in 1843.
Parochial schools were intended to preserve the Old Country religion, but also as a bulwark against the anti-immigrant sentiment of the Know-Nothing Party and, later, the Ku Klux Klan.  (As it happens, the Aug. 16, 1923, headline in the Oneonta Herald, “New Parochial School,” was juxtaposed with another, “Purposes of the Klan,” reporting “the largest throng ever wedged into the Knights of Pythias hall on Main Street” to hear the Rev. N.V. Cossaboom promote that secret society.)
By 2000 – the National Catholic Education Association formed that year – there were 3,500 Catholic schools in the U.S.  Twenty years later, just before St. Mary’s rose, there were 6,500 with 1.75 million students.  Enrollment peaked at 4.5 million in the 1960s.
Whatever happens to St. Mary’s, there exists a living legacy of discipline, caring and education in Otsego and Delaware counties, judging from interview with students past and parents present in recent days.
“The curriculum standards were very high,” recalled Alex Shields, Class of 1956, the former county representative from Richfield Springs who was raised “under the viaduct” in the City of the Hills.  “We had very bright kids.”
His dad Andrew worked in the feed mill on Market Street and mom Ina was a waitress, so there was little money to spare for the shirts, ties and slacks he and two of his three brothers needed to attend St. Mary’s – the girls wore green jumpers and white blouses – but his parents were committed to getting them a parochial education.
St. Mary’s wasn’t fancy.  The playground was narrow and asphalt-covered.  The kids exercised by their desks.  And they brought bagged lunches.  Treats were rare – Alex remembers the thrill at seeing “The Bells of St. Mary’s,” starring Ingrid Bergman and Bing Crosby, in the auditorium. 
All the alums talk about a system of rewards based on service.  One prized task for Shields was to distribute milk to the other classrooms; another, to clean the blackboards.  Kitty Townsend remembers the honor of being chosen to take a note across the street to the convent.
“It was a job, but it was a privilege,” Alex remembered.
Both Shields and Signor yearned to be altar boys, and studied the Latin necessary to do the task.  Every Christmas, the choir boys and altar boys were given an apple and an orange after mass.  “We thought we were big deals,” Signor said.
No one remembers any trouble adjusting to the academic demands of Oneonta High School, even in the days of the formidable principal, Charles Belden – yes, he would start each assembly with a Bible verse – and his deputy, Clifford McVinney.
And the teachers ... oh, my.
Sister Mary LaSalle, Alex’s principal, Sister Mary Raymond, Sister Robert Ann, Sister Francis, Mother Veronica, assigned to St. Mary’s after 15 years directing the order’s Mother House in Albany, took a particular interest in young Alex. 
“She was very, very smart:  and very, very strong-willed,” he said.  “I was extremely rebellious.  But she saw something in me that had some potential.”
She encouraged him to take college prep courses, but family members urged him to learn a trade.  It was only many years later that Shields obtained his bachelor’s from SUNY Oneonta, going on to a career in government and, later, elective office.
Curiously, John Kennedy tells a similar story from decades later, of Mrs. Nancy Weils, his math and social studies teacher.
“She expected from you what she knew your potential was,” he said, as baby Stephen bounced on mom Christy’s knee and Johnny assembled a circuit board he intended to use to build an FM speaker.  Maura and Carly squealed with delight at a favorite movie on TV in the next room.
“I learned things and I did things in that class that I never thought I would accomplish.”

Films About Books Topic Of Free Class At Smithy Pioneer Gallery


‘Books We Love to Watch,” a film class taught by Smithy Executive Director Danielle Newell (BFA in Cinema, NYU) will meet 6-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Saturday of every month, beginning in Feb. 5.
The course will focus on classic and contemporary films based on novels, and discussion will revolve around both book, film and the interplay between the two. 
The first class is being offered free to the public, space is limited and registration is required.  Call 547-8671 or email