By Mark Simonson
A fire destroyed a foundry in Morris, Hartwick College basketball dropped a division level, two schools considered a merger, and a local Odyssey of the Mind was born. These news items and more made for a busy month in March 1982.
It had only been a month since Morris Castings had reopened an old foundry near the Otsego County Fairgrounds, when fire ripped through the old stone and wood structure on Monday, March 1. It had beenrecently closed due to slow business. The company was producing a variety of small metal parts, brass plaques and foot pedals.
Eight fire departments and 150 firefighters fought the blaze for several hours, which caused damages well in excess of $100,000. Arson was ruled out, as fire investigators decided a massive furnace was the cause, igniting a ceiling area. The building was totally destroyed.
Maurice Bridges was on the scene, taking photos of the blaze. Bridges knew the plant well, as he recalled it being built in 1917, and holding a job there starting in 1929. It was built by Holman Harry Linn as a factoryto produce the Linn Tractor.
“That’s the way I got started in life,” Bridges told The Daily Star. “I was in the third office in here. I was assistant to the sales manager. I was 24.” Bridges said when he was hired the factory employed as many as 70 and produced 225 tractors a year.
“It became very profitable,” Bridges said. “He and his partner,” referring to Linn, “made a million bucks in about 12 years.”
Bridges and a partner later bought the factory in 1949, after Linn had moved its operations to Oneonta. They leased it to such companies as the Raymond Corp. of Greene, Bendix of Sidney and Corning Inc. of Oneonta, and later sold it to Charles Lay of Morris in 1975, who started Morris Castings.
The same day as the fire, Hartwick College played its season finale in basketball, losing in overtime to St. John Fisher, 103-102, and was denied a bid to a regional playoff tournament.
At the time, Hartwick was a NCAA Division II team, but only two days after that loss, Dr. Philip Wilder, President of Hartwick College, announced that the college would drop the Division II status, and go to Division III play.
“Hartwick has had great tradition in division two basketball for a long time,” said then coach Nick Lambros. “I’m really down that we’re going to division three, not that there aren’t good division three teams around. I watched it as a kid in the 1950s and captained the team in 1958 before coming back to coach,” he said.
Worcester and Schenevus school officials agreed to study the feasibility of a merger, it was reported on Saturday, March 6. School boards from both districts directed Schenevus Superintendent Menzer Doud and Worcester Superintendent George Mack to make an in-depth study of the merger.
Nothing ever resulted from it, but the last talk about a merger had been started about 10 years earlier.
“There’s nothing at all new about the idea,” Mack said of the merger. “Existing schools now, such as Worcester and Schenevus, themselves resulted from mergers.”
Meanwhile students from five school districts competed in the “Olympics of the Mind,” on Saturday, March 27 at the Bugbee School, Oneonta. Later named Odyssey of the Mind, the competition was founded in 1978 in New Jersey at Glassboro State College, what is now Rowan University, involving 28 schools.
he competition was designed for highly creative, gifted/talented students, in problem-solving activities. “Seventy-five students from schools in the Catskill Area School Study Council will compete,” it was reported. The schools were Walton, Sidney, Unatego, Oneonta and Laurens. Ron Whalen, then a teacher at Center Street School, presented awards at the end of the day. Unfortunately the results were either never submitted to, or printed by the Star, but winners of this competition went on to compete in a state Olympics of the Mind on May 1 in Albany.
By Mark Simonson
- Mark Simonson
Otsego County woman drove her way to success
'Robber baron' helped provide landmark church in Roxbury
Jay Gould was called a lot of things in his day, and not much of it was flattering in the business world, such as "robber baron." In the 21st century some might call him a "one percenter."
Bridge workers found toxic surprise in Neahwa Park in 1988
Plans were in place to build a permanent bridge over the millrace to enter Neahwa Park from Gas Avenue in Oneonta in June 1988. That roadway is known today as James Georgeson Avenue.
Oneonta became a movie set in June 1918
In "real life" Oneonta, you'd never have found an automobile plant manager facing a crisis of having his young daughter kidnapped by two disgruntled employees. However, it would make for a good movie plot, and that's exactly what took place in Oneonta during June 1918.
Local marbles players sought national championship in 1948
Louis Parisi and Eugene Platt of Oneonta had good aim when it came to the game of marbles. So good, in fact, their skills earned them an all-expenses-paid trip to Wildwood, N.J. in June 1948.
- Saturday, June 1, 2013
Samuel Morse's telegraph plans perfected in Cherry Valley
In late May of 1988 Cherry Valley received some welcomed news that the village had been listed on the National Register of Historic Places. A most fitting designation, considering its history dates back to 1740 and all that happened here during the Revolutionary War, for starters.
- Saturday, May 25, 2013
Blackmail scheme failed to hurt Richfield Springs resort season in 1888
The timing simply couldn't have been worse. Thousands of visitors were making plans for their summer vacations to Richfield Springs in 1888 when a bombshell of a newspaper article hit the newsstands of New York City. The article appeared in The New York Sun that stated typhoid fever and diphtheria had a "heavy presence" in the resort village, known and respected worldwide for its cleanliness and good health.
- Monday, May 20, 2013
General Clinton Canoe Regatta got a new home in 1972
Ever since 1963, when Charles Hinkley and a group of Tri-Town businessmen came up with the idea for what we know today as the General Clinton Canoe Regatta, people lined the shores of the Susquehanna to watch the canoeists as they made their 70-mile trek from Cooperstown to Bainbridge.
- Saturday, May 18, 2013
Sunday movies in Oneonta finally shown in 1934
You know an issue is divisive when a vote to resolve it is quite close. In Oneonta during the early 1930s there were probably plenty of discussions or arguments at the family dinner table or sermons from the pulpits on Sunday mornings, regarding whether or should be able to see a movie in Oneonta on Sunday.
- Monday, May 13, 2013
Politics, fitness and landmarks dominated local news in May 1968
Area residents mulled over the idea of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller as their next President of the United States. New fitness opportunities emerged for all ages. One area landmark was saved while another was razed. It was only a part of our life and times in May 1968.
- Saturday, May 11, 2013
Local people sought income in many ways in 1933
In the economy that was the Great Depression, there were times people would do what it took to try to earn some money.
- Monday, May 6, 2013
Local windstorm in 1983 caused tense moments
I realize I've got the wrong month in mind when I say "May came in like a lion." However, that's what happened in 1983 as a number of twisters moved through our region, leaving plenty of damage behind in their trails. Add some melting snow and heavy rain, and scenes of cleanups were widespread 30 years ago this month.
- Saturday, May 4, 2013
Disaster, expansions put people to work in May 1913
- Monday, April 29, 2013
Job opportunities abounded in area 45 years ago
If you were looking for a job in April 1968 in our area, or perhaps looking to change your employment situation in the near future, opportunities were pointing in your favor.
- Saturday, April 27, 2013
Oneonta greeted an aviation giant in 1928
An early aviation superstar came to Oneonta in 1928.
- Monday, April 22, 2013
Area saw its own armed standoffs 30 years ago
This past Friday, we watched how the Boston area went into a lockdown during a tense search for the last suspect in the Boston Marathon bombings. Had I still been living and working in that area, as I was in the early 1990s, I would have had a day off from work Friday, as police scoured the city of Waltham.
- Saturday, April 20, 2013
U.S.S. Maine explosion, war drew much local sentiment
For most people in our area in early 1898, a growing conflict between two distant nations probably didn't get much attention, other than some glances at the newspaper. When a young Oneonta man was one of many injured or killed in an explosion of a battleship he was aboard, the local attention increased markedly to what was soon to become the Spanish-American War.
- Monday, April 15, 2013
Oneonta river walking path came from a surveyor's daydream
Leon Kalmus of Oneonta spent a lot of time surveying land near the Susquehanna River in the early 1970s around the time Interstate 88 was being planned and built in this area. What he saw along the shores of the river, he called â€œpristine,â€� and soon had an idea for some kind of walking or hiking pathway along the shores of the river in the town of Oneonta.
- Saturday, April 13, 2013
Decline of Prohibition led to return of beer in April 1933
â€œI think this would be a good time for a beer,â€� remarked President Franklin D. Roosevelt, when he signed the Cullen-Harrison Act on March 22, 1933. This marked the beginning of the end for Prohibition that year.
- Monday, April 8, 2013
Dietz Street shifted from residential to commercial through the years
By taking a walk along Dietz Street today, heading north to Walnut Street, one can see a lot of businesses and the recently refurbished parking lot on the east side of the street. It would take some imagination to see this street lined with houses and a church, but prior to the late 1940s, thatâ€™s what was there.
- Otsego County woman drove her way to success