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Columns

January 5, 2013

Thousands showed for 1928 new car debut in Oneonta

Other than some football and news, I didn’t view a lot of television over the holidays. Yet I saw more than enough car commercials to wave a white flag, after getting deluged with year-end clearances and deals galore. 

Whether on television or radio, competing automobile companies had commercials airing one right after another, which back in my radio broadcasting years was strictly forbidden. Times change, I suppose.

How brisk the actual sales were and how much excitement there was at the many car dealerships will soon be learned, but I am most doubtful it reached the level of enthusiasm generated in January 1928, when the new models of cars were unveiled at local dealerships.

I honestly couldn’t tell you what time of year a new line of automobile or truck is introduced these days. For Oneontans in 1928, it was just after New Year’s Day.

The Oneonta Star of Monday, Jan. 2, reported, “While special arrangements have been made throughout the country for the first showing of the new Chevrolet car today, it is certain that nowhere are the plans any more elaborate than in Oneonta. Becker & Lent, Inc., local dealers, have rushed to completion their fine building at 18 Market street and will hold the display of the new car in conjunction with the formal opening of the new home of the concern.”

This building stood until 1992, when a major fire destroyed it and a neighboring building. The fire began on Saturday, Feb. 29, around 5:30 a.m. at what was then the home of The Dark Horse Saloon.

The excitement of the 1928 opening day began at 2:30 p.m., as Mayor Bertus C. Lauren turned the key to open the building, after a short talk. By the end of the day, an estimated 3,000 had attended the festivities that went on well into the evening.

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