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Columns

April 30, 2012

From no TV to saving eagles, it was life in April 1982

No television. No place to pay the phone bill. No more Spaulding's baked goods. Possibly no more Center Street School. While these were some of the noes in the news of our area in April 1982, there were some yeses as well, including a new structure at Corning Inc. of Oneonta and help to save bald eagles.

For the opening week of April, Ms. Pam Wheaton's fourth-grade class at Worcester Central School took on a challenge of what might be an equivalent to living today without text messaging -- a week without television.

"The whole idea is to make kids realize there is so much more to life than watching television, an activity that has become the dominating force in many modern families," Wheaton told The Daily Star.

"By the end of the week they found out they could do other things," Wheaton said. Some students practiced more on their musical instruments, read a book, or helped a family member cook supper, among other activities.

***

If you were looking to pay your New York Telephone bill in person at their office at 17 Elm St. in Oneonta, you were out of luck. That office had been recently closed, to the surprise of some.

Spokesman Carmine Angellotti said, "Our society is changing. The face to face contact we used to have is being lost. It's just more efficient for us to take care of our billing this way." Meanwhile, phone rates were set to rise 9.4 percent, "to keep pace with inflation."

***

Spaulding Bakeries announced it was going out of business Wednesday, April 14. At that time the main bakery was located in Conklin, and one of several distribution centers was in Oneonta on Market Street, where today's Spaulding Apartments are. The Oneonta site was a bakery between 1929 and 1955 for Spaulding, makers of bread, doughnuts and other products.

Spaulding had been before a federal bankruptcy court since the previous fall, after having to close its West Hazelton, Pa., bakery. The 1982 closure meant a loss of 15 jobs at the Oneonta distribution center.

A Web search today finds that many still miss the taste of a Spaulding kruller.

***

Possible closure of a part of Center Street School was in the news Saturday, April 24. State school aid cuts were looming, and one plan to make up the deficit was to close the third-, fourth-, fifth- and sixth-grade classes at the school, keeping grades kindergarten through second grade.

Funding was restored, and Center Street lived on.

***

While threats of closure and actual closures were happening, a visible expansion took place Tuesday, April 13, when what was then called the Corning Glass Works on lower River Street pumped up an inflatable 10,000-square-foot storage building, to add to the permanent structure, originally built in the early 1950s for the Enterprise Aluminum Co.

***

If you've spent a bit of time around Goodyear Lake in the last few years, it has been fairly easy to spot a bald eagle or more in flight or in the trees. A small effort made by an Oneonta woman 30 years ago may have played a small part in taking the eagle off the endangered species list in more recent years.

It was reported April 27 that Anita Este was rallying area residents to save the imperiled bird on the 200th anniversary of when it was adopted as our national emblem. A retired Rutgers University professor and a member of the Delaware-Otsego Audubon Society, Este and other members were raising money for the Eagle Valley Environmental Association, an organization having 1,000 members in 37 states. The local fundraiser was a raffle for a canoe.

Este acknowledged it may be difficult to persuade many Oneontans to help relieve the eagle's plight.

"I don't think the general public is involved in this sort of thing," she said. "How many people have got into birding? I think it's fascinating once you get there. But I think they are interested in a canoe and I hope they are interested in our national symbol."

If only the bald eagles of Goodyear Lake could talk …This weekend: George W. Fairchild builds a new business block.

City Historian Mark Simonson's column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.

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