Step Back in Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.
25 years ago
Oct. 1, 1988
Harold deGraw made his way down the darkened aisle, following the red dots of safety lights along the carpet. Then he hit the houselights, and the rococo cavern that is the Oneonta Theatre yawned overhead.
DeGraw, the deacon of Oneonta cinema, sold the 90-year-old theater Friday to two local men, Peter Van Woert and Philip Colone, Jr. As P&P Enterprises Inc., they will continue the two-screen operation.
Besides first-run feature films, Orpheus Theatre, Oneonta’s community theater group, will continue entertaining there.
With many of the old theaters now cut up for multiple cinema operations, keeping the big 688-seat main floor space and the stage were important to deGraw. Partitioning was a concern as he looked for a buyer.
“If I sold to a circuit, that might have happened,” said deGraw. “But these boys won’t do that.”
The theater was built for vaudeville and traveling theatrical groups, which rolled in and out of town on the trains. Stock companies played there exclusively until 1913, when movies began being run between shows.
That was the year deGraw was born in Clifton Springs.
DeGraw bought the Oneonta Theatre in 1966.
He “twinned” the theater in 1980, closing off the balcony to create a second 187-seat theater, rather than dividing the entire space down the middle.
“If I had done that, the stage would have been lost,” he said.
50 years ago
Oct. 1, 1963
ROXBURY — Several Roxbury people attended the Human Rights Rally Sunday, at the New York Hilton Hotel, to which 82 area Methodists left on a chartered bus from Fleischmanns.
There were altogether 6,500 people from 1,000 New York State Methodist churches, packed into a room which was built to accommodate 4,500. Intense interest was shown.
Roxbury people who went included James Ross, Bert Scutt, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Wheat, Rev. Richard R. Guice, and Stanley Martin, who represented the Methodist Youth Fellowship; also the Rev. and Mrs. Andrew Makhene of Johannesburgh, Republic of South Africa, who were weekend guests of the Rev. and Mrs. Richard Guice, Roxbury Methodist pastor.
Bishop Lloyd C. Wiekey of the New York area of the Methodist Church had summoned the rally for the purpose of stressing the Methodist stand on race, to review action taken to advance racial inequalities, to express their support of Civil Rights legislation and to urge action for integration in the local church and communities.