While highway improvements are always welcomed by motorists, the occasions following the improvements today get little notice other than perhaps a comment or two by the motorist, and that’s about it. There are still a few around who can likely recall when a road was improved, it became cause for a celebration.
One such celebration took place in October 1932, when a three-county road connecting Davenport with Summit was improved. In Davenport, this road is known today as Delaware County Route 9. It then becomes county Route 40 in Otsego County, and ends in Summit with county Route 16 in Schoharie County. The Oneonta Star reported the day’s festivities on Saturday, Oct. 1, in Charlotteville.
“A crowd estimated at 2,000 people, residents of Summit, Charlotteville, South Worcester, Simpsonville, Fergusonville and Davenport and the adjacent territory and their friends gathered … for the formal opening.”
Despite threatening weather in the morning, skies cleared for the gathering, which lasted the full day, and had been planned by committees from each of the communities along the route.
The day began and finished with baseball games. In the morning, Charlotteville defeated Summit, 7-6, and in the afternoon contest, Davenport beat Worcester, 11-4.
Around noontime, many had brought basket lunches, and at 1:30 p.m., an afternoon program began.
The Worcester Boys’ band played a selection of music. The welcoming address was given by J. Ernest Wharton of Summit, a candidate for district attorney of Schoharie County. Wharton commended the spirit and persistence shown by the people of the Charlotte Valley in securing the improved road, as there apparently had been some difficulties in getting Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie counties interested in the improvement project.
Sherburne M. Becker was the next speaker. While from New York, Becker had recently acquired extensive holdings in South Worcester, renovating many properties and establishing a summer home. South Worcester had been home to his ancestors and Becker related experiences of his father before going first to New York and then Milwaukee. Sherburne Becker went with the family and eventually became known as the “Boy Mayor” of Milwaukee, because of his youth. Becker then returned to New York to take up business. He told the audience that he was determined to make South Worcester “his domicile and voting residence.”
The Hon. John D. Clarke of Fraser, near Delhi, was next to speak, and with 1932 being a presidential election year, gave a plug for President Herbert Hoover, urging that “regardless of politics everyone in the country should place themselves squarely behind the constructive program and give their chosen leader a chance to work out his plan.” Clarke said that despite three or four years of depressed business in the United States there had not been an attempt at an uprising to overthrow the government.
In closing, Clarke said, “As you dedicate this highway through this beautiful valley, I urge you to remember that your friendships should not be forgotten. Don’t forget that it is part of your duty as Americans to make your community better; and see that the United States is not broken down through the lack of your influence.”
Following Clarke’s address, a play was presented on the open-air platform, called “The Truth for a Day.” It was given by young women of Charlotteville, dealing with the reputation for truthfulness of George Washington and presented in view of the 200th anniversary of his birth. “This presentation was well done and was keenly enjoyed,” The Star wrote.
On Monday: For $250,000, you were in for a bid on a mansion in Delaware County in 1992.
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 email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.