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April 29, 2013

Job opportunities abounded in area 45 years ago

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The Daily Star

---- — 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.

Lillian Creighton, owner of the Oneonta Dress Co., then at 359 Chestnut St., welcomed local applicants, but they weren’t beating down the doors at the plant, where Smoker Friendly and the Catalog Outlet Store are found today.

Creighton, it was reported on Monday, April 1, had been so unable to obtain local workers, she embarked on an effort to bring 50 immigrant families to Oneonta, assuring them of jobs and housing.

“The families are expected to be Cuban refugees or other newcomers to the United States from Italy, Ireland or Spain,” according to The Oneonta Star.

Mrs. Creighton turned to immigrant families as a labor supply after she tried “every avenue possible” to get area people.

“We even lined up buses to transport women from Cooperstown and Walton if they would come to work at Oneonta Dress, but we couldn’t get enough of them,” Creighton said.

There were no follow-up reports on the effort in 1968, but Oneonta Dress Co. , founded by Mrs. Creighton in 1949, weathered the labor shortage, as the business continued until merging with another company in the late 1980s.

If fast food was more to your liking for employment, Carrolls Restaurants was ready to build a new hamburger stand in Oneonta’s East End, at the corner of Main and Park Streets, where the Oneonta Veterinary Hospital is today.

Carrolls had another drive-in restaurant at the West End Shopping Plaza, known today as the West Gate Plaza. A Carrolls executive said Oneonta had been so receptive to its products that they wanted to add the second location. Both restaurants took on the Burger King name in the mid-1970s.

If you had a knack at selling automobiles, Steve Mason would soon want to talk with you, as he announced plans for a new $300,000 Chevrolet agency and service center, to be known as Mason Chevrolet. It was soon to be built at the site of the old Pond Lily Hotel, at the corner of Chestnut Street and Country Club Road.

Mason was a veteran auto dealer from the Schenectady-Scotia area and said the agency would be in operation in time for “the 1969 models.”

“All employees,” Mason said, “including sales, service and clerical, will be recruited locally, indicating an initial work force of from eight to 12 people.”

The dealership was later taken on by William Davis and Paul Donowick, and is now known as Country Club Chevrolet.

“Final plans for Oneonta’s new ‘Susquehanna Expressway,’ now estimated to cost $20 million and take up to three years to build, were unveiled for city officials Monday night,” it was reported on Tuesday, April 16. This would become Interstate 88.

While it would take until 1970 for work to begin on the project, it meant plenty of work was ahead for construction crews to relocate parts of the Susquehanna River, and build interchanges and bridges, among other tasks. It also meant some redesigning of lower Main Street, a new river bridge and a new viaduct over the D&H Railroad tracks.

Although the jobs were likely of a volunteer nature, some students at the State University College at Oneonta were hired for security and crowd control for what was then called “SUCO’s Spring Weekend ‘68,” held on Saturday and Sunday, April 27-28.

Concerts took place at the Hal G. Chase Gymnasium. On Saturday at 8 p.m., $2.50 got college students in to a concert by The Lovin’ Spoonful. On Sunday at 8 p.m., $1 was college admission to hear Richie Havens and the Paul Butterfield Blues Band.

Havens, 72, passed away this past Monday, April 22.

This weekend: More business news and job opportunities from May 1913.

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.