Area residents mulled over the idea of Gov. Nelson Rockefeller as their next President of the United States. New fitness opportunities emerged for all ages. One area landmark was saved while another was razed. It was only a part of our life and times in May 1968.
Nelson Rockefeller has been posturing as a presidential candidate since April, after President Lyndon Johnson announced he would not seek or be nominated for another term. Rockefeller made his intentions known around May 1. Rockefeller said that day he would continue as governor of New York. During April he had enacted legislation worth $6 billion to tear down city slums in Albany, replacing them with “other facilities” to improve ghetto life near the state capitol building. The present line of five state skyscrapers, state library and museum and “The Egg” was the result.
Rockefeller had also called for a 10-year, $150 billion program to end tensions in American cities during 1968, by ending the “breeding of slums.” The governor also said that Congress should enact a program of “national universal health insurance” to deal with rising medical care costs.
It didn’t take long for Rockefeller to drop out of the presidential race that year, as Richard M. Nixon gained in popularity as the Republican Party favorite. While Rockefeller was a Republican, both parties in our area had considered the New York governor a good candidate.
Sterling P. Harrington, then Oneonta’s GOP chairman, said Rockefeller’s candidacy should lead to a “forthright and articulate discussion of the many serious problems facing us.”
Dr. Alexander F. Carson, Otsego County’s Democratic party chairman. said Rockefeller had been laying out his plans for the last several months, “first by using (George) Romney and then pulling the rug out from under him.”
John Trask of Grand Gorge said of Rockefeller, “I really don’t think it makes any difference who the Republicans put up. (Sen. Robert) Kennedy’s got it wrapped up.”
Boys Club dream becomes reality
Physical fitness and sports made major strides forward during May 1968. It was announced on Wednesday, May 1 that semi-professional football was started with the formation of the Oneonta Indians Football Club the night before.
Open tryouts and workouts for prospective players were set for Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Neahwa Park softball diamonds. The first game was set for August and Jack Weiss of Gloversville was named as the first head coach.
The Indians played home games at Damaschke Field and Oneonta was part of the Empire Football League, playing until the mid-1970s.
The team tryouts probably didn’t have many onlookers, as they were part of the 700 on hand to witness the dedication of the Oneonta Boys Club on Sunday, May 5. The building on River Street had been more than a 20-year dream and effort by former Oneonta police officer and professional boxer, Carl Delberta.
The many dignitaries on hand offered praise to Delberta. Ben Becker, a 1960 Olympic boxing coach who paced Cassius Clay through the Olympics said, “No man respects Carl Delberta more than I do.”
The Oneonta Star of May 31 also reported, “Many Oneonta area residents have a jag-on for jogging, a mild form of running now being recommended as the best exercise available to Americans.”
Marilyn Ball and Mary Ann Mazarak, both of Oneonta, had been regulars on the track at Oneonta High School for the past eight weeks, six days a week. They were unanimous with the benefits of jogging.
“We feel good. You go home and you aren’t tired. Even housework doesn’t tire us out.”
Goodyear Dam stays; Hartwick Fieldhouse comes down
Residents of Goodyear Lake breathed a sigh of relief on Thursday, May 16 when Congressman Samuel S. Stratton revealed that the New York State Electric and Gas Corp. agreed not to abandon the Goodyear Lake Dam.
There had been fears that NYSEG would cease operations and remove the dam, taking away the lake in the highly populated area, created over 60 years earlier.
While that landmark stayed, another that had been at Hartwick College since 1948 was ready for demolition. The Fieldhouse, a Navy World War II surplus building, was being removed to make way for the Edward W. Shineman Chapel House.
“A landmark for two decades,” the Star reported on May 18, “its passing will stir the ghosts of past games, dance bands, speakers of renown and repute, assorted convocations as well as Commencements and Baccalaureates.”
The Binder Physical Education Building, named after former college president Frederick Binder, was opened later that year.
This weekend: Oneonta debated Sunday movie showings in the 1930s.
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.