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March 3, 2014

Beauty, grooming took center stage in Oneonta in March 1964

The Daily Star

---- — Good grooming, beauty and style seemed to be a recurring theme in the news around Oneonta during the month of March 1964.

“‘Beauty U.’ Opens Doors” was a headline seen in The Oneonta Star of Tuesday, March 3 as, “Eleven area women, armed with scissors, combs and other allied equipment, launched themselves on a new career Monday morning in downtown Oneonta.”

“They made up the first class in Edward’s School of Beauty Culture which opened its doors for the first time yesterday in its Main Street ‘campus.’” This was found on the second floor of 205 Main St., over what was then the Woolworth’s store.

Edward Abate and Morris Michaelson opened the school with a six-and-half month course that gave their students 1,000 hours of lectures, demonstrations and practice on beauty culture. Abate was also the sole proprietor of Edward’s Hair Stylist on Chestnut Street.

Graduation from this school gave each student a state-recognized diploma, a temporary license to practice and an appointment to take the State Board examinations required for a permanent license as a beautician.

Abate had been planning the school for nearly a year, receiving his license to open the school on Feb. 27.

After a special welcome by Oneonta Mayor Albert S. Nader at 9 a.m., the students “donned white uniforms, picked out kits containing combs and brushes, etc. and were each assigned a dummy head complete with real hair.”

A full-page newspaper advertisement on March 2 described all the courses a student would take. Classes were available Mondays through Fridays, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and night classes on Wednesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, 7 to 10 p.m. and Saturdays 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

The school lasted only a few years, as a city directory from 1974 showed that it no longer existed.

Looking their absolute best was key to young women who were entering the annual Miss Oneonta Pageant, as the deadline was fast approaching for the Oneonta Jaycee-sponsored contest, Saturday, March 7.

Alex Shields was co-chairman of the entries committee that year, and it was reported on March 14 that a total of 27 women had entered. They were primarily from the State University College at Oneonta, Hartwick College and Oneonta High School. They were set to go through judging and screening for their talents that day, and eliminations would be announced on Sunday. Remaining contestants began preparing for the selection night ceremonies on Saturday, April 11.

To add the imaginary “drum roll” to the suspense, the Star reported on Monday, April 13, “Selection of Judith Brown as the 1964 Miss Oneonta, Saturday night at SUCO’s Alumni Hall was evidently a popular choice.”

“An Oneonta girl who became a close friend of Miss Brown’s during the competition was second in this closest of all Miss Oneonta contests.”

“Carla Delello, senior at OHS was in the running for the coveted title until the last moment. Miss Brown’s final margin was one of the narrowest recorded in the seven year history of the Miss Oneonta contest, annual highlight of the Junior Chamber of Commerce program.” Judith Brown was a SUCO freshman.

“With the 1964 crown goes a scholarship award of award of $250, various merchandise … and the right to represent Oneonta in the New York State pageant which will lead in turn to Atlantic City and the Miss America contest next fall.”

Grooming and beauty together were seen on Easter Sunday, March 29, 1964 around Oneonta. This was still a time when there were annual “parades” of people dressed their very best, intentionally observed going to and from church services or to area restaurants for Easter dinner.

The Star reported on Monday, March 30, that the very early churchgoers had sunshine and a promise of a nice day, but it quickly changed. Normal church times had people hurrying through a hard snowfall to their waiting cars, rather than walking around displaying the newest or most fashionable styles of dress.

“Fashionable dress was very much on display at all churches and during the weather-shortened Easter parade after worship.”

“New hats seem to be more obvious this year than usual and a dazzling array of headwear from perky bonnets to full-fledged, flowery hats was displayed. A gusty wind gave those with bigger hats a bit of trouble.”

“The noon hour snowfall did not stick in the streets and highways and heavy traffic was reported all across the area as families rounded out the day with the traditional family ride.”

This weekend: Reports of natural gas drilling were first appearing in our region over 125 years ago.

Oneonta 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 His website is His columns can be found at