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December 30, 2013

ID cards, new math and construction plans made news in December 1963

The Daily Star

---- — Identification cards, a new kind of mathematics and plans for upcoming construction projects were all part of our local life and times of December 1963.


While issues involving identification cards for all citizens drew a lot of controversy following the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, there was no controversy of the sort when Otsego County began issuing cards in December 1963.

“The first Identification Card, one of the thousands to be issued in Otsego County, was issued Friday morning to A. Bernis Musson of Morris, chairman of Otsego County Board of Supervisors,” it was reported in The Oneonta Star of Saturday, Dec. 7. 

Otsego County Sheriff Harold F. Knapp said that the ID cards were available on a voluntary basis for those who wanted them, and it was designed for improved protection of local citizens. Applications were distributed to local police organizations and schools, to be processed through the sheriff’s office in Cooperstown.


One of the old features of “Reading,’Riting and ‘Rithmetic” in Oneonta’s schools was changing. “Rithmetic” was now being called Modern Mathematics.

A community forum on Modern Mathematics was held during the first week of December, attended by about 50 local residents.

New techniques were being taught to students in the kindergarten, first and second grades of Oneonta’s public schools that fall.

If parents discovered that their children were having trouble with their arithmetic, they were advised to contact the teacher.

“You can confuse your child and put them in a worse position than he was in before if you do not understand what he is doing. You can also harm him if you try to teach him arithmetic the way you learned it,” said Wava Cuyler, a second-grade teacher at Center Street School.

Traditional methods weren’t being totally abandoned explained Mrs. Cuyler, as well as the other panelists, Miss Frances Johnson and John Higgins, mathematics teachers in the Oneonta City School District.

Mr. Higgins pointed out that with the traditional methods, students had to memorize and then they soon forgot. “Now they discover things for themselves and keep them,” he said. The idea was to teach children not just how numbers operate but why they do.

Modern Mathematics was being taught, Higgins said, “Because we are not educating our youngest students to enter the world of today. We are educating them for the world 15 years from now.”

Miss Johnson contended, “With the increased automation, there is an increased need for expert mathematicians. Someone will have to know how to set up the equations that are fed into the computers,” she declared.


The Oneonta Star of Tuesday, Dec. 24, 1963, gave an idea of what projects were ahead for the new year.

Hartwick College was set to begin construction of a $1 million museum-library building to house an extensive collection of American Indian relics, art and 150,000 volumes. This is today’s Yager Museum and Stevens-German Library.

The State University College at Oneonta was set to begin construction of a complex of buildings to include five dormitories and a dining hall, estimated at $5 million.

In the Oneonta City School District, completion of the new $2.73 million high school on East Street was targeted for the start of the school year in September. Construction of two new elementary schools, Greater Plains and Riverside, were also in the plans for the new calendar year.

While the present “Gold Standard” campaign project for improvements at the A.O. Fox Memorial Hospital will be completed in 2014, improvements in care were slated for 1964 as well. A new intensive care-recovery room complex on the third floor of the new wing at the hospital was set for completion by July 1.

This weekend: As this column enters its 16th year, there was a struggle with local juvenile delinquency in 1919.

Oneonta City Text ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/SolidText ColorSwatch/NoneStrokeStyle/$ID/Solid$ID/NothingText ColorText Color$ID/NothingText ColorText ColorHistorian 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