Despite bitterly cold February weather, some locals already had summer camp on their minds in the 1930s, including one camp that may not be very popular today. A re-employment service was experiencing unusual success during the Great Depression. Also, a new church opened in Sidney. All were part of our local life and times in February 1934.
Nearly 1,000 youths from across New York state were set to be recruited for Citizens’ Military Training Camps, it was announced on Monday, Feb. 13, 1934. These were held every summer from 1921 to 1940, allowing male citizens to obtain military training without an obligation to call-up for active duty.
Local quotas for counties were Otsego, 12; Delaware, 5; Schoharie, 5; Chenango, 8. At that time there were seven training camps. Local youths might train at Plattsburgh, Fort Niagara, Camp Dix, N.J., Madison, San Juan, Purta Rico, Fort Ethan Allen, Vt., or Fort Myer, Va.
Apparently there was a waiting list for youths wishing to join a CMTC, as Raymond M. Tucker, chairman of the Otsego County enlistments, said, “Because of the small quota this year, preference will be given youths who were on the lists last year.” Applications were being accepted until Feb. 26. Names of 27 Otsego County youths were listed in an article in The Oneonta Star as being given the first opportunity to enroll.
Oneonta’s office of the National Reemployment Service was apparently performing its duties with success. An article in the Star on Wednesday, Feb. 14, told of how busy the office was in the Municipal Building, today’s 242 Main St., directed by Mr. John Lambrecht.
“‘It’s the best job I’ve ever had in my life,’ one Oneonta woman for whom Mr. Lambrecht had secured a job as housekeeper wrote him. Her letter of gratitude is but an echo of many similar expressions Mr. Lambrecht receives each day. Although a great many of the places which are offered afford only temporary employment, many of the jobs are permanent and pay more than a bare living wage.’”
There were no computer job searches in those days.
“On Mr. Lambrecht’s desk is placed a long file which contains registration cards giving the name, occupation, experience and references of each person who has applied to the service for aid in securing a job.”
“Jobs are found for as many as eight and 10 persons a day,” the article concluded. “On Lincoln’s birthday three were placed a census takers, one as a nurseryman’s assistant, one as a farm hand. In fact jobs were found for so many stenographers that the demand a few days ago was greater than the supply.”
“It is estimated that more than 1,200 people attended the opening services at the new Methodist Episcopal church Sunday,” it was reported from Sidney on Feb. 28. The church is known today as the Sidney United Methodist Church, found at 12 Liberty St.
Local residents gathered at various times during the day for events at the church, from morning Sunday school to an evening service at 7:30.
“Thus started Methodism in Sidney upon a new wave of enthusiasm and activity which promises to stir the religious life of the village.
“They may well be proud of their new church. Built at a total cost of approximately $2,000,” as seen in print, “it has been declared by many preachers and others to be one of the most complete and adaptable buildings they have ever seen. There is not an inch of waste space in the structure and yet it lends itself to various forms of service because of its careful planning.”
That Sunday evening service, it was noted, was “in spite of inclement weather.” There was a lot of foul weather going on in late February 1934.
On that same Sunday, the Star reported, “Frost particles as thick as snowflakes blew through the air during part of the afternoon.”
“The countryside was still digging out from under the 10 or 11 inches of snow that fell Sunday and Monday, and deep drifts hampered travel on some of the back roads.”
Ads from several local contractors were seen in the newspaper around that time, for their services to thaw frozen water pipes.
On Monday: A new school for Milford.
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 email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.