By Mark Simonson
The Daily Star
---- — Carl Delberta made a big career move. A new kind of television programming debuted in our region. Gun control laws were a hot topic of debate, and Otsego County residents prepared to shell out a little more on their purchases. It was all part of what was going on in our area during February 1968.
Boxing great turns in badge
Ever since 1951, Patrolman Carl Delberta was a familiar figure at the corner of Dietz and Main Streets in Oneonta. While Carl liked his work, he had another calling to pursue.
It was reported Friday, Feb. 2, that Delberta would resign from the Oneonta Police Department, effective March 1, to become the full-time director of the new Oneonta Boys Club on River Street, an organization he had founded in 1947. It was then housed in a barn in the back of the Oneonta VFW on Main Street.
Reflecting on his law enforcement career, Delberta said his most vivid memory was of a time when he and Patrolman Jack Erring were sent to the Oneonta Hotel, today’s 189 Main St., where a murder was reportedly in progress.
Upon reaching the room where the crime was committed, Delberta recalled that a man came out, and through the open door the patrolmen could see a beaten man on the floor with blood splashed about on walls, the rug, woodwork and bedding.
When halted and asked for identification, Delberta said the man took a swing and a miss at his jaw. Delberta countered with crisp right cross, flooring his assailant. The man popped right back up and challenged Delberta to a fight without the nightstick. Delberta accepted, blocking the man’s right arm with his left, flooring him again with another right cross.
After handcuffed and taken to the police station, Delberta said the man told him, “You’re not a hick cop from Oneonta, you must have come from New York.”
Delberta told The Oneonta Star in 1968 that he replied, “No, I’ve been in Oneonta all my life,” adding, “What he didn’t know is that I boxed professionally for five years.” Delberta was a ranked welterweight in years before World War II, at his peak during the Great Depression years.
Public TV hits local airwaves
Prior to the years of public television stations such as WSKG or WCNY in our region, the area was introduced to ETV, or Educational Television, in February.
The Rural Supplementary Education Center in Stamford signed on the air for the first time Monday, Feb. 5. Antennas were placed on Mount Pisgah in Andes and Mount Utsayantha in Stamford. WNDT, Channel 13 from New York was relayed by microwave to the RSEC in Stamford and sent out to local cable television companies. WNDT later became WNET.
Lawmakers fight new gun rules
It was reported Friday, Feb. 16, that the Delaware County Board of Supervisors passed a resolution to call on lawmakers in Albany to oppose Gov. Nelson Rockefeller’s proposed restrictive gun legislation.
Oneonta Star columnist John Lough on Feb. 19 wrote, “If I were a potential dictator preparing for a military takeover of the United States, I can’t think of a nicer bit of useful information than a list of American gun owners.”
“Such a list would be easy to acquire if gun registration legislation now being discussed in New York and other states is enacted.”
Lough told how state Assemblyman Edwyn E. Mason and state Sen. Dalwin J. Niles were pleased when both Delaware and Schoharie county lawmakers passed opposition resolutions. Nationally, the gun legislation debate grew hotter in the next few months, following the deaths of Martin Luther King Jr. and U.S. Sen. Robert F. Kennedy.
Sales tax arrives in Otsego County
If one wanted to buy a gun, or just about anything in Otsego County in February, they probably looked to do so before the end of Thursday, Feb. 29. That’s because Otsego County became the 29th county in the state to impose a countywide sales tax March 1.
“The two percent tax, approved by the County Board of Supervisors last December 7, will raise the total state-county sales tax to four percent.”
This weekend: Company G’s adventure to President Wilson’s inauguration in 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 email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/marksimonson.