By Mark Simonson
A fire destroyed a foundry in Morris, Hartwick College basketball dropped a division level, two schools considered a merger, and a local Odyssey of the Mind was born. These news items and more made for a busy month in March 1982.
It had only been a month since Morris Castings had reopened an old foundry near the Otsego County Fairgrounds, when fire ripped through the old stone and wood structure on Monday, March 1. It had beenrecently closed due to slow business. The company was producing a variety of small metal parts, brass plaques and foot pedals.
Eight fire departments and 150 firefighters fought the blaze for several hours, which caused damages well in excess of $100,000. Arson was ruled out, as fire investigators decided a massive furnace was the cause, igniting a ceiling area. The building was totally destroyed.
Maurice Bridges was on the scene, taking photos of the blaze. Bridges knew the plant well, as he recalled it being built in 1917, and holding a job there starting in 1929. It was built by Holman Harry Linn as a factoryto produce the Linn Tractor.
“That’s the way I got started in life,” Bridges told The Daily Star. “I was in the third office in here. I was assistant to the sales manager. I was 24.” Bridges said when he was hired the factory employed as many as 70 and produced 225 tractors a year.
“It became very profitable,” Bridges said. “He and his partner,” referring to Linn, “made a million bucks in about 12 years.”
Bridges and a partner later bought the factory in 1949, after Linn had moved its operations to Oneonta. They leased it to such companies as the Raymond Corp. of Greene, Bendix of Sidney and Corning Inc. of Oneonta, and later sold it to Charles Lay of Morris in 1975, who started Morris Castings.
The same day as the fire, Hartwick College played its season finale in basketball, losing in overtime to St. John Fisher, 103-102, and was denied a bid to a regional playoff tournament.
At the time, Hartwick was a NCAA Division II team, but only two days after that loss, Dr. Philip Wilder, President of Hartwick College, announced that the college would drop the Division II status, and go to Division III play.
“Hartwick has had great tradition in division two basketball for a long time,” said then coach Nick Lambros. “I’m really down that we’re going to division three, not that there aren’t good division three teams around. I watched it as a kid in the 1950s and captained the team in 1958 before coming back to coach,” he said.
Worcester and Schenevus school officials agreed to study the feasibility of a merger, it was reported on Saturday, March 6. School boards from both districts directed Schenevus Superintendent Menzer Doud and Worcester Superintendent George Mack to make an in-depth study of the merger.
Nothing ever resulted from it, but the last talk about a merger had been started about 10 years earlier.
“There’s nothing at all new about the idea,” Mack said of the merger. “Existing schools now, such as Worcester and Schenevus, themselves resulted from mergers.”
Meanwhile students from five school districts competed in the “Olympics of the Mind,” on Saturday, March 27 at the Bugbee School, Oneonta. Later named Odyssey of the Mind, the competition was founded in 1978 in New Jersey at Glassboro State College, what is now Rowan University, involving 28 schools.
he competition was designed for highly creative, gifted/talented students, in problem-solving activities. “Seventy-five students from schools in the Catskill Area School Study Council will compete,” it was reported. The schools were Walton, Sidney, Unatego, Oneonta and Laurens. Ron Whalen, then a teacher at Center Street School, presented awards at the end of the day. Unfortunately the results were either never submitted to, or printed by the Star, but winners of this competition went on to compete in a state Olympics of the Mind on May 1 in Albany.
By Mark Simonson
- Mark Simonson
Bainbridge model railroad attracted many locals 35 years ago
Toys that were all the rage 35 years ago centered on the theme of outer space. Oneonta area merchants were hard pressed to keep the selection of Star Wars, Battlestar Galactica, Space 1999 and Star Trek toys on their shelves in 1978.
Oneonta name found in Northeast Pennsylvania lake borough
Harvey's Lake, Pa., is small enough so you can't miss a street sign that reads, "Oneonta Hill." Whether you're new to that area, or you're from this part of the upper Susquehanna Valley, a bit of curiosity might tug at your mind regarding the name of the hill and how it got there.
Oneonta's Foreign Exchange Student Program got green light 55 years ago
"A foreign exchange student, attending classes at Oneonta High School, looms somewhere near in the future."
It could be difficult to get around Oneonta in late 1888
In getting around Oneonta in 1888, there were pretty much two seasons for the streets -- summer and "mud" season. To add to the misery of "mud" season that year, the bridge over the Susquehanna River on lower Main Street was taken out of use for a short time, replaced by a new one.
Professional basketball exhibitions played at armory
Every now and then our region gets a visit from basketball show teams such as the Harlem Globetrotters. In recent years no one can say they saw NBA caliber teams play in Oneonta. In late 1948 and in early 1953 however, Oneonta could boast of watching both levels of basketball talent play on what was their premier hometown court.
- Saturday, November 30, 2013
Railroad, related developments expanded Oneonta in 1863
- Saturday, November 23, 2013
Famous hobo discouraged youths from becoming wanderers
A-No.1 made an appearance in Oneonta 80 years ago this week.
- Monday, November 18, 2013
Local college students pushed for equality in the late 1960s
A modern day college student at any of our region's institutions of higher learning might either get a chuckle or cast a jeer at some of the customs and rules of campus life in the late 1960s and early '70s. For instance, only female students had curfews until 1968 and college dormitories were strictly male or female until 1970. These customs began to change during those years at the State University College at Oneonta.
- Saturday, November 16, 2013
IBM thrived in region during Great Depression
Last weekend we learned that many local unemployed men found much-needed temporary work by building new sewers and water lines in Oneonta during the Great Depression. While the times were tough for so many, just about 65 miles southeast of here a totally different employment strategy was in progress in Endicott, at the IBM Corp.
- Monday, November 11, 2013
Mansion was leveled for Cooperstown's Clark Sports Center
There were considerable rumbling and crashing sounds coming from the lower section of Susquehanna Avenue in Cooperstown 30 years ago this week. Workers on bulldozers were tearing down the 40-room Iroquois Mansion, in order to make way for the present Clark Sports Center.
- Saturday, November 9, 2013
Creating better sewers helped many during Great Depression
Many remember from the 1950s sitcom "The Honeymooners," Ed Norton worked in the sewers and made plenty of funny remarks about his job. It wasn't a glamorous job, but someone had to do it.
- Monday, November 4, 2013
Local enthusiasm was high in 1968 presidential election
- Monday, October 28, 2013
A variety of local changes made news in October 1988
Departures and arrivals of various kinds could easily describe many local news items reported during October 1988.
- Saturday, October 26, 2013
'War of the Worlds' caused little local concern
If there was ever a big boost in the career of actor, director, writer and producer Orson Welles, it came 75 years ago this coming week when radio was a media giant. It was Sunday night, Oct. 30, 1938, when Oneontans and those across the nation tuned in -- many of them after the program's introduction -- to the Mercury Theatre play, "The War of the Worlds."
- Monday, October 21, 2013
Local education, employment trends shifted in early 1960s
- Saturday, October 19, 2013
Search for Upstate Baptist Home site began locally in 1923
These days, you don't have to wait for tomorrow's newspaper to learn the latest breaking news. A look nearly each day at The Daily Star website will show something you'll read in print the next day. In Oneonta, 90 years ago, if you didn't hear breaking news by word of mouth, you had to wait for the next day's newspaper.
- Monday, October 14, 2013
Oneonta campaigned to keep a Sears store downtown in 1978
Downtown Oneonta as a retail hub was showing signs of distress in the late 1970s. A "SOS" message was being delivered by many retailers in October 1978. In this case, the message meant, "Save Our Sears."
- Saturday, October 12, 2013
Infrastructure, social growth made news in October 1888
If one could quickly describe Oneonta in October 1888, it would be that the village was experiencing growing pains. By looking through the pages of a recently started daily newspaper, The Oneonta Daily News, the news and some debates made it quite clear the growth had its effects on daily life.
- Monday, October 7, 2013
Beat poet Ginsberg had ties to local area
It would be safe to say that the late poet Allen Ginsberg raised a few eyebrows, good or bad, with some of his work through the years.
- Saturday, October 5, 2013
World Series scoreboard attracted many in Oneonta in 1913
If you've attended Minor League baseball games in recent years in Binghamton and Syracuse, you can't help but notice the state-of-the-art video scoreboards the ball clubs have added to the baseball game atmosphere. Having attended some games in these cities myself, oftentimes the scoreboards became more interesting than the actual game.
- Bainbridge model railroad attracted many locals 35 years ago