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
Beauty, grooming took center stage in Oneonta in March 1964
Good grooming, beauty and style seemed to be a recurring theme in the news around Oneonta during the month of March 1964.
Local news, opinion often mixed in 1889 newspapers
Modern-day newspapers make it very clear where local news is found, as well as opinion, separated by their own pages in weekly or daily editions, including The Daily Star.
Gasoline, demons and baseball were 'trending' locally in 1974
"Trending" has become a popular word in our present everyday language. This word wasn't used in February 1974, but for what I write twice weekly, it could just as well have applied to local history.
Early efforts to halt Silver Creek were slow going
Incidents of Silver Creek overflowing into the streets of Oneonta aren't making news as often as they once did.
Effort to establish Oneonta historic district began in 1970s
- Saturday, February 15, 2014
Experiment to treat inebriates began 150 years ago
Dr. J. Edward Turner came up with a unique idea in the 1840s on how to treat and restrain inebriates in the United States. Turne
- Monday, February 10, 2014
Milford fought over new school 30 years ago
At times nearly 30 years ago, the future of the Milford Central School District could have been portrayed as a weathervane, spinning in directions of either a new school, consolidation, or closing. The â€œwindsâ€� changed considerably between 1984 and 1988, but the end result was a new school in the village before the end of the decade.
- Saturday, February 8, 2014
Military camp, jobs, new Sidney church made news in February 1934
Despite bitter cold February weather, some already had summer camp on their minds, 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.
- Monday, February 3, 2014
The Farm of Franklin became a 'commercial for God' in the 1970s
Their mission was pretty simple.
- Saturday, February 1, 2014
Oneonta businesses expanded, bonded in February 1904
While some of Oneonta's businesses were changing hands or expanding, some of them paused to remember one leader who helped make the village's overall prosperity possible. Other business people who had previously worked in a bit of vacuum saw the benefits of working together for a better business climate. It was part of Oneonta's "Business Beat" of February 1904, as read in The Oneonta Star.
- Monday, January 27, 2014
Business changes, energy conservation made news in January 1974
Our family's automotive parts store business on Valleyview Street in Oneonta was no place to be if you wore a short-sleeve shirt to work in January 1974.
- Saturday, January 25, 2014
Oneonta students responded strongly to Victory Corps in 1943
Oneontans seem to have a history of responding when being called upon to help. Earlier this week, when our local radio stations held an on-air fundraising event to help rebuild the Doc Knapp Little League field, after being hit hard by vandals last weekend, a goal of $3,000 was set. Local listeners responded with more than $10,000 in only two hours.
- Monday, January 20, 2014
Debates, updates dominated local education news in 1969
Need for another local college was debated, departures of two longtime college administrators, and the dedication of a new occupational center made local news during January 1969.
- Saturday, January 18, 2014
Civil War deserters challenged local law enforcers in 1864
Area law enforcers had their hands full with rough and tumble activities in the early months of 1864. While there were still many enlisting in the Civil War, there were also many local deserters from the front lines, and it was the latter men who challenged the authorities. These accounts came from January editions of The Oneonta Herald.
- Monday, January 13, 2014
Otsego Habitat for Humanity got start 25 years ago
Here's proof that good things can happen on any Friday the 13th. A potluck supper was held on Friday, Jan. 13, 1989 at the First United Methodist Church at 66 Chestnut St. in Oneonta, and over some good, shared food came the start of a positive mission in Otsego County.
- Saturday, January 11, 2014
Winters spent differently by Worcester residents in 1914
I hope you've been coping with the wild roller coaster ride of temperatures we've experienced the last few weeks, from the teeth chattering cold to days we could break out the barbecue grills. Worcester residents had an adventure in coping with the winter weather 100 years ago, while a few others from the village had it a bit easier.
- Monday, January 6, 2014
Moving clocks forward caused local controversy in January 1974
- Saturday, January 4, 2014
Juvenile delinquents stressed local authorities in 1919
As Oneontans turned over their calendars to January 1919, they soon learned that the city had a problem of bad behavior amongst some of their youngest citizens. News was abundant and reported in The Oneonta Star, and by February a crusade was called for to turn the tide on juvenile delinquency.
- Monday, December 30, 2013
ID cards, new math and construction plans made news in December 1963
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.
- Saturday, December 28, 2013
Today's news had similarities to stories in 1888
Bullying, gun control, smoking, mischievous behavior by youngsters and downtown Oneonta lighting may have made news locally during 2013. These same topics made news as well as few amusing others in 1888. Each wasn't lengthy enough for a stand-alone column, so just as we're dealing with leftovers from our holiday feasts this week, we can call this a leftover collection of 125 years ago.
- Beauty, grooming took center stage in Oneonta in March 1964