The Daily Star, Oneonta, NY - otsego county news, delaware county news, oneonta news, oneonta sports

Mark Simonson

April 21, 2014

A historian's mailbag reflects, corrects recent columns

(Continued)

Now in Virginia, I was pleased to hear from Nancy Lucker Bargher, who said she and her brother’s families have kept all the trains their father had, and that the tradition is alive and well.

Early in 2013, I had written a column about a popular Oneonta acrobatic team in the late 1930s called “The Arabian Knights.” Cindy Eckert, the daughter of one of the acrobats, Lester Eckert, wrote to say she had connected with Jo Ann Kaufman, daughter of another Arabian Knight member, Richard E. Cole, and shared how their fathers were great friends while on the team and at Oneonta High School.

“I had heard that my father had run away from home with the Circus to be an acrobat,” Eckert wrote. “Now I knew why. He really liked being on stage, being an acrobat. And my mother said that he said he liked the sound of applauding, it would bring back ‘that’ feeling. That it never left him.”

Lastly, I heard from Fred Lewis of Oneonta, after he read about the column in February about the Citizens’ Military Training Camps that were popular during summer months of the 1930s. Lewis, now 91, said he attended the final year the CMTC was in existence in 1940 when he was 17, and the experience took him to the Plattsburgh army base. He recalled about 28 other boys from Otsego County went that summer.

“I went from the eighth of July until the eighth of August,” Lewis said recently. “They told us in addition to normal clothes to bring a heavy sweater, which seemed strange at first but even at that time of year, it gets cool there by the lake at night.

“As far as military courtesy and training, I learned more there than I did in three years in the Army. It was quite an experience,” Lewis said.

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