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Mark Simonson

May 21, 2012

Perfect attendance by Saturday’s Bread for 20 years in Oneonta

Oneonta became a settlement and has been a place to do one's "trading," whether it was the 18th century, or 2012, because of the five valleys that converge here. Only the places of doing the "trading" have changed a bit over the last 100 years, and Oneonta remains a place that attracts visitors and has always been a decent place to live and work.

100 Years Ago

A young city, with a population of 10,141, Oneonta had grown by nearly 3,000 residents since the turn of the century.

The downtown business district was growing, with new business blocks being constructed east of Ford Avenue and Main Street.

The major employer at the time was the D&H Railroad, fast approaching its peak number of city residents at work in the railroad yards, around 39 percent.

Others were rolling cigars and the agricultural base was strong, with many area farms still growing hops, a main ingredient used in brewing beer.

When not at work, Oneontans enjoyed time in the new Neahwa Park, or watching baseball at the ballpark, where today's Damaschke Field is found.

75 years ago

Oneonta was enduring The Great Depression much better than larger cities. Oneonta was still completely lined with family farms along Southside, where the mall and box stores are found today. The railroad was still somewhat busy, despite a major decrease in freight business.

A fairly new institution, Hartwick College, came close to closing down because of low enrollment.

A new hospital, Homer Folks Tuberculosis Hospital, had recently opened on upper West Street, to fight the "great white plague" for patients in a nine-county region. It is today's Job Corps Academy.

Our area saw benefits of Depression programs initiated by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. Local people employed by the Works Progress Administration improved creek linings and built a bathhouse and a more modern pool in Wilber Park, as well as a new grandstand at the ballpark in Neahwa Park. The Civilian Conservation Corps camp in nearby Laurens was developing Gilbert Lake State Park into the outdoor recreation and camping gem we know today.

Oneontans were reading about trouble beginning in Europe each day in The Oneonta Star.

50 years ago

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Mark Simonson

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