Step Back in Time features news items from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.
25 years ago
Nov. 23, 1988
COOPERSTOWN – At about 2:30 a.m. Sunday, Greg Chapman was walking up County Route 26 where it rises from state Route 28 at Grasslands Hill about a mile south of Cooperstown. Suddenly a yellowish glow, like a light bulb, appeared in the sky and fell to the ground.
Chapman went to investigate and found what he believes is a meteorite.
What Chapman found is a rock about the size of a doorknob, loaded with pockmarks and a few larger holes about the diameter of a pencil. The grayish surface, where it is not pitted, is smooth, and the stone seems about the right weight for its size.
Chapman’s find probably will be a once in a lifetime experience, according to Charles Hartley, a Hartwick College professor who teaches physics and astronomy.
“It’s a fairly rare event,” he said.
Also known as shooting stars, meteors are the glowing streaks in the night sky that occur when wandering bits of rock or metal fall into the earth’s atmosphere from space. Hartley said that from five to seven per hour strike the atmosphere. But most burn up on their ride through the atmosphere. The few that make it to earth are called meteorites.
Chapman is protective about his find. He is afraid he will be confronted by government officials or scientists who may try to take the rock away from him. He is afraid local people will think he’s crazy.
Hartley said Chapman probably has little to worry about. Under the law, the finder of a meteorite in the vast majority of cases is the keeper, he said.
Chapman has many unanswered questions about his find.
“The other people I show it to are pretty amazed,” he said. “I keep wondering how far it came from.”
50 years ago
Nov. 23, 1963
People in Oneonta who hadn’t shed a tear in years remembered how to cry Friday when they learned of the assassination of President Kennedy.
They wept unashamedly.
The loud, boisterous tough guys dabbed at their eyes with handkerchiefs.
The women, with more emotional honesty, sobbed out loud.
Children, returning home from school, walked somberly. There was no joking, no pushing, no horseplay.
Oneontans reacted in every way imaginable.
“Why did they kill President Kennedy?” a young girl asked in the lobby of the Oneonta Hotel. And though there were 12 adults there, no one answered the youngster.
David Cooper, manager of Newberry’s Department Store, summed it up with “Everyone feels like they’ve just been kicked in the stomach.”
William (Bill) Georgeson, in broken English said, “My heart is broke. It’s a terrible thing. A shame … a shame. And all for what?”
Kenneth Agne, a salesman at Sears and Roebuck, said “almost everyone had tears in their eyes. I had to help one woman to a chair. She wanted to sit down. And be alone.”
Many Oneontans of all denominations went straight to church. It was the only place for many of them.
Mrs. Charles Ditmore, City Drug Store employee, had trouble choking back her tears. “I’m just sick. No matter who they get, he can’t do more than President Kennedy. It just doesn’t seem possible that something like this could happen in the United States.”