Step Back in Time features community news from The Daily Star 25 and 50 years ago.

25 years ago

June 17, 1986

COOPERSTOWN _ To Peter Prendergast, a resident physician at Bassett Hospital, a conversation with a Mongolian or idle talk with someone from Bangladesh is all in a day's fun.

Prendergast is an amateur ham radio operator, one of about 15,000 amateurs around the world who can operate a station equipped with a satellite transmitter, the latest advance in amateur radio.

"I know people all over the world," said Prendergast. "They have talents I tap into."

Prendergast said he has distant friends who readily provide him with computer knowledge, explain what components to buy and occasionally pop a computer program in the mail for him. Prendergast has a pile of electronic equipment in his home worth about $15,000 that make his talks possible.

"NASA actively tries to encourage the use of satellites by ham radio users to generate good will," Prendergast said.

According to Prendergast, there are only a half dozen ham radio satellites in existence now. He said that one American ham satellite was damaged recently. Ham amateurs have theorized that the damage was due to a solar flare.

Prendergast regularly speaks to Russians.

"They are exceptionally friendly people," said Prendergast. "They all speak remarkably good English."

Prendergast has heard some unusual sounds on his ham receiver. He recently overheard Soviet workers at a manned space station now orbiting the earth.

"It didn't mean anything to me," said Prendergast. "They were speaking in Russian."

Prendergast said he heard the Soviets bumping around and grunting and they seemed to be moving some bulky object.

50 years ago

June 17, 1961

RICHFIELD SPRINGS _ Albert D. Freeman, 50-year veteran of the Richfield Springs Fire Department is being honored at the annual Herkimer County Volunteer Firemen's Convention in Richfield Springs.

The former fire chief and 1948 Grand Marshall will be honorary grand marshall in the parade starting at 1:30 p.m. today.

Mr. Freeman joined the fire department in 1908, at the age of 17.

He states that he "was bitten by the bug" of firefighting when he attended his first fire in 1901, when the Summer Theater burned.

Also, he states, he was "keeping it in the family." His father, Hugh Freeman was a charter member of Hose Co. No. 1, formed in 1879.

Dubbed "Mr. Fireman," he served as chief of the department for more than a decade and as president of the department for another 10 years.

Included in his fire department accomplishments is the possession of a well-known collection of firefighting items.

Trending Video