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

25 years ago

Sept. 7, 1994

KORTRIGHT — He’s back. More than a year after being arrested and evicted from peddling goods along a state highway, Delaware County’s Hubcap Man has returned.

With a trailer, a few dozen hubcaps, an old radio and a webbed folding chair, Gilbert Lane, 53, has returned to the state Route 23 site he was evicted from in November 1992.

“I am desperate,” Lane said in an interview Tuesday. According to Lane, his social services benefits were discontinued, leaving him homeless and penniless. Unable to get assistance through other social agencies, except for an offer of housing in Binghamton through the Salvation Army, Lane said he decided to return to his spot along the road. With a donated trailer and a sign that reads “garage sale,” Lane has declared himself open for business.

His return is the latest chapter in a 10-year legal battle. Lane settled on the state’s right-of-way along Route 23 in Kortright in 1989 after being driven out of Walton, where he had spent six years hawking hubcaps and other miscellaneous items. Lane contends that as a veteran who served overseas, he has the right to peddle goods on any state land, including the side of the highway.

“I have a copy of my license,” Lane said. “They’re ignoring the law, ignoring me.”

The Department of Transportation challenges his tenancy. The DOT entered the fray when Lane took up residency on the right-of-way. A 1990 Delaware County Court decision denied the DOT the authority to remove Lane or his wares, but in December 1991, a State Court Appellate Division ruling said Lane was violating state rights to the land and could be evicted.

In October of 1991, Lane was charged with operating a solid waste facility at the state Route 23 site and was given a discharge with the condition that he clean up the site within 30 days to comply with state Department of Environmental Conservation standards. The tires, old cars and junk goods remained on the property.

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