Backtracking: In Our Times: Dollar, job worries made news locally in July 1979

FILEAn unidentified woman pumps gas at a Red Barrel store in Oneonta on July 12, 1979. It was the first dollar gasoline seen in the area.

 

The Oneonta area saw a new dollar, which could buy exactly one gallon of gas. With fuel prices at the new plateau, residents sought ways to conserve the precious liquid. And Sidney feared an employment bombshell would explode.

These were all part of our local life and times in July 1979.

ONEONTANS BUY NEW DOLLAR

“The new Susan B. Anthony dollar coin went over well in Oneonta in its first two days of circulation, local bankers say,” The Daily Star reported on July 5.

While the Wilber National Bank depleted its $2,000 supply, there were no shortages at the Oneonta Savings and Loan or National Commercial Bank.

Manager of the National Commercial Bank, Richard Kimmerer, said it would take time to get used to the new coin. The last issue of new money, the $2 bill in 1976, had not been popular. At least, Kimmerer said, the new dollar is easy to carry compared to the old, heavy silver ones.

THE DOLLAR WAS GOOD FOR A GALLON

Star readers of July 13 learned, “At least two service stations in the Oneonta area are selling gas for over a dollar a gallon, and several more expect to be doing so by this weekend.

“Oneonta’s Red Barrel station on Southside and Stanley White’s Amoco in West Oneonta were the first to resort to half-gallon pricing yesterday.” Most gasoline pumps were not equipped with three digit price meters at the time, so the half-gallon method was a temporary solution for payment of the rising gas prices.

NEW APPROACHES TAKEN TO SAVE GAS

With a dateline of Sidney on July 16, The Star reported, “Tri-Towns area residents have apparently found another alternative in dealing with the energy crunch. Many are leaving their gas-guzzling automobiles home and turning to mopeds for commuting and recreation.

“Mopeds are motor-powered bikes that have been the primary mode of transportation in Europe and Asia for over 30 years, but are just beginning to be noticed in the Tri-Towns area.” Mopeds weighed about 190 pounds and could travel over 100 miles per gallon. Marcy’s Honda of Sidney was having a hard time keeping up with the demand.

Another local man took more of a “retro” approach, as told by The Star of July 17.

“Albert Dub, a retired insurance man who lives in Schenevus, drives a car that gets 50 miles to the gallon and takes regular gas. In fact he has three of them on his front lawn and another four in his garage.

“Albert Dub restores ‘Crosleys’ — a small car with a four-cylinder engine manufactured from 1939 to 1952.

“‘I’ve been fooling with them for 29 years,’ he said recently. ‘It’s something that stuck with me since I owned my first one.’” That was in 1950.

SIDNEY HELD ITS COLLECTIVE BREATH ON JOBS

Tri-Towns residents were on pins and needles, as The Star reported on Wednesday, July 18.

“Local and state officials … are lobbying hard to keep Keith Clark Corporation and 400 jobs in Sidney.” We know the company today as ACCO Brands.

“Keith Clark managers, apparently collecting data and preparing reports for the past two months, will meet with the corporation’s board of trustees Monday. After that meeting trustees are expected to decide fairly quickly whether to expand the Sidney plant or move the entire operation to a site in Spartanburg, South Carolina.”

The decision was moved up to Friday. Local efforts to encourage Keith Clark to stay were launched. On The Star’s editorial page of July 19, a coupon was printed to be mailed to James O’Neil, the company president.

Friday came, and as it was reported the next day, “Keith Clark employees breathed a sigh of relief Friday afternoon following the announcement … that the large calendar producer would remain in Sidney.

“The official announcement came shortly before lunch Friday when plant superintendent Walfred Olson read a brief memo from O’Neil to the plant’s 400 employees.

“The announcement came only hours before Keith Clark employees were to begin a two-week vacation period.

“‘Guess what? I’m not going to have to look for another job during vacation,’ shouted one woman as she got into the car with her husband to go home.”

This weekend: local groundbreakings in August 1949.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Tuesday columns address local history 1950 and later.  If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/.

Ask Mark... 

Have you ever had a question about a history-making event or a prominent person in our area and didn't know where to find the answer? Well, we've got an expert who might be able to help you. Historian Mark Simonson has spent many years chronicling major local happenings, and he's ready and willing to dive into The Daily Star archives for answers, which will appear in this newspaper and online at www.thedailystar.com.

Write to him at "Ask Mark," The Daily Star, 102 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or email him at simmark@stny.rr.com

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