FileThis ad appeared in The Oneonta Star of Jan. 26, 1950. As The Star wrote, ‘For the customers, the basketball and comedy ... and the novelty of seeing pretty girls playing basketball, spelled a successful evening.' 

Dreams of a higher income, innovations in education and entertaining women’s basketball were just a part of our local life and times during January 1950.


In 2013, an average annual American family’s income was in the area of $52,000, according to various sources. Suppose the President of the United States was to make a prediction that a family’s income would rise to the near $80,000 mark by this time in 2019. To most, this would sound very attractive.

President Harry S. Truman made a prediction like this in early January 1950. At that time, the average annual family income was around $3,300. The president felt an average family would earn $5,000 by 1954. Around Oneonta, such a prediction received plenty of reaction, a couple taken from The Oneonta Star of Saturday, Jan. 7, 1950.

“Lynn and Clyde Bresee, Oneonta merchants,” of the former Bresee’s Department Store, said, “At best the prediction is visionary idealism, at worst, a threat of real inflation.

“Paul L. Talbot of Burlington Flats, vice president of the Dairymen’s League declared: If the federal government keeps on spending, there won’t be much left. It does not matter what the President predicts that each individual income will be, but what each individual has left after taxes and government expenditures. When the government takes eight billion dollars a year out of New York State — about eight times the cost of running the state government — obviously, no matter how high the individual’s income is, his net return will be less unless the government cuts out spending as it is doing today.”

President Truman’s prediction of $5,000, according to Census Bureau and U.S. Department of Commerce figures, came true by 1958.


You knew you were becoming a “responsible” elementary school student when the teacher called on you to run the projector for the filmstrips watched in classes during the 1950s through the ‘70s. Some of those educational films were made in the Morris area in 1950.

“A mile out of Morris in the direction of Gilbertsville is a pioneer farm house, sturdy survivor of the 1790s, proudly carrying its age with here and there a vestment of the Twentieth Century,” The Star reported on Jan. 7.

“Orville Goldner, one of the first to experiment with visual education, purchased the farm two years ago and since then has been using it as home base for production of film strips and movies for use in schools throughout the United States. During World War Two Mr. Goldner was head of the U.S. Navy’s training film branch, and is now supplying the same methods of instruction to everyday studies in schools.

“His films and movies, some made in (The) Farmers Museum at Cooperstown and others reflecting Otsego County influences, have been welcomed to such extent that Mr. Goldner and his wife-partner will progress from national to international distribution.

“I came to this rural setting,” Mr. Goldner explained, “to get away from New York City where I couldn’t get an idea in a month.”


“Billed as America’s greatest and prettiest court aggregation,” The Star reported on Thursday, Jan. 28, “the New York Cover Girls quintet will meet the undefeated Oneonta Indians, the outstanding non-scholastic basketball team in this area, tonight in the State Armory.”

Nearly 2,000 attended, said to be the largest city basketball crowd of the season. The five women gave their male opponents an amazing challenge, leading at halftime by 46-27. A surge by the Indians in the fourth quarter secured the win, 71-66. Anthony Drago, later to become a college and Oneonta High School basketball coach, scored eight.

“The game itself was marked by comedy provided by Rosalind Rinaldi, diminutive speedster for the New Yorkers, and her teammate, Ruby Perlotte ... who gave the Indians plenty of trouble with her speed and shooting.”

More will be told about the Oneonta Indians in a future column.

This weekend: For shoe industrialist George F. Johnson, there was no room for prejudice and bigotry on his watch.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area during the Depression and before. His Monday columns address local history after the Depression. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at

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