Backtracking: In Our Times: Locally, our region was a busy place during April 1951

Stories of construction, politics and elements of surprise kept local attention high during the month of April 1951.



With a dateline of Richfield Springs, The Oneonta Star reported on April 4, “Field office of the Tennessee Gas Transmission Office has been opened in this village to supervise construction of a 160-mile section of a natural gas pipeline from near Buffalo to near Pittsfield, Mass.

“The line will eventually extend from Hamburg … to the New York-Massachusetts boundary near Pittsfield, where it will connect with other lines extending through the Atlantic coast. Whether distributing firms in communities along the line will be able to make taps to sell to their customers will depend on granting of permission from the Federal Power Commission.”

For the spring of 1951, Richfield Springs bustled with activity, as pipeline officials said, “… many of the employees of the firm have taken living accommodations along Canadarago and Otsego Lakes and in tourist homes and motels along Route 20. Many of the skilled workers also have arrived for the job in their own trailers.”



Star readers of April 7 learned, “Former Mayor Charles Gadsby of New Berlin is still battling to retain his post and oust Mrs. Sophie Karalunas who defeated him on a write-in vote at the annual village election.”

This was the second time for the recount. In the first, Karalunas had a slim four-vote lead, and the second saw her plurality jump to 12 votes. Mrs. Karalunas was forbidden to act as mayor until a decision was made by the state Supreme Court. Gadsby alleged he was excluded from the room when ballots were recounted. The decision soon went in favor of Karalunas.

Meanwhile, in another district of state Supreme Court, Justice A. Lindsay O’Connor announced his retirement, and The Star reported on April 12, “Joseph P. Molinari of … Oneonta, Judge of Otsego County since 1943, yesterday announced his candidacy for Supreme Court Justice in the Sixth Judicial District.

Molinari faced Livingston S. Latham of Unadilla in a Republican primary on April 21, was victorious, and went on to win in the general election in November.



“One of the queerest thrills in a person’s life is to have someone tell him, ‘You’re supposed to be dead,’” began a Star story on April 11.

Daniel B. Wilbur was employed at what was then called Keith Clark Calendars, Inc., when he was paid a visit at home by an insurance adjustor, who informed him of his demise.

“‘Well that’s sure news to me,’ said Danny. ‘I feel all right. I don’t think I’m dead, yet.’

“And, taking him at his word, the claims inspector revealed the whole story.

“During World War Two, Danny had been a pilot with the Army Air Transport Command, flying the Africa route for three years. After the war he returned to New York State to become a pilot and flight instructor for such areas as the Adirondacks, Triple Cities and Waverly.

“It seems that in 1948, while Danny was flight instructor in Waverly, he was assigned to pilot a chartered night flight. During this flight, the plane ran out of gas and crashed.

“One of the plane’s occupants was killed, but it wasn’t Danny. However, he was in the hospital for over three months with multiple fractures, contusions and lacerations.”

Following his recovery, Wilbur came to Sidney for employment and had been there since.

“Anyways, it’s great to be alive,” Wilbur concluded.

In a war-related story, The Star reported on April 23, “Forty-three seniors comprising the 1951 class at Cooperstown Central School received an unexpected thrill this past week during the class’ annual trip to Washington and New York.

“While in the capitol, they were among the crowd that heard and saw General of the Army Douglas MacArthur deliver his speech of thanks at the civic welcome ceremonies Thursday afternoon at the Washington monument.”

Once back in Cooperstown, it was reported, “‘It was easily the most experience of my life,’ said Miss Frankie Cadwell, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. William E. Cadwell of River Street.”

This weekend: A movie premiere in Oneonta in 1946 had particular local interest for a railroad town.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Wednesday 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 His website is His columns can be found at

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

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

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