Backtracking: In Our Times: Many arrivals, departures kept Oneonta busy during June 1976

FileStudents leave the Oneonta Junior High School after final classes held on Friday, June 18, 1976. The north and south buildings were then found on Academy Street. A new junior high opened on East Street in September, next to the high school building.

If the month of June 1976 could be easily defined, one could say it was a month of comings and goings in or near Oneonta.

For example, a prominent and long-running political career came to be, as readers of The Daily Star found out on June 11, “Former U.N. Ambassador Daniel Patrick Moynihan made a whirlwind tour across New York State Wednesday to kick off his campaign for the Democratic nomination for the U.S. Senate.

Moynihan, 49, had a residence in Prosser Hollow, Pindars Corners.

Moynihan made his local presence known, but didn’t come to talk politics, as The Star reported June 21 on his delivering the main address at Charlotte Valley Central School’s dedication of the O’Connor Memorial Gymnasium.

Before his speech, Moynihan was presented with “then" and “now” photographs of his Prosser Hollow home. Comparing the 1885 photo to the current one, Moynihan joked, “It’s unchanged but the taxes are higher."

Getting from Main Street in downtown Oneonta to the recently opened parking garage on Market Street took many more steps to get to than it currently does. A new solution for fewer steps came about in June, as well.

The June 15 edition of The Star said, “Oneonta merchant Charles Holdorf last night presented the Urban Renewal Agency with a plan to purchase and rehabilitate the Webb Shoe building.

“An estimated cost of $48,000 was given for arcade construction and rehabilitation of the building, located next to Sissons,” then listed as 186 Main St. The arcade to the parking garage opened in the next few years.

By looking atop 242 Main St. for many years now, one notices an attractive clock. As learned from The Star of June 16, “The Oneonta Lions Club has started a fund drive to restore the old Oneonta town clock. They hope to place the clock on top of City Hall,” then found at that address.

A downtown clock had been missing since 1968, when an original town clock was taken down from the Westcott Building, torn down the same year to create a parking lot. Interestingly those old clock parts are on display in the window of the aforementioned arcade.

The Lions set a goal of $10,000 to put the new clock together. It was placed where it now stands in 1977.

Elsewhere, a previously unnamed building was about to get a new name. The Star of June 19 reported, “Oneonta State’s Instructional Resources Center has been named in memory of former teacher Evelyn R. Hodgdon.

“Miss Hodgdon was a member of the SUCO faculty for 25 years.” She retired in 1959 and died in February 1974.

Along with all these arrivals came the departures in June 1976.

Sadly, The Star reported June 12, “C. James Konstanty, of Worcester, National League most valuable player with the pennant-winning Philadelphia Phillies in 1950, died Friday.

“He had been a resident of Worcester since 1945 and opened Konstanty’s Sporting Goods in Oneonta in 1948, retiring in 1973.” Konstanty, among other roles was a teacher, coach, and the Athletic Director at Hartwick College during his extensive career.

Also departing were ways to get around or through Oneonta’s Wilber Park.

“The barricading of six Wilber Park entrances to vehicular traffic has apparently been accepted by most park goers,” The Star of June 11 reported. “City officials say they have received few complaints about the new system.

“‘The parks are for people, not for cars,’ says Second Ward Alderman Richard McVinney, defending the Common Council’s decision to restrict parts of Wilber Park to traffic.”

Lastly, as The Star reported on June 19, “Yesterday marked the end of an educational era in Oneonta: The final classes were held in the old junior high school,” then found on Academy Street.

“Students will be back next week for exams, but after that the building will be locked after 70 years of use.” The old north building was opened in 1908, and the south building in 1927. The north building had been the former high school until the East Street high school building opened in 1964.

“The building, through which thousands of young Oneontans passed, closed because school and state officials considered the structure beyond repair.

“The imposing Academy Street structure’s fate is still uncertain but Oneonta youth will report to a modern facility — an addition to the high school in September.”

This weekend: The life and times around Oneonta in June 1921.

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 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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