Backtracking: In Our Times: Presidential pardon, new services made news in September 1974

Mark SimonsonJames M. Milne Library is shown on the SUNY Oneonta campus in 2006. The library opened in September 1974.


There was plenty of local reaction going around about a presidential pardon and a daredevil on a souped-up motorcycle.

Also, there was a trio of new services started in the region.

It was all part of our local life and times during September 1974.


Daily Star readers of Sept. 9 learned, “President Ford granted Richard M. Nixon ‘a free, full and absolute’ pardon Sunday for any criminal conduct during his presidency, and Nixon responded with a statement of remorse at ‘my mistakes over Watergate.’

“Ford made a surprise appearance before newsmen and photographers in his Oval Office to announce the pardon, saying, ‘I feel that Richard Nixon and his loved ones have suffered enough.’”

Oneonta’s “graffiti wall” at the corner of West and Center streets had a clearly painted statement by the next day, “What now? PARDON the Watergate 1,000?”

A Daily Star reporter reached out to get reactions to the pardon, finding a great divide in opinion.

Thomas Clarke of Springfield said, “I think it’s high time the country got on with its problems. We’ve had a circus and we’ve had a side show and now we have other pressing problems that have to be dealt with. It’s too bad it happened but I think it’s a little bit better to end it. I still think the man hired bad help.”

Clayton Williams of Stamford, on the other hand said, “An ex-president is the same as any other individual. I think he should be brought to trial and if there is enough evidence to warrant it, he should be sent to jail.”


Whether it was at the local dinner table, bars or coffee shops, many discussions were likely started about a motorcycle stunt in Twin Falls.

“Evel Knievel’s much-heralded attempt to rocket across the Snake River Canyon failed when a parachute deployed too early and sent him plunging into the bottom of the canyon Sunday,” The Star reported on Sept. 9.

“Promoters of the leap, probably the most publicized in history, had given Knievel a check for $6 million weeks in advance of the jump and promised him 60 per cent of the profit from closed circuit television showings and related deals. His take was unaffected by his failure.”


The Star of Sept. 12 reported, “Town Supervisor Les Foster became the first official local area subscriber receiving Home Box Office, sports, motion picture and special programs pay TV service distributed over the Oneonta NewChannels system,” known today as Spectrum.

“Subscribers to the optional service will pay $7 per month in addition to their regular $5.50 monthly cable fee.”

With a dateline of Margaretville on Sept. 13, it was reported, “The small Memorial Hospital here has one of the first acupuncture clinics in upstate New York due to the efforts of a retired area physician.

“Dr. Samuel Rabinowitz, like more and more American doctors all the time, has discovered acupuncture.” The state Board of Regents gave him the license to set up a clinic.

“‘Boy, I wish I knew about this when I got out of medical school in 1933,’ he said.”

Finally, as told on Sept. 13, “An open house will be held at Oneonta State’s recently completed library, named in memory of the college’s first president, James M. Milne, will be held from 1 to 5 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 19.

“Books, periodicals, documents and films are accommodated in the five-story structure.” This version of the Milne Library replaced a much smaller library nearby, now known as Alumni Hall.

This weekend: It was back to school time in 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 His website is His columns can be found at

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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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