Backtracking: In Our Times: SUNY Oneonta unveiled three developments in early 1970

FILEThe yet unnamed ski slope opened at SUNY Oneonta’s College Camp in 1970, as seen in this advertisement in the State Times of Feb. 10.


From the slopes, to the snack bar and the studios, there were several new things getting underway for student life at the State University College at Oneonta in early 1970.

From the Jan. 16 edition of the State Times came news, “A new skiing complex that when finished will cost over $100,000.00 has opened at College Camp by the SUCO Faculty-Student Association.

“The complex which includes 2 intermediate and one beginners slope will be open daily (except Mondays) from noon until 4:00.

“Jack Messina, former assistant director at Scotch Valley will be ‘running the operation’ according to Mr. Ross Cordell, Director of the F.S.A.”

Scotch Valley was once a popular ski resort in Stamford. The Times told how the fee for faculty, students and staff was 75-cents during the week and $1 on weekends. Guests could ski for $2. A Student Senate bus left Morris Hall at 12:15 and 2:15 p.m. weekdays, returning at 2 and 4 p.m. Additional runs were made on weekends.

There was a contest to name this ski slope, and the winner was announced in the March 17 edition of the Times. Janette Rasera named it Cocaska (from COllege CAmp SKi Area), and runner-up names included “Mystery Tour,” “Easy Rider,” “Wet and Wild,” “Never More” and “Dragon’s Dare.” No prize was mentioned for the winning name.

After a day on the slope, perhaps students could drop by the college’s snack bar for something new, as reported on Feb. 3.

“January went out with a bang as Saturday, the 31st, marked the beginning of SUCO as an officially wet campus. At 11:00, Morris Hall began serving Miller, Budweiser, Rheingold and Genesee in single cans and six packs.”

This rathskellar idea was submitted months earlier by the Student-Faculty Conference. It was to operate “for the benefit of the SUCO campus,” as the general public was not admitted.

If the operation proved successful, “the décor will eventually be revamped to more of a coffee house atmosphere. Eventually the sale of draft beer may be instituted.”

The idea was successful and moved once a new building opened on campus a few years later.

Plans for that new building were announced in the Feb. 3 edition of the Times.

“The building, which will replace Morris Hall as the Union’s headquarters, is scheduled for opening in February of 1972. The building will contain a rathskellar, a snack bar, a multi-purpose ball room and offices for the Union.” We know it today as the Hunt Student Union building, named after past president Charles W. Hunt. It actually opened in June 1972.

“Present plans call for Morris Hall to be turned into an apartment house for married students. The offices of various student organizations such as the Student Senate, the State Times and the Oneontan will be moved into the old library building when the new one is completed.” The old library is known as Alumni Hall today. Plans were also in progress for the construction of the current James M. Milne Library.

In the grand scheme of planning and moving things around, a seemingly forgotten student organization was still at Old Main, once found at the top of Maple Street and Normal Avenue. However that changed, as the Times told its readers on Feb. 3, “WONY used to be located on the third floor of the condemned Old Main. The announcing staff was plagued by a dangerously icy fire escape, among other things. Finally, after years of complaining, the studios and offices of WONY moved to Morris Hall over intersession.

“Located beneath the porch (a truly underground station), in the old rumpus room, WONY has two studios, a newsroom, an office, a record library, and an announcer’s lounge. One of the studios is used primarily for production; the other is used for live broadcast.” It was across the hall from the snack bar.

“During intersession, various members of the WONY staff remained in Oneonta to help with the moving. These students did the packing, unpacking, painting, and carpet laying.” A professional moving company took care of moving the station equipment, then valued at $35,000.

WONY had an open house at its new studios on Feb. 11. One of the 25 student disc jockeys, Kathy Melzer, was glad to be up on the main campus, saying, “The station should be near the students because this is their station.” The station operated 20½ hours a day at the time. Live broadcasts were from 7 to 9 a.m. and 2 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. Tapes were played from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. and then from 12:30 to 3:30 a.m.

This weekend: Cooperstown helped Finland and unveiled a first new stamp of a special kind in January 1940.

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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