If you heard some locals complaining that there was nothing to do in our area in September 1949, they were simply not looking hard to find things.
Between a special train arrival, the county fair and baseball playoffs, our area was anything but dull.
LOCALS GREETED THE FREEDOM TRAIN
“A parade beginning at 9 a.m. this morning will launch this village’s (Sidney) welcome to the Freedom Train scheduled to be open to the public inspection until 9 tonight,” Oneonta Star readers of Sept. 12 learned.
Oneonta was next on the schedule the following day. Those who came to the D&H Railroad station in both communities were in for a historical treat.
“Displayed in three of the six blue and gold cars of New York’s Freedom Train, a priceless collection of covered historical documents illustrating the nation’s heritage of freedom will be on view.
“Among the highlights are: The original pledge of allegiance to the flag, documents freeing Indians as slaves in New York, George Washington’s Farewell Address, and his household accounts, the papers found in the boots of Major Andre, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, Jefferson’s Plan of Union, the Duke of York’s Charter of Liberties and Privileges, the Flushing Renaissance, the John Peter Zenger papers, battle plans from Saratoga and Plattsburgh, the state’s first convention in 1777, and several later Constitutions.”
In that 12-hour stop in Oneonta, a total of 1,791 adults and 2,711 children passed through the doors of the exhibit, just west of the station on Market Street, now the former Stella Luna Ristorante.
OTSEGO FAIR OPENED
The same day as the Freedom Train arrived in Oneonta, the Otsego County Fair also opened in Morris with a preliminary to the formal opening on Sept. 13.
“The ‘Parade of Stars,’ featuring eight of the top winners from Horace Heidt’s Sunday night radio program, will appear at 8 p.m. before the grandstand. Heidt himself will not be present. In addition to the network performers, there will be local talent supplied by station WDOS.
The fair continued until Sept. 18.
POST SEASON BASEBALL BEGAN FOR THE SOX
Oneonta was a Red Sox town in 1949, a member of the Canadian-American League. Oneonta had played well enough to qualify for the playoffs, finishing in second place in the league. Quebec finished at the top, and the two teams below Oneonta, Three Rivers and Pittsfield, also qualified.
It was a seven-game series for the semi-final and final rounds. Oneonta was set to open a series against Pittsfield on Tuesday, Sept. 13, at Neahwa Park field, but rain put it on hold for the next two days. Oneonta won the opener, 3-2. The series went back and forth but Oneonta finally took it, four games to two.
Notable about this and the final round were that Frank Malzone, who later became a Boston Red Sox Hall of Famer, played on the Oneonta squad, and that while baseball was being played at Neahwa Park, crews from the city at the ballpark were also making the field playable for football, as this was where Oneonta High School played its games at the time.
Having won the series against Pittsfield, the Sox headed to Canada, as Quebec had swept its series against Three Rivers.
While the championship series was set to start Friday, Sept. 23, rain was a factor again. It turned out to be a bad weekend for the Sox, as star third baseman Malzone was stricken with an attack of the grip, and Quebec swept at home.
The same was true when Quebec came to Oneonta, sweeping its way to a championship.
On Tuesday: A modern downtown Oneonta started to emerge in 1959.
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 email@example.com. His website is www.oneontahistorian.com. His columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/opinion/columns/.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.