Mark Simonson

Business in Oneonta was starting to crawl west of Church Street, while a local chain of grocery stores got bigger, and a bank in Fleischmanns experienced an early dose of the upcoming Great Depression.

This could sum up our local business beat during July 1929.

PHYSICIANS BOUGHT THE BAIRD MANSION

“The G.B. Baird residence at the corner of Chestnut and Church streets,” The Oneonta Star reported on July 25, “one of the attractive private residences of the city, has been purchased by four well known physicians, Dr. Marshall Latcher, Dr. David H. Mills, Dr. Norman W. Getman and Dr. Alex F. Carson, the agreement having been reached yesterday and the title and transfer of the property to be made September 15, at which time the former owner, Mr. Baird is expected to be in the city.

“It is within the plans to have various rooms within the structure set aside for electrical appliances of all kinds, including the sun lamp and with a concentration at the building of many of these modern appliances so useful to physicians and surgeons, it is believed that a step in advance will be taken for the city.

“While some regret may be expressed to have several of the finer residences of the city utilized for professional or club purposes, it is another step in advance in the transition of the city to one of no mean importance, and it is far better than to have the property remain vacant and useless, its owner having evidently decided to become a permanent resident of California. Certain it is that it could be put to no better use than as a center for the relief of suffering humanity and Oneonta will heartily welcome a Medical Arts center."

The former Baird mansion served in this capacity until the late 1950s. It was torn down and replaced by a modern supermarket, first as Loblaw’s and later P&C. It is now a series of small stores.

IT WAS A ‘VICTORY’ FOR ONEONTA SHOPPERS

Star readers on July 4 learned, “Officials of the W.H. Dunne company of Norwich on Friday announced that the company has purchased the capital stock of General Cash Stores, Inc., of this city and that they will at once take over the various units of that organization.

“The number of stores is brought to 130 by this acquisition by the Victory management, which since January 1, has increased the number if its stores from 87, the company averaging to open one new store every five days. The General Cash stores added to this chain cover Otsego, Delaware and Schoharie counties.”

Dunne officials also announced the lease of a section of the J.O. & G.N. Rowe warehouse, today’s 20 Market St. building, to better serve the new and existing Victory stores in our area.

FLEISCHMANNS BANK CLOSED BY THE STATE

It became an early sign of the times to come, with the Great Depression not far off, as Star readers found out on July 25.

“At the orders of State Superintendent of Banking Joseph A. Broderick, the Citizen’s bank of Griffin Corners, former name of Fleischmanns, where the banking business had been conducted for more than 15 years with Joel Keator as president, was closed for business on July 18, only ten minutes after it had opened for business in the morning.

“An investigation of the affairs of the bank is now under way by state and national bank examiners and it is impossible to secure any statement from officials of the institution pending the outcome of the audit of its books.” A later interview with Broderick found that depositors would be able to be paid in full.

However, “There had been some alarm on the part of some depositors for the past week, and rumors of the unsoundness of the Citizen’s bank there gained in strength. It is thought there were steady withdrawals for several days but the bank remained open as usual.

“That the break in the bank should come at a time when the boarding season is at its height…it was taken by observers at Fleischmanns as a bad indication.”

It was only a preview of financial struggles in the year to come, elsewhere.

On Tuesday: A new dollar could buy a gallon of gas in July 1979.

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 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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