Backtracking: The Early Years: The summer of 1895 was a time for the outdoor life

FileAttending events such as cricket, baseball or the circus, Mendel Brothers of Oneonta had you covered for being seen in a good shirt, as seen in this advertisement on July 24, 1895.

Mostly play and leisure time, mixed with some labor, kept local people outdoors during the summer of 1895.

CRICKET PLAYED, AS WELL AS BASEBALL

“The game of cricket, Thursday afternoon, between the Sidney and Oneonta elevens resulted in a score of 40 to 24 in favor of the home team,” The Oneonta Star reported on July 6. The site of the game in Oneonta was not identified but, “While the lights, grounds and other conditions favored the bowlers and prevented the batters from scoring heavily, yet the game was well played and gave the spectators a chance to compare the English with the American national game. The noticeable feature being the absence of kicking at the umpire’s decisions and the lack of nervous excitement which characterizes base ball when decisions and score are close.”

If you could cut hair or set type, but didn’t know much about baseball, a sight to see was on July 22 as the village barbers met the printers to play a game at Pine Grove Riding Park, the exact location not identified but no doubt well known to village residents.

As The Star reported on July 22, “The game promises to be very interesting, as no one will be allowed to play who knows anything about the game and any one now scheduled to appear found practising (sic) before the game will be relegated to the bench.”

Also notable, “Admission will be free, but all who desire to leave before the game is finished will be required to pay 25 cents, as it is feared that it might rattle the players if many leave before the game is ended.”

As reported the next day, it was a small but “amused” crowd, and the Printers won, 25-18.

BUSINESSMAN ON A BICYCLE

“Frank W. Buckley, the proprietor of the shirt factory on Broad street, is well known here as an excellent business man…was known to his more intimate friends, but that he was one of the fastest wheelmen in the state of Missouri has just come to the knowledge of the riders of the ‘silent steed’ here,” Star readers found out on July 24.

Buckley apparently went on a road trip, and a cycling journal called Bearings told of how, “F.W. Buckley, a youngster approaching his fortieth year, was the one to start the ball rolling, by lowering the one-third mile competition state record to 46 3-5 from 49 2-5, where it had been placed…in the circuit meet here last August.”

NO SECOND RATE CIRCUS FOR ONEONTA IN 1895

“The first appearance here of the celebrated Ringling Brothers’ World’s Greatest Shows yesterday was an attraction which drew one of the largest crowds ever seen here on a like occasion,” The Star reported on July 25, “and it can easily be said that it was not the last time they will show here if they know where their friends are to be found, for a more satisfactory circus in all respects never visited Oneonta.”

As with any other circus coming to town, the company unloaded at the D&H freight house, and by 10 a.m. there was a parade through most major streets in the village, to the Oneonta Fair grounds, found in the Belmont Circle neighborhood of today. Walton, Liberty and Norwich were stops for the famed circus in the days to come following Oneonta’s one day with two performances.

AN OUNCE OF PREVENTION THROUGH SOME LABOR

A major fire a year earlier was likely still on the minds of many at the Oneonta Normal School, then found at the corner of State and Maple streets.

To prevent such another disaster, Star readers learned on July 12, “The contract for the construction of the reservoir, to supply water for the Normal, was let last evening to Flood & Sherill of Sandy Hill. The local board have purchased from Isaac Morrell, a plot of ground five acres in the area, on the top of the hill at the rear of the building, and in a depression naturally suitable for a reservoir.” This is the same area now occupied by the pond outside the Hunt Student Union building on the State University College at Oneonta campus

“Of course, a good pressure is needed for general purposes throughout the building, but the main object in going to this expense is to provide a complete protection against fire.” It was reported on Aug. 1 that 30 men were at work on the construction site, and the total cost of the reservoir and laying of pipes would be $5,000.

On Wednesday: our local business beat from the summer of 1960.

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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