News of Otsego County

Serving Otsego County, NY, through the combined reporting of Cooperstown's Freeman's Journal and the Hometown Oneonta newspapers.
DAILY FEATURES >
 CROSSWORD  
 HOROSCOPES  
 CARTOONS  
 DEAR ABBY  
 EMPLOYMENT  
 DINING & ENTERTAINMENT  
 REAL ESTATE  
 AUTOMOTIVE  
 REMEMBRANCE  
 GOODS & SERVICES

Hometown Oneonta

Tour Farms, Watch Madonna, And Lots To Do In Fly Creek

LIBBY’S BEST BETS

Tour Farms, Watch Madonna,

And Lots To Do In Fly Creek

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

As the harvest draws near, explore farms throughout Otsego County to witness and try out activities from fish
farming to beekeeping, more. Pick up farm guide from participating farms, farmer’s markets, libraries, or download guide at
www.familyfarmday.org. 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24. Questions? Call (607) 547-2536.

It’s bargains galore as you explore 50+ lawn sales, with shows, special events to entertain you while you shop. And whenever you get hungry, stop by and enjoy breakfast (7:30-11, Fly Creek Fire Hall), lunch (11, Grange Hall), and bake sale (Fly Creek Methodist Church). 7:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug, 24, downtown Fly Creek, Route 28. Plus, 26th annual Antique Engine Show at
Fly Creek Cider Mill.

Enjoy the fourth annual Community Softball Game as the Family Resource Network takes on the Oneonta Job Corps Academy. Also includes contests, prizes, fireworks, more. 6-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 23, Damaschke Field, 15 James Georgeson Ave., Oneonta. (607) 432-0001.

Help the Susquehanna SPCA celebrate groundbreaking of its new building for the Animal Shelter. Afterwards, enjoy refreshments, take your pet in the photo booth, meet the mascots and more. Free, open to public. Noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, 5088 St. Hwy. 28, Cooperstown. (607) 547-8111.

See “Madonna: Truth or Dare,” (1991, R), last movie associated with this summer’s Herb Ritts’ photo exhibit $7/non-member. 6:30 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 24, Fenimore Museum, Cooperstown. (607) 547-1400.

Bring old & new quilts to share, or brag, then learn about quilting with Debby Clough and the Susquehanna Valley Quilters.
1-3 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, Swart-Wilcox House Museum, Wilcox Avenue, Oneonta. (607) 287-7011

The Musicians of Ma’awlyck present “American Dreams of Russia.” Features Russian-inspired American music, and purely American “From A Dream Of Russia.” Admission, $20. 7:30 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 25, The Star Theater, The Foundry, 44 Main St., Cherry Valley.

General’s 1st Mission: Can He Raise Enough?

GERMAN V. DELGADO

General’s 1st Mission:

Can He Raise Enough?

Oneontan’s Run Intrigues Gibson, Faso

Congressional candidate and Maj. Gen. (ret.) Anthony German and wife Diana pose with family, from left, Josh, 32, Zach, 24, Becca, 21, (a spring SUNY Oneonta grad, soon to be married) and Ben, 29. The sons followed their father into military service.

By JIM KEVLIN • Special to www.ALLOTSEGO.com

Tony German and wife Diana at the end of a Sunday, Aug. 18, interview at their home in the hills outside Oneonta. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

ONEONTA – After 36 years in the New York State National Guard, retiring Feb. 2 at adjutant general, the top commander, Tony German’s career was guided by a set of values:  Integrity first, service before self, and excellence in all we do.

That’s the code of the U.S. Air Force, he explained.

“I’m not going to change now,” he said Sunday, Aug. 18, in an interview at his Cemetery Hill home as he contemplates his latest challenge:  Running for the Republican nomination for 19th District congressman.  If he faces a GOP primary and wins next June, he’ll face the Democratic freshman, U.S. Rep. Antonio Delgado on Nov. 3, 2010.

For now, Delgado, who has only been in office 10 months, is staying out of the fray.  A statement from his office said he will continue to focus on “health care costs, expand rural broadband and support family farmers and veterans … (He) will continue to serve with accessibility, accountability and transparency.”

Falling In Love With Fiesta, Again And Again And Again

FINE FOOD • FUN FOOD

Falling In Love With Fiesta,

Again And Again And Again

I have fallen in love three times at Fiesta.

The first was the salsa. Each meal is preceded by a bowl of chips and in-house salsa, fresh each day, resulting in salsas with different personalities from night to night. Sometimes spicy, sometimes mild. Don’t let the lightness of this salsa fool you, it is super yummy on chips or dishes.

The second was the tacos; simple and tasty, it’s just not Tuesday for me without the $2 Taco Tuesday special. Pork, beef or chicken, you can’t beat this combination of delicious food at a great price.

My third love was the Diablo Calamari. Deep fried and served with a spicy dipping sauce, this is the dish that made me love calamari. And if you’re in the mood for seafood, this is a great appetizer before heading for main courses like their California whitefish tacos or their shrimp quesadilla. (Fiesta Mexican Grille and Cantina, 19 Clinton Plaza Drive, Oneonta)

IAN AUSTIN
Staff Photographer

If you want to feel like a Very Important Customer, head over to Spurbeck’s Grocery, where they greet you like an old friend whether it’s your first time in or your 50th. They don’t skimp on the sandwiches, and if you’re lucky, you get in on a day when they’re doing one of their specialties – paninis, chili dogs – but you never know when that might be, so you might want to stop in often!

But on days when they’re not running a special, I can always count on a cup of delicious, hearty soup. And be prepared! You won’t find thin, boring soups here – lots of them are hearty, cream-based delights, and they run a whole gamut of flavors – lasagna soup, coconut curry shrimp, kale and sausage, just to name a few!

They’ve also started offering breakfast sandwiches, and don’t forget to pick up a pound of their wicked sharp cheddar cheese for later! (Spurbeck’s Grocery, 9 Railroad Ave #1173, Cooperstown)

LIBBY CUDMORE
Managing Editor

Walk down an alley. Enter through a side door. You think twice about it but once you’re inside, it’s magic! Welcome to Alex’s Bistro in Cooperstown. You’re immediately surrounded by eclectic furniture and dozens of mirrors hanging everywhere. The heavy wood bar is to the right – feel free to sit there and dine if you like.

Here’s a must to start lunch or dinner: the Fingerling Potato Fries. Perfectly cooked and served with an awesome chipotle aioli dip, they get your taste buds going for your entrée.

The menu is also eclectic. Thai, Japanese, Cambodian, Indonesian, Indian, Jamaican…the list goes on and on. Try the Great Britain Fish and Chips. Wild Atlantic Cod is fried to a crispness, served with fries. The Japanese Salmon Sesame Noodles has shiitakes, cucumber pickles, sweet tamari and about six other things that make this noodle dish indescribably delicious.
Intense flavors and smells will bring you back to Alex’s again and again! (Alex’s Bistro, Main St. Cooperstown)

TARA BARNWELL
General Manager

On Flying The Flag

COLUMN

VIEW FROM FLY CREEK

On Flying The Flag

By ADRIAN KUZMINSKI  • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

A balloon drifts past the flagpole at Main and Pioneer, Cooperstown, during the Clinton Regatta in May. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

The other day I was chatting with a long-time local business man in Cooperstown who occasionally reads this column. He brought up the recent decision of the Village of Cooperstown to officially fly the Gay Pride flag on Village property.

He expressed discomfort with at least some aspects of gay lifestyle, and clearly felt that the village action did not represent him and, by implication, others who shared his reaction.

An isolated reaction, some might think. Isn’t being gay now an accepted part of public life? Yes, it is, but not everyone understands it in the same way.

There are still a lot of people unsettled about minority challenges to traditional cultural norms, and distressed by what they see as political correctness being foisted on society. It’s not always clear, they say, where the resolution of long-standing injustice ends, and where resentment and ideological fervor take over.

Doesn’t That Sound Better Than A Mantra Of Hate?

Doesn’t That Sound Better

Than A Mantra Of Hate?

All this talk about hate. Maybe it’s different in a rural enclave like Otsego County, but how often in the course of a week or month or year do any of us come face to face with something we can define as “hate.”

Yet Governor Cuomo, last Thursday, Aug. 21, in announcing our state will be the first in the nation to enact a “Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act” (see excerpt below), used the word “hate” 22 times.

Yes, you might suspect the whole idea is part of some hidden agenda, since nobody knows what our governor’s ambitions are.
But he used the word “attack”

13 times, and words with the letters “t-e-r-r-o-r” 17 times.
Come on.

Let’s try to put this in some sort of perspective.

The Southern Poverty Law Center has identified about 1,000 “hate groups” in the country. But say each has 250 members – a stretch for such organizations as, for instance, Truth in Textbooks in Boerne, Texas.

That’s 250,000 people. A lot, but just 0.1 percent of the 250 million adult Americans.

That’s a drop in the bucket compared to, say, the number of high school students who lovingly volunteer on community projects.
Shucks, there are 2.3 million Boy Scouts.

Yes, a nut with an AK47 can’t be ignored.

How is New York going to define itself? By hate, or ♥?

Whartons Best President, First Lady We Never Had
LETTER from CHIP NORTHRUP

Whartons Best President,

First Lady We Never Had

Dolores Wharton, whose book, “A Multicultured Life,” will be available on amazon.com Sept. 1, and her husband, former SUNY Chancellor Clifton R. Wharton Jr. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

To the Editor:

Your newspaper did us all a great favor with its coverage of Dolores Wharton’s autobiography, which serves as a fine complement to her husband’s book. You have helped put the Whartons in their proper historical context – they were pillars in the advancement of minority meritocracy in the United States, moreso than any ballplayer in the Hall of Fame.

Because, while Jackie Robinson proved that a black man could play in the Major Leagues, the Whartons proved minorities could rise to the top in the real-world major leagues of commerce, international relations, finance, government and the arts. And, in so doing, they paved the way for the advancement of the next generation of minority leaders – Barack Obama,
Julián Castro and Kamala Harris.

The Whartons may well be the best President and First Lady that the United States never had.

CHIP NORTHRUP
Cooperstown

Diorama Of Massacre In Trove Of Artifacts At Cherry Valley Site

SUMMER DREAMS

Diorama Of Massacre

In Trove Of Artifacts

At Cherry Valley Site

Local Museums Are Full Of Surprises

Sue Miller built this geographically accurate diorama by overlaying it on a topo map. It’s the centerpiece – but not the only novelty – of the Cherry Valley Museum. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By LIBBY CUDMORE •  Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Terry Cox, active president of the Cherry Valley Museum, discusses a World War I uniform in the exhibits.

CHERRY VALLEY – In the homesteads of Cherry Valley, even the dogs had to help out with the chores.

“We have a dog treadmill from the 1893 Sears & Roebuck catalogue,” said Barbara Bill, director of the Cherry Valley Museum. “It was attached to a butter churn, and you hung a bone up front and the dog would walk on it to crank the butter churn.”

The dog treadmill is just one piece of the packed Cherry Valley Museum, one of nearly a dozen smalltown museums that track the history of very local life in Otsego County, from the earliest settlers to the present day.

“It’s amazing how many people aren’t aware of their local history,” said acting president Terry Cox. “But they can come here and learn all about it.”

This Week — Aug. 22-23, 2019

THIS WEEK’S NEWSPAPERS

The Freeman’s Journal • Hometown Oneonta

Aug. 22-23, 2019

PHOTO OF THE WEEK

Mary Anne Whelan, center, the retired Bassett physician, is shown here on a 1961 hike up Mount Kilimanjaro, which has been in the news lately after SUNY Oneonta’s new president, Barbara Jean Morris, scaled African’s highest peak in July. Dr. Whelan believes she was one of the first women to scale Kilimanjaro, as tribes in the area considered it bad luck for women to do so. (Photo courtesy Mary Anne Whelan)

BOUND VOLUMES Aug. 22, 2019

BOUND VOLUMES

Aug. 22, 2019

200 YEARS AGO

Advertisement in the Otsego Herald: The undersigned intends, about the First of September next, to commence the publication of a paper in this village, under the above title. It will be printed upon an entire new type, and in size correspond with any interior paper in the State. J.H. Prentiss, Cooperstown, August 23, 1819. (Ed. Note: Thus was announced in the Otsego Herald, the beginning of this newspaper 200 years ago and still known as the “Freeman’s Journal.”

August 23, 1819

175 YEARS AGO

Political Poetry – “Freemen! Cheer the Hickory Tree. In storms its boughs have sheltered thee. O’er Freedom’s soil its branches wave; T’was planted on the Lion’s grave.”

We learn from those who were present on the occasion that the Democratic gathering at Oneonta on Saturday, August 17, numbered from 4,000 to 6,000 persons, and was animated with enthusiasm in support of the nominees of the Democratic Convention and the Doctrine of Popular Rights and Privileges. It was a strong demonstration of public feeling on the political questions at issue before the country

August 26, 1844

150 YEARS AGO

The Report of the seventy-fourth Anniversary of the Otsego Baptist Association gives the following statistics: Churches comprising the Association, 19; Ministers ordained, 14; Licentiate, 1; Additions during past year, 79; Losses, 96; Present number of church members, 1,325. In 1864, with 18 churches, the membership was 1,523. In 1852 with 17 churches the membership was 1,382. There is shown to be a considerable falling off in the aggregate number, notwithstanding fair additions to many of the churches. They lose largely by emigration to the cities and to the west. There needs to be a lifting up out of old ruts, worn deep many years ago. If our Baptist friends will permit, we will point out a weakening element in these Associations. It is the presence of Agents from all leading Societies of the Denomination for the purpose of preaching “begging sermons” to the most liberal members of the churches – taking up nearly all the time in “presenting the cause” which they are paid to advocate, and taking up collections or soliciting subscriptions. The time is so much taken up by Society Agents, not enough attention is paid to the weak and destitute churches. Of about $2,767 reported by the Treasurer as received during the past year, only $80 was for “destitute churches.” A decided reform in these particulars is needed.

August 20, 1869

125 YEARS AGO

The “Players” – The second of what we may hope will become a series of annual entertainments was given by the “Players” last Thursday evening in Village Hall. Two pieces were presented. The first was a translation from the French entitled “Comedy and Tragedy.” The characters in this were taken by Misses Marion and France Gregory, Dr. Sill and Mr. R.S. Hooker. Something of the life of an actress at home was shown, and her conflicting feelings toward a young admirer whom, at his father’s request, she tries to get rid of, and ends by falling in love with, were credibly delineated. The second piece was the farce “”Poor Pillicoddy.” The characters were played by Mrs. Emily and Alice Gregory, Miss Bessie Patterson, Mr. Wolcott and Mr. S. Patterson. The various comical incidents of the play were cleverly set forth, and continually amused the audience. After the performance light refreshments were served, and an informal dance followed. Many invitations had been issued and about 300 people were present.

August 23, 1894

100 YEARS AGO

Baseball – A team composed of Coopers-town business men and diamond old-timers defeated a team of employees of the Arthur H. Crist Co. Thursday evening by a score of 14 to 1. Champlin and Ames were the battery for the businessmen. Entrances to the ball park are through Dr. Dewar’s Lane on Susquehanna Avenue and from Elm Street opposite the Baptist Church and between the Crist Co. and the First National Bank. Milford and Delhi are playing a game of baseball on Doubleday Park, this village, this Wednesday.

August 27, 1919

75 YEARS AGO

Under perfect weather conditions Sunday afternoon, a throng of 2,000 attended the third in the series of five Victory Sings on the lawn of the Otesaga Hotel overlooking Otsego Lake, participated in the chorus singing under the leadership of Dr. Elmer A. Tidmarsh of Schenectady, and were presented with a thoughtful review of the war and stirring picture of the situation as it appears today by Paul Schubert the well-known American author and radio commentator. It was the largest attendance yet this summer by several hundred.

August 23, 1944

50 YEARS AGO

The second annual stamp show sponsored by the Leatherstocking Stamp Club will be held at the Community House, 63 Pioneer Street, Cooperstown, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday of this week. According to Mrs. Mary Pangborn, secretary-treasurer of the club, and coordinator of the stamp show, this year’s event promises to be a marked improvement over the show held last year, in time open to the public, variety of exhibits on display, and coverage of Philatelic material. To date, nearly 100 frames of stamps have been registered. A movie “Postman of the Skies” at 2 p.m. will show how mail is delivered by helicopter in the City of Chicago.

August 20, 1969

25 YEARS AGO

More than 120 teams, made up of 500 ironmen and women, participated in the rain-soaked and shortened 12th Annual Glimmerglass Triathlon Sunday at Glimmerglass State Park. Several hundred spectators dared the driving rain to watch the three event race, which was originally scheduled to include a 6.4 mile run, a 27-mile bicycle race and five mile canoe race. However, 2 to 3 foot swells on Otsego Lake along with reports of thunderstorms in the area, forced race officials to cancel the canoeing. The final results were tabulated from the standings of teams and individuals after the bicycle race. The fastest overall time was posted by the team of Steve Simpson, Jim Benkos, Gary Place and Mark Micotello who covered the course in 1:35:17. Jim Mattingly posted the fastest individual time finishing in 1:53:18. Among women, Joan Butler and Shelly Kempton took team honors (2:00:13) and Kelly O’Brien was the lone Iron Woman (2:32:04).

August 24, 1994

Flag Already Symbolizes Hope, Freedom, Equality
LETTER from R. SCOTT DUNCAN

Flag Already Symbolizes

Hope, Freedom, Equality

To the Editor:

I get tired of all these special interest groups whining for attention. Basically, the Pride flag is a symbol of whom you want to embrace and the freedom to do such and be loved and accepted.

The design of the flag is not very creative. That flag design is used to represent the Inca Empire, the indigenous in Peru and Bolivia. The design is used around the world for many different things. For me, rainbow belongs to everyone, it is about nature.

When you put up one flag for a special interest group then you must put a flag up for other groups. A heterosexual flag must go up. How about a flag for swingers? And don’t forget the people who don’t care. Let’s put up a flag for Arabs … let them feel accepted too.

A flag every foot down Main Street covering everything to show acceptance for all people and not just a specific group. Isn’t that a Christian thing to do?

All these different groups take the attention away from the real problem: the need for kindness, compassion and acceptance for all. Don’t get lost in special interest groups’ demands.

We are a ragtag group of people.

We are indigenous people who have lost almost everything and are struggling to regain a sense of purpose and belonging. We are slaves who have been dragged here kicking and screaming from our own homes who are now trying to build a new life.

We are neighbors across the borders who have come here to seek a better way of life to live a life without fear. We are refugees from around the world gathering here in what is supposed to be a land of opportunity, hope and quality of life.

America is the melting pot of all kinds of people from all places. It is time to focus on our common desire of quality of life for all the residents in America. We need to focus on the big picture, which is that we all deserve a decent quality of life and not have to live under the tyranny of corporations or power-hungry government people.

We are “Americans”: it’s time we all practice compassion, kindness and acceptance of our fellow man and women.. and whatever.

Flags are a symbol of countries. We only need one flag. It’s time to make it mean what it symbolizes; hope, freedom, and equality and justice for all.

R. SCOTT DUNCAN

Hartwick Forrest

Flying Confederate Flag Dishonors Our Ancestors
LETTER from CONSUELO KRAHAM VELEZ

Flying Confederate Flag

Dishonors Our Ancestors

To the Editor:

My great-grandfather, Malachi Kraham, an Irish IMMIGRANT, came to this country in 1859.  He settled in Otsego County and shortly after arriving, like many other young men from Otsego County, he joined the New York Militia during the Civil War.  He served in the Union Army, under the American flag to preserve the Union and abolish slavery.

Eventually, he came back to Cooperstown, to his young bride, raised a family, ran a business, became fire chief of the Neptune Company and mayor of Cooperstown.  He was one of the lucky ones.  Many of his comrades were not so fortunate and died valiantly in a noble cause.

I find it particularly repulsive to see Confederate flags being prominently displayed and sold at the Otsego County Fair and along the highways and byways of our beautiful county.  (Don’t bore me with the “free speech” argument. Everyone knows what is really being “telegraphed”.)  The Confederate flag represents sedition against the United States, i.e. seeking the violent overthrow of the government.

This is about decency.  This putrid symbol of oppression and division mocks the sacrifice of Otsego County’s brave young soldiers.  To fly or otherwise display this treasonous symbol dishonors our ancestors.

CONSUELO KRAHAM VELEZ

Cooperstown

With Domestic Terrorism Act, New York State Leads Nation

COLUMN

ALBANY ON THE MARCH

With Domestic Terrorism Act,

New York State Leads Nation

Editor’s Note:  This is an excerpt from Governor Cuomo’s Thursday, Aug. 14, speech to the New York City Bar Association, where he proposed the nation’s first Hate Crimes Domestic Terrorism Act.

Governor Andrew Cuomo

We must begin by recognizing the crisis for what it is because you will never solve a problem in life you are unwilling to admit, and today New York State acknowledges the ugly truth: that we have an enemy within, an American cancer, where one cell in the body politic attacks the other cells in the body. It spreads in the hidden corners of the internet, and from the highest positions in the land, and it infects sick and hate-filled hearts. This new violent epidemic is hate fueled American on American terrorism.

We still treat terrorism as an act committed by foreigners. It is. But that is only part of it.  It is now a two-front war on terrorism. It is fed by hate, but hate from abroad and hate right here at home: white supremacists, anti-Semites, anti-LGBTQ, white nationalists. These are Americans committing mass hate crimes against other Americans and it should be recognized for what it is: domestic terrorism. American citizens who are radicalized –  not by a foreign ideology but rather radicalized by hate for other Americans – but that is still terrorism.

SUNY, Hartwick Students Come Back On Same Day

2,000 FRESHMEN DUE IN ONEONTA

SUNY, Hartwick Students

Come Back On Same Day

By JENNIFER HILL • Special to www.ALLOTSEGO.com

ONEONTA – Some 2,000 freshman were returning here Wednesday, Aug. 21, arriving the same day at SUNY Oneonta and Hartwick College.

That’s 1,525 at SUNY and 425 at Hartwick.

But arriving students are already looking beyond settling in.

For instance, as part of their orientation this year, SUNY Oneonta students have to learn to think fast.  “Fast O,” that is.

“The ‘Fast O’ is the athletic logo,” said Kim MacLeod, SUNY Oneonta associate director of communications. “Students in shirts with the ‘Fast O’ colors – white, red and black – will run out in the afternoon during the picnic and create a human ‘Fast O’.”

The picnic, part of SUNY’s Founders’ Day celebration on Thursday, Sept 4, celebrating the start of the college’s 130th anniversary year.

At Hartwick, the student body will be looking forward to the True Blue Weekend, its largest alumni-engagement event of the year, which is being moved up to mid-September instead of early October, three weeks earlier than usual. “It just worked out that the home game was happening earlier,” said David Lubell, Hartwick College’s media manager.

Developing Method Helps To Handle Disagreements
LETTER from JASON HEWLETT

Developing Method Helps

To Handle Disagreements

To the Editor:

Through much trial and error, I have learned how to express my opinions in a respectful, honest and productive way instead of being unfair with the people who have different opinions than I do. It wasn’t easy for me to learn that valuable life lesson because when you’re so sure you’re right about something, you feel entitled to be the final authority on the subject.

One of the ways I’ve been able to swallow my pride and be fair to my critics is to be open and objective enough to read or listen to both sides of an issue and not just my side.

A one-sided viewpoint, even if it’s true, doesn’t give people an opportunity to think for themselves and they end up letting other people think for them.

I have also learned through my own personal failures that letting my critics speak their mind rather than silencing them actually increases the value and validity of my own viewpoint.

I have accepted that I may need more education and guidance, even constructive criticism, about the things I believe and write about. But can the public, including my critics, admit that as well?

If you or I cannot swallow our pride about something we believe, something we’re very passionate about, then the least we can do is read and listen to both sides of the story, whatever that story may be, before we jump to conclusions about our critics.

Then we can at least know the reasons for their views and help them.

JASON HEWLETT
Oneonta

Bassett MD May Be Among First Women At Mountain’s Peak

OUR KILIMANJARO HIKERS

Bassett MD May Be

Among First Women

At Mountain’s Peak

Dr. Whelan’s hiking group pause to confer with Masai on the way up Kilimanjaro.

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.ALLOTSEGO.com

Now a retired Bassett physician, Mary Anne Whelan reviews memorabilia from the 1961 trek. Most of the photos she was in were ruined in a photo lab back home. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

COOPERSTOWN – When Mary Anne Whelan was spending a summer in Tanzania, Africa, her friends came up with a wild idea.

Why not scale Mount Kilimanjaro, Africa’s tallest?

“There was a superstition that the Gods would be displeased if a woman climbed the mountain,” she said. “I guess they weren’t, because we did!”

Whelan, the retired Bassett physician, in 1961 was among the first women to climb the peak.

In recent weeks, Kilimanjaro has been in the news as, via Twitter, local people could follow the trek to the top by SUNY Oneonta’s new president, Barbara Jean Morris.  She reached the peak Friday, July 26.

Coincidentally, a CCS junior Will Weldon, son of Jeanette and Bill Weldon of Cooperstown, had reached the summit 10 days before with a Moondance Adventures group.

“The summer after I graduated college,” said Whelan, “I didn’t know what to do with myself. So I learned some Swahili and went to teach school in Tanzania.”

While there, she roomed with a woman named Sally Woodman and, with a group of friends, they decided to spend a weekend hiking the peaks. “It was there!” she said. “None of us really had any hiking experience except for Nile Albright; he was very athletic and had been an Olympic contender in barrel jumping on ice skates.”

The group hired guides and porters, and a cook for a shilling a day. “We didn’t have any equipment, just good walking shoes and jeans,” she said.

She kept a journal for the trip, which she then typed up and sent to her parents with photos. “We set up the mountain in petrol,” she wrote on Tuesday, Aug. 15. “The jeep burned out the transmission, and there was much pushing and digging trying to get it out.”

Trying to decide what to do on graduating from college, the future Dr. Whelan spent the summer teaching in Tanzania.

They first climbed Mawenzi, the companion peak to Kilimanjaro, at 16,893 feet, before heading up to the big mountain’s Uhuru Peak, 19,341 feet. “It was three days up and two down,” she said. “A very long, very uphill walk.”

Since then, she noted, climate change has shrunk the mountain peak from 19,341 to 19,318 feet when it was measured in 2014.

As they neared the summit of Kilimanjaro, altitude sickness set in. “We were staying in the Kobo Hut, and Sally got up in the middle of the night and gave everybody aspirin,” she said. “I had the worst headache.”

At 1 a.m. on Aug. 19, they got up to set out for the summit to see the sunrise. “It was so cold, we donned all possible clothing,” she said. “The last part is all shale, so we were sliding everywhere. It was miserable at 19,000 feet.”

Some in the group got altitude sickness and had to stop. Phyllis, another girl in the group, hurt her ankle and had to turn back. “I foolishly eat chocolate and feel disinclined to go on,” she wrote. “I doze in a sunny niche, waiting.”

But when the hikers finally made it to the top to watch the sunrise, it was all worth it. “We had a good time,” Mary Anne said. “I went to sign the book, but Sally had already put my name in it.”

She snapped a photo of Sally at the summit, and Sally took one of her, but when she went to get them developed, the negatives were accidentally destroyed in processing.

But while in Tanzania, the future doctor also went on safari. “It was great to see herds of zebras and giraffes,” she said. “We stayed in Mombasa one night, and though the rooms were 10 shillings” – roughly $1.25 – “we gave them a case of beer and they let us stay for free!”

 

 

Posts navigation

21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103