News of Otsego County


BOUND VOLUMES: January 28, 2021


January 28, 2021


“Gather up the fragments that remain, that nothing be lost.” The exemplification of this moral is perpetually occurring on the most common objects of daily attention. The very paper on which I am now writing, affords me an example. A little while ago it was clipped off from an old garment, a useless rag. Betty would have swept it to the door. But the industrious rag man took it up and gave it to the paper-maker who returned to me the in a new form, no less pleasing than useful. My gentle friends, in obedience to the Great Master, gather up the fragments which remain; the little piece of cloth which falls from your scissors, may become the means of carrying the light of the knowledge of the Glory of God to far distant and benighted lands.

January 29, 1821

Working The System, Getting The Shot

Working The System, Getting The Shot

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

I had my first COVID-19 vaccination Sunday, Jan. 26. To get an appointment, I went through all the protocols and algorithms that I discussed previously in this column.

I was able to find an appointment Sunday in Plattsburgh. A day later I found an appointment for Utica on Feb. 3 and canceled the Plattsburgh appointment and then I kept looking for something closer and sooner.

Lucky for me, some close friends were also going through the various procedures and last Friday, Jan. 24, they found Kinney Drugs in Richfield Springs was scheduling appointments for the next two days; this past weekend.

They had just scheduled theirs and immediately called me and told me about it.

I went online, followed the protocols, and filled out forms. I put in a request for an appointment for Saturday, and up popped my appointment, assigned to Sunday.

I have no complaints. In fact, that system worked better than the state system inasmuch as it asked you when you wanted an appointment but, regardless, apparently gave you the next available.

If the appointment you asked for was already taken by the time your request went in, you’d still get one without having to reenter all that information.

Unfortunately, the state Department of Health’s online registration requires you to put in a great deal of information, then you pick the time from what you saw earlier in the process, and if the appointment that was in that spot had already been taken by somebody else while you were doing the application, you have to go all the way back into the beginning to try and find next available appointment.

Somebody needs to fix their software.

BERKSON: Wine Bottle Lowers The Wall

Wine Bottle Lowers The Wall

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His article have appears in New York magazine, the New York kDaily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

Before the advent of COVID-19, to celebrate our 44th wedding anniversary, Alice and I drove down to Key West, and were lucky enough to get a room at The Grand Guest House in Old Town.

It’s a great place if you like to share a breakfast table with fellow tourists. This time during our brief stay we met a couple from Brussels, three people from Germany and an ex prize fighter named Joe from New Jersey.

People seem to be at their best when traveling, and all were good company and had interesting life stories to tell.

John, the Guest House manager, must have overheard us telling our story because when we returned to our room later in the day we found a basket loaded with chips, cheese, crackers, Ferrero Rocher chocolates and a bottle of Cabernet Sauvignon wine.

There was even a card that read Happy Anniversary! Compliments of the House.

The next day we took an ice bucket and much of what was in the basket to the beach at Fort Zackery. The swimming there is great and it’s another place to meet people from all over the world.

HOMETOWN HISTORY: January 28, 2021


January 28, 2021

150 Years Ago

In the Village of Oneonta during the year 1870 the mortality was as follows: Total number of deaths: 9; of which 5 were women, 1 man, 2 boys and 1 girl. Ages: Under 1 year and under: 2; between 1 and 5 years: 1; 15 and 20 years: 1; 30 and 40 years: 5. Diseases: Bronchitis: 1; Cancer: 1; Consumption 1; Dysentery 1; Hemorrhage of Lungs 2; Killed by Cars (Railroad) 1; Scarintina 1. Deaths to population: Eight-tenths of one percent.
In reference to the Musical Convention held at Schenevus recently, Miss Emma Gates of Oneonta had probably the fullest and best cultivated soprano voice of any of the female singers present. Her delineation is broad and fluent, her execution full of delicacy, and her rendition of impassioned music – “vehement.”

January 1871

BERKSON: Talk About Coop d’Etats!

Talk About Coop d’Etats!

Terry Berkson, who has an MFA in creative writing from Brooklyn College, lives on a farm outside Richfield Springs. His article have appears in New York magazine, the New York Daily News Sunday Magazine, Automobile and other publications.

Early this spring, my reigning rooster, Geezbrook, who fathered almost all of this year’s egg-laying rookies, was challenged and defeated by one of his sons.

When I arrived on the scene, the old man was cowering in a corner with his back facing his attacker.

I scooted them out into the yard and they went at it again, Geezbrook seeming to have new heart against his son, who got down like an alligator coming through a fan of feathers.
They both drew blood with the old man losing the fight until I slapped them both several times with my red plastic shovel.

Distracted, they headed for cover in a hedgerow.

When I went back to the coop to gather eggs, I noticed that several of the hens had bald spots on their backs caused, no doubt, by the roosters practicing their dominance.

Luckily, Pee Wee, my favorite chicken, hadn’t suffered any damage or I would have gone after the bullies with hatchet in hand. Instead, I tried to catch them, which was no easy task after they had had a taste of the shovel.

HOMETOWN HISTORY: January 21, 2021


January 21, 2021

150 Years Ago

Local: The coal bill of Bissell & Yager, for the month ending January 1, amounted to nearly $5,000.
H. Sessions fell from a scaffold on his house a few days since, from which he received quite severe injuries.
E.R. Sabin, T.N. Derby and George Bond have each drawn a silver watch from prize candy packages.
We learn that L.J. Emmons and E.G. Bixby contemplate moving to Kansas during the Spring or Summer.
S.M. Ballard has sold one-half interest in the Susquehanna House to A.C. Lewis of Cooperstown, the firm hereafter to be Ballard & Lewis.
The Round House is now completed. The work was inspected Tuesday and accepted by the company. Men are now working on the water tank. In a few days everything will be in readiness
for engines to take water while standing in the stalls.

January 1871

BOUND VOLUMES: January 21, 2021


January 21, 2021


Letter to the Overseer of the State Prison at Auburn Village from Utica – “Dear Sir: I have been informed that there is a young woman in prison for which her father offers the sum of $3,000 to the person who will marry her. If that be the case, I want you to see her father and have him write to me as soon as possible. If he writes to him direct, his letter is to be left at Cazenovia Village Post Office as I shall be there by the 25th. I was lately from Vermont on my journey to Illinois. I have had bad luck and got out of money and heard them speak of this girl, and I concluded I would marry her, if that was the truth. I wish to have you write as soon as possible. Direct your letter to Cyrus Crumb – this from me to the State Prison at Auburn Village.”

January 15, 1821

STERNBERG: Here’s How You Crack NY Vaccine Scheduling


Here’s How You Crack

NY Vaccine Scheduling

It Takes Determination, Stick-With-It-Ness


Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective to during the COVID-19

If you’re like me, and I only mean that in the COVID-phobic sense, you have been trying to figure out how to get vaccinated. I have been on-line an average of an hour a day for about two weeks trying to find appointments. Then I heard on the news that the New York State vaccination site at Jones Beach (Long Island) now has a three-month wait. What to do?

Two weeks ago, I wrote about the priorities that the state, i.e., Governor Cuomo set out. 1A was to be healthcare workers on the frontlines and nursing home residents, 1B was to be essential workers, 1C was to be people over 65 and high-risk individuals.

Then it changed, and changed again.

Every state has its own priority system. Doses have gone unused. People are flying to Miami just to get vaccinated (and maybe a little sun while they are there).

‘Crisis Of Credibility’ Calls For New Ideas, New Leaders

‘Crisis Of Credibility’ Calls

For New Ideas, New Leaders

‘I don’t think globalization is coming to an end. I think the global system is in crisis. I think every major institution in our society is in crisis …

“I think the (World Health Organization) is a discredited organization. I think the White House is a discredited institution.

“I’m sorry to say this because I know it’s your former employer: I think the New York Times does not have the credibility it once had. It reads like the Guardian or the Nation. It doesn’t read like a newspaper.

“There is a crisis of credibility and trust.

“I don’t think that means institutions are going to go away. What it means is those institutions are going to need new leaders who have a different world view.”

“Apocaplyse Never” author
Interviewed on C-Span.

STERNBERG: COVID Transforming Calls For Better Understanding

COVID Transforming Calls

For Better Understanding

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

There is a large amount of concern about this new strain of COVID that just Monday was confirmed to have reached New York State.

At this time, I keep hearing that it is more contagious than the strain we are familiar with but not more lethal.

What we don’t know, and what we will have to find out, is whether it is as sensitive to the approved vaccines as the strain we are most familiar with.

I am personally concerned that we are losing our focus on standard epidemiologic ways of preventing spread: This is not the time to give up on distancing, masks, and avoiding groups let alone crowds.

In preparing these columns, as I have stated in the past, there is a plethora of new information available every day.

There are at least 50 articles I can choose from, not including original scientific journal articles, that number several hundred each week on all platforms. None of these individual articles can give an overall picture of what is happening and the basic science in an organized fashion.

Interestingly, a close friend, an electrical engineer, turned me onto an online course offered by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology this past semester for undergraduates and graduate students. There were 13 lectures, about 45 minutes long, on many aspects of the COVID-19 crisis by experts who are leaders in their fields. The course is available to anyone online at no charge.

While some of the lectures, and lecturers, are a bit esoteric, some were quite easy to follow. Many explain things so simply and well that the average interested person can come away with a fairly complete understanding of the important points of this pandemic and how the biology behind treating it works and is implemented.

I suggest at least taking a look at it and going over some of the lecturers. I admit several of the lecturers, while leaders in their fields, had problems speaking to a non-technical audience but most of them did a good job of educating overall.

To access the course, Google “MIT course 7.00”, then hit the first listing. Individual lectures can also be found through YouTube.

I am over 40 years from studying this material as coursework and much of what we know about viruses and immunology has changed since then but as I said above, some of the lecturers were able to distill out the essence of what they were saying so that anyone with only a high school biology background could follow it.

I particularly found interesting the first lecture, “COVID-19 and the Pandemic,” the second lecture “Corona Virus Pathology” and the fourth lecture, “Insights from the Corona Virus Pandemic” (which is given by Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is a wonderful teacher)

Number 10, “Vaccines”, is also among the easiest to understand for non-technical audiences.

It is very important that all of us try to obtain as much factual knowledge as possible.

Only in this way can we make informed decisions for ourselves and our families. Taking a course like this one I describe is as equally important as to gathering information by reading individual articles.

McREYNOLDS:…But I Wasn’t Afraid Of ‘The Troubles’

…But I Wasn’t Afraid

Of ‘The Troubles’

Erna Morgan McReynolds, raised in Gilbertsville, is retired managing director/financial adviser at Morgan Stanley’s Oneonta Office, and an inductee in the Barron’s magazine National Adviser Hall of Fame.  She lives in Franklin.

You already know that I have been afraid to do almost everything I ever did, but that never stopped me. But then there were the times when I should have been afraid but wasn’t.

Why did I think I could head off around the world at 21? Emigrate to New Zealand from a small Upstate dairy farm?

From New Zealand there was no easy way to call home if I was in trouble or just homesick. With the primitive system there I had to book calls to the U.S. far in advance. At Halloween I reserved my slot for Christmas Day.

And of course there was no Internet back then. Just handwritten letters on onion skin paper to make them lighter and cheaper to mail. Even an air mail letter could take weeks to get to my family.

There were no credit cards in case of emergency either. I hadn’t even dreamed of seeing ATMs.

So where was my fear when it should have seized me?

Car bombs, like this one depicted in the Irish Times 50 years ago, were common during “The Troubles,” when Erna Morgan McReynolds visited Belfast.

I had booked and paid for my 13,000-mile ticket which would let me see a lot of the world. I could get on and off planes, change airlines and visit as many countries as I wanted as long as I didn’t exceed those 13,000 miles.

I put on nylons, dress, gloves and my sturdy walking shoes. One had to“dress” for airplane travel in those days.

My foreign travel began with a drive from Upstate to the JFK airport. Without a look backward, I boarded a 727 and flew from that iconic TWA terminal.

First stop was Ireland to meet my Dad’s brother — my Uncle Tony, my cousins, Dad’s friends.

Dad left Northern Ireland in 1926. He had never returned. I would be the first to visit his family since 1926!

After my TWA dinner, which was served on china even in steerage, I took a brief nap. I opened my bleary eyes at Shannon Airport in Ireland. Shannon was a world apart then, with donkeys hauling goods and people through

Western Ireland. No tractors. Few cars.

But my uncle and two of my cousins were there to greet me. Their hours-long journey to fetch me took almost as long as my trip from JFK.

In my ignorance, my Upstate travel agent had booked me to the right island but the wrong side of it. The McReynolds lived near Belfast. Hours away from Shannon and often on single-track roads flanked by hedgerows.

My cousin Tommy, who could tell a tale about almost anything, told me those hedges housed the “wee people,” who built fires there and roasted mushrooms.

I have to admit I stared hard into those hedges. I wondered when one of the wee ones would spring out in front of our car.

This cousin never stopped spinning fairy stories. But he had some real stories to tell too. A tough Belfast city bus driver, Tommy had been held up at gun point more than once “in The Troubles.”

My Dad had left half a century before. He assured us that it was a time of “The Troubles” back then. Nothing to worry about.

But there had been plenty to worry about then and when I arrived too.

After our visit to my cousin Iris in a border town in the Irish Republic, we had to go through a checkpoint to get into Ulster.

Soldiers dressed in camouflage wielding machine guns; sand bags to deflect bombs; questioning by sentries before we could pass through.

That was unnerving but with Dad’s reassurances I knew this was just normal life.

A few days later when my cousins and Uncle were giving me a tour of a nearby city, a policeman was stopping the line of traffic in front of us. As we neared the road block suddenly my cousin wheeled the car around and started tearing away.

But before we went more than a few yards, an explosion rocked our little Mini, our eardrums felt like they would break and black smoke plumed in the air. Sirens blared. Children on their lunchtime recess ran about screaming. Parents arrived shouting, looking for their children in the mayhem.

Maybe I should have been afraid? But I took my Dad’s advice and didn’t worry. I stayed in Northern Ireland for my 10 days. We were frisked as we went into Belfast department stores. Stopped at roadblocks. Walked past young soldiers in camouflage. But I still had 9,000 miles to go.

Next stop London.

BOUND VOLUMES: January 7, 2021


January 7, 2021


The Florida Treaty – The Treaty ceding Florida to the United States has been officially communicated to Mr. Rush, the American Minister in London. Don Manuel de Barros, who is attached to the Spanish Legation to the United States, is arriving at the House of the Spanish Consul at Bordeaux, with the Treaty for the Cession of the Floridas which had been ratified by the Cortes. A letter from Bordeaux, received at Paris on November 7, says he will embark immediately in the ship Rapid of New York for Philadelphia.

January 8, 1821

HOMETOWN HISTORY: January 7, 2021


January 7, 2021

150 Years Ago

Local: Most of the wells in this village are dry. Housewives therefore grumble.
Charley Freiot has just received a large and splendid assortment of stereoscopic views.
N.I. Ford wishes to say that he will sell his house and lot on Centre Street. It is centrally located and will be sold cheap.
More than 70 houses have been built, enlarged and repaired in our village this past year. We hope to herald more than double that number the coming year.
George Bixby has sold his house and lot on Dietz Street near the bridge to H.J. Cummings of Burlington, at $2,000. Mr. C. will come here to reside in Spring. Mr. Thompson, who recently purchased the old M.E. Church, was busy last week moving it on the lot purchase of Bixby. Mr. T. will arrange the building for two families.

January 1871

STERNBERG: From Russia, With Love

From Russia, With Love

Richard Sternberg, retired Bassett Hospital orthopedic surgeon, is providing his professional perspective weekly during the COVID-19
threat. A village trustee,
he resides in Cooperstown.

Unintentionally but inevitably, and catastrophically, the Russian National Figure Skating Team has carried out an experiment that lets the rest of the world see what happens when you expose super-elite athletes indiscriminately to the risk of contracting COVID-19.

While not immediately fatal, it is not pretty and suggests what the long-term consequences of contracting the disease may be for other young people.

According to the Dec. 17 edition of The Wall Street Journal, the Russian Women’s National Ice Skating team is regarded as the very best in the world and has such deep reserves of young talent that it was expected to remain the best indefinitely.

They are a very close group, literally and physically. The members of this group have pretty much disdained rules and recommendations regarding avoiding disease spread up to now.

There are social media posts of them partying without spacing or masks, posts of competition venues where very many coaches, athletes, spectators and officials are wearing their masks below their mouth or not at all, while athletes are withdrawing from the national championships because of positive tests or complications from recent positive infection.

2018 Olympic silver medalist Evgenia Medvedeva is hospitalized with serious lung damage after testing positive in November.

European Champion Alena Kostornaia missed a competition earlier in December because of a positive test has not recovered sufficiently to compete according to officials.

The National Championship was won by Anna Shcerbakova a teenager. Scherbakova herself withdrew from a late November event citing “pneumonia.” She has now won the event three times but was noted to be having trouble breathing after her programs.

Other skaters performed well below expectation. Former world champion Elizaveta Tuktamysheva who was expected to finish better came in seventh. She had announced that she had tested positive. She was reported as looking sluggish and exhausted at the Nationals.

Many who did compete had been reported as having had the virus earlier in the season. Coaches, some of who are at high risk because of age alone, have reported positive and ill.

Up until now the Russian National Federation has progressed their season as if the virus didn’t exist. Any attempts at safety protocols seem to have been ignored.

So, what do we learn from this experiment? Young people do get the disease and, when they do, they may not die from it at the same rate as the elderly but they do have medical consequences, sometimes permanently.

Why do these symptoms seem so frequent in these Russian athletes while they have not been reported with the same frequency in our general public?

Part of the answer is that these people are under a publicity magnifying glass – when they can’t perform, it is noticed. The same is evident in our professional athletes.

These are also people who have trained to perform at the extreme limits of physiologic capability, who have increased their capacities beyond normal people and therefore any slight damage to their organs whether lungs, heart, muscle, etc., are readily noticed.

The same damage is most probably occurring in the average person, but the average person does not frequently try to perform at their extreme.

While some of the Russians (and others) will never perform at elite levels again, some will have long-term damage that will affect activities of daily living. Any damage in anyone will have long-term consequences that will have heretofore unknown effects on life expectancy and long-term impairment or disability.

To those who continue to underestimate this disease, stop it. Dying is not the only bad outcome of contracting COVID-19.

I said this in April and I say it again now. Stay safe. Wear a mask. Socially distant. Stay within your pod (and if any one member doesn’t, then you all aren’t). We are getting close to getting vaccinated. Don’t screw up now.

In the NFL the lowest of the low, the New York Jets, beat the previously postseason-bound Cleveland Browns. This gave the Jets a second win and seems to knock them out of the competition for worst record and therefore first pick in the draft, according to another article on the same Journal sports page.

How could this happen?

Well, the Browns lost all their first- and most of their second-string receivers due to contact-tracing protocols for COVID-19.

The fans of the Jacksonville Jaguars, formerly the next-to-worst team in the standings, were noted to be celebrating. Now they get to draft Clemson quarterback Trevor Lawrence.

HOMETOWN HISTORY: December 31, 2020


December 31, 2020

125 Years Ago

Congressman D.F. Wilber of Oneonta did not vote for the Dingley Tariff Bill. Neither did he vote against it. Mr. Wilber’s position on the bill was explained by him as follows: “I represent a district which is strongly protective in its tariff views and I myself am a radical protectionist. As such I could not bring myself around to support the Dingley measure. It is a bill for revenue rather than protection. I cannot endorse a 15 percent increase of Wilson-Gorman duties throughout all the schedules except those devoted to wool and wood and their manufactures. The basis of such action is wrong. I favored a Bill framed along McKinley lines. What I want is a thoroughly protective measure on the lines of the McKinley measure of 1890. Any Democrat who favors tariff duties for revenue only might have voted for the Dingley Bill without violating his principles. I cannot compromise my protective views with Mr. Cleveland to that extent.”

January 1896

80 Years Ago

An Oneonta boy died a hero Friday afternoon of last week in a futile attempt to save the life of a seven-year-old playmate who had plunged into icy Neahwa park pond. Victims of the first tragic accident to occur at the park pond in 12 years were Charles Wood, aged 11, son of Mr. and Mrs. Austin Wood, and Darwin Johnston, aged 7, son of Mr. and Mrs. Lawrence Johnston of West Harpersfield. Dr. Norman Getman, Otsego County coroner, pronounced both boys dead at 4:50 p.m.

January 1941

25 Years Ago

Citing economic reasons and low ridership, Pine Hill-Adirondack Trailways has decided to eliminate its weekday bus route traveling from Utica, through Cooperstown, to Oneonta on January 10. Weekend runs will continue, however. Paul Provost, vice-president for the Kingston-based company, commented, “It’s a lack of passengers. There are less than six passengers a day on that portion. The majority are between New York City and Oneonta, obviously. Somedays we are leaving Oneonta with two or three people. This is strictly an economic move. Trailways receives a state subsidy of $2.7 million and was asking for an additional $500,000 according to Michael Fleischer a NYSDOT spokesperson. “Adirondack wanted additional state subsidies because the ridership was fairly low,” said Diane Carlton, Director of the Planning Department for Otsego County. The ridership averages are based on total annual numbers which rise during the tourist season.
“I see a lot more people getting off the buses in the summer,” Carlton said.

January 1996

10 Years Ago

In ceremonies at the Otsego County Courthouse, State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford, was sworn in for a 13th term, and Otsego County Sheriff Richard J. Devlin, Jr. was sworn for his second term. In remarks, Seward noted a lack of “stable and responsible leadership” in Albany in recent years. “I love New York,” he said, “but our state is crumbling.” Drue Quackenbush, an Oneonta High School student, sang the National Anthem and led the audience in “America the beautiful” at the end. Also sworn in was Judge Brian Burns who warned of growing problems with heroin drug addiction.
“Stay-at-home moms are being arrested for selling it and for using it,” said the judge.

January 2011

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