Hometown History: May 18, 2023

Hometown History

May 18, 2023

135 Years Ago
Just below the Plains Crossing, near this village, early in the week, the body of a black cat was found upon the track, cut in twain by the cars. “I wouldn’t be in the engineer’s place what run over that cat for all the money the company’s got,” said a railroad employee. “It doesn’t often happen that a cat gets caught, but to run over a black cat means death every time.” Whether he referred to death to the cat or the engineer we did not learn. Subsequent inquiry revealed that it is no uncommon thing for the bodies of small animals, such as cats, dogs, muskrats, woodchucks, and the like, to be found mangled upon the railroad track. Black cats, however, are rarely run over.

May 1888

110 Years Ago
Earl V. Fritts, well known as the successful Oneonta aviator has been conducting a school in aviation here and has made many successful flights. Having returned from taking a course of instruction at the Glenn H. Curtis company school, Mr. Fritts has been operating at the Plains and now is located on the Tyler farm near the Glenn Bridge. He has been engaged by the management of the Oneonta Fair to give daily exhibitions on the last three days of the Fair in September next. The plucky aviator has driven every vehicle in which the gasoline motor is used and participated in many races, both of motorcycles and motor cars. His machine is one of the latest of the Curtis machines. During his stay at the Glenn Curtis School Mr. Fritts was considered very apt and the instructors there are anticipating a successful future for him as a birdman.

May 1913

90 Years Ago
The L.F. Loree, Engine No. 1403, the newest creation of the D. & H., and one of the world’s most powerful locomotives, passed through this city Monday on its way to the World’s Fair at Chicago, where it will be exhibited during the summer. C.E. Godard of this city is engineer-in-charge and will remain with the locomotive during its stay in the Windy City. Louis Walter of Oneonta is fireman and M.J. Closkey of Albany is flagman. The two latter crewmen will return following the arrival of the locomotive in Chicago. The locomotive left Colonie at 6 o’clock yesterday morning, passed through here shortly after 11 o’clock, and spent the night at Carbondale. It will leave this morning for Chicago via Wilkes-Barre and Pittsburgh, Pa. A replica of the Stourbridge Lion, the first steam locomotive in this country, which was operated by the D & H Canal Company between Honesdale and Carbondale, will be placed on exhibition beside the newest development in locomotive construction. The Loree is a four-cylinder, triple-expansion non-articulated, compound steam locomotive which has four truck wheels and eight driving wheels. By triple use of its steam, it operates almost silently.

May 1933

50 Years Ago
Oneonta voters yesterday overwhelmingly approved the first comprehensive revision in ward boundaries in the city’s history. An eight-ward reapportionment plan was approved, 561 to 110, by an electorate that represented only about 12 percent of the eligible voters. The vote means the city will end the traditional six-ward system during the 1975 municipal elections. Until that time, the present six wards will stay the way they are. The low turn-out yesterday was expected since no organized opposition to the eight-ward plan had developed. Preliminary estimates put the cost of holding the referendum at $2,000 or about $3 for every vote cast. “I’m very happy. This is something we’ve been trying to get done for five or six years,” Mayor James Lettis said. Lettis praised the work of the League of Women Voters. That organization has been the main advocate for reapportionment. The eight-ward system means that each ward will have approximately 2,125 residents. Dormitories at SUCO and Hartwick College are included in five of the eight wards. The plan was drawn up by a bi-partisan committee headed by Joseph Molinari, Jr.

May 1973

40 Years Ago
State Senator Lloyd “Steve” Riford and Assemblyman John McCann have introduced legislation that would give Oneonta ownership free of charge of Big Island, an 86-acre parcel of land in the Susquehanna River area. The city has been trying to obtain the land, which was taken over by the state when Interstate 88 was constructed, for use as a nature preserve. The wildlife preserve would be dedicated to the memory of Dr. John G. New, a local environmentalist who was instrumental in the creation of the city’s Environmental Board. The state had originally asked $35,000 for the land, and the current asking price is $17,000.

May 1983

30 Years Ago
Close to $10,000 worth of computer equipment was stolen Friday night from a State University College at Oneonta computer lab. James Small, acting director of public safety at SUCO, said the burglary happened sometime between 8 and 11 p.m. Friday after the last person left the lab on the third floor of the Fine Arts building. “The labs are left open,” Small said. “They are not scheduled to be locked until 11 p.m. A custodian is responsible for locking up.” Two complete MacIntosh computer systems, including monitors, keyboards, modems, and disk drives were taken, as well as several disks. Small said he is waiting for the results from a state police fingerprint dusting.

May 1993

20 Years Ago
Joseph M. Skellie of Oneonta has won a $4,000 scholarship from the Elks National Foundation. Skellie, a high school senior, will receive $1,000 a year for the next four academic years, beginning in 2003. Skellie was one of more than 16,000 students nationwide who competed in the Elks National Foundation’s Most Valuable Student scholarship competition, sponsors said. He received one of 494 fourth place $4,000 scholarships. Applicants were judged on scholarship, leadership and financial need.
Michelle LaFrance of Oneonta received the Benjamin Wainwright Award in English during Honors Day ceremonies April 25 at the University of Vermont, where she is a senior in the College of Arts and Sciences.

May 2003

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