By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com
When Louise Clark Hulse was born, there wasn’t even a Bassett Hospital.
“I was born at the Thanksgiving Home,” she said. “This was long before Bassett.”
Born Sept. 21, 1917, (the hospital was opened in June 1922) Louise just turned 102 at Cooperstown Center.
She was an only child. “My grandfather (Michael Hanlon) was the mayor of Cooperstown for quite a while,” she said. “He owned three hotels. One uncle owned a printing press, another owned a shoe store.”
According to her son Rick Hulse Sr., Hanlon was mayor when The Otesaga was dedicated in 1909.
Her uncle, John Clark, helped build St. Mary’s “Our Lady of the Lake” Catholic Church, the former Church & Scott pharmacy (the three-story brick building where Yastrzemski Sports is today), and 183 Main St., where District Attorney John Muehl has his offices today.
During World War I, the family moved to Church Street, Oneonta, when Louise was still a young girl.
“My uncle owned a restaurant on Chestnut Street, and we’d go there to eat every night,” she said. “But sometimes I wished I could eat at home like the other kids!”
She grew up swimming in Oneonta’s Wilber Park – there was a pond where the pool is now – and going to the circus on the Sixth Ward Booster Club fields. “The circus parade would go right past our house,” she said.
But tensions could run high at times. “The Ku Klux Klan used to burn crosses up in the hills,” she said. “And when Al Smith ran for president – he was the first Catholic to do so – my mother put his picture in the window, and someone threw a brick into our living room.”
She attended St. Mary’s School, graduated from Oneonta High School in 1935, and got her undergraduate degree from Hartwick College in 1939. “It was $8 a (credit) hour when I went there,” she said. “I drove there every day, but in the winter, sometimes it would take me three tries to get up that hill.”
She went on for a master’s in French from Syracuse University, and taught in Bellport, Long Island, where she met her husband, Richmond. The couple was married in 1944.
A pharmacist, he was assigned to Hawaii, testing medicines, during World War II, and she took a job in Morris, nearer her family. “It was a very religious community there, and one day, I wanted to teach the French club a card game,” she said. “One of the teachers walked past, saw me and ran in, saying ‘Do you want to be run out of town on a rail? They don’t play cards here.’”
After Dick returned from Hawaii, they moved back to Long Island, where she raised their family. Their son Rick, born in 1947, is the father of the former county representative Rick Hulse Jr. of Fly Creek. They also had another son, Chris, 70 and a daughter, Pam, 69. “I would bring them to Oneonta in the summer,” she said. “They learned to play tennis and swim in Wilber Park – they had the pool then!”
Louise and Dick retired to Cooperstown in 1978. “He moved here because of the golf course,” she said. “All he wanted to do was golf. I wasn’t very good, but I loved the game. I played until I was 89.”
They frequented Glimmerglass Opera from the beginning, and were members of the Cooperstown Country Club. “I love that now golf is a sport that everybody plays,” she said. “It’s no longer just for people with money.”
Dick passed away in 2001 at age 88, and although Louise maintained the family home after his passing, last October she moved to Cooperstown Center. Rick dines with her every day at noon, and Chris and Pam are also frequent guests.
In 2017, her three children, nine grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren celebrated her 100th birthday at Pam’s house in Cooperstown, and last weekend, the children joined her for her 102nd. “They gave me cookies and a beautiful cake,” she said. “They treat me very nicely here.”