DAVENPORT – Janet L. Gano, 82, who except for several years in France lived most of her life in the Davenport and Oneonta area, passed away peacefully at her home on Saturday morning, Dec. 21, 2019 following a long illness.
Born on July 13, 1937, in Oneonta, she was the daughter of the late Arthur F. and Velma (Eggler) Shaw.
Janet worked for the former Bresee’s Dept. Store in Oneonta and later worked as a home health aide for various clients in the greater Oneonta area.
NATIVITY SCENE – 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. View many amazing nativity scenes from the Bresees display to a stained glass set, more. Refreshments available. Free, open to public. Calvary Hill Retreat Center, 290 Chestnut St., Oneonta. 607-432 4926.
ONEONTA – On their first date, Wayne Balnis introduced his girlfriend (and future wife), Carla Palmer, to a family tradition.
“He took me to see the skaters on the Catellas’ lawn on Belmont Circle,” she said. “And there’d be a line of cars behind us, waiting to see them.”
“My dad took me when I was a kid,” said Wayne.
Part of former Bresee’s Department Store Christmastime window displays, Kathleen Catella said she and her husband, Jim, obtained the mechanical figure skaters in the 1950s.
Each Christmas season, the couple set them up on their lawn, since delighting generations of Oneonta-area visitors.
“I had one young man come up to me in the grocery store and tell me his parents had taken him to see the skaters,” Kathleen said. “In high school, he took his girlfriend. And later, he proposed to her in front of them!”
“They bring back so many happy memories for so many people.”
According to the couple’s son Tim, his parents stopped doing the display in 1995, and the skaters were packed away. His dad, City Hall recreation director and Catella Park namesake, passed away in 2006.
Now, Wayne and Carla, friends of Tim, hope to carry on the tradition at their Sixth Ward home. “I always bugged him about those figure skaters,” said Carla. “Finally, he called me up and he said, ‘Mom’s ready.’”
“It’s time to bring them back,” said Kathleen.
Carla sat down with Kathleen and explained her intentions: to bring the skaters back into the public eye.
“It was like an interview,” said the younger woman. “I told her how committed we were to getting them going again. She didn’t even want any money for them. She just wanted people to see them.”
Aside from a few broken fingertips, the mechanical skaters are in good condition, but the base they skated on was accidentally destroyed when construction workers took down the outbuilding where it was being stored.
The Balnises are looking for someone to redesign the rotating track and the mechanism to make them “skate.”
Each figure is on tires that allows them to bounce off walls and each other and, in the process, spin.
Kathleen doesn’t think the skaters originated locally, but were originally among Macy’s famed window displays in New York City, before the local department store bought them.
“I don’t know how Jim got them,” said his wife. “He just came up with the idea that we should have them!”
So every year, at the start of Advent, the skaters would go out on the Catellas’ lawn. “My husband and the kids would build a structure around them to keep the snow and rain off them, and we’d put on music for them to skate to,” she said. “There would be a line of cars waiting to see them.”
“It wasn’t Christmas without the skaters,” said son Tim.
The father’s secretary, Alice, made new costumes for them. “They had jingle bells in the skirt that would ring,” said Kathleen. “It’s those little details that made the kids smile.”
The Catellas’ display was one of several on Belmont Circle.
“There was a farmer who lived there and farmed outside of town, and a carpenter on the block too,”
Kathleen said. “The carpenter built a living Nativity, and the farmer brought cows, sheep, goats and a donkey named Sassafras, with mannequins as Mary, Joseph and Jesus. The kids would wait for him to roll up the canvas every day, and then he would let them ride on Sassafras.”
By next year, Wayne and Carla are hoping to bring that same Christmas spirit to Gilbert Street.
“We know a few people who might be able to make a new base,” she said. “But we’re reaching out to anyone who might be able to help.”
“I’d be delighted to see it again,” said Kathleen. “I’ll bring my kids, grandkids and great-grandkids to see it.”
ONEONTA – Bresee’s savior Chip Klugo it at it again.
Common Council Tuesday evening will consider seeking a Restore NY grant to redo the former Stevens Hardware Store to the west of the former department store, according to the agenda for the meeting released this afternoon.
The money “would be used to partially offset costs of rehabilitating an abandoned building at 151-153 Main St. as planned by Klugo Properties, East Corning,” the agenda states. Word is he plans to put five apartments in the structure.
ONEONTA – B. Katherine Angell, who worked for Bendix, Bresee’s and Leon Kalmus over her career, passed away April 14, 2017, leaving two children and two grandchildren.
She was born Jan. 30, 1924, in Laurens, the daughter of Ralph and Esther (Clark) Terrell. She married Gordon (Jim) Angell on May 11, 1974, in Oneonta. He predeceased her Oct. 8, 1999.
Katherine is survived by a son and his wife, Joseph and Marietta Franzese of Chagrin Falls, Ohio; a daughter Patricia Franzese of Provincetown, Mass., and a granddaughter Sara Ann Franzese and grandson Joseph Anthony Franzese, both of Chagrin Falls.
Her beloved brother, Dr. Ross Terrell, predeceased her in 2010. Her former spouse and father to her children, Joseph Franzese, predeceased her in 1998.
Katherine was a 1940 graduate of Oneonta High School, and attended SUNY Oneonta. She was employed for several years as a senior draftsman at Bendix in Sidney. She also worked for a time in Bresee’s Department Store, Leon Kalmus’ surveyor office, and before her husband’s illness and death she worked as a merchandiser for New York periodicals.
Katherine had many interests: she was an accomplished seamstress who especially enjoyed quilting. She loved classical music and English literature, in particular the Bronte sisters, having a large collection of their novels and poems. She was also a devoted animal lover, adopting many stray cats and found homes for those she could not care for herself.
There will be no public services. Inurnment will be in the Glenwood Cemetery, Oneonta with her parents.
Contributions in Katherine’s memory may be made to Catskill Area Hospice & Palliative Care, 542 Main Street, Oneonta, NY 13820.
ONEONTA – Chip Klugo’s Parkview Place is one of seven “distinctive historic preservation projects” that received New York State 2014 Preservation Awards in Albany this afternoon.
The awards were presented in the award-winning Academy Lofts in Albany, an abandoned school that has been transformed into a living and work space for artists as well as a community arts center and business incubator for creative enterprises.
The citation praised Klugo and his architectural form, Johnson-Schmidt of Corning, for “successfully revived the former Bresee’s department store in downtown Oneonta as a contemporary commercial and residential complex.”
IN MEMORIAM: Tina M. Tisenchek, 89; Worked At Bresee’s
ONEONTA – Tina M. Tisenchek, 89, who worked at the former Bresee’s Department Store, among other local businesses, passed away on Friday, Oct. 3, 2014, at Chestnut Park Rehabilitation & Nursing Center.