Over 150 years ago, in 1867, Susan Fenimore Cooper—the visionary daughter of our illustrious James Fenimore Cooper—founded the Thanksgiving Hospital, the first such hospital in the Village of Cooperstown and, so it’s told, in the state. Dedicated to the “weak and suffering among the population of Otsego County and the adjoining counties,” it had 16 beds. At the time Cooperstown was a small rural community with 1,600 people.
Established in appreciation of the end of the Civil War, the Thanksgiving Hospital was guided for three decades by Miss Cooper, working closely with Dr. Wilson T. Bassett, an Otsego County-born son of a veterinary surgeon who had emigrated from England in 1815. When Bassett began his medical practice in the 1840s, in Mount Vision, there were 60 physicians in Otsego County, six of them in Cooperstown.
Film festivals have been around for a century, and now, in the 21st, they have come into their own. They are meeting places for filmmakers and audiences who are interested in the world in its variety, different approaches to life and in film as an art form, a medium and a tool of social expression. Global digitalization has given film festivals an exceptional tool for crossing the communication channels from the most distant places and, with multiple languages, films now present a rich diversity of voices, aiding communication in an increasingly polarized world.
For those of us old enough to remember when elections—and the American political system itself—were “of the people and by the people and for the people,” it is somewhat difficult to be excited, much less inspired, by the process that will unfold across the nation next Tuesday. In what has arguably become an increasingly nasty and pitiful squabble of the politicians, by the politicians and for the politicians, Americans are now faced with a choice between political extremes and actual political extremists who have been primaried into their races by a severely broken redistricting system devised of, by and for the politicians whose interest in winning far outweighs their interest in, or ability to, effectively or adequately govern the country. Civilized discourse has become unbridled discord.
On October 8, 2021, President Joe Biden proclaimed October 11 as Indigenous Peoples’ Day. At the same time, he acknowledged Columbus Day as a federal holiday that would continue to recognize the contributions of Italian-Americans. This exercise was, in part, designed to placate a growing constituency in a widening “cancel culture” that opposes a celebration for a man who was nothing short of beastly to the indigenous populations that he and his Spanish patrons conquered and enslaved. Certainly, it would be more appropriate, and more civilized, to celebrate the victims rather than the victors.
It is hard not to agree with that line of thinking, but to do so ignores the genesis of the modern Columbus Day recognition. It is not a celebration of Columbus the man, but rather a celebration of Columbus the Italian, and ultimately the celebration of Italian-Americans.
September is pretty much behind us, with its very warm and, at other times, quite chilly days and nights, and some torrential rains. It’s been like most of the Septembers around here, only the temperature fluctuations this year have been more drastic, and the thunderstorms have been more ferocious, felling trees and scattering branches and scaring children and dogs.
And now, as we run smack into the pumpkins and foliage and the eventual Jack Frost of October, we barrel right into the beginning of the great season of The Hunt. On the very first day of the coming month the seasons for coyote (until March 26), ruffed grouse (until February 28), pheasant (until February 28), bear (until December 20) and deer (until January 1), among others, open. All but deer may be shot with guns, but for the deer it’s a bit more complicated. The bow season runs from October 1 – November 18, the crossbow from November 5 – 18, the muzzleloader from December 12 – 20 and December 26 – January 1, the shotgun from November 19 – December 11, and the late bowhunting alongside the muzzleloaders from December 12 – 20 and December 26 – January 1. There are kids’ weekends, too.
A little over a year ago The Freeman’s Journal put forth an editorial on the subject of electric vehicle chargers, which were at the time pretty scarce within the Village and, in fact, even outside the Village. The reason we explored the local availability of these chargers was, of course, that our tiny historic Village has been, and is, the destination of myriad urban baseball, sports, scenic and music explorers whose mode of transportation to Cooperstown is increasingly an electric or hybrid vehicle. We know this because there are signs of them throughout the Village, many of them silently sitting with silently draining batteries in the parking lots of the hotels, museums and baseball parks.
Labor Day. The end of an exceptional summer in Cooperstown. Dare we say exceptional? Yes we can, despite the ominous glooms of COVID and recent blooms of algae.
Our Main Street businesses are still here. They may not have had their best summer, and they may still be sadly short-handed, but they are proudly displaying their wares and energetically inviting shoppers into their establishments. The Hall of Fame reopened its doors for Induction Weekend, welcoming pre-COVID crowds for a celebratory salute to the national pastime. Baseball fans swarmed the streets, and the Village was clean within hours. Doubleday Field is refurbished and Dreams Park is back. Our Village is alive.
Until this past week, we were just settling into a summer of weather that seemed almost perfectly “Goldilocks” — not too cold, not too hot. It reminded us of the summers of old, when there would be one or two days in early July that were considered hot — somewhere between 85 and 90 degrees. No one had air conditioning and very few had a swimming pool.
But last week the heat was intense and somewhat frightening, given global headlines on record-breaking heat, raging wildfires and devastating drought. Those of us who saw the allegorical film “Don’t Look Up” found ourselves, well, looking up. Since not well-versed in climate science, we considered looking up some facts and statistics but, afraid of finding anything too scary, put it off. Then, when a real scientist pointed out that we are now seeing effects of climate change not expected until around 2050, we had to do some looking up.
The Freeman’s Journal / Hometown Oneonta endorses the following candidates in the primary elections for the offices of Governor and Lieutenant Governor of New York State:
Kathy Hochul and Antonio Delgado
Mrs. Hochul rose immediately to the occasion when her scandal-scarred predecessor abruptly resigned from office in 2021. Her equanimity was and remains the temperate influence the state needs; she has been able to parlay that to a more productive and seemingly collegial atmosphere in the state Capitol. To be sure, she has made a couple of missteps along the way – choosing now-indicted Brian Benjamin as her lieutenant governor and pushing a sweetheart deal for a new stadium for her beloved Buffalo Bills. She recovered well from the Benjamin debacle by tapping Rep. Antonio Delgado as her new lieutenant and, as this page has noted, that Bills stadium was a foregone conclusion that any governor would have sought to keep the team in town.
Mr. Delgado is no stranger to Otsego County; we believe as the whole of New York comes to know him as we do, they will meet a public official who connects to the community. His skill sets serve him well in office.
Neither of Mrs. Hochul’s opponents meet the challenge: Rep. Tom Suozzi’s campaign began with an encouraging promise to stick to the political center but gained no traction. Jumaane Williams is so focused on New York City we fear he would know nothing about New York much farther north of Yankee Stadium.
We are concerned that Mr. Williams’s Lieutenant Governor running mate, Ana Maria Archila, may gain some Ocasio-Cortez mojo and surprise people on primary day. Her sole attribute seems to be a calculated ability to be obnoxiously and melodramatically confrontational. That’s not what we need these days.
In the June 28 Democratic primary, we endorse Kathy Hochul for governor and Antonio Delgado for lieutenant governor.
Speaking of confrontational, we are disappointed by Rep. Lee Zeldin’s transmogrification into Donald Trump-lite, using cheap playground taunts for his opponents instead of engaging in a decent debate on issues. We know Mr. Zeldin to be knowledgeable and thoughtful; his attack-dog persona is unwelcomed, his chasing after a Trump endorsement embarrassing. He and fellow candidate Andrew Giuliani seem more interested in a thumbs-up from Mr. Trump than they do engaging in a forthright, issues-based discussion. That Steve Bannon, perhaps one of the planet’s most hateful, destructive people – left his federal court hearing last week to support Mr. Giuliani at a fundraiser is all we need to know to give wide berth to Mr. Giuliani’s candidacy.
Harry Wilson, on the other hand, has stuck to his core issues – New York’s battle with street criminals and reasonable reforms to the state’s ill-conceived bail reform laws, an economic turnaround plan that makes sense, a proven ability to work with both parties. His moderation on these and other matters make him, we think, the candidate best able to attract the votes a Republican would need to win in a heavily-blue New York. Mr. Zeldin’s campaign criticizes Mr. Wilson for being an advisor to the Obama Administration as if it’s some kind of treason. We think it illustrates a statesmanship too long lacking in New York’s political minefield.
In the June 28 Republican primary, we endorse Harry Wilson for governor.
The editorial that appeared in The Freeman’s Journal/Hometown Oneonta on Thursday, April 28, 2022, regarding the Otsego County Democratic Committee’s Ukraine fundraising, sparked many a reaction in my mind.
Most important of them: What an astonishing example of performative outrage, high dudgeon, and holier-than-thou-ness. I do hope that the newspaper will apply equally outraged scrutiny when any seemingly altruistic local Republican initiative comes to your attention — and then devote an equal number of self-righteous paragraphs (in this case, ten) before magnanimously allowing that “we’re no less appalled when people wrap themselves in the American flag to claim moral or small-d democratic superiority…”
Depending on one’s particular perch, one committee’s fine print is another committee’s full disclosure.
The nation’s football audience was legitimately incredulous several weeks ago when the NFL’s random rules denied the Bills offense a chance at the ball in its overtime loss – in a championship game, no less – to the Kansas City Chiefs.
It’s a fair wager that New York sports fans took it particularly hard, as “our team” had a shot at the Super Bowl and then lost it in the closing seconds thanks to the reality of league rules and a lousy decision that left 13 seconds on the clock.
The Bills have gone from beloved state hero to goat (that’s goat as in ‘Charlie Brown-type goat,’ not the Tom Brady ‘Greatest Of All Time’ GOAT) in the last week, though, given Governor Kathy Hochul’s deal with the team and
We will admit to some heavy-duty skepticism when this newspaper received a press release last week announcing three days of anti-bullying assemblies and break-out sessions at Cooperstown Central School. It all sounded rather gimmicky – “a student empowerment and empathy activation team” calling itself “Sweethearts & Heroes” and co-founded by a Cooperstown High alum, Tom Murphy. Students participating in “Circle,” which, said the release, is “based on the ancient ritual of sitting in a circle to communicate and build empathy.”
Press releases are, at best, carefully contrived and one-dimensional – not the most ideal vehicle to convey the essence of something designed to drive home a compelling message about bullying.
Tom Murphy and his colleague, retired U.S. Army Sergeant Rick Yarosh, steamrolled our aforementioned skepticism right out of the box, though; their Monday afternoon program was hard-hitting but empathetic, energetic and motivational, entertaining and interactive. Students were engaged, too – a tough crowd, those senior high students are, at a tough time of day, after lunch and during the last period before school’s end – but they rallied and got involved. Well done, all.
Last December, this newspaper reported the story when two students stood to address a meeting of the CCS Board of Education to say they felt like they had no support from “a member of the administration” when they reported incidents of racial intolerance and bullying. Whether their
“New York will create a bureaucracy out of anything.”
So wrote one of this newspaper’s Facebook followers after reading a post about the state’s new “Office of Cannabis Management,” set up as the agency tasked to regulate legal weed and its derivations. The Office was a long time coming; ex-Governor Andrew Cuomo had stalled his appointment of potential agency leadership and then he stepped down. His successor moved (relatively) quickly and, voila, we have a new state agency.
The appropriately snarky observation came after we shared the Office’s announcement of its CANNABIS CONVERSATIONS. “Let’s talk about the new law and next steps for cannabis in New York,” they say, setting a series of online events between now and February 21.
Where have all the people gone? Seems like there’s no one hangin’ on. Look through the windows, The houses are empty. Hey! Everybody’s out of town. Seems like I’m the only one around. Hey! Better send some people down. Everyone on Earth Is out of town.
Hal David wrote that apocalyptic lyric back in 1970, Burt Bacharach added some appropriately dyspeptic music with a wobbly trombone, B.J. Thomas sang it with the right tinge of loneliness.
The song came to mind as we stood at the top of Cooperstown’s Main Street late one frigid afternoon last week. The stroll to the post office didn’t do much to counter the desolation — plenty of doors displayed some semblance of the “closed until March” sign that turns up every year around this time.
As it must. It’s our slow season, that time of year when New Yorkers become temporary Floridians, when business owners can grab some much-deserved rest in between busier times, when people can escape the cold.
Far be it from this page to look a gift horse squarely in the mouth, but open wide, equine friend:
Term limits aren’t government reform.
We do not blame Governor Kathy Hochul for saying eight is enough when it comes to years in office for a governor. Her predecessor’s bullying monomania for cementing his legacy by winning the fourth term that eluded his father was his undoing.
She calls for that same two-term limit on the lieutenant governor, attorney general, and comptroller. She ups the ante putative Republican gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin slapped on the table in December — his proposal would, so far, limit only the governor’s time at the helm. Neither yet loops in the state Legislature — a wise political move, given the fact that it’s the state Legislature that would have to approve the deal in the first place before sending to the state’s voters. We doubt they’d agree to vote themselves out of office, but we also think they’d be hard-pressed to carve themselves out if public pressure demanded otherwise.