Last week, I took a major step for myself and poked my head out of my shell. I decided that the situation with COVID is really not going to get much better. It is going to be endemic like the flu or the common cold and we’re going to have to deal with it. It’s time to get life back to as normal as possible.
I decided to take a trip to New York City, specifically Manhattan. There were several things that I wanted to do, and I haven’t been able to do for over two years. My personal schedule gave me a small window of opportunity to make the trip. I was also interested to see the response in the city to the continued presence of COVID and increase in lab-positive cases.
I went to a museum and I went to a Broadway show off Times Square. I also had a report from a friend of the crowd reaction at New York Rangers hockey game.
One day I went to the Metropolitan Museum of Art specifically to see a special event, a major retrospective of the works of Winslow Homer. By the way, if you have any interest in American art, you must get down to see this exhibit. It is worth the trip. These major retrospectives of Homer occur only approximately once every 25 years. This one is every bit as spectacular as the last one was in the mid-90s.
ONEONTA – Lois I. Brenner, 89, passed away peacefully at home on March 14, 2022.
Lois was born November 3, 1932 in Brooklyn, the daughter of Henry and Isabel (Corry) Erickson.
Lois graduated from Fort Hamilton High School in 1950. Following graduation, she worked in the financial district in New York City at Hanover Bank for several years.
Lois married David W. Brenner on September 5, 1954 at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Brooklyn, NY.
Following their marriage, they moved to Oneonta so David could attend college at SUCO. Lois held several office jobs in Oneonta prior to the birth of her children and raising her family. She enjoyed playing Bridge in several organized clubs in Oneonta with friends at times hosting the groups at her home. In 1968 she started working what she thought would be a temporary part-time job out of her home for the Otsego County Employees Federal Credit Union. Over the years, the temporary part time position became a fulfilling full-time career. After several mergers including with the Sidney Federal Credit Union, she was appointed branch manager of the Sidney Federal Credit Union office in Oneonta, retiring in 1995.
BUTTERNUT CREEK FLOAT – 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. Join the Otsego County Conservation Association for a leisurely paddle on the creek where you will learn about the natural and human history of our region, take in the sights, and have fun. Bring your own craft or reserve one of OCCA’s. Please come dressed for the weather with food, water, etc. Free, registration required. Bailey Rd., Gilbertsville. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/calendar/butternut-creek-float/
I graduated from CUNY Brooklyn just as the coronavirus pandemic was starting. After spending a year stringing for local Brooklyn publications and covering Black Lives Matter protests, I was ready to embrace a different lifestyle when I was offered a position as staff reporter for the Freeman’s Journal.
I’m not a sentimental person when it comes to where I live. I lived for three years in Flatbush Brooklyn, which was neither hipster nor trendy.
Instead, I spent my nights huddled up alone in my apartment watching anime and listening to the countless amounts of gunshots and firecrackers all night.
Compare that to moving to Oneonta, where the only thing that broke the silence was the freight train rolling past Neahwa Park and the occasional drunken college students chattering outside.
The weirdest thing about moving to Oneonta though was the fact that everybody seemed to be happy, a foreign concept in the city, apparently.
It seems like most New York City residents fled to Long Island, my home region, which I never liked, and New Jersey. I chose to go Upstate. I guess I’m just a singular experience in that growing trend.
But it was really the job that made me come here. There was nothing I wanted to do more than journalism, and I was finally being given a way to make that tricky career choice of
One thing I’ve learned is that some of the most impactful work you can do as a journalist is in small towns and cities. New York City, Los Angeles and Washington D.C. have no shortage of journalists, all of them competing for the same positions and stories.
In the end, my decision to work for a local paper, one which had been around for literal centuries, seemed like a no brainer, because I was committed to the importance of local journalism.
Loneliness is a bigger issue than anything else I’ve faced so far. In an effort to meet people, feel alive and be happy, I’ve done things I’ve never expected that I would do: I took pictures at a burlesque show, I’ve gone to Main Street and played guitar, I’ve eaten cold cheese pizza at Tino’s, drank coffee and read a book outside the Green Toad Book Store and somehow I’ve had random conversations with complete strangers about nothing in particular.
You can’t really do that in Brooklyn.
Well, yeah you can, but it would be a fruitless endeavor. Nobody is interested in you personally. In New York City, you’re a cog in the machine. You’re just one tiny spec among millions of other tiny specs. You may love the city, but it is unrequited. The city will never love you back.
Oneonta might be strange, different, even bizarre, at least from the perspective of a Long Island kid who moved to Brooklyn, but I can’t believe that the City of the Hills doesn’t care about me. It just doesn’t have that vibe.
A few years ago, Angel Garcia had just completed what he described as an anti-racism mural, “balanced with positive imagery,” at New York City’s Dual Language Middle School on West 77th Street.
“The theme idea was to create a mural that would explore the topic of racism – and healing,” said the Brooklyn artist, who will be creating a mural in Pioneer Park this summer in connection with the Keith Haring exhibit that opens May 29, Memorial Day Weekend, at The Fenimore Art Museum.
He was leaving the school soon after it was completed, and there, in front of the mural, “was one student explaining the imagery to another. They were using the mural to educate each other.
“It was beautiful moment,” said Garcia, now 29, a prolific artist whose opus to date includes 10 public murals in New York City and many individual canvases.
The Fenimore’s president, Paul D’Ambrosio, said the idea of commissioning a mural downtown in connection with muralist Haring’s exhibit came out of staff brainstorming during the grant application process.
“Everybody loved the idea,” he said. “We couldn’t put the (Haring) artwork downtown. But we could create one.”
A wooden wall will be built in Pioneer Park’s left-hand corner. After the Haring exhibit closes, the mural will become part of The Fenimore’s permanent collection, D’Ambrosio said.
I revisited (social scientists James Q. Wilson and George L. Kelling’s 1982 article, “Broken Windows,” in the Atlantic) because I was trying to solve a mystery. On a recent reporting trip to New York City to ask bankers, policy analysts and real estate brokers about the city’s economic future, I kept hearing that crime was a major risk.
…When I probed, I found that they talked less about violent crime than disorder. Homeless encampments were flourishing, panhandling had become more aggressive, and minor crimes like public urination or open drug use were not just more visible, but making the papers.
The summer had brought looting and riots close to home as well. Moreover, many of them saw this as a result of the city’s deliberate decision to ignore the “quality of life” offenses that broken windows had emphasized.
When Sue Dick moved into the home here where she and “Daddy Al” raised their family, she often wondered about the Norway Spruce in the front yard.
“I always wanted to decorate that tree,” she said. “But it was always too big and I didn’t have the stuff to do it. But now I’ve finally seen it decorated, and it was beautiful.”
With performances by Kelly Clarkson, the Goo Goo Dolls, Dolly Parton and Earth, Wind & Fire, the Dick family’s 75-foot Norway Spruce was lit as the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree during the 88th annual celebration on Wednesday, Dec 2.
“We knew that tree was beautiful,” said his daughter Paula. “It was a magical night.”
“This year, we just feel the tree is vital,” said Rob Speyer, president/CEO of Tishman Speyer, which owns Rockefeller Center. “The Rockefeller Center Christmas tree always represents the holiday season, but it has also stood tall as a symbol of hope, resilience, and New York’s enduring spirit, from the Great Depression to 9/11, Superstorm Sandy through today.”
Speaking during the lighting ceremony, he continued, “2020 has been a difficult year, but New Yorkers have persevered, and we are determined to come back better and stronger. We are particularly proud to continue the joyous tradition this year.”
As it happens, the huge spruce was the second from Oneonta: The first, from the Country Club Road yard of Graig and Angela Eichler, adorned Rockefeller Center in 2016.
Following the delivery of this tree to Rockefeller Center Saturday, Nov. 14, “Daddy Al” reported emails, letters, Christmas cards and gifts began to show up at his deli and grocery on Oneonta’s West End.
“I’ve been answering emails all day,” he said. “They come from England, Haiti, Miami, Geneseo. People say I’m inspiring, but I didn’t know that!”
One person sent even a hardcover book about the history of the Rockefeller Center Christmas tree. “They told me they thought I should have it,” he said. “Another person who donated a tree sent me a little book about the tree, and I read it to my grandkids.”
But he had a fair share of detractors too, some who called the tree – it may have arrived in Manhattan after a two-day journey looking a little worse for wear – “the embodiment of 2020” and “The Charlie Brown Christmas tree.”
“The New York Times called me up and asked if I could guarantee the tree would look good,” Al said. “I told them of course it would look good!”
But with the reveal a diminutive Saw-whet owl found among the branches after the 170-mile journey, softer hearts prevailed.
Rocky, as she became known, was rehabilitated and released by the Ravensbeard Wildlife Center in Saugerties. Her image adorned merchandise, memes, a painting by Cooperstown’s May Britt Joyce, a bobble-head and, most recently, the tail of a Frontier Airlines jet.
“We hear owls all the time,” said Al. “But I’ve never seen that one! I don’t know how she got in there.”
Before the tree lighting, the Dicks were taken to dinner and on a tour of the sights, including Top of the Rock and to see the famed Saks Fifth Avenue light display.
“I’d seen it on YouTube, but to see it in person was phenomenal,” said Susan.
And when word got around who they were, they had fans approaching them throughout the evening. “One woman came up to us and said that she had moved to Oneonta in 1982 and now lived in Rhode Island,” said Susan. “She asked if we knew some people that she remembered, and we did!”
The Oneonta tree was covered with more than 50,000 multi-colored, energy-efficient LED lights, and is on display through early January 2021, with COVID regulations, including social distancing, digital queuing, time limits and mask requirements, in place. The lit tree will also will be live-streamed each day from 8 a.m. – midnight.
“It was perfect,” said Al. “Just like we knew it would be.”
Gardeners from Rockefeller Center have already returned to West Oneonta for one round of landscaping and plan to return in the spring to build a new fence and plant apple trees.
And while they were there, they found a small sapling near the site of the former towering tree, likely one of the original pinecones taking root.
ALBANY – The head of the New York State troopers’ Police Benevolent Association issued a statement Wednesday “demanding” that state troopers be removed from New York City “and cease any law enforcement activities within that jurisdiction,” the Times Union is reporting.
“We have arrived at this unfortunate decision due to the hastily written so-called police reform legislation recently passed by the New York City Council,” said PBA President Thomas H. Mungeer.
COOPERSTOWN – Andrew M. Blum, 89, died on May 18, 2020, at his home in New York City, with his loving wife of 47 years, Felicia, at his side.
He is survived by three children: Marcia Compton, Olivia Brown and Drew Blum, all of Hillsborough, North Carolina, eight grandchildren, and three great -grandchildren. He also had two stepchildren: Edwin Stebbins and Richard Stebbins.
He attended Hobart College in Geneva, and was in the Naval Reserve, 1949-69.