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News of Otsego County

old badger

The Old Badger: Thoughts on raking

The Old Badger
Thoughts on raking

First Published October 16, 1985
As I was raking leaves the other day the sun warmed one side of me, but the shadows chilled the other. There was a gentle breeze which soon grew stronger and began to blow leaves away as fast as I could pile them up. I stopped and leaned on the rake and watched the leaves chase each other across the yard. And I inhaled a lot. What great air we have! And I fell to musing.

A milkweed puff blew by my face, swirled, rose and disappeared behind a nearby fir tree. And then I remembered being told that milkweed pods were gathered around Cooperstown during both World Wars. They were used for the stuffing in life jackets, I was told. Silly thing to be thinking about, but that’s what I thought about.

The Old Badger: Behind the Badger Front

The Old Badger
Behind the Badger Front

First published in The Freeman’s Journal January 4, 1984

Just a minute!” I said, pushing my chair away from the table, “Just a minute, I have the answer right here” and leaving the room precipitously I also left the seated couple blinking and bemused. One of them had asked me why I used the name Badger, assuming, not illogically, that it was a pseudonym. If it’s anything, it is a mesonym.

Badger is my middle name. Really!

I returned to the room and plopped a glossy reprint of an 1865 catalogue onto the table in front of them. The title was clear, “Badger’s Illustrated Catalogue of Cast-iron Architecture by Daniel D. Badger (The Architectural Iron Works of the City of New York)”.

The Old Badger: The badger takes flight with the aviators

The Old Badger
The badger takes flight with the aviators

First published in The Freeman’s Journal on Aug. 16, 1978.

TonyYackey – that’s not a name that falls easily from one’s lips. However, it is a name that fell frequently from the lips of Cooperstown residents during the summer of 1919.

Lt. Tony Yackey was a decorated aviator, an honored veteran of the air war in France and one of the convalescents at the Army Hospital here. Tony was from Detroit and Tony was tough. He was brash, adventurous and “called ’em as he saw ’em.” His speech had not yet been refined.

The Old Badger: Salvaging the Mohican

The Old Badger: Salvaging the Mohican

Editor’s note: This column was first published in The Freeman’s Journal on April 7, 1976.

The Steamboat Mohican went down more than 40 years ago, but bits and pieces of information about the boat and its times keep surfacing. Some are pertinent, some impertinent.

The rudder of the Mohican was turned into a coffee table; the propeller shaft is still part of a lawn roller; and the wheel now decorates “someone’s” wall. The lake north of Three Mile was dragged sometime in the late 30s or early 40s, and most of the remains of the Mohican were removed from the bottom. But two other steamers, the Natty Bumppo and the Deerslayer, are supposedly still out there somewhere.
The Otsego Lake Transportation Company leased its lakefront property to the village in September 1934, reserving the pavilion which was already under lease to Bill Smalley.

That same summer also saw, “Mrs. George Hyde Clarke of Hyde Hall treated for a wound inflicted by a stray 22-calibre bullet, which pierced her leg as she was sitting with her husband on the grounds of the Wilcox estate in Pierstown.”

John Logan, inexperienced woodchuck hunter, was thought to be the cause. Over in Oneonta, the “Wild Man of Borneo,” from a travelling circus, was arrested on an S.P.C.A. complaint for eating live chickens. The first sailboat to capsize that season belonged to Spotswood Bowers Jr. It was tied to the dock at the time.

Dr. Davis Kydd joined the hospital staff.

The Blue Anchor Inn, the last house on the right before the golf course, on the way out of town, was featuring a “special quick luncheon for golfers” on its terrace overlooking the golf grounds. (The sign straps still hang from the house).

The winner of the Merchant’s Popularity Election, Miss Hilda Ballard from M.I.B., won a week’s cruise on the Great Lakes. Miss Mary Shaw of Clark’s Confectionary and Music store won three days at Atlantic City.

Sam Sapienza helped put in the docks at the lakefront, and while pounding a post, he missed the mark. The sledgehammer plummeted to the bottom, but all was not lost. “Sam held onto it.” Connie Necrason was accepted as a plebe at West Point; Alan McEwan was the bugler at Camp Deerslayer. In the caddy tournament at the golf course, Tony Feola beat H. Mumford; A. Hall beat La Duke; J. Feola beat J. Shipman; Clancy beat Becker; F. Feola beat J. Parillo; and A. Mumford beat H. Mumford.

Miss Holmes, who had played the piano for Smalley’s silent movies, lived on the corner of Pioneer and Lake in one of the few houses on lower Pioneer where you couldn’t get bootleg booze.
Also, a green seven-passenger Packard sedan is said to have been sort of a mobile unit for bathtub gin when it was parked near the dance pavilion.

The Forsythe Saga won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1932; Babe Didrikson won three medals in the Olympics; and round steak was 41 cents a pound.

Local parents were put out by the language of their children.

Everything seemed to be “the cat’s pajamas” or the “bee’s knees,” and their dancing clothes were “glad rags.”

The latest fads in music and song were even worse, as this editorial in the local paper indicates: “the words are meaningless, while the tunes, like the rest of the so-called music of the day, bears about as much relation to true music as a director’s baton does to a hop pole.”

And so it went.

Next time: The Badger walks off the course.

The Old Badger: Automobiles led to the last of the Mohican

The Old Badger: Automobiles led to the last of the Mohican

Editor’s note: This column was first published March 31, 1976.

In the summer of ’32, Mrs. Charles Coleman Jr. was running strong in the Cooperstown merchants popularity election, President Herbert Hoover was running scared against Franklin D. Roosevelt and the 27-year-old Mohican was running out of steam.

When the Mohican was first launched, automobiles were scarce and unreliable novelties at best. Roads were dusty or muddy depending upon the weather. The stage from Fort Plain off-loaded at Springfield Landing and passengers could continue to Cooperstown by boat . The many hotels in the village filled with tourists each summer, cottages and camps were springing up on both sides of the Lake. An excursion around the Lake was a much sought-after diversion, and moonlight cruises were long remembered. Many a night saw the lights of the Mohican shimmering on the Glimmerglass and heard the strains of music and laughter floating to shore as a birthday or even a “hole-in-one” was celebrated.

The Mohican steamed right on through the ’20s, a delightful convenience, but it was beginning to age when the ’30s arrived. Wall Street was emptying the hotels, but Detroit was filling the roads.

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