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News of Otsego County

Oneonta History Center

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: 10-20-22
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, OCTOBER 20

Learn About Oneonta’s Haunted History

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HISTORY AFTER HOURS – 5 – 7 p.m. The whole family is invited for fun history activities. This month ring in Halloween with the Haunted History of Oneonta. Learn the local ghost stories and unsolved mysteries. And also enjoy making delicious fudge, some arts & crafts, and more. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit facebook.com/OneontaHistory

BLOOD DRIVE – Noon – 5 p.m. Save up to 3 lives with the American Red Cross. Southside Mall, Oneonta. Register at redcrossblood.org

Oneonta Program Has Spooky Side

Oneonta Program Has Spooky Side

On Thursday, October 20 from 5-7 p.m., the Greater Oneonta Historical Society’s “History After Hours!” series at the Oneonta History Center will feature ghost stories and unsolved mysteries, spooky treats, “cup cooking,” a reading of “The Chocolate Chip Ghost” in the Sally Mullen Children’s Corner, and arts and crafts including paper jack-o’-lantern baskets and ghost ornaments.

This “Haunted History!” event for adults and children of all ages is free and open to the public. GOHS first introduced its new monthly history-based series in September; the topic for the November 17 program is to be announced. The Oneonta History Center is located at 183 Main Street, Oneonta.

For more information, e-mail info@oneontahistory.org, call 607-432-0960 or visit www.OneontaHistory.org.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: 09-22-22
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22

History After Hours Begins
At Oneonta History Center

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HISTORY AFTER HOURS – 5 – 7 p.m. The whole family is invited for fun history activities. This month celebrate the areas harvest history. Activities will include a beer tasting (21+), a children’s story times, cornhusk doll making, and the chance to learn about hops and dairy farming in the Oneonta area. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit facebook.com/OneontaHistory

FALL OCTET – Complete 8 of the activities featured on Otsego Outdoors and receive the Fall Octet patch and be listed in the challenge roster. Get out and connect with the natural world this season. Visit OtsegoOutdoors.com

Celebrate Harvest History

Celebrate Harvest History

Wilber Hop Farmers, ca. 1870s – 1890s

This fall, the Greater Oneonta Historical Society (GOHS) introduces a new series of events, History After Hours!

“The program series will offer a variety of events for adults and children of all ages at the Oneonta History Center (183 Main Street) from 5 to 7 p.m., once a month on September 22, October 20 and November 17,” said Marcela Micucci, Executive Director Greater Oneonta Historical Society. “This is going to be a great series.”

The first event is on Thursday, September 22 (5 – 7 p.m.), GOHS’s History After Hours will celebrate Harvest History.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: 09-16-22
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 16

Oneonta History Center
presents ‘Town & Gown’ Exhibit

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EXHIBIT OPENING – Noon – 4 p.m. Celebrate opening of special exhibit ‘Town & Gown: SUNY Oneonta and the Local Community, Past and Present’ exploring SUNY Oneonta’s long history of partnership and collaboration with the Oneonta Community. Will be displayed thru 11/12. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit facebook.com/OneontaHistory

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: 06-15-22
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for WEDNESDAY, JUNE 15

Walk Through Oneonta of the 1960s

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WALKING TOUR – 7 p.m. Join Oneonta natives Liz Morley and Art Torrey for nostalgic themed tour down the 1960s Oneonta Main Street. Will meet at the Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit oneontahistory.org

BLOOD DRIVE – 1 – 6 p.m. Donate a pint and receive a voucher for a pint of Stewarts ice cream. West Winfield Federated Church, Fellowship Hall, 452 E. Main St., West Winfield. 1-800-733-2767 or visit www.redcrossblood.org

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Oneonta History Center Celebrates Grand Re-Opening 05-13-22
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for FRIDAY, MAY 13

Oneonta History Center
Celebrates Grand Re-Opening

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HISTORY CENTER OPENING – 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. Celebrate the grand re-opening of the renovated history center featuring new exhibit ‘Small Community, Big Ideas.’ Evening will include opening remarks, exhibit tours, and live entertainment. Free, open to the public. Beer & wine will be served. Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 or visit oneontahistory.org

BLOOD DRIVE – Noon – 5 p.m. Donate through May 19 for chance to win a travel trailer camper that sleeps eight. Quality Inn, 5206 St. Hwy. 23, Oneonta. 1-800-733-2767 or visit www.redcrossblood.org

Bresee’s Santa Lives

Bresee’s Santa Lives

Restored Five Years Ago, Jolly Elf
Reclaims His Stature In Downtown

By LIBBY CUDMORE • Special to www.AllOTSEGO.com

Elaine Bresee adjusts Santa’s hat at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, where he is on display, much like he used to be in the windows of Bresee’s and, later, in front of Marc and Elaine’s Milford Center home. (Ian/AllOTSEGO.com)

Even Santa Claus sometimes needs a little work done.

For the past five years, he’s been a Christmas Time treat at the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, but for many years after Bresee’s Department Store closed down in the 1990s, he was out of the public eye.

“He had been in our warehouse, and we rescued him,” said Elaine Bresee, Milford Center, whose husband Marc was one of the last family members to manage the namesake downtown Oneonta department store.

Elaine shows off the pants from the store’s original Santa costume. (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)

“We had him outside in our sleigh every year,” said Elaine, but as the years went by, the wintry weather took its toll on the 1930s fixture, which was a centerpiece of the department store’s holiday decorations for decades.

“He was starting to get pretty trashed,” she said. “His fingers had broken off, and he was starting to fade.”

So in 2013, the couple had him repaired, and in 2015 donated the figure to the Greater Oneonta Historical Society, where it has once again become part of downtown shoppers’ Christmas expectations.

The restoration was done by Marjean McCaslin-Doyle, the costume shop manager in SUNY Oneonta’s Theatre Department, and it was a challenge.

“Someone had tried to curl his beard at one point,” she said. “But it’s synthetic hair, so it had gotten singed.”

She bought him a new mustache and gently cleaned and restored the original beard.

His hand-tied wig also needed restoration, and worse, no longer hid the holes in his head. “I had to fill, paint and seal the scalp,” she said.

His lips were similarly deteriorated, with holes between the beard and mustache.

“The face was in the worst condition,” she said. “The rose in his cheeks had been rubbed off, and there was a lot of effort in trying to match the original colors.”

She ordered a set of plaster mannequin hands, but also made a cast of one hand. It came out so well, she doesn’t remember which hand is bought and which one she made.

“It took two years, but she restored him,” said Elaine. “She was so careful in ordering just the right hands so that they matched the rest of him.”

His costume – one of the two original Bresee’s Santa suits – was restored by Kathleen Moore, one of Marjean’s colleagues in SUNY’s costume department.

“The collar and the cuffs are real rabbit fur,” she said. “And the suit is very heavy wool, not like the material they use now. It’s amazingly made – it wouldn’t have lasted this long otherwise.”

Once restored, the Bresees donated the plaster Santa – as well as the Santa Chair and the mailbox – to GOHS in 2015.

“Letters in the mailbox were always answered for the longest time,” said Marc Bresee. “There would be about 75-100 of them, but then when people started really coming, we couldn’t answer them all.”

Instead, Marc said, each visiting child was given a candy cane and a coloring book, with a promise that Santa would read the letter.

Even now, a letter still shows up on occasion. “This one says, ‘I would like robots, please!’” said Bob Brzozowski, GOHS executive director. “But I don’t know who sent it!”

And Santa can’t sit in an ordinary chair, but instead, sits on the Bresee’s Santa Chair, which was made by the store’s in-house carpenters for the Jolly Old Elf to meet with visitors.

“We toyed with donating these for about five years,” she said. “I always have trouble parting with things from the store.”

But they haven’t parted with all of the store’s Santa ephemera yet.

Bresee’s kept two suits, as well as a wig and beard on hand, so that one could be sent for cleaning while the other was being worn – including by Bresee’s most famous Santa, Clark Chaplin.

“Of course, Clark always had his own beard,” she said.

Marc wore the suit to dress up for his children when they were kids, and for his father, Phillip, when he was at the Thanksgiving Home.

“They were having cocktail hour one Thursday, and in he came in the full suit!” he said. “They were all very happy to see me.

In 2019, the Bresee’s loaned the second suit for Orpheus Theatre’s production of “Elf.”

Santa’s sleigh – also a decoration from Bresee’s – has returned to the couple’s porch, with two former store mannequins, a boy and a girl, dressed in cozy red pajamas as they wave to passerbys.

And a new Santa is there too. “He’s not as beautiful as the other one,” said Elaine. “But another one will come along.”

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: ‘Small Works’ Annual Art Exhibit 11-21-20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, NOVEMBER 21

‘Small Works’ Annual Art Exhibit

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OPENING RECEPTION – 3 or 4:15 p.m. Find beautiful works by local artists throughout ‘Small Works’ annual celebratory exhibit. Find works for sale to take home the same day for wonderful Christmas presents. Register for one of the free showings, only 50 guests allowed at a time. Roxbury Arts Group, 5025 Vega Mountain Rd., Roxbury. 607-326-7908 or visit roxburyartsgroup.org

ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Benefit Auction For Oneonta History Center 11-15-20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SUNDAY, NOVEMBER 15

Benefit Auction For

Oneonta History Center

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GOHS BENEFIT AUCTION – Noon. The Greater Oneonta 14th annual auction goes online at www.32auctions.com/GOHSBenefitAuctionand continues to 5 p.m. 11/21. Find art, antiques, furniture, gift cards, more available. Many items on view at the Oneonta History Center, 183 Main St., Oneonta. 607-432-0960 for info or visit www.instagram.com/oneontahistoricalsociety/ to view items.

ANGEL TREE PROGRAM – Give the Gift of Christmas this holiday season. Adopt a family in need. Visit www.allotsego.com/angel-tree-program/ to learn how.

HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO: Oneonta History Exhibit 08-01-20
HAPPENIN’ OTSEGO for SATURDAY, AUGUST 1

Oneonta History Exhibit

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ARCHITECTURE EXHIBIT – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. New exhibit ‘Building Blocks of a City: 100 Years of Architecture in Oneonta’ opens to public highlighting significant buildings, structures that represent the development, transformation of the city. Greater Oneonta Historical Society, 183 Main St., Oneonta. Visit www.oneontahistory.org/index.htm for info.

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