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Oneonts news

4 Bresee Elves Return To Oneonta

4 Bresee Elves

Return To Oneonta

Present at the installation of Bresee’s Christmas figurines in the Oneonta History Center’s windows are, clockwise from front, St. James Manor Superintendent of Building and Grounds Tim Hornbeck, St. James Executive Director Kathy Clarkson, Breck Tarbell from the St. James maintenance staff, GOHS Executive Director Bob Brzozowski and John Pontius, who is on both the GOHS and St. James boards and organized the loan. How quaint! The doe is ironing. (Jim Kevlin/AllOTSEGO.com)

By JIM KEVLIN • Special To AllOTSEGO.com

Joining the ironing doe is the seamstress doe, mending Santa’s cap.

ONEONTA — A quarter-century after Otsego County’s department store closed, the Magic of Christmas is still the Magic of Bresee’s.

Four of Bresee’s automatic elves plus two does – one ironing, the other mending Santa’s cap – are on display behind the Oneonta History Center’s plate-glass windows through Monday, Dec. 9, and “it’s been great,” said Bob Brzozowski, Greater Oneonta Historical Society executive director.

“You see people stopping, or doing a double-take,” said Brzozowski.

Bresee’s magic is wrapped up in community and family, said Marc Bresee, who worked in the store during its final days.

Bresee’s was open late one night a week – Thursday, he said – and the Christmas display was installed only a week or two before The Big Day, so Yuletide Thursdays would be particularly brisk, he said, with 700 meals served.

Four of Bresee’s original elves are in the Oneonta History Center window through Dec. 9

After supper, everybody – young and old alike – would trek upstairs to visit Santa Claus, surrounded by his mechanical entourage.

The department store, which opened in 1899, closed in 1994, although Marc Bresee continued to sell furniture in part of the building. The building changed hands in 2003, and on Dec. 11 of that year the contents, including the Santa paraphernalia, were auctioned off at Lettis’ Auction on the city’s east end.
It was the first auction after Kevin Herrick bought the business, and since it was such a significant – even historic – local event, auctioneer Jim Lettis, a former Oneonta mayor, wielded the gavel with the new owner’s concurrence.

Most notable, Herrick remembers, were the mechanical horse – feed it with a nickel, and get a ride; same thing with mechanical Rudolph. The giant Crayola crayon – sold! – and giant dice.

Of the total, 14-some mechanical elves and figurines were sold to a couple in the Town of Davenport, and in 2010 they donated their collection to St. James Manor, Executive Director Kathy Clarkson recalled the other day, as she helped a crew of five put up the History Center installation.

Later, Marc’s wife Elaine donated additional elves that had been in their garage. “I thought I would put them on the porch at Christmas,” the husband said. “But we never did.”

Another member of the crew was John Pontius, who happens to be both a St. James board member and GOHS incoming president, (succeeding Corinne Bresee Smith, Marc’s daughter.)

“It came to my mind lots of people would like to see them,” Pontius said, adding he had been introduced to the Bresee’s Christmas legacy when he and wife Andrea moved their family here from Waterloo in the early 1980s. Clarkson was raised in the Town of Davenport, and Bresee’s was part of her family’s holiday routine.

While the figures were being installed, who showed up but Kelly Rogers, a one-time intern at St. James, now with Catholic Charities, who had darned the elves costumes when she was there. She and Clarkson examined the figurines, which are wood frames enhanced with papier mache limbs.

The limbs are powered by electric gear motors, Model F, manufactured by Bevel, and are tough to find, said St. James Building & Grounds Superintendent Tom Hornbeck, who said they date from the 1930s or ’40s, when the Bresee’s display was put together.

To keep the little motors from overheating, Brzozowski said, they are only being run about 10 minutes per hour. “We want to make sure they will be around for other people to enjoy in years to come,” he said.

The conversation during the installation turned to where all the pieces might have ended up.

The History Center has the mechanical Santa, which was installed at 183 Main St. over the weekend, as well as the mailbox where kids would post their letters to the North Pole. They were brought out over the weekend to join the St. James’ group.

Carla Balnis has a mechanical skating rink.

For years, the popular Rudolph was in the hands of Greg Noonan, Cherry Valley, who said he sold it to a local Rudolph enthusiast who is building it a new saddle, and has added a cape.

Marc Bresee reflected that the department store installation, in these days of sophisticated video games, may not be as appealing to the young as the young at heart.

“It’s the older generation that remember them from the windows at Bresee’s,” he said.

See them while you can. The History Center display will be in place during the city’s Santa Parade at 4 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, followed by the community tree-lighting at 5:30 p.m. in Mueller Plaza.

The following Monday, the does and elves will be returned to St. James for residents there to enjoy through the rest of the season, and replaced by winners of the city’s annual gingerbread contest.

Let’s Go To Concerts, Drink Beer Or 2, Raise Money For Good Cause

THINGS TO DO!

Let’s Go To Concerts,

Drink Beer Or 2, Raise

Money For Good Cause

By LIBBY CUDMORE • for Summer Dreams

Not only are there some great concerts planned this weekend, there are great fundraisers too. Support arts, animals, raise a glass and  hit the dance floor!

Strike while the iron is hot – literally!

The Farmers’ Museum hosts a Blacksmithing Weekend – different! – with demonstrations on making traditional farm tools. Free with admission. 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday-Sunday, June 7-9, The Farmers’ Museum, 5775 NY Rte. 80, Cooperstown. Info www.farmersmuseum.org, 607-547-1450.

What’s a rock and roll exhibit without some music? The Hudson Valley band, Upstate, will play a free show at The Farmers’ Museum’s Louis C. Jones Center in conjunction with The Fenimore Art Museum’s Herb Ritts exhibit, 7-9 p.m Friday, June 7. The Farmers’ Museum, 5775 NY Rte. 80, Cooperstown. Info 607-264-2626 www.upstatelovesyou.com

Rock band FLAME performs a free concert as part of the Family Resource Network’s 25th anniversary celebration. These talented performers celebrate the “ability” in “disability.” 3-5 p.m. Saturday, June 8, Foothills Performing Arts Center, 24 Market St., Oneonta. www.foothillspac.org.

Experience the excitement of a day at the track without ever having to leave Cooperstown! The Smithy Gallery’s fundraising event, “Triple Crown Infield Fest,” will feature Belmont Stakes screening, silent auction, refreshments, and more. $55-$65/adult. 5-8 p.m. Saturday, June 8, The Smithy Gallery & Clay Studio, 55 Pioneer St., Cooperstown. Info, 607-547-8671, www.smitharts.org.

Taste up to 10 local brews and help raise money for a new animal shelter
with the HOPS Brewclub’s Hops for Hounds fundraiser to benefit Super Heroes in Ripped Jeans. $25 gets you tastings and a commemorative glass!
1-4 p.m. Saturday, June 8, American Legion, 279 Chestnut St., Oneonta. Info Info@superheroesirj.org, 607-441-3227

Enjoy an ice cream social and stick around for a concert! The Exeter Historical Society and the Schuyler Lake Fire Department host a concert by Brother’s Blue. 2-3:30 p.m. ice cream social, Exeter Historical Society, Corner of Rtes. 28 and 22, Schuyler Lake. Info 315-858-3138. 3:30 p.m. concert, ($10 suggested donation) Old Stone Church, 7370 State Highway 28, Schuyler Lake. Info 315-855-9949.

Bring home one-of-a-kind handcrafted gifts, tasty baked goods from the annual Church for Christ Uniting Friendship Craft Festival, 9-3, Saturday, June 8, Route 20 and Church Street, Richfield Springs. Info 315 858-1451.

Have a Best Bet? Send an email to Libby at libbyc@allotsego.com

Doris H. Reeves, 94; Hartwick Administrator, Attorney’s Wife

IN MEMORIAM:  Doris H. Reeves, 94;

Hartwick Administrator, Attorney’s Wife

Doris Reeves

OTEGO – Local funeral services will be Wednesday, May 22, for Doris H. Reeves, 94, widow of Attorney Frank Reeves an honored Hartwick College administator, who passed away Feb. 18, 2019, in Redding, Calif., where she had been living near her daughter for the past 10 years.

Married in 1950, the Reeveses spent most of their married life on the family farm in Otego, where they raised their daughter, Barbara.

Doris was a wonderful lady, beloved wife and mother, teacher, adviser, administrator and dear friend to many.

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21 Railroad Ave. Cooperstown, New York 13326 • (607) 547-6103