WREATH FESTIVAL – 10 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Stop by and place a bid on holiday wreaths created by community members and businesses. Will also include holiday raffle, silent auction, and holiday cheer. Fundraiser benefits the association and the Art Association Scholarship Fund. Cooperstown Art Association, 22 Main St., Cooperstown. 607-547-9777 or visit www.cooperstownart.com
Several years ago, two friends from Richfield, Tiger Goodale and Rootie Marriot, came up the drive with what they thought was a good story for me to write.
They had been in the Genesee, one of the local watering holes, when this guy came in and told how he or some other one-legged man — they didn’t make it clear — was up in a tree, building a stand for hunting, when his prosthetic leg fell off and landed on the ground right under the nose of his Saint Bernard.
It sounded like a good story. It reminded me, in fact, of celebrated writer Flannery O’Connor’s tale where a man romances a woman in a hay mow just so he can run off with her wooden leg. When I pressed them for details, they told me I had better get them straight from the horse’s mouth and gave me a phone number to call, which I did, but there was no answer, so I just left my name and number on the answering machine.
THANKSGIVING – 1 p.m. Live far from friends/family, don’t spend Thanksgiving alone. Come down to FORDO for Thanksgiving dinner with the crew. Friends of Recovery of Delaware and Otsego counties, 22 Elm St., Oneonta. 607-267-4435 or visit www.facebook.com/forecoverydo/
Reverend Mel may be retired, but he’s still hard at work.
Mel Farmer, 89, a pastor at the River Street Baptist Church in Oneonta, still hosts his radio show and, this time of year, still donates turkeys and hams to those in need through his “Angel of Love” program.
“That was a calling from the Lord to become a minister,” he said, reflecting on his 43 years as a pastor.
He’s on the radio regularly with his program “Gospel Hymn Request Hour,” heard on WDOS in Onetona, WDLA in Walton, and WCHN in Norwich.
Like many of us this Thanksgiving, my family had a very truncated get together and dinner.
My daughter visited from Annapolis, Md. She had been self-isolating, had rarely gone out, always took precautions, and was tested the week before she decided to come visit.
We decided that the risk of being infected by her was very, very minimal after all of these precautions, and invited her.
I myself have been following precautions and avoiding contact except when absolutely necessary. My housemate works at Bassett Hospital. She takes all precautions and has refrained from unnecessary contact.
Once my daughter arrived Monday before Thanksgiving, our pod had no contact with any other individuals throughout her visit.
Nevertheless, we were instructed to self-isolate this past weekend.
My housemate, who has had a mild chronic cough for seven months, decided to go to the Bassett after-hours care center. She was evaluated, prescribed steroid medication and an antihistamine, and was told it was probably chronic bronchitis and she was discharged.
A COVID-19 test was taken and she was told that she needed to isolate and everyone else in her pod needed to isolate until the test came back and it could be determined whether it was positive or negative.
We were told this would take two to three days.
Personally, I felt that the probability that my housemate had active COVID-19 based on her history of present illness was no greater than that of the general population in this area.
The process she had was chronic, there were no acute changes, she showed no common symptoms of COVID-19, and she was afebrile.
Even if this had been triggered by infection with the virus, which itself was very unlikely, the active stage was long passed by many months ago.
Given the situation I was tempted and briefly considered whether the instructions were valid.
Nevertheless, we followed them to the letter and only today when the lab report came back “no detectable virus” did we stop our immediate self-quarantine.
My daughter, who had driven home is going through a two-week quarantine just for visiting, even though Cooperstown has one of the lowest rates of infection in the country right now
It’s tempting to say that we know better, we understand the odds better, or we don’t feel bad and ignore medical advice.
Nevertheless, it is critical to follow these instructions. It’s better to err on the side of caution then to assume that there aren’t any problems and proceed from that point.
The rate of infection has been going up constantly to new daily highs. The number of confirmed infections daily in the United States has been going up dramatically. The number of daily deaths is going up.
It’s still not clear how many people have actually been infected. A study last week from the CDC suggested that the actual infection rate may be up to eight times greater than the documented infection rate.
This, of course, would decrease the rate of death from the infection, since the number of deaths divided by the new number of total cases would be decreased. Nevertheless, it wouldn’t decrease the daily number of deaths due to the infection.
I was annoyed, in denial, argumentative, and generally all around ticked off to be told what to do when I didn’t think it was necessary. But that’s why we have medical professionals and of course a doctor who chooses to treat himself, has a fool for a patient.
Thankfully we got the all-clear today and we can go back to our lives albeit in the new normal. Before we did get permission to end quarantine a day of work was lost, several appointments had to be canceled or rescheduled and a pending important clinic visit for myself was in the process of being rescheduled. But it was necessary and correct in the fight against the virus.
As Otsego County’s COVID-19 numbers continue to climb, county Public Health Director Heidi Bond has a dire warning – NO gathering is safe.
“I don’t know what it’s going to take to convince people to change their behavior,” she said. “If we don’t, we’re going to see these numbers continue to climb.”
Though hospitalizations were down to four on Monday, Nov. 30 – down two from last week – by Tuesday, Dec. 1, they had doubled to eight, the highest number since the pandemic started in March.
“Some of those hospitalized exposed people on Thanksgiving,” she said. “And none of these gatherings were over 10 people.”
With 92 new cases reported over the last seven days, compared to 126 last week, the positive testing rate is now at 4.4 percent, a record for the area. “Last week, we were at 1.9 percent positivity,” she said. “We had 130 cases in October, and 289 cases in November.”Since March, there have been 1,325 COVID cases in the county. That means, minus 765 at SUNY Oneonta and 71 at Hartwick, there have been 522 cases outside the county’s campuses.
I don’t think they’re going to decrease,” she said. “They’ll either stay the same or increase.”
Oneonta remains a hot spot, Bond said, and contact tracers are still seeing spread from Market Street’s Copper Fox cluster, which infected five staff members and 26 patrons, and caused 27 “secondary infections” from coming in contact with infected patrons or employees.
The Red Jug Pub and the Beer Barrel Inn also spawned new cases, with three at the Main Street bar and “approximately five” from the Fonda Avenue tavern.
“It’s so easily transmitted,” she said. “What we’re seeing is that if one person in the house gets it, the whole family gets sick, or if someone at work went to the bar and then comes into work, they spread it to their co-workers.”
Though she said she frequently sees people wearing masks and social distancing when she is in public, people are letting their guard down with friends and family members who don’t live in their home.
“If I’m shopping and I see a clerk for five minutes, we’re both wearing masks and they’re behind plexiglass, so it’s low risk,” she said. “But it’s going out shopping with your friends, taking your mask off in the car. You feel safe with them, but that’s when it’s risky.”
To stop the spread, she advised, people have to do more.
“We have to go back to our behavior in March and April. That means no bars and no restaurants,” she said.
AUCTION – Noon. – 11/28, 4 p.m. Adorn-A-Door wreath festival/silent auction goes online. Place bids for wreaths by individuals & businesses, or enter the ‘Dinner’s On Us’ raffle. All proceeds go to Cooperstown Art Association. Visit www.cooperstownart.com/adorn-a-door.html for info.
In a collaboration of St. Mary’s Catholic Church and the Lord’s Table, 600 meals – turkey with all the trimmings – had already gone out the door for delivery by noon Thanksgiving Day, when curbside pickup began. Above, Volunteers Rosemary Collie and Keton Kling, both Oneontans, shuttles bags of food to the Lord’s Table. “We were averaging about 10 meals a minute.” said event overseer Mary Southern, seen at right advising Joyce Collier. “This year people are in even more need and we are making sure they all have food This year we planned for 800 meals.” The only lull in the action came when the turkey ran out with a handful of dinners to go. Some volunteers offered up their own meals without hesitation. Others were dispatched to Hannaford and returned with enough turkey to complete the meals. “This is the first year we ever ran out of turkey!” said Southern, “But we will provide!” Volunteer driver Paul Patterson, his car filled with meals, rolled his window down on the way to deliver meals saying, “Mary did an amazing job. It was like clockwork. Henry Ford would have been proud!” (Ian Austin/AllOTSEGO.com)
SCAVENGER HUNT – Thursday – Sunday. Participate in Thanksgiving weekend scavenger hunt. Find items indoors and out on the list, post them to facebook with the tag #OCCAfoundit for the chance to win prizes. Presented by Otsego County Conservation Association. 607-547-4488 or visit occainfo.org/holiday-2020-programming/
‘Tribute to the Entrepreneurial Spirit.” That’s what the Otsego Chamber of Commerce called its annual awards program on Nov. 12, conducted this year largely via Zoom.
That rallying call couldn’t have come at a better time, given this year’s challenges – a pandemic, a particularly divisive Presidential election, and riots in cities and challenges to the very idea of policing.
The stories the Otsego Chamber’s honorees were a tonic. Liberty lives, and a somewhat level playing field, imperfect as it may be, is still enabling success stories aplenty.
For all that, we offer Thanksgiving.
Yes, the Otsego Chamber celebration underscored that freedom, ambition, achievement and access to prosperity are alive today on our “new Promised Land,” as the Pilgrims envisioned it.
Proof it’s so was Michael Pentaris’ story: As a boy, his family lived in a shipping crate near the harbor of Larnaca, Cyprus. Recognizing her kids were smart, Michael’s mom obtained scholarships for them to the American Academy there.
A scholarship to Brescia College in Owensboro, Ky., followed, and two degrees from SUNY Binghamton. Then, a role in rescuing Graham Labs in Hobart, and guiding its acquisition by a Fortune 500 company. And then, a rise to presidency of Custom Electronics, creating ultracapacitor-maker Ioxus along the way.
In time of COVID-19, Pentaris shifted the technology in BriteShot, which enabled “Law & Order,” “Blue Bloods” and other hit TV shows and movies to be powered
on location anywhere, to AirAffair, which, in three steps, removes the virus from movie sets – any enclosed location, for that matter.
Mike Pentaris was just the beginning:
• BETTIOL DISTINGUISHED CITIZEN: State Sen. Jim Seward, R-Milford,
had a dream of public service that led him to the pinnacle of state decisionmaking. He had hard-working parents who believed in community service, but he’s wasn’t born with a silver spoon at hand.
• BREAKTHROUGH BUSINESS: Pathfinder Village tapped the energies of its residents, many with Down Syndrome, to create Pathfinder Produce & Mobile Market, which not only provided productive labor, but turns out vegetables and food products for needy families.
• SMALL BUSINESS OF THE YEAR: Theresa’s Emporium, which has figured out how to thrive in downtown Oneonta, on the ground floor of the former Bresee’s for the past 10 years. Despite the Great Recession of 2008 and other challenges, Theresa Cyzeski continues building her business, adding lines and pursuing opportunities.
Seward’s Eugene A. Bettiol Jr. Award was created by Gene Sr., whose first business was running an ice-cream truck, and who ended up developing Southside Oneonta into the commercial strip we
all frequent today. His son, taken by cancer in his mid-40s, was a chip off the old block, promoting the National Soccer Hall of Fame, then Foothills – anything he perceived as beneficial to the community.
What’s driving people like these today isn’t so different from what motivated the Pilgrims. Freedom to pursue their dreams brought 102 of them aboard the cramped Mayflower on a dangerous ocean voyage to New England’s shores, coming ashore 400 years ago last Saturday, Nov. 21, at today’s Provincetown, Mass., on the tip of Cape Cod.
It was “new Promised Land,” in their view, where they would be allowed to pursue their beliefs and, after a dozen years in exile and penury in Holland, to improve their economic conditions.
Before going ashore, Pilgrims and crew members signed “The Mayflower Compact,” agreeing to rules of order to ensure the survival of the fledgling community. It’s said to be the first time free people mutually agreed to a form of government.
Remarkable. Also remarkable that, with COVID-19, urban riots and a bitter presidential contest, we Americans mostly let the anniversary pass with so little notice.
Revisiting Jaci Bettiol’s assessment of her father at the time of his passing in December 2017 underscores our point: The Pilgrim spirit lives today. She called his life “inspirational.”
“He lived as if he was going to live forever; going full force each day without slowing down. No one could convince him to stop and smell the roses. There were simply too many opportunities awaiting his vision.”
When I was 8 years old, the hero in my life was my cousin Chickie, who drove an oil truck and often took me with him on deliveries.
The job led him all over Brooklyn and, being somewhat of a scavenger, he often came home with a bike or a wagon or some other discarded contraption he thought would be useful.
We lived in Bensonhurst, in a 12-room Victorian that had been divided into apartments. I occupied the second floor with my dad, while Chickie and his wife and two babies lived on the first floor and my Aunt Edna and Uncle Dave and their sons Leo and Charlie lived on the attic floor.
There was also Mr. Bilideau, the boarder, who was a leftover from the time when my grandmother had rented rooms. There had once been a Mr. Yumtov as well, a man who liked to store smoked whitefish in his dresser. Mr. Bilideau was from Canada. He had a room on the second floor and shared the bath with my father and me.
Just about everyone in the house owned something that Chickie had brought home and thrown on the front porch. “I thought you could use one of these,” he’d always say.
In spite of the partitions, it was difficult for so many people to be housed under one roof without having feuds over hot water and noise and things disappearing from refrigerators. Half the time somebody upstairs wasn’t talking to somebody downstairs. Chickie, with his various street finds, was often instrumental in getting them back on speaking terms.
One year, about a week before Thanksgiving, arguments were running high when Chickie came home with a live turkey in a crate. “It’s a 27-pounder,” he announced to several of us who had gathered on the front porch.
I had never seen a turkey alive and up close like this. “Where’d you get it?” I asked, cautiously poking a finger through the bars. “Did it fall off a truck?”“Never mind,” he said. “There’s enough here for all of us.”
I was placed in charge of watering and feeding the bird, which to me looked like some kind of prehistoric monster. I had to lower the water pan through an opened hatch in the top of the cage.
“Don’t worry,” Chickie reassured me when he saw the concern on my face. “That big bird’ll never get through that little hole.”
I figured they must have put the turkey in the crate when he was small and kept feeding him.
So any hard feelings were put aside and preparations for a Thanksgiving dinner at one table were divided between Aunt Edna and Chickie’s wife Ann.
Aunt Edna would bake the pies – mince, blueberry and apple – while Ann would roast the turkey, make stuffing and gravy and prepare candied sweet potatoes, plum pudding and the rest.
Dad, who was working nights on his taxi, would supply the wine and cider and Mr. Bilideau would buy some fruit – and chestnuts, I hoped.
Meanwhile, Chickie had taken to calling the turkey Sylvester, and would spend time with it out on the porch when he came home from work.
He’d stick a fat calloused index finger through the bars and let the bird peck at it. “You’re gonna be a good turkey,” he’d say affectionately.
I was still afraid of the thing and hadn’t warmed up to it that much, but all the talk about how this bird was going to taste sent uneasy twinges through my wishbone.
Three days before Thanksgiving, Chickie came home with bad news. The butcher around the corner didn’t want to slaughter Sylvester. He tried other butchers and they refused too. It suddenly looked like we weren’t going to have turkey for dinner.
We were all gathered in the kitchen trying to come up with a solution. Chickie had carried the crate into the house and put it on top of the stove. “I hear you just chop off his head,” he was musing.
Uncle Dave mentioned that Mr. Bilideau had grown up on a farm in Canada: Surely he’d know how to butcher the bird. “But what about cleaning it and plucking the feathers?” Aunt Edna protested. “That’s a real mess!”
All this talk about butchering must have been too much for Sylvester, too, because suddenly, impossibly, he was out of his crate, flapping his tremendous wings and scratching at anything in sight with his clawed feet.
Everyone scrambled out of the kitchen. Leo and I ran for the bathroom while the others headed for the hall. The last thing I saw was Chickie struggling to keep Sylvester from becoming airborne. I worried that the bird would take my cousin’s eyes out.
How was he going to squeeze Sylvester back through that small trapdoor? I could hear both of them swearing.
After what seemed like a very long time, Chickie announced that the coast was clear. We all crept into the kitchen and found that Sylvester was back in his box. He didn’t look much worse for wear.
“I was careful not to hurt him,” Chickie said.
Mr. Bilideau came downstairs and entered the kitchen to find out what all the commotion was about. When asked he said, “Yes, I’ll butcher the turkey if you have a sharp hatchet.”
He explained that the way to get the feathers out easily was to scald the freshly killed bird in a vat of boiling water. He would use the tree stump in the back yard for the first part of the operation and a lobster pot from the cellar for the second. The procedure would take place the next day after work. We were going to have turkey after all. Chickie stood there in the kitchen with his hand on the hatch door as Sylvester tried to bite through the bars.
The next morning when I left for school the bird wasn’t on the porch. He wasn’t in the cellar or out in the garage, either. Chickie’s Nash was gone from the parking place next to the house. Maybe he had come up with a brainstorm on how to get Sylvester butchered and avoid all the mess.
I was glad that Mr. Bilideau had been relieved of the job. With him doing it, I pictured us all sitting around chewing on feathers.
After school I ran home and eagerly waited for Chickie to return with Sylvester. I felt a little guilty about it, but I was kind of looking forward to seeing the bird stripped of his claws and feathers and head. I sat on the stoop as big wet snowflakes floated toward the ground.
Chickie pulled in the driveway right on schedule. He got out of the car with a large brown paper bag and walked up to where I was sitting.
“Is that the turkey?” I asked.
“Yeah,” he said. I looked in the bag. There was a bald thing with pockmarks all over it.
That Thanksgiving was one of the most festive I can remember. The table was so long we had to set it up in the hall. I noticed that Chickie, sitting at the head, was in especially good spirits.
In my mind, the feast with a golden-brown bird at the center seemed to exude a joyous radiance. Somehow I understood that it was our turkey, Sylvester, that had brought us all together.
Years later, on a cold November day, as we were on our way to make an oil delivery, I asked Chickie if it had really been Sylvester in the bag that afternoon. He chuckled as he shifted the Mack down to a lower gear.
ALBANY – The New York State Sheriff’s Association issued a statement a few minutes ago saying county sheriffs’ departments lack the resources to enforce Governor Cuomo’s edict: That no more than 10 New Yorkers can gather together at a Thanksgiving Dinner.
“We in law enforcement do not have the resources nor the legal authority,” said the statement, which was unsigned. Questions about it were referred to Peter Kehoe, the NYSSA’s exective director.
Editor’s Note: Milford Central Superintendent of Schools Mark Place wrote this Thanksgiving letter to the district’s families.
Each of the last five years I have prepared a letter at this time of the year with a focus on the upcoming holidays. Today I write to you for the same purpose along with a message of hope and gratitude.
As a part of the MCS family, my thoughts are with all of you. I see the exhaustion in all of our eyes and the want for this pandemic to just be over.
Collectively we have sacrificed a great deal to keep ourselves, our families, and MCS safe, and I am grateful for your continued patience and grace as we have traveled together through one of the most challenging times in our history.
Thanksgiving is by far my favorite holiday. It is, and always has been, about family. My earliest memories of Thanksgiving are of starting the day at my great-grandfather’s farm on Route 205 in Laurens and ending at my grandparents’ home in Oneonta.
And all these years later, what I truly remember are the feelings of togetherness. I’m sure that many of you have similar memories and are working hard to build that for your children.
This year, my family has decided to forgo coming together for the holidays.
It is one more heartbreak of this pandemic for me, but the thought of my parents possibly catching COVID-19 is more heartbreak than I’m willing to endure.
As you and your family prepare for the holidays, I’m not going to ask for you to make the same decision that my family has made. Rather, all that I’m going to ask is that you have a plan to do whatever is necessary to protect you and your family.
By protecting your own family, the MCS family will be protected as well. At the end of the day, our goal is the same – to be able to be together, and we want nothing more than to be able to continue with in-person instruction after the holidays.
I am hopeful that each of us will continue to do our part to minimize the spread of COVID-19 and that the end of the pandemic will come sooner than current models predict. And when the pandemic has finally ended, I hope that the entire MCS family will come together and celebrate how well we took care of one another.
We are Milford Strong! And we will get through these challenging times together. May your holidays be filled with joy.
THANKSGIVING – 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Walk off holiday meal on scenic stroll through historic village with your loved ones. Admission by donation. The Farmers’ Museum, Cooperstown. 607-547-1450 or visit www.farmersmuseum.org