Orphanage story rekindles a childhood friendship

by Carol Thompson

When Frank Fisher wrote to each of the Oswego County legislators to complain about his treatment by the county historian, little did he know that his letter would lead to the rekindling of a childhood friendship.

Fisher, a retired Navy journalist and certified rehabilitation counselor, came from Florida to Oswego County to research the Oswego Children’s Home, formerly known as the Oswego Orphan Asylum.

In a Sept. 26 letter sent to legislators, Fisher said that he had made an appointment with County Historian Justin White personally before traveling to Oswego County.

Fisher said that he was a resident of the Oswego Children’s Home from 1951 until it closed in August 1956. He had requested to view the ledgers and visitor records and said he was denied access. The county historian did not meet with Fisher.

Several legislators were angered by the treatment displayed to Fisher and passed the letter to The Valley News. A story appeared in the Oct. 6 issue.

Late Wednesday, a California resident telephoned and asked how to get in touch with Fisher — his childhood friend from the orphanage.

Bill Dickinson had been searching the internet and came across the story about Fisher on www.valleynewsonline.com.

He contacted the newspaper and asked to be put in touch with his long lost friend. Fisher was contacted and told about Dickinson’s desire to reconnect and the two spoke by phone last week for the first time in 56 years. “We talked for an hour or so and sent some e-mails back and forth to each other,” Fisher said of  the reunion with his friend. “It was nice to talk over old times.”

The reunion didn’t end there. Fisher gave Dickinson the contact number for Fulton resident Jim Farfaglia, who authored the book “Camp Hollis.” Farfaglia retired as the Camp Hollis director and youth specialist.

The county orphanage was located at 132 Ellen Street and upon closure became dormitories for SUNY Oswego and later Loretto Nursing Home. The building now sits vacant.

Both Fisher and Dickinson said just prior to closure, they were sent to Camp Hollis to stay for a couple weeks. Upon their return, they learned the home had closed and they were transported to the bus station.

Fisher and Dickinson recalled their days at the orphanage. Dinner was served promptly at 5:30.  “It was never at 5:29 and it was never at 5:31,” Dickinson said.

Fisher said everyone lined up for meals at the same time. “Church was mandatory,” he noted.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397
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