If you read my last journal you know that Peter Palmer was born with one arm, has a driver’s license but loves to walk (especially across the Lower Bridge on his way downtown), is a devout Catholic and once entered a monastery, is retired from the Oswego County Social Service Department after 32 years, is Fulton’s historian — can reel off facts about our hometown in the blink of an eye — and has lived in the same house on Worth Street his entire life.
“Did you know that Worth Street was the first street in Fulton to be paved?” Peter inquired of me during our interview.
It was because Mayor Foster lived on Worth Street.
“What was Mayor Foster’s first name?” I asked.
So, Peter looked it up and to our surprise, we discovered there were in fact two mayors with the last name of Foster. (I do not know if they were brothers; it’s something to further investigate.)
James Foster lived at 94 Worth St. and was mayor from 1902-04; while John M. Foster at 88 Worth St. was mayor 1906-08. That’s where Foster Park got its name.
“It once was an Indian burial ground,” Peter said. “You can still see a couple of the mounds.”
Oh, yes, Foster Park. …. I reminisced a bit and told Peter that my Dad had worked for the Best Ice Cream Co. on West First Street when I was a small child. … My Mom used to walk me down the steep stairs that went straight down into the park. … . I wonder if they’re still there?
Peter said John Foster had a daughter named Geraldine (that’s my proper name, too, a beautiful name if there ever was one, so my mother thought), and according to a 1948 city directory, Ms. Foster worked in our city library, in the children’s section.
She eventually sold their home on Worth Street and bought a house at 218 S. Fourth St. where she once entertained Eleanor Roosevelt at a tea.
Folk art painter Norman Rockwell also is said to have visited Geraldine Foster and stayed at her family’s camp on the river just north of the city. While in our area, Rockwell painted a picture of four boys on a toboggan.
One of those boys was Joe Crahan, who became a well known policeman around town.
Peter’s grandfather, Seymour Palmer, purchased the house on Worth Street a hundred years ago for his wife, Blanche, who did not like living in the country.
The house already had electricity, and his grandfather installed bathroom plumbing, but really didn’t like using it. He preferred the outhouse, Peter said. (He didn’t want bad smells in their home!)
The outhouse is gone now, as is the barn out back, Peter said. Their then next door neighbor, Coach Willard “Andy” Anderson, helped take them down and helped build the “new” garage that replaced them.
The Palmer home hasn’t changed too much over the years, Peter chuckled. He said he even has his grandmother’s “stuffed” canary.
And there are ghosts…you can hear their footsteps… and a neighbor thought she saw Peter’s dad sitting in the dinning room, while someone else thought they saw his grandfather sitting in his chair.
Both men had died in the house, but not at the same time, and both went peacefully.
I thank Peter for his time and stories and I guarantee they’ll be more from and about him in future columns.
Well, dear Readers, it’s been a long, hard winter and though I could have and should have done a lot more than looking out the window and longing for warm weather, it hasn’t been a total waste of time, (where does the time go? It’s March already!)
I’ve finally gotten all seven years of Jerry’s Journals — clippings from the Fulton Patriot and the Valley News — into two crammed notebooks, have completed a photo album from Ed’s 80th birthday last summer, and have organized into a less chaotic mess all the memorabilia my faithful readers and contributors have given me to use in my columns.
Now I can more easily find what I need when I need it!
Getting to the pile of stuff on my desk, however, I was horrified and embarrassed to find a long-forgotten letter from former Fultonian Walt Carrington who wrote two pages of “gist for Jerry’s Journal.”
His subject matter was “Transportation,” which I found most interesting and will share with you next time. Until then, I sincerely hope Walt will forgive me for the oversight.
Meanwhile, ponder this: Longing for the” Good Old Days” isn’t something new. The following excerpts are from a booklet of poems, “As I Remember,” written by Fred Kenyon Jones of Fulton, and dated 1934.
“They made twin beds in case he snores; They made machines to do the chores; They moved the pulley works out of town; They finally burned the round house down.
“They took the eel-pot out of the river; They charge you 50 cents for liver; They slowed up serge and started silk; They even stopped making Nestlé’s milk.”
“T’was fun to walk three miles to school; And help hitch-up old Jennie mule; ‘Uncle Tom’s Cabin’ was a glorious treat; Or putting a tack on a teacher’s seat.
“Remember the days of the huskin’ bee? Yokes of oxen you no more see; But, there’s one thing you moss-back know; We had fun — 30 years ago!”
I thank Tom Trepasso for loaning me the booklet from which I took the passages. It was written the year I was born. It’s hard to recall or even imagine all the things that have changed since then, and it makes a person wonder what the next 80 years will bring!.
Now here’s my caveat: Readers beware! I write for fun. I am not a historian, nor a reporter. I write from memory and from what others want to share.
Sometimes I look things up; sometimes I mess things up. I hope you have fun reading my stuff. Your comments, additions and corrections are always welcome.
You may contact me at 133 Tannery Lane, Fulton, phone 592-7580 or email JHogan808@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!