Jerry’s Journal: More school memories, Goldberg’s softball team, and the Fulton Memoir Project

By Jerry Hogan Kasperek 

One of the nicest things about writing my column is hearing from old friends and classmates, the most recent of which is Jane Rasmussen Wilcox via a surprise phone call to say how much she enjoyed reading my last couple of columns about Walradt Street and Phillip Street Schools.

“It brought back so many memories,” she said.

Jane lives near Henderson Harbor on Lake Ontario. It was her sister Joanne Streeter, who still lives here in Fulton, who shared my column with her.

“We laughed and laughed and talked and talked,” Jane said. “I just had to call to let you know.”

I thanked her and invited her to share her memories with us, if she was so inclined. She said she’d think about it (I hope she does!) and to say hello to Tony Leotta, another classmate of ours who, as you may remember, started this whole thing off about Walradt Street and Phillips Street Schools (because I had forgotten to mention Walradt in a previous column).

“Three other star students in our class at Phillip Street were Jean Kush, Jean Ann Myers and Megan O’Connor,” Tony wrote again, in a new email.

“Megan‘s mother (Rosemary) was our 12th grade English teacher at Good Old FHS. I hated English class for some unknown reason. Rosemary was worried that I would fail freshman English at SU, which I didn’t.”

Tony concluded by saying, “It’s amazing that I remember the girl students best. Could there be a reason?” (Thanks, Tony, always great hearing from you!)

The Goldberg’s Furniture fast pitch softball team from 1955 -- back row, left to right: Angelo “Ace” Vescio, Tom Carroll, Nick “Tank” Naioti, Vincent “Vinne” Vescio, Ed “Booba” Tracy.  Front row: Frank Clavelli; Alfred “Sonny” Allen; Carl Johnson; Mike “Harney” Hogan; Dick “Beardy” Marcino, Joe “Joe Mac” McNamara.
The Goldberg’s Furniture fast pitch softball team from 1955 — back row, left to right: Angelo “Ace” Vescio, Tom Carroll, Nick “Tank” Naioti, Vincent “Vinne” Vescio, Ed “Booba” Tracy. Front row: Frank Clavelli; Alfred “Sonny” Allen; Carl Johnson; Mike “Harney” Hogan; Dick “Beardy” Marcino, Joe “Joe Mac” McNamara.

Now, Dear Readers, I’d like to draw your attention to the old photo accompanying this article. It’s of the Goldberg’s fast pitch softball team taken in 1955 — during the heyday of fast pitch softball.

Sponsored by Goldberg’s Furniture Store, this fabulous team was considered to be “the cream of the crop” back then in the Fulton City League and beyond. It played Buffalo in the New York State Championship game that year — right here at our very own Denesha Field at Recreation Park.

My late husband, Mike Hogan, had carefully written on the back of the picture all the names of his teammates. But, not what position they had played. So, I called Sonny Allen to help me with who played what.

Sonny said he wasn’t quite sure — he had been a member on more than one team — thus he got in touch with Carl Johnson to get the exact information, which I now gladly share with you.

Back row, left to right: Angelo “Ace” Vescio, Tom Carroll, Nick “Tank” Naioti, Vincent “Vinne” Vescio, Ed “Booba” Tracy.  Front row: Frank Clavelli; Alfred “Sonny” Allen; Carl Johnson; Mike “Harney” Hogan; Dick “Beardy” Marcino, Joe “Joe Mac” McNamara.

Ace was the manager and catcher; Nick played first base; Beardy played second; Sonny played shortstop; Mike played third base; Carl, Tom, and Vinnie played outfield; while Joe and Frank were subs.

Booba Tracy was the pitcher and according to Sonny (and to local folklore and knowledge of such things) Booba was one of the best all-around athlete anywhere and could play any position.

The team also used a guy named “Smokey” from Syracuse to pitch. Neither Sonny nor Carl could come up with his last name.

Sadly, Sonny, Carl, and Joe are the only remaining members of the team. And in case you are wondering, Sonny lives in Fulton (at least in the summertime), Carl has resided in Oswego for about a year, and Joe in Ohio for many years.

“Fast pitch drew a lot of fans; it was the place to go,” Sonny said. “We drew big crowds.”

“Yes, I agreed, remembering sitting in our car or on a blanket on the bank overlooking the ball diamond, “Those games were summertime social events!” (The fun and games apparently spilled over, too, after the last out was called, as Sonny reminisced about the Brick Hotel and its owner, Mike Louise.)

I asked Sonny for Carl’s phone number and had a nice visit with him as well. He lives in the St. Luke apartments — a high rise, independent living place for seniors on the east side of Oswego — and says he has a great view of both the river and the lake.

In recalling that old fast pitch team, he said” it was a good one, and a great time”. (But they got “killed by Buffalo” back in 1955!)

Before I close up shop for now, I just want to remind you that Jim Farfaglia is working on the Fulton Public Library’s Fulton latest Memoirs Project, and is looking for people who would like to write a memory or two about their experiences, where they lived, worked or went to school here.

You don’t need to be a writer; Jim will guide you through the process and help you get your own words down on paper. Others who worked on his last book project say what fun it was!

Jim Fargalia’s phone number is 402-2297 and, please check for his corrected email address (I goofed in my last column) because it’s: sjimf903@twcny.rr.com.

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!

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