Category Archives: Jerry’s Journal

Geraldine Hogan Kasperek, Columnist - Jerry writes “Jerry’s Journal,” a bi-monthly column featuring stories about local people and tales of the “good old days” in Fulton. She attended SUNY Oswego in the Writing Arts Program. She has written and edited newsletters for several different organizations and has had many articles published in various newspapers on community and environmental issues.

Jerry’s Journal: Mt. Adnah Scavenger Hunt

By Jerry Hogan Kasparek

Fast pitch revisited. 

Let’s rewind to two columns ago and Goldberg’s fast pitch softball team of 1955.

Carm Vescio Jr. called me and said he was batboy on another locally famous softball team, Vescio’s Construction, a company owned by his father, Carmen Vescio, Sr.

Carm Jr. was just a boy in the heyday of fast pitch, but he recalls that my late husband Mike Hogan played for Vescio’s All Stars and that “they traveled all over.”

He said the last name of Smokey, the pitcher I mention in that column, was Gabrowski and that Leo Love was another good pitcher they called in from the Syracuse area. (They were paid!)

He said he’s still amazed that “Booba” Tracy, one of Fulton’s most famous athletes, played ball with no glove on either hand! He also mentioned another great fast pitch player known as “Jughead” Milesky.

Don Smith called me as well. He was a close friend of Mike’s. He never played softball with him, however, but did play with Booba and he, too, marveled that Booba never wore a glove.

Don was introduced to fast pitch softball as a young man by “Bird” Smith, one of the older guys who invited him to join his team. “When’s Practice?” Don asked Bird.  “Practice?” Bird replied, “Just show up when it’s time to play.”

Don was a good ballplayer, too. He also has been a big fan of youth sports, is a very good writer on that subject, and I hope to interview him soon for a future column.

Let’s take a stroll through Mt. Adnah

There’s a ton of history on the headstones in our local cemeteries — names of veterans, of famous people who once were our elected officials, people who our streets are named after, names of firemen and policemen who served our citizens well — and names of dearly departed who always want to be remembered by what they put on their tombstones.

 If you read my last column you know that Mark Pollock was so impressed by what he saw and found while volunteering with some teenagers to place flags on the graves of veterans that he thought it was a good idea for teachers to take their students on a visit to our local cemeteries because of all the history they could find there.

Well, it turns out some teachers do just that!

Randy Dempsey, a fifth-grade teacher at Volney Elementary School for the past 11 years, called to say that it’s been a custom at his school for maybe 20 years or more, begun by teachers Jan Weldin, Kathy D’Ascoti and Alex Carter.

‘The Annual Fifth Grade Mt. Adnah Cemetery Visit’

This is the title of an assignment sheet that is passed out and instructs the kids, as they separate into groups, to try to find symbols on headstones and read the last name and dates as they appear on the stones and put them on a chart. “Happy Hunting,” they are also instructed.

Okay, Dear Readers, just in case you might want to do a little “hunting” yourself, here’s the list of symbols and what they stand for:

Arch — symbol of victory; Angel or Cherub — host that brings souls to heaven; Circle — eternity; Column (broken) — mortality; Cross — Christian symbol; Dog — fidelity; Dove with olive branch — soul had departed in the peace of God.

Flowers — condolence; Garland — victory in death; Hand pointing to Heaven — God’s hand; Hourglass — swiftness of time; Ivy — eternal life; Key — key to heaven;  Lamb — innocence; Lily — purity; Rainbow — reconciliation; Rose — condolence and shortness of life; Scroll — the paper of scriptures; Sickle — dying harvest; Sun — resurrection; Torches (upside down) — symbol of death; Tree trunk or limb — end of life cycle; Urn — dwelling place of the soul; Weeping Willow — earthly sorrow; Wheat — divine harvest; Skull — traditional symbol of death.

The students are asked to look for “A stone with the same last name as someone in your group, a stone with the same birthdate as someone in your group, a stone of someone who would be 100 years old if they were alive today, and a veteran’s stone, firefighter’s stone and a policeman’s stone.”

‘There is only one of each located in the cemetery.’

The children are also challenged to find the following:

1. The author of the Jameson Series. His name is Jones.

2. A stone that has trees, deer and a car on it.

3. A stone that has someone water skiing on it.

4. A stone with a coat of arms on it.

5. A stone with a fisherman and trap shooter on it.

6. A stone with a covered bridge on it.

7. A stone with a WWII plane on it.

8. A Deforest stone. What is the colorful picture on the bottom of this stone?

9. A stone that has a small Nestlé’s candy bar on the bottom of it.

10. A stone with a picture of a cottage street on it with both the American and British flags.

11. A stone that has a beer bottle on it and the words, “He liked his beer”.

12. A stone that has a Bingo card on it. (There’s more than one!)

I don’t have a list for St. Mary’s Cemetery, or Fairdale or Jacksonville, Dear Readers, or any of the other cemeteries in our area, but I bet there’s plenty of history you could find in any of them. Happy hunting!

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 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!

Jerry’s Journal: Memorial Day and Patriotism

By Jerry Hogan Kasperek

I’m writing this during Memorial Day weekend — the beginning of the summer season, as they say, a time for parades, picnics, planting and opening pools.

I remember when it was called Decoration Day, when it was just one day, May 30, and that summer didn’t start until school got out in June.

I grew up in the WWII era and patriotism is ingrained in me and my memory. There’s been other terrible wars since WWII and I would never diminish the sacrifices that were made during those conflicts, but there has never been anything like WWII.  Continue reading

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. Continue reading

Jerry’s Journal: Papergirls, reader feedback, and Fulton Memoirs

By Jerry Hogan Kasperek 

Do you remember when we used to have paperboys? And papergirls!

According to Gerry Garbus, young ladies back in her day were considered “too fragile” to deliver newspapers. But, they could do the job anyway — if they took a boy’s name — she said, which worked out good for her because of her name being Gerry!

She stopped by the other day with an old newspaper clipping featuring a photo of 23 (I counted them) long-ago paperboys and papergirls holding turkeys in a Thanksgiving give-away.

The distributor at the time was Herald Taylor, she said. It was Nov. 27, 1944.

The newspaper was the Herald Journal. I bet you remember it, the afternoon newspaper that was unbundled and gathered up by ambitious boys and girls, mostly in their early teens.

They could be seen on our sidewalks after school, in all kinds of weather, a big strap over their slender shoulders, toting the heavy Herald Journal bags made of gray cloth and filled with multi-page newspapers that were delivered right to your doorstep so your parents (and you in later years) could catch up with the latest news at dinnertime.

All for a dime or a quarter tip a week — you say, you got to be kidding!

Gerry Garbus was the serious-looking young lady with dark hair, on the right side near the back row, of the photo. She said my late husband Mike Hogan was a newspaper boy, too. But I don’t find his face in the crowd in the clipping.

I did spot a couple of other familiar faces, though: Bob Jones, Fred Sumner — some faces never change — and one of the Misch boys, I think might be Claude.

Mary Ann Buell, Don Quade, and a Lanzafame, perhaps it was Sal, Gerry said, were also in the picture. Who else is lost in memory.

I wish I could reproduce that old and faded news clipping for this column, but for obvious reasons I cannot. It sure provokes a lot of good memories for you and me, anyhow, thanks to Gerry Garbus.

I received a delightful email from Jim Kring who wrote: “Hi Jerry, greetings from Jacksonville, Florida. One of the modes of transportation Walt Carrington did not represent for your March 22nd Journal was ‘bumper skating.”

“Back in the day, when on foot (of course you were) and you wanted to get up West First Street, at the light at Broadway and First you could catch a ride by grabbing at the rear bumper (there were bumpers then) of a turning car, crouching down and skating on your feet.

“Of course, it was easier and safer in the winter,” (Jim included tongue-in-cheek computer generated smiley faces) “when the roads were snow/ice covered, the roads were plowed, but not sanded.

“It was important not to choose cars with chains on because they could get more speed than you wanted, certainly wouldn’t want them to be unsafe,” he said!

“If you weren’t careful, your trip would be part skating, part cartwheels!

“All who have done this, raise your hand. You know who you are!’”

Hey, back at you, Jim, thanks for sharing how it was way back when we were kids! (As I have mentioned in many columns before, my family, the McKinneys, lived nest door to the Krings on West First Street many years ago. But I’m sure Jim doesn’t remember it because he was just a toddler when we moved to the east side.)

I received yet another Internet posting from former Fultonian Walter Carrington as well. He said he noticed in the Valley News the write up about Aldi’s coming to Fulton and pointed out its plus and minuses — which I will leave to you, Dear Readers, to decide for yourselves!

He also noticed in that same issue, a picture of Judge Wally Auser. “In the background is a grandfather clock,” Walt wrote. “I’m willing to bet a used typewriter ribbon that the brand of the clock is Emperor and that ‘da judge’ made the clock from a kit.

“We were neighbors and I liked the job he did with the clock so well I bought a kit and made one too. Me thinks he donated it to the Commons when he moved there.”

Walt concluded his email by asking “if there wasn’t a school named Walradt and the box company named Mengle?”

The answers to his questions are yes, and yes.

The box company was off State Route 481, out in back of McDonalds’s, and was indeed called Mengle’s. Many people were once employed there.

I thank Walt Carrington for his ever interesting, on-going Internet conversations.

As for the old Walradt Street School, its existence was addressed in my last column per an email from Tony Leotta — who has since added to his recollections thusly:

“Thank you for recognizing Walradt Street and St. Mary’s schools in your most recent Jerry’s Journal,” he wrote. “Another star student at Phillips Street School was Eleanor Roach (Ellie Pryor — a sweetheart). I should have mentioned that our classmate Sal Tomarcio attended Phillips Street following graduation from the country school in Bowen’s Corners.

“I’m not sure where Morris Sorbello attended elementary school. Morris, Sal and I paled around together at “Good Old Fulton High, mainly because our families were all muck farmers.

“Sal retired a few years ago as an accountant with the federal government and currently resides at his homestead on Route 176 near Bowens Corners. He reads Jerry’s Journal regularly. Morris continues as a highly successful muck farmer and county legislator from Granby.”

I thank Tony Leotta once again for recounting his memories for us. Upon his retirement soon from City Engineer/Zoning Administrator for the City of Oswego, he says he “Intends to tend his fig tree in Oswego and the chestnut tree in Granby.”

Well, dear readers, before I turn off my computer on this particular column, I want to tell you that I am most excited about taking part of  the Fulton Public Library’s “Fulton Memoirs Project” coordinated by Jim Farfaglia.

The library’s latest project is to “capture the best of Fulton by having people who have lived, worked and attended school here, write a memory or two about their experiences.”

My focus will be on my four years at Good Old Fulton High School and I will tell you more about it next time.

Meanwhile, if you are interested in taking part, please contact Jim Farfaglia at his home: 402-2297, or through his email sjim90@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!

Jerry’s Journal

Blame it on old-age, forgetfulness, or whatever, that I forgot to list in my last column, along with the other neighborhood school of our past, Walradt Street School, St. Mary’s School and Holy Family School.

Walradt Street School

Tony Leotta emailed me almost immediately to say it was sad that his alma mater hadn’t been included and to remind me that “Some of the best students of the First Ward and Granby attended and graduated from Walradt Street School.”

The building, constructed in 1922, is still standing.

“The first- and second-grade teacher in 1939-1941 was Ms. Sullivan,” he wrote, “and the third-grade teacher in 1941-42 was Ms. Hunt (both wonderful ladies). Ms. Sullivan was old and strict. Ms. Hunt was young and a sweetheart. We learned arithmetic and spelling very well.

“Walradt Street School only taught first through third grades. Kindergarten was not available in 1939 for us farm kids from the suburbs of Granby. Furthermore, farm kids were expected to be more mature and better disciplined before entering first grade,” he continued.

“Upon leaving Walradt, we joined Ms. Bracy’s fourth-grade class at Phillips Street School in 1942 with the kids from Oak Street School. The following year we advanced to Ms. Black’s fifth-grade class.

“Ms. Black was a wonderful teacher and a sweetheart. We began “passing classes” in the sixth grade at Phillips Street. Ms. Elsie Schneider (from Oswego) was our homeroom teacher. Ms. Schneider was a very nice and compassionate social studies and English teacher.

“Ms. Ellen Frawley was our outstanding arithmetic teacher and very knowledgeable in her teaching methods. Mental arithmetic was taught and emphasized. Jane Rasmussen, Barbara Edison, Marianne Nucifora, and Margie Campbell were all extra special star students at Phillips Street.

“And then in 1947, we advanced to Good Old Fulton High School along with eastside students from Fairgrieve and St. Mary’s School. . . I cherish all the elementary and high school memories. .  . Now I am 80 and on the on the verge of retirement next month.”

Tony Leotta graduated Fulton High School in 1951 and attended Syracuse University. I wish him well upon his retirement from his long-time position as Oswego city engineer and I thank him so much for sharing his precious memories with us.

(PS: There’s a big plaque on a mound of earth between two of the new houses on Phillips Street where the school once stood. It reads: High School, Union Free School, Dist. #2, AD, 1900.)

St. Mary’s School and Holy Family School 

It was Jim “Hunky” McNamara who  informed me one night at dinner with him and his wife Marlene and Ed and me, that I had forgotten not one but two other old schools, St. Mary’s and Holy Family.

“Holy Family,” I said, “wasn’t like the other schools, it wasn’t here that long.”

Located just off Hart Street on the west side, near the church it was named after and closed like the church the past few years, it was nice and new just about the time my own kids started school in the late 1950s and 60s.

Although they didn’t go there, we did enjoy the dances and wedding receptions and other special events in the basement banquet hall, and I just bet the children who did attend class there must have many cherished memories, too, just like the students at Walradt Street and St. Mary’s do.

Hunky went to St. Mary’s — first through eighth grade, as did his siblings, Pat, Joe, John, Norma, Mike and Tom — until he entered Fulton High School, like Tony Leotta did, as a freshman in 1947 to became part of our graduating Class of 1951.

His children, Tim, Tom, Terry, Michele and Donna, also attended St. Mary’s, in the 1960s and 70s.

Truth be known, though, I probably didn’t even know St. Mary’s existed until my high school days.

The funny thing about it is that it was on Buffalo Street just around the corner from the old Fairgrieve School on South Fourth Street where I went to junior high.

We 1930s kids pretty much stuck to our own schools, friends, and neighborhoods — until high school, that is, when our small worlds met and grew a little in knowledge and friendship.

Hunky’s recollections of St. Mary’s include second-grade teacher Sister Rita Veronica, “a beautiful young nun;” a fifth-grade teacher, Sister Etia” (he wasn’t sure how to spell her name); and Sister John Dominick who was the school principal.

“Most of the guys were afraid of her,” Hunky declared. Did she rap their knuckles with a ruler? I wondered. “Maybe if they were bad,” was the reply.

“I remember the sandbox in first grade,” he laughed. “It was a table sandbox with about 12 inches of sand and we played with toy cars and trucks and there were little houses and trees in it.”

“We had to help Mr. Guilfoyle take out the trash,” he also remembered. “When you were little?” I inquired. “No! In seventh grade,” he said, as he recalled that it was expected of the boys to do this chore.

Bill and Dick Frawley, twin brothers who lived on Buffalo Street across from the high school, were among Hunky’s school buddies, he said, though a year ahead of him, while Mary Catherine O’Brien, Mary Ann Monforte, John Vogt, Joe Fox and Joe Muscolino he named as some of his classmates.

Asked if he was aware of the nearby Fairgrieve School, he said, “Yes, of course… I played softball with the guys… there were three softball fields in the park,” he recalled,

“The East Side Park, that’s what they used to call it, and I played basketball with them in the high school gym — I hung out with them in the park!” he said.

I thanked Hunky for his recollections and said I’d see him and Marlene at Mimi’s for dinner on Wednesday night at usual.

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!

Jerry’s Journal

I really can’t say what brought it on, this reminiscing/thanking/philosophizing I’m about to share with  you.

Maybe it’s because spring has sprung (so we hope) and with it warm weather and April showers to make things grow again, and Easter and hope for a new day.

I like to believe there’s always something to look forward to!

It began earlier this week after a trip to the local supermarket and I make this astute observations: It costs a lot of money to eat healthy. What’s that you say? One red pepper and one sweet potato came to almost $3. No way!

Yes, way. And I think it’s worth it, too, because we can afford it. But what about people who can’t afford fruits and vegetables and eat mostly junk food, I rambled on to my loving husband, Ed, on our way home from our shopping trip.

Junk food is a lot cheaper; no wonder there’s so much obesity.

Well, okay, dear Readers, who am I to talk — I’m no size 5 myself, not even close — I love my sweets! I do try, however, to put a couple of kinds of vegetables on the dinner table and try to eat as healthy as I can.

One problem with this perfect scenario, though, is that I don’t like to cook! Nope, never did. I had to anyway, when the kids were growing up.

Cooking for two adults and four children day in and day out was just part of my good wife/mother routine and I thought nothing of it. You did what you had to do.

I wasn’t too fond of grocery shopping, either. I was never the dedicated coupon clipper and sale shopper. If something was on sale and I could use it I would buy it. Otherwise, I bought what I needed to get through the week.

We went from paycheck to paycheck, back then, when Mike’s pay came in the mail on Thursday. It was my day off, leave the little darlings at home with a baby sitter day, my day to go grocery shopping, pay the bills and perhaps look around in the stores downtown.

My last stop of the afternoon was to Angelo’s Big M on West First Street to buy our groceries, several bags full, which usually came to about $20. Yes, you remember it well, 20 bucks used to go a long way!

Besides, I sure could stretch out the staples: hamburger, chicken, pot roast, potatoes, carrots, spaghetti, a couple cans of tomatoes (to make the sauce), a few cans of veggies and chicken noodle and  tomato soup, a package of sliced cheese (tomato soup and grilled cheese, yum) a box of oatmeal and a box of cereal (my kids loved their cereal), a couple of loaves of white bread and a big jar of peanut butter and jar of jelly.

An egg lady and a milkman delivered their wares right to our door, and in the summer we had more fresh fruits and vegetables, otherwise they came from the can. My kids just loved canned peaches!

As you can see from my grocery list it wasn’t exactly “healthy eating” and I was no gourmet cook (my kids didn’t know the difference), our diet didn’t vary too much, but our bellies were full.

One week I spent $42 at the grocery store! Mike had overtime pay and we were low on several essentials (you just can’t do without sugar and flour and dish detergent and toilet paper) so I stocked up — two shopping carts full, no less — and they contained no junk food, well, maybe a half gallon of ice cream and one big bottle of soda pop.

Those were special treats for just once in a while. Most of the time, though, my kids were content with popcorn and orange juice for a treat Sunday night while they were watching the Wonderful World of Disney just before they went to bed.

Oh, the good old days! It was a whole different world back then.  It’s the world I sometimes long for, talk about with family and friends, but realize I can’t bring it back, so I try to “live for today,” as they say. It ain’t so bad, you know… .

We still can smile and be glad we have lived here in Fulton, New York — it’s a beautiful part of our country — and remember how good it was growing up in “the Little City of Power and Progress.”

To be sure, we are sad, it’s not as pretty and neat and tidy as it used to be, but that doesn’t mean we can’t continue to love it to death.

We still can be thankful for the good living and jobs it gave us at Nestle’s, Sealright, Dilts, Armstrong, Niagara Mohawk, the telephone company, the canning factory, the box company, just to name a few, and for the good schools we went to — Oak Street, Erie Street, Phillips Street, State Street, Fairgrieve and Good Old Fulton High.

We can thank God for the friends we made along the way and for a chance to grow old with each other and see each other at Mimi’s, the Blue Moon, the Lock, and other great places to meet and eat here in our hometown. It’s so good we still can laugh and yes, still cry together.

We can be thankful for the amazing Oswego River and the awesome Lake Ontario, and Rudy’s, and for Syracuse, our nearby metropolis, and for its university — go SU (I know their basketball season is over, but I love them anyway. Thanks for a great season!).

I am also grateful I can afford healthy food. I thank God every day for my life I had with Mike Hogan, and now with Ed Kasperek. I am thankful for all our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren…And, I am thankful for all of you, too.

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!