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

The night the lights went out: 

How many people remember that night of the Northeast Power Failure?

Mary Ann Cartner does. With her permission, I share with you now her personal account of that very scary event:

“It was a dark, cold and rain-stormy night in Buffalo, New York on November 9, 1965. I was expecting my first child and was home alone as my husband was working the night shift.

“I lay on the couch covered with an afghan while listening to a Canadian radio station. The music playing was soothing and I started to doze off when suddenly it sounded as though the music was playing on a warped record.

“The lights went out. The room was silent except for the sound of heavy raindrops on the parlor windows. There was total darkness and I thought a fuse blew, but I had no flashlight so I couldn’t take the chance to get to the basement.

“I eventually found the way to my bedroom and was happy that we had a gas space heater to keep me warm until the power finally came back on. My son was born two days later on Nov. 11, 1965.”

I thank Mary Ann for her memory-sharing and for suggesting a website about the ‘Power Failure” that, according to the New York Times, not only snarled the Northeast, but left 800,000 caught in subways in NYC, tied up auto traffic, left the city groping in the dark, and lasted for 13 hours.

“The snarl at rush hour in New York City spread into nine northeastern states and two provinces of southeastern Canada. Some 80,000 square miles, in which perhaps 25 million people live and work,” the reporter Peter Kihss wrote.

The lights and the power went out first at 5:17 p.m. somewhere along the Niagara frontier of New York state and spread outward from there. “The tripping of automatic switches hurled the blackout eastward across the state” and all over the northeast… “It was like a pattern of falling dominoes,” he said.

While some people wondered if sabotage was the cause, that idea was dismissed by the government and soon after President Lyndon Johnson called for a study of the power failure and a task force was formed.

 In Popular Culture: 

With my curiosity wetted by Mary Ann’s email and the write up in the New York Times, I googled Wikipedia (the free online encyclopedia) to learn what the study showed.

“The cause of the failure was human error,” it basically said, and that “a lack of voltage and current monitoring was a contributing factor to the blackout.”

That discounts the sabotage notion but, if you’re a fan of UFO sightings, this is what the section of Wikipedia entitled “In Popular Culture” has to say about an idea that continues to float around even today:

“When no cause for the blackout was immediately apparent, several UFO writers (including John G. Fuller, in his book Incident at Exeter) postulated that the blackout was caused by UFOs. This was evident by numerous sightings of UFOs near Syracuse prior to the blackout.”

Well, Dear Reader, I don’t know much about UFOs in and around Syracuse or anywhere else, but I do know that Mary Ann’s recollection is sure to prompt a lot of memories for many of you out there.

Do you remember what were you doing that dark night 48 years ago? (PS: not every place in the Northeast had a long blackout because they had their power plant.)

Sunrise, sunset:

As it has become the custom over the years — my mother used to do it and before her my grandmother — I will be hosting several of my family members to sit down to a turkey dinner with all the trimmings with Ed and me on Thanksgiving Day.

Actually, everyone — men and women and children — help out with the food, the table setting up and the cleaning up afterward. I couldn’t do it other wise.

As I tell my kids, I want to do it as long as I can. When I can’t, I say, they will have to take over at one of their houses!

My mother’s been gone a year and I miss her. My grandmother’s been gone several years and I still miss her. That’s how it goes, years fly by and people you love come and go.

That’s why, as I grow older, I have become more aware of this “sunrise, sunset” thing they sing about in “Fiddler on the Roof”.

We humans sure do fiddle a lot of our life away, spending too much of our time on things that don’t really count.

Why aren’t we grateful for the goodness in our lives instead of dwelling on all the bad things we have no control over? Who cares if So and So does such and such? Aren’t they struggling with how to get through this life like everybody else is?

Watching the news on TV and seeing so much misery in this world makes me wonder what the heck I have to complain about.

Sure, I have my share of old age aches and pains, but who doesn’t? And sure, my house is not quite as tidy as it used to be, but who’s to judge?

And if I sit in my recliner with my feet up and rest a little more than I used to, so what?  I have it good. That’s all there is to it. I hope you do, too. Happy Bird-day, everyone.

Now, here’s my caveat: Reader 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 JHogan@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

Jerry’s Journal — Hannibal Street history

Almost the Mayor of Hannibal Street: Tom Trepasso has lived on Hannibal Street his entire life and says there’s only one person (Charley Liberti) who’s lived there longer than he has. “That makes me almost the Mayor of Hannibal Street,” he laughingly remarked.

I visited with Tom in his home a few weeks ago, per his invitation to stop by and look over some artifacts he offered to loan me.

Those artifacts included a booklet of poems entitled “As I Remember” written by Fred Kenyon Jones in 1934 (the year this writer was born, gulp); a booklet announcing a Reunion of Teacher and Pupils at Walradt Street School in 1922; and a booklet about the Second Annual Field Day, sponsored by Fulton Police Benevolent Association, Inc., at Recreation Park on Monday, Sept. 4 (but of what year is left to wondering).

The booklets are sitting on my desk to glean from for future columns, so stay tuned. There’s lots of good stuff in them, such as the excerpts at the end of this columu.

Fishing for a circus elephant: Tom can tell you almost everything you might want to know about Hannibal Street’s history.  He remembers fishing for bullheads as a kid in Tannery Creek when it was still deep and full of fish, the circuses that were once held in the field by the old airport – and the circus elephant that got stuck in the creek one summer!

He remembers Kate, Helen and Charley Mangeots’s farm on Hannibal Street, their milk house out back – “the best milk in town” – he said, the dinner bell ringing and the time the cows got loose and wandered onto the railroad tracks.

“It was a terrible, terrible mess, scattered everywhere” he recalled about the cleanup after the cows and a train collided.

These days, Tom and his wife Barbara, they’ve been married for 43 years, still live in a beautifully kept home that once was his parents’ house. It’s the one on Hannibal Street with the Yankees’ logo on it. “Everybody’s a Yankee fan,” he said, but some don’t know it!”

Tom worked at Sealright for 14 years, then at Roller Bearing for 30 years. Now retired, he loves to work around the yard  — it changes with the season — the decorations, that is.

Right now it’s Halloween in his yard, and soon it will Christmas, his favorite time to decorate, he said, though in recent years he’s cut down some.

Colorful work: The North End Paper Mill came up in conversation and  I asked Tom if he knew what was going there. Those of us who frequently travel Hannibal Street can’t help but notice there is some kind activity in that old place, but what?

I was pretty sure they were not manufacturing paper any more, but I had seen cars parked there off and on and had taken note of the new sign on the front of it, and from what I can see there’s the possibility that one of these days that old mill will be sporting a brand new roof.

But, wow, was I surprised when Tom said his wife Barbara is the manager there and oversees a handful of men and women, mostly women, who also work there. She’s been there in some capacity since 1977, and now the manager, he said.

A crew of seven or eight, depending on who can work on any given day, usually four days a week, cut big rolls of tissue paper — “every color of tissue paper,” he said — into squares to package and ship out to florists and gift shops.

The building has been there for more than 100 years,” he said. “It might have been a tannery to begin with. It’s right by the creek and the railroad tracks.”

Tom reminisced about walking the tracks when he was a kid to go swimming at Recreation Park, and of his four years at Good Old Fulton High School, he said “it was the best time of his life … everyone used to have fun back then … we weren’t rich but never went without … it’s too bad young people (of today) can’t visualize what it used to be like,” he said.

Historical Humor: I thank Tom for taking the time to talk to me and for sharing the booklets as well. I especially enjoy the book of poems because it not only recounts our hometown history in rhyme and humor but also because of the people who lived here in that era — many of their names still ring familiar to me and I’m sure to many of you — like Fanning, Youmans, Perkins, Osborn, Case, Freeman, Loomis, Coleman, Knight, Mason, Baker, Allen, O’Brien, Dyer, Stevenson, Williams, Holden, just to name a few.

And, it would seem, our poet/historian, Mr. Fred Kenyon Jones had, at one time or another, many jobs around town: “I worked at Nestlés in 1901,” he wrote, “with 40 girls, we has such fun.”

In another of his poems he said, “I worked once in the Woolen Mill, Jimmy Connell came and went at will. Pay day I drew just three-sixty. Did I stay: Yours truly says nixie.”

And in a poem entitled Digging up the Dirt he wrote: “I worked once for Emmet Conrad, Bert Loomis was his business comrade; their business really wasn’t bad, the trouble was the help they had.”

His booklet is the source of the ads accompanying this column.

Now, here’s my caveat: Reader 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 JHogan@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

Jerry’s Journal

Who knew where it would lead?

The saga of the Bates Grip began a couple of columns ago and with it came a suggestion I call Jim Best who had worked at the old B&T Sport’s Shop on South First Street back in the 1950s.

Jim Best the Well Driller? I asked. Yep, that’s the one.

And so I did, and so did he graciously return my phone call. Jim said he worked at the B&T from 1952 to 1956, and it was Ed Bock, the owner of the sport’s shop, now deceased, who drilled the bowling balls with the Bates Grip.

We sold bowling balls only occasionally, though, Jim said. Most were done at the bowling allies in town. He said he looked up the Bates Grip on the Internet and discovered that prior to that, bowling balls were mostly the 2-fingered kind.

Then came the 3-fingered bowling balls we became so familiar with in the heyday of league bowling here in Fulton and indeed across the country.

No mystery no more: I asked my sister Denise, who is married to pro-bowler Mark Roth, to see what she could find out about the Bates Grip.

This is her return email from which I quote:

“I talked to Larry Lichstein who drilled balls for the Professional Bowlers Tour for 25 to 30 years. His reply about Bates Grip is that it was actually referred to as Bates Curve Grip. It was an automatic motorized drill feed that went into the ball and would curve the finger grip toward your palm or other adjustments depending on the customer’s need.

In his entire career and after visiting more than 12,000 bowling centers/pro shops worldwide, he encountered only two of these motorized devices as there were very few ever made.

Since there were so few made and they were not predominantly used during Larry’s career, he’s never known anyone to use that type off ball drilling today. The Bates was first used in the 1940s.”

(Thanks, Neice, for the info!)

Still at it: Most of us know Jim Best as “The Well Driller” who lives out in Granby where he was once held the title of town supervisor, and who also once served as a county legislator.

In any case, he said he still has his Ebonite bowling ball, drilled with Bates Grip, complete with his initials on it, tucked away in a closet. He used to bowl three nights a week, he said, when the alleys were filled up with teams made up people who worked together or belonged to the same church and so on.

His mom bowled too, “to the day she died!” he said. A lot of stay-at-home moms bowled. It was a way to get with friends and relax. Everybody could bowl because of handicap (an amount added to the actual score).

Jim said who knew that someday TV would become a necessity. He said he likes the way things change.

As humans we need to keep improving. Today we have better things, better medical … better everything … he said … that’s the way it should be. I thank him for the most interesting conversation.  He’s still in the well drilling business, by the way.

The old pavilion, football and Halloween: Bowling balls were not the only pieces of sports equipment lost in the fire at the old pavilion at Recreation Park back in the 1940s.

According to Jim “Hunky” McNamara, Fulton High School’s football team’s uniforms were stored there as well. (The team played at Recreation Park. Who remembers the big, wooden bleachers?)

“Syracuse University gave us their practice uniforms,” Hunky said.

FHS football coach Willard “Andy” Anderson was a graduate of SU — “one of their best running backs ever” — and he got the uniforms for us. “They were blue and gray.”

I told Hunky I have my own memory of the pavilion. I was in first grade in 1940, and it was Halloween and the city held a Halloween costume parade on West Broadway and they treated us to cider and doughnuts in the pavilion.

I somehow got lost from my classmates and was sobbing my little head off when Seymour Cole, the police chief, found my mother for me. I forever after, during by growing up years at least, told how the police chief saved my life.

My friend Ellie Pryor also remembers that parade all too well and said she got mixed in with a class other than her own from Phillips Street School and was so scared and upset because she thought she’d get in trouble for it.

Hunky laughed at my tales and said the kids from the east side didn’t walk in the parade because they were probably out tricks and treating. He said he thought Sam Vescio might have played for Fulton High School during that time of the fire and suggested I call him. So I did! (Thanks, Hunky, for “adding” to my column.)

Sam Vescio, in my opinion, is the “ultimate local historian” if there ever was one.

He said the pavilion burned down in 1943, and he lost his bowling ball in that fire as did many others. He said it was an Ebonite and drilled with the Bates Grip, and that he had his two best games at that time with that ball: a 226 and a 242.

Later on, he said, he bowled at Anderson’s lanes, which eventually became Tony Fedora’s Lanes, near the forks of the road where today Par K does business.

His teammates were Bubba Tracy, Walt Glod, Joe Swiech and Myron Hryncek. And yes, he did play football at Good Old Fulton High, but it was in 1944 and 1945. Thanks, Sam. You’re always fun to talk to.

I interviewed a nice gentleman by the name of Tom Trepasso a few weeks ago and will feature him in my next column. Meanwhile, if you happen to be over on Hannibal Street one of these fine fall days, check out the Yankees logo on the front of his house and the cute Halloween decoration on his lawn.

Now here’s my caveat: Reader 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 JHogan@aol.com. Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

Jerry’s Journal

Traveling back: From out of the past came a note from a friend of mine I knew from our bowling league on Wednesday night at Lakeview Lanes.

“If you ever travel back to the east side,” she wrote, “my husband’s mother owned and operated a tea room on Cayuga Street. I think it was called The Cayuga. It was located opposite the original Morrill Press owned by my husband’s uncle and grandfather. You know it today as Cortini’s Shoes.”
– Deanne Cuyler Morrill

“P.S.: Terry teaches at Le Moyne College (chemistry) and I am still bowling!”

I just loved hearing from Deanne. She has lived in Bayberry for several years, and I thank her for writing me. I looked up the Morrill Press in the 1950 city directory and found in that block of Cayuga Street, from South Second to South Third, there was – just to name a few – Lambrino Dry Cleaners; Perkins Florists; Mel’s Taxi; the Syracuse Herald Journal; the VFW; Rose Schnur, beautician; Samuel Cocopoti, trucker, and Dr. John Rogers.

For the rest of this column, pick up the Sept. 14 edition of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Jerry’s Journal

I imagine some of you were quite surprised to read in my last column that I had crossed the International Date Line — that imaginary line I said we crossed on our Thousand Island cruise while going from U.S. waters into Canadian waters.

Well, of course, it was the International Boundary Line we crossed. The International Date Line is nowhere near us! I thank Mary O’Brien for the phone call and correction. She said it was somewhere over in the Indies.

My curiosity up, I went online and Googled it and rediscovered that the International Date Line is “an imaginary line on the surface of the Earth running from the North Pole to the South Pole and demarcates one calendar day from the next. It passes through the Pacific Ocean roughly following the 180 degree longitude but deviates around some territories and island groups.”

So there you have it; it’s one of those things you learn in school a long time ago that doesn’t necessarily stick in your mind as to the exact purpose and location. But I won’t forget it any time soon. How about you?

For the rest of this story, pick up the print version of The Valley News. Call 598-6397 to subscribe.

Jerry’s Journal

Editor’s note: Due to an editing error, a copy of an advertisement was left out of Saturday’s Jerry’s Journal. Below is the ad, along with information about it from Jerry. The Valley News regrets the omission. 

By Jerry Kasperek

Please note the accompanying advertisement. It’s where Mike and I bought our first car, a maroon, 1949 Plymouth two-door coupe. It was in 1954, and what a bargain: we paid $800 for it!

OP Jerry 8-3

Jerry’s Journal

By Jerry Kasperek

Did you ever watch hummingbirds come to feed? Ours come one by one, all sizes and all colors – red, green and blue – to sip the sweet sugary syrup Ed makes for their bird feeder. Some of our hummingbirds perch, yes, actually perch their tiny selves on a nearby shepherd’s crook as if to wait for their turn at the feeder. I never saw a hummingbird perch until last summer when I did a double-take to see one actually sitting there.

Such sweet little things, I thought. Or not! The little devils dive bomb one another trying to get to the feeder before the other one does!

For the rest of the story, read the Valley News Saturday edition.

100 Block of East Broadway

by Jerry Kasperek

Let me recap my last couple of columns. The 100 block of East Broadway was once home to Finocchario’s Barber Shop, Murphy’s Gift Shop, Scanlon’s Liquor Store, Frawley’s Restaurant, the Percival house, the Broadway Restaurant, Gayer’s Drugstore, the Acme Market, and Jonientz Texaco Station.

The Broadway Restaurant was known as Stubby Quade’s. Joe Frawley’s Restaurant became Kanaley’s when I was a teenager, and the drugstore building/apartment house was renovated into the Sealright Recreation Club-bowling alley. And, the Commodore Restaurant was located in the downstairs of the drugstore building before it became a bowling alley.

Such is change, which pretty much brings me up to today and an e-mail from Rene Hewitt as follows: “I just read yesterday’s journal and Gage’s Drugstore was mentioned. I immediately recalled Mr. Gayer and wanted him to be identified correctly. He was such a nice man. My cousin Arnold ‘Deke’ Dievendorf assisted him for several years and many Fultonians would remember him too.”

From me to Rene: “Was Gage’s (as it was called it my last column) really Gayer’s? I seem to remember it being Gere’s. It’s funny how our memories work.”

From Rene back to me: “Yes, Jerry, his name was Wade Gayer and my cousin worked for him before he went in the service and again when he was discharged. He and his wife Ruth lived in the apartment upstairs. I stayed with them occasionally and remember all of this so vividly.”

Rene asked me if my grandmother’s name was Florence MacDoughall. “I remember hearing she lived up there at one time,” she said. “So many memories and I’m trying to put them all together…This is great exercise for my brain!

“I was also thinking of the time you left your purse in the rest room on one of the bus trips, and so thankful when you went back it was still there,” she wrote. “Thanks for the memories.”

Rene does indeed have a good mind and I was surprised that she knew my grandmother’s name. As far as the lost pocketbook, here’s the story.

We were in St. Louis, Mo. at the Archway’s conference center-museum when I left my purse in the movies while watching a presentation on how the Arch, this modern miracle of architecture, was constructed. When I got back to the bus, I discovered no purse!

Luckily, with the offer of help from Jimmy Smith, who could run like the wind, we dashed back to the conference center — about a block away — where I retrieved my purse in the Lost and Found department, much to the relief of yours truly and to the amusement of my fellow senior citizen bus companions!

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News or subscribe by calling 598-6397