Category Archives: Columnists

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 Please put Jerry’s Journal in the subject line. Thanks!

Hodgepodge by Roy Hodge

Throughout the past summer, and now into early fall, I have noticed something unusual.

I don’t remember anyone — and it is usually lots of anyones — saying to me: “We sure need some rain.” The best reason for that, of course, is that we don’t especially need any more rain than we are receiving. We are getting part of a predicted rainfall as I am writing this.

But along with the rain we have seen the sun shining. It seems to me that the rain to sunshine ratio was just about perfect this summer.

There was a lot of warmth and sunshine and enough rain to make the gardeners at least semi-happy.

I have been thinking about summers during the years my friends and I were growing up on Wiman Avenue. I remember that showers, even an occasional storm, provided us with summer fun.

When it stopped raining we would run outside, often in our bare feet, or wearing our soon to be soaked shoes or sneakers.  We would run up and down the paved street in front of our homes, splashing in the rivers of water rushing down the road, next to the curbs.

In my memories of those summer days of the past, we had a lot more quick and sometimes quite violent thunder showers.

As a small child I was frightened by the loud thunder. My mother later told me that she said, “Don’t be scared; it’s just the angels moving the furniture around up in heaven.”

There was a special place where my mother and I would go during a thunder storm and also during an air raid drill.  There was a shelf at the bottom of the dining room table big enough for the two of us to comfortably sit.

That’s where we would be while the thunder boomed, or the air raid sirens sounded. I would sit and listen while my mother, in her soft, comforting voice, sang to me.

More weather stuff:

From Hodgepodge, July 8, 1996: The difference between “partly sunny” and “partly cloudy”: “Partly cloudy” means more sun than clouds and more blue skies will be seen. “Partly sunny” means more clouds than sun.

When I was talking to John Florek at the city water works on August 14, 2002 he said “There’s been hardly any rain for a month and a half.” John said 0.25 inches of rain had been registered at the water works so far in August.

Looking back a few years in the record books John said, “In the summer of 1992, the summer that wasn’t, there had been 32.5 inches of rain recorded through Aug. 14.”

And the quote of the week in September 1981 from Fred Sumner: “ … and I haven’t even started building my ark.”

Rain songs

You probably haven’t thought lately about the popular songs written about rain.

We all know “April Showers,” “Singing in the Rain,” and “I Get the Blues When It Rains.” How about “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head,” “Rainy Days and Mondays,” and “Come Rain or Come Shine”? I think Ray Charles sang that one.

Willie Nelson sang the song, “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” and you may not remember that a group called the Cascades had a one-hit wonder called “Rhythm of the Rain.”

And, this old popular song: “Let a Smile Be Your Umbrella on a Rainy, Rainy Day,” was recorded by Bing Crosby and Perry Como.

Along with the lyrics of that song I found a definition: “It means that the bad conditions only bother you when you let them. Your smile, a positive attitude or being happy, protects you from bad things, rainy days, and the bad feelings you might have from a situation.”

I remember this little refrain: “Rain, rain, go away, come again some other day, little Roy (or Johnny, or Susie) wants to play.”

The following was — and  probably still is — a popular nursery rhyme:

“The itsy bitsy spider went up the water spout. Down came the rain and washed the spider out.

“Out came the sun and dried up all the rain. And the itsy bitsy spider climbed up the spout again.”


“October’s Party” by George Cooper:

October gave a party;

The leaves by hundreds came –

The Chestnuts, Oaks and Maples,

And leaves of every name.

The Sunshine spread a carpet,

And everything was grand,

Miss Weather led the dancing,

Professor Wind the band.

… Roy Hodge

Light in the Darkness: Peter the Rock

“When the servant girl saw Peter standing there, she began telling the others, “This man is definitely one of them!”

But Peter denied it again. A little later some of the other bystanders confronted Peter and said, “You must be one of them, because you are a Galilean.” Peter swore, “A curse on me if I’m lying—I don’t know this man you’re talking about!”  And immediately the rooster crowed the second time.

Suddenly, Jesus’ words flashed through Peter’s mind: “Before the rooster crows twice, you will deny three times that you even know me.” And he broke down and wept.”   Mark 14:69-72

Probably no man ever wept more agonizing tears than Peter did that night. To be the Lord’s lead disciple, chosen to be an Apostle yet deny the very one he, himself had first declared to be, “The Messiah, the Son of the Living God” must have been unbearable.

It had been so for Judas.  We are told that Judas, “Repented himself” and tried to give back the money he had taken for betraying Jesus.

Judas had betrayed Christ to his enemies and Peter’s betrayal that same night was just as deep. Their sins are essentially the same, and Judas was in such anguish that he went out and hanged himself.  Judas felt that his sin was unforgiveable.

But what we now know of the Lord’s love we know that no one is beyond forgiveness. Even those you and I might think should be, like Hitler, for instance, would be forgiven if they but turn to Him in repentance.

In taking his own life, Judas put himself beyond the reach of that forgiveness.  Peter, on the other hand, though he wept bitterly lived with his guilt and shame until the day Jesus came to him and offered forgiveness.

Early one morning, Jesus asked Peter three times if he loved Him. Three times Peter answered that he did. Without getting into the different words for love that each of them used, let me simply say that through the process, Peter’s heart must have been deeply touched for the Lord’s forgiveness is plain to see.

In light of Peter’s affirmation of love, our Lord instructs him to feed and care for His lambs and sheep. Peter is forgiven.

Is there anything more wonderful than the knowledge that Jesus stands ready and willing to forgive the most ugly sin if the sinner will but turn to him in repentance and receive it?

Pastor David M. Grey

Mt. Pleasant United Methodist Church

Bodley Bulletins, by Julia Ludington

I had a lot of fun over Spirit Week and I hope everyone else did, too!

More events are coming up that are a huge part of the year over at GRB.

One of these events is the fall play. This year, the fall play is entitled “What the Bellhop Saw.”

The play is a farce, as it often is during this season rather than in the spring. It is a bit of comedic relief from the seriousness of the amazing and extremely powerful fall play last year, The Laramie Project.

I was fortunate enough to get a summary from one of the play’s members, Grace Trepasso.

“What the Bellhop Saw” is about an accountant who books a room in New York’s best hotel through his brother, who is a bellhop there. The one-night romantic stay is scheduled to be with the accountant’s apparently oblivious secretary.

Parallel to what is going on with the hotel, an author who has written a controversial book has an assassin that is continually following him. Unfortunately for the author, he is being protected by a CIA agent who does not really live up to his title.

The agent is not very intelligent and is quite inept. The play is “filled with slamming doors and mistaken identities.”

I don’t know about you, but I am really excited to see how these two stories end up coming together!

The dates and times for the play are 7:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25 and Saturday, Oct. 26.

Grace Trepasso said, “It’s a really funny show and anyone who likes to laugh should come.”

It may be too early to be thinking about Halloween, but it’s not too early to be thinking about blood!

Just kidding. However, the GRB Red Cross Blood Drive takes place at 8 a.m. Oct. 31. Giving blood is an amazing and simple thing you can do to save lives.

If you’re still nervous, maybe the doughnuts and pizza they give you afterwards will sway you!

Sen. Ritchie boasts of NY pumpkins and apples

To many people, fall is more than just a change in the weather.  It’s everything from apple picking and fresh cider to homemade pumpkin pie and taking a drive to see the change in colors.  Here in Upstate New York, we’re lucky to have an abundance of fall flavors and activities right in our backyard.

This year, there’s no shortage of fall fun — and food — to be had.  A highlight this fall is one of the best apple crops in recent years.  Following last year’s warm spring and early frost that led to less than ideal conditions for apple growers, this year’s orchards are full of fruit that is crisp, flavorful and ready for picking.

New York State is home to more than 650 apple orchards—in fact, the Central and Northern New York regions boast more than a dozen places where you can pick your own.  For a full list of apple growers who sell directly to the public, visit  There, you’ll find not only a listing of orchards in our area, but also information on apple varieties, recipes, a history of New York State apples and so much more.

Along with apples, nothing says fall like a patch full of pumpkins.  Here in New York State there are an estimated 1,400 growers who produce roughly 50,000 tons of pumpkins annually.  Most of these pumpkins are for decorative use with a smaller number designated as “pie pumpkins.”  One of the most popular places pumpkins are popping up?  Craft beer.  With everything from pumpkin ales to Oktoberfest beverages, it’s estimated that eighty-four percent of people who drink craft beer, choose their drink depending on the season.

As Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee, I’m working hard to make sure New York’s farm industry continues to grow—producing not only your favorite foods, but also the new businesses and jobs our state depends upon.  This year,  the state budget included key elements from my “Grown in New York” plan, including restored funding for vital marketing and research programs from apples to dairy and maple.

In addition, the Senate and Assembly also lent their support to my innovative new plan that connects state prisons, hospitals and agencies directly with New York farmers to boost purchases of locally produced foods, bringing better nutrition and boosting farmers’ bottom lines. This year, I also sponsored new legislation that boosts production and sales of cider products by New York farmers, modeled on successful measures that have helped propel New York’s farm winery, distillery and craft brewing sectors.

With the season only lasting several short months, we have to make the most of fall while it lasts (and before the snow starts falling!). One of the best places to find everything the season has to offer is your local farmers market.  While many markets have closed for the season, there are a number that will still be open in the weeks to come.  You can find information on local farmers markets at my website,  Best wishes for a happy—and healthy — fall!

Leon Archer’s A Sportsman’s World

When I was just a little duffer, I used to go looking under rocks in Little Sandy creek for what I called crabs.

They were actually crayfish, but everyone called them crabs, not just me.

Back in those days, bass fishermen would pay 5 cents apiece for them without blinking an eye, and I picked them up from the creek in droves for free. I sold them from our family home on Route 11, right along with my night crawlers which only brought 2 cents apiece.

A couple guys headed to the lake for bass would usually shell out two or three bucks for bait enough for a day’s fishing, and for a boy not yet a teenager that wasn’t a bad deal in the early 1950s.

It wasn’t until a long time after, when most of my own children were grown and out on their own, that I began making the acquaintance of real crabs. The first were blue crabs that I caught fishing with my father-in-law on the Indian River in Florida. They were true crabs and they needed to be treated with a little more respect than I ever gave fresh water crayfish. If a blue crab pinches you, it hurts and you will very likely be bleeding.

Blue crabs are a really beautiful creature with their blue, white and bright orange legs and claws. Their body can be blue as well, but it is more often a green color.

The really great thing about blue crabs is they are wonderful fare fresh cooked on the table. They have a distinctive, yet mild flavor that can only be described as, well yes, crab. They are not really large so picking them is a bit tedious, but it is well worth the effort.

I also got to know the stone crab while running the crab trap line in the Indian River. We never caught a lot of them, but they had massive claws, and that was the only part of the crab that was legal to keep. It was especially unwise to let one’s fingers come within reach of those big crushers.

They wouldn’t cut like the smaller claws of the blues, but they could leave a person with a horribly bruised and painful finger in a hurry.

Flavor-wise they were very good, but not as good as the blue crabs. The really good part was there was not much picking to get out the good stuff at meal time.

The crab I like best; however, I met out here in Washington. It’s the Dungeness crab that I have mentioned before in my column.

The Dungeness has to be at least six and a quarter inches across the carapace to be legal and it must also be a male. Females and undersize crabs must be returned immediately to the ocean.

The Dungeness is sort of a dark brown color on the top and beige to off-white on the legs and underside. He is not much to look at, but after he has been turned a bright orange by steaming or boiling, almost everyone finds him attractive. That is his downfall.

Dungeness can be taken with crab traps and with crab rings. The traps are only legal during part of the season, while the rings are always legal during any open season.

The rings are just netting fastened over two weighted plastic or metal rings, one about 12 inches in diameter and the other about the size of a hula hoop. A bait is fastened in the center of the smaller ring and the apparatus is lowered to the bottom 30 to 40 feet below.

It doesn’t take long for Dungeness crabs to find the bait and climb onto the rings. After about 20 minutes, the trap is pulled rapidly back to the surface hopefully with the crabs inside the basket of netting.

Sometimes as many as two dozen crabs may come to the surface on a good pull, and two or three of them will probably be legal sized males. On a good day, it doesn’t take long to get the limit of 5 keepers.

They are a very meaty crab and a limit may yield three and a half pounds of delicious crab when they are picked. I believe they are second only to real king crab when it comes to flavor. They are best when caught, cooked and eaten on the same day, but they will retain their flavor for several days in the refrigerator, and they freeze fairly well.

I wrote earlier that I wasn’t going to buy a crabbing license, because the season closed two days after I arrived in Washington; however, it has opened back up for the fall/winter sport crab season and I’m going crabbing. Catching a couple limits will more than pay the cost of the license.

Ben just asked me this evening if I wanted to go pheasant hunting. Is that a dumb question or what? Season opens in a couple weeks. And that’s the way things are in the Seattle area.

Poetry Corner

Poetry by Jim Farfaglia


Mum’s the Word

All season long you’ve waited,

letting others tell their story:

the lilac and the lily,

the iris and the daisy.

Month after month

you’ve kept still,

holding back such colorful thoughts,

cupped in patient hands.

Not until the others have gone silent

do your fingers gently open, revealing,

in your own special language,

what you came here to say.

Views from the Assembly: State working to eliminate suicide

 By Assemblyman Will Barclay

According to the most recent statistics reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, death by suicide surpassed death by motor vehicle crashes in 2010.

Suicide rates for adults, ages 35-64, increased 28 percent since 1999. A report issued by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicates that suicidal behaviors led to 1.1 million suicide attempts, many of which required hospitalizations or medical attention.

In 2010, there were 38,364 suicides in the U.S — an average of 105 each day.

The good news is New York state has one of the lowest suicide rates in the country. However, New York still had 1,514 reported suicides in 2010.

Rates in Upstate and rural areas are generally higher, statistics show.

Suicide is a concern to many. In September, local groups organized to raise awareness about its many effects and provide support to families. Out of the Darkness walks took place as part of Suicide Awareness Month which is in September.

These events help survivors cope with losing a loved one to suicide by letting them connect with others in a similar situation and remember their family and friends together. Several walks took place throughout the region.

There have been some changes at the state level to help lower suicide rates. I wanted use this column to let readers know about these efforts. Raising awareness and being proactive in treating the signs can save lives, and therefore, many efforts center around education.

In June, the governor signed a bill into law that requires the state Division of Veterans’ Affairs to maintain mental health, substance abuse, and physical disabilities portals on its website. This made phone numbers and resources easier to access online.

I was pleased to support this bill in the Assembly. Since the legislation was enacted, crisis information is displayed at the bottom of all web pages within the Division of Veterans’ Affairs website.

One in three Iraq veterans will face depression, anxiety and post traumatic stress disorder. Having access to peer outreach, as well as treatment options is easier now thanks to this legislation.

The state Office of Mental Health announced this month it has developed an iPhone app titled “Safety Plan.” It’s a free app designed to enable quick access if someone feels they are at risk.

It’s customizable as well, and reminds people to select different coping methods before they find themselves in a crisis. It gives users, for example, a reminder to go for a walk, or listen to music, or go to the gym, to help users change their mood. This can be accesses through the iTunes store.

Other measures I support in the Assembly include legislation that would improve awareness and education. One bill (A2497) would require suicide prevention as part of the health education curriculum in secondary education schools.

Another bill I support (A2496), would require colleges and universities to provide incoming and current students with information about depression and suicide prevention.

This literature also would list resources on campus students can go to for help. Many local colleges and universities do so already, but codifying this would ensure that less students fall through the cracks when young adults are making the adjustment to life away from home for the first time. These bills have not passed the Legislature.

The state Office of Mental Health funds the Suicide Prevention Center of New York. Their efforts center around education and training to reduce suicide attempts. They maintain a 24-hour hotline in partnership with the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-877-273-TALK.

The public may also contact the agency to be connected with the right services locally at (518) 402-9122 or visit

The state also offers many educational resources at Some readings address the aftermath of a suicide, or living with someone who attempted suicide.

In Oswego County, residents may also call the Oswego Hospital Behavioral Services Division’s 24-hour hotline at 343-8162 for mental health help.

You may also contact your doctor’s office for advice or help accessing local services.

If you have any questions or comments on this or any other state issue, or if you would like to be added to my mailing list or receive my newsletter, please contact my office.  My office can be reached by mail at 200 N. Second St., Fulton, New York 13069, by e-mail at or by calling  598-5185.