Category Archives: Columnists

Hot summers

by Roy Hodge

I have always enjoyed this time of the year. Summer is my favorite time of the year, and until a few years ago, when I began considering myself as “older” and less heat-resistant, I guess I adapted readily to July and its heat.

Thinking about hot summers, I am usually quick to think about the summer mornings when my mother would greet us in the morning with the statement, “It’s going to be a ‘scorcher’ today.” It didn’t take us long to figure out her interpretation of “scorcher.”

But I can’t remember not loving and enjoying the hot days – to me that was summer and the reason why we didn’t have to go to school.

My mother also used to say, when relating my summer day’s activities to my father when he returned home from work, “He (that would be me) lives at that pool. That was probably almost true.

“That pool” was the swimming pool at McKinley Park, two blocks from our house.

Along with my friends, the Fero boys, I would spend the morning at the pool, run home at lunch time for a sandwich and return to the pool to spend the afternoon.

My mother didn’t worry about me because she said I was “born swimming” and as far as I knew that was the truth. I loved the water whether it was in the pool at McKinley Park, or later in the summer, at Oneida Lake where our family always spent a couple of hot August weeks.

My mother was probably exaggerating a little about the “born swimming” thing. The only lessons might have been just a few years after that — standing in the water with hands on the edge of McKinley Pool kicking and splashing.

Neither mom or dad had a history of swimming. My father only wore a bathing suit one time in front of us, and my mother was proud that she could float on her back and had mastered (she thought) the doggie paddle.

Our little house on Wiman Ave. was probably a little more than comfortably warm on those hot summer growing up days. Our bedrooms were all upstairs and were very hot when it came time to go to bed.

Back then, air conditioning was meant for some of downtown’s movie theaters, but not much of the air in our world was “conditioned” – it was hot. On the hottest days we slept on our “much cooler” back porch or in our little pup tent under the big pine trees in our front yard.

Swimming, running and chasing with the other neighborhood kids, or riding my bicycle – all a part of those (hot) summer time memories.

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After a Summer Storm

by Jim Farfaglia

The sky pulls back its curtain

and the world, light again,

is revealed:

Every flower, every greenery,

battered by the rain,

bows to its power.

The oak and the maple,

having gallantly faced the tempest,

raise their arms in jubilation.

Street and roadside streams,

carrying tales of sound and fury,

gather to chatter away while the mourning dove,

who’s survived it all before, circles the world with a calming coo.

More Fulton history

by Jerry Kasperek

E-mails have flown back and forth between Marion Murphy Stanton and I that happily jogged each other’s memories, thanks to Mary Runeari and her writings in my last column.

Mary worked at Frawley’s luncheonette on East Broadway as a teenager and discovered that the “neat gentleman” who came in to get his coffee cup refilled each morning was none other than Mr. Murphy, who owned Murphy’s Gift Shop next door.

In later years, Mary became active with the American Field Service along with Mr. Murphy’s wife, Marie. The Murphy’s had two daughters, Eleanor (Vaynor) and Marion (Stanton) and one son Richard.

Eleanor and Marion still live in our community but Mary had lost track of Richard.

In case you don’t remember, Dear Readers, Murphy’s Gift Shop was on East Broadway, on the north side of the street, in the block between South First and South Second Streets (S. Second is now Route 481).

“John Finnocchario had his barber shop next door,” Marion wrote, “and the Victory Grill was on the corner, with Mr. Scanlon’s liquor store next door to the east. Mrs. Percival and later the Courbats lived in the little house, and after Quade’s came the Sealright Bowling Alley and the — I think — the Commodore Restaurant. Mr. Jonietz Texaco station was on the corner.

Marion continued, “I remember Mary working at Frawley’s (later Kanaley’s and Guilfoyle’s) and it was always a lot of fun when she was on! Not that the other staff wasn’t great too…We’ll share her recollections with our brother Richard who lives in Rochester,” she said.


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Fulton Hoboes

by Roy Hodge

Do you remember the Fulton Hoboes? I do, and if not for any other reason, every once in a while when I come across a photo of the group when son Jeff was a member.

In my memory, the Hoboes were an important part of the Cracker Barrel Fair, which was a fixture in Fulton for many years, and were still strutting their stuff during Riverfest celebrations in the late 80s and 90s.

From Hodgepodge, August 15, 1989:

Wasn’t Riverfest wonderful?

“On Saturday I sat on the front porch of The Fulton Patriot building for three hours and along with many other Festival goers soaked in the soothing Dixieland strains of the Hanover Squares, a talented six-some of musicians from the Syracuse area.

“The afternoon’s musical program had been underway a few minutes when the city’s esteemed group of fanatical funsters, The Fulton Hoboes, showed up to partake of the entertainment. I guess the Hoboes had sent an advance man to scout the premises and as soon as the announcement was made that there was food and drink inside the Hoboes trooped in, en masse.

“Hanover Squares drummer Dick Jones, who is always quick with appropriate commentary, noted: ‘That must be the paper’s staff.’

“Funny? Yes, but…Two of the hoboes actually are (in real life, as they say), members of The Patriot’s staff.

“If my recollection of Fulton clowning history is coming back to me properly as I type this, I can tell you that the Fulton Hoboes were formed somewhere around 25 years ago. They originally got together as part of the programs at the First Methodist Church annual talent show. The group became well known to the public after Fulton’s Cracker Barrel Fairs were started in 1966.

“Original members of that group of clowners included Chubby Scaringi, Jan Peacock, Barbara Phelps, and Betty McGraw, with Shirlee Collins and Norma Owens also logging plenty of duty in the early years.

“Among my fondest memories, I recall the first years of the Cracker Barrel Fair when a certain little kid, who happened to share my last name among other things, fell in love with the Hoboes and tagged them relentlessly around the fairgrounds all during the fair. After about three years of that one of the Hoboes finally said, ’Listen kid, if you’re going to hang around with us you’re going to have to wear a funny hat and a red nose.’

“That little kid grew up to be Hobo Jeff, the tall skinny member of today’s version of the Fulton Hoboes.


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Major floods

by Leon Archer

Have you ever wondered what happens to all the wildlife in a stream or river when they are flooded over their banks by rains like those that have been creating havoc around Oneida and points south east?

Looking at the pictures of the coffee brown water flooding streets, inundating homes and vehicles, while carrying vast amounts of debris and mud, we quickly become aware of the damage to land and property.

What we don’t see is what is happening to the communities and residents that call the streams and rivers their home.

The mud that we see left behind on land creates a mess that has to be scraped and scooped up and then transported to a landfill or field. The remnants get hosed away into storm sewers which direct the offending goo back to area streams in many cases.

The streams get it coming and going when major floods hit them. Normal rains are a welcome event for fields and streams, but just because an ecological community resides either in or around the water doesn’t make it immune to damaging effects of flooding any more than we are.

At first, a heavy rain invigorates the fish, insects and shellfish that live in a stream, but the rising water always increases the strength of the stream flow, which is great for some of the denizens, but not so good for others.

A torrent moves dead  wood  downstream, wood that has been trapped for some time and supports all sorts of life from microscopic to large insect nymphs. It also displaces rocks and rearranges the shape and size of pools.

This stirring of objects large and small casts all sorts of food into the reach of trout and other fish. They can often gorge themselves on insects that had pretty well been safe from them before.

A normal heavy rain is actually good for the life of a stream even though it may cost some of the prey critters dearly. I always thanked the good Lord for every heavy summer rain that hit the Sandy Creek area when I was a boy, because it meant great fishing in Little Sandy for at least a couple days. Trout’s natural caution was overcome by the abundant food in the water and the cloudiness hid the fish from the view of predators.

However, the kind of rains that the state has been experiencing in some locations presents a difficult time for streams and all their residents — even large fish.

The high water can, and often does, carry stream life far away from the stream itself and ends up depositing them where they cannot get back to the moving water that has been their home.

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Light in the Darkness: July 3, 2013

by Pastor David Grey

“Praise God in his sanctuary; praise him in his mighty heaven!

Praise him for his mighty works; praise his unequaled greatness!

Praise him with a blast of the ram’s horn; praise him with the lyre and harp!

Praise him with the tambourine and dancing; praise him with strings and flutes!

Praise him with a clash of cymbals; praise him with loud clanging cymbals.

Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!”  – Psalm 150

In a recent column, I stated that I have always been intrigued with this Psalm in light of the differences of opinion regarding various types of music and instruments consider “permissible” in a worship service.

Because it is clear that the instruments listed here cover the whole gamut of instrumental types, I have strived to understand why so many Christians I know (myself included) struggle with certain instruments in worship.

I have conclude that there are two major reasons we struggle to accept instruments God has approved.

The first is our past experience with various instruments or types of music. When we hear them, they immediately bring to the forefront the past associated with that instrument and we find ourselves unable to worship with that particular instrument or style of music.

I know that for several years as a new believer I could not worship or center my attention upon the Lord with any music in which drum brushes were used.

The sound brought back associations with a night club I had visited and all the godless lifestyle present in that place.

It was personal. It had nothing to do with the amoral drum brush nor was my inability and indictment against the Christian group using them.  I simply could not worship because of the baggage I personally carried with me.

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Poetry Corner: All For a Dollar

by Jim Farfaglia

All For a Dollar


It still buys the daily paper,

a couple of postage stamps

or a cup of coffee at the diner.


It still lights the eyes of a child

and brings a smile to their face

when we buy a streetside lemonade.


It still folds up neatly

and slips into a bucket at holiday time;

yes, it still funds a dream – ours or another’s.


And it still holds its purpose

as we hold one in our hand –

Mr. Washington looking up in earnest,

reminding us to use it for the good.

Marcus turns 3

RoyHodge_WEBby Roy Hodge

We went to a birthday party Saturday – not just any cake and ice cream birthday party – but a full-fledged “I’m three!” birthday party for grandson Marcus. Come on, join the crowd – “Marcus is three?” Yes, it’s true – beautiful little Marcus, who joined our family two years ago, is three already.

May, 2011: “It was very quiet at Rochester Airport Saturday. Most of the people were waiting for the 1:48 flight from Washington. D.C.

“It was quiet, that is, until the Hodge-Knight-Cognetti families ascended upon the airport. That group was waiting to welcome the newest member of the family, little Marcus Hodge, who had been in America for a few hours at that time Saturday afternoon after arriving from his native Ethiopia with his parents, my youngest son, Adam, and his wife, Shelley.”

Last year, when we visited Marcus on the occasion of birthday number two he had graduated from being pushed around in a stroller to being driven around in a golf cart. This year it was another huge step forward.

His favorite birthday present was a Marcus-sized John Deere tractor, and it didn’t take long for Marcus to show off his driving skills. But it did look like he was having a little problem with the steering thing.

I don’t know what made me think that. Maybe it was when the neighbors seemed to have their heads in their hands as Marcus and his tractor headed toward their shrubs and flowers with one of the “pit crew” close behind.

I still can’t beat Marcus in a short race up the street. But I keep trying. He knows I tire quickly, so he runs off several feet ahead of me, then slows down and waits for me to catch up.  When I do he looks back, gives me a “I think it’s time for your nap” look and takes off again.

By the time we left Marcus Saturday after supper, it looked like he was learning that, when asked, he had moved from “two” to “three” but he wasn’t sure yet about holding three fingers up instead of two.

Like many three year olds, Marcus has a solid supply of toys. A good way to get an idea of what kind of toys are popular in the life of a three year old is to get invited to a birthday party.

To read the rest of the column, pick up a copy of The Valley News. You can subscribe by calling 598-6397 or click on the link on our home page.