Tag Archives: Frank Fisher

State: Residents should have access to records

by Carol Thompson

Records of the Oswego County Orphanage that existed until the facility closed in 1956 are not all confidential, according to Robert Freeman, who serves as the executive director of the New York State Committee on Open Government.

Frank Fisher of Florida had traveled to Oswego County to inspect some of the records held by County Historian Justin White and the Oswego Historical Society. Before making the long trip, he scheduled an appointment with White.

When Fisher arrived,  White did not show for the appointment and Fisher has been denied access to the records he sought.

Fisher, and any resident of the orphanage, are entitled to look at their own records, Freeman said. “They can’t invade their own privacy,” he said.

Freeman added, “They have the right to look at who visited them while in the home.”

A program that was handed out as a part of the orphanage’s centennial celebration in 1952 was also not made available to Fisher. Freeman said there is no legitimate grounds to deny access to the program if it exists.

Minutes of meetings are public, Freeman said, and that includes minutes from the beginning of county government.

There are certain records that must be permanent and must be made available. Among those records are the proceedings of meetings.

Freeman said a municipality can relocate records off premises but doing so does not exempt them from public inspection. The county retains ownership despite its location.

Fisher sent a letter to each of the 25 legislators in October in complaint of White. Fisher said he has yet to receive a response from any of the legislators but said he understood they may be busy working on the budget.

He noted that he will give them more time to respond before contacting them again and has no intention of giving up his quest to learn more about the place that was home for him during his childhood.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397

Orphanage story rekindles a childhood friendship

by Carol Thompson

When Frank Fisher wrote to each of the Oswego County legislators to complain about his treatment by the county historian, little did he know that his letter would lead to the rekindling of a childhood friendship.

Fisher, a retired Navy journalist and certified rehabilitation counselor, came from Florida to Oswego County to research the Oswego Children’s Home, formerly known as the Oswego Orphan Asylum.

In a Sept. 26 letter sent to legislators, Fisher said that he had made an appointment with County Historian Justin White personally before traveling to Oswego County.

Fisher said that he was a resident of the Oswego Children’s Home from 1951 until it closed in August 1956. He had requested to view the ledgers and visitor records and said he was denied access. The county historian did not meet with Fisher.

Several legislators were angered by the treatment displayed to Fisher and passed the letter to The Valley News. A story appeared in the Oct. 6 issue.

Late Wednesday, a California resident telephoned and asked how to get in touch with Fisher — his childhood friend from the orphanage.

Bill Dickinson had been searching the internet and came across the story about Fisher on www.valleynewsonline.com.

He contacted the newspaper and asked to be put in touch with his long lost friend. Fisher was contacted and told about Dickinson’s desire to reconnect and the two spoke by phone last week for the first time in 56 years. “We talked for an hour or so and sent some e-mails back and forth to each other,” Fisher said of  the reunion with his friend. “It was nice to talk over old times.”

The reunion didn’t end there. Fisher gave Dickinson the contact number for Fulton resident Jim Farfaglia, who authored the book “Camp Hollis.” Farfaglia retired as the Camp Hollis director and youth specialist.

The county orphanage was located at 132 Ellen Street and upon closure became dormitories for SUNY Oswego and later Loretto Nursing Home. The building now sits vacant.

Both Fisher and Dickinson said just prior to closure, they were sent to Camp Hollis to stay for a couple weeks. Upon their return, they learned the home had closed and they were transported to the bus station.

Fisher and Dickinson recalled their days at the orphanage. Dinner was served promptly at 5:30.  “It was never at 5:29 and it was never at 5:31,” Dickinson said.

Fisher said everyone lined up for meals at the same time. “Church was mandatory,” he noted.

To read the rest of the story, pick up the latest copy of The Valley News. You may also subscribe to the paper by calling 598-6397