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May 11, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: More from 1986 ...

This week we continue with the discussion of telephone service from the pre-dial days. On March 12 we noted that: “No one has yet produced a telephone directory from pre-dial days, but Doug Preston of New Hartford recalls that some business (which one?) in the village had the phone number 7.”

The answer to Doug’s musing came in the column of March 19 with: “Marian Rathbun, of Toddsville, was kind enough to let us see her 1960-1961 telephone directory which lists Cooperstown’s pre-dial numbers. W.L. Taylor and Son had the number 7. Of course, Taylor’s is very much still with us, but many of the businesses listed in the directory are now gone.”

We also noted in column of March 19 that: “Many area residents have a favorite ‘operator’ story from the pre-dial era. Ours is that of Katie Tennant Sanford, of Susquehanna Avenue, who recalls that she really never learned the phone numbers of her grandmothers---Mrs. Florence B. Tennant and Mrs. Gladys Nevil, both of whom lived in the village. When Katie identified herself and asked the operator for her grandmother, the operator would always reply, ‘Which one?’ Only in Cooperstown!” Also in this same column, we answered the questions we had posed a week earlier when we asked: “...does anyone remember Tel-a-Weather? What was it and by whom was it operated?” And the answer was: “Tela- Weather, Cooperstown’s weather-by-telephone service, was originated and operated by Harold Hollis. One could call to hear a recorded up-tothe- minute local forecast given by Harold or his late wife, Virginia. One could also learn  if CCS was to have a snow dayby listening to tel-a-weather. There were even commercials for area businesses before and after the forecast. Residents also received tel-a-weather lucky numbers. Each day a lucky number was given along with the weather. If one’s lucky number was given, one was eligible for valuable prizes.”

The end of March we had mentioned Edward Edwards with: “...Edward Edwards was a prominent citizen of Cooperstown during the middle years of the 1800s. He is probably best remembered for two events. What are those two events?”

The answer to this question appeared in the column of April 2 when we wrote:  “In closing, even thoughEdward Edwards was most active in community affairs and was a prominent citizen, village history buffs remember him for two reason, both of which give Mr. Edwards a  somewhat dubious distinctionthat perhaps out shadows his contributions to village life.

On April 10, 1862, the great fire of Cooperstown began in his cabinet shop. When this conflagration finally stopped almost all of the buildings on Main Street between Pioneer and Chestnut were gone.

Mr. Edwards had been in his cabinet shop shortly before the fire was discovered, but had seen nothing amiss.

“And, on September 26, 1873, Edward Edwards was shot during the early morning hours in the bedroom of his home (Dick and Shirley Reese live in this house now-- 104 Pioneer St.) Evidently, Mr. Edwards had surprised three burglars who shot him twice in the chest and then robbed him of a watch and $210. Mr. Edwards’ daughter, the only other person in the house at the time of the crime, summoned authorities. Edward Edwards died three weeks later. Since he was unconscious much of the time, he was never able to give a good description of the criminals who were never brought to justice.”

In answer to our question of “...where was the old Stone Jug and why might it be of interest?” we wrote in the column of April 16 the following: “Cooperstown history buffs point to the Stone Jug as THE building on the north side of Main Street which survived the Great Fire on April 10,1862, practically untouched. In fact, this fire started, as we mentioned before, in the cabinet shop of Edward Edwards, which was three doors west of Cory’s stone store, according to Douglas Preston in his history of the Cooperstown Fire Department. The Stone Jug would have served as a good fire break had it not been for the wooden barns, sheds and other out buildings located behind the stores on Main Street. The fire did jump around the Stone Jug and burned eastward to the corner of Pioneer Street.

“The Stone Jug was torn down in 1930-31 to make way for the ‘new’ J.J. Newberry building where Brooks is now located. Someone once remarked about the irony that a building which had survived the great fire and stood as a symbol of permanence for so long was finally torn down in the name of progress.”

We added a bit more about the Stone Jug on April 4 with: “We thank Mary Young, Cooperstown, for giving us more information about the Stone Jug. Mary well remembers that, as a girl, she went with her father to a blacksmith’s shop which was located behind the Stone Jug and across the alley which still runs behind the buildings on the north side of Main Street.

We did not know that a smithy had been located there. As we thought about this, we imagine that there were other blacksmith establishments now long gone scattered about the village. Does anyone remember where such businesses might have been?” In answer to that question, we wrote on May 7:

“We thank Charlie Byrnes for sharing with us his memories of Cooperstown’s vanished blacksmith shops. The one located behind the Stone Jug was operated by Mr. Skinner and Mr. Tabor. Charlie well remembers going there in a wagon with his grandfather to have ‘Old Jim’ shod. Also there were two smithies located on Railroad Avenue, according to Charlie. One, operated by a Mr. Converse, was located next to or in the International Complex.

“The other one, in which Lou Mercer worked, was at Brady’s Coal and Lumber Yard (was that the name of the business?) where Rod’s TV is today.”

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