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July 24, 2012

In These Otsego Hills: What memories are made of

Recently we received a request wondering what we might know about a sign that was found in the basement of 81 Main St. for “Pappas Candy Kitchen.” The sign includes the dates of 1906 and 1921.

And while we didn’t have a clue about the Pappas Candy Kitchen, we agreed to do some investigating and see what we might find on the subject.

We must say that we quite enjoy such sleuthing and so pulled out a number of book dealing with Cooperstown history to see what we might find. We first looked at our copy of a 1915 “Directory of Cooperstown, N.Y.” where we found an ad for “George Pappas Wholesale and Retail Dealer in All Kinds of Foreign, Tropical and California Fruits.”

It also noted Mr. Pappas offered “Fine Confectionery and Confectioner’s Supplies, Ice Cream Soda and other Soft Drinks, THE BEST IN TOWN.” In fact, according to the ad, Mr. Pappas dealt in “Ice Cream, Candies, Fruits, Cigars, Tobacco and Pipes” at his establishment located at 65 Main St., Cooperstown, N.Y.

The directory also notes the Mr. and Mrs. Geo. Pappas resided at 65 Main St., above the store we assume, with other members of the family, James, Theodore, Harrys, Vasiliki and Catherine. We have no idea if these other people were Mr. and Mrs. Pappas’ children or other members of an extended family. 

We then went to our copy of “Main Street Cooperstown: A Mile of Memories” to see if we might glean more information on the Pappas business, specifically how it came to move from 65 Main St. to 81 Main St. Under the explanation of the businesses located at 65-69 Main St., it is noted that at one time the part of that building that had more recently been the Short Stop Restaurant was at one time George Pappas’ Boston Candy Kitchen.

We then went to investigate businesses that have been located at 81 Main St., where we learned: “George Pappas had opened a fruit, vegetable and confectionery store at No. 65 and relocated here [No. 81] in 1921.The new property included a barn and an ice house in the alley. He had the first truck in the village and brought fresh produce from Utica. His ribbon candy and peanut brittle were very popular items.” Mention was also made of the fact that when Doug Walker renovated No. 81 at the end of 1986 for his art gallery, Walker Gallery/ National Pastime — The Fine Art of Baseball, the marble floor which had been installed by Pappas was uncovered and restored.

After this we checked our copy of The History of Cooperstown by Cooper, Shaw, Little and Hollis, where we learned that in December of 1929: “Edward Jacobson, proprietor of the Smart Shop, purchased the Pappas block at 81 Main Street, and the new store was opened formally on April 2, 1930. Mr. Jacobson founded the Smart Shop here six years ago, and it has been housed in the store at 69 Main Street.

George Pappas and Sons had operated their wholesale and retail fruit and vegetable and confectionary business at 81 Main Street since they purchased the block from William Beattie in 1921. The store had formerly housed the G.M. Grant and Company and Beattie and Doubleday grocery stores. Mr. Pappas came to Cooperstown in 1905 and operated his business from the store at 65 Main Street.”

Thus we did seem to find a fair amount of history about the Pappas store. However, we certainly have no idea how the sign, which would seem to indicate it was in use when the store was at 65 Main Street, came to be on the basement wall at 81 Main Street. Nonetheless, we do find it interesting that it is still around some 82 years later.

Although not a request to unearth the history of anything, we were also delighted with an email we received from Grey Wilson of Palm Coast, Fla.

He wrote regarding an article from last year in which we mentioned the Clark Punctuality Prize. He pointed out that: “My mother, Elizabeth Jean Lanning (Wilson), gave me a book from her youth explaining it was awarded to her during elementary school in Cooperstown. Inside it has ‘The Edward Clark Punctuality Prize’ stamped and her name follows with a date of February 6, 1928 ... She frequently referenced the Clark family explaining the wonderful work they did for the community back then. Whenever we visited Cooperstown, she even pointed out flowers throughout the town that the Clark Foundation helped supply.

“All of the Lannings of that generation _ Phyllis, Sybil, Charles (Chuck), and Elizabeth(Betty), have passed away. What they had in common was their love for Cooperstown.

“It was reinforced early with the Clark’s Punctuality Award.” We wrote Mr. Wilson and thanked him for sharing his family’s love of Cooperstown.

And we noted that while we did not know his mother, we well remember his uncle, Chuck Lanning, and his wife, Lorraine. He responded with the information that his grandfather, Charles Wesley Lanning Sr. “... was a local physician affiliated with the hospital, a graduate of Syracuse University Medical School specializing in Eye, Ear, Nose and Throat. The house where they grew up is still standing. I think it is across from the old county courthouse.”.

He also reminded us that the family had given a granite bench, located at Council Rock, in memory of his mother.

We thank Mr. Wilson for a delightful trip down Memory Lane. We always enjoy being reminded of such memories.

Thus we were also delighted when, in reading through old columns from 1987, we came across this reference to our response to having been co-chairs of the village’s 1986 bicentennial celebration: In closing, to answer those who have asked us if we felt the bicentennial year was successful, we felt we tend to agree with comedian George Burns’ view of 1986 when he said, as quoted in Newsweek: “It was a great year for me. I started it and I finished it.”

PLEASE NOTE: Comments regarding this column may be made by mail at 105 Pioneer St., Cooperstown, NY 13326, by telephone at 547-8124 or by email at cellsworth1@stny.rr.com.

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