Backtracking: The Early Years: N. Otsego entered 1931 with resolutions to consider

Mark SimonsonShown in December is the Fly Creek Grange Hall on Cemetery Road. It was the destination of a New Year’s Day hike from Cooperstown for a dinner.

Cooperstown area residents started out their new year of 1931 in a variety of ways.

As The Oneonta Star reported on Jan. 1, “Nineteen hundred thirty-one was ushered in … with the usual number of social festivities, in which a large number of Cooperstownians, and holiday visitors participated. As usual there was a midnight picture in the Smalley theatre, opening at 11:30 o’clock, the program including the first showing here of the comedy drama, ‘Hook, Line and Sinker,’ and a miniature minstrel review on the stage.”

The story continued with a lengthy list of parties held at family homes and special guests around the village.

If getting more exercise happened to be someone’s New Year’s resolution, those making the pledge were in luck the next day as, “The annual community hike to Fly Creek, which takes place on New Year’s day promises to be an unprecedented success,” The Star continued. “The Out-door Sports committee of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce, who have the affair in charge, reported late this afternoon that they had received 160 reservations for the dinner to be served at the Grange hall by the Fly Creek Grange ladies at 12:30 o’clock. This number will be the largest that has ever been served on this annual occasion. Curtis orchestra of Richfield Springs will furnish music for the dancing before and after dinner. Those who are making the trip to Fly Creek by the hiking method are leaving the Fenimore hotel corner at 10:30 o’clock.”

If doing more singing was a resolution, local residents had a chance, as The Star reported on Jan. 13 how, “Seventy-five residents of this village and the surrounding districts have signified their interest in the organization of a community chorus, and they will meet at the Village hall Wednesday evening … for the first rehearsal in the preparation of a program for a public concert to be given during the early spring.

“The chorus is being organized and will be directed by Frederick C. Havens … whose hope it is to gather together the musical talent of the community, some of which is now latent, and develop a popular concert program within the musical appreciation of all. The only cost to those who desire to participate in the chorus work will be the purchase price of their copies of the music to be used in the concert.”

If becoming more involved in local life and activities was yet another resolution, such activity was encouraged at a Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce banquet, as reported in The Star’s Jan. 29 edition.

“‘I challenge every individual to take a personal part in civic life,’ said Frederick M. Snyder, of New York city, commissioner of the Press Congress of the World and nationally-known civic engineer, in addressing the members of the Cooperstown Chamber of Commerce at their annual banquet held in the Fenimore hotel … in his talk entitled ‘The Power of One in 1931.’

“In opening his remarks, the speaker first discussed the power of the single individual in the world today. He told how Stalin in Soviet Russia and Mussolini in Italy had become dictators because of their great individual power. Einstein was referred to as having enormous power in the scientific world.

“‘What a fine thing it is that he does not become a dictator, but instead is a benefactor to mankind,’ Mr. Snyder pointed out. ‘Just suppose that he were to become the Napoleon of Germany. What a dangerous man he would be. Such men as Stalin and Mussolini are dangerous and I challenge every individual to take a personal part in civic life.’

“In closing his remarks, Mr. Snyder said: ‘The are three words ending in ‘ics’ that we must all give attention. The first is economics, the science of business. The next is politics, the science of government, and we may lose our government if we don’t pay more attention to our civic duties. The last is ethics, the science of applying morality.’”

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly in The Daily Star. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Wednesday columns address local history 1950 and later. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at

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