Betz’s odd bits of history number 7

Betz’s odd bits of history number 7

Here we present yet another collection of accidently-rediscovered news bits, too short for a complete article, but still worth sharing, from the days of our old times. The March 1, 1894 Gloversville Daily Republican informed readers, “Horatio Grant Sr. was found guilty of abusing his wife yesterday, notwithstanding the efforts of counselor Parker to make him out a ‘henpecked’ husband. The sentence was a $25 fine or 25 days in jail. Grant is now receiving his mail at the county jail.” The same issue reported on the arrival of a dependable new fire horse for Gloversville’s fire department. “Ever since…
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Innocent Santa letters caused post office problems

Innocent Santa letters caused post office problems

While grade school and even younger children grimace at writing an essay, they exhibit no qualms writing their annual ‘gifts wanted’ letters to the jolly man in the red suit, Santa Claus. Exactly when this seasonal activity began and such letters were first published in local newspapers, isn’t easy to ascertain. Even Internet sources aren’t specific, although one suggests the practice began unintentionally when parents, needing to learn what gifts their children most wanted, asked them to write ‘Santa’ listing their wants, and then thought the letters were so cute they should share them with their local newspaper. Young believers…
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Shining some light on World War II blackouts

Shining some light on World War II blackouts

This time of year, drivers sometime worry about whiteouts, but at least they don’t have to deal with blackouts, those World War II civil defense exercises during which residents of entire cities and even counties turned off every light in their house, business, or factory and temporarily sat in complete darkness to practice denying enemy bombers any opportunity to see targets. Hindsight suggests such drills were a waste of time, considering no German or Japanese airplanes of that era carried enough fuel to reach inland targets. But, after all, the enemy had managed to bomb Pearl Harbor, hadn’t it, so…
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Walter C. Porter, Gloversville’s disappearing drummer

Walter C. Porter, Gloversville’s disappearing drummer

If younger readers immediately wonder what an old-time drummer was, that’s no surprise considering the only drummers drumming these days drum in bands, but in our old times, although a ‘drummer’ made little noise unless he laughed or sneezed, he was still an essential component in American business activities. The term ‘drummer’ was slang for describing men who essentially ‘drummed up’ sales for companies they represented as traveling salesmen covering a defined territory. They appeared regularly at retail stores, serviced store accounts, displayed new products, and phoned their orders for their company’s products back to the home office. In the…
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Keystone Hotel fire gave Gloversville a sad Christmas

Keystone Hotel fire gave Gloversville a sad Christmas

It was December 21, 1909 and happy Gloversville citizens, like those of other cities across America, were engaged in the usual holiday preparations. What could go wrong? Unfortunately, the vibrant city was about to be hit by a double-whammy of misfortune, including loss of life. To quote the December 23rd Fulton County Republican, “One of the most spectacular fires ever seen in Gloversville broke out in the Keystone Hotel about 5 o’clock. The conflagration raged for hours. The interior was gutted, as was the adjoining lunchroom and barber shop. The total loss will aggregate somewhat over $6,000.00. The fire was…
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Odd bits of history collection number five

Odd bits of history collection number five

Although well-preserved today, Sir William Johnson’s 1749 stone mansion, referred to now as “Old Fort Johnson,” has endured more than one threatening experience. Besides being flooded several years ago, the July 21, 1936, the Amsterdam Recorder headlined, “Ice House Damage Set at $12,000,” a burning issue causing the loss of considerable liquid assets. “An ice house located at Fort Johnson holding about 2,000 tons of ice, the property of William Barber, was destroyed when fire swept the structure Sunday morning about 1:45. At one time the old stone mansion was threatened, and one side was scorched.” People occasionally ask what…
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