1867, 150 years ago
Fire hose must be properly cleaned and stored and Utica soon will have a firehouse to do just that. A cornerstone is laid for a Central Hose Depot at Cornelia and Cooper streets. Utica owns 5,700 feet of fire hose in 50-foot lengths and they are distributed to volunteer fire companies throughout the city (the city’s first permanent paid fire department won’t be organized until 1874).
The Utica Observer is at the cornerstone ceremony and reports: “The attendance was cheeringly large and the bright apparatus of the fire department lent inspiration to the scene.”
Alderman Theodore S. Sayre, chairman of the fire department, places in the cornerstone a lead box containing a copy of the city charter, copies of the Utica Observer and Utica Morning Herald and a quantity of coins, including about a dozen 1858 pennies. (Why 1858 pennies and not 1867 pennies was not explained.)
The hose depot will have a large vat in which hose are cleaned, oiled and, if needed, repaired. A 60-foot tower in the rear of the building is where the hose will be hung and dried.
1917, 100 years ago
A deadly heat wave continues to plague the state with temperatures nearing 100 degrees for more than a week along with high humidity. Temperatures at night drop to only the high 80s.
Twenty-two deaths in the state – including three in Oneida County – are blamed on the heat. In Oneida and Herkimer counties, several knitting mills, foundries and businesses close for the week.
1942, 75 years ago
The state’s first aircraft mechanics school for women opens at the Utica Municipal Airport in Marcy. With World War II raging, there is a need for mechanics at Army Air Force depots, including the one opening in Rome. The school is operated by the National Youth Administration and the women are being instructed in aircraft engine maintenance, sheet metal repair and wood and fabric work. Students will be paid $30 a month and courses will last four weeks.
1967, 50 years ago
‘Kids’ come home
Through most of the 20th century, hundreds of boys and girls have been cared for at the Masonic Home. (The last ‘kid’ left in 1983.) Every year since 1963, the Masonic Home Kids Association has held a reunion in Utica. This week, about 150 – many in their 70s and 80s – attend a reunion banquet in Hotel Utica. Many have traveled here with their families from foreign countries.
Thomas S. Kernan is appointed by Oneida County Executive Harry S. Daniels to the board of trustees at Mohawk Valley Community College.
Edwin R. Lebioda is a new member of Westmoreland’s board of education.
1992, 25 years ago
“Instead of getting your windows rattled three times a day, you’re going to have them rattled more often,” says Capt. Keith Tackett, spokesman for the 416th Bombardment Wing at Griffiss Air Force Base in Rome. He announces that B-52 bombers with the wing will be increasing their number of flights each day to test how they perform with a heavy schedule. The bombers that normally fly three times a day now will be flying day and night 12 to 16 times daily.
“We need to know how many extra flights the B-52s can take,” Tackett says. “What we are trying to do is stretch the rubber band until it breaks. The planes will be fully loaded with bombs, practice weapons and ammunition.”
The 416th is part of the 9th Air Force, a main component of the U.S. Central Command which has responsibilities for U.S. operations in the Middle East.
Names in the news: Gary D. Scalzo, of New Hartford, who is elected to the Utica Chamber of Commerce’s board of directors; Grant E. Johnson, of New Hartford, who is re-elected president of the Presbyterian Home Foundation’s board of trustees, and Steven Harris, who is named Herkimer County’s real property tax director.
2007, 10 years ago
Rome native Jeffrey P. Simons is named superintendent of schools for the Rome City School District. He is a 1985 graduate of Rome Free Academy and was captain of the 1985 football team.
The town of Marcy celebrates its 175th anniversary with a picnic at the Marcy Town Building. Town historian Raymond Ball says a time capsule will be buried there containing local history books, photographs and current local newspapers. The capsule will be opened in 2032 when the town celebrates its 200th anniversary.
In semi-pro football, the Mohawk Valley Vikings defeat Glove Cities, 47-0, at Rome Free Academy. Former Herkimer High quarterback Keith Johnson completes 10 of 12 passes for 126 yards and four touchdowns. The Vikings are in the New York State Amateur Football League.
Who was the first U.S. president to take the oath of office using his nickname? Hint: He was president in the 20th century. (Answer will appear here next week.)
Answer to last week’s question: John Quincy Adams, sixth president of the United States from 1825-29, was the first president to wear long pants at his inauguration instead of traditional knee breeches.
This Week in History is researched and written by Frank Tomaino. E-mail him at email@example.com.