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April 2017 Vol. III Issue 5
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The 120 Year History of The Yahnundasis Golf Club by Brad Velardi
There are two simple words that can be used to sum up the Greater Utica area; history and tradition. It is natural that, most traditions gradually wither away over time; but in some rare cases, they are kept alive by the people who cherish them most. The spring season brings about an annual tradition that has been a part of our community for well over one-hundred years. The game of golf is one of the Mohawk Valley’s most treasured pastimes and has birthed some stellar professionals by the likes of Ed Furgol (1954 US Open Champion) and Wayne Levi (1990 PGA Tour Player of the Year). It is also the home of countless beautiful courses. Among the longest tenured golf clubs in the area (second longest to be exact), is the Yahnundasis Golf Club in New Hartford. The course at the Yahnundasis’ current location is one-hundred and ninety acres of gorgeous green grass, with a clubhouse that is equally as admirable. For a local history buff, the visible qualities of the club are but one aspect of the interest surrounding this organization. The prominent men involved in its inception alone, make the Yahnundasis a great source of pride for those who appreciate our area’s place in American history. Similar to the city of Utica itself, the club made remarkable strides from its humble beginnings. We start this month’s exploration through history by first examining the birth of golf in Greater Utica. The modern form of golf, as we know it today, originated in Scotland several hundred years ago before the oldest functioning club in America was established in Yonkers, NY in 1888. In 1894, a local man by the name of Halstead Right: St. John’s Orphan Asylum which will later become Utica Catholic Academy).
Yates had visited Lakewood, New Jersey, where he witnessed a group engaging in a game of golf. When returning to Utica, Yates brought with him a set of clubs to show his friends. At the Patten Farm on Harts Hill in Whitesboro, the men attempted to play the newfound sport, eventually making a four hole course behind the “Red House” on Henderson Road. One year later, Yates and a group of eleven other men founded the Sadaquada Golf Club, which was the first in the area and one of a dozen in the entire nation. While the Sadaquada was appreciated and frequented by the prominent men of Utica, transportation from the city to the course took an extensive amount of time. Dr. Willis E. Ford, the first President of the Yahnundasis once stated that travel time was forty-five minutes both ways (not counting change of clothes, etc.), making it a seldom occurrence for a working man to play the game he loved. In an effort to make the sport more easily accessible, it was decided that a new club, closer to the city, would be established. As Dr. Ford wrote, “playing golf was a necessity for a wholesome life and a wholesome conscience”. In search of a more convenient location, it was decided that the new clubhouse and course would reside on the grounds of the Baby Hospital (eventually the site of St. John’s Orphan Asylum then Utica Catholic Academy). The first clubhouse was an unfurnished
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room inside the hospital where men would rest their clubs in the corners of the room and hang their clothes from nails in the wall. On April 19th, 1897, a meeting was held at the Butterfield House in Utica; attending the meeting were sixty-five incorporators. Among them were the likes of Frederick T. and Thomas R. Proctor, James S. Sherman and other well respected citizens. Less than six of the men even knew how to play golf but had taken a strong interest in the idea of a club. At the formal meeting, the name “Yahnundasis” was chosen. The origins of the name derives from the Native American term for “around the hill” (Unundadages), which was the original name the native people used to describe the settlements that eventually became the villages of Utica and New Hartford. The club’s first ever golf pro, Thomas McCormick of St. Andrews, Edinburgh, Scotland was hired on May 30th, 1897. Annual member fees were set at $15 and the club officially opened on June 5th, 1897 with one-hundred people at hand. The club members were inexperienced but managed to lay out a nine-hole course with one hazard (a fence made of light boards that stood ten-feet high and seventy-five yards from the first tee). The course was very much experimental but nonetheless fulfilled its purpose and the enthusiasm of the men was “unbounded”. During the first year of the club, it gained seventy-five new members on top of the original incorporators. The Yahnundasis Golf Club inherited the nickname “The Doctor’s Club” due to the fact that most of its members were M.D.’s. The growth of the city’s participation in golf presented a bright future for the club. The Yahnundasis’ first golf season (in which expenses totaled $857.54) was an undoubted success, but the winter of 1897-98 was a harsh one. As the snow melted and the ice thawed in the spring of 98’, the course was affected dramatically, leaving the tees and putting greens impossible to be found. It was obvious to the members that the club required a new location with better drainage to avoid the same issue in the future. Although the circumstances seemed unfortunate at first, the increase in membership and demand of golf permitted the club to increase annual fees and find a larger, more suitable course. The site of the Yahnundasis’ second course was chosen in 1898 on the north side of Halleck’s Ravine, in what Yahnundasis’ second course (current site of Proctor Boulevard in South Utica)
was considered the village of New Hartford at the time (in the present day, it is Proctor Boulevard in South Utica). A.W. Leonard was hired to replace McCormick as the club’s golf pro and he designed the new nine-hole course. The first ever building used for the sole purpose of a Yahnundasis clubhouse was erected the same year for $700 and was lighted by kerosene lamps. An incredible achievement for a second-year club was made on February 7th when the Yahnundasis was elected to membership in the United States Golf Association. Also in 1898, the Yahnundasis Golf club played its first team match (a loss) against the Sadaquada Golf Club. The year 1900 was one of significance in the history of the club. The clubhouse was remodeled and enlarged for a cost of approximately $1,600; making room for fourteen lockers for a women’s locker room. James Schoolcraft Sherman was elected the President of the club and his wife, Carrie, was appointed chairman of the Ladies Committee. Also in 1900, the first Club Champion was crowned when Charles P. Clarke won the Club Cup and one year later, the Yahnundasis’ first tennis court was built. In 1904, the Yahnundasis and Sadaquada Golf Clubs competed against one another in a cross country four-man oneball match that started at the Halleck’s Ravine course and ended at Sadaquada. The great respect and competitive spirit between the two clubs led to the first annual McLoughlin Cup match being played in 1905 (named after a founding member of the Yahnundasis, John E. McLoughlin, who came up with the idea for the tournament). The match is still played between the Yahnundasis and Sadaquada to this very day and is believed to be the oldest continuous inter-club golf competition in the United States. When leases on the second location’s property were soon
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to expire, the Yahnundasis appointed a committee in 1905 to find a new location. This led to the club purchasing the Sherill farm (which straddled the Seneca Turnpike) and farmhouse and part of the Moore farm, totaling one-hundred and thirty acres for $13,650. George Lowe, golf pro from Baltusrol, New Jersey (host course for many major championships over the years) was hired to design the new nine-hole course (Fun Fact: he was paid $25). Five holes lied southerly and four northerly of the track of the Utica, Clinton and Binghamton Railroad. A locker room was built and the farmhouse (located in front of the current site of Wedgewood Apartments in New Hartford) was enlarged and opened as a clubhouse on May 18th, 1907. In 1909, the first tennis tournament at the club was played and in that same year, William Howard Taft (President of the United States) was the Yahnundasis’ first Honorary Member. In 1911, nine additional holes were built, making it the first eighteen-hole course in the history of the Greater Utica area. In 1913, another annual tournament tradition was started that has lasted over one-hundred years when the League of the Iroquois was established. The original members of the league were Wanakah of Buffalo, Oak Hill (a course in Pittsford, NY that has hosted eleven major tournaments), Onondaga of Syracuse (replaced by Bellevue of Syracuse) and the Yahnundasis. It is believed to be the oldest continuing, multilateral golf competition in the world. The Yahnundasis enjoyed great success over the next several years hosting events such as the New York State Women’s Tennis Championship in 1914. In 1916, famous amateur golfer and course
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designer, Walter J. Travis was hired to design an 18-hole championship golf course north of Sherill farm which included part of the existing course. The new course gave the club even more recognition than it already had and put them in position to relocate for a final time into its current beautiful location. In 1920, the thirty-five acres southerly of the railroad tracks was sold to the Utica Day School (renamed Utica Country Day School) and an additional one-hundred acres of the Moore farm were purchased by the club. In 1921, the intervening land and pond were also purchased. Plans for the present course and clubhouse began immediately. Linn Kinne, Egbert Bagg and Roy Newkirk were chosen as the architects for the clubhouse while Walter J. Travis was chosen once again to design the new course for a fee of $3,000. Travis’ achievements in the world of golf are worth noting as it puts into perspective the prestige of the Yahnundasis during that period of time. Travis, an Australian man, was one of the finest amateur golfers in the world winning the U.S. Amateur tournament three times and placing second in 1902 U.S. Open. He was the founder and editor of American Golfer Magazine and designed twenty-four courses throughout his career. He was inducted into the World Golf Hall of Fame in 1979 for his contributions to the sport. The new course, with all eighteen holes now north of the railroad tracks, was officially opened for play on September 22nd, 1922. For three years, the Yahnundasis clubhouse remained on the road in front of the Day School until the new structure was completed. The new clubhouse, which cost $135,000 to complete, was officially opened to its members on April 22nd, 1924. It appeared as though it would be smooth sailing for the club at this point but harsh times lied ahead for the entire country as the Great Depression was on the horizon. To this point, the Yahnundasis never struggled financially but the Depression resulted in a drastic drop in membership. From 1931 to 1935, the club lost half of its members and was struggling to make ends meet. Sever-
The Yahnundasis’ third course located on the former Sherill farm
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al ideas to generate money fell short, including the creation of a “Limited Resident Member” classification that was a more affordable membership with less privileges. The club desperately needed to generate income and the repealing of the prohibition act in 1935 was somewhat of a godsend. The clubhouse was designed during the prohibition era and did not have a bar originally but several were installed over the years to accommodate its members. Also, starting in 1935, the club hosted Sunday musicales involving some of the most musically talented groups in the country. These shows drew big crowds of members and their guests. World War II also brought great opportunities for the Yahnundasis as the largest party ever held by the club took place on January 5th, 1941; an event held to raise funds for British War Relief. The rationing and shortage of food during the war also resulted in an increase of popularity in the club’s dining room. In 1942, Rhoades Hospital began using the club for recreational therapy for convalescing soldiers. Moving into the 1950s, the club had finally recovered from its financial difficulties and was able to perform major renovations from 1953 to 1956. Some of the improvements included: redecoration of the entire clubhouse, a new bar installed in front of the fireplace, electrical and plumbing enhancements, the rebuilding or enlargement of six putting greens, the addition of white sand to eleven traps and an additional thirty-seven acres added to the course. When members were asked to contribute financially to this effort, almost all of them obliged. Just to add to the Yahnundasis’ impressive history, in 1960, golf legends Arnold Palmer and Ken Venturi played a round of golf at the club. Both shot a sixty-six (which if you’re not familiar with golf is REALLY good) without ever seeing the course prior to that day. In 1961, the course underwent another major renovation as New York State decided to use part of the club’s property to build the new
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structures in the area and the course is truly a sight to behold. The property as a whole is a combination of the Mohawk Valleyâ€™s three greatest characteristics; visual beauty, master architecture and rich history. The progression and growth of the club throughout the twentieth century mirrors that of the Greater Utica area. Today, a portrait of U.S Vice President Sherman, one of the founding fathers of the Yahnundasis, hangs above the lobby fireplace. Although he was never able to see the club in its current state, he would certainly be impressed considering where it all began.
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133Â•-%"3 " %" north-south arterial. Holes 1, 2, 3, 5 and 6 were redesigned. The club continued to make improvements throughout the 60s by building a new pro shop, golf shop and a mixed grille. The most notable occurrence of the 1970s came in 1978 when Interstate Properties, owners of the Riverside Mall, offered $6 million for the property of the Yahnundasis Golf Club for the site of a new mall. After the club had searched different areas for potential relocation, nothing seemed sufficient and Interstateâ€™s offer was rejected. Throughout the 1980s and 1990s the club continued to host great events such as the New York State Amateur Golf Championship in 1988 and the Eastern College Athletic Association Golf Championship in 1995. The clubhouse was remodeled once again in 1994 and the club celebrated its centennial in 1997. It has now been one-hundred and twenty years since the Yahnundasis Golf Club was established. Still, the clubhouse is one of the most beautiful
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With Jerry Kraus The history of The Stanley Theater in downtown Utica goes back to its grand opening in September of 1928 with the silent movie Ramona. From vaudeville shows to movies, the Stanley has been a very important part of the arts and culture of our region for nearly 90 years. Everyone has their own personal favorite memories of events and shows they’ve seen at the Stanley. There have been some great concerts over the years at the Stanley Theater. Some of the more memorable shows include from the classic rock world: Peter Gabriel, Stevie Ray Vaughan, Bon Jovi, John Mellencamp, Bob Dylan, Jethro Tull, Jackson Browne, Dave Mason, The Marshall Tucker Band, The Kinks, Eddie Money, Black Sabbath, The J. Geils Band and REO Speedwagon. Other music stars have entertained crowds at The Stanley including Chicago, James Taylor, Tony Bennett, Dave Matthews, Halestorm, Gavin DeGraw, Aretha Franklin, Paul Anka, Tom Jones, Johnny Mathis and Country music stars include Martina McBride, Willie Nelson, Dolly Parton, Trace Atkins. R & B acts like B.B. King, The Temptations, Salt-NPepa, and comedians like Jerry Seinfeld, Jay Leno, Ron White, George Carlin and Jeff Dunham have all performed at The Stanley. Over time, the list has grown to quite a remarkable roster of talented acts, bringing such great memories to our Stanley Theater in Utica. The group ORLEANS is coming back to Central New York to headline a concert on Friday, May 19th at 8pm. They’ve been a part of the national music scene for over 40 years! You remember some of their big hits like Dance with Me, Still the One, and Love Takes Time. Opening the show with be Central New York favorites, The Todd Hobin Band. They are also celebrating 40 years and actually toured with Orleans back in the day. The Todd Hobin Band has released several albums including ‘Keeping the Dream Alive’, ‘Turn it On’ and ‘The Passion and The Pain’. Tickets start at just $20 and this concert is a fundraiser for the Stanley’s operations. A donation will also be made to the cancer program at Mohawk Valley Health System. For more information about Orleans visit www.OrleansOnline.com The Stanley reminds all patrons to buy tickets direct from the box office which is open Monday-Friday from 10a-4p. You can call the box office at (315) 724-4000 to purchase tickets and to get event information. To see what shows are coming up, visit TheStanley.org and... We’ll See You at The Stanley Theater in Utica!
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In today’s world, there are more women in the workplace than ever before as most households depend on a couple’s combined income. In past generations, a wife and/or mother was expected to be a family’s primary homemaker. The reality is, most woman have added a professional career to their list of responsibilities without forfeiting their title as the main caregiver of the family. Therefore, in many cases, the woman of the house has a tendency to overlook her own concerns (whether they are physical or otherwise) in order to give the rest of the family their proper care and attention. In the past, Greater Utica Magazine has covered some incredible charitable causes for women’s health that are led by the finest local people the area has to offer. In stories such as the TEAL Walk for Ovarian Cancer Awareness (September 2016), we have learned the kind of impact that the loss of a woman can have on a family. We also learned that there are ways to prevent such losses from occurring and how the power of awareness can save so many lives. Although monetary donations give local and national organizations the opportunity to make a difference, it is also the volunteers who step up and the people who inspire them that create change.
By Brad Velardi
Among some of the most successful and influential organizations in the local area, is the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association of the Utica/Mohawk Valley Region. One of the great aspects of the organization is Go Red For Women, a subdivision of the AHA that has made great contributions in building awareness about women’s cardiac health. It has been well documented in the past that heart disease is the number one killer among men, but it also happens to be number one among women. Thanks to Go Red For Women, this issue has been aggressively combatted for the past fifteen years of its existence. Go Red For Women’s mission to fight heart disease and stroke is a significant one considering that they are the cause of one in three deaths among women. That is more than all forms of cancer combined. What makes their cause even more worth fighting for, is than an estimated 80% of these deaths can be prevented by educating women on the symptoms of heart disease and stroke as well as preventative measures that can be taken. Go Red For Women’s mission is to provide information to females of all ages that has been acquired through gender-focused medical research and the stories of countless women that have been affected. The Go Red For Women initiative is led by a core group of local women, The Circle of Red, who are fully committed to the mission of the
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organization. Circle of Red members make a personal financial commitment along with volunteering their time and talents to the cause. Throughout the year, the Circle of Red organizes and attends events held within the community that benefit Go Red including; the Go Red For Women Luncheon in Utica (May 3rd), Go Red For Women Luncheon in Rome, National Wear Red Day and Arts for Heart. This past year, the Circle of Red was able to get over sixty businesses and organizations in the Greater Utica area involved with Landmarks Go Red by decorating their place of business in support of National Wear Red Day. Go Red For Women is not limited to involvement from women exclusively, Men Go Red is an extension of the initiative and is a group of men who are also dedicated to the fight against heart disease of women. One of the leading ladies in our area’s Circle of Red is Lauren Mattia of Utica, who works as a Senior Account Executive for Northland Communications. Lauren is a perfect example of someone who has been able to use her professional connections to gain the support of many local businesses that donate to Go Red. She started her volunteer work with the American Heart Association over twenty years ago, with her main inspiration coming from family experiences with heart disease and stroke. Lauren lost her grandmother in 1997 to heart failure and her father has undergone several heart operations that have affected his life dramatically. When speaking with Lauren, she pointed out that in past cases such as her grandmother’s, women were not educated on how to treat heart disease. The AHA’s research has changed that for the modern-day woman. One of the keys to fighting this disease is “Knowing Your Numbers”, meaning you must monitor and control your: Total Cholesterol, HDL (good) Cholesterol, Blood Pressure, Blood Sugar and Body Mass Index (BMI). Women should be requesting tests in each of those areas when visiting their doctor and ask about ways to improve their numbers if necessary. In many cases, cardiac issues are genetic but there are measures that everyone can take to better a dangerous situation. The four factors that women are in most control of are: eating a well-balanced diet, getting enough sleep, exercising regularly and lowering their amount of unnecessary stress. A common mistake made by women when it comes to heart disease or a stroke, is ignoring the symptoms. These issues present themselves in women with feelings of: fatigue, nausea, sweating, light headedness, back pain, neck pain, jaw pain, chest pain or tightness in the chest. It is important that anytime your body is not feeling right, to get checked out and not to take a chance in case it is something serious. Being a part of Go Red For Women is a gratifying experience for everyone who chooses to donate or volunteer. There are constant advancements in education as well as medical technology that serve as proof of the program’s effectiveness. Perhaps those who receive the most gratification are the volunteers who have suffered from heart disease or stroke themselves; women such as Mary Jane Tottey and Sarah Milograno, who have been dealing with heart disease for a number of years. They are committed volunteers and are members of Go Red For Women’s Survivor Class. The Survivor Class is made up of all women who have courageously dealt with
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and survived heart disease or a stroke. At this year’s luncheon, a new class of survivors will share their story and be honored by the organization. The ages of women in the Survivor Class range from twenty-one to ninety-one years-old. The luncheon serves as an opportunity to honor survivors as well as those who could not be saved but devoted their time and energy to the cause. Women such as Beth Boshart of Deerfield who passed away this past March at age fifty-six after surviving a heart attack in 2012. Or Chrissie Hughes who was totally blindsided by heart disease but survived a stroke and two open heart surgeries. She was deeply engrained in Go Red but passed away in 2014 at the age of forty. These two women are very special not only because they worked tirelessly to extend their own lives, but also to save the lives of others. Lauren Mattia will tell you herself that suffering losses of life such as Beth and Chrissie can make the life of a Circle of Red volunteer difficult at times. When you build a bond and a common goal with good people, it hurts to lose them. But in cases such as Sarah Milograno and Victoria Swider, two young local survivors, it makes all of the effort worthwhile. Lauren has had the privilege of seeing them grow from little girls to young women, living happy lives as a result of the great work done by groups such as AHA. Make no mistake, the women of the Circle of Red really care about the people they help. When I spoke to Lauren about Beth and Chrissie, she became very emotional, but stories of the survivors can just as easily put a smile on her face. The women involved with Go Red are the type of individuals who help mold us into the people we become, the kind that make our community special. They are focused on helping others in any way they can, even if they are in need themselves. A special thank you is in order to all of the members of the Circle of Red for dedicating their time, resources and relationships in the community to this great cause. For more information on how to get involved with the American Heart Association of the Utica/Mohawk Valley region, log on to http:// heartofutica.heart.org .
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In 1898, a Dutch immigrant by the name of Herman Piersma started a dairy farm in Marcy, NY. He had no idea that he planted the seed for one of today’s most recognizable and celebrated establishments in the Greater Utica area. On the farm, Herman and his wife, Minnie, had eight children; Pierre, Dora, John, Sidney, Elsie, Jacob, Nettie and Herman Jr. As each boy made their way through eighth grade, they were sent to outside farms to earn money for the family. John was the entrepreneur of the bunch and when he turned seventeen-years-old, decided to build a creamery on the family farm so that the Piersmas could pasteurize, bottle and sell their own milk on the premises. Prior to this development, the family had to transport all their milk to another farm by horse and buggy. In 1928, John created a door-to-door milk delivery business under the brand of Holland Farms (his brother Jacob had purchased a second family farm, which is where the name comes from). John’s natural business sense helped Holland Farms become one of the biggest milk distributors in the area; serving many of the local school districts, grocery stores and residences. One of his savviest practices was checking the daily newspapers for families with newborn babies. When a couple gave birth to a child, John would visit each of their homes and sell them his healthy vitamin D milk. On a below freezing day in December of 1933, John’s wife, Evelyn, started her first day as a milk delivery woman for the company. John and Evelyn each had their own routes and delivery trucks that made their way through Downtown Utica and into the outskirts of the city. Throughout the thirties, forties and early fifties, the business grew steadily. With four delivery men, working six days a week, John decided to take another challenging, yet shrewd, step with the business in 1955. He opened Holland Farms Dairy Bar and Bakery at “the triangle” in Yorkville. The bakery aspect of the business was unchartered territory for John at the time, but it was added as a result of John’s sponsorship of two Dutch bakers. The bakers prepared fresh goods daily that quickly became a local sensation, causing the business to expand greatly over the next decade. In 1966, John purchased Sal’s Barbeque at 50 Oriskany Boulevard, tore down the structure and built a new Holland Farms location, where the business resides today. In 1980, Evelyn passed away and John was left to run the bakery on his own. It was at this time that his two daughters, Suzanne Harrington and Marolyn Wilson, decided to step in and learn how to manage the business and continue the family legacy. Although he was seventy-three years old at the time, John was sharp as a tack and able to be a great mentor to his daughters as they found their way. The business’ growth in the eighties and nineties called for several additions onto the original structure to make room for increasing production. In 1996, John passed away but spent every day in the bakery until the very end. He would certainly be proud of what his daughters have done with the business. Suzanne and Marolyn aided the growth of Holland Farms in a multitude of ways. The business started as a small operation with just a few employees, but as of 2017, Holland Farms employs close to eighty people form the local area. They are constantly adding new products to their menu while continuing to make some of their signature products from scratch with quality and consistency (halfmoons, jelly buns, chocolate/vanilla fingers, etc.). Over the last twenty years, the monthly promotions created by Suzanne and Marolyn have been successful for the bakery and have provided customer favorites at a favorable price. In March of 2016 alone (March Moon Madness), Holland Farms was able to sell over 60,000 half-moons. With Heather Potrzeba, Suzanne’s Daughter, now working at the bakery, Holland Farms has become a business spanning over four generations. Another key contributor to the success of Holland Farms has been their great community involvement. All baked goods left over at the end of the day are donated to the Hope House, Veterans Outreach Center, Mother Marianne’s Westside Kitchen, the Rome Salvation Army and the Utica Salvation Army. They are involved in several other causes including the American Heart Association, of which Marolyn held a position as president of the board of the Utica/Mohawk Valley chapter. For more information on Holland Farms Bakery & Deli, log on to HollandFarms.com or call 315-736-6044. You can also visit their 50 Oriskany Boulevard location seven days a week.
14 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - April 2017
March 2017 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE
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18 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - March 2017
Building Dreams in Greater Utica
Roofing & Construction When doing business with the community you were born and raised in, there is an added sense of pride and enjoyment involved. There is something special about engaging in business with the people who share a hometown with you. In the construction industry, this is particularly true as you get the opportunity to work on houses and buildings you have seen your entire life. In some cases, you get to bring new life to structures that have lied dormant and as a result, businesses are formed and job opportunities are created. Being an owner also puts you in position to make a contribution to causes that help others. These aspects of local entrepreneurship are ones that Russell Pelli, owner of Northeastern Roofing & Construction says he values most. Russell has spent his entire life since birth in East Utica. As a young man, he attended college three days a week and worked the other three days for a local family’s construction business. It was hard work but a lot of good lessons were learned in the process and Russell was able to hone his future craft. In 1999, he created Northeastern and became his own boss. In the beginning, Northeastern was hired mostly for small repairs, but Russell gradually built an extensive list of clients. Eventually, the company gained the trust and experience to take on some bigger operations and their commercial business began to take off. Over the years, Northeastern has been hired to do jobs for large companies such as AutoZone, Family Dollar and Pizza Hut. They have also been called upon to do work for many local businesses, schools, churches and other nonprofit organizations. For both commercial and residential clients, the services offered by Northeastern include: roofing, construction, demolition, rebuilds, siding and gutters. They perform small jobs such as simple repairs or big projects such as full installations and restorations. They also remove hazardous chemicals and materials from within structures such as: lead, mold and asbestos. With Russell included, Northeastern has a staff of six workers that are lifelong Uticans and workers for the business. By maintaining the same staff, Russell says that Northeastern has been able to provide consistent quality over an extended period of time. Another signature of Northeastern is that their work requires no money down. Russell says he conducts business this way to ensure that the customer is happy with his company’s work and to give them the comfort of knowing he is going to follow through with every aspect of the job. Understanding how costly construction and roofing services can be, Russell says he prides himself on providing fair and competitive price quotes to his clients. One of Russell’s proudest accomplishments has been his acquisition of four deserted commercial properties that he was able to put back on the tax roll in East Utica. He says that the renovation of these buildings (one of which happens to be the house his grandparents lived in when emigrating from Italy), have allowed the structures to be purchased and used for local businesses, and soon, one will be occupied by a charitable organization. As far as making charitable donations of his own, Russell, a lover of boxers and bulldogs, has made financial contributions to multiple animal rights organizations through Northeastern and has paid for the adoption of multiple dogs. To set an appointment or make an inquiry on services provided by Northeastern Roofing & Construction call (315) 534-6118, visit NortheasternRoofs.com or check out their Facebook page. Russell and Northeastern want to thank everyone who has supported their business over the years and give a special thank you to his small business neighbors at N.J. Flihan Restaurant Supply Company and Caruso’s Café who have been advocating for East Utica for decades.
The Bantam Phantom
BUSHY GRAHAM by Brad Velardi
ve autoaltieri for sharing the abo Thank you to Dominick Gu m his cousin fro er ath given to his grandf graphed picture, that was Bushy Graham
Among the many tales of prize fighter’s past, there are some that seem too improbable to be real, too good to be true. Their battles inside the ring are often symbolic of the obstacles they have overcome on the other side of the ropes. In the world of boxing, one has to be prepared for and accepting of the fact that they have to take a beating, both literally and metaphorically, to get what they want. Becoming a champion means that a fighter must make a conscious sacrifice of body, mind and spirit on his/her path. There is a major difference though, between someone who wants to fight and someone who has to fight. When we observe the life of today’s boxers, it is one of rigorous training and sacrifice no doubt; but there is a great deal of money and glorification to be enjoyed in comparison to “the old days”. Boxing is today, as it always has been, a “poor man’s sport”, meaning; it is for some, the only plausible escape from poverty. Today, the ceiling is much higher for a great fighter; if they play their cards right and win a few key matches, they could wind up with multiple millions of dollars in their bank account. As for an early twentieth century fighter like Angelo Geraci, aka Bushy Graham, boxing was not an outlet used to achieve wealth initially, but instead, survival. Bushy Graham is one of, or at least should be, one of Utica’s proudest and most celebrated athletes of all time. His name is one you may have never heard, simply because a great deal of fighters come and go without their due respect. Their one hope at achieving immortality is to be inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame in Canastota. Unfortunately, or should I say inexplicably, Bushy has yet to be inducted into this museum that is less than an hour away from the city in which he was raised. His nephew, Phil Geraci has made countless attempts at securing his uncle a spot in the Hall, but to no avail. If the writing of this editorial ultimately falls short as well, we at the very least are honored to share and preserve the incredible story of Utica’s own, Angelo “Bushy Graham” Geraci. On June 8th, 1905, Felice and Rafaelina Geraci welcomed their eldest of eight children, Angelo, to the world in Calabria, Italy. They later nicknamed him “Bushy” in reference to his bushy head of
20 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - April 2017
hair. Shortly after Bushy’s birth, the Geracis became one of many families to emigrate from Italy to Utica, NY. Felice, a master shoemaker, was a hardworking man but like most immigrant families during that time, the Geracis struggled financially. As a teenager, Bushy was called upon to help provide for the household but there were limited employment opportunities for a teenage boy. In hopes of earning a few dollars, he and his friends would linger around the neighborhood athletic clubs. After watching some of the local fighters at the gym from outside the ring, Bushy and his friends were imagining what it would be like to put on those leather gloves. When the opportunity came for Bushy to step in the ring, he displayed his natural athletic ability. His fast hand speed and quick feet helped him develop a style that was very unorthodox for that time. Bushy was known for fighting with his hands at his sides at all times, almost never using them for defense. He once said, “Hands are made for punching, not blocking. If you’re kept busy blocking punches, you’ve got nothing left to punch with.” When he felt it was time to apply for a boxing license, Bushy was two years below the legal fighting age so he wrote his birth year down as 1903. His career would be fueled by two sources of motivation: providing for his family and becoming champion of the world. As is the case with most boxers from his generation, there is some debate as to when Bushy’s first fight took place. Tracy Callis, member of the International Boxing Research Organization claims that Bushy made his professional debut on November 8th, 1921 at the age of sixteen; he defeated Spider Ryan by decision in Utica. Bushy did not suffer his first loss until he faced military man Spike Sullivan in December of 1922, when he was defeated by way of knockout in the first round. The early loss to Sullivan proved to be a blip rather than a trend in Bushy’s career as from 1921 to 1923, he fought thirty-seven fights, winning thirty-three of them with just one loss and three draws. Bushy performed this relentless fight schedule throughout his entire career, bringing all the money he earned back home to his parents. With a healthy amount of experience under his belt, Bushy moved up to the Bantamweight class in 1924 and began taking on some of the top fighters of the era. The first of his notable opponents in 1924 was future champion and Hall of Famer, Frankie Genaro whom he faced twice; one bout resulted in a draw, the other in a loss. The results may have stung a bit, but they proved to be good learning experiences for the nineteen-year-old. Following the Genaro loss, Bushy took a three-month
absence (a long time for him) before his next fight on New Year’s Day of 1925, when he defeated Tommy Ryan. That year, Tex Rickard, Hall of Fame boxing promoter had released his first-ever list of the top-ten fighters in each weight class, ranking Bushy Graham as the #9 Bantamweight in the world. The Ryan fight sparked a winning streak of twelve straight bouts for Bushy; a stretch in which the Utica kid defeated Nat Pincus and Harold Smith at Madison Square Garden. Bushy’s defeat of Abe Goldstein (who had just lost the Bantamweight title) in July set him up for two classic battles against another Hall of Famer, Charles “Bud” Taylor. The first Graham-Taylor bout took place on July 31st, 1925 in Aurora, Illinois. After getting knocked down by a left uppercut in the first round, Bushy somehow survived, but lost by decision after ten rounds. Following the fight, Taylor was critical of Bushy’s cat-andmouse tactics in the ring, telling reporters, “He simply won’t stand up and fight and I’m tired of chasing those kind of birds all over the ring. It was an easy scrap for me.” Taylor, scoffing at the idea of a rematch, was unable to schedule a bout against Charley Phil Rosenberg, the opponent he truly desired to face. As a result, Graham-Taylor II was scheduled for August 25th in the Queensboro Stadium in Queens, NY. In front of a crowd of 6,267 fans, Bushy displayed his wit and quickness over twelve rounds of action. At multiple points in the fight Bushy even, “danced about with his hands down”, on his way to a very close victory by decision. As opponents struggled to get their gloves on the so-called “easy scrap”, Bushy Graham earned himself the nickname, “The Bantam Phantom”. In 1926, Bushy further solidified his place among the top fighters in the Bantamweight division. Tex Rickard released his second annual list of top-ten boxers, but this time, Bushy was ranked the #2 Bantamweight in the world. The only fighter ranked above Bushy was Bedford, Massachusetts native, Chick Suggs. After knocking off top contenders “California” Joe Lynch and Frankie Genaro in the first half of the year, Bushy was scheduled to face Suggs on September 2nd at Madison Square Garden. Bushy was able to go the ten-round distance with Suggs and won the fight by the judges’ decision. Although he ended the year with a loss to Hall of Famer Tony Canzoneri, Bushy’s track record was too impressive to ignore. On February 4th, 1927, Bushy got his first title shot against Charley Phil Rosenberg. The Graham-Rosenberg saga was a debacle from the start. At the weigh-in, Rosenberg stepped on the scale at 122 pounds, four pounds above the Bantamweight limit. The blunder forced Rosenberg to forfeit the title but the fight took place anyway, with Bushy losing by decision after fifteen rounds. Following the fight, the New York State Athletic Commission suspended both fighters as they had speculated there was an agreement between the Graham and Rosenberg camps to stage the outcome of the fight. There are several versions as to what
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happened with very few actual facts. Some believe Bushy and his manager were threatened by thuggish characters, which is not out of the question when considering the time period. A Classy Roaring 20’s Champ
By Philip B. Geraci of Picture for a moment the conditions this exciting era, a time that was characterized by innovation in manufacturing, home essentials, t. automobiles, air travel and entertainmen In the midst of the growth, hustle and an bustle of cities and towns, there was . influx of immigrants to the United States York New e Upstat Among the group of and new arrivals from Italy were Felice o. Rafaelina Geraci with their son, Angel As time moved on, the Geraci family master a was i expanded. Maestro Gerac shoemaker and eldest son Angelo hair) (nicknamed Bushy due to his bushy older took on greater responsibility as the es. famili large in brother customarily did the The jubilant times were tempered by simple life of the immigrant family. As with most families, the meager ed by earnings of fathers, sometimes buffer a few nickels and dimes the eldest son the could earn, separated the haves from few have-nots. Since jobs for teens were and Bushy days, and far between in those most of his friends hung around area t athletic clubs, sometimes earning pocke change. many with Boxing was a popular sport his top, or wanna-be top contenders from Upstate N Y hometown region. Teens crafty watched, admired and mimicked the asters. moves and style of upcoming ringm a and speed foot hands, Bushy, with fast applied seemingly natural pugilistic ability, was for a boxing license. His birth date in apparently predated by 2 years to 1903 age um minim order to meet the qualifications. Thus began the Bushy Graham story. a The challenge of being the eldest of family of eight siblings in a bilingual family necessitated an aggressive boxing schedule that would help support the Geraci family. His commitment to the d well-being of his family was often atteste his to by his siblings, my grandparents and ia. former ringside second, Allie Chanc 101, When I interviewed Mr. Chancia, age he bed, al hospit his in in February of 2007 , remarked, “Bushy made a lot of money cash but he had to take his suitcase full of His home to Maestro Felice, his father.” by ed buffer was t boxing prowess instinc “family first!” Soon moving into the pro ranks in 1922 start, at age 17, his career got off to a good but included a setback lesson that lasted
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m Graha Bushy did not return Bushy to the ring covered a Garden bout, succinctly . He was knocked out by decade a nearly “Last until March 22nd, 1928 when heandefeated expressing Graham’s illusive style: the former armed forces veteran Spike Sulliv night there was a ghost in the ring in he later, s month few A ber. an in Decem Joe Ryder by decision. He followed up that name of Bushy Graham.” In his freshm an decisioned Sullivan and did not suffer led and second year seasons, he compi m when . Graha victory anothe withr Kanother May 12th a decade O for nearlyon 37 his of 33 g imposing record, winnin only 2 stoppages in a career that g his sufferedout he knocked Pete Zivic in the bouts, with 1 loss and 2 draws. Amon hard,fourth spanned nearly 14 years. He trained victories, 14 were KO’s or TKO’s. with style boxing unique a ping with develo g round. One thing was clear: Bushy was Graham stepped up in class, clashin two hands down at his sides and agile some formidable opponents in the next back. footwork, often bounding off the ropes. years. During the 1924 and 25 boxing his bed descri Dad), (my Ralph r brothe title HisEbbets Field in Brooklyn, NY seasons, he tangled with future world ent . speed as being so fast that his oppon holders Frankie Genaro and Bud Taylor This in the ring.be looking for himwould would recent then (home of thebeDodgers) the over sive victory impres His ews. intervi other s with a was confirmed in variou former bantam king, Abe Goldstein, er who site for aOne May 23rd boutreport between Utica’s a NY sports quoted 20 & Other Sports Izzy Bushy Graham and Corporal World Boxing Schwartz (then featherweight champion) for the vacant Bantamweight Championship. Fifteen-thousand fans would be in attendance and the fight was broadcast across America,
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Canada and the leading cities of the world. It was a special night for the Geraci family, not only because of Bushy’s opportunity to become the champ, but also because his kid brother, flyweight fighter Frankie Graham, was on the undercard. In all the proud moments of Bushy’s career up to this point, one of its defining moments was captured by an excerpt from the May 24th, 1928 edition of the New York Times: “Bushy Graham, agile Utica Italian, is the world’s bantamweight champion this morning, and a pretty good titleholder at that.” Winning twelve out of fifteen rounds, Bushy dominated Schwartz, including a scored knockdown in the fourteenth that Schwartz was barely able to recover from. The World Championship belt was coming home to Utica, NY. From politicians to fellow fighters, Bushy received congratulatory telegrams from them all. When he returned home to Utica, there were parades and banquets held in his honor as crowds cheered for the Geraci family. Journalists across the nation sang of his praises
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Bushy Graham and Corporal Izzy Schwartz for the Batamweight Championship including Bill Smith, a highly-regarded boxing writer from the west coast, that stated, “B G looks like every boxing master that has ever come down the pugilistic pike. … The sensational bantam-phantom of the ring, will-o’-the-wisp … who set the Olympic fans batty with his speed and cleverness…has been compared to so many dazzling fighters of the past that soon he will be wondering whether he is Bushy Graham or a reincarnation of the warriors of the bygone days.” The greatest compliment of all came when Bushy was compared to his idol, Harry Greb (Hall of Famer), whose style was described as “a human windmill, punching from all directions.” In the August 1928 edition of The Ring magazine, writer Eddie Borden ranked Bushy Graham the #1 Bantamweight in the world. Jack Dempsey, easily one of the greatest boxers of all time, replaced Tex Rickard in ranking fighters in 1929 and had Bushy tied with Panama Al Brown as the #1 Bantamweight fighter. Dempsey wound up refereeing a bout between Graham and Johnny Farr in 1931 in which Bushy won by an eighth-round TKO. Following the fight, Dempsey referred to Bushy as “the greatest little fighter, pound-for-pound” he had seen. From 1929 to 1931, Bushy fought as a Lightweight and
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added a few more credentials to his Hall of Fame-worthy resume by beating Johnny Vacca and Hall of Famer, Battling Battalino. Of course, it was not all smooth sailing during that stretch as he lost two bouts to Battalino, one to Hall of Famer Fidel LaBarba and was disqualified in the seventh round against Kid Chocolate (a fight in which he was reportedly winning). From 1932 to 1935, Bushy fought just eight fights in four years but was victorious in all but one. In 1936, Bushy made somewhat of a comeback competing in nine bouts throughout the year. He won seven of the fights, lost one and one resulted in a draw. Out of the seven wins, three of them were against top-ten contenders: Pete Nebo, Eddie Zivic and Johnny Jadick. If Bushy’s status as a potential Hall of Famer was in question going into 1936, this final chapter of his career should have put him over the top. After a loss to Enrico Venturi in November of 1936, Bushy returned home for the last fight of his career. He knocked out Willie Hines in the second round and hung up his gloves for good. His final record according to the International Boxing Research Organization was 113 wins, 17 losses and 9 draws. Allie Chancia, Bushy’s ringside second described Bushy in his own words, “When he was ready, those two arms came up and bing, bang—punches would fly and his opponent knew it was about to be over….He was one of those guys. Once in a lifetime you see this kind of fighter!” Over the years, Bushy remained a fixture in the community after his fighting days were over; he owned an automobile business and co-owned Graham’s Poultry Stores. He did not distance himself from the sport completely as he managed several local boxers and was presented with mayoral proclamations for his achievements. Bushy contributed to several causes by making appearances at events and even taking part in charitable boxing matches with his brother Frankie. During the Great Depression, while his extended family and neighbors struggled financially, he paid out of his own pocket for coal deliveries to their homes. On April 12th, 1982, Bushy passed away at the age of seventy-six and was inducted into the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame in 1994. The City of Utica declared June 17th, 2009 - Bushy Graham Day - in honor of Angelo Geraci, a loyal son, the pride of Utica….the Bantam Phantom. Phil Geraci, Bushy’s nephew, continues his campaign to get
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his uncle inducted into the International Boxing Hall of Fame. He is willing to speak with anyone who has something to share about Bushy’s life that may be of use, and may even be interested in purchasing artifacts from his career. There have been several respected figures in the sport of boxing that have given testimonials supporting Bushy’s worthiness of a Hall of Fame induction: Tex Rickard (famed boxing promoter; boxing hall of famer), Carmen Basilio (former world champion in the welterweight and middleweight divisions; boxing hall of famer), Jack Dempsey (former heavyweight champion of the world; boxing hall of famer), Bill Gallo (writer for the New York Daily News), and countless newspapers and magazines. CEO and President of the National Boxing Association, Walter (Butch) Flansburg, said of Bushy, “Again, when a boxer reaches the top of the competition—top meaning the best of all contenders, that is certainly quite a feat. Obviously, few have achieved what Bushy Graham did and others like him—Champion of the World!” Bushy’s unique style made him a pioneer in the world of boxing. The flashy showmen of today and years past, owe a great
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debt to him for the example he set. His contributions to the sport of boxing go well beyond his impressive 139-fight record. Bushy was more than simply a Bantamweight champion, he was an ICON in the Greater Utica area. In a sport where fighters are often categorized by their hometown, Bushy was beloved by his city. A short while ago, I received an email from a fan of our magazine, a woman named Linda Crossley. In the email, she attached a letter written by her late father-in-law, John Crossley, that captures Bushy’s impact on the local fans. In the letter, John states: “I remember as a small lad seeing him train near the old Erie Canal bed across from Oriskany St. We lived near the railroad tracks in West Utica. There were a lot of mills around the area. I can see it – picture him training hard. Friends and I would sit on the boulders and watch. He was like a celebrity in those days to us. We said ‘we got a real boxer training right here!’ We were kids who didn’t have much and it was a real treat to see this famous boxer. If anyone is deserving of recognition, it’s him; Bushy Graham.” As much as Bushy represented boxing greatness and loyalty to family, he represented hope for a city of people who witnessed his amazing career unfold. If you believe, as we do, that Angelo “Bushy Graham” Geraci belongs in the International Boxing Hall of Fame, let your voice be heard. Write a letter to the Hall of Fame at: 360 N Peterboro St, Canastota, NY 13032 Attn: Ed Brophy and Hall Board of Directors. Let’s help Bushy achieve something he rightfully deserves: boxing immortality. (A special thanks to Phil Geraci for his assistance with this story and for excerpts taken from a centerfold article he wrote in “WORLD BOXING MAGAZINE” published by Tom Huff.)
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So many of us have sat at the table with our elders and listened to their stories of how Greater Utica used to be. I can remember my grandmother telling me stories when I was a young boy of how horses would travel the streets of the city. She went on to say how trolleys would find their way through city streets and the neighboring towns and villages. She told me about how the canal ran where Oriskany Boulevard is today. I wonder now if she could read the disbelief in my eyes as she told her stories. As a boy, it was hard to imagine; in fact, I truly believe if you asked me at the time, I would have said Nana’s (my grandmother) stories were all made up. When I would ask my grandmother for a nickel to buy a Popsicle, she would tell me that in her day, she could buy a loaf of bread for that price. To add to my disbelief, she would tell me how she would have to work at the Oneita Knitting Mill for less than twenty-five cents an hour. As a young child, I had no concept of inflation, I could only
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Horse carts traveling through Downtown Utica at Bagg’s Square . Looking east from Genesee Street onto Main Street. (Courtesy of the Oneida County History Center).
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relate to the value of my generation’s dollar. The stories continued throughout my life. I can remember my mom telling me when World War II ended, people were dancing in the streets of downtown Utica. Again, I couldn’t even imagine people organizing themselves on the fly to group together and celebrate. These were only a few of the many stories I heard. Who would have thought that long after Nana had passed on, as well as my mom, I would have found out that their stories were true? Or that I would have inherited my Nana’s old sewing machine and in the drawers, I would find her old pay stubs. Maybe when we have a little more space in the magazine, I can tell you about some of the other stories that were not fairytales but were simply the memories of a spectacular place called Greater Utica.
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Top: The Erie Canal passing through where today’s Oriskany Boulevard is located. Looking west to the Genesee St. bridge.
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Right: My grandmother’s pay stub from Onieta Knitting Mill. I am not sure if this is for one week or two.
As we move into the beautiful spring season here in the Mohawk Valley, Tom Aceti of Aceti’s Classic Gardens would like to take this opportunity to thank all his customers for the loyal support they have shown his company for over thirty years. It has been a true pleasure for Tom to take the visions of his customers and bring them to life through his customized work. Tom says he takes great pride in providing his services as it has been a family tradition for generations and he looks forward to facilitating your needs in the upcoming season. Landscaping has been the Aceti family trade since the early 1900s when Tom’s grandfather started his business. Tom’s father and uncle started a business of their own and hired Tom as a teenager to show him the ropes. He originally did the job just to help his family out and earn a few bucks as a youngster but found that he himself had a passion for the work. In the 1980s, Tom decided it was time for him to make a career and a business of his own. When he first started his company, he was able to absorb knowledge from his elders which helped him get through the infant stages. Tom now has over 40 years of experience in the field and still loves being outdoors, working with plants and using his creative ability to make customers happy. Aceti’s Classic Gardens still specializes in customized gardens and provide installation of all plants, lawns (sod or seed), walkways, patios, retaining walls, water features and ornamental gardens. They also provide maintenance services including spring and fall clean up, pruning, edging, mulching, lawn mowing, winter plant protection and snow plowing. To inquire on services provided by Aceti’s Classic Gardens, call 315-735-2206 or schedule an appointment to visit the nursery at 47 Clinton Road in New Hartford. For more information, log on to AcetisClassicGardens.com
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Oneida County History Center April 2017 Events **Programs are free and open to the general public** Saturday, April 1 at 1:00 PM— Sacred Places and their Dramatic Influence on Reform and Spirituality in New York State Madis Senner, author of Sacred Sites in North Star Country, Places in Greater New York State That Changed the World will discuss the unique and transformative places in upstate New York that helped shape the world.
Wednesday, April 12, 6:30-8:00 PM— 12th Annual Telethon on WUTR Join hosts Joe Kelly and Kelly Blazosky for the 12th annual OCHC Telethon broadcast LIVE on WUTR (ABC). Call 1-315735-3642 during the telethon to pledge your support .
Saturday, April 15 at 1:00 PM— Murder of a Herkmier County School Teacher Come hear the historic details on one of the most influential murder trials in the history of New York State. Author Dennis Webster utilizes unprecedented access to court documents to reveal details of this sensational crime.
Saturday, April 29 at 1:00 PM—The New England Invasion into New York Liz Covart, historian and host of Ben Franklin’s World: A Podcast about Early American History, will discuss the New England migration into New York State during the 18th and 19th centuries.
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April 2017 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE
WHY VICTORY CHRYSLER DODGE JEEP RAM OF ROME? • Recipient of Chrysler Customer 1st Award, 2 years in a row, in the TOP 10% of all Chrysler Dealers in the US. • Over 500 New & Select Pre-Owned vehicles always available in inventory. • Service professionals with over 150 years of combined experience and specialty certifications • Credit and Finance options available for all levels of credit worthiness. • Professional, knowledgeable sales staff.
So the REAL QUESTION is… WHY NOT?
5827 Rome Taberg Rd, Rome, NY 337-0512 www.victoryofrome.com