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February 2017 Vol. III Issue 3
Kelly O’Toole & her grandmother, Marge Stanton, on Albany Hill the weekend after the Blizzard of ‘66.
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Among all the negative aspects of snowstorms and blizzards, there are a few positive twists to keep in mind. Fridays and Saturdays aside, parents were able to watch their children kneel beside their beds and pray on the eve of a possible snowstorm. Important things were requested in their children’s prayers like, the snow plow guy over sleeping, or his truck not starting or maybe enough snow to cancel school. As for the kids that did not pray, there was the inside-out pajama. Finally, the “why take any chances kid” would pray while wearing inside-out pajamas. If the following morning’s snowfall posed a possibility of school cancellation, all kids countywide had their ears glued to their transistor AM radios. For all you youngsters asking, “What is a transistor radio?” Well, it’s sort of like an iPhone, only you can’t call anyone…..or play the songs you want…..or message anyone….. or take notes…..or go on the internet….. or play games or record anything. Looking back, long before everyone had a snow blower to combat a winter storm, growing up was a little different for many of us in Greater Utica and the surrounding areas. There was only one tool that was used to dig us out of a storm that winter dealt; the almighty shovel. Let me rephrase that, there was actually two tools that were needed; the other was an aching back from the last time you shoveled. Once you reach the age considered old enough (whatever that was) to shovel the white stuff, there were only two ways for a kid to report for duty: you either volunteered or you were drafted. Whatever way it was decided, the orders given to you called for the cleanup of any occasion consisting of snowfall; from a flake to a blizzard. If you ever wanted your parent to just say “yes” to something you wanted at State Street Mill with no argu-
ment, all you had to do was ask for one of those shiny red kid shovels. You know, the one’s with the cute snowman on the box display. If only they had all the warning labels that products have on them today, maybe a kid like me would have known better than to ask for one of those shovels. Then again, probably not, I would have never read the labels anyway. It is impossible to remember every time we have shoveled in our lives; however, the occasions that called for us to remove more than a foot of snow, stay pretty fresh in our minds. Like driving a car for the first time, you never quite forget shoveling after your first blizzard or major snowfall. On January 30th, 1966, there were no reports or signs to warrant a prayer vigil or inside out pajamas for a school closing; nonetheless, twenty inches of snow fell overnight in the Greater Utica area. It was coined, “The Blizzard of 66” and there have
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been very few storms comparable to it in the last century. The effects of the storm impacted almost all of the United States and Canada, east of the Rocky Mountains. All of New York state was pounded with snowfall; the city of Oswego was hit the hardest with over 100 inches from January 27th to the 31st. In the northeast part of the country, winds gusted at speeds as high as 58 miles per hour, the temperature in certain areas was as low as 26 degrees below zero. Nelson Rockefeller, Governor of New York at the time, authorized emergency deployment of snow removal equipment to Central New York as the conditions caused all sorts of turmoil. Babies were being delivered outside of hospitals, food had to be sent by parachute to homes out of walking distance of grocery stores. A report on February 12, 1966 stated that retail businesses in Downtown Syracuse were losing a combined $2 million per day during the blizzard. It was not all bad though, as the snowfall resulted in an estimated 300 million gallons of drinking water dropping into Skaneateles Lake. Back in Utica, Downtown would be better characterized as “Shutdown”, as just about every business and factory was closed for multiple days. The New Hartford Shopping Center was also closed for two straight days as four-foot drifts blocked the parking lot from being accessed. Any form of transportation aside from foot or snowmobile was just about impossible to fathom as the thruway and highways were all closed off. The city buses were thrown completely off schedule and the New York Central Railroad was forced to cancel multiple runs from Albany to Syracuse. All flights out of Oneida County Airport we cancelled on that Monday. Other closings and cancellations ran amuck throughout the area including shifts at all three General Electric plants, Bendix Avi-
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ation Corp and Griffiss Air Base. The Oneida County Welfare Department was forced to delay their monthly check issuing; the scheduled induction of military draftees from Herkimer County was postponed. Four upstate newspapers failed to release their publications on Monday afternoon. There was no mail delivery locally on January 31st, with sidewalks and driveways com-
James and Nielson St. Utica, NY Courtesy of the Oneida County Historical Center
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pletely unnavigable. It was reported that a number of hospital staff members had to stay overnight and it wasn’t until February 5th that the roads were cleared. There was so much snow removal over that period of time, that roughly one-third of Utica’s equipment broke down. Had the storm hit a week later, it would have likely cancelled a scheduled visit to Utica from U.S. Senator Robert F. Kennedy and New York City Mayor John V. Lindsay on February 6th. I remember it like it was yesterday. Looking outside from my second story window on the morning of the 31st, I didn’t need a cancellation notice over the radio to know all local schools were closed. Like many other kids I’m sure, all I wanted to do was go outside and see it up close with my own eyes. On a normal day, I would have been walking around the house like Frankenstein with the gout during my “before school” routine. But on this day, I was all refreshed and fully awake. Of course, this rejuvenation was nothing new after a school cancellation or as the day progressed when faking sick. After getting dressed, I hurried my way to the
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back door leading outside. I got to the door and could not get it open, it wouldn’t even budge a crack. The door didn’t have any windows so I could not see if there was a problem on the other side. After trying for another minute or two, I gave up and went back upstairs. I was not summonsed to duty that day, probably because I was only eight years-old. I remember watching people shoveling snow thinking of how much fun it looked like. Other than the occasional light flurry, I never did have an opportunity to shovel the real stuff in my life, but that was about to change. It was later in the day when I noticed that the house was empty, but before long, I concluded that everyone was outside shoveling. It was then I thought to myself, “What better time than now to give my little red shovel a crack at real snow.” Little did I know, I was about to have my first experience of a surreal moment. After opening the back door, now free to open with no effort, I fell witness to more snow than I ever saw in my life. In the short distance, I could hear my name being called, but from where? In what seemed like a real-life episode of “Where’s Waldo?”, my eyes finally focused in on my grandfather, chest high in snow. Little parts of my mom and the rest of my siblings where finally noticed in this sea of white as well. No, the snow was not really that deep and yes, we were a short family, but we were not munchkins. The blame was our driveway. In parts of east Utica, for some reason, they built the houses practically on top of each other. Many houses had special rights to use part of someone else’s property for a driveway. Our backyard was weird-shaped and intertwined into the yard of the house next door. Sometimes I wondered if we were having our family cookouts at our neighbor’s house. Our driveway was built for a Ford Model T so obviously, the architect had no idea that someday the homeowner would buy an enormous 1960 Impala. If our car ever died between the houses we would have been trapped for life. Under our driveway circumstances, there was nowhere to put the snow on either side, so we had to keep shoveling the snow to the front or the back. I know what you are thinking, “All that to explain why it was hard
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to see anyone in the snow?” Sorry, I tend to ramble on sometimes. I worked really hard that day, as much as an eight-year-old with a little red shovel could, anyway. I remember when we finally reached the end of the driveway; that pile of snow offered a lifetime memory. I didn’t realize at the time, but the city plow was to blame for a snow bank that stood well above my three-foot-something frame. Anyway, after seeing this, even an eight-year-old can get fed up and know when they want to pack it in.
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Just when all hope was lost, a nice man in a pickup truck with a plow attached stopped in front of our house. The man in the truck yelled out to my grandfather while pointing to the end of the driveway mountain, “You want me to clean up that mess for you?” To which grandpa yelled back in his Italian accent, “How much?” While the man was calculating a price in his head, I found myself praying again. Finally, the man yelled back “Five bucks!”. Okay, time for some candy bar math. In 1966, you could buy a candy bar for a nickel and this guy wanted 100 candy bars to clean up the end of our driveway? Was he nuts? Before I had the chance to turn my head toward grandpa with an expression of disbelief on my face, he was already waving “goodbye” to the plow man and off the truck went down the road. Apparently, my grandfather would have rather had 100 candy bars and leave me with an aching back, than pay the man $5. It turned out when we finally concluded shoveling, it took pretty much that whole day to clear it all. It felt great to get back into a warm house and to the dinner my grandmother had waiting. Looking back, the blizzard wasn’t all that bad; we worked together as a family on a common goal and it was sort of a great thing being barricaded in the house together, secluded from the rest of the world. We had no idea that the next day would offer a repeat of the same event; another day off from school and ten more inches of snow. Come to think of it, we didn’t even have to turn our pajamas inside-out.
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The City with heart Keeping Hope Alive
Beneath the hardships and darkness of life, lies something we all attach ourselves to in times of need. Something that, despite the heaviest loads we are asked to carry, both physically and spiritually, we rely on to keep us moving. When we look into our wallets and see that all of our money is spent; when we realize that a wrong in our life cannot be righted, there is only one thing we have left to lean on. What I am speaking about is not a tangible good, it cannot be seen or touched; it cannot be heard or spoken to, but as long as we have it, we always have a chance to break through. That one thing, is hope. Hope is something we all as human beings deserve, but often times, it is something we depend on others to provide for us. Pain and suffering is something all people can relate to although it comes in different forms for different individuals. In a lot of cases,
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the folks in need of the most hope, are the people we are taught to turn our backs on out of fear or disgust. Some of them are homeless, mentally ill, addicted to drugs or alcohol, or have trouble expressing their needs in a way we find acceptable. Although many of their struggles may be a direct result of their life decisions, they deserve hope as much as anyone else. It is this segment of our area’s population that has been served by Hope House of Utica for the past twenty-five years. It is a shelter for those with nowhere else to go during the day, providing them with meals they would otherwise, go without. Hope House not only offers food to eat and beverages to drink, but it also lends an ear and a voice to those in need of compassion. While the House does not provide a solution to the deep-rooted issues that lead its guests through the door, it does offer them some of the hope needed
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to change their lives. But without a core group of concerned citizens, the idea of Hope House would have never formulated. It was the early 1990s and our community, like so many others, had several concerns in need of attention. Low income neighborhoods across America were facing a number of new challenges. A small group of citizens under the name of the Human Development Committee of Blessed Sacrament Church in Utica congregated together for a meeting of the minds. The members gathered to assess some of the issues in the city, which due to a lack of human and monetary resources, had to be narrowed down to one cause. In order to know what the city’s most dire need was, the committee would have to feel the pulse of the community first-hand. As they toured the neighborhoods of the East and West sections of Utica, one glaring problem stood out above the rest. The committee made their way down Whitesboro Street near the Utica Memorial Auditorium and discovered a group of fifty to sixty homeless citizens living out of empty railroad cars, empty buildings or vehicles in junkyards. They were a mixture of young people with substance abuse issues, runaways, battered women and people evicted from their homes. There were also a large number of mentally ill individuals who were recently released from state hospitals and practically unable to care for themselves. The committee’s discovery prompted them to research this issue further by analyzing data in studies conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau and the Oneida County Department of Social Services. The information showed there was an increase in homelessness both near and abroad. It became evident to them that immediate action needed to be taken to ensure these people received a hot meal and temporary shelter. Father Fred Daley was the leader of the Human Development Committee as well as the head pastor at St. Francis de Sales Church on Eagle Street in Utica. It was Father Daley that reached out to the leaders of several local churches, in hopes they could become a part of the team that put Hope House together. One of the parish leaders Father Daley contacted was Reverend Kirk Hudson, interim min-
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ister at New Hartford Presbyterian Church. Reverend Hudson had recently left a parish in Midland, Michigan and was looking to transition into retirement closer to his family roots. When Father Daley asked Reverend Hudson if he and some of his parishioners wanted to take part in the effort, they obliged. When the Reverend and his church members from New Hartford arrived at the first meeting at Blessed Sacrament, the committee was convinced that the dream of a hospitality center was going to come true. Together, the committee met with Liz Hunter, owner and manager of the James Center Hotel on Whitesboro Street. They hoped to rent the space formerly occupied by the hotel bar to open the soup kitchen/day shelter and an agreement was reached. The place was in very poor condition when the committee took it over, but volunteers from several places of worship in the community helped clean it up. Inmates from the state prison also assisted in the efforts, which gave them a sense of pride. In Reverend Hudson’s book, “Hope for the Hungry”, he proudly recalls one inmate asking the Reverend to take his picture while stating “My mother has never seen my picture in the paper when there weren’t handcuffs and shackles on me. I want to send her a copy.” Some of the guards shared their carpentry talents as well. The story of Hope House is not only inspiring due to the incredible service it offered the community, but also because of the service the community offered to the House. So many volunteers and organizations played a positive role in its founding. The Mohawk Valley Psychiatric Center donated tables and chairs, Old St. John’s Church offered the use of a commercial stove and the
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Department of Public Works cleaned up the debris from the renovation. Some of the volunteers visited soup kitchens in Troy, Syracuse and Albany to learn how to efficiently run the House. In May of 1992, Hope House opened its doors thanks to countless volunteers and the Board of Directors which were: John Barnes, Bill Barrick, Alan Cronauer, Father Fred Daley, Jane S. Domingue, Joe Gimelli, Jane Gobel, Reverend Kirk Hudson, Joanne Melisko, Ed Nassimos, Frank Proper, Bill Thomas, Robert Williams and Sandra Wright. The name “Hope House” was chosen because the committee did not wish to attach a religious denomination to the organization. They wanted anyone and everyone to feel welcome. Hope House would be open to those in need seven days per week, serving meals, coffee and offering daytime shelter. It was not long before food donations came pouring in from citizens in the community, making Hope House an immediate success. The relationships between the volunteers and guests became strong as both parties found their way through this new venture. In a short period of time, they had gone through so much together and the guests were forming a bond together that extended outside the Hope House doors. Many of them had developed a “trust nobody” type of mentality while living on the streets and found it difficult to trust the intentions of the volunteers. But the staff members proved themselves by showing sympathy and attempting to understand the guests’ struggles. It became what Reverend Hudson described as a “family atmosphere”. Several difficulties arose in regards to the hotel’s financial situation, threatening the existence of Hope House in the process. When the building caught fire, causing water damage to the struc-
ture, there was no way possible the House could continue in that location. Prior to the fire, Father Daley and Hope House volunteer, Kevin Mahoney, had been working vigorously to help improve the conditions of the Corn Hill neighborhood surrounding St. Fran-
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cis de Sales Church. Their dream was to open a medical facility to accommodate the people of the neighborhood and when a former funeral home on Eagle Street came up for sale, it appeared to be a possible destination. The asking price for the funeral home far exceeded their budget and extensive negotiations took place. They went on for so long, the owner and Kevin Mahoney became good friends with one another. When Hope House burned, Kevin and Father Daley realized that the funeral home would be the perfect place to reopen and serve the people of the neighborhood. The owner wound up selling the home to the organization for less than half of the original asking price and the Utica Rotary supplied the money for the down payment. Hope House opened at 130 Eagle Street, its current location, and began serving more people in need than ever before. With a new neighborhood came new regulars, which brought upon a familiar challenge for the volunteers. They had to once again gain the trust of the guests, something that Father Daley was able to assist with greatly. Many of the volunteers were coming from the suburbs and were unknown to the visitors, but Father Daley was well known in that community. While living at St. Francis, he would walk the streets at night, realizing some of the things that were happening and he took action. He would call out the landlords of broken down properties, demanding that they be renovated or razed, as many of them would become hubs of criminal activity. He cared about the people in his neighborhood and knew they deserved a better quality of life than what they were receiving. That is why the visitors of Hope House trusted and respected him. Today, twenty-five years removed from its inception, Hope House has served well over one-million meals to people in our community. They have offered daytime shelter to countless people, not just helping them survive, but giving them a chance to feel love and hope. John Madej has been the Executive Director for the past year and in that little amount of time, has been witness to some incredible things. It still amazes him every day when he shows up to open the doors and new boxes of food have appeared from donators. The generosity of our local people can be summed up with a quote that John says Hope House lives by, “We don’t believe in miracles, we rely upon them.” Meaning, the miracles that you, the people of the Greater Utica area perform, keep Hope House alive. The efforts of our citizens are not done in vein, there are several success stories that come from Hope House. John himself has taken a visitor with addiction issues to a treatment facility for added support and the young man has been clean ever since. Another visitor was diagnosed with cancer and did not have the funds
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4609 Commercial Dr New Hartford, NY 13413 (315) 736-3023 for both food and chemotherapy treatments. Hope House provided him with three meals a day so that he was able to get chemo and he is now in remission. There have been so many visitors over the years that have been able to straighten out their lives and give back to the House by volunteering their services. Who could better understand the plight of a visitor than one who was once been in their shoes? These individuals personify what the House is all about and are a true testament to the power of hope. The local businesses in our area have been great contributors as well. Local grocery stores provide large food donations for the House and several bakeries send loaves of bread. Holland Farms specifically brings up to thirty boxes of donuts to the House two to three times per week. Citizens donate mittens and hats to keep the visitors warm in the winter time and the House gives away free toiletries on the third Thursday of each month. Folks from Reverend Hudson’s former parish in Midland, Michigan send monetary donations, some people from our community even give a portion of their retirement and estate to Hope House. That is how strongly people believe in the cause. Thanks to the great supporters of Hope House, the organization will be celebrating their 25th anniversary by breaking ground on a new facility on the corner of South and Steuben Streets in Utica. The building is newly renovated and has twice the seating capacity of the Eagle Street location. Prior to my visit to Hope House in January, the last time I had stepped foot in the building was in 2004. I, along with my fellow Confirmation classmates, worked at the House for the afternoon and there are three things I will never forget about that day. One, was the gratitude shown to us by the visitors for our service to them. There was a certain level of irony attributed to that scenario because, here I am, a kid that had been blessed with so many things in life and I am being thanked by individuals who had nothing but the hope the House was giving them. The second thing I remember, was the gratification I felt when helping these visitors, even though the only donation I made to them was my time. The third and perhaps most important thing that will always be on my mind, is watching the regular volunteers doing the work of saints. Knowing that if someday, God forbid, I, or someone I love, is in need of this kind of hope, there are people out there to serve us. For more information on Hope House, log on to HopeHouseUtica.org or call them at 315-793-3723. If you know someone in need of their services, they can visit the House at 130 Eagle Street in Utica.
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Most professionals in the culinary field would say that cooking or baking “is in your DNA”, it is not something you have control over. Although many times that expression is used in a figurative way, with Alyssa Sadallah, owner of Wicked Sweets in Yorkville, it has a literal meaning. For years, Alyssa’s entire family has made a living in the local food industry, so it was only natural that the family trade was calling her name. Like many local business owners we have learned about in months past, Alyssa tried to veer from her childhood aspirations, but wound up exactly where she belonged in the end. Originally, Alyssa enrolled at Utica College with the intentions of becoming a school teacher. During her time at UC, she decided instead to become a business major and began experimenting with baking cakes and different sweets for friends and family get-togethers. From watching baking shows on television, she realized that customized cakes were becoming a trend and there was a high demand for that service. Upon request, Alyssa created a wedding cake for one of her best friends and that was the turning point of her business. Word got around fast and Alyssa saw that there was a potential to make a living in the profession she enjoyed most. With a desire to expand her knowledge and capabilities, Alyssa decided to forgo a career in teaching and became a student at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts in Orlando. She entered the baking and pastry making program, which offered her a great internship opportunity at the Pinehurst Resort in North Carolina. At Pinehurst, Alyssa helped in food prep for events that occurred throughout the entire resort, which includes a banquet facility that fits five-hundred people. Needless to say, this experience was crucial in preparing Alyssa for her future in business. In 2016, Alyssa was able to move her business, Wicked Sweets, from her home to a remote location in Yorkville. Wicked Sweets offers just about every type of dessert-like treat one can think of. Alyssa bakes everything fresh daily, from cupcakes and muffins to cookies, cakes, cheesecakes, tarts and countless others. The product line at Wicked Sweets was developed as a result of Alyssa’s formal training and natural creativity. There are pairings of different flavors that are distinctive, but cleverly done. A couple of examples would be her strawberry cheesecake muffins and the blueberry/lemon brownies. Then you have the genius invention of the Oreo chocolate chip cookie, which is so good, it should be illegal. Customers can always enjoy a gourmet mini pastry with their choice of regular or Turkish coffee, which is strong but delicious. A couple of weekdays to watch out for specifically would be Wednesdays and Fridays. On Wednesdays, Alyssa prepares her French macarons, which she has become well-known for over the past year. On Fridays, you can order a “Drunken Cupcake”. One example would be the Irish Car Bomb cupcake which includes; Guinness in the cake, Jameson whiskey in the chocolate mousse and Bailey’s Irish Crème in the buttercream. Alyssa has continued to hone her skills as a custom cakemaker and has made the visions of many different customers come alive. Whether the theme of choice has been for a children’s party, a wedding, anniversary or any other type of event, she has gotten it done. You can customize your order by choosing from different flavors of cakes, fillings and frostings. Alyssa also offers catering services for any event that include all products sold in the store and others by request. For more information on Wicked Sweets, call 315-864-8124, visit their Facebook page or stop by the store located at 12 Erie St. in Yorkville.
GREATER UTICA 20
Legends Never DAllenie“Chiz” Frye by Brad Velardi
In amateur sports, there are certain people whose names are forever linked to the area in which they competed. More frequently, we find this to be true with coaches rather than players. The reason for this, in my opinion, is that rosters change every year; players come and go, opening the door for a new group to carry the torch. The one, long-term constant in any successful team at the amateur level is its coach or “the face of the program”. When we think of Syracuse basketball, it is Jim Boeheim’s name we bring up first; for Alabama football its Nick Saban, or even Paul “Bear” Bryant. Yes, there have been a number of great players who planted their flags at these institutions, but it is the teachers of these young men who guided their growth. At the high school and college levels, these coaches take on a role that is much more significant, on a personal level, than that of the professional ranks. Their task is to take a boy/girl and help them understand what it takes to be a man/woman. When properly executed, sports can act as an extension of the classroom, providing an education that cannot be duplicated in any other area of life. Similar to a classroom, the caliber of a player’s education lies largely on the skills of their instructor. One of the great teachers of sport in our area’s history carries a name that is synonymous with his former stomping ground. That man was Allen “Chiz” Frye, and his life will forever be celebrated in all Whitesboro Central Schools. Chiz established a standard of excellence in three different sports programs at Whitesboro High School. His track record with the Whitesboro Warriors, with all due respect to the other great local coaches we have seen, is unmatched. He coached during a time when local high school clubs were the most beloved teams within a community, far more than the profes-
sionals. Chiz was not a native of the area, in fact, his story begins in a small town about ninety miles north of Utica. Allen Frye, son of Fred and Louise Frye, was born in Brownville, NY in 1908. Fred was the superintendent of a local paper mill, while Louise was a homemaker. The family lived on farmland, just north of Watertown with the Black River running through their backyard. Allen always loved sports growing up; football, basketball and baseball specifically. He played for the school teams at Glen Park-Brownville High School, and excelled at each game. Allen was particularly great at basketball and when he graduated, attended one postgraduate year at Manlius Prep School in DeWitt, NY. At Manlius, Allen continued to distinguish himself as a great sportsman. One local newspaper stated that he was “one of the best athletes who ever attended the Manlius School.” Although he was also a member of the baseball team, Allen’s skills on the basketball court helped Manlius capture the national championship during his one-year tenure at the school. After prep school, Allen decided to go to Cortland Normal School, where he met Dorothy Ryan, who he married in 1932. He eventually became captain of the basketball squad and earned the “Outstanding Basketball Player Award” before graduating in 1931. His accomplishments in athletics earned Allen an induction into the Cortland State Hall of Fame in 1981. After building an impressive athletic resume as a player, Chiz had instant credibility as a potential coach and was hired at Whitesboro High School in 1931. He took on the roles of physical education instructor and coach of the football, basketball and baseball programs. There was a lot of promise behind the hiring of such a talented former player, but it is doubtful that anyone anticipated the dominate reign that Chiz led across four decades. While at Whitesboro, Chiz coached the baseball team from 1931-1954, the basketball team from 1931-1956, and the football team from 1931-1965. From the very beginning, Chiz built great teams in both football and basketball as he never settled for medioc-
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rity. Regardless how good his teams were in the previous year, he always looked for ways to get a leg-up on the competition. In the early days of the Central-Oneida League, there was a lot of pride at stake as each of the area’s high schools squared off against each other during a six-game season. It was during the 1930s that the Whitesboro-New Hartford rivalry was born. Coaching these teams was no part-time job for Chiz. His son, Dick (born in 1933) remembers just how much time and dedication went into Chiz’s preparation throughout the year. He recalls his dad taking annual trips to Lake Placid during the summer, where he would watch workouts conducted by the Philadelphia Eagles. Chiz even took his coaching work home with him in many ways, including meeting with Coach Benjamin from New Hartford to create scouting reports of teams they faced. During those days, there was no game film, and so opposing coaches relied on each other’s advice. Although
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many of them had friendships off the field, those feelings quickly dissipated at game time. By working this form of overtime, Chiz became an innovator of local high school football in many ways. Legendary Notre Dame football coach Frank Leahy wrote a book on the “T formation” in the 1940s, a concept no one in our area was using at the time. Chiz read the book from cover to cover and took the league by storm as opposing defenses had no idea how to stop it. His dedication to basketball was no different as his prowess as a player translated beautifully to the coaching ranks. The makings of a great coach are measured by more than his/her overall record, but even if one judged Chiz Frye solely on his win and loss totals, he would still be one of the best ever. The glory years of the football and basketball programs at Whitesboro were, without question, 1948-1952. Over that four-year period, Chiz’s football teams lost just two games and went undefeated three times. In the 1949 season, Chiz’s Warriors gave up a total of six points throughout the entire year! In 1951, the team allowed just nineteen points over the course of the season and they were all given up in the same game. The one team that was able to finally break Whitesboro’s winning streak was, ironically enough, Cortland High School. If the state tournament existed in those days, one would assume that Chiz would have several titles in his possession, nonetheless, his teams did win Section III multiple times. It is also worth mentioning that Chiz’s Warriors went undefeated in two separate seasons prior, in 1938 and 1942. For a relatively small school, Whitesboro held their own against the biggest schools in the Central-Oneida League. During the same period of 1948-1952, the Warriors’ basketball team was even more dominate, posting an overall record of 79-3. They won the Section III title three out of four years and went undefeated in the 1951-52 season, winning all twenty-three of their games. At one point during those memorable years, the Warriors won forty-one straight games and reigned supreme over their entire class. In all the years he coached basketball and football, Chiz’s teams only had two losing seasons in each sport. His career record as a coach was 362-121 in basketball and 157-55 in football. Chiz clearly had a wealth of knowledge in these sports, but there is only so much X’s and O’s can do for a coach. The level of his success begs the question, “What was it REALLY that made Chiz Frye such a great coach?” That question can be properly answered by a simple statement from Chiz’s son, “He knew the kids.” As a young boy, too young to play organized football at the time, Dick Frye was a self-proclaimed “mascot and water boy” for his dad’s teams in the early to mid-40s. He got to witness just what made his father so special in the eyes of the young men he led onto the field
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of play. Chiz showed those kids more than how to throw a ball or how to make a tackle, he knew exactly how to bring the best out of them. As the physical education teacher of the high school, Chiz got to know all of students outside of the sports they played. He was not just focusing on their potential as athletes, he was successfully understanding what motivated them. One example of Chiz’s motivational techniques took place with a student on the track team named Brian. As a nervous Brian prepared himself mentally for his next turn in the broad jump, Coach Frye approached and asked him, “How far do you have to go?”, to which Brian replied, “Nineteen feet, ten inches.” Chiz then said, “Oh, there’s no way you can do that!” Brian’s nervousness turned to sheer anger as he stepped up to the sandbox and exceeded the distance needed to win. That was an example of Chiz’s ability to read people, he knew exactly how to get the most out of a kid. Coincidentally, Dick married Brian’s sister later in life. There was another side of Coach Frye that Dick was able to see during his mascot days. He saw how Chiz interacted with the players in life situations; how he developed what Dick calls “a closeness” with them that you do not see as much nowadays in youth sports. Some of the great memories Dick has took place during the World War II era. Many people went without cars during that time as the war had forced a rapid decline in the production of motor vehicles. Chiz had an old green Pontiac that would be jampacked with kids from the football team getting a ride home from practice. Although they probably did not know it at the time, their relationship with Coach was becoming something they would never forget. Chiz was not the kind of coach that played favorites either, he was fair to everyone. Dick takes great pride in the fact that, even players that sat on the end of the bench and barely ever played, have stories they love to share about his dad. No one got the “star treatment” we see given to so many athletes today. In the modern world, coaches have a much shorter leash in terms of disciplining their players. That discipline not only gives coaches a chance to help the players mature, but it builds a common respect between the two that often translates into success. One thing he always stood for, even more than winning games, was teaching his players good sportsmanship when representing the blue and white. Chiz’s influence on the kids went beyond the sport they played and lasted far longer than their high school careers. He had a genuine interest in their development as people. Many of Chiz’s former players had careers in the military. Whenever they came home to visit, they made it a point to stop at the Frye household to sit down and talk with Chiz. He was a mild-mannered kind of guy you could go to for life advice; they respected him and considered him a friend. He inspired many of his former players and students to take up a career in physical education; some of them came back to Whitesboro High School and assisted in coaching his teams. They just loved being around Chiz. That sentiment was shared by the entire Whitesboro community; his ears and voice were not limited to just athletes and coaches. Chiz’s level of excellence as a coach can only be paralleled by his greatness as a dad. From the time he was born, Dick would spend night and day with his father, something he cherishes so much more today than he did at the time. He was lucky enough to be coached by his dad in football, basketball and baseball during the week, while on the weekends they would do a bunch of other activities such as
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skiing and playing tennis. They even spent a lot of time together in the summer as Chiz was the playground director. Today, Dick has been gifted with the reflection of everything his dad accomplished at Whitesboro; a school where Dick’s son, Mark, is now vice principal. On October 12th, 1968, Chiz passed away at the age of sixty, after years of heart trouble. Over the years, he has been inducted into several halls of fame including: Whitesboro Alumni Hall of Fame (1969), Notre Dame Hall of Fame, Utica Olympics Hall of Fame (1979), Cortland State Hall of Fame (1981) and the Greater Utica Sports Hall of Fame (1992). There was a time when the name Allen “Chiz” Frye was recognizable to high school and college coaches across New York state. He left behind a storied career in coaching, but he would be the first to admit that none of it would be possible without the community that embraced him. Whitesboro was great to Chiz; they always supported the teams he coached and treated him with kindness and respect. If one needed evidence of the town’s love for their coach, look no further than this poem written by a sixteenyear-old Whitesboro resident following his death: “In Memory of Allen G. (Chiz) Frye” by Barbara Jean Carrock So far in my life. I have met many. Some worth a dollar,
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February 2017 Events **Programs are free and open to the general public** Saturday, February 4, 1:00-3:00 PM— The Crisis in Black Education Join the Utica/Oneida County Branch NAACP for their annual Black History Month Program. The national theme for 2017 focuses on the crucial role of education in the history of African Americans. This program will include guest speakers, poetry recitals, dance presentations, musical performances, and more. For more information please call (315) 796-2512.
Saturday, February 11 at 1:00 PM—A Soldier’s Journey Through the Heart of the Park
Some worth a penny. But there came a day Which I’ll never forget Dad went golfing with A man I’d never met. A shepherd of victory? A shepherd of success? A shepherd of sportsmanship? The answer was “yes.” A Sunday dinner He spent with our family. I got to know him better, He was a real treat to see. A perpetual smile Adorned his face. I knew of no one, Who could take his place. Dad called him Chiz. Mom called him Al. Brother called him Coach. And I called him My Pal. The coach loved people. And people loved him. Now how could that be possibleIn a world full of sin? But there he always was With a helping hand People could tell him their problems. They knew he’d understand. But one day in October, An event took place. His heart stopped beating, All the blood drained from his face. His life was ideal He set his standards high Oh dear God, Why did my friend have to die?
Take a whimsical and sentimental journey through the Adirondack Park in the 1940s with John Taibi. Taibi will use period photographs to tell the story of his father’s trip from Utica to Lake Placid on the New York Central Railroad (today the Adirondack Scenic Railroad).
“French Louie,” born Louis Seymour, is a well-known character in Adirondack folklore. Louie, an eccentric hermit who resided in the wilderness of the West Canada Lakes region during the late 1800s and early 1900s, spent most of his life as a guide, trapper, and woodsmen, and only came to town once or twice a year. Regional historian Peter Hemmerich will discuss Louie’s life and travels.
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I only knew him For just a short while. But he was a man For whom I’d walk a mile. In 1973, the Whitesboro Central School system dedicated their football stadium to a well-deserved man. To this day, the Warriors football team plays their games at “Chiz” Frye Field. There is no doubt they made him proud this past season, when they added yet another Section III championship banner to their gymnasium under long-time great head coach, Tom Shoen. The dedication of the stadium brings me back to a day in my early teens. As a kid from Utica, I would visit cousins of mine that lived in Whitesboro and we would play sports throughout the entire day. I recall an afternoon when we made our way to the stadium and
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869 BROAD ST. UTICA I asked my cousins, “Who is ‘Chiz’ Frye?” They explained to me that he was once a successful coach at the school, but at that age, I did not think much of it. It has been more than ten years since that day at the stadium and it still bears Chiz’s name, as it always will. I can’t help but think about the fact that a whole new generation of kids have grown up since then, and they too, know the name, “Chiz” Frye. With that in my conscience, I am reminded of a quote from one of my favorite sports movies, “The Sandlot”. In the scene, one of the main characters, Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez, is visited by Babe Ruth in a dream. Before leaving Benny’s room, the Babe tells him: “Heroes get remembered, but legends never die.” Here’s to a legend; Allen “Chiz” Frye.
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Creating Images In Greater Utica The circumstance of an individual does not have to define them. What defines a person is their ability to overcome and capitalize on the positive. There are exceptional people who are able to find inspiration and motivation within themselves, even in the most challenging of situations. They take risks and find opportunities in life. These risks and opportunities help create something they are proud of and inspire others to do the same. They have a constant appetite for something better and always strive for improvement. Howard Potter, co-owner of A&P Master Images is one of these individuals. He is a person who chose not to allow his past to dictate his future. As a small child, Howard was raised by his mother and father; his father, a military man and veteran of Desert Storm. Although he and family relocated many times, Howard describes this period of his life as “very happy”. When Howard’s parents separated and Howard went to live with his mother, his living situation became very complicated, resulting in him running away several times. At age eleven, Howard was placed on the Person In Need of Supervision (PINS) program and was given the option of either returning home, or taking residence at the House of the Good Shepherd. Howard chose the latter, a decision that would put him in position to improve his future. From ages eleven to seventeen, Howard lived on the House of the Good Shepherd campus and accomplished things many people believed were not possible. By age sixteen, he saved up $4,000 from working and became the first child in the history of the organization to purchase his own car. At seventeen, he entered MVCC’s bridge program where he came within three credits of his college degree before taking full-time employment with Revere Copper and Brass. During this time, he completed his BOCES certification in graphic design. Until he was laid-off, Howard and his girlfriend (now wife), Amanda, were making a great living for themselves. A couple years later, Howard returned to Revere and started a business of his own on the side, mostly as a hobby. Howard was using his graphic design background to make promotional items for various businesses out of his home. The A&P Master Images name was born. When his daughter was diagnosed with a rare disorder, he realized that potential hospital visits made self-employment a necessity. For the next four years, the business became more of a way of life than a hobby and Howard was able to build up enough clients to take on A&P full-time. He began purchasing equipment for his home office. Just before Howard moved to his first location in the Yorkville Plaza, he had $80,000 worth of machinery in his house, a home that was worth about $60,000. Within a couple years, Howard quadrupled the original size of his Yorkville location before purchasing his current building at 205 Water Street in Utica in 2013. Since its inception, A&P Mater Images has grown at a staggering rate, priding itself not only on customer service, but a wide variety of promotional services. Among the list are: screen printing, embroidery, graphic design, sublimation, laser apparel and vinyl graphics. With access to over 4,000 manufacturers and wholesalers, A&P offers over 700,000 different promotional products that have helped in branding many local businesses. The various machines used in-house at A&P allow clients to print their logo or message on just about any surface imaginable. Howard and his wife, Amanda use their expertise in the business to constantly improve the quality level of the product. They are 2 out of 1,024 people in their field to have obtained an Advertising Specialist Degree. Now that he is in a position of success, Howard loves being involved with children’s groups across the area. He now has the chance to share his life experience to help the kids realize that they can turn a negative situation into a positive if they work hard enough and make the right decisions. To contact A&P Master Images, call (315) 793-1934 or visit their showroom at 205 Water Street by the Utica AUD. For more information on their services, log on to MasterYourImage.com
By Dominick Velardi
Thank you to our Facebook friend Bonnie Croft Lee for sharing these 3 top pictures of Baker Ave. - 1947. Be sure to join our Facebook page for a lot of great coversation and shared pictures - www.facebook.com/greaterutica Who hasnâ€™t done this before in Greater Utica? All of us have pushed a car or two. This photo was orginally B&W and we colored it to be our cover page this month but it was replaced by the present one. This is looking south from where the state building would be today.
Courtesy of the Oneida County Historical Center
The picture is from sometime in the 1940s.
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This is another B&W photo that we colored it was taken circa 1936. We are looking west down Bleecker St. to Busy Corner. Hotel Utica is in the background.
Picture: Greater Utica Magazine Collection
Courtesy of the Oneida County Historical Center
Above: Oneida Square- Soldiers & Sailors Monument. Right: A photo of two children and their dog between two snowbanks - Old Faxton Hospital is in the background.
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Courtesy of the Oneida County Historical Center
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Published on Jan 26, 2017
This issue is about the Blizzard of 1966 in the Greater Utica Area. It is also about Whitesboro's Allen Chiz, the Hope House and a pictorial...