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Contents September 2017 THE COVER STORY

T. R. Proctor High School 5 Windows of Opportunity

Up on the Hill 17

Until Death Do Us Unite

GU Coupon Pages 24 & 25 Featured Businesses

Max L. Cowen Student Stores/Print Shop Page 22 Dustin Jones Golf Academy Page 27 Maria Christina’s School of Dance Page 28 John L. Matt Funeral Home Page 38

Center Stage at the Stanley Page 29 Campus Inn 31 Bill & Mary’s Place

Surviving the Times: 40

The Capitol Theatre 40

Web: email: Phone: 315-316-7277 Facebook: September 2017 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE 3



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T.R. Proctor High School Windows of Opportunity by Brad Velardi

Utica, NY, like many comparable villages and cities, was booming throughout the nineteenth century and into the first quarter of the twentieth. At the close of the 1920s, perhaps the most prosperous decade in American history, the nation’s people were blindsided by a financial crisis; the likes of which we have not seen since. The stock market crash of 1929 flipped the entire world upside down and for cities like Utica, it was the first time in their short history they had ever experienced a drastic economic downturn. In hindsight, we realize the world’s economy was able to absorb the blow, but for those that lived through this trying time, there was no hope in sight. In a city that had been the perfect microcosm of American industrialization, many of Utica’s citizens were now unemployed and homeless. Like the rest of the country, they were in need of a new life or a “second breath,” if you will. President Franklin D. Roosevelt and his administration devised a plan to resuscitate the United States and some of the most celebrated and recognizable pieces of our city’s history are a direct result of his largest New Deal agencies. One of those institutions is the lone surviving public high school in Utica and a building in which many patrons have spent the best years of their lives; Thomas R. Proctor High School. Over time, Proctor High School has evolved immensely in

almost every way imaginable; its structure has gone through several changes, its cultural make-up has shifted with the city’s population and it even converted to a middle school for a period. Its most defining characteristics have remained intact and the school continues to graduate hundreds upon hundreds of the area’s children every year. It has produced some incredibly successful individuals over the years, from World Series and Super Bowl champions to the Chief Executive Officer of a Fortune 500 company. From the Panthers to the Raiders, the school on Hilton Ave remains, “dear old Proctor High”. It’s Origins The Depression could not have come at a more promising time for the City of Utica; its population exceeded 100,000 in 1930, an all-time high at that point. With the constant increase in city patrons, the enrollment at Utica Free Academy continued to soar and in 1930, the school was conducting two separate sessions to accommodate an enormous enrollment for the second time in its history. Although the school’s Kemble Street structure had been doubled in size just a short time before, it simply could not sustain its student body of roughly 5,000. Utica’s need for a second high school became more than a matter of opinion, at this point, it was a fact. That same year, the school board purchased a large tract of land in East Utica bounded by Hilton and Tilden Avenues, Eagle Street and Armory Drive. By this time, the effects of the economic




disaster had taken a major toll on the city; factories all over town ing of the school along with construction plans. It was reported that were temporarily closing their doors, some permanently. Some efthe citizens of Utica were showing “unusual interest” in its progress, forts were made to counteract the rising unemployment rate, but the as a great number of people would visit the construction site daily. inauguration of President Roosevelt on March 4th, 1933 was a turnThe city had never seen a school site so massive; the structure was ing point. Just months after Roosevelt took office, New Deal agencies to be 4,395 feet by 250 feet with the plot of land on Hilton Avenue began establishing themselves in Utica; the first being the National totaling more than 15 acres. The steel-frame, fireproof building was Recovery Administration (NRA). to be comprised of red colonial brick with Indian limestone trim and The NRA called for regulation of hours and employment granite door and window sills. from numerous businesses with the sole objective of providing more Only the main part of the building would be constructed opportunities for more citizens. The administration was a massive in time for the doors to open in 1936 due to a lack of funds, but the success; so much so, that despite being deemed unconstitutional by plans called for a wing on each of the building’s four corners. Of the Supreme Court in 1935, many local business owners followed its those wings, the only one contracted to be built was on the eastern regulations voluntarily. Starting in December 1933, the Civic Works end and would contain the building’s heating and power plant. Two Administration (CWA) provided a great deal of federal funding to of the three remaining wings were to house gymnasiums; one desigthe city that increased employment opportunity. In the spring of nated to male students and the other to females. The final wing would 1934, the CWA assigned workers to remove unnecessary railway eventually become the school auditorium. Due to the vast amount of tracks from a large group of the city’s streets. From 1933 to 1935, the acreage allotted to Proctor High, its students would be provided with city also received $2.5 million from the Temporary Emergency Relief an extensive play area. Administration. It was announced on September 11th, 1934 that the first In 1934, the New Deal’s largest agency, the Works Progress pouring of concrete on the new facility had taken place. The erection Administration (WPA), was established. Upon the formation of of steel work began in October and on November 6th, the long-anticthe WPA, the government requested that the agency help fund the ipated cornerstone-laying ceremony took place. It was a special day erection of Utica’s second high school. The relief project was accepted in Utica history as many distinguished individuals were in attendance and plans for construction began that including: superintendent of schools John A. Deyear with the announcement of several Camp, principals of each grade school, Principal awarded contracts in the July 24th, 1934 Babcock of UFA, architects Bagg and Newkirk, edition of the Utica Daily Press. Among Mayor Samuel Sloan, Safety Commissioner A.W. the local companies hired were: BedPickard, construction engineer Warren W. Inglis, ford Construction Company of Utica secretary of the Utica Chamber of Commerce (for concrete footings, foundations and George J Winslow, contractor Edward Bedford floor construction) and Leaf Bros. & and his superintendent Earl K. Simpson. Owens of Herkimer (for excavation). Of all the prominent figures on-hand, The school board voted to there was one shining star name the new school after a legendary in audience that day; Mrs. local benefactor, Thomas R. Proctor. Construction was set Thomas R. Proctor herto begin in August and hoped to be completed for the 1935 self. She had done her part school year. It became apparent rather quickly that Proctor to help the folks of Utica High School would not be opening its doors until 1936, as during the Depression, too many days of “good building weather” had been spent and for that act of kindawaiting state approval of several contracts. The architecturness, among many others al firm of Bagg & Newkirk would be called upon to design performed by her and the school and steam shovels broke ground on August 17th, Proctor High School before the Gym & Audito- her husband, the Proctor 1934. family was embraced by rium Executing the Plan the community. As the steel In less than one month, Leaf Bros. & Owens completed the skeleton of the school stood proudly upon the construction site, presexcavating work and the newspaper revealed an architectural drawident of the school board, Dr. L.W. Platner, who presided over the

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ceremony, thanked Mrs. Proctor for her presence and eloquently expressed the benefits of the new high school to the city of Utica. Exactly one week later, it was announced that another local company had secured a contract when the Utica Structural Steel Company was hired to build the steel stairs, and perform miscellaneous iron and steel work. It was also announced that the school’s first principal would be Mr. Rollin W. Thompson, who at the time was the principal of Roscoe Conkling School. On December Proctor High School’s first princi6th, after a bid from a Buffalo pal Mr. Rollin W. Thompson company was rescinded, yet another contract was awarded to a Utica business when the Bedford Construction Company was hired to do the gypsum roof. Throughout the course of the following year, construction continued as the school board worked to obtain the funds necessary to complete all four wings of the school and on October 28th, 1935, construction of the brand new athletic field had begun. In March of 1936, work began on six WPA-commissioned murals that still hang proudly on the hallway walls of Proctor High School today. The murals designed by Utica artist Egbert Norman Clark are some of the most treasured pieces of the school’s history and depict the following subjects; “Trapper and Early Fur Traders Bartering with the Indians”, “Pioneer Modes of Transportation From the Oxcart to the Covered




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Wagon”, “Home Industries in the Pioneer Days”, “Milling Scene”, “The School in Pioneer Utica”, and “Early General Store and Tavern”. They each represent accurate scenes that celebrate the history of the Mohawk Valley and when originally painted, each work was placed in the school library. Opening Day – September 9th 1936 After overcoming challenges presented by the weather and government red tape, Thomas R. Proctor High School opened successfully for the 1936 school year on September 9th. Students that lived east of Conkling and Third Avenue went to the new school, while those who lived west, attended UFA. Although Proctor did not house a single senior in its first year (they finished their education at UFA), more than 1,800 students were registered for classes ranging from grades seven to eleven. Students and teachers alike, embarked on their journey to a new institution as both groups had transferred from other schools to the newly built Proctor High. As each of them made their way to the front of the building, they cast their eyes on the same inscriptions that hang over the two main entrances today (pictured to the right). Off and Running… It would not be long after the start of the school’s first year that the WPA would complete the 27-acre athletic field which included a football field, track, soccer field, and two regulation baseball fields. The Proctor legacy was under way; student clubs, athletic

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One of six murals hanging in the Proctor High School hallways. teams and groups of friends were formed as the year progressed. In the 1937 school year, Proctor housed its first-ever senior class which

made for a very special commencement celebration. One would imagine there was no shortage of tears in the Stanley Theater on that day – Thursday June 30th, 1938 - as 198 young men and women received the very first Proctor High School diploma. More than 2,500 people packed the theater to witness a graduation ceremony that included a performance by the school band and speeches from several school officials and Principal Thompson; who said in his address to the students: “I want to express to you my sincere appreciation for your loyalty to this school; for your industry and hard work, and your wholehearted cooperation. We believe you have built a great foundation for what is sure to be its glorious future.” Around the time the main structure was completed in 1936, the foundations for the three remaining wings were laid but they had yet to be completed. Finally, in the summer of 1938, the city application for aid from the Public Works Administration was approved and the completion of the entire project was a reality. Both gymnasiums and the auditorium were built rather efficiently and completed in 1939. From the G.I. Generation to the Baby Boomers Even a novice of US history knows what immediately followed The Great Depression. World War II is a chapter in America’s past that brings a great deal of pride and patriotism into all our hearts. But with those proud feelings comes pain, sadness and grief as we reflect on the individuals we lost; many of them were students at Proctor High School. There were a number of brave young men that were drafted into the armed forces while many others volunteered their service. On Pearl Harbor Day in 1944, the students of Proctor paid homage to their alumni involved in World War II with a special tribute in the school auditorium. The ceremony was opened with the signing of “America” followed by speeches from Maj. James E. McDaniel, chaplain at Rhoads Hospital, Judge John Walsh and Principal Thompson. Proctor’s War Stamp and Bond Drive successfully raised over $20,000 which was used to purchase two air, two sea, and two land jeeps. Each were bought in memory of the six Proctor students


T. R. Proctor High School ready for the Class of 1940 with two gymnasiums and an auditorium that gave their lives in the war: Phio Leonard, Joe Longo, Walter Skiba, Melvin Boll, Fremont Dibble and Furio De Luca. The lights were then dimmed as a flag was lowered onto the auditorium stage. The flag bore the number 850 which represented

WWII Proctor boys from the 1944 yearbook

the number of known students in the service and was filled with rows of stars; six of them were gold in honor of those who died. Over the years, Proctorians have served valiantly in just about every war imaginable. Across from the main office today, is an entire wall dedicated to students who fought for our country; included in the display is Thomas R. Proctor’s Civil War uniform. The entire dedication was crafted beautifully by the school’s NJROTC program after performing extensive historical research. They are headed by Mark Williamson and it is no wonder they reached the NJROTC National Academic Championship this past school year. From the 1940s through the 1970s, the country was going through many changes from the Silent Generation that followed World War II, to the Counter Culture/Baby Boomer Generation. The hairstyles and choice of dress alone in the Proctor year books reflect how society was transitioning over the years. We often use the music of a particular time period to measure change; in this instance, the car radios on Hilton Ave. went from playing the sounds of Frank Sinatra to The Beatles to Led Zeppelin. Proctor continued to build upon its legacy by providing countless memories to generations of kids and establishing itself in the area. Lifelong friendships were de-

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veloped, romances were born (some lasting longer than others) and garage bands were formed. In sports, there were plenty of Central Oneida League rivalries brewing between Proctor and the likes of UFA and Rome Free Academy. There are alumni on both sides who proudly possess bragging rights to this day; some remember exact scores and stats (some are inflated!). Proctor produced athletes by the likes of MLB

the many great teams and athletes to play at their school as well as UFA, John F. Kennedy High School and other Utica city schools. It is yet another brilliant dedication created by the students that tells of a proud chapter of the area’s history. Included in the collage are students that went pro in more recent years such as: NFL Pro Bowler and Super Bowl champion Will Smith and WNBA draft pick Brianna Kiesel.



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All-Star and World Series champ, Dave Cash (class of 1966) and NBA Draft pick Cedric Oliver (class of 1975) among the many other great athletes that never reached the professional ranks. Today, on the jogging track in Proctor’s main gymnasium, there is an elaborate collage made up of

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And then there was one… As the nation’s economy began to struggle once again in the 1970s, Utica’s population was decreasing gradually each year. In 1960, there were over 100,000 citizens living in the city, but by 1980, there was just over 75,000. There was no longer a need for three high schools in Utica (JFK became a high school in 1969) and so a controversial decision was made in 1987; UFA’s Kemble Street location would become the city’s sole high school, while Proctor and JFK became middle schools. In what some would consider an even more polarizing decision, the name of Utica Free Academy would be changed to Utica Senior Academy. By 1990, it was decided that the Hilton Avenue school served as the best option for Utica Senior Academy, which meant Thomas R. Proctor’s name would no longer be associated with the school. A petition of 4,500 signatures demanded that the school name be returned and the school board later obliged. Twenty-seven years later, Thomas R. Proctor High School is still the only upper division public school in the city, but with the new millennium came a new beginning. The Millennium Project In 1999, the Utica City School District and Mohawk Valley Community College entered a 50-year partnership agreement called the Millennium Project. Included in the project were renovations and system improvements to various Utica schools, but the largest portion, by far, took place at Proctor High School. The purpose of the project was to “offer students the highest quality education experience while preparing for the workplace or a smooth transition into


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college” by combining “innovative programs with new facilities and expanded educational resources”. Among the exciting improvements Proctor was to receive, was a four-wing, 160,000 square foot addition/renovation to go along with the restructuring of its academic curriculum. The four, themed academic houses for students to choose from would be: humanities and public services, science and technology, finance and business, and health careers. The project supplied Proctor High with great advancements in technology and much needed space to accommodate a growing student body. Along with the massive addition to the school, the Millennium Project provided a brand new athletic stadium to be used by both Proctor and MVCC. The finalized construction was made possible thanks to a generous donation from one of the city’s most successful natives. David D’Alessandro (Proctor class of 1968), former CEO of Fortune 500 company John Hancock Financial Services, provided $250,000 towards the erection of the stadium. Without that large sum of money, completion of the project would not have been possible, and as a sign of appreciation, the school decided to dedicate the stadium to D’Alessandro; naming it D’Alessandro Stadium. Today/Interview with Principal Steven Falchi

D’Alessandro Stadium gural graduation class to the present day, Proctor’s student make-up has gone from almost entirely Italian-American, to a mixture of kids from more than thirty countries. It has always been there to embrace the people of our community; which has been multi-culturally influenced for well over a century. There are three key words that Proctor High strives to live by and has printed on the sign in front of their main entrance; Diversity. Excellence. Achievement. To get more detailed information on what is going on at Thomas R. Proctor High School in the present day, we spoke with school principal, Steven Falchi. GU: If Greater Utica Magazine is around 80 years from now, what would it say about today’s Proctor? SF: Proctor High School was one of the largest urban high schools in

Entrance to the new four-wing addition at Proctor High School It has been twenty-seven years since Proctor became the one and only public high school in Utica, NY. Despite its critics, it continues to grow; both in enrollment and academic opportunity. The teachers and staff members have been the backbone of the city’s public education system and deserve to be commended rather than condemned. Each day, they make a resounding impact on the lives of our youth as they prepare them to fly on their own. From its inau- 600 French Road New Har�ord, NY 13413 315-735-9201 September 2017 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE



Present principal of Proctor High School, Mr. Steven Falchi New York State with a student population of nearly 3,000 students from all over the country, and every corner of the globe. One of its greatest strengths was its diversity. The school’s demographics set it uniquely apart from schools in the area and most, if not all schools in the state. Proctor High School specialized in providing a wealth of academic and enrichment opportunities to students from uniquely diverse backgrounds and ability. When students left Proctor, they were well equipped to face what life had to offer, no matter what path they chose to pursue. Proctor’s proud graduates have made many important and lasting contributions to their school, community, our great nation, and the world. GU: What are some of the school’s recent academic/extracurricular accomplishments (last 10 years or so)? SF: Over the past 10 years, the school has made significant growth in student achievement across the board. This includes student perfor-


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Thomas R. Proctor High School Auditorium mance on New York State Regents examinations that are required for graduation, as well as annual increases in our graduation rate. This culminated last year in Proctor being designated a school in “Good Standing” by the New York State Education Department for the first time in many years. This is a testament to the hard work of our staff and students working toward a singular mission which is focused directly on student achievement. The school is also proud of the fact that it offers over 30 courses taught at Proctor by our faculty where students can earn college credits as a high school student through partnerships with several local colleges and universities including Rochester Institute of Technology, Syracuse University, and Mohawk Valley Community College. Proctor also affords students the opportunity to “Bridge” to college by taking classes at Mohawk Valley Community College and Utica College while still enrolled in high school. Proctor High School also offers a wide array of extracurricular activities including sports and at least 20 clubs. Our students also take a great deal of pride in strengthening relationships with and giving back to their community in important ways—whether it be through a variety of service projects or networking with community organizations. Each year, members of our faculty, our programs and our extracurricular clubs consistently earn recognition around the state for their achievements. From our Business Department being awarded Department of the Year by the New York State Education Department to the instructional practices used by our English as a New Language teachers that are recognized as a model for other schools in the state, or our Mock Trial Team qualifying for the state finals (the only team from Oneida County to ever accomplish this feat), our NJROTC program designated as one of the top programs in

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the northeastern United States, and other achievements too numerous to mention, Proctor High School has a great deal to be very proud of. GU: What did Proctor’s most recent addition offer its students? SF: The most recent capital project provided significant and important upgrades to each school building in the Utica City School District including Proctor High School. During the first phase of the project at Proctor which began in 2011, the school’s auditorium underwent a complete renovation designed to return the space to its original 1940’s grandeur. On March 7, 2013, the public was invited to the Grand-Opening of the newly renovated auditorium which is now home to many high quality school concerts and drama productions given by our students. It also provides a beautifully modernized venue for community events, just like when it opened over 75 years ago. In subsequent phases of the project which is currently coming to a close, the school added two large cafeterias with spectacular views. These cafeterias enabled the school to successfully implement a closed-campus for students. The capital project also added a third gymnasium to the school, further enhancing our athletic and NJROTC programs. In one of the most recent phases, the project added a suite of high end technology laboratories designed to prepare students for newly emerging fields including Nano-technology. This capital project also included important technology upgrades which brought the school into the 21st century

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A name you can Trust. New Gymnasium by increasing the school’s Wi-Fi capabilities, upgrading the Channel 3 Broadcast Studio and providing new instructional technology used by teachers such as mobile computer labs and classroom Interactive. The resources provided to the school through the capital project is a testament to the high level of support that Proctor High School receives from the Board of Education and our Superintendent, Mr. Karam, who was an administrator at the school for many years. As such, he has an acute awareness of what is needed in order for the school to be successful and has provided a tremendous amount of support to the school; first as the Director of Secondary Education and most recently as the Superintendent of Schools. GU: What are some of the biggest challenges the school faces that the community can help with? SF: The biggest challenge that the school faces is that there is sometimes a misconception of what Proctor High School is all about. Proctor High School is a state of the art facility that provides a high quality education to every student regardless of background and/or ability. The school offers programs and activities that are second to none. We have a faculty and support staff that cares deeply about the success of our students. Many of these attributes give our students a competitive advantage when they leave our campus. Our students are accepted into and are attending some of the most prestigious colleges and universities in the

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country. Others are making significant contributions in our nation’s military or in the workforce. Every school year, we have numerous visitors in the building who spend time in other schools across the state. They consistently remark about how well the building is run for such a large high school and how polite and respectful our students are as compared to other schools they have spent time in. Over the past three years, we have had numerous students transfer in or return from area private, charter and parochial schools. When asked in exit interviews about their experience at Proctor, they comment that the only regret they have about Proctor is that they wished that they attended the school earlier in their high school career. Our staff members and students have a great affinity for and take a great deal of pride in their school. One of the factors that often feeds into the misconception about Proctor is the fundamental flaw in comparing our student performance data to the performance of surrounding school districts. Out of over 2,100 high schools in New York State, there are very few high schools that educate the large and diverse population of students similar to Proctor, especially the number of students with high academic needs. With that being said, the faculty and staff prides itself on working diligently toward and achieving the significant amount of growth that we see each year in the school’s performance results. Proctor High School is certainly a school that the community can be very proud of. GU: What kind of values does Proctor promote that you try to emphasize? SF: Tolerance, problem solving, working cooperatively, establishing and measuring personal performance goals, community service, leadership, integrity and other positive character traits are critical to the overall success of our students. These values are embedded into our overall educational programming throughout the year.


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l l i H e h t on

Until Death Do Us Unite by Joe Bottini Oneida County Historian

Two Utica residents, Horatio Seymour and Roscoe Conkling, were nationally prominent men in the late 19th century. Each had an important place in the national political discourse of their respective parties. Seymour was the head of the New York State Democrats and a highly influential member of the national Democrat Party. Conkling was the leader of the State Republicans and a key member of the national Republican Party. Each of these two men had very unique personalities, although contrasting styles. Seymour was a gentleman of very proper, calm deportment, while Conkling was more flamboyant and less proper in his demeanor. Conkling was a handsome, outgoing, brilliant lawyer with a zest for a legal courtroom battle. Seymour was an ordinary looking gentleman, a lawyer with more interest in business affairs. Needless to say, Seymour did not respect the way Conkling conducted his personal affairs and found it necessary to dislike his hometown cohort. They were each in a constant state of conflict, both politically and personally. Their relationship, or lack thereof, was born of political opposition and extremely opposite personalities, further conflicted by a mutual interest in the same young, beautiful Utica woman. ************ Horatio Seymour was a leading Democrat politician in Utica, at the state and national levels between 1841 and the 1880s. His political career began with his election to the New York State Assembly (1841), mayor of Utica (1842-1843, 1844-1846) governor of New York State (1852 and 1862), president of Democrat National Convention (1868), founder and first president of Oneida County Historical Society (Oneida County History Center) (1876-1886). He

was President of the Fort Schuyler Club, and president of the Saratoga Monument Association among many other civic activities Horatio Seymour was known as “The Great Decliner” – a nickname earned by refusing numerous nominations by his party to be the Democrat standard bearer in the presidential arena. In 1868, as the chair of the Democrat Party convention, Seymour twice refused the boisterous attempt by his colleagues to make him their choice for presidential nominee. He also declined nominations for New York Governor in 1876 and 1879 and a final attempt to select him as the Democrat presidential nominee in 1880. In his later years, he was known as “The Sage of Deerfield” - the location of his summer home and farm. Democrats from all over the nation came to seek his advice and council. His two presidential refusals were easily spoken by Seymour’s definite words; “”I must not be nominated . . . (nor could I) accept the nomination . . .” and on a later ballot he said, “Gentlemen, thank you and may God Bless you for your kindness to me. But, your candidate I cannot be.” Upon finishing this statement, a bit shaken by the whole affair, he left the platform and went to a nearby room to compose himself. In his absence from the convention all 317 votes gave him the nomination. He tried to return to the platform to decline a third time as the temporary chair quickly adjourned the convention. Thus, Seymour became the Democrat candidate for president in 1868. Seymour returned to Utica to begin his campaign amidst such glowing accolades as, “Horatio Seymour is the foremost living statesman in our country.” Another description of the Democrat candidate given is, “Governor Seymour’s ability and integrity are fully equal to the high duties . . . he will be called upon to discharge.” Horatio Seymour lost the presidential election in 1868, by a small popular vote margin, to the Republican General Ulysses S. Grant. Of course, his fellow Utican, Republican Roscoe Conkling did not support him. Their long-standing feud over politics, personalities and love for the same woman was more than Conkling could overcome. He was born in Pompey Hill, New York (1810) to Henry and Mary Ledyard Seymour, moved to Utica with his family at age 10, attended Geneva College (Hobart College), and admitted to the bar (1832), but not enjoying work as an attorney he devoted himself to politics and his family business interests. Seymour married



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Mary Bleecker in (1835). He died in 1886 at the age of 75. He was buried in Section 7 at Forest Hill Cemetery - Utica, NY. ************** Roscoe Conkling was a very able, successful lawyer and congressman having a huge influence on national politics during the later 1800s. If there is any truth in the following, (‘Conkling Meaning and Origin”) one could easily see the reason for Conkling’s lofty demeanor. It states: this is a genuine American surname . . . its real origin is Dutch, the present spelling a variant form of the medieval ‘Konink’ equivalent to the English surname ‘King’ . . ..” Conkling was, indeed a dashing man of impressive height (over six feet) with reddish- sandy hair and beard making an impressive appearance that was supported by a highly- honed skill at oratory and courtroom delivery. His clothing was flashier than what, at the time, the average lawyer or politician would wear. Intimidating in appearance and intellect brought him attention even as a young boy. As a man, he commanded the room wherever he went and drew the attention of others. Roscoe developed his acumen for public speaking by constant reference to a text, “The Art of Speaking,” and practicing with his brother as they gave speeches to each other. He attended Auburn Academy for three years, discontinued a college education in favor of studying law under the two top lawyers in Utica, Joshua A. Spencer and Francis Kernan. A king is exactly what Roscoe Conkling’s behavior would indicate he fancied himself to be. Yes, one might apply the term “King Maker” (he had great influence and power within the national

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Republican Party) to his many other less-noble names acquired in his rough political encounters. At least his actions would give the impression this is what he thought of himself. This is certainly the opposite of his hometown opponent Horatio Seymour. Conkling was not bashful about thrashing his adversaries with name calling such as amateurs, phonies or hypocrites. During the 1877 Republican Convention he demonstrated his opposition to Civil Service by calling it “Snivel Service.” Unfortunately, we are currently accustomed to name-calling at a more crude level, but for those times his terms were considered blunt. His political career began with becoming mayor of Utica (1858), followed by U.S. Representative (1859-1863), Judge Advocate of War Department (1863-1865), U.S. Representative (18651867), U. S. Senator (1867-1880). With his patronage machine in New York, Conkling was truly acting like a king, but was challenged by President Garfield (1880s) by not appointing a Conkling friend for the position of collector of the Port of New York. During this dispute over state control of New York appointments, President Garfield appointed William Robertson as Collector of the Port of New York without consulting Conkling. In spite of his best efforts against it, the senate approved the nomination. Senator Conkling resigned in protest, believing in all his arrogance that he could get reelected if desired. However, he was defeated in the next election (senators were elected by the state assembly at that time) prompting him to resume his law practice in New York City. He was subsequently nominated and confirmed as Associate Justice on the United States supreme count in 1882, but declined to serve. Conkling was born October 29, 1829 in Albany, New York to Alfred and Eliza (Cockburn) Conkling. His father was a United States Representative and federal judge and Roscoe was raised in an atmosphere of law and politics - meeting many famous men of high government positions that left an impression on young Conkling. In the winter of 1888 during the famous “blizzard of 88” Conkling hailed a cab (coach) (one of the few still operating) for a ride from his New York City law office to his home in the city. Upon hearing the higher-than-normal fee stated, and true to his obnoxious and arrogant self, dismissed the idea and said he would rather walk than be taken by a shyster. Trudging through the deep snow and winds of the storm proved too much even for this ruffian. Roscoe Conkling became sick with a cold and died of pneumonia. He was buried in Section 7 at Forest Hill Cemetery - Utica, NY.

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************** Although Horatio Seymour and Roscoe Conkling were two of Utica’s more famous residents, having a common community was not enough to overcome the feud between these two men of prestige and government influence. The fuel that kept the fire burning beyond the political and personal differences was their affection for the same young lady named Julia. Conkling fell in love with this fine woman of proper status and carriage. Seymour respected and admired the same woman and tried to dissuade her from falling for Conkling - the suave, handsome lawyer with a “famous” reputation. Love won out and Julia Seymour, Horatio’s sister, married the rascal Conkling. In total disregard for the new relationship between them (brothers-in-law), the dislike each for the other - did not dissipate. In the winter of 1886, at age 75, Seymour became ill. His sister Julia invited her brother to move into the Conkling mansion at Rutger Place where it was warmer and she could help his wife take care of him. Horatio Seymour died there, and much to the chagrin of Roscoe Conkling, he had to return (from his New York City law practice) to his home at Rutger Park in Utica for the funeral of a much-disliked brother-in-law and political opponent. Roscoe Conkling, with a valued law practice in New York City, had little regard for any pretense at caring, made infrequent trips to Utica to visit his lonely spouse. His long-term affair with Kate (Chase) Sprague, the wife of William Sprague IV, governor of Rhode Island and United States Senator, has been widely documented (“American Queen” by John Oller). Kate Chase worked and plotted unsuccessfully on behalf of her father’s interest in becoming president and was highly involved in Washington, D.C social life. In an odd twist of fate and juxtaposition of events, Horatio Seymour suggested Salmon Chase as a potential Democrat nomination for president in 1864. Seymour was promoting Kate’s father’s political ambitions as she was consorting with his political foe, Roscoe Conkling. Estranged and distant in life, Roscoe Conkling and his enemy in life Horatio Seymour, remain close in death, each being buried within about twenty-five feet of each other in their family plots at Forest Hill Cemetery, Utica, N.Y. What is the proper term for this ironic fate that has befallen Roscoe Conkling to spend all of his final resting days so near to the brother-in-law he intensely disliked in life? Just a random thought: How many of us will reside in heaven with folks we are not friendly with in life? *************


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20 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - September 2017

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Editors Note: Both of Seymour’s local residences are gone. The mansion on the NW corner of Whitesboro Street and Hotel Street is now a parking lot. His farm in Deerfield, known as “Marysland” (named for his wife Mary) is now a part of SUNY Polytechnic Institute. Roscoe Conkling’s mansion at Rutger Park is owned by the Landmarks Society and used for many events; such as tours, showers, presentations, speakers, concerts and other activities. It is being restored, preserved for posterity and the legacy of history that took place there. One such event at the Conkling Mansion was the meeting of Civil War generals including President/General Grant. Attend their next public event and sit in the parlor where General Grant sat, sipped his brandy and smoked his cigars. Walk in the footprints of some of America’s more famous citizens.

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Max L. Cowen’s Retail Store

Girls from Razia’s Ray of Hope holding packs from Max L. Cowen Few people in our area know more about life’s unpredictable nature than Dan Smith, owner of Max L. Cowen Student Stores in Marcy. While unforeseen adversities have forced Dan to make some tough decisions in the past, it has helped him evolve a business that is nearly fifty years-old. From the time Dan started with the company to the present day, its direction has always kept up with the changing business climate and now offers a unique set of services. Luckily, during a time when he was experiencing some misfortune, Dan crossed paths with a man that gave him what would wind up being the opportunity of a lifetime. That man was Max L. Cowen. As a multi-talented performer/entertainer, Max L. Cowen would travel the local area to visit and perform for its various schools. In auditoriums and gymnasiums, Max’s vaudevillian act included everything from tap dancing and cane dancing to feats of strength. To help pay for the expenses of each trip, Max began engraving the names of each school he visited into pencils and selling them to the students and staff. Before long, Max realized the business could be quite lucrative and began expanding his product line; selling other various school supplies at an affordable price. He purchased an old schoolhouse on Mandeville Street in Utica where he opened his store. The Late Max L. Cowen Meanwhile, Dan was approaching his high school graduation and had a solid amount of construction experience. He planned on joining his dad in the field, but when Dan was just eighteen years-old, his father passed away unexpectedly; leaving Dan with a great level uncertainty about his future. During this time, Max was in need of renovation work on his new facility, and when he came across Dan, it seemed like a perfect fit. During the long days of construction, Max would watch Dan work and give him advice on life and how to run a business properly. Over the span of a couple years, Dan had acquired a great level of knowledge from Max, and accepted an offer to join the team. Around the time construction was finished, the manager of Max’s business decided to leave the company. It was only right that he would offer the job opening to Dan as he had taught him all about the industry over the prior years. In 1983, Dan became the shop’s general manager and helped grow the business until Max’s death in 1989. The shop was left to Max’s family who owned it until they sold their interest to a large corporation in 2011. In December of 2015, the business was offered to Dan & his wife Sandy at very favorable terms. They purchased the business and moved it to it’s current location at 9438 River Road in Marcy. The new facility and location has enabled Max L. Cowen’s Student Stores to become more multifaceted than ever before. Dan and his son, Scott, run the two-man operation in Marcy that now offers a full-size retail shop including clothes, novelties, school supplies and much more. Inside the retail location is Max’s Print Shop, where Dan and Scott use the latest technology to offer a wide number of products to businesses, schools and organizations across the world. Among the customizable products offered at Max’s Print Shop are; apparel, backpacks, bags, coolers, awards, buttons, magnets and key chains - to Dan’s 88 year-old mother-inname a few. Dan and Scott will even create your design free of charge as they understand how difficult it can be to make your law Barb packing school kits vision come to life. With the new addition of all new embroidery equipment they are able to offer all types of printing and to be sent to Afghanistan decorating. Max L. Cowen’s Student Stores offer a catalog (literally) of school supplies that exceeds a product count of over 1,500 items. If you bring in or email your school supplies list to Dan, he will save you the hassle of having to shop yourself. At Max L. Cowen’s they will personally package together all the items you need and have them ready for pick up at the retail store. They have even instituted a program at the local schools that allows children to become early entrepreneurs. Students submit job applications to Dan and if they are accepted, he gives them $500 worth of products on consignment to sell to their classmates. The kids keep a portion of the profits and learn how to engage professionally with other children. One of Max L. Cowen’s Student Stores/Print Shop’s specialties is assisting organizations in fund raising. For example, if a school or local sports program is looking to sell apparel to raise money for their program, Dan will set them up with their very own online store “The Bear Cave” student store from General Herkimer Elementary School that was set up by Max L. Cowen’s to sell products he has customized for them. Now, instead of worrying about over/under ordering, organizations can sell their items one at a time without the need for a physical inventory. At, customers can purchase every product made for local schools by Max L. Cowen’s. Along with a number of businesses, schools and youth sports programs, Max L Cowen’s offers this service to nonprofits such as United Way. They have even provided custom school packs for Razia’s Ray of Hope Foundation; a charity that provides free education to underprivileged Afghan girls. Dan, Sandy and Scott have managed the family business for less than two years but have helped form an annual customer base consisting of thousands of people. They plan on seeing that number increase as the business continuously evolves. For more info visit StudentStores. com, call 1-800-874-4004 or visit the Marcy store.

22 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - September 2017


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T.R. Proctor High School

Windows of opportunity

by Sam Falvo

at It was 1990 when Canastota native, Dustin Jones first picked up a set of right-handed golf clubs. As the son of an avid golfer, Dustin hoped to one day hit the links like his dad, but found the game to be a bit more challenging than he expected. He just couldn’t hit the ball well. In every other sport he played, Dustin was left-handed and so he decided one day to pick up his dad’s two-way chipper and hit some golf balls in the backyard. When using a left-handed swing, Dustin made the ball fly and was eager to show off his new and improved game to his dad. After seeing the natural ability Dustin possessed, his dad bought him his first set of clubs at age ten. By the time he was thirteen years-old, Dustin was a scratch golfer and became a member of the high school team. He knew at that ripe young age that his life would be dedicated to the game of golf and he never once looked back. Throughout his teens, winning tournaments and various awards became a common occurrence for Dustin. His name was regularly printed in the local newspaper and caught the attention of a man that gave Dustin a chance to realize his dream. Bob O’Brian, former Director of Golf at the Turning Stone Casino was helping Oneida Nation Enterprises establish what has become one of the finest golf venues in Central New York. One of Bob’s first tasks was to find experienced instructors, and Dustin, now eighteen years-old, was on his radar. On the Monday following his high school graduation in 1999, Dustin worked his first day at Turning Stone; where he spent the first ten years of his career. During his time working for the casino, Dustin completed most of his PGA schooling and earned his two-year degree in business from SUNY Morrisville. He had strong aspirations of becoming a certified golf pro and understood just how difficult it would be; the PGA program’s attrition rate is 74%, meaning - only 26% of those who enroll actually finish their training. With a strong love and passion for the game, Dustin finished his training in 2009, the same year he was hired as the assistant golf pro at the Yahnundasis Golf Club. While at the Yahnundasis, Dustin decided to further his training by entering a secondary Harvard management program administered by the PGA. After completing the rigorous program, Dustin became a certified Class A PGA golf pro; one of only six-hundred in the world at that time. By 2014, Dustin was off on his own and developed Dustin Jones Golf Academy; a versatile method of golf instruction that can be tailor made for players of all skill levels. Dustin has trained some of the top amateur golfers around such as Ryan Zogby and Lauren Steates-Cupp, but he also has many clients who entered his program never having picked up a club in their life. Dustin customizes his training based on the goals and commitment level of each individual client with the sole objective of making you better with every session. His effective, yet simplistic approach to teaching is not only aimed to make his clients better players, but to help them recognize how fun the game should be. Dustin understands how difficult and intimidating the game is for many, which is why above all, he stresses the significance of enjoying and appreciating the beauty of golf. His skill set earned him the Central New York PGA Teacher of the Year in 2016 and in the same year, he also won the Horton Smith Award which is given to the model educator of fellow PGA Golf Professionals. The Dustin Jones Golf Academy recently relocated to Beacon Golf Center on River Road in Marcy for the spring and summer seasons, but for the fall and winter seasons, you can find Dustin at the Hole In One Golf Center at 339 Oriskany Boulevard in Whitesboro. Hole In One Golf Center has been described by Dustin as “an all-inclusive golf emporium”. Everything a golfer needs is located within these four walls including two golf simulators that allow customers to play eighteen holes at some of the most beautiful courses in the world. At Hole In One, Dustin has been provided with the latest and greatest technology used to teach students for a fraction of the price they would pay at a franchise location. Imagine being able to play at an upscale course on the other side of the country with a certified PGA pro at your side. Dustin is also a licensed dealer of almost every major equipment brand including; Ping, Callaway, Titleist, Taylor Made, Mizuno and Cleveland. Clubs and apparel by each of those brands is available at Hole In One and when you purchase your clubs from Dustin, he will fit them for free. For his exemplary service and ability to sell these products, Dustin has been named Merchandiser of the Year three different times in his career. The dream of being a PGA golf pro has come true for Dustin, but this is only the beginning of his story; his true purpose is to share his love for the game with others every day. To contact Dustin directly, call 315380-8142 or visit For more info on Hole In One Golf Center, visit



Those of us who partook in extracurricular activities as kids understand how significant they are in shaping our personal and professional lives. In the case of Maria Christina’s School of Dance in Utica, there is a great deal of gratification for both students and teachers. We were eager to get both of their perspectives and learn how the studio has benefited both sides.

Mary Brown

Aaron Comeskey

Erika Brescia

Aaron Comeskey - Office Staff/Accounting Intern “At MCSD, it’s about finding the inner strength you never even knew you had.” There are countless reasons why Aaron takes pride in being a member of the MCSD staff, but he cites a few in particular. His position at the studio allows him to not only exhibit his talents and passion for music, but as an accounting major at Le Moyne College, Aaron has received the type of hands-on experience in his field that will help prepare him for a long-term career. While the studio has given him a sense of purpose and belonging, what he loves most about MCSD is the closeness of the entire “family”. Aaron says that when students join Maria’s studio, they stay and never want to leave; he describes it as a “welcoming community”. Erika Brescia - Ballet/Technique & Lyrical Instructor “We promote self-confidence. We teach the kids that everyone has flaws that we are self-conscious about, but it doesn’t matter because we are all doing what we love.” After dancing throughout her youth, Erika was away from the field she loved for ten years. She was never able to fill the void left by dance until Maria, a classmate at Notre Dame High School, offered her an instructor’s position at the studio. Finally, Erika was able to light that flame again and could not wait to share her love and knowledge with a younger generation. She takes great pride in teaching discipline and emphasizing independence with her students while instilling the type of confidence needed to perform in competition and everyday life. What she is most proud of is the progress her students have made over the past four years she has worked at MCSD; sometimes she cannot believe how much they have improved. Another great source of pride came this past season when Erika and her team received their first award in choreography. Sofia Pallaria - Student “My team is like my family.” At just fourteen years-old, Sofia and her family have made numerous moves to different parts of the country in her young life. Along her journey, she has danced at studios in various time zones but none of them compared to her experience at MCSD. She started dance when she was three, but Sophia has never felt closer to her classmates and teachers, who have both taught her how to be a team player. When she was new to the area, MCSD helped Sofia make friends that have been in her life ever since. This past season, her team competed at the nationals finals and took first place in the contemporary dance category. She says she can count on Maria and the other instructors to help her with issues in the world of dance as well as her personal life. Her time at MCSD has helped prepare her to achieve one of her lifelong dreams: to one day become a dance instructor. Mary Brown – Student/Teacher’s Assistant “Dance isn’t something you leave at the studio when you go home. You carry it with you everywhere you go.” In her eleventh season of dance, Mary has proven to be a shining star in the MCSD program. While she is extremely talented as a dancer, her dedication and love for her fellow students is what makes her special. At just eleven years-old, she was asked to be a teacher’s assistant and by thirteen, she was given time to work with the younger dancers. She used to be somewhat of an introvert, but Mary says her time at the dance studio has helped her become more sociable at school and provided her with great leadership skills. Mary has tried different sports and activities, and although she enjoyed them, she Sophia Pallaria has forgone the opportunity to participate in most, as she did not want to sacrifice the time she spends at dance. She is seventeen now and preparing visits to potential colleges where she hopes to do either a double major of political science and history, or forensic science. The words of the students and staff members at MCSD speak volumes about what the studio means to them. They show that their time at dance goes far beyond a hobby; it has true sentimental value. For more info, log on to, call 315-335-3787 or visit their location at 441 Trenton Road in Utica.



With Jerry Kraus KENNY G IS COMING TO THE STANLEY ON SUN, NOV. 5th! Grammy Award Winning saxophonist Kenny G will be performing live at The Stanley Theater on Sunday, November 5th at 7:30pm, sponsored by Excellus BlueCross BlueShield. This is a benefit concert event for The Stanley and Valley Health Services (VHS). The concert is part of Kenny G’s ‘Miracles, Holidays & Hits’ tour, and it is the tenth in a series of co-promoted concerts by The Stanley and Valley Health Services. In a recording career that spans almost three decades and 23 albums, Grammy Award Winning saxophonist Kenny G has combined elements of R&B, pop and Latin to a jazz foundation solidifying his reputation as a premier artist in contemporary jazz. Since the early ‘80’s, his combination of unparalleled instrumental talent and indelible melodies has resulted in sales of more than 75 million records worldwide and more than a dozen songs at the top of Billboard’s contemporary jazz chart. Kenny G has collaborated with some of the biggest names in the business during his legendary career, ranging from Michael Bolton to Whitney Houston to Katy Perry. In January, Kenny G released his fourteenth studio album, Brazilian Nights, featuring a ten-song tribute to the ‘masters’ of Bossa Nova, including a mixture of classics and Kenny G originals. Tickets are on sale now and range from $35.00 - $45.00 - $65.00. Additional service charges may apply. To purchase tickets come to The Stanley Theater Box Office Monday through Friday from 10:00am – 4:00pm, give us a call at (315) 724-4000 or go to For more information about Kenny G please visit A special pre-concert dinner is also being offered at the Radisson Hotel, with a limited number of reservations available for just $45.00 by calling The Stanley’s Box Office.

Call ahead for reservations on Stanley nights

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WKTV WKTV New York’s New 22nd York’s 22nd2017 LeadershipSponsor Award Dinner - Wednesday, October 18, Leadership Sponsor $2,500 Leadership $1,500Congressional Leadership Sponsor Sponsor Sponsor $5,000$5,000 Leadership Sponsor News Channel News Channel 2 2 Congressional Name: Name: Name: eprogram programbook bookadvertisement, advertisement, Two tables presentation presentation of eight, and full and page program book advertisement, presentation and Two tables of eight A table of eight A table ofDistrict eight District $5,000 Leadership Sponsor recognition at event.

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Title: Firm:

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quarter page program book advertisement presentation and recognition at event.

Please call (315) 735-4437 for ticket information, or to make a donation to BSA if you cannot join us!


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PROGRAM BOOK AD RATES 00 $2,500 EagleEagle ScoutScout Sponsor Sponsor Title: Title:

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Mail, Fax or E-mail James Hastie to:


The Campus Inn

Bill & Mary’s Place by Dominick Velardi

Fall is around the corner again; a time when so many little hearts are broken. Yes, summer vacation is over and all the area’s schools are silently calling out “time to come back”. More than once, my mom said to me, “Stop complaining about high school so much, you should enjoy it, because someday, you will wish you could go back and do it again.” I remember saying to myself “How the heck would she know?” I got my answer years later when my son, who is obviously smarter than me, asked, “How do you always predict the future?” The truth is, I had a lot of fun in high school; just not the kind my mom probably had in mind. Every high school day started with a cup of coffee in one hand and a cigarette in the other. My tuna fish can ashtray sat in front of me at the counter of the Campus Inn (This was an unfortunate time when many kids were dumb and smoked). Yes, you heard correctly, the ashtrays were empty, cleaned-out tuna cans. You want to rob the ash tray at the Campus Inn? Go ahead, there will be at least ten more new ones from today’s tuna salad. Owner Frank (Bill) Rizzo was not only a great guy, he was a smart businessman. Everyday, I would show up at the Campus Inn at about seven in the morning, when most of the other kids were still

sleeping. No, I am not calling you people lazy for getting your beauty rest; I probably would have slept until the last possible second myself, but I’ve always been one of those people that requires little sleep. Sometimes it is more of a curse than a blessing, believe me. Anyway, I would be sitting at the counter having my coffee and a grilled buttered hard roll (which was a specialty you could only get at the Campus Inn back in the day). Now, the Inn could hold quite a few kids; when looking to the left, there was a long counter with multiple stools, and to the right, there were rows of square tables pushed together; sort of in a cafeteria fashion. Some were a little rocky and some were slightly higher than others. In my opinion, there was only one competitor to the grilled buttered hard roll: the custard filled chocolate fingers. I always wondered how Bill kept the filling ice cold. This was long before video games and when everything you ate was good for you. In fact, some people felt as though, the more overweight someone was, the healthier they were. I loved mornings at the Campus Inn; less talking, no jukebox blasting and you didn’t have to buy a ticket, at least not until fourth period. It’s funny; even though you were at a place of business, it operated by the class periods at Proctor. What is a ticket at the Campus Inn? A ticket cost twenty-five cents and




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that was Mary’s (Bill’s Wife) department. The ticket (always cardboard) could be a piece cut out of a cereal box with Tony the Tiger’s nose on one side and twenty-five cents hand written on the other. This ticket system may sound easy to cheat but it actually was brilliant and fool proof; no one knew what picture would be on the other side of the hand-written ticket each day. She never missed a beat when selling tickets to students; I know this from putting Mary to the test. I can remember being at a table as I was skipping third period, thinking I could avoid buying a ticket. The second the clock struck fourth period, Mary called me out, “time to buy a ticket”. The ticket was never a big deal, the money was deducted from your food purchase; it was the Inn’s way of eliminating loitering and taking space from students there to eat. For me and some of my friends, being old enough to attend high school couldn’t come fast enough and you would find us in the vestibule at the Campus Inn during the Columbus School lunch period. While at Proctor and during the busy lunch periods, you may have seen one of your female classmates behind the counter taking food orders. Like trustees, they were selected by Bill and Mary to help take care of large crowds of kids.

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As late morning transitioned into early afternoon, the Campus Inn would really come to life. The awesome smell of burgers, the sound of music from the juke box, garbled conversations, and clouds of smoke rising to the ceiling. This was our Facebook; its where we made our friends and socialized in the past. The Campus Inn never needed a pinball game, a foosball table or a video game, we just needed each other. Even though we didn’t all know each other personally, we knew of one another. In my tenure at the Campus Inn, I cannot recall one fight, either verbally or physically. No matter the time of day, you would always find Bill in front of the grill, and for most us, it was our first time seeing a

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Obstacles, Fitness & Fun September 2017 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE



Spyder RT



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With its powerful Dealer Imprint Goes The Here Vehicle Stability System and cargoRotax capacity1330 you ACE™ can hit engine, the road Y-frame in total peace of mind. grilled, buttered hard roll was not the only unique OVER YOUR VISIT US TODAY bility System and cargo capacity you can hit the road in total peace of mind. ADVENTURE. item that was prepared at the Campus Inn. Any kid from Proctor OPEN YOUR ROAD R ROAD Spyder F3 2100 Oriskany St W. Dealer Imprint Goes Here Spyder F3-T would agree; you haven’t lived until you had Bill’s grilled tomato VISIT US TODAY Dealer Imprint Goes Here NY 13502 Utica, pie with melted American cheese on top. I know what you may be Spyder F3-T 2100 2100 Oriskany St. W. • Utica, New York New York Oriskany St. W. • Utica, thinking, “That sounds horrible!” But this tomato pie was a block We are a Dealer inexpensive Nationwide cremation service Imprint Goes Here 315-792-4660 • Goes Dealerprovider Imprint Goes Here Dealer Imprint Here buster item and one of the most delicious foods not on the menu. offering low cost Direct cremations burials with 315-792-4660 • Dealer Imprint Goes Here and or Direct Spyder F3-T 2100 Oriskany St. W.Products • Utica, New York WWW.DDSMOTORSPORTS.COM basic services beginning atInc.$0 - $895.00 on or are trademarks 2016 Bombardier Recreational (BRP). All rights depending reserved. , ™ and theyou BRP logo of BRP orInn its affiliates. †All its other trademarks are the fresh propertyfood of their respective The Campus offered young patrons that was owners. Always rideones responsibly and safely. Follow all instructional and safety materials. Always observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and approyour loved financial posture. Three generation Funeral 315-792-4660 •And Dealer Imprint Goes Here priate protective clothing. always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. BRP reserves the right, at any time,and to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, always delicious prepared before your eyes. models or equipment without incurringfor obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Vehicle performance may vary depending on weather, temperature, altitude, riding Service helping families 100 years. ability and rider/passenger weight. I had the honor of talking with Bill and Mary’s daughter Carmel during the writing of this story and we shared some 2016 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. , ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. †All other trademarks are the property of their respective laughs while reminiscing about the Campus owners. Always ride responsibly and safely. Follow all instructional and safety materials. Always observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and appro- Inn days. Carmel priate protective clothing. And always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. BRP reserves the right, at any time, to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, models or equipment without incurring obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Vehicle performance may vary depending on weather, temperature, altitude, riding mentioned how she would work for her mom and dad at the ability and rider/passenger weight. 165 Whitesboro St. Campus Inn while attending Proctor. She said her family purYorkville, NY 13495 chased the Inn when she was about thirteen years-old, which was 315-736-7822 sometime around 1948. This was amazing to me; it never crossed my mind that Bill and Mary had already been there for twenty-five years by the mid-seventies. I expressed how amazing I felt it was for Bill to be so tolerant of loud music at that time in his life PROUD SPONSOR OF THE (in his sixties). Carmel’s reply was “My dad was really with it, he loved kids”. For most of us, we think of the Campus Inn serving Proctor High School students exclusively. The truth is, it was also known by many others to be a great meeting place. Bill was very active in the Athletics Department at St. Mary of Mount Carmel. In fact, he played a major role in creating the program and served as their director for 37 years. One of Bill’s proudest moments was when he was elected CYO’s (Catholic Youth Organization) Youth Man of the Year in November 1966. 315-732-9733 Besides being active in other church programs, Bill also organized the Grammar School Basketball League. It wasn’t just athletics that Bill OPEN YOUR ROAD theof burger Vehicle Stability System and cargo capacity you can hit the road in totalput peace mind. to

It's time to grip the throttle, put more freedom in your day and find your own way forward. When you are out on a Can-Am Spyder, you will meet new people, see new horizons and experience the world around you like never before. With its powerful Rotax® 1330 ACE™ engine, Y-frame design, Vehicle Stability System and cargo capacity you can hit the road in ®total peace of mind. ®


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It's time to grip the throttle, put more freedom in your dayVISIT and find own way forward. When USyour TODAY you are out on a Can-Am Spyder, you will meet new people, see new horizons and experience the world around you like never before. With its powerful Rotax® 1330 ACE™ engine, Y-frame design, Vehicle Stability System and cargo capacity you can hit the road in total peace of mind.

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2016 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. †All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Always ride responsibly and safely. Follow all instructional and safety materials. Always observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and appropriate protective clothing. And always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. BRP reserves the right, at any time, to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, models or equipment without incurring obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Vehicle performance may vary depending on weather, temperature, altitude, riding © and rider/passenger weight. ® ability © ®


2016 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. , ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. †All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Always ride responsibly and safely. Follow all instructional and safety materials. Always observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and appropriate protective clothing. And always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. BRP reserves the right, at any time, to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, models or equipment without incurring obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Vehicle performance may vary depending on weather, temperature, altitude, riding

© 2016 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. †All other trademarks are the property of their respective owners. Always ride responsibly and safely. Follow all instructional and safety materials. Always observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and appropriate protective clothing. And always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. BRP reserves the right, at any time, to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, models or equipment without incurring obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Vehicle performance may vary depending on weather, temperature, altitude, riding

ability and rider/passenger weight. Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. †All other trademarks are the property of their respective ability andFollow rider/passenger weight. e responsibly and safely. all instructional and safety materials. Always observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and approlothing. And always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. BRP reserves the right, at any time, to discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, ent without incurring obligation. Some models depicted may include optional equipment. Vehicle performance may vary depending on weather, temperature, altitude, riding assenger weight.



2016 Bombardier Recreational Products Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logo are trademarks of BRP or its affiliates. †All other trademarks are the property of their respective

Recreational Productsowners. Inc. (BRP). All rights reserved. ®, ™ and the BRP logoall are trademarks and of BRP or its affiliates.Always †All other trademarks are the property of their respective Always ride responsibly and safely. Follow instructional safety materials. observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and approde responsibly and safely. Follow all instructional and safety materials. Always observe applicable local laws and regulations. Always wear a helmet, eye protection and appropriate protective clothing. And alwaysdon’t remember thatreserves riding and alcohol/drugs don’t mix. BRP reserves thespecifications, right, at any time, discontinue or change specifications, prices, designs, features, clothing. And always remember that riding and alcohol/drugs mix. BRP the right, at any time, to discontinue or change prices,todesigns, features, © ® ment without incurring obligation. models depicted may include optional equipment. performance may vary depending on Vehicle weather,performance temperature,may altitude, models or Some equipment without incurring obligation. Some models Vehicle depicted may include optional equipment. varyriding depending on weather, temperature, altitude, riding assenger weight.

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played a huge part in; he was also very active with the Boy Scouts. One of Bill’s major accomplishments was earning Sent in by Marie Robilotto - Thank you the Silver Beaver Award which is the highest award a nonprofessional scouter can receive. Bill and Mary had also been known to host a Boy Scout’s

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Christmas party on occasion. Bill organized and hosted one such Christmas party to take place on December 23,1957 with Troop 47; it was sponsored by the Holy Name Society of St. Mary of Mt. Carmel Church. At the party, each scout brought a present that would be donated to the St John’s and St. Joseph’s home. Many of the kids outside of Proctor High School would remember the Campus Inn as a gathering place to meet before games. I would assume this location was chosen so Bill could convert from “Campus Inn Bill” to “Coach Rizzo” in the last moments of his work day. His family’s dedication to St. Mary of Mount Carmel began with his mother, Carmela. When she was 3 years old, Carmela’s family arrived in Utica as one of its first settlers of Italian decent. Carmela was one of the founders of St. Mary of Mount Carmel church and would often tell how she carried bricks for the building while it was under construction In 1975, Bill and a group of residents living near the school, known as the “T. R. Proctor Residents Association” wanted to have a memorial created in honor of all the Proctor High School Students. Bill acted as Monument Project Chairman while others involved in this project were, Roger Salimando, Eli Hobaica and Mrs. Kay Hobaica. The monument would be completed in bronze by sculptor Henry DiSpirito and placed in a stone on display at Alumni Park (the triangle piece of land where Armory Drive, Hilton Ave. and Arthur St. meet). After much hard work and generous donations, the venture was a success. The monument still stands in Alumni Park today. If you were to catch Bill early in the morning as I used to, you would have been treated to great conversation between the brief interruptions of the daily deliveries of rolls and other products from vendors. I believe it was my early arrivals at the Campus Inn that prompted Bill to choose me for some grounds work around the Inn. For two summers, it was me that painted the white ranch fence that surrounded the Inn. The best part of the job was when Bill called me in for lunch and offered me anything I wanted. I guess like our days at the Campus Inn, this story has to end somewhere, but before I go, there are a few things I would like to share in its honor. At one time, a sign above the door exiting out of the Campus Inn read, and I paraphrase, “Through this door, passes the most beautiful girls of Proctor High School”. A statement from Bill Rizzo while involved in the Proctor Student Monument: “Proctor has been a part of my life since 1948”. Likewise, Bill, Mary, Rose (Bill’s sister) and the Campus

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Inn have been a part of all us Proctor Students’ lives as well. It is incredible to think that the Rizzo family had been working the Campus Inn gig for 25 years by the time my class came around and I think it is safe to say, we were honored to experience it. For those of you that have not experienced the Rizzo Campus Inn, please allow me to describe it for you. The Campus Inn had awesome owners that loved kids and served great food. If you were sitting at the counter and turned to face what was behind you, there would be lines of tables from end to end and parallel to one another. These chairs at these tables were filled with your friends, acquaintances and classmates. Finally, through the friends we had at the Inn, we befriended those we had yet to meet…. that was the Campus Inn.


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In 1914, Anthony F. Matt, a son of Italian immigrants, established the Matt Funeral Home on the corner of Third Avenue and Bleecker Street in East Utica. As the Italian, Lebanese and Syrian population began to increase, there was a need for mortuary services in Anthony’s neighborhood and those adjacent. Understanding of the religious and cultural values of these people, he was able to provide them with compassionate and respectable service. Over the next thirty-three years at Matt Funeral Home, Anthony was able to gain the trust and respect of people throughout the city until he died at the age of fifty-six in 1947. During the latter part of Anthony’s life, his son, John L. Matt Sr. was stationed in Italy and the countries of North Africa during World War II. As a dedicated member of the United States Army, John Sr. was forced to take on the difficult task of working in graves registration and as a French/Italian interpreter. For his honorable service, he was awarded with the Good Conduct Medal as well as two Bronze Battle Stars. When the war finally ended, John Sr. was sent home and took over the Matt Funeral Home in 1947. Shortly after assuming ownership with his wife Grace (Jean), John Sr. moved the business to a bigger location in East Utica where he lived with his family on the second floor. John Sr. and Grace were married for seventy years, retiring together in the 1970s. At the age of eleven, John Matt. Jr. began working for his father at the many services conducted at the family funeral home. For many years, John Jr. looked up to his father and learned from him everything he knows about life and the family profession. He says that perhaps the most important thing he learned from his dad was that you must covet three things in particular; God, country and family. After completing two years of mortuary schooling at Simmons School of Embalming and Mortuary Science, John did a oneyear apprenticeship with a funeral home in Rochester before returning home to Utica in 1977. In 2003, John was hired as the manager of the Francis W. Fisk Funeral Home at 3309 Oneida Street in Chadwicks. The Fisk funeral home was founded and ran by Francis Wayland Fisk of Clayville from 1942, until his death in 1969 when the business was sold to Frank Rogenka. In 2004, one year after Frank passed away, John purchased the business and has been running the John L. Matt Funeral Home at the very same location for thirteen years. On the walls of John’s office hang the pictures of his great grandparents, grandparents and parents to remind him every day of the values they stood for and instilled in him. John L. Matt Funeral Home’s mission prides itself on providing a very comfortable, private and intimate setting. Because of the size of the location, John says he is able to provide an affordable service without sacrificing quality; he believes that “dignity should not come at high prices.”. He understands that some people have limited finances and is willing to work with them on all services offered including cremation, bronze markers, caskets and mausoleums. John also offers customized memorial blankets for those that want to make a special dedication to their loved one who has passed on. When it comes to being a funeral director, John says he sees the profession as a vocation as opposed to an occupation. He feels as though it is an honor to be given the sacred trust of handling the funeral service of a person from his community. John offers his personal number to his clients and welcomes them to call him any time after the service if they are in need of counseling or not sure what steps to take. John also says it is a privilege to share a name with his late father and tries to carry on his legacy to the best of his ability. For more information on John L. Matt Funeral Home, log on to or, call 315-737-7310, or visit them at 3309 Oneida Street in Chadwicks.

38 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - September 2017


Surviving the Times The Capitol Theatre By Brad Velardi As I made my way into Rome from Utica on an August morning, I found myself studying the characteristics of the Copper City. What I discovered that day was something that had never crossed my mind in prior visits; something that made me feel a little more “at home.” For those of us who are longtime residents of either Utica or Rome, it is no secret there has been a cross-county rivalry for some time; but I had experienced an epiphany during my visit and an often-overused movie line was repeating itself in my head, “We’re not so different, you and I.” For those on both sides who continue to latch on to the rivalry, this may be difficult to admit, but it’s true. Both cities have seen the ups and downs of industry as communities in the Rust Belt region of the United States. Both have blue-collar, working-class roots that set the precedent for citizens of the future. Each of them have their own unique qualities and traditions that are near and dear to the hearts of their people. There is one aspect of each city that separates them from most in the entire country; a wealth of history. What I am most proud of, in respect to the people of both Utica and Rome, is that they work hard to preserve that history and keep it alive as a reminder to anyone who in unaware of what makes them special. When in Rome, I was reminded of a particular piece of history in the city that has been one of its most recognizable structures for close to 90 years. The fact that it even exists today is a testament to the level of dedication shown by the people of Rome. The Capitol Theatre on West Dominick Street was lost in the mid-1970s, only to be revived by a group of citizens who fought an honorable fight in the name of history. Thanks to their

organization, Capitol staff members of the past and present, and the countless visitors that have walked through the doors of the Capitol over the past thirty-plus years, the theater’s heart beats on. It all began with the vision of two innovative men from Syracuse, New York. On July 4th, 1910, Myron J. and J.S. Kallet opened their very first moving picture house in Onondaga Valley, calling it, “Dreamland.” The two brothers leased the once-vacant store in hopes of finding success in an untapped market. It was something the folks of the area had never experienced but first day’s business totaled just 80 cents. An outsider-looking-in would have never expected this venture to be the start of a success story about two, young entrepreneurs. After “Dreamland”, the brothers continued their careers in the movie house business; operating theaters in Camden, Hamilton, Baldwinsville, Canastota, Weedsport and Port Byron. The Kallets were looking to take a chance once again and had their sights set on the city of Oneida. In Oneida, Myron and J.S. erected the Madison Theater, which became the first piece of an empire built by the two brothers. After purchasing the Carroll Theater in Rome, the Kallets formed the Carroll Theater Amusement Company and began acquiring various theaters throughout the area. The company name was changed to Kallet Theaters, Inc. in 1925, and the initiative to purchase locations outside of Rome and Oneida began. By 1928, the brothers had presided over a chain of seventeen theaters that employed over 300 people. In 1926, Kallet Theaters, Inc. obtained the booking facilities of M.E. Commerford Amusement Company when the two companies forged an alliance. Com-




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merford’s connection with Amalgamated Vaudeville would give Kallet the opportunity to present shows that were impossible in the past. On December 30th, 1926, it was announced in the Rome Daily Sentinel that the Commerford and Kallet companies would be exercising an option on property at 212-224 on West Dominick Street in Rome; the future site of the Capitol Theatre. In the months leading up to the official announcement, rumors were traveling all around town in regard to what the block would become. The gossip was put to rest; Rome was to have a brand-new motion picture house that measured 100 feet in frontage and 225 feet back to Willett Street. The final agreement between the two companies and current property owner, John R. Harper, was reached on March 31st, 1927. The buildings on-site had been razed during the winter of 1926-1927 and the contract was awarded in April of 1928 with Leon H. Lempert as architect. Excavation work began on April 17th and was performed by B.S. McCarey, a company out of Rome, and construction by Stofflet & Tillotson commenced immediately after. The theater’s exterior was made of colored brick with granite stone trim. Decorations filled the lobby, mezzanine, auditorium, balcony and rest rooms. As one made their way down the aisles, they would notice lavish rugs lying under their feet; the light fixtures were made of cast bronze and decorated with colored jewels and crystals. The Spanish-inspired design was filled with blues, golds, greens, browns and tans with a luxurious terra cotta ceiling. The lighting system included the theater’s famous octagonal dome. A somewhat exaggerated claim was made that the playhouse was expected to fit up to 2,500 attendees, but 2,000 was closer to the truth, (today it seats 1,788.) with a foyer capacity of 500. Great lengths were taken to ensure the entire building was as fire-resistant as the times would allow. The theater’s Moller Organ would become one its staples as it was designed specifically for the Capitol. It is made up of orchestral instruments such as: violins, violas, tubas, trumpets and clarinets. Included in the organ is a xylophone, harp celeste, vox humana, glockenspiel, orchestral bells and a set of traps from base drum to whistles. The organ console was placed in the center of the orchestra pit upon a lift that would rise to stage level, and the pipes, percussion instruments and “toy counter” (sound effects) were located in the two lofts on the sides of the theater. ”Talkies” (talking pictures) were still in their beginning stages, but the state-of-the-art theater was equipped with Vitaphone (sound on disc) and Movietone (sound on film) equipment to


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Top: Ground breaking for the new Capitol Theatre. Left: Let the building begin! Picture courtesy of the Rome Historical Society.

present talking pictures to its audiences. When the calendar marked Monday, December 10th, 1928, the city of Rome was abuzz and opening night at the Capitol Theatre was a cold one. The weather did not scare the line of people starting at the theater, going down West Dominick Street and around the corner on George Street. As the feature film of the night, Lilac Time starring Colleen Moore and Gary Cooper played along, the lights were low and emotions were high. The folks that filled the theater seats were a part of something special; leaving 4901 State Route 233 Westmoreland, NY

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Left: Promotional advertisement. Center & Right interior pictures of the Capitol Theatre - Pictures Courtesy of Rome Historical Society.

envious those who are only left to imagine the atmosphere of that winter night. The Capitol Theatre was born, and at that moment, its death was inconceivable. As the Capitol, headed by its managing director J. S. Kallet, thrived over the next decade, theater styles across America were changing vastly. To maintain its position as one of the finest movie houses in the state, Kallet Theaters Inc. prepared a complete redecoration and re-equipment of the Capitol that was completed in 1939. The dedication ceremony took place on Tuesday, October 10th of that year and the company released

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a statement in the evening paper the night prior: “It is with a sense of neighborliness and genuine appreciation of your fine spirit that our organization presents to you good people of Rome and vicinity our New Kallet Capitol Theater in Rome.” The theater overall would take on a more modernistic appearance with a brandnew marquee with changing electric sign flashes. A larger box office was installed and built of black and red Vitrolite that was spacious enough to fit two cashiers; cutting down on waiting time for customers. Included in the redecorating and refurnishing were the lobby, which now had a large, multicolored light fixture hanging from the ceiling, as well as new carpeting; and the mezzanine, where all furniture was replaced. The auditorium was completely renovated; the seats were reupholstered in red and black with backs of velour and seats of corduroy, while lights and decorations were all enhanced to improve viewing pleasure. Mahogany walnut exterior doors leading into the lobby and old-fashioned walnut interior doors that led into the theater were all finished. Perhaps the most exciting aspect of the entire renovation was the installation of the Capitol’s Carrier air condi-

Picture Courtesy of the Rome Historical Society.

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tioning plant. The Kallets always vowed to use a healthy chunk of their profits to keep the theater beautiful and they never disappointed. Over the years, the Capitol functioned primarily as a movie house, but did host live acts from time to time. Various musical acts such as Art Kahn’s Orchestra, the California Ramblers, the Rhythm Boys (singing trio of Bing Crosby, Harry Barris and Al Rinker), Paul Whiteman and the Chesterfield

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1947: “The Egg and I” at the Capitol. Courtesy of the Rome Historical Society

Orchestra, and the Dorsey Brothers Orchestra. In 1956, the groundbreaking rock n’ roll sound of Bill Haley and His Comets rattled the walls of the Capitol like never before. Providing Providing direct care and support services across the direct care and support Providing direct care and support services across the the modernization of the theater industry in the Greaterservices Utica area for individuals with mental health While across the Greater Utica area and substanceUtica abusearea issues. for individuals with mental health Greater for individuals with mental health and late 1930s served as a positive for the Capitol, the same could and substance abuse issues. substance abuse issues. Providing direct care and support services across the Milestones not be said for the transformation taking place in the 1970s. As ● Outpatient Treatment ● Adolescent Treatment ● 502 Court Street Greater Utica area for individuals with mental health Outpatient ● Family and Grief• Support GroupsTreatment ● Professional Track ● Suite 210 larger and more technologically-advanced movie houses came and substance abuse issues. Milestones Milestones Utica, NY 13502 ● Veterans Program ● MedicationTreatment Assisted Treatment ● • ●Adolescent Outpatient Treatment ● Adolescent Treatment ● (315) 480-5860 502 Court Street 502 Court Steet into popularity across the country, and television entered the ● DWI Program ● Integrated Dual Support Diagnosis Treatment • Family andand Grief Groups ● Milestones Family Grief Support ● Professional Track ● SuiteSuite 210 210 ● Outpatient●Treatment ● Adolescent TreatmentGroups ● 502 Court Street • Professional Track scene, theaters Utica, 13502 ● Family and Grief SupportDirector Groups ● Professional Track ● ● CASAC, Veterans Program ● Medication Assisted Treatment ● like the Capitol could no longer fill the seats like Suite 210 NY Nicole Siriano, of Outpatient Services Utica, NY 13502 • Medication Assisted Treatment (315) Utica, NY480-5860 13502 ● Veterans Program ● Medication Assisted Treatment ● they had in the ● DWI Program ● Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment ● past. When combining these factors with large (315) 507-5800 (315) 480-5860 • DWI Program ● DWI Program ● Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment ● overhead costs, Kallet Theaters Inc. closed its doors in 1974 • Integrated Dual Diagnosis Treatment NicoleDirector Siriano, CASAC, Services Director of Outpatient Services Theatre was leased by Cinema National; a large Nicole Siriano, CASAC, of Outpatient and the Capitol Patricia B. King, Program Director • theater chain. On May 28th, 1974, the Capitol showed its final motion picture, The Exorcist. Cinema National Est. 1989 brought some of its “bigger” movies to the Capitol on Call and order today! occasion, but the experiment was unsuccessful and the policy was abandoned. The SEPTEMBER SPECIAL! Corporate & Leisure Travel marquee was removed and Free Small Cheese Pizza The Full Service Transportation Company those old enough to rememwith the Purchase of a Large Pizza New Arrival 14 Passenger Mercedes Benz Sprinter ber the Capitol in its heyday Monday - Calzone...$5.50 • Tuesday - Any Medium Subs...$5.50 Call us today! were devastated by the turn Wednesday - Any Medium Hot Sub $6.00 • Thursday - Chicken Sandwich $5.50* of events. Four years shy of its 1003 Erie St. Utica 315-733-1827 Friday - Fish Sandwich ...$5.50* *Choice of fries, chips or salad 50th birthday, the theater died 5661 State Route 5 We also deliver to Whitesboro • NYM Herkimer, NY 315-866-2011 young and many people had Yorkville • Oriskany • Westmoreland• Stanwix & Marcy

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Mary Poppins & Tickle Me 1964 - Courtesy of the Rome Historical Society

settled with the fact that it was gone forever. Over the next decade or so, the building was used on occasion for live events but was neglected for the most part. However, there were a group of individuals who were not so content with the absence of their beloved theater and decided to take strong action and execute its resurrection. In the 1980s, with hopes of purchasing the theater and bringing it back to prominence as a performing arts center, the Capitol Civic Center was formed. Led by its president, Eric Rickard, the Capitol Civic Center, a non-profit organization, was able to pay $140,000 toward the purchase of the old theater. Carrollâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Development Corp. pledged the other $60,000 to be released from its current lease on the building. With a great deal of hard work still ahead of them, the grassroots or1150 McQuade Ave ganization struck hope into Utica, NY 13501 the Capitol Theatre and the 315-724-5578 renovating process began. Hundreds of thousands of dollars were raised and they were Cold Cuts going to need every penny as Pecorino Romano many improvements needed to Ricotta be made. On December 10th, 1985, exMozzarella Imported Provolone actly 57 years to the day since the Capitol Theatre opened and much more its doors, one of Romeâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s most Visit us for all your Italian favorites cherished landmarks had its You will love our prices!!! grand opening as the Capitol

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46 GREATER UTICA MAGAZINE - September 2017

Civic Center. There was a 1920s fashion parade and the ushers were dressed in the same uniforms as those working in 1928. On that night, in front of a crowd that included multiple moviegoers who attended the 1928 opening, there were two showings of a motion picture that symbolized the magnitude of the event; Lilac Time. Former house organist, Carleton Brush sat at the console of the Moller organ and provided music prior to the silent film, which would be accompanied by the Rick Montalbano Trio. The event would have never been possible without the efforts of several volunteers that did everything from scrubbing the dressing rooms to painting the auditorium floors. In the years following, the Capitol Civic Center did a tremendous job of making immediate use of the theater. It served multiple purposes and was host to many professional and amateur acts including: the Capitol’s Rising Stars program for youths aspiring to act and musical groups such as the Syracuse Symphony Orchestra. Once again, the theater was showing first run films on their 20 feet by 30 feet screen and the efforts to restore and preserve the Capitol continued over the coming years. Throughout the late 80s, the theater was serving tens of 1000s of visitors each year, proving there was still a place for the Capitol in Rome. In 1989, Capitol held its first Summerstage event with a performance of Annie. Summerstage stills runs strong today with two annual showings as a local theatrical musical program. Countless successful efforts to secure donations and government funding have taken place over the past few decades. In 1990, the Board of County Legislators authorized a $129,300 bonding package for the Capitol that went toward building improvements, the air-conditioning system and the lighting system. The following year, renovations were made to the first-floor restrooms and the mezzanine lobby (which was then opened for the first time in more than 40 years). From 1998 to 1999, $125,000 was raised for the Capitol through grants as well as donations from individuals and local businesses. The money was used to restore concessions and brick work, acid washing, painting, as well as the replacement of doors and carpeting. In the late 90s and into the 2000s, some of the trademarks of the Capitol Theatre had returned to their true form, giving it all the more authenticity. The organ was brought back to playing condition in 1997, and in 2002, a silent film series began at the Capitol. The ticket booth from the 1939 renovation was restored in 2009 and held its grand opening in December of that year. The Capitol has done nothing but grow and adapt since it reopened in 1985. In 2003, it hosted its first Capitolfest, which is a summer Cinephile film festival described on RomeCapitol. com as “a place to see rarely-shown and newly-discovered films of the silent and early talkie era”. What is now called the Capitol Arts Complex goes from 216-234 West Dominick Street and includes: The Capitol Theatre and as of 2014, Cinema Capitol, a two-screen movie theater with a total of 125 seats, opened next door. At Cinema Capitol, audiences get the rare treat of seeing independent, documentary and foreign films that are often unavailable in other parts of Central New York. Under the leadership of executive director, Art Pierce, the Capitol Arts Complex appears to be doing very well. He and the theater’s board of directors are planning an initiative to


restore the theater and renovate the other buildings that make up the expanded Capitol Arts Complex. Art, along with past and current staff members, and the incredible supporters of the Capitol deserve a boatload of credit for taking what was a lost cause in the mid-1980s and creating something truly special. After learning the story of The Capitol Theatre, I discovered the biggest similarity between Uticans and Romans: we never quit! (We would like give a special “thank you” to the Rome Historical Society and the Capitol Theatre for helping us with research for this story.)

1961: The crowd shows up for Gorgo. Picture Courtesy of the Rome Historical Society


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Greater utica september 2017  
Greater utica september 2017  

September is back to school!!! This month we cover the 80 year history of Thomas R. Proctor High, Bill & Mary Rizzo's Campus Inn, The Capito...