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Randall: Memories of searchlights, shoes and more in Weedsport

Randall: Memories of searchlights, shoes and more in Weedsport

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Let me take this opportunity to use this bully pulpit to express my sincere thanks to those who have sent cards, thoughts, prayers, visits and general well wishes during my recent health issues. It's hard work getting old! It even caused me to miss my newspaper deadline last month for the first time in nearly 20 years of writing this column. At any rate, I have decided to do another edition of "Do You Recall?" this month.

Speaking of writing, when was the last time you saw a sky writer, or for that matter one of the giant searchlights rotating in the night sky to announce the grand opening of an auto dealership, grocery store or some such? I can remember following one of the searchlights all the way to Camillus one time. How about the road that is no more — Maple Park, and then called Station Road, which ran from the intersection of Becker Road and Route 34 along the toe of the slope of the railroad overpass approach to the New York Central passenger station.

There was one house on the road, very near the tracks where the Maitland family lived. The house was torn down and the road done away with during the last iteration of the overpass refurbishment. Remember, also, there was a set of poured concrete steps all the way to the top of the overpass, which the Maitland kids climbed to get on the school bus. The steps were not put there for that purpose, however; they were for folks traveling from the north to get down to the railroad station. The steps went away at the same time as the road. The station had been long gone by that time.

Who remembers the longgggg, slow freight trains on the West Shore Railroad as it crossed Goff Street, Seneca Street, Horton Street, South Willow Street and East Brutus Street at grade? Can you imagine the snafu they would cause with today's traffic? And on the subject of transportation, does anyone recall the last barge they saw on the Seneca River (Barge Canal)? The year I was a senior in high school I worked as a deckhand on the tug Coyne Sisters, shoving a barge full of creosote from Buffalo to Kearny, New Jersey. It was quite an experience. By the way, the Coyne Sisters had an Alco engine, made in Auburn.

In the days before the common use and availability of "sneakers," one wore regular shoes, or went barefoot typically in the summer. I can remember my mother telling us to "get those shoes off, do you think they grow on trees?" When they had outlived their useful lives, down they went to Agosti Pantusi's shoe repair shop on Seneca Street, where new "cat's paw" heels were hammered on and perhaps a pair of neolite half-soles would be stitched on with his fascinating big sewing machine. At the museum we acquired all of the leftovers, tools, etc. from his shop when he closed up. Mr. Pantusi must have been the eternal optimist, because he apparently thought high button shoes were going to come back into style. There were bottles and bottles of buttons for them, which are now in our collection.

Denny Randall

Denny Randall

Unfortunately, the Weedsport Fireman's Field Days were canceled again this year, but who remembers the late town Judge Rev. Hook and your writer running a wine wheel where a thin dime placed on the right number would get you a bottle of cheap wine? We made a lot of money for the purchase of ambulances and other equipment over the years, 10 cents at a time.

It's almost lunch time, so I'll close with a couple of food queries. Who remembers the first slice of pizza they ate, and does anyone recall buying apples from the underground storage facility at R.P. Davis's Hidden Springs Farm? How about buying Ann Page products at the local A&P? One more: Who had the odious task of mixing the orange coloring in the margarine before coloring it at the factory became legal in New York, which was second only to Wisconsin in dairy production?

More another time.

Denny Randall is a past president of the Old Brutus Historical Society and a member of the Weedsport Central School class of 1957. 


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