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Today’s article is a continuation from last week. It is part 2 of an article that was written by D.J. Fulton, who recently shared with me this amazing piece of Auburn’s history. He has a booklet named "Through the Years in Auburn," which is a souvenir from the centennial celebration of Auburn’s history from 1848 to 1948. It’s a remarkable glimpse into our early history, and full of information I’m sure many of us never knew. Thanks, D.J.!

Centennial – Part 2

Auburn’s Centennial Commission, which was named by then Mayor Edward T. Boyle, was a Who’s Who representation of the best that Auburn had to offer at the time. Look at the imposing roster:

President: William J. Lee, businessman

Vice president: Anthony J. Contiguglia, patriarch of one of the most talented families ever in the city 

Secretary: Herbert T. Anderson, attorney (and future mayor)  

Treasurer: Maurice I. Schwartz, businessman (and future mayor)

The board also included such luminaries as Dentist G.B. (Barney) Atwater (future board of education chairman), Charles G. Hetherington (superintendent of schools), Edwin R. Metcalf (Chairman of Columbian Rope Co.) and others too numerous to mention.

In the program for the event, the commission thanked all those who had helped with the program and set the tone for the celebration. They wrote:

“To all who have contributed of time or thought, money or effort to Auburn’s celebration of her 100th birthday as a city, the heartfelt thanks of this community are due. May this same spirit of cooperative effort and individual service live through the century ahead. From all walks of like, from all faiths and from all nationalities has come a gracious response to the call to help in making this celebration truly significant. Several thousand persons from all part of Cayuga County have shared in the collective effort to give our citizens a rekindled spirit in their heritage of history — a new faith in tomorrow. Industry, labor, business, the professions, schools, churches and organizations have closed ranks in a common cause. They have demonstrated Auburn is a fine city of fine people who have an instinct for working together. To every one who played a contributing part, whether large or small, we express our gratitude.”

Mayor Boyle also weighed in of the effort:

“The Centennial Commission and its officers have done a splendid job in rekindling the zeal of our whole community in paying tribute to the past and re-dedicating ourselves to a greater Auburn of tomorrow. We welcome former residents who are our guests on this occasion; who may tarry awhile during our celebration. We wish both a happy and satisfying sojourn and a clearer conception of the spirit of Auburn through the years. Our future possibilities are limited only by our own energy and enterprise. The cooperation, the unity and the unselfish spirit awakened by this Centennial augur well for our civic contribution to our community in the century ahead.”

And finally Mr. Lee, commission chairman, also weighed in:

“As the culmination of the effort that has engaged our attention during the past spring and summer approaches, I am anxious to get to my friends and associates a message of my gratitude for what you have done. ... No one engaged in such an enterprise in this city has ever had such splendid help as you have given me. ... Hard as the work has been, I have enjoyed every minute of it. The work itself has been enjoyable. Our activity represents the greatest effort of its kind ever put forth in the history of Auburn. The success that these have attained already is outstanding. But it is not merely the work itself that has given me the greatest joy ... your loyalty to the organization, to the enterprise itself, to each other, and to me has given me the greatest joy. ... My heart is full as I speak of it, I shall never forget it. ... I may have more to say, but no words could I speak then could possibly represent more by way of earnestness and sincerity than this warm tribute of gratitude to you who have associated yourselves with me in this consummation, for the sake of Auburn, that comes now from the grateful heart of your General Chairman.”

And so the celebration was accomplished and was a success in all that it endeavored.  And its most important endeavor may have been to set a tone and spirit for Auburn to carry it forward.  And it might be wise to consider this extravaganza and all that was said about it by the commission, the mayor and the general chairman, when you next think to denigrate Auburn in some way. Think carefully about it, at least twice.

Thanks so much, D.J. Fulton! You are truly a Legend of Auburn!

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Ormie King's column appears Sundays in The Citizen and he can be reached by email at ormie5king@gmail.com.

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