There's some sort of hubbub about Roosevelts these days, so we may as well recall the time when Colonel Roosevelt, not yet Governor of the Empire State, made what the New York Tribune called "The Colonel's Flying Trip to the Rensselaer County Fair," in 1898. At that point flying was entirely metaphorical.

Troy, N.Y., Oct. 14. - Colonel Theodore Roosevelt had a cordial reception to-day on his first visit to the interior of the State since he was nominated for Governor. The report had been sent out from New-York late last night that he would be in Troy to-night, and would make a political address, but this was an error. He had simply accepted an invitation to visit the fair of the Rensselaer County Agricultural Society at West Sand Lake. Notwithstanding the circumstance that his visit here was not of a political nature and was unexpected, great interest was manifested in his presence, and the heartiness of the greetings tendered him indicated beyond question his popularity.

Colonel Roosevelt departed from his home at Oyster Bay early this morning, and caught the Empire State Express on the Central Railroad for Albany. He arrived in Albany at 11:11 o'clock, and remained in the city forty-five minutes. During every second of his brief stay in the capital there were cheers, hurrahs, flag-wavings and shouts of enthusiasm in his honor ....

When Colonel Roosevelt was seen the gathering sent up a mighty shout of "Hurrah for our next Governor!" "Hurrah for Roosevelt!" Three cheers for Colonel Roosevelt!" Three cheers were given; another three were called for and came with deafening force; another three cheers brought forth the demand for a tiger, which was given with vigor. Colonel Roosevelt gave a hundred hearty handclasps to those who were presented to him by John Knickerbocker, of the Troy Committee, and Edward B. Cantine, representing the Albanians present. A sturdy policeman made a path for the Colonel, who, flanked by Mr. Knickerbocker and Mr. Cantine, and followed by a cheering crowd, passed through the station yard and the arcade to the trolley-car which was to bear him and the committee to Troy ....

Colonel Roosevelt was told that Governor Black was at the Executive Chamber. "Let's go up and see the Governor," he said, and a cab was obtained to drive him to the Capitol ... The party was ushered into the Governor's private room. Governor Black smilingly greeted Colonel Roosevelt, who acknowledged the kindly telegrams of the Governor sent after the Saratoga Convention. Governor Black and Colonel Roosevelt then had five minutes of private conversation, during which the Governor assured the Colonel that all his influence would be exerted for the Colonel's election ....

Colonel Roosevelt was taken on his arrival here [in Troy] to the Troy Club. In the clubroom an informal reception was held. Many officers and members of the 2d New-York Regiment greeted the Colonel, and the leader of the Rough Riders expressed himself as exceedingly glad to meet the soldiers.

Colonel Roosevelt then departed for West Sand Lake. At Albia the party changed cars, taking a car of the Troy and New-England Railway. Many persons had assembled at Albion. On the journey to West Sand Lake the Colonel conversed with members of the party, and seemed to enjoy the trip ....

The car arrived at the Brookside Park station in West Sand Lake, about 1:15, and as the Colonel alighted Doring's Band welcomed him with the strains of "The Star Spangled Banner." Coaches were immediately taken, and the party was conveyed to the fair grounds. Colonel Roosevelt had a cordial reception along the way, and upon reaching the fair grounds the coaches proceeded around the racetrack so that everyone could have an opportunity to see the distinguished guest. Colonel Roosevelt acknowledged the welcome he received, but on account of the lateness of the hour it was imperative that he should not speak, as he was obliged to proceed as quickly as possible to Rensselaer, that he might make sure to catch his train for New-York. He had an important engagement to speak in the metropolis this evening. There were loud cries of "Speech! Speech!" from the crowd, but he was compelled to decline the invitation. His reception everywhere on the fair grounds was cordial, and he evidently enjoyed his visit to the fair.

A few weeks later, Roosevelt defeated Augustus Van Wyck, though not by a whole lot.

Downtown Schenectady, Then and (almost) Now

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State Street 1978 and 2007An odd departure, but I always have a hard time remembering what little stores were where in the downtown Schenectady of my youth, and it's harder now that this (fortunately preserved) section of State Street is being rehabbed. So, above, a lousy picture I took on a cold, dreary afternoon in 1978; below, a pic of the works in progress from 2007. The building at the farthest right above is gone, replaced by the new Bowtie Cinemas building. I'm sorry I didn't get any shots of it before it was taken down, it was magnificent.

Before the commercial takeover of "upper" State Street, above the Erie Canal, after the Canal closed in the early part of the 20th century, this area was still largely private homes. I suspect all four of these buildings in the new shot were once homes, and were surrounded then by the Carl Co. building on the left and Witbeck Hardware (the tall tower) on the right.

 As much as we think things are stable, they're not. Just 14 years before my 1978 picture, nearly all the busineses in this shot were different. In 1964, the Time Center Jewelers was there, but there was also the Four Twenty Eight Restaurant and Marshall's Foot Wear. The sign that says "Peggy's" had previously said Fox & Murphy, a sporting goods store. Bern's Camera was alone in the Close Building.The building housing the Squire Shop may have been vacant in 1964; the Squire Shop was then down by the overpass, next to the Gazette. There was a place called Rudolph Bros. Inc, and the Vendome Restaurant, which must have decamped from the original Vendome Hotel, which had been across the street.

My grandmother waitressed in Peggy's Restaurant for a number of years after Wallace's Department Store closed. She originally went there with the woman who managed the Wallace's restaurant, Agnes Beauville, who opened and operated Beauville's. Before too long it was sold and became Peggy's.

it all looks a far sight better than it did in 1978.

What's up in the publishing world, 1919

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Ran across an edition of "The American Printer" from August, 1919, which featured a series of short blurbs informative of what was going on with printers and publishers in New York State that summer. Among them:

  • The Schenectady Union-Star has changed its mechanical equipment to print an eight column, 12½ em page, instead of a seven column, 13 em page.
  • Fire in the composing room of the Albany Times-Union did several hundred dollars' damage recently. The blaze started at 5 o'clock in the morning, but was soon under control.
  • George Edward Rines, editor of the "Encyclopedia Americana," which is printed by the J.B. Lyon Printing Company, of Albany, told at a dinner of the Rotary Club of Albany recently how the big work is printed.
  • Leon M. Burt, of the job department of the Schenectady Union-Star, recently joined the benedicts. The bride was Miss Gertrude Bangs, of Springfield, Mass. Fellow workers presented Burt with a kitchen set.
  • Beginning September 1, the Schenectady Division of The Capital District Typothetae will meet every Monday night. Estimating classes will be formed, under direction of H.C. Alvord, secretary-treasurer of the Capital District Typothetae.
  • The Schenectady newspaper publishers and the International Typographical Union have agreed to a raise for the Schenectady printers amounting to four dollars a week. The scale is now $29 for day work and $32.50 for the night shifts. The contract runs to Dec. 15, 1920.
  • The plant of the Schenectady Gazette Press is being enlarged, and it is expected the job department will be twice its present size when the work is completed. The newspaper composing room is also being enlarged. Fred Frost, chairman of the Schenectady section of the Capital District Typothetae, is superintendent of the job department.
  • Albany printers are watching with interest the development of a Junior Printers' Association, which was devised by youngsters interested in the "art preservative." Many of the youngsters have their own small presses, and they plan get-together meetings to learn the game, hoping eventually to land with some of the printshops in Albany or vicinity. Raymond Warshaw is president and John H. Bielman secretary. Both are sons of employing printers in Albany.
  • Several thousand dollars' damage was done by a fire in the plant of the Budget, which conducts a job printing plant as well as prints a weekly newspaper, at Troy, July 21. The fire damaged the main press, consumed twenty rolls of paper and two barrels of ink, and threatened at one time to spread to other departments of the paper. The Budget was recently purchased by Thomas H. Curry and Albert A. McNaughton, after being controlled for more than a century by the family of Major Charles A. MacArthur.

So, for you young'uns who never slung hot lead across a Ludlow (and, in all honesty, neither did I, at least not in real production), here are a few things you may not know:

  • A "typothetae" was a common name for a master printers' association.
  • "Estimating" was a critical skill, not only in the days of lead type, but in photo-typesetting as well. When you laid out a page, you didn't know how long an article was going to be; you had to estimate how long it was going to come out. The only thing that was guaranteed was that you'd be wrong. Now if you're wrong, you just push a virtual button and change everything; then that was simply impossible.
  • Narrow columns (eight, rather than seven, for the Union-Star) were all the rage into the '60s and '70s. It was big news when The New York Times finally abandoned its rigidly gray, intensely vertical format, and, to my mind, even bigger news when The Schenectady Gazette did the same.
  • An em is a printing measure. It's equal to the height of the type size being used; so if you're using 8-point type, an em space is 8 points. But when the size isn't specified, it's 12 points.
  • A "benedict" was a newly married man who had long been a bachelor, taken from Benedick of "Much Ado About Nothing." A kitchen set is a perfectly good thing to give a benedict.

The Schenectady Massacre Sign

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Schenectady massacreI love this sign at the entrance to Schenectady at the Western Gateway Bridge. Love it so much. Because where else will you find a metal silhouette of a massacre? The sign itself should be a national landmark. It says, "Welcome to our city! People were once brutally murdered here!" The only thing this sign lacks is the apocryphal snowmen guarding the gates of the Stockade.

There were originally two other signs around town, one depicting a stagecoach, the other I believe depicting the first railroad. They disappeared fairly early on, and it is thought they were just scrapped. Can you imagine?

The lettering portion of the sign was actually remade when the sign was moved, at the opening of the new Western Gateway Bridge, around 1973. Unfortunately, it was recently redone again, not restored, and I can't say I like the way it looks.

Here's the short version of the story of the Schenectady Massacre.

Promoting Downtown

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It's been some time now that newspapers have been trying to promote city downtowns, so perhaps it's no surprise that the Schenectady Union-Star, before it abandoned Schenectady entirely, sponsored a big shopping promotion called "Suburban Day," which they described as "A united endeavor on the part of the Union-Star and the leading retailers of Schenectady to emphasize the advantages of Schenectady as a Shopping Center to every shopper within reasonable trading radius of Schenectady."

The story about it in Editor & Publisher was subtitled, "Great Newspaper Shows the Way in Boosting Business and Permanently Benefiting Merchants of the City." It was a huge deal. They got all the downtown merchants to put on their own promotions, "values that would be instantly recognized by the most indifferent shopper as GENUINE bargains." There were cash prizes for an essay contest on the unsurprising theme of "Why Schenectady is the Best Shopping Center in Eastern New York." The newspaper released balloons into the skies with special rewards for their return to certain merchants. There were special sections of the paper and signs on the trolleys.

"Did this campaign produce results? The word results hardly does it justice. Nothing short of an avalanche was produced."

And when was it that the Union-Star felt it necessary to trumpet the virtues of downtown shopping, to convince people from "more than fifty-five centers of population" to come into the city? One could be forgiven for surmising it was from the start of the decline, sometime in the 1960s, when much of the populace had moved out of the city, the stores were collapsing, and the newspaper itself was about to head off to Albany to be subsumed into the Knickerbocker News.

But in fact, Suburban Day was June 23, 1921.

An old-time newspaperman

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While perusing old editions of Editor and Publisher, we came across this little reminder that in the old days, there tended to be two kinds of newspapermen: the ones who were lifers at a single publication, and the ones who worked all over the place. Here's the obituary of one of the latter type who made his career in the tri-cities, John A. Sleicher.

Albany, N.Y., May 5 [1921] – John A. Sleicher died at his home here to-day. He was in his 73rd year. Mr. Sleicher was born in Troy, N.Y. on October 4, 1848, and began his newspaper training on the old Troy Whig, afterward the Record. Later he became city editor of the Troy Whig, then the Press, still later the Times and subsequently a part owner of the Times. He eventually sold his interest in the Times and bought the Schenectady Union.

Having thus had considerable experience on small city daily papers, he became editor and part owner of the Albany Evening Journal. When he came to New York City, it was as editor of the Mail and Express, which position he held until he became supervisor of the City Record. In May, 1905, Mr. Sleicher was made president of the Judge Company, which published Leslie's Weekly and Judge. He resigned as editor of the Mail and Express to become Supervisor of the City Record under Mayor Strong.

Mr. Sleicher had been ill for some time. When on February 23, last Judge Manton of the federal court appointed a receiver for the Leslie-Judge Company, it was said that the company's embarrassment was largely due to Mr. Sleicher's illness.

So here was a journalist who worked for six newspapers in the Capital District, had ownership in three of them, and then went on to run the company that published two of the largest circulation publications of their day. Not many could say that today, though it must be said that it's amazing that three daily newspapers continue to serve the three cities.

The dream of the 44-hour week

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newyorkstatepublishers.pngIn honor of Labor Day, let's take a look back at this article from Editor and Publisher of Feb. 5, 1921, datelined Albany, in which the New York State Publishers' Association, keepers of the possessive apostrophe, detail their reasoning for opposing the 44-hour week then being championed by the typographers and stereotypers.

The president of the NYSPA then was media mogul Frank Gannett of Rochester's Times-Union, unaffiliated with Albany's own T-U, which was part of Hearst's empire. After their first annual meeting, held in Albany, he said, "We submit that the tendency to shorter hours of labor cannot be supported indefinitely. The 48-hour week was the desire and ultimate contention of organized labor through years of struggle...

"In view of the business conditions to-day, labor costs cannot be advanced. Any increased cost such as proposed, would necessarily have to be absorbed by the publishing business, which the Unions and the public are well aware, are in no position to stand such financial loss. The increasing number of papers ceasing publication and consolidating is proof of this point."

(Wildly confused youth take note: stereotyping wasn't always a bad thing.)

The "new" Dunn Memorial Bridge

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Dunn Memorial 1970Another oddly random pic from a family shoebox. We believe it's from 1970, and the hideous and high new Dunn Memorial Bridge is nearly complete. The old Dunn is off to the right somewhere, waiting for a good blowing up, which would come a few months later, in 1971. The waterfront, as always, is just lovely.

Lee and CJ, downtown Albany, 1987This is us, rockin' the '80s, in front of the Pyramid jewelers in the National Savings Bank Building on State Street. I believe we were going to a record convention, comic book convention, some sort of thing across the street at the then spanking new Hilton. I remember thinking that Conrad Hilton wouldn't have been too impressed with what passed for a modern hotel. As for the date, I'm gonna call it 1987.

Lark Street, ca. 1970

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Lark Street, Albany, 1970I posted this on Flickr a couple of years ago, a very random shot found among my grandmother-in-law's photographs. A very weird shot, in that we can't imagine what they were up to in that part of town; there are a couple of others just as random. I'm now pretty convinced this is Lark Street, the intersection you can see is Spruce Street, and the deadhead in the upper left is Clinton Avenue. A little detective work showed that the only sign that is legible, for Alco Roofing, goes with a business that was located at 186-188 Elk Street in 1965. Whether they moved or had another office, or perhaps connected through the back yard to an address around the corner on Elk Street, who knows. Click here for the modern-day Google Streetview.

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