I grew up in Ogdensburg during the ‘50s and early ‘60s

Ogdensburg. John F. Kibildis, vice president of the Ogdensburg Historical Society, shared the following submission to the society’s recent essay contest, which asked for interesting or humorous experiences remembered from growing up or living or working in Ogdensburg. “The hope was that during these most difficult of times, our participants would find this project an enjoyable activity,” Kibildis writes. “A small monetary award would be given to the first, second, and third best entries. With enough interest, we were also hoping to share all entries with Borough residents by compiling a booklet that could be distributed during the Christmas season. The attached essay was submitted by Kathy (Griffin) Thomas, who grew up in Ogdensburg and presently lives in Georgia. I am convinced that many Borough residents would thoroughly enjoy her reflections.”

23 Jun 2020 | 11:29

There are so many things that I remember about growing up in Ogdensburg that it would be hard to write about one experience. Below are some flashbacks of my years in a small American town with a tightly knit, caring community.

• Ice skating at Heater’s Pond on very cold winter nights after the borough truck plowed off the snow.

• Shoveling snow that was often knee high and also walking up Richards Street on nights when Mom’s car couldn’t make it up the hill in the snow and ice.

• Milking time at Richards Farm & Dairy and Bossy the cow that was a little mean.

• The very hot walk from Richards Street up Route 517 and then up Edison Avenue to swim at Heater’s Pond, where we spent many days during summer school vacation. Then we walked home.

• We walked everywhere including to school in all kinds of weather on the very busy Route 517.

• Bareback riding with my sister on the two horses in the pasture that used to be at the top end of Richards Street. The owners were not happy when I painted the name Whitey with blackcap juice on the big white horse.

• Painstakingly selecting penny candy at Beierle’s Store and playing the juke box there when I was a little older.

• Hendershot’s Soda Fountain where we went for lunch because they had booths!

• Buying 10 cents worth of cold meat at Kalafut’s Butcher Shop, which was enough for three sandwiches.

• Icy orange soda at the Gulf gas station on South Main Street on a hot summer day.

• Orange cream popsicles from the other end of town at Kalafut’s Bar/Store. I think it is The Boro Pub today.

• Picking up a takeout pizza from the back door of Dobbins Bar, a real treat.

• Friday night canteen at the Marshall House and Brownie meetings at the same location.

• The old bowling alley on Plant Street where a person set up the pins. Then a walk to Hedda’s Store for a snack.

• The Backward Tunnel and the “back way” to Franklin on Cork Hill Road.

• Being part of the Ground Observation Corp in a small building by the old train station...call sine Alpha Mike Two Zero Black! How did I ever remember that?

• Cornish Society meetings, dinners and entertainment up the long flight of stairs at the Odd Fellows Hall.

• The dry goods store on the lower floor of the Odd Fellows Hall...I forget the name.

• Ed Mackerly’s grocery store in the center of town that had a pot belly stove for winter heat.

• The annual Halloween Parade and costume judging followed by dunking for apples and cider and doughnuts at the fire house.

• The excitement when the Christmas lights were turned on each year. I probably remember them as being much grander than they were, but they were beautiful to me.

• Collecting ground pine at the Edison mines for Christmas decorations at the local church when we were allowed to have live greenery. We were always afraid that we would fall into one of the old Edison open mines!

• The daily mine whistle when it was still a working mine, now the Sterling Hill Mine Museum.

• Fox Studios film storage at the end of Brook’s Flat Road where there were frequent fires.

• Of course there are all the memories of the years at Ogdensburg School, the teachers, lunch in the cafeteria, walking to the ball park for gym class, movie days at school, school plays, and 8th grade graduation.

• Then all of us meeting at the old post office to wait for the bus to Franklin High...until we could drive!

• Of course there are many, many memories of the time spent with my good friends from grades K-12, Rayla, JoAnne, Judy and Rebecca. Too many memories to even try to recount them here.

Although being only 60 miles from New York City, Ogdensburg was a small town where everyone knew everyone, you didn’t worry about locking doors, the school provided a good education and local events were attended and supported by most of the residents. In other words, it was a great place to grow up.