CGP Community Stories

Lynn Green, Jr., November 13, 2010

Title

Lynn Green, Jr., November 13, 2010

Subject

Upstate New York (N.Y.)
New York (N.Y.)--Social life and customs--20th century
Farm life
4-H clubs
Farm equipment
Dairy cattle
High school environment
Law schools

Description

Lynn Green, Jr., is an attorney in Cooperstown, New York. Green was born in Oneonta, New York on May 15, 1945 and grew up in Hartwick, New York, although he attended school in nearby Cooperstown. After graduating from Cooperstown High School, Green attended Colgate University and Syracuse College of Law. He practiced law in Watertown, New York for four years before returning to his home town. He opened his law office, now called Green & Green, on Main Street in Cooperstown in 1974. A man of strong opinions and deep family values, Green is also an experienced farmer, avid hunter, and devoted grandfather.
A life-long resident of the Cooperstown area, Green vividly describes life in Hartwick and Cooperstown in the 1950s and 1960s. He fondly reminisces about childhood on his family farm and recalls the many lessons he learned from his father. Green also recreates his time at Cooperstown High School in the late 1950s and early 1960s though a detailed description of the academics and extracurricular activities. Green laughs as he remembers that making a phone call between Hartwick and Cooperstown was once considered long-distance and that Cooperstown did not have police officers on duty between midnight and 6:00 AM when he was a teenager. Green’s tone turns more serious when asked about his experiences at college and law school. He describes the methodical approach he used when deciding which college to attend and honestly accesses his law school experience. Two highlights of the interview are Green’s reminiscences of his study abroad experience in London and his admission of why he decided to become a lawyer. Finally, Green applies his firsthand experience in Cooperstown to provide a sophisticated analysis of how and why Cooperstown has changed over the years.
Green’s expressive, yet concise, speaking style translated well to transcript form. False starts were edited out for clarity, but Green’s sentence structure remains intact. Occasionally, pronouns and missing words were added in brackets. The recorder was stopped four times because the interview was interrupted. Each interruption is noted on the transcript.

Creator

Sarah Budlong

Publisher

Cooperstown Graduate Program, State University of New York - College at Oneonta

Date

2010-11-13

Rights

New York State Historical Association Library, Cooperstown, NY

Format

audio/mpeg
1.5mB
audio/mpeg
28.8mB
audio/mpeg
37.9mB
audio/mpeg
46.3mB
image/jpeg
2.9mB

Language

en-US

Type

Sound
Image

Identifier

10-113

Coverage

Hartwick, NY
1945-2010

Online Submission

No

Interviewer

Sarah Budlong

Interviewee

Lynn Green, Jr.

Location

245 County Highway 59
Hartwick, NY

Transcription

Cooperstown Graduate Program
Oral History Project Fall 2010

SB: Sarah Budlong
LG: Lynn Green

[START OF TRACK 1 0:00]

SB:

This is the November 13, 2010, interview of Lynn Green, Jr., by Sarah Budlong for the Cooperstown Graduate Program Research and Fieldwork class, recorded at 245 County Highway 59, Hartwick, NY. Can you tell me your full name?


LG:

I’m Lynn Edward Green, Jr. Which is an interesting story in that, I think, my father’s middle name originally was Edwin, but he changed it to Edward.

SB:

And where and when were you born?


LG:


I was born in Oneonta on May 15, 1945. Because my mother’s family came from Oneonta and my family was living about two miles, a mile and a half, from here, so she just went to Oneonta to have the baby.

SB:

Let’s start by talking about your childhood a little bit. Can you tell me some of the most vivid memories you have of childhood?

LG:

I don’t know, I’ve got a lot of memories of childhood. Of course, I grew up on a farm and I have a lot of good memories. When my grandfather was alive, right next door is our home farm, and my grandfather and grandmother lived here and my father and mother lived about two miles over on what is now called Thering Road. My father had a farm over there and he farmed that until my grandfather died, I guess I was about five years old. He was actually running both farms at the time and then we moved over here and sold the other place, and we fixed this barn up and we farmed here right straight through. He got out of the dairy business in 1977 and I kept beef animals up until 2007 and then I started doing hay, just strictly hay, and crops.
But vivid memories, I don’t know, I have great memories of my grandfather and my grandmother. My grandmother’s family had this place over here [gestures] in their family probably since the time it was settled around 1800. A cousin supposedly foreclosed on another cousin, and my grandfather Jones bought it off of him and moved here about 1871-1872, but they apparently had a lot of contact with the place prior to that, because south of Hartwick there is a place called Jones Crossing and that was named after my grandfather.
My grandfather Green was a neat guy. He never drove. He had one of the first cars in the territory, but he never drove. He got a car and had my father drive it from the time he bought it. It was around probably 1925-26, they used to go to town from here by horses primarily, horse and buggy. Though my father when he went to school, he would tell a story how he took the trolley to Cooperstown to go to school. The trolley tracks were down at the end of the road here, which is about three quarters of a mile west. He would hear the trolley and he’d run across the field and pick up the trolley down at Chase Crossing down here and they would get there just about the same time. Sort of interesting things that happened like that.
My grandfather spent a lot of time with me in the summer when we were doing haying and stuff. I’d come over and spend time with him here at the farm. My grandmother lived until I was in law school. I can’t remember what year, maybe it was ‘68 or ‘69 she died. She was 98 at the time. My grandfather was a little older than she was. He was the hired man who married the farmer’s daughter. That was the story in the family that went on for years. I guess it was about 1909 or 1910 somewhere in that area I guess, maybe a little sooner than that. This was a hop farm, supposedly the second largest hop farm in the county. My great-grandfather and my grandfather were farming together and raising hops. They had two batches of hops, one had one of them and the other had the other. My grandfather sold his in the fall, said he’d just as soon have his money in his pocket. My great-grandfather held out for a higher price, the price dropped and if my grandfather hadn’t done what he did, they would have lost the farm at the time. You know, sort of interesting stories that passed down through the family.

SB:

Do you remember any lessons that your grandfather taught you?


LG:

Not really, he died when I was five. He let me do most anything I wanted to do. I drove horses with him, and I planted potatoes and I used to go through and work with him. He showed potatoes a lot and things along that line. There wasn’t that many lessons to be learned from him. We used to sit in the truck over at the other place between loads of hay. At that time, everything was horse drawn. My father got a tractor while we were over there, that was before I was five, [but there was] never a lot of tractor work on the farm until, I guess, I was seven or eight years old. I was actually the horse driver when we got a tractor, because I did a lot of work with the horses at that stage. We had a nice little team of big, gold, cross-breed, [inaudible] horses, they were monsters and they work hard. I drove horses for the haying and other things.
My grandfather sort of let me go as I pleased. As I said, he died real early. My memories of him are all good times and no lessons particularly. We went to the fair. But he did take me hunting and I’ll never forget. That was a good memory: going hunting with him. We went over in the woods here. And for some reason I got it in my mind that I needed a piece of string to carry home whatever we shot. And, I of course dropped the string and lost it at one point in time. And he went back and got it, was never ruffled. We had a good time with him. My mother’s father died when she was seven, eight, nine in an automobile accident. So I never had a grandfather on that side. But no, not many lessons there, it was just a lot of fun.

SB:

Can you tell me some more about daily life on the farm when you were growing up?
LG:

Well, of course, I started going to the barn when I was seven years old and I’d go in the morning. My father would get up, his standard line was, “We’re late,” every morning, we’re always late. And we’d go down to the barn and, of course, we’d be milking cows. We had several milking machines. He did the milking, at first along, when I was a kid. I would sweep the mangers out and put feed in for the cows. That was essentially my job, to feed the cows, and then I’d scoot up to the house, take a bath and get ready for school. Then he’d eventually be in when the chores were done. I did that, then I’d come home at night and I’d go down to do chores. When I was about that age, I used to be able to sneak out once in a while and come up and watch Howdy Doody on TV and then go back to the barn. He used to give me a little bit of a break there. We always had a radio on in the barn so we were always listening to what was going on: sports, news, jazz. He had a jazz channel; he loved opera. We’d get the Saturday afternoon operas all the time. That was basically the day.
In the summer, of course, we would be doing crops and mowing. As I got older, we had a horse drawn corn planter that was modified. We cut the tongue down to pull it by a tractor and I used to ride the corn planter and pull it with a tractor and we’d plant corn, things along that line. We always worked together and I worked with him on all the crops and eventually we got a tractor. Well, he had a tractor early on. He had a tractor when we moved over here. A big John Deere B and then he traded that in for a John Deere A, and then he bought a second tractor. Bought a little Ford 8N, which was fairly worthless because it was so light and small. Couldn’t do much. Wouldn’t pull a load of hay very well because it wasn’t powerful enough. We traded haying with a neighbor that my dad had grown up with. He worked with Texaco Oil up in Fort Plain, but his son was a little older than I was. He ended up running the farm. They would come over and put our hay in and my dad would go over and bail their hay because we had a baler and they didn’t. By that time, I was probably ten/eleven. I was a great fan, I would rather milk cows than work the hay fields. I’d go in and do chores and milk the cows and they would all put in the hay. I liked to milk cows because I could turn the baseball games on and listen to them while I was milking.

SB:

What did you do for fun while you were growing up?


LG:

I played Little League, baseball, and hunted. I played some sports in school. I played football one year, in seventh grade, and I was pretty good at it. I was a big farm kid. My father suggested to me that if I wanted to have braces, that maybe he wouldn’t particularly like to have me play football. I said, “Okay I have a deal for you. If you go hunting with me in the afternoon when I come home from school, we’ll do it.” We used to hunt almost every afternoon when I came home from school. We had a beagle, so we hunted pheasants and rabbits. We hunted a lot of pheasants. At that point in time, a lot of kids around the territory were in 4H raised pheasants and they would all end up in our oats or our corn. We would shoot some pheasants and it was fun. Lot of squirrels. I remember one year we were putting in a barn cleaner and the guys from the company [that were] putting it in were there. We went out in the morning and we shot our limit of squirrels. We came back, cleaned them up, went out again in the afternoon and shot another bunch of squirrels. They just couldn’t believe what we were doing. But of course we were planting corn and the corn was ripe and the squirrels were running in and out and we would catch them as they ran in and out.

SB:

Were you a part of 4H too?


LG:

Oh yeah. I was 4H from the time I think I was old enough to get in, maybe 7 or 8 until I was 19. The ages were a little more flexible back then than they are now. They’ve cut them down quite a bit. I was a member of a local club here for a while and then I became an independent member. Had a big garden. Always had a big garden. I loved gardening and still do. My dad was good with the crops and knew how to do it, so we had a garden. When I was in high school, they’d go to town and I’d stay home and work in the garden because I’d rather do that. When my dad was out doing something, my mother and I would always get the garden planted because we could plant it a lot quicker because we weren’t quite as fussy as he was.
He and his father had shown potatoes and apples at the state fair and they were pretty good at it. My father knew every apple tree in the county, so he would go around and get nineteen different varieties of apples. I guess he showed thirty-eight varieties one year. He knew how to show stuff too. He taught me how to show. You didn’t always want to put your biggest item in. If you had to show five items, you wanted them all to be alike and uniform, not necessarily big if you could get them just right. Whenever we took stuff to the fair, and I took a lot of stuff to the fair over the years as a kid, we always wanted to make sure they just were prime before they went. We packed them really carefully and took them to the fair. I did all right. Always had a pretty good premium. I showed cattle at the junior show here in town. I showed cattle there for many years.
I won a calf. I don’t know how old I was, but I won a calf from a cattle judging contest in a magazine and I got it at the state fair. I got a Brown Swiss. My father suggested I ask for a Brown Swiss because he said everybody will ask for the Holstein or a Jersey, so I asked for a Brown Swiss. She was an outstanding animal. She came out of a herd down in the Catskills. The place is no longer in business, but she was outstanding. She had six or seven heifer calves in a row. I raised them and when my father sold out his dairy in ‘77, better than half the herd were Brown Swiss. She was a good milker. She was pretty close to top in the barn in production. Brown Swiss last longer; they will milk until they are ten or eleven years old. Holsteins will be burned out a lot sooner than that. Now what they do to the cows is unconscionable. A lot of them are gone by the time they are five because they push them so hard. They feed a lot of corn to them. Cows don’t eat corn well, but it helps them produce. Corn is evil. Read Michael Pollan.

SB:

Because you were so involved with animals while you were growing up, how does that affect the way you see food and eating meat today?

LG:

Oh, I’m a great fan of Michael Pollan and his Omnivore’s Dilemma. I am one of the few people probably who have read some of the resource books that he cites. He had a big section out of the book history of corn and I’ve read the book on corn. All my life, and all the time since I’ve lived back here, the last forty-plus years, we’ve always been in a natural state. We raise our own vegetables and put them up. We raised our own beef for years. I don’t have it now, and I’m dying. I’m looking to buy a couple. I wouldn’t buy commercial beef, but if you know the source it’s excellent. Same thing with chicken. I’m not a chicken fan because all they are are a bundle of chemicals. Chicken is not that good for you, because it glows in the dark. I mean, they put in antibiotics. We had chickens. We had 2,500 layers when I was a kid. We used to ship 30 cases of eggs to the city a week and a case is 30 dozen. Chickens are nasty animals. They stink, they peck you, they have minimal brain power. There is no loyalty to them. Cows have at least a little personality. They are cannibals. I love fresh eggs, but my wife says, “No chickens, you can do anything, but no chickens.” She was around when we had some, she just didn’t like them either. But we did ship eggs, we shipped a lot of eggs.
I never had a bit of consciousness about eating an animal or getting rid of an animal. When I was about four years old, I said to my father, “I wanted a cow.” He had cows, I wanted a cow, and I wanted that one. I picked out the one I wanted. He said, “Okay, you can have it,” and I remember him saying, “you can have it, but you have to remember, there comes a time it has to go. And when it has to go, it has to go. So as well as you like them, as well as you want them, they have a purpose. They serve a purpose.” That was true of the beef animals. I had twenty to thirty beef animals here and I had no qualms about sending them out to be butchered. Some of them less qualms than others [laughter], but that is the purpose they are being raised for. I never had many steers. We always had cow/calf operation. That raised the animals up to a certain age. About eighteen to twenty-four months, we would ship them out, but I never had much problem with it. I love beef. The only thing I prefer to beef is wild game: venison, wild turkey, and all the other stuff.

SB:

What type of work did your mother do while you were growing up?


LG:

She was a teacher. She taught English in Cooperstown for twenty-some years. She helped us around the farm too. She was never in the barn much. But she did the garden and put up stuff. Made bread until the day my father said, “Oh you’re going to stick that homemade bread on me,” and she stopped making bread from that point on. She said, “You aren’t going to do that to me.” [laughter]. She used to grade the eggs. We had a lot of eggs to grade. She used to do a lot with egg grading. We all did. We graded them, packed them. She was active in that end of the business.

SB:

Did you have any family traditions when you were younger that you try to recreate today?

LG:

Oh, yeah. I can’t think off the top of my head because we actually do do them, as a matter of course. My father liked the horse races. We used to go to the horse races every once in a while. We used to go up to Vernon to the Trotters. I’ve followed along liking the horse races and still do some of that. Christmas was always a big time for us. The story was my grandfather always made doughnuts on the Fourth of July and I can remember that. That was one we never followed up on. Every year I talk about doing it. My father always made fruit cake around Thanksgiving and I do that once in a while. Nobody eats fruit cake except me, so it was good what he did.
I’m trying to think, my kids would be better to ask than that because they always say, “Well you haven’t done this, and you haven’t done that. We gotta do this now, we gotta do that.” There’s quite a few things. I’ve revamped a few traditions. We do a big Christmas Eve with seven fishes and all that good stuff. That was never done at home, but there were places we went and things we did that we still do today, that’s sort of a tradition. You always go to the cemetery on Memorial Day, no matter what, and go to the parade. Those are some things that you always make sure you did no matter what happened.

SB:

Would you say that you had a childhood role model and who would that person be?


LG:

It’s hard to say. I had an interesting childhood, because I grew up mostly with adults. My neighbor in the house next door was an old gentleman. The house has been totally redone now, but he was an old gentleman and he came from Northern Ireland. I believe he might have been born there. Orange Man. He was an interesting guy. His wife was my nurse when I was a little kid. Back in the ‘40s you had a nurse. She was an RN and she took care of me. She died on the way to the hospital, my mother was taking her to the hospital, of a heart-attack. He continued to live here and move around, but always settled back here. He was an interesting guy. I never understood what kept him going, maybe a little Social Security or a little retirement or something, I don’t know. A great walker. He walked to Hartwick and he would come down every night to the barn for milk. Sharp as a tack, his wit was. He and my father taught me a lot of sarcasm and the ability to come back quick on things. It was survival of the fittest in that one, you know. You didn’t go home crying because you got beat up language-wise. I don’t know, a role model, basically, my father, if anybody was. He was a hard worker and a better athlete than I ever was. I remember when I was in seventh grade and I was playing basketball. He came to watch me play one game. It came the weekend. I had a basketball hoop upstairs in the barn and I’d go up and shoot baskets when I could at night while we were doing chores and he’d say, “Go on up and shoot.” He said, “Okay, I watched you play basketball and, basically, you’re not very good. So let me teach you how to play. You have to learn how to throw a hip, you have to learn how to give an elbow.” He said, “Okay, drive on me,” and then I’m on the ground. I didn’t play a lot of competitive sports in high school, but whenever I played any pickup games I survived rather well. I played that straight through to Industrial League when I was practicing law. They didn’t want to guard me too close.
I’d say, probably, if I had a role model it would have been him. We would fight tooth and nail, but we would argue over trivial things that wouldn’t make any difference. My mother says, “You guys would argue over what’s better: an air-cooled machine gun or a water-cooled machine gun, and neither one of you would know what the difference was. I’d say, “Well, yeah, probably.”

SB:

You mentioned high school, what was Cooperstown High School like when you were there?

LG:

Oh, it was neat. It was small, I graduated and my class was 66 kids. It was the old school. The old school was up where the Cooper Lane Apartments are now. My father went there and some of the teachers remembered him, of course. It was a close-knit, well, there were a lot of different cliques. I had a good group of friends. We were probably a little more academically oriented than some groups. We had a pretty high-powered program, for those who chose to participate in it. Had some excellent teachers in history and other courses. They had a good music department. Our basketball team my senior year I was too small to play on it and I was six foot. They lost in the sectional finals, against what it turns out was the team my former law partner played on.

[END OF TRACK 1, 30:00]

[START OF TRACK 2 0.00]

I went to Cooperstown, but my first year in school, in kindergarten, I went to Hartwick. We lived in the house over there. The house next door was the last house in the Cooperstown School District back then and we moved down below one house that summer. Part of the reason we moved there was so I could go to the Cooperstown school. Hartwick is really small. When I was in seventh grade, Hartwick joined with Cooperstown from seventh grade up. Of course, I knew a lot of kids because I had been down there in kindergarten and I played Little League in Hartwick and bought all our supplies down there, so I knew all the families down there and I knew all the kids. So when they came over to Cooperstown, I was sort of a friendly face that they knew and I knew most of them. So I had a lot of friends. It was interesting because our phone was a Hartwick phone and still is. I guess my parent’s phone was the last phone in Hartwick and the next house was in Cooperstown. That was a long distance call and back in those days you didn’t make long distance calls. So I went to school in Cooperstown, but I couldn’t call any friends because it was a long distance call and they wouldn’t call me either, so it was interesting. I guess I was in high school when, finally, you could call Cooperstown without a charge, but it was quite a while. I was glad in seventh grade to see some people come into Cooperstown because then I had somebody to call at night about school if I had a question.
The school was excellent. We had a good theater program. They do more now; they do more musicals. We didn’t do any musicals back then. But we had a good theater program and we had a good sports program. I ran track, and I was a big farm kid so I could throw the shot. There was a lot of different sports that you could participate in. Academically, we were very strong. It was a good school. It hasn’t changed a great deal over the years. I think some of the classes are about the same size now. Some of them are bigger. My kids were in a little bit bigger class.
When I was in fifth grade, they built the elementary school and we moved down to the elementary school. As I remember, we took books down there and the high school was just strictly the high school. So we were down there for two years and then came back to the high school. They did a lot of changes with that and then the high school came. My mother actually taught in a trailer for a while because the high school got so full. Of course, that was because they took part of the bottom floor and converted it into an Ag program in school and the shop took up a lot of area in the basement/ground floor. I always was sad to see them take the building down. Because I thought the building, though it had been around for a while, was still in good shape. But it was inefficient to heat and used to have these huge boilers in there.

SB:

Can you tell me about the teacher who maybe most influenced you?

LG:

Oh yeah, that was probably Jake Schaffer. He was a history teacher and he made things really interesting.
[Brief interruption]

Jake was a good guy. He was a history teacher and he made history come alive. He let us get into a lot of politics and current affairs type things. We would get into good arguments. As a matter of fact, we used to get on the phone at night and say, “Well, I’ll take this side and you take that side and we’ll get something going tomorrow in class,” and we’d do that. Especially if we didn’t want to do what he had assigned. But he was good. I always enjoyed him and I went on and I was a history major in college, and that was one of the reasons I became a history major was the way he made history alive. It was not just a lot of facts and dates. Current affairs were always fun. My father was always involved a little bit in politics so we were always interested. I can remember when Kennedy got elected President in 1960, not only being at the polls in Hartwick, but went over to Cooperstown to where they were collecting the votes and seeing how he did in the county. He actually won Otsego County.

SB:

Have you continued to be interested in politics?

LG:

Oh yeah. I ran for office when I lived in Watertown. I lived in Watertown [for] four years and ran for District Attorney. I didn’t like it. There were too many tugs and pulls. Too many people thought they were going to be your friend by giving you money and things along that line. You can get caught up in the ego part of it pretty quickly and I chose not to be involved in that end. But I have stayed in the background and done a lot of things over the years in politics. I have good solid opinions and I keep my opinions vocal.

SB:

You mentioned 1960, can you tell me a little bit about what was Cooperstown like in the 50s and 60s?

LG:

Well, there was one baseball store: F.R. Woods. That was our neighbor, as a matter of fact. He started out as a candy-salesman...


[Telephone rang, recorder turned off]


Cooperstown in the 50s and 60s was an interesting place. As I said, there was one baseball store. They had the Hall of Fame Ceremonies on the steps of the Hall of Fame. Right next door to it was Danny’s Market. That’s where part of the Hall of Fame is now and Danny’s Market was a fresh foods, Italian-type market, I guess. Danny Romano and Pete Peters ran it. We actually sold eggs to them. We took eggs into them as they needed them. They sold to the hotel. The Otesaga bought most of its food from it.
There were several appliance stores. A big dry cleaners where Newberry’s is and that burnt down. The dry-cleaner fire was a big deal. Lot of grocery stores. There was an A & P, there was a Grand Union, there was a Red & White, there was Michael’s Market, which is right where the Doubleday Cafe is. Around the town, there was, I believe Spurbeck’s was there at the time up on Railroad Avenue. But then there was a small neighborhood grocery store on Beaver Street. Another one on the corner of Susquehanna and Elm. There was one more: St. John’s up where the New York Pizza is now.
As you go up and down Main Street, Newberry’s was in where CVS was and then that became a grocery store after that. There were three hardware stores. McEwans, that’s where the baseball store that’s closed now is, with the paper on the windows. McGown’s, which is over across and is another baseball store now and, gosh, I can’t think of the name of the other one, but the other one was in the building right across from Key Bank [Buchanan’s]. Gas pumps on Main Street. There were gas pumps in front of the LEDGES where Will Monie has his bookstore. There were gas pumps there. And that was the last one on Main Street. They were there in ‘75 and they finally took them out after that. The hardware store across from Key Bank had gas pumps. I can remember gas pumps at McGown’s. The building where Will Monie is was a car dealership [owned by] Harry Cook. As a matter of fact, my father took me in there once looking for a car when I was in college.
It was an agricultural driven community. The stores were open on Friday night and everyone came to town and did the black-snake circle on Friday night. Travelled from store to store, they were all open. There were two shoe stores. There was Hills Department Store, that was sort of a low-end, work clothes type place. Smart Shop was where Straws and Sweets are now. That was high-end women’s clothes. Ellsworth and Sills had women’s clothes. I mean, it had everything in town. People didn’t go out of town to buy.
As a matter of fact, what probably killed that type of business was the catalog business. I can remember talking to a number of people when the businesses started going out, this would probably be in the 70s and 80s, and they were all saying, “Oh, geez, we’re losing this and we’re losing that.” and I said, “Where did you buy your last dress or your last item?” “Oh, Albany or out of a catalog.” And I said, “Well, that’s why it’s going out. You’re not buying them here in town.” There was a Western Auto store up on upper Main. That’s where I always used to go in and buy tools for my father or myself. They always had good quality tools. You could get most of anything you wanted in town and the prices were no different than anywhere else. There was no discount stores in those days. There were a couple times they tried hunting and fishing stores in town. None of them ever really survived.
I think probably what hurt Main Street in Cooperstown as much as anything were three fires. When the dry cleaner’s burnt. Then the fire on the corner of Main and Pioneer. That’s where the Freeman’s Journal had their printing presses and everything and that was a pretty traumatic fire. I think maybe that might have been ‘62 or so. Then there was another fire where Ted Hargrove’s place, Home Plate or whatever it is there. That burnt down, took down a couple of buildings. That was just a big pit for years. Interesting, because the creek runs right through his basement. There’s a wall that holds it off.
One stop light, of course. Actually, there were two at one point in time. We had a stop light up at the corner of Glen and Chestnut. With the red light on the bottom and the green on the top. It was right next to the school, which is interesting. There was a gas station up there where the AAA is. That was funny, because I can remember one Halloween, late 50s, when you looked up Chestnut Street and all of a sudden, coming down Chestnut Street were probably thirty tires bouncing down the street because Craine who ran the gas station hadn’t put his tires away that night. They bounced down, got down almost to Main Street. The village cop came around and said, “Okay, boys take them back.” No big deal, they just took them back and put them back up there. Everyone had their big fun, but they took them back.
That was interesting too because, as I was growing up, there was no police on duty from midnight to six and, of course, if you were kids you didn’t go out and do anything until after midnight [laughs]. When we did do things, we always had radios to say where they were, so we knew where the policeman was. Up on Pioneer Street, right where the liquor store is now, was a place called Otsego Diner. That was open until 1:00 or 2:00 in the morning. It was just diner food and everyone would end up in there, including the cops, at night. There were three malt shops, whatever you want to call them. One was Shortstop, that’s where I used to go. Bunch of us would always go in there on Friday nights. That was about where the Italian Ices is now. That was the Shortstop Restaurant. That ran up until they sold the building to Jim Florczak. Then, where one of the baseball stores is, next to the theater, there was another place called Doubleday Cafe. Actually, where the Laundromat is out in back, that was a restaurant at one point in time. I think originally it was a restaurant run by the Mumfords. I remember going in there. At one point in time, you could see where they had the seats on the concrete.
The Clark’s employed a lot of people at that point. Of course they raised beef. They had a big Ayrshire dairy. Had sheep and pigs.

[Phone rang. Recorder turned off]


The Clarks employed a lot of people. It was a labor thing. They had a lot of farm. They had a good meat market down where the Clark Foundation is now and we bought meat in there. They also did cottage cheese on occasion and it was a butcher shop. They would cut the sides of the road with scythes. You would see ten men out there cutting the sides of the roads to keep trimmed down. Their herds were outstanding. The fellow that did the dairy herd, the Ayrshires, was world renowned. I was in England in ’66 and he came over for the royal dairy show and I had a chance to talk with him. He was a judge at the Royal Dairy Show for Ayrshires.
They kept everything up really well. They owned a lot of buildings. They all had that yellow paint. They painted them all uniform [with] yellow paint. Things were a lot smaller than they are now, not as much. They have taken down a lot of buildings over the years for tax purposes. Get them off the tax rolls. They had a lot of hay barracks and things around that they just took down. They rent out most of their land now. They were sort of like the Vanderbilts and all these other families that had their big all-in-one inclusive farm. It was sort of interesting here back in the ‘50s and ‘60s because Ambrose Clark was a great driver of horses. He loved to drive his horses. He had the horses in what was the carriage house museum, now is the carriage house office building on Elk Street. They would take the horses and he would go out driving in the summer. Many, many times he would come drive past here with his, usually four-in-hand, in various carriages that he had. I remember him going [makes noise of Ambrose Clark driving by] and he was a pretty sharp guy. I knew him a little bit. They gave scholarships in Cooperstown and, at the time that I was there, they gave two and I got one of them. I was showing cattle at the Junior Show and he was always there at the Junior Show. I remember going into the ring with my cow and going past him and the fellow who worked for him, and the fellow who worked for him said, “He’s our boy,” and that’s sort of a neat thing.
He was quite a character. Again, drove a lot of the horses. Had race horses. My father had a cousin that rode some of the Sheeplechase horses for him and when Joey was around after his career was over he had an ice cream route. He used to stop by and, if we weren’t home, my mother would leave a note, “Joe, leave this so and so and put it in the freezer.” He’d come in the house and put it in the freezer. He was always telling great stories about the race track and Ambrose Clark. And out where the gym was they had a racetrack. Had a training track. I think it was probably at least a half-mile track. They would bring the horses across the road and you can see where the building is where the stables were. I think the museum has that as archives now, I don’t know. They bring the horses across [to the] the track and train them on that track.
Cooperstown has changed a lot and it’s nowhere near as self-sufficient a community as it was back in the ‘60s. I mean, we had a farm machinery dealership on [Rt.] 28. We had two feed stores. Agway was there and S.S Harrison had a feed store. There were two feed stores in town. We bought all our feed out of Hartwick, but there were two in Cooperstown. Railroad came in twice a week, three times a week.

SB:

Can you elaborate a little more on the change in the community and how Cooperstown not being a self-sustaining community has affected it?

LG:

Well, again, I think back to the catalog sales and people going out of town to buy. I think that, at least this is “Green on everything.” As the hospital got bigger, the demographics of the people there, their spouses, what they wanted. The roads are better, people didn’t want what was available, wanted something more, traveled to Albany, traveled to Utica, traveled to Syracuse to get different things. The rents, well, most people owned their own building on Main Street, very few rented. The taxes were low enough, insurances were low, so that people didn’t have to charge high prices, so the costs weren’t there. Then, as people had less volume, economically, it wasn’t feasible for a lot of them to continue like that. So you ended up with a lot of the stores closing and in our building, where I am, [shows pictures] this is some of the old pictures of the building. Originally, it was a harness shop and a ladies sundries on the other side where my office is, and an oyster bar downstairs. In the ‘50s it was a taxi stand and next door, where there is a baseball shop now, was Local Board 43, a draft board.

[END OF TRACK 2 26:17]

[START OF TRACK 3 0:00]

On the other side of my building, over the years, we’ve had a lot of stuff there. When I came back to town in ’74, I practiced in Watertown four years and came back here, and I believe there was a candy store in there. Local Board 43 had gone out. Then there were, of course, law offices over on my side ever since the early ‘50s. The candy store went out and my neighbor, a friend, Russ Bland, opened up a sporting goods store. And he was in the sporting goods store for quite a while. He sold it to another fellow who ran the sporting goods store and then sold it to another fellow. Then a little gift shop went in after that other fellow. Every one of them, after Russ, and the only reason Russ didn’t have a problem was he did taxes on the side and he did accounting, is that their biggest problem they had was that they couldn’t make any money. I had a hairdresser in there. They all had problems, put baseball in, never had a month they could make the rent.
So what has happened, basically, as I see it, based on what we are doing on Main Street, is that the rents, the mortgage prices, the cost of buildings, are all in a position where you can’t make it unless you have a high volume. Any industry, other than the tourism industry, is competing with catalogs and discount stores, the Wal-Marts of the world and the fact that you can travel to Albany, you can travel to New Jersey and you can go to shopping malls. You can probably get them cheaper, they have a bigger selection. As a result, baseball’s about the only thing that can sustain the rents, the taxes, and the cost of owning the building.
Whether that is going to hold up for long, I don’t know. I don’t see where you can ever get the dry-goods back because people are constantly going to want the services, the policemen 24 hours a day in multiples, the streets up in good shape, the lights, the whole bit. Just the cost of doing business, the sewers, and I just don’t see where that can be handled by selling to a captive group of 2,000 people. With the vast majority of the 2,000 people wanting to shop out of town anyway. Main Street is a dilemma. I mean it’s hard to own, you don’t want a big mortgage. You don’t want to have to pay interest if you can avoid it, because it’s hard to economically make it. I mean, Riverwood, Rick Gibbons, he does well because he has a little niche, but still he gives into baseball. The restaurants close because it is cheaper to be shut than it is to be open in the winter. A lot of the baseball stores close because they don’t want to have the help in the winter. The town has changed partially because of what society is now. I mean, we’re more oriented towards the hospital as an employer and you don’t have the agricultural employees that you had before. You don’t have the farming industry where people were looking for blue jeans and sweatshirts. Now it’s different. That element that, “you’re not going to travel to spend” isn’t there.

SB:

You mentioned the Clark family and receiving their scholarship, how did that affect your future and going to Colgate?

LG:

It probably didn’t affect it much, because I was going to go anyway. I had a scholarship there that was almost a full ride. I was an only child so I was very fortunate. But a lot kids, it really made a lot of difference. Of course today, I don’t know it makes a lot of difference. It makes some difference, but when I went to college: room, board and tuition was probably under $3,000, maybe $3,500 at the most, and I had a state scholarship, I had a Clark Scholarship and I had an honorary scholarship from the college. I was making money going to school. I had looked at a number of private schools. I looked at Hamilton, Syracuse, Cornell, Yale, and Colgate. I ticked Yale off the list really early because it was out of state and I had a state scholarship. I pretty much needed to handle a state scholarship, that was like 1,500 bucks back in those days. I got ticked off at Syracuse because Syracuse was going to have me known by my social security number [laughter]. I said, “I don’t want to be known by a number, I’d like to be known by a name.” Cornell was just awful big. I was familiar with Cornell, because I had been down there with agricultural, 4H things and it was just a little bit bigger than I wanted to deal with, though I don’t know if it was much different from Syracuse. I had been to Syracuse too.
So I boiled it down to Hamilton and Colgate. They were about the same price and they were about the same deal. My father indicated to me that he hadn’t gone to college, but he said if he’d gone to college that’s where he would have liked to have gone [to Colgate]. I went to Boys State there. I spent a week, Boys State at Colgate and I liked the whole arrangement. I had gone to Hamilton for a sub-freshman weekend. I was a little taken aback by some of the stuff that was going on. Probably, if I had gone to Colgate and seen the same thing going on, I would have maybe made the other decision, because it was nothing more than what was going on everywhere. People were all heading out, to who knows where, for the weekend and I just wasn’t used to that growing up on a farm and growing up here in Cooperstown. You didn’t go rambling all over the countryside. By the time I got to Colgate, I understood that.
So it probably wouldn’t have made a lot of difference to me, but it made a lot of difference to a lot of kids. The Clarks, before they did the scholarships, they had what they called Punctuality Prizes. You had to go ten weeks in school without missing. Then you could have an excuse for sickness and miss a day, and at the end of 40 weeks like that you could go to Augers and get a book. They supplied X number of dollars for books that you could buy at Augers. I did that, I think, all the way through until they started the scholarships. I never missed many days over the years.

SB:

What was Colgate like in the late ‘60s?


LG:

Well, I was in the early ‘60s. I got out in ‘67.


SB:

Sorry, mid-60s.

LG:

It was small. There were 300, under 400, 350/360 people in my class. You knew everybody. There were 1,300 total at the school. You knew the names of everybody and if you didn’t know them, you’d recognize them. You knew all the professors. No grad students taught courses. They were all taught by professors. There were good strong faculty. Faculty very receptive to the students and they were always available for you. We partied hard. When we partied, we partied hard. It was essentially a Division 1 school sports-wise even though we were very small end. Had a very good hockey program, big student support there. Excellent theater program. I was business manager of the theater for three and a half years. They were under a lot of construction. They built a new theater while I was there. They rehabbed several buildings. You travelled a lot. It was a men’s school, so you were always off one place or another on weekends. They had fall, winter and spring party weekends and those were the times that girls would come to Colgate. The rest of the time you really traveled to Syracuse, Cornell, whatever. It was pretty academically oriented. I was a history major and it was a pretty rugged program. We wrote a lot of papers.
My senior year I was in London the first half of the year. We took a program over to London. The first year it was a dozen history majors with a professor. We had our classes at the Central YMCA on Tottenham Court Road. We had a room there that we did our classes in and the professor we took was a gentleman from Georgia, Bill Askew. He and I butted heads all the time, but we really liked each other. He had tremendous contacts. He was respected in academia area and he was able to get all sorts of historian writers, A.J P. Taylor, Charles Mowatt, they all came and lectured to us. It was just phenomenal. You read these peoples’ books and treatises and then you get them in and they actually came and spoke to us. He had enough contacts that we got into Whitehall and we got into the Department of Agriculture. We got into 10 Downing Street. I walked through the front door of 10 Downing Street and sat in a chair and had a talk by the press secretary or whatever. I sat in a chair like this [gestures to own chair] and you could smell the scotch in the chair.
I mean, you learn very quickly how good the professors were because of all the contacts that they had. We actually were able to get into the reading room at the British Museum and do research in there. Apparently, we were told that you generally didn’t get in there unless you were at least working on a master’s degree. But he got us in and we all had our cards to go in. Once you’ve been assigned a card, I guess you have it for life. I’ve never tested it. I’ve been back in the reading room in 2001, but they moved the vast majority of the British [Museum] library reading room.
The programs were good. It was a good school. It grew tremendously after I was out. I think it’s over 2,800 now, around 3,000. It went co-ed. I guess they have more graduate programs than they had. They had one graduate program while I was there. That was the reason they could be a university. They had a program in education. Good school. I still go up for sporting events. I get on their line for all their lectures. Clinton spoke there just this fall on family weekend. There were a couple other lectures I would have liked to have gone up for but they are such a hassle today to go to. They had one there that I really wanted to go to and I had tickets to it as a matter of fact. It was Colin Powell. I had tickets to it and I didn’t go because you had to be there two hours early and you had to sit for an hour after you got cleared through security and it was a little more than I wanted to deal with.

SB:

Did Colgate influence your decision to pursue a law career?

LG:

Yeah, a little bit. I had decided I wanted to go to law school a long time before that when I was home. I went to Colgate and went through the standard drill that people go through. I decided I wanted to be an archeologist and then I decided I wanted to be a college teacher. Finally, I decided I wanted to go back to law school again.

[Interruption. Recorder turned off]

So, yeah, I wanted to go to law school for probably the oddest reason that anybody ever had for law school. I liked to hunt and I really loved the farm, but my father never could hunt early in the morning or late in the afternoon because he always had chores. And I would look out and the only guys I’d see out hunting or riding around were the fellow who drove the oil truck and the local lawyer. I decided that I really didn’t want to drive an oil truck, so I said, “I guess probably I should go to law school.” And I knew the lawyer in Hartwick. He was a friend of my parents and he encouraged me. He wanted me to go to Syracuse and I did. That was, basically, the strange reason it is, but that was the reason I got interested in it and that was the reason I pursued it.

SB:

What type of experience did you have in law school?

LG:

Oh, good. I didn’t like law students. I had a roommate for two years in law school and we shared an apartment. He was a good guy, but we would go over and do our thing and then go back to our apartment and spend the rest of the day being human. Law students had a tendency to be too focused on the law and not on the human experience. I always thought there was more to it than that. I understood it. I got it. It clicked. I understood the teachings of the law really quickly. I liked it, and I enjoyed it, and academically it was good. I understood what was wanted and what was desired and I liked doing it. I was 10th in my law school class. I was right there. I knew what was going on and understood it. I did far better there academically than undergrad. Undergrad I had about a 3.20 average. Law school is completely different in grading. I ended up in 10th.

SB:

Out of how many students?


LG:

108.


SB:

How did you pick your specialty?


LG:

I knew I was going to do general practice. I had worked one summer for attorneys here in town. They did basically what I am doing now and I really liked it. Real estate and estates and stuff. I tried cases when I was in Watertown. I was one of the trial men. Senior partner died twenty days after I got there, so I was thrown in the breach. They just handed me a bunch of files and said, “Go try them.” So I learned under fire and did reasonably well, but I just didn’t care for it as much as other things. I like dealing with people and I like the puzzles that real estate provide.

SB:

What drew you back to Cooperstown after being in Watertown?


LG:

I always planned to come back. It was family, neighborhood area. I had taken a compass and drew a circle 35 miles around Cooperstown and said, “Any job outside of that 35 mile area I would consider.” Because I wanted to learn elsewhere. And I did. I came back when I had a chance to come back here. I had always intended to come back, I just didn’t know how or when. My parents were here. Judy and I were coming back here about every third week anyway for the weekend. I had picked this lot out to build on when I was a kid. So we came back and built our house here.

SB:

How did you meet your wife?

LG:

Blind date. It’s about the only good thing my cousin ever has done in his lifetime. I had a car and he was in Syracuse. I had a car and he knew the girls. Turns out that my wife was good friends of what turned out to be my best friend from high school’s wife. We had a common acquaintance, so to speak. So we got together and got married after I’d been out of law school for a year. She was undergrad music at the time. She taught for a year and I practiced for a year and we got married.

SB:

What is the most challenging part of practicing law in your home town where you know everyone?

LG:

I think that’s it. You know everybody. Occasionally, you have to pick sides on things that might not necessarily be what you ever thought it was going to be. Probably the most challenging part is not having your feelings hurt when somebody goes to somebody other than you. Someone you know and that you thought were good friends. But, after you’ve been around a while, you know a lot of people and you have a lot of friends. So it doesn’t mean that much. You learn to accept that people are going to go one place or another. And you have to be willing to take on the system occasionally. Even though you know it might not be the popular thing to do.

SB:

How did you feel when your son decided to become a lawyer?

LG:

I was happy. I was a little surprised. He had indicated to me at one point in time that he wanted to go to law school and I said, “You mean I haven’t convinced you not to?” and he said, “No.” But he pretty much did it on his own. He decided he wanted to go to law school and that was good. When he went, I said to him, “There is always a place for you to work here.” He wanted to go to New York City. There weren’t jobs available in New York City for his skills. His fiancé (wife now) liked the area so he decided he would hang around and he’s done really well. He’s fitting right in there. He’s assistant district attorney on a part-time basis and represents some towns. He likes the fact that he knows a lot of people.

SB:

And both of your daughters moved away from town...


LG:

Yeah. My oldest daughter worked for Will Monie in antiquarian books from the time she was 12. Between her junior and senior year she decided she was going to get a job with PIRG and she was going to get it in California. She got out there and called me up and said, “Dad, I gotta beg for money out here. That’s what they want me to do and I don’t beg well.” I said, “Well, see what you can do and then we’ll figure it out.” She was smart enough when she left that she had a letter of recommendation from Will Monie. She walked into one of the best antiquarian book stores on the West Coast, the guy was the head of the ABA and all those things and he knew Will. He said, “I really don’t have anything available, but if by the end of the day you don’t have anything, come back and see me.” She went back to see him at the end of the day and he hired her. She worked for him for the summer and did a catalog. I think she did a catalog on some Polish author, poet or something. He was very pleased with what she had done and offered her a job for the next year.
She came back, went to school and decided that she wanted to go to New York. Nothing opened up in New York so my wife said to her, “Well, why don’t you look at the job he had offered out there?” He said he would make a job for her so she went out there and worked for him for time enough to pay off her loans, because he was very generous and gave her a pretty good salary. Then she got worried about it. She got worried about being caught in the antiquarian book business because she decided she didn’t want to be in that business. So she ended up quitting and did temp work for a while. Then did some subbing and then went back and got her teaching certificate and then went and got her masters. Decided she really loved teaching.
While she was out there, I think she had trouble with a boyfriend or something, and my other daughter, who graduated from Wesleyan, decided that she really didn’t have any place to go. She and her boyfriend, they are now married, he was a year behind her at Wesleyan. She worked down in Middletown, Connecticut for a theater down there. That was sort of an interim job. She said, “Well I can get a job anywhere at a theater,” because she was pretty well known. So they said we’ll go out there and see what the story is. So she went out to Berkley and she worked as a carpenter and she worked at various theater groups. Went to where she is now and showed up at 10:00 in the morning when they asked her to be there with her tools. The guy said that night, “You know I’m going to hire you more often, because you showed up on time, came with your tools, better tools than we had, and you didn’t leave until the job was done.” Eventually she got a full-time job with them. Again, sort of happenstance. Her husband works for GameSpot in San Francisco, which is an online reviewer of video games. You know, how long he’ll stay in that business and how long they’ll stay on the West Coast, I don’t know. I think my older daughter probably is there for a while, as long as she teaches. But she still wants to keep the farm going and she likes to come home for that.

SB:

Do you wish they would move back?

LG:

Maybe. But I don’t know, the weather isn’t conducive for her being back here. Nicer weather out there.

SB:

And you’re about to become a grandfather for the second time.


LG:

And third time, she’s [daughter] is about to have a baby.


SB:

What lessons do you hope to teach your grandkids?

LG:

I’d teach them about the land. Teach them to respect the land. We’re just part-timers. We don’t own it; we use it. I’d like to have them learn about the farm, the land, how to be reasonably self-sufficient. I bring my little grandson out in the garden with us now. We pull carrots, pick beans, do those things.


SB:

What legacy do you hope to leave in Cooperstown?


LG:

I don’t know I’ve ever really worried about leaving a legacy. I hope that I am remembered for being honest and loyal. Loyalty is one of the things I feel very strongly about. Make sure that when I know somebody and if I tell them I’m going to do something I’ll do it, even if it inconveniences me, I’ll do it. That’s why I get booked up triple time sometimes, but I do it.

SB:

Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it.

LG:

Glad to talk with you.

[END OF TRACK 32:07]


Duration

1:04 - Part 1
30:00 - Part 2
26:17 - Part 3
32:07 - Part 4

Bit Rate/Frequency

192 kbps

Files

Collection

Citation

Sarah Budlong , “Lynn Green, Jr., November 13, 2010 ,” CGP Community Stories, accessed April 23, 2018, http://cgpcommunitystories.org/items/show/88.