Monday, September 23, 2002

Kellogg pushed education, sports in Treadwell

Mark Simonson

From generation to generation, it seems the elders are always striving to make things better for young people compared to when the elders were young. In Treadwell, it would be hard to dispute the aim of former Judge A.L. Kellogg when it came to improving the quality of education in his community.

Abraham Lincoln Kellogg was born in 1860 near Croton, in the Hudson Valley. He attended a one-room school near his family's farm until he was 15. He convinced his parents to let him attend a better school in the village of Croton, and when he finished grade school, he went to nearby Franklin to attend the Delaware Literary Institute.

From there, he studied law and was admitted to the bar in 1883. Kellogg became Otsego County judge in 1908, and in 1917, he was elected justice of the Supreme Court, 6th Judicial District of New York. He continued in that post until he reached the age of mandatory retirement in 1930.

It was Judge Kellogg's belief that successful people should help their hometowns whenever possible. Living by his belief, Kellogg, in 1926, was a leader in creating a central school district for grades 1-12 in Treadwell, where he had chosen to settle. Judge Kellogg's monetary donation, along with state funding, allowed a new school to be built. It was dedicated and named in Judge Kellogg's honor in 1929.

At the time of the dedication, Kellogg stated, "I return here today to see to it that so far as lies within my power, every boy and girl within all this section of Delaware County is given a better opportunity than I had."

Kellogg also presented the school with a $15,000 athletic field and a well-equipped Community House that held a library and a homemaking classroom. He endowed a generous scholarship that has benefited several generations.

Kellogg apparently wanted the best athletes at his school. The motto of the school was "Dare Now To Win." Don Charles, a graduate of Colgate University, was principal of the school. It was his task to encourage good players from area schools to attend Kellogg School.

Former Oneontan Sam Pondolfino, now a California resident, was one of those "recruited" athletes. Pondolfino finished school at St. Mary's in 1934, and decided to follow in his brother Lou's footsteps, by going to Kellogg.

Each day, the Kellogg School would send a station wagon to Oneonta to bring several students to Treadwell. Oneontan Tony Drago remembers that the students gathered and were picked up across the street from Drago's Italian-American Market, on Main Street near River Street and the viaduct. Pondolfino finished his senior year at Oneonta High School. Regarding Treadwell, he said, "I don't regret going there. I met a lot of wonderful people, and I got involved in all sorts of activities."

There were several other Oneontans who went to the Kellogg School and helped to turn it into a serious competitor in baseball, basketball, football and soccer. Trophies from the basketball teams alone fill a display case. Ken Chase, Moe Hershowitz, Bob and Harry Halter, Kippy Lee and Andy Langelotti were just a few Oneontans who added to the winning ways of this rural school, which could play — and beat — the much larger schools. Sam Pondolfino played all sports, and recalled in his junior year how there weren't enough guys to play football, so they played soccer instead. 

Kellogg truly was a competitive athletic school. In 1933 for example, the little school went up against a "big" school: Hobart. In that year, Hobart had a 33-game winning streak on the basketball court. Somehow, a crowd of 350 fit into Kellogg's tiny gymnasium, and watched the Treadwell five, featuring Oneontans Leach, Campfield, Lou Pondolfino, Halter and Lee, win a thriller, 25-23.

In the 1932 baseball season, Oneontan Ken Chase was such a good pitcher that the Washington Senators ordered him to report for duties immediately after his graduation from Kellogg High School. Chase had been given a tryout the previous August in New York.

In 1967, the Kellogg School merged with the Delhi Central School District and became an elementary school until it closed in 1995, making way for a new Kellogg Elementary School.

An extra-special thanks goes to Tom Greene of Oneonta for his contributions to this entry.

Next time, we'll recall when a whole new kind of shopping came to Oneonta in the 1960s.

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