Thursday, January 28, 2010

Brothers Kappesser

Unc George, with wife Esther- 1950s

Uncle France, my dad Edward, and Charles Kappesser late 50's...all Sergeants.

France, Ed, and of bros.

This is a copy of Dad's photo, as a 1st Sergeant, that is still displayed in the lobby at NY State Police Headquarters in Oneida, NY.

I remember many gatherings at Dad's house at Sandy Pond when I was young. Dad's brothers, George, Chuck, and Frances would often visit. They would drink beer, eat heartily, tell jokes and stories, and play cards to all hours. Besides being brothers, these men had another thing in common - - they were all police officers. No Jerry Bruckheimer series could ever top the stories these men fascinated us with, because they were all real...

Brothers Francis, Chuck, Ed, and George Kappesser appeared in many newspaper articles during the '40s, '50s, '60s, '70s during their careers as police officers in Upstate NY.

The 4 brothers, 3 of them State Troopers and George a Syracuse City Police Detective, were well known among New York's law enforcement circles during their heyday.
I have heard many stories. Wonderful stories.

At one point during his career, France was Attorney General (later, Governor) Thomas Dewey's bodyguard. He eventually was promoted to 1st Sergeant of Troop K in eastern NY. During retirement he was elected Town Justice of Pawling NY.

George was one of the best homicide detectives the city of Syracuse ever had. He solved many high profile murders. George also had a reputation for being skillful at talking suicide jumpers down and negotiating with criminals during hostage situations. This before they assigned these tasks to college-boys with psychology degrees.

Ed Kappesser, my Dad, with Grandma, circa 1938, New York State Police Motorcycle Patrol, Adirondack Region.

Ed, my Dad, a motorcycling State Trooper at first, eventually was promoted to 1st Sergeant of Troop D, which serves Syracuse and surrounding counties. He was in charge of the Trooper detail at the NY State Fair for many years. Among the four brothers, Ed was the best marksman. He taught marksmanship at the State Police Academy for a while. He also taught me. During retirement he was elected Town Justice of Sandy Creek NY.

Chuck was one of the first State Troopers to be airborne - using his own small plane for many official tasks. This before the State Troopers (or any NY police force) owned or used aircraft. Charles was also the best driver – he was fearless behind the wheel and knew how to drive faster than anyone he chased. His cruiser was always "personally modified" for more horsepower. This before the police had the special "interceptor" vehicles.

All 4 brothers enlisted as active duty soldiers during WWII. My Dad, a Marine, fought at Iwo Jima and Okinawa against the Japanese. I don’t know about my uncles…these men didn’t talk about it much.

Their collective time in service as police officers numbered well over 100 years, prompting Lowell Thomas (who was also a friend of France's) to have these men as guests on his show during the '70s.

If all this seems unbelievable, read the newspaper articles for yourself.

Click on

Enter the site and search on 'Kappesser'.

It was a privilege to know these men, to call them my Dad and Uncles. Yes indeed, they were part of the "greatest generation". They are sorely missed.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

New Old One-Liners...

You Might Be From Upstate New York if....

If you consider it a sport to gather your food by drilling through
36 inches of ice and sitting there all day hoping that the food will
swim by, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you're proud that your region makes the national news 96 nights
each year because Saranac Lake is the coldest spot in the nation,
you might live in Upstate New York.

If your local Dairy Queen is closed from September through May, you
might live in Upstate New York.

If you instinctively walk like a penguin for six months out of the
year, you might live in Upstate New York.

If someone in a store offers you assistance, and they don't work
there, you might live in Upstate New York.

If your dad's suntan stops at a line curving around the middle of
his forehead, you might live in Upstate New York.

If you have worn shorts and a parka at the same time, you might live
in Upstate New York.

If your town has an equal number of bars and churches, you might
live in Upstate New York.

If you have had a lengthy telephone conversation with someone who
dialed a wrong number, you might live in Upstate New York.


1. "Vacation" means going South past Albany for the weekend.

2. You measure distance in hours.

3. You know several people who have hit a deer more than once.

4. You often switch from "heat" to "A/C" in the same day and back

5. You can drive 65 mph through 2 feet of snow during a raging
blizzard, without flinching.

6. You see people wearing camouflage at social events (including

7. You install security lights on your house and garage and leave
both unlocked.

8. You carry jumper cables in your car and your girlfriend / wife
knows how to use them.

9. You design your kid's Halloween costume to fit over a snowsuit.

10. Driving is better in the winter because the potholes are filled
with snow.

11. You know all 4 seasons: almost winter, winter, still winter and
road construction.

12. You can identify a southern or eastern accent.

13. Your idea of creative landscaping is a statue of a deer next to
your blue spruce.

14. You were unaware that there is a legal drinking age.

15. Down South to you means Albany.

16. A brat is something you eat.

17. Your neighbor throws a party to celebrate his new pole shed.
18. You go out to fish fry every Friday.

19. Your 4th of July picnic was moved indoors due to frost.

20. You have more miles on your snow blower than your car.

21. You find 0 degrees "a little chilly."

22. You actually understand these jokes, and you forward them to all
your Upstate New York friends.

Friday, January 15, 2010

The Blizzard of '66

The coldest temperature on record for Syracuse, NY is -26 degrees set on the morning of January 26th, 1966. The historic Blizzard of '66 began the day after, January 27th ...

The Blizzard of '66 is to date the most famous blizzard to hit Oswego, NY and surrounding areas, and holds the record for the most snowfall in a single storm in Oswego, where very snowy winters are taken in stride.
Here is a link to a newsreel on YouTube:

Newsreel: Blizzard of '66

It began as a nor'easter which affected the New York City metro area and was followed by heavy "wraparound" lake effect snows. Winds were more than 60 mph. during the storm and at Fair Haven, New York they are believed to have exceeded 100 mph. The snow was badly drifted and roads and schools closed as long as a week. Drifts covered entire 2 story houses.
A total of 102" of snow was recorded at Oswego, 50" of this falling on the last day of the storm alone. 50" of snow were also recorded at Camden, New York on the same day. The last day of the blizzard the winds subsided and snowburst conditions prevailed, with the snow falling straight down. Fair Haven did not have official snowfall records at the time, but state troopers reported measuring 100" of snow on the level, where none had been prior to the storm. Syracuse, New York received a record snowfall of 42.3" which remained their heaviest storm on record, until the Blizzard of 1993.
The storm lasted from Jan 27 to Jan 31 1966, a total of 4 1/2 days. The daily snowfall totals for Oswego are as follows.
27th 8" 28th 12" 29th 11" 30th 21" 31st 50"
I remember the wind literally howling in off The Pond. It was eerie. It didn’t subside for 4 days. Dad said it was the worst ever and always maintained that no blizzard has topped it since. It was a true blizzard with very high velocity winds and a few feet of snowfall. And it was very cold out. With the temperature outside in the single-digits coupled to the high winds, the wind chill factor was calculated to be 20 below zero at one point. We stayed indoors for a few days, so big deal. We had TV, board games, and comic books. We had snowshoes but no snowmobile. I don’t remember losing power during this one.
At times there were white-outs and we could not see Meyer’s camp across the street just 100 ft. away. The cars in the driveway were quickly and completely buried. A big snow drift kept forming on the roof at back of the house and my Dad had to climb up there a few times during the raging blizzard to clear it off. He would also take a broom to the windows to clear off the snow that the wind had plastered there. The blowing snow got in through the north gable vent in the attic and Dad had to clear it out of the attic too.
It took a few days to dig out and wait for the snow plows and loaders to clear the roads. School was closed for a week. My parents told us to stay off the drifts and snowbanks near the utility poles because they were high enough to enable you to reach up and touch the wires. The drift down by the entrance to Scotty’s Boat Livery measured 13 feet high.


Below is an email from Marie (Mitchell) Reiger. Her dad was Bill Mitchell, previous owner of the original Bayview Hotel.

From: Marie (Mitchell) Reiger
Subject: Blizzard of 66
Date: Fri, 15 Jan 2010 22:05:41 +0000

Steve, I just read your blog about the Blizzard of 66. I remember that I had spent Christmas of 65 in Florida with my folks and flew into Syracuse in January, the day before the blizzard. Don and Dell Price, friends and customers of the Bayview, picked me up at Hancock Airport and drove me up to Sandy Pond. We knew a storm was coming so they turned around and drove right back to Syracuse. I remember waking up to drift after drift of snow in the road at the pond. Customers came by foot to the hotel. Ronnie Whisnant did plow the parking lot with his jeep. He had to come for his daily coffee!!
I was to begin college at SUNY at Oswego as a transfer from Hartwick College in Oneonta. Jack and Edie Castor were running the Bayview Hotel while my folks were in Florida. I missed a week of school before Jack took me over to Oswego to begin school. The snow was up to the second floor of all the buildings at the college. We had to tunnel into buildings to go to class.


Hi Marie -

Wow that's quite a story!

Yes' I remember pictures in the newspapers of the the tunnels on the streets of Oswego. Ronnie Whisnant also plowed us out (eventually). He had that red and white Jeep and he knew how to use it. My Dad shot some 8mm movies after the blizzard that I haven't processed yet, but I will post them soon.

I plan to be ice fishing on The Pond the coming weekend of Feb. 20 with my brothers Kip and Pete and friends. I hope I don't have to deal with a blizzard like this!

Do you mind if I add your email to the posting?



Hi Steve, Sure you can post my email. Have fun ice fishing. Do you know Tim Pauldine? He and his wife have a cottage near us but live in Oswego. Tim drives up to Sandy Pond every weekend and checks our cottages. He was up there two weeks ago. He said there were over 100 ice fishermen and it was really snowing hard. Hope you have good luck. Marie