Backtracking: In Our Times: March 1977 locally was marked by terror, burgers, a pool and ‘Rocky’ | Columns

An Oneonta woman was held hostage, you could finally “Have it Your Way,” the water was fine at OHS and Oscar picks were made with perfection.

These were all a part of our local life and times in Oneonta during March 1977.


“Miss Gloria Brienza of Oneonta was among the first of the hostages to be released Wednesday,” The Daily Star reported on March 11, “after Washington terrorists took over the top floor of B’nai B’rith international headquarters.

“Miss Brienza, who had a bachelor’s degree in language from Albany University, and a master’s in public administration from American University in Washington, is administrative assistant in the Field Operations Division of B’nai B’rith Women.

“Miss Brienza left her department for another area of the building Wednesday to use a Xerox copier. Suddenly, a group — including Miss Brienza — was seized by the terrorists.

“They were then asked what their nationality was. Miss Brienza said ‘Italian’ and one of the terrorists said he had a good friend who was Italian. Then after a moment in which the terrorists swung up their guns and ordered their captives to say ‘Praise Allah’ — which they all did immediately — her group was allowed to enter an elevator and leave.

“Once in safety, Miss Brienza reported, other troubles began. In the besieged building were her pocketbook, her money, her credit cars and her keys.” She was later able to get them all back.

This was all part of a 38-hour siege and a total of 134 hostages had been held. Four Hanafi Muslim terrorists were set free without bail and eight others were jailed, charged with armed kidnapping.


Some may remember the slogan and musical jingle, “Have it Your Way,” and as The Star reported on March 1, “Oneontans will soon be eating burgers ‘their way,’ as the Carrols restaurants are closing and being remodeled as Burger Kings.

“The West End Carrols closed Saturday night and will open up as a Burger King in about 10 to 12 weeks, according to district manager Greg Crosby.” It was at the corner of Chestnut and Oneida streets. The East End Carrols was slated to close sometime in the spring, then found at the corner of Main and Park streets.

Not everyone was having it their way, however, as The Star reported on March 17, “Pickets were out Wednesday in Oneonta’s West End Shopping Plaza,” known today as West Gate Plaza, “as local carpenters protested the use of out-of-town low-paid labor to convert the former Carrols to a Burger King.”


Star readers of March 7 learned, “Oneonta High School will be showing off its new swimming pool and physical education facilities at an open house tonight from 6-9 p.m.

“The $500,000 facility was built with state aid and contribution from Oneonta businessman W. Clyde Wright.

“Anthony Drago, athletic director at OHS, said faculty members will be at the school tonight to answer any questions about the physical education facilities.

“In addition to the 42 by 75 foot pool, there are two new locker rooms for the junior high school students, two new locker rooms for the pool area leading into the showers and a physical education equipment room.”


One always knew it was springtime in Oneonta in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s when local predictions were made about contemporary films.

As The Star reported on March 28, “Oneonta theatre entrepreneur Harold deGraw foresees ‘Rocky,’ the low budget movie about a club boxer who gets a shot at the heavyweight championship, scoring a knockout in the Academy Awards’ best picture competition.” The award show was held that night on ABC-TV.

“Over the past decade, deGraw has annually predicted the Academy Awards results with amazing accuracy. He has predicted correctly in about three of every four cases.

“Competing with ‘Rocky’ for the best picture award are ‘All The President’s Men,’ ‘Bound for Glory,’ ‘Network’ and ‘Taxi Driver.’ ‘Rocky’ is currently playing at the Oneonta Theatre.”

deGraw was right again, as “Rocky” won the best picture. Peter Finch and Faye Dunaway won Oscars for best actor and actress in “Network.”

This weekend: Booze caused plenty of mayhem in Norwich in March 1922.

Oneonta City Historian Mark Simonson’s column appears twice weekly. On Saturdays, his column focuses on the area before 1950. His Wednesday columns address local history 1950 and later. If you have feedback or ideas about the column, write to him at The Daily Star, or email him at His website is His columns can be found at

Ask Mark… 

Have you ever had a question about a history-making event or a prominent person in our area and didn’t know where to find the answer? Well, we’ve got an expert who might be able to help you. Historian Mark Simonson has spent many years chronicling major local happenings, and he’s ready and willing to dive into The Daily Star archives for answers, which will appear in this newspaper and online at

Write to him at “Ask Mark,” The Daily Star, 102 Chestnut St., Oneonta, NY 13820 or email him at with “Daily Star: Ask Mark” as the subject.

original article can be found here

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Mike Hunter

Mike is the owner of the local pool shop. He's been in the business for over 20 years and knows everything there is to know about pools. He's always happy to help his customers with whatever they need, whether it's advice on pool maintenance or choosing the right chemicals. He's also a bit of a pool expert, and is always happy to share his knowledge with anyone who's interested.

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