Moose Club Basketball Team

Older people in Little Falls, especially those sports fanatics, know who Hubie Brown is. However, the name may not be familiar with the younger folks. Hubie rose from the ranks of coaching basketball at St. Mary’s Academy in Little Falls to the apex of his profession, enshrinement in the National Basketball Hall of Fame.

Dairy Farmers Dumping Milk During The Great Depression

Dairy farming has been integral to life in Herkimer County since the first European settlers—the Palatine Germans—arrived in the Mohawk Valley in the early-1700s, and some of their descendants still operate dairies around Little Falls and elsewhere throughout the county.

When it comes right down to it, Little Falls is all about water. The earliest explorers in America found it easiest to move along the waterways and rivers as did the Native Americans living here. In the 1600s and 1700s the British colonies extended inward from the Atlantic Ocean to the Appalachian Mountains.

Late 19th century map of Moreland (Park).

Since 1911, Moreland Park has played an important role in community life for generations of Little Falls residents. Family picnics, group outings, community events and celebrations, wedding receptions, birthday and graduation parties, family and class reunions, and kids squealing with delight on the playground equipment are all common occurrences on the park’s bucolic grounds. We all have our own Moreland Park memories.

From 2011 to 2013, I wrote my master’s degree thesis for the Cooperstown Graduate Program about “Pitt the Painter” and his role in showcasing the identity of Little Falls by means of his artwork. The project was largely based on oral histories told by those in town who remembered him since his death on September 4, 2007. While I spoke with several people, there were so many more I did not reach, as Pitt’s sphere of influence seemed immeasurable. The project went on, and it was apparent that these stories meshed together as modern-day folklore about talent, humor, addiction, and belonging.

Jan Holick taken at Caroga Lake Photo Booth.

When asked if I had any siblings, I often quipped, “My brother and I were only children.” While my first decade was spent in the peaceful and prosperous 1950s, his was spent just prior and during World War II. Recently my big brother, Jan Holick Sr., (born 1935, and graduated from Little Falls High School 1953,) sat down with me, (born 1951, and graduated 1969,) and shared his memories of a time I never knew except in history books. He was kind enough to open a window to his past, and this article invites you to share that view.

In February of 1935, while snow fell heavily over Herkimer County in upstate New York, a cable arrived at the home of The Honorable Homer P. Snyder on Ann Street in Little Falls. It announced the birth of H.P.’s first great grandchild. It read: “Mother and child doing fine. Father barely survived!” Thus, I arrived amidst tropical breezes in the city of Manila, on the island of Luzon, in the Philippines, set between the South China Sea and the Pacific Ocean. Manila: 8324 miles away from the city on the Mohawk River.

Personal and societal beliefs and principles certainly change with time. Sometimes people are shocked or amazed to hear stories of people or events from the past, yet these tales may not be so difficult to comprehend if we’re able to empathize, and put ourselves back into that situation and moment in history.

“Will Go Down in History: Historical Pageant and Lift Lock Celebration Greatest Ever Held in Mohawk Valley. July 4, 1916” The Little Falls Journal and Courier may be forgiven for the hyperbole of its banner headline and sub heading on July 4, 1916. The overflowing pride of the language reflects the premise and themes of The Little Falls Historical Pageant and Lift Lock Celebration. The civic pageants of the first twenty years of the 20th century were testaments to civic pride and patriotism, and Little Falls was no slacker.