Often times in this column, I've looked back at a number of things like television, music, school days, our favorite childhood candies, things we did as kids, etc., but some of my favorite columns penned had to be those that looked at the city of Jamestown and what it was like while I was growing up here.
As was written in those pieces, I mentioned various businesses, parks and playgrounds, and things to do as kids growing up in Jamestown, and as I look back again, it occurs to me that there were a number of very important people (some obvious, some not), celebrities if you will, who sometime in history, have had connections to Chautauqua, and Cattaraugus, counties. These are some of those people:
Robert H. Jackson, Lucille Ball, Charles Goodell (former U.S. Congressman) and his son, Roger Goodell (current NFL commissioner), New York State Governor Reuben Fenton, Stanley Lundine (former U.S. Congressman and former New York State Lt. Gov.), Roger Tory Peterson, Hall of Fame baseball player Nellie Fox, Hall of Fame Baseball manager John McGraw (Olean), Jamestown's Jim McCusker (NFL) and Falconer's Hugh Bedient (MLB) - the only two players in Chautauqua County to ever have been members of a major sport World Championship team.
J. Paul Lombardo
Brocton's Don Reinhoudt (winner of the World's Strongest Man competition multiple times), actor Jeff Fahey (born in Olean), Steve Gustafson, Dennis Drew, John Lombardo, Jerome Augustyniak, Rob Buck, and Natalie Merchant (original members of 10,000 Maniacs).
Laura Kightlinger (actress), former NFL players Shane Conlan, Bill Bergey, Marv Hubbard, Chuck Crist, Dave Graf, Josh Roth, Jehuu Caulcrick; current National Football League scout David Hinson (Cleveland Browns), current NFL assistant coach Nick Sirianni (KC Chiefs), former NBA coach Eddie Donavan (coached at St. Bonaventure), former NBA Hall of Famer Bob Lanier (played at St. Bonaventure), former ABA and NBA player George Carter (played with Dr. J), former Major League Baseball player Dave Criscione.
George Pullman (inventor of the Pullman Sleeping Car, born in Brocton), game-show host Peter Tomarken from Olean, former Phillies GM Paul Owens from Salamanca, Grace Biddell (the little girl from Westfield who suggested to Abraham Lincoln, in a letter, that he grow a beard), song writer Ray Evans (Silver Bells) from Salamanca, Albion Tourgee (litigator for Homer Plessy in the landmark historical case Plessy vs. Ferguson of 1896.
Mitchell Anderson (actor, played a role in the television series "Doogie Houser, M.D."), Brad Anderson (creator of the comic strip, Marmaduke), Jenn Stuczynski (Olympic pole vault silver medalist), Irving Noren (former baseball player, also had a role in the film, "The Winning Team," story of Major League Pitcher Grover Cleveland Alexander, portrayed in the movie by former President Ronald Reagan), Charles Rydell (actor, director, producer, writer, editor), Nick Carter (one of the Backstreet Boys, born in Jamestown on Jan.. 28, 1980), recording artist Jackson Rohm, Dan Lunetta (Director of Minor League Operations for the Detroit Tigers), Chad Chiffin (clubbie for the Arizona Diamondbacks), Ben Lindquist (former professional baseball umpire), J.J. Bilinski (current professional baseball umpire), Frank Wren (current GM of the Atlanta Braves).
All the past Jamestown Falcons/Braves/Tigers/Dodgers/Expos/Jammers players and/or managers (most notably: Nellie Fox, who was mentioned earlier because he deserved a place by himself, and Jim Rooker, Pat Dobson, Julian Javier, Marquis Grissom, Randy Johnson, Andres Gallaraga, Donn Clendenon, Dave Anderson, Bruce Fields, Gene Glynn, Pat Jarvis, Mark Grudzielanek, Jim Leyland, Will Cordero, Gabe Kapler, Wilson Betemit, Fransisco Cordero, Brandon Inge, Jeremy Heredia, Dave Roberts, and current members of the Miami Marlins who started their careers here in Jamestown).
These are only some of the people who have earned celebrity status after being a part of the history of Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties. Where we live is also notable in itself. This area is hugely recognized for the many tourism opportunities it offers.
We can still boast of the notoriety of Chautauqua Institution (and the celebrities who have visited there) and Chautauqua Lake, of the connection with Lake Erie, of beautiful Findley Lake, of the longest consecutive running rodeo in the country, of a city which has earned Tree City U.S.A honors, of a county which calls home to Olympic athletes, and professional athletes, to cemeteries marking the resting places of some of the people listed in this piece, and the home of beautiful state parks, one of those an amusement park established in 1898.
We can drive through the countryside in the summertime and see acres and acres of vineyards, which represent the tremendous history of the grape industry (Welch's Foods) which were a part of our area, and they also represent the several wonderful wineries that stretch across our area.
We can drive down country roads in the autumn as we seek the beautiful foliage of the many trees in Chautauqua and Cattaraugus counties which paint landscapes with brilliant, beautiful colors an artist couldn't duplicate, and as we drive those roads, we pass the busloads of people traveling in from so many urban areas just to see those same colors canvassed across the panoramic view which faces us.
The area is not the same as it was. The area has lost industry, the area has lost population, the area has lost jobs, but the area has not lost its history, nor its beauty, and it can never lose its pride for all those who have made their mark on so many areas of politics, sports, entertainment, agriculture and the quality of life in the place we call home.