Mr. Harold Whittemore
Harold E. Whittemore
July 29, 1915 - January 26, 2001

Father's Day Tribute

Mr. Harold Whittemore

Newspaper Reporter, Editor and Publisher

Class of 1934

By Aileen Carney Sweeney
June 2015



Due to the generosity of the Ilion Public Library's loan of The Ilion Sentinel newspaper source microfilm, Mr. Whittemore's articles are searchable and available online. In November 2014, the Ilion Public Library allowed Thomas Tryniski, webmaster of, to scan and therefore preserve the newspaper pages. Now, I can share some of the articles from the 1940s and 1950s with you. These are gems of history and I would like to thank Jeff Whittemore for permission to republish his father's articles. Before I share some articles about his contribution to capturing the history of the Ilion's "Greatest Generation" and Ilion's "Baby-Boomer" generation, I would like to tell you about Mr. Whittemore.

Mr. Harold Whittemore was born July 29, 1915 in Utica, the son of the late Ernest M. and Minnie Monroe Whittemore. The family moved to Ilion in 1924. He attended Ilion schools, graduating from Ilion High School in 1934. Right after graduating from high school, Mr. Whittemore joined the news staff of the Utica Daily Press in 1935, covering Ilion, Frankfort and Mohawk. For over fifty years, he chronicled the life and times of Ilion citizens.

He volunteered for army service in May 1941, and served until May 1946, attaining the rank of first lieutenant after attending Officers Candidate School. Mr. Whittemore rejoined the Utica Press after the war and worked as a reporter, photographer, assistant Sunday Observer-Dispatch editor and family living editor until his retirement in 1980, except for seven years when he owned and published The Ilion Sentinel, a weekly newspaper. He also wrote a weekly column, "It's the Little Things" for the Observer-Dispatch from 1967 until his retirement. The column continued for several years after that in the weekly Valley Home News. He later worked at Faxton Children's Hospital as public relations director for thirteen years. (Note - An original newspaper article by Harold Whittemore, also appearing on this web site, is about the 1963 high school fire... "There Was No Laughter As Flames Gutted School")

The Ilion Sentinel

Mr. Whittemore and Edna Friis were married July 13, 1942 in Ilion. Mrs. Whittemore died Oct. 1, 1987. Mr. Whittemore was a member of the Ilion Volunteer Fire Department Co. 1 for many years and served as secretary of the Herkimer County Volunteer Firefighters Association. He was chairman and a member of the Ilion Park Commission for several years and served as Herkimer County Chairman of the March of Dimes during the polio epidemic years. He was a member of the Ilion Kiwanis Club and the Ilion Masonic Lodge, and a deacon and chairman of trustees of the Ilion Baptist Church. He served as treasurer of the Mohawk Valley Healthcare Foundation for several years. He was also a founding member of the Herkimer County Community College Board of Trustees.

1998 Ilion Days Grand Marshall - Harold E. Whittemore

Mr. Whittemore's column, "It's The Little Things", appeared in The Valley Home News. In 1998, Mr. Whittemore had to stop writing the column due to back injuries he suffered in a 1994 auto accident. Many readers missed his column, as he missed writing it and he resumed the series. He dedicated his return column, appearing in the July 20, 1998 edition of The Valley Home News, to the 1998 Ilion Days Parade, which was held on July 24th. 1998. Mr. Whittemore wrote, "I agreed to serve as the Grand Marshal at the parade to show how much I care for Ilion and its people....There are many more great stories about Ilion."

Harold Whittemore died on January 26, 2001. He was 85 years old. Mr. Whittemore was survived by a son and daughter-in-law, Jeffery (IHS 1966) and Phyllis Whittemore of Dolgeville; his brother and sister-in-law, Robert (IHS 1939) (Bob Whittemore also wrote many articles for The Ilion Sentinel) and Betty Lou Sprague Whittemore (IHS 1941) of Oswego; several nieces and nephews and grand-nieces and grand-nephews. Funeral services for Mr. Whittemore were held January 29, 2001 at the First Baptist Church, Ilion. Interment was in the Armory Hill Cemetery.


Baby Boomers

The daily buzz of village life could always be found in the newspaper. Whether it was school news, sports, local politics, or family issues, such as births, deaths, marriages and graduations, Mr. Whittemore knew and reported the scoop.

An article in the January 29, 1949 edition gave an inkling of the beginning of the 'Baby Boomer' generation. One set of babies captured the attention of the readers.

"Ilion's population is definitely on the increase — by leaps and bounds (and babies). Dr. L. P. Jones, registrar of vital statistics, reported this week that in 1948 there were 424 babies born in Ilion and only 160 deaths. The births included 36 babies arriving during December."

Nice Work Mr. Stork
January 29, 1949
Ilion Babies born in 1948
'Our Gang'
December 1948 - Jimmy Cooper, Sharon Dibble, Steve Garnsey, Susan Strife and Billie Fisher - Photo by Howard A. Moore

Beginning at Christmas 1948 and annually until they were five years old, The Ilion Sentinel published the story of five babies. The children are members of the IHS Class of 1966 and named 'Our Gang'.

"Here are five of Ilion's junior population, posed in the same general positions in which they were photographed one year ago — but with their expressions changed from left to right our obliging subjects are Jimmy Cooper, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jacob Cooper; Sharon Dibble, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Eldon Dibble, Steve Garnsey, son of Mr. and Mrs. Silas Garnsey; Susan Strife, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Bud Strife and Billie Fisher, son of Mr. and Mrs. Jack Fisher. Perhaps typical of Ilion's extremely youthful population are the five boys and girls pictured above, The top photo was taken at, Christmas 1948, and the bottom one just last week, both by Howard Moore." - December 22, 1949

Ilion Babies born in 1948
'Our Gang'
December 1950 - Jimmy Cooper, Sharon Dibble, Steve Garnsey, Susan Strife and Billie Fisher

Ilion Babies born in 1948
'Our Gang'
December 1951 - Jimmy Cooper, Sharon Dibble, Steve Garnsey, Susan Strife and Billie Fisher

Ilion Babies born in 1948
'Our Gang'
December 1952 - Jimmy Cooper, Sharon Dibble, Steve Garnsey, Susan Strife and Billie Fisher

Ilion Babies born in 1948 December 1952
'Our Gang'
Jan 1, 1953 - Jimmy Cooper, Sharon Dibble, Steve Garnsey, Susan Strife and Billie Fisher


The Home Front

In tandem with the growing baby population, the village experienced a huge building boom.

The growth of the village was captured with a November 19, 1953 article headline - 100 New Homes Built in Last Three Years: Permits Show Trend Will Continue. "Much of the new building has been concentrated on West Hill but many new homes have been erected in other parts of the village."

100 Homes Built
November 19, 1953

Who knew what went on, behind closed doors, in all those new homes in Ilion? Who knew all about you and all your neighbors? Well, Harold Whittemore, of course, and he shared those tidbits in his warm, hometown folksiness style and with wit, never malice. He captured what life was like in small-town, mid-century, post-World War II America.

Gene Bullis - The Egg Man
Gene Bullis IHS 1970 - August 5, 1954

Around The Valley

"Two-year-old Jean [Gene] Bullis is in the doghouse with his Mommy. Seems that Jean-boy, has been watching Mommy crack eggs on the edge of a frying pan so while Mommy, Mrs. Doug Bullis, was hanging up washing the other morning, Jean decided to help her with her work. Taking a dozen eggs that had just been left by the egg man, Jean-boy, proceeded to crack the eggs — one by one — against the edge of the kitchen radio. He did a neat job- too! "

It should come as no surprise that with the population explosion in Ilion, there would be a huge need for physicians to treat them. Ilion was very fortunate to have many doctors who returned to Ilion and actually opened their practices in the village limits.

Around The Valley
Personal But Not Confidential
More Doctors Coming?

"Dr. Arthur Leistyna of Ilion, who wrote a public letter commending the Ilion Hospital (Tuesday's Sentinel), said yesterday he had received many complimentary telephone calls following publication of the letter."

The Sentinel has also learned that the so-called 'doctor shortage' in the three valley towns will very soon be alleviated when two new young doctors hang out shingles in Mohawk and Dr. Everett Mack returns to his practice in Ilion."

More Doctors
Dr. Everett Mack IHS 1931 - June 3, 1954

"Advance word on the Mohawk situation is that a former Frankfort resident and a former Ilion resident, both young doctors and graduates from excellent schools, will shortly open practice in the Village of Mohawk. This, we hope, will soon come-about as we have heard many nice things about these two men and about Dr. Mack since he left for further study at Syracuse."

More Doctors
Dr. Carney and Dr. Applegate IHS 1936
July 29, 1954

Around The Valley - Doctor Shortage

"Dr. Roger Weeden and Dr. Arthur Applegate have just opened a clinic of this nature and now we hear that two established Ilion doctors are planning the same thing."

"Reports are that Dr. Donald Davidson and Dr. Theodore Carney will soon establish a clinic at the West Street offices now occupied by Dr. Davidson. Another professional man may also go in with the doctors, possibly a dentist."


Editorials and Warnings

Mr. Whittemore would offer opinions on the topics of the week. A big issue in 1954, as it is today, (or should be) was Codes Enforcement. He lauded the Village Board and officials for addressing properties which, he called a menace. He would also admonish those who he thought were behaving inappropriately.

Codes Enforcement Editorial
July 27, 1954

on Codes Enforcement

"Residents of Charles Street must have sighed with relief last week when the Village Board announced it was taking action to check that Charles Street apartment."

"Trustees are to be commended for taking decisive steps in the matter."

It is a ticklish matter. There are strict laws regarding the invasion of personal privacy. But conditions on Charles Street are such that someone has to do something."

What the village is particularly concerned with is the menace to public health. Such a menace however, as Dr. Donald Davidson pointed out, is sometimes intangible. Therefore more realistic menaces have to be used as the means to clean up a mess that has existed for years."

"The fire chief, the village engineer, the plumbing inspector will all check the buildings and make reports on deficient factors in the building. Then maybe the owner of the building, who has seemed reluctant to admit such ownership, will be forced to make drastic improvements for the good of the tenants and the community.The committee will not stop with this one building. There is one other on their present list and another two or three, including one on Armory Hill, that will soon be checked it probably is one of the most constructive moves this Village Board has taken!"

"Then maybe the owner of the building, who has seemed reluctant to admit such ownership, will be forced to make drasic improvements for the good of the tenants and the community. The committee will not stop with this one building. There is one other on their present list and another two or three, including one on Armory Hill that will soon be checked it probably is one of the most constructive moves this Village Board has taken!"


Scandal Sheet

After that editorial appeared, Mr. Whittemore and staff had to deal with the wrath of an Ilion apartment owner. He would not be intimidated.

"One of the owners of an Ilion apartment house climbed over a staff member, of The Sentinel Newspapers in public the other day, terming our paper a "scandal sheet" and other names because we printed stories about the inspection committee named by the village to check on apartment houses. A lot of things were threatened in the conversation but we're used to that and will continue to report the facts as we see and hear them regardless of threats." - Aug 5, 1954

South Fifth Avenue

March 15, 1956

"There is a local motorist who is going to be decidedly unpopular with residents of South Fifth Avenue in Ilion if he doesn't desist from the practice of cutting across the grass ramp in the middle of the street. As good neighbors usually do, the South Fifth Avenue people decided to spend their own time and efforts in beautifying the ramp on South Fifth Avenue but some driver is spoiling their efforts by driving across the grass and cutting up the plot. Local residents are watching for him but as yet haven't been able to catch him. If a word of friendly warning is in order — brother, use the street from now on!"


A Woman's Place

What was the role of women in this post war society, besides being homemakers and mothers? Where did women fit in during this time? Well, certainly not in this Civil Service position. We've come a long way baby.

He's Earned It

The March 4, 1954 article headline - He's Earned It pretty much summed up pre-women's lib America and Mr. Whittemore's sentiments were common for that era. A fun fact, in light of the article's tone, is that Harold's son, Jeff Whittemore IHS Class of 1966, would have a future career with the Herkimer County Civil Service Commission.

"A job in Ilion with probably more titles and as much work as any position in the village will have to be restricted to a man. Trustees heard last night that one woman had applied for the Civil Service test for clerk in the Street Department, a job now held by George Hildebrandt on a temporary appointment. The Job however is no job for a woman and the board will ask Civil Service to restrict applicant to men. Why? Some of the things the clerk has to do includes inspecting sidewalks, acting as plumbing inspector, serving as street inspector, acting as assistant engineer to Glenn Forrest, driving a truck for the Street Department on occasion — and being ready to do almost any Street Department Job in an emergency. George, as far as we are concerned — you've already earned the job."

He's Earned It
March 4, 1954


The High School

Firemen, Fire Drills and The 1963 Fire

A high school is often the hub of a community. Ilion High School was the topic of many, many stories by Mr. Whittemore. Over many, many years, he chronicled the good and the tragic that happened around high school events.

Volunteer Firemen Practice at High School
September 21, 1954

Ilion Firemen Display Speed and Efficiency

"A few thousand residents of Ilion would probably breathe a bit easier if they had witnessed the excellent demonstration presented last Saturday by the crack rescue squad of the Ilion Volunteer Fire Department."

"The seventeen members of the squad, captained by Bob Reynolds and trained by Fire Chief Charles France, showed the handful of spectators on hand for the demonstration that they knew 'their job — and were ready for any emergency."

"The volunteer squad lowered a 'victim' (Frank Kennell) from a third floor window of the Ilion High School and then proceeded to make a cliff rescue by bringing a stretcher with Kennell tied to it up the face of the high school gym."

"Their work brought repeated rounds of applause from the spectators who attended the demonstration — it was an excellent show and Ilion can well be proud of its Volunteer Fire Department and the regular Fire Department, without whose help the squad could not have been trained."

1954 Weber Ave Elementary School Fire Drill
October 7, 1954

Ilion Students Leave School in a Hurry

"The Sentinel photographer 'just happened' to be at the Ilion High School this week when Fire Chief Charles France paid a surprise visit and here is what happened."

"At the left, Chief France is shown as he tripped the alarm and started bells clanging all over school. In a matter of seconds, the doors of the school flew outward and children began streaming out. The picture below is at the south end of the school where Weber Avenue School children are just pouring out."

An Eye Witness Account - The 1963 High School Fire

On Sunday night, April 21, 1963, the high school was destroyed by a fire. His original newspaper article about the fire, republished with the permission of The Observer Dispatch, contained the headline - "There Was No Laughter As Flames Gutted School").

Two firemen, Robert Day and Burton Seymour, were injured, one of them fatally. Fireman Burt Seymour lost his life to the fire.

1963 Ilion High School Fire
1963 Ilion High School Fire


Ilion History

The Remington Mansion

A frequent feature of The Ilion Sentinel was to reprint old photographs and illustrations that depicted Ilion's history. Historical articles where shared regularly. The editor would ask readers to send in their memories and tips for items that needed clarification or identification. They would with gusto.

The Remington Mansion
May 12, 1949

Underground Rooms, Passageways Existed Years Ago
on Remington Mansion Grounds

"Underground rooms used to exist, and possibly still do, on the grounds of the old Remington Mansion on Armory Hill, pictured above. One of the subterranean passageways was located under the white fountain, shown at the extreme left of the above picture."

"Although most of the parents of Armory Hill children probably will not be aware of the condition until they read this article, their children spent many 'happy' hours about ten or fifteen years ago playing around and in subterranean passageways on the mansion grounds. One of the underground 'rooms' was as large as a good-sized living room and was reached by removing a heavy iron plate from the opening located north-west of the mansion and then dropping 20 to 30 feet into the room by means of a rope (held by other children)."

"Many exploratory trips were made through the room and through connecting passageways but the accumulation of years of debris blocked, the young explorers from following the passageways which were thought to lead under the old mansion itself. None of the children were ever hurt while playing around the opening because of the iron cover but two or three narrowly escaped injury when they were lowered into and raised out of the underground room."

"This was in the years between 1925 and 1935. The mansion was razed many years ago, the grounds gradually were overgrown with weeds and brush and with the advent of World War II, the area, was fenced off by the Remington Arms."


Mr. Whittemore's Tribute to His Dad

E. M. Whittemore Retires
March 4, 1954
E. M. Whittemore Retires

Harold and his brother, Robert 'Bob' Whittemore, grew up in Ilion. Their dad was a source of pride for them and they paid tribute to him when he retired from his 45-year career.

They described how their dad originally had planned a career as a lawyer. However, in 1908 Ernie Whittemore began a career with the RPO (Railway Post Office).

"It's hard work, and nearly 46 years on a mail car is rough, especially when you get into the Christmas holidays (we can remember many Christmas times when the weather wasn't cooperative that Ernie wouldn't get home for a solid week, sleeping for an hour or two in the station or at a hotel) but Whittemore is a walking recommendation for the mail service, because he's as hearty and young now as he was when we first remember him. How do we know? That's easy, he's our Dad."

Harold and Bob Whittemore closed The Ilion Sentinel in 1955. Both continued their careers with newspapers. Bob Whittemore (IHS 1939) became sports editor of The Oneonta Daily Star. Bob was a newspaper reporter for more than 60 years. He died July 5, 2006 in Oneonta. He was 84 years old.


About My Dad - Dr. Theodore Carney

The Ilion Sentinel Newspaper Article Discoveries

Dr. Theodore Carney Ilion NY
Dr. Theodore Carney
1919 - 1967

This web site was dedicated, back in 1997, in memory of my father, Dr. Theodore Carney. He was born and raised in Ilion and returned home, after World War II, to start his medical practice and raise his family of nine children.

I was very, very young when my father died in 1967. I did not have the chance to ask him about his life and growing up in Ilion. I am so grateful that I could search old newspapers, like Harold Whittemore's The Ilion Sentinel to find stories about my dad. Below are a few of the finds and things I did not know about my dad.

Maybe you can find information about your dads too. Instructions on how to browse or search The Ilion Sentinel are available on the Class of 1934 page.

School Physician

I recently learned that my father also served as the Ilion School Physician. In all my years of receiving school physicals, I only remembered Dr. Everett Mack, who was also a 1930 graduate of Ilion High and a high school faculty member, serving as the school doctor.


Dr. Theodore Carney Is Guest Speaker For Mothers Club
November 15, 1951

"Regular meeting of the Annunciation School Mothers' club was held last evening in the hall at 8 pm. Dr. Theodore Carney spoke on 'School Doctor, 1951'. He stressed the importance of preventive Medicine and explained why the exam made by the School Doctor today is more thorough. He urged parents to use the facilities of Child Guidance clinics and Orthopedic clinics. The school doctor will refer any child to the family doctor and from there the responsibility rests with the parents. Dr. Carney answered questions from the audience."

Dr. Mack to Receive $1800 as School Doctor
Additional Work Cited As Reason for Jump

July 22 1954


"Dr. Everett Mack, who closed his practice here last year to take further study at Syracuse University, will reopen his practice in the fall and has been named school doctor for Ilion schools. Dr. Mack, a specialist in children's illnesses, was named for a two-year term at a salary of one dollar per pupil or approximately $1,800."

Dr. Theodore Carney, the retiring school physician, held the appointment for two years and in past years the practice has been to-change school physicians every two years."

Dr. Mack and Dr. Carney - School Physicians
July 22 1954

Patients in the News

Ilion Items
October 8, 1953

"Robert Clive, 7, of 136 W. Clark St. is confined to Ilion Hospital with a broken right leg, suffered Sunday in a fall from a tree. The accident occurred on Highland Ave., when the boy was climbing a tree to pick chestnuts. He was treated by Dr. Theodore Carney."

Beginning of School Crossing Guards

I knew that my father had been involved in a car accident with a child. Barbra Babcock, an Ilion alumnus, once sent me an email about it. Now, because of articles in the newspapers that I found on, I know more details about that near tragic event.


April 1, 1954
Ilion Boy, Six, Struck By Car
April 1, 1954

"Six-year old Gary DeCarr [IHS 1966], son of Mr. and Mrs. Francis DeCarr, 14 South Fourth Avenue, Ilion is in very critical condition at the Ilion Hospital late this afternoon."

"The lad was struck by a car near the West Hill School on Second Street about 11:30 this morning. The tiny tot was rushed to the Hospital by Dr. Theodore Carney. Ilion physicians and the entire hospital staff was mobilized at once to assist in the emergency."

"Dr. Carney, and three other Ilion doctors who were summoned, went to work, x-ray films were rushed to Utica in less than 15 minutes, and the Hospital staff, doctors, nurses - everybody was fighting for the lad's life this morning as The Sentinel went to press."

"The boy suffered a serious head injury and other injuries not yet determined this afternoon."


DeCarr Boy Pronounced Out of Danger
April 6, 1954

"The prayers of an entire community are in the act of being answered this glad day."

"Utica doctors, in attendance on six year-old Gary DeCarr, told The Sentinel Newspapers last night that the lad was 'progressing satisfactorily' and was 'out of danger'."

"The sympathy of the whole village went out to Mr. and Mrs. Francis DeCarr, 14 South Fourth Avenue, last Thursday afternoon when their little boy was brought to the Ilion Hospital."

"His life hung by a thread so tiny that at first the doctors and hospital nurses working over the boy thought it had been broken."

"But they didn't give up, the faith of his mother and father — and the prayers of everyone who knew about the accident — was answered and the boy lived, recovered strength slowly and today is in St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Utica with a good chance of complete recovery."

"The accident in which the DeCarr boy was struck by an auto driven by Dr. Theodore Carney, popular and respected Ilion physician, occurred near the West Hill School."

"Dr. Carney, father of a family of girls and a man known for his love of children, rushed the boy to the Hospital only a few short blocks away. Near collapse himself because of the accident, Dr. Carney stayed on at the Hospital and helped in the fight that three other doctors were waging."

"Only the fact that the Hospital was so close by and that everyone there pitched in to work like Trojans brought the boy through, it was learned later, Ilion can be proud of its Hospital - and proud of its medical and nursing staff. A staff that measured up to the emergency like it measures up to all emergencies — as if it were just part of the job."


Mother's Asked to Volunteer as Crossing Guards

Mothers May Be Asked To Volunteer
To Guard Children at Busy Corners

April 8, 1954

"A suggestion that mothers be enrolled to help guard busy traffic intersections during rush hours was one of the ideas advanced last night during a Village Board discussion of traffic problems in Ilion."

"The discussion was prompted by the recent accident to six-year-old Gary DeCarr, struck by a car near the West Hill School last Thursday morning."

"Although trustees realized that in this particular instance the boy reported home from school safely and then he had been sent on an errand to a nearby store by his mother, they also felt that the safety of the children near school areas was the joint responsability of the school officials and the parent - and the police."

"Police Chief Goldin said police were doing everything in their power to guard the area at danger time but were limited because of lack of manpower. Areas in other schools were cited as dangerous too."

"Goldin said school officials had frowned on his request for an older high school boy to help children across the Otsego Street intersection near the high school, adding that they (the school officials) felt the village should hire someone to help. If this were done at all four schools it would involve a considerable amount of expense, it was pointed out."

"It was said that other school officials wondered when the responsibility of the school ceased and trustees were of the opinion it was up to the school principals to see to it that the children crossed the roads on crosswalks — and that parents also had a responsibility in this matter."

"Suggestions were then made that mothers volunteer to take turns watching busy intersections at rush hours as has been done in other towns in the country."

"The talk lead to plans to reorganize the old Ilion Traffic Committee with a view to studying the entire problem of traffic in Ilion."

"The accident in which the DeCarr boy was struck by an auto driven by Dr. Theodore Carney, popular and respected Ilion physician, occurred near the West Hill School."

"Dr. Carney, father of a family of girls and 'a man known for his love of children, rushed the boy to the Hospital only a few short blocks away. Near collapse himself because of the accident, Dr. Carney stayed on at the Hospital and helped in the fight that three other doctors were waging."

"Only the fact that the Hospital was so close by and that everyone there pitched in to work like Trojans brought the boy through, it was learned later, Ilion can be proud of its Hospital - and proud of its medical and nursing staff. A staff that measured up to the emergency like it measures up to all emergencies — as if it were just part of the job.".



Thank you again to for hosting these treasures of local history. Even though I cannot spend Father's Day with my own dad, in some regard, reading these articles makes me feel as if I have spent time with him today.

God Bless my dad, Dr. Theodore Carney, and Ilion newspaper man, Harold E. Whittemore. They were Ilion alumni, neighbors, friends and proud Ilionites.


References Cited
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