Dialing Up Yesterday

GLOVERSVILLE – What’s old is new again at the Fulton County Museum’s “Technology Room,” a new exhibit open for this year’s tourism season at the museum.

The technology exhibit features donated items from around the region that illustrate the evolution of technology, including antique radios, TVs, cameras and telephones.

Museum President Mark Pollak showed the simple appeal of these old devices, each in its own time considered cutting-edge technology, when he picked up the receiver on an old “Princess telephone.”

“These were meant for use in basically a teenage girl’s bedroom,” he said, showing how the phone, in a shade of robin’s-egg-blue that still evokes the aesthetic of the late 1950s, also acted as a night light.

The Technology Room also features a display of vinyl records, including Decca vinyl records manufactured in Gloversville.

“Decca was a major name in vinyl records for a long time, many of them made right here in Gloversville,” Pollak said.

Among the oddities in the room include an exhibit dedicated to the nearly lost art of CB Radio communication. The exhibit shows how the Adirondack CB Club thrived during the 1970s and 1980s, its members sending each other special postcards featuring colorful call signs whenever they established contact with each other using their CB Radios.

“This was kind of like the social networking of its day. People would find each other using these radios, and if they made a friend, they’d send that person these cards,” Pollak said.

One Broadalbin resident, identified in the exhibit as “Mrs. Robert D. Montenaro,” AKA “Grandma Donut,” was able to establish contact with President Gerald Ford’s wife, First Lady Betty Ford, a CB radio enthusiast who used the call sign “First Mama.” In a letter written on White House stationery, Betty Ford praised Grandma Donut’s dedication to the “social support” that CB Radio users give to each other. The First Lady concluded her letter by saying, “Nice modulating with you!”

Another new exhibit at the museum is one dedicated to the 1902 Mountain Lake train crash, which killed 14 people. The exhibit features some items unearthed at the site of the train crash, which is now Gloversville’s watershed in Bleecker.

Pollak explained that the old electric train line used to carry passengers from what was the resort area of Mountain Lake right down to State Street in Gloversville, but the crash put an end to it after lawsuits crippled the company that had owned the service.

The Fulton County Museum, 237 N. Kingsboro Ave., is open from noon to 4 p.m. Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays. More information about the museum is available on its website, www.fultoncountymuseum.com.