Born with spina bifida in 1949, Mike Casale spent his entire 64 years wearing various contraptions designed to hold his body upright to offset the effects of the congenital spinal disorder. A naturally affable fella, Mike often commented frankly on his disability. “I’m 64 years old, 4-foot-3, and I use a cane,” he said, but he never complained about it and never let it hold him back. A talented bass guitarist who lived in Liverpool, Mike became of the most recognizable entertainers in Central New York. He made his initial mark on the local music scene from 1970 to 1985 as one-half of the duo Neighborhood Friends alongside six-string guitarist Gary Sprague.
The Limp Lizard BBQ specializes in Southern-style delicacies such as pulled pork, barbecued chicken, catfish, ribs and jambalaya. And no, despite the business’s name, the cooks there never grill iguana. This Sunday afternoon, however, one of the Limp Lizard’s regular customers, Joe Romano, will host a wild game dinner at the little bar and restaurant at 201 First St. There’s no lizard meat on his menu, but Romano will prepare plenty of venison, pheasant, duck, wild turkey and fish. Romano, who lives in Liverpool, is a 21st-century Renaissance man. A talented sculptor and carpenter with a shop on North Cypress Street and a home on Hickory Street, Romano’s also a gifted gastronome. For instance, he makes his own maple syrup and his own homemade wine, although I’m sure he’s careful not to mix them.
Two local high-school students will be among 19 contestants in the 26th annual Shakespeare Competition from 9 a.m. to noon on Saturday, March 1, at Archbold Theatre at Syracuse Stage. The public-speaking contest conducted by the Syracuse branch of the English-Speaking Union of the United States will commemorating William Shakespeare’s 450th birthday.
Back in the late 1990s, the North Side of Syracuse became overrun with drug addicts and prostitutes. Burglaries and muggings were common there. Shootings and stabbings increased as crack dealers fought turf wars over street corners. Before long, the blight spread to Eastwood, East Syracuse and Mattydale. How long, Liverpool folks wondered, will it be before it affects us too? The answer was, oh, about 10 or 15 years.
When he attended Liverpool High School is the early 1980s, John Lemondes excelled as a varsity wrestler. Now, after serving nearly 27 years in the U.S. Army, Lemondes wants to wrestle the New York 24th District congressional seat away from incumbent Dan Maffei. Lemondes, 48, who lives with his wife and three children on a 400-acre farm in LaFayette, is one of eight candidates currently vying for the Republican nomination to run for the House of Representatives in November.
Congressman Dan Maffei, a Democrat, has never won a midterm election. So the line forms on the right as no less than eight local Republicans have announced their willingness to oppose Maffei in November. Last Tuesday, Jan. 28, the eight GOP hopefuls all appeared here at a town of Salina Republican Committee meeting at American Legion Post 188 on South Cypress Street in the village of Liverpool. Organized by Bill Tassone, chairman of the town of Salina GOP and vice-chairman of the county Republican committee, the Jan. 28 meeting drew 140 party members. Because our 24th Congressional District includes all of Onondaga County, Tassone also invited party members from the towns of Clay, Cicero and Van Buren. “We had 140 people,” Tassone said. “I’d been hoping for at least 100, so I was very pleased with the turnout.”
It’s a common crime that often goes undetected, unreported, unprosecuted and unpunished. It’s called elder abuse. “In their later years, people become more vulnerable,” said Jenny Hicks, Abuse in Later Life project coordinator for Vera House, Inc. in Syracuse. “People start losing their eyesight, hearing becomes weaker and sometimes dementia sets in. And by the way, older folks have money.” Elder abuse includes physical, emotional and sexual abuse, caregiver neglect and financial exploitation. “And 90 percent of the time it comes at the hands of family members,” Hicks added. “It’s shocking.”
B’ville Theatre Guild stages a sensational version of the classic musical
Few musicals engage the mind and excite the senses as does “Les Misérables.” Even more rarely does a community theater group expertly blend the epic story, the grand spectacle and the soaring music to deliver a seamless and sensational show. Director Korrie Taylor, music director Abel Searor and producers Mark and Sandy Baker, however, have done just that with the current Baldwinsville Theatre Guild production of “Les Mis,” running through Feb. 8.
How do you feel about this deep-freeze? Myself, I’m shivering like a mobster in an Internal Revenue office. It’s so cold that I’m warming up the house by leaving the refrigerator door open. Yeah, it’s so cold the pipes froze solid in the foyer of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Church on Beechwood Avenue in Galeville. In fact, it’s so cold that the snow angel on Second Street is begging to come in and get warm. Over on Hiawatha Path, it’s so cold that Christina Fadden Fitch had to chisel her dog, Nicky, off a fire hydrant. Yeah, it’s so cold that Gena and Phil de Anguera over at the Family Music Center had to cut a piano up for firewood. They only got two chords. And it’s so cold that Balsam Street resident Jason Smorol, the new general manager of the Syracuse Chiefs, scheduled the team’s 54th annual Hot Stove Dinner for this Friday, Jan. 31, at the Holiday Inn Convention Center on Electronics Parkway. Proceeds will go to the Challenger Baseball League of Syracuse.
Tuesday, Jan. 21, was a busy day for village of Liverpool officials. Three of the village’s four trustees along with Deputy Village Clerk Sandra Callahan and Police Chief Don Morris addressed some 60 attendees at the monthly luncheon hosted that day by the Liverpool Chamber of Commerce. Then the village board conducted its monthly meeting that evening.
It was the night after Christmas, and Liverpool Police Officer Jerry Unger saw an automobile driving 44 miles per hours in a 30 mile-per-hour zone along the 800 block of Oswego Street. His partner that night was Marcus Lukins, a new part-time police officer who recently completed his course-work at the Public Safety Training Center at Onondaga Community College. Unger was demonstrating for Lukins the proper way to conduct traffic stops. The officers pulled the car over along Onondaga Lake Parkway. The speeding driver was a young woman who said she’d enjoyed a single beer at a local bowling alley. Unger detected the odor of alcohol on her breath and noted that her speech was somewhat slurred. He ran her through a sobriety test and eventually arrested her for driving while intoxicated.
A Syracuse man accused of killing two women Oct. 28 in Liverpool was indicted this month on counts of first- and second-degree murder and second-degree assault. Justin A. Dallas, 26, of 119 Radisson Court, Syracuse is accused of stabbing his estranged wife, Brandy Dallas, 24, and his former girlfriend, Samantha Rainwater, 30, on the morning of Oct. 28, at 915 Second St., in the village of Liverpool.
A boldface black-and-white sign hangs in the front window of Dave Detlor’s barber shop on First Street: “Closed, Retired Due to Illness.” After decades of trimming and layering, clipping and shaving, chatting and listening, Dave has packed up his scissors. His Lakeview Barber Shop at 221 First St. closed a couple weeks before Christmas. Dave, who will celebrate his 88th birthday on Jan. 25, was nudged into retirement by mantle cell lymphoma.
Protest songs have enlivened the musical landscape since at least the 18th century when an anonymous British “lady” published a pioneering feminist tune called “The Rights of Women” sung to the tune of “God Save the King.” Songs promoting social justice, racial equality and peace continue to raise the consciousness of listeners and to inspire activism.
The worldwide oil crisis lingered. Lee Alexander was still mayor of Syracuse, John Mulroy was still Onondaga County executive, and Richard Nixon was still president of the United States. The year was 1974, and Bob and Linda Jackson embarked on a mission of community service which they continue to this day. The kindly couple, who live on Ridgecrest Drive in North Syracuse, have been volunteering for 40 years now for North Area Meals on Wheels (NAMOW).
After nearly nine years of feeding and watering thousands of satisfied customers, Meghan MacMurphy’s Pub and Restaurant closed for good last week. The popular nightspot is located at 7990 Oswego Road (Route 57), in Clay. MacMurphy’s owner John Sansone announced the decision online on Dec. 26. A recorded message on the pub’s telephone answering machine confirms the restaurant’s closing but says plans are being made “to reopen under a different business name.” Customers with outstanding bookings or reservations are urged to leave their numbers on MacMurphy’s voicemail at 546-2500.
At its Dec. 16 meeting, the Village of Liverpool Board of Trustees informally approved a plan presented by Zoning Board Chairman Mike Romano to form a new committee to study the 168-year-old Liverpool Cemetery. The new citizens’ advisory committee will be chaired by Mike Romano and will include Jim Farrell, Jim Keib, Roberta Kompare and Peter Osborne. Ex officio members include Liverpool Mayor Gary White, Superintendent of Public Works Bill Asmus, Village Historian Dorianne Elitharp Gutierrez and Ken Palmer, commander of American Legion Post 188.
Jason Smorol, the new Syracuse Chiefs general manager who lives in Liverpool, really seems to have the old International League ballclub swinging for the fences. Just in time for the Christmas shopping rush, he forged a deal with Destiny USA to set up a Holiday Kiosk located in the New Canyon area by Cantina Laredo and The Melting Pot to sell season tickets and souvenirs.
For most of this year, village government has heard plenty from two property owners, Val Lamont and John Gormel, who each own parcels in the basin block bounded by Lower First Street, Lake Drive and South Willow Street. At the village board’s monthly meeting on Dec. 16, however, trustees heard from another basin block property owner, JGB Properties, which owns approximately three acres there, on which are located the former municipal parking lot and several other First Street parcels.
It was February 1964 and the great trumpeter and song stylist Louis Armstrong was in Puerto Rico preparing for a show. Armstrong received a long-distance phone call from his manager in New York City, Joe Glaser, who instructed the artist to add the band’s new hit song to their nightly repertoire. “Any you guys remember this damn tune?” Louis asked his musicians. Fifty years ago, on Dec. 3, 1963, Armstrong and his All-Stars had recorded a song at the request of a theatrical producer who wanted a single to hype a new musical scheduled to open in early 1964. A musical version of a play “The Matchmaker” called “Hello Dolly” was an immediate Broadway hit.
When I was a kid in the 1950s and ’60s, we used to buy caramel-covered popcorn at the Karmelkorn Shoppe in downtown Syracuse. In 1986, Dairy Queen bought the franchise which had been founded in 1929 in Casper, Wyoming, by Bill O’Sullivan. A Karmelkorn Shoppe later opened at the Carousel Center mall. Now that the mall has morphed into Destiny USA, Karmelkorn’s no longer there. But the Kandied Kernel is.
Forty years ago we had no Twitter. No cell phones. No iPods. No email. Now that we have those things, and more, you might think it would be easier to stay in touch with all those folks you knew back in the day. But no, things have only grown more complicated. Joe Pirro, an alumnus of Liverpool High School Class of ’74, found out the hard way. He and a determined committee of 10 are planning a 40th reunion for this coming June. “In the early 1970s, computers were the size of tractor trailers,” Joe remembers. “The computers ran off punch cards. Flash forward to today when six out of 10 people own a smartphone.” Here are more of Joe’s thoughts on creating a catalyst for reconnecting:
Violent crimes rarely occur on schedule. They happen when they happen, and police need to be ready to respond at any time. That’s the way it was on a sunny Monday morning, Oct. 28, when two women were stabbed to death at 915 Second St. in the village of Liverpool. With one of his full-time officers returning from a training session that morning, Liverpool Police Chief Don Morris answered the call himself. Liverpool Mayor Gary White, a former deputy chief of the Syracuse Police Department, noted that “a double homicide here is highly unusual.” It’s also unusual for the chief of police to be the one personally pursuing the suspect, the mayor added.
Can you see Lee Harvey Oswald as a Frank Sinatra fan? If so, you’d probably enjoy Doug Brode’s new novel, “Patsy!” The 346-page book paints a decidedly different portrait of the accused assassin of President John F. Kennedy. While Warren Commission investigators found the 24-year-old Oswald a sullen, self-involved ne’er-do-well who listened to classical music rather than to saloon singers, Brode’s Oswald revels in the fantasy world of the silver screen. He’s fascinated by the macho man image adopted by Sinatra. He’s thrilled when – as a serviceman deployed overseas – he happens to meet John Wayne. All the while, this starry-eyed “Patsy” is being “run” by a shady CIA operative named George who manages Oswald’s intelligence career through the Marines, to his “defection” to Russia and all the way through to Nov. 22, 1963, in Dallas.
Three of four voters neglected to cast ballots in Onondaga County on Election Day 2013. Voter apathy makes a mockery of the democratic system, as one-fourth of us determine who will lead all of us. We already know that one percent hold the majority of wealth and influence in this country, many people say, so why bother to vote.
Budget calls for $45,000 less in spending
The Van Buren Town Council unanimously approved a 2014 budget of $4.75 million at its monthly meeting on Nov. 6, at the Town Hall on Van Buren Road. Taxes will remain flat for property-owners within the village of Baldwinsville, while residents living outside of the village will see a slight decrease in their tax levies, according to Town Comptroller Greg Maxwell.
After the Syracuse Chiefs baseball club suffered significant financial losses last year, the board of directors replaced longtime General Manager John Simone in mid-October. The ballclub’s new GM, Jason Smorol, lives in Liverpool. Smorol, 44, and his family reside on Balsam Street here in the village. From 2002 to 2004, Smorol served as general manager of the Auburn Doubledays. Under his leadership the Single-A team’s attendance rose at Falcon Park while it won three division titles in the New York-Penn League. Syracuse is that much closer to The Show. It’s a Triple-A team playing in the International League, one level below the major leagues. Smorol recently managed accounts for Hilti Inc., a construction supply manufacturer, but he previously worked for minor-league ballclubs in Watertown, Batavia and Staten Island.
One of Liverpool’s most popular restaurants went dark temporarily the night of Oct. 30 as Heid’s shut down so that its staff could pay respects to owner John Parker. Parker, who has owned the hot dog hotspot since 1995, lost his battle with cancer Oct. 26.
Sheriff’s deputies, L’pool police chief pull suspect from Onondaga Lake after Second Street stabbings
Two women were stabbed to death at 915 Second St. in the village of Liverpool on Monday morning, Oct. 28. Sheriff Kevin Walsh identified the victims as Brandy Dallas, 24, and Samantha Rainwater, 30. The women and a handful of children had lived in the small, red Cape Cod-style home for less than a year. Dallas’s estranged husband, 26-year-old Justin A. Dallas of 119 Radisson Court, Syracuse, was charged with one count of first-degree murder, two counts of second-degree murder and fourth-degree criminal possession of a weapon.
Two Liverpool police officers put their heads together to gather enough evidence to charge a 24-year-old man with stealing from unlocked automobiles in the village.
We lost two prominent players in the local entertainment scene recently. Liverpool musician, teacher and concert coordinator George Miller, who lived in Liverpool his entire life, died Oct. 6. He was 76 years old. And comedian Big Mike Goss died Oct. 3. He was 60 years old.
Ever wonder what the rest of Central New York thinks of Liverpool? The Syracuse New Times’ “Best of Syracuse” edition gives us a pretty good idea. Published on Oct. 2, the list of favorite places and performers includes a baker’s dozen “best” with roots in Liverpool.
While all of Liverpool awaits the long-promised opening of the Barking Gull at 116 S. Willow St., on the basin block down at the corner of Lake Drive, the still-dark Gull has already drawn competition. The Gormel family — paterfamilias John, wife Linda and sons Adam and Josh, who already own The Retreat and The Cobblestone — plan to specialize in wood-fired gourmet pizza pies at the Barking Gull. Last week, however, a successful Italian eatery – Francesca’s Cucina, 545 N. Salina St.in Syracuse’s Little Italy neighborhood – announced that it was taking over the spot recently vacated by Juanita’s Mexican Kitchen at 207 Oswego St. (it still looks like Old Liverpool Road to me). Anyhow, that same location previously housed a Ponderosa Steakhouse and Wisteria Chinese buffet. Now Francesca’s Pizza & Italian Kitchen plans to open there by Dec. 1. It’ll be operated by Gary Angeloro and family.
If your house could talk, what secrets would it tell? Liverpool Village Historian Dorianne Elitharp Gutierrez and retired architect Jennifer Gruenberg want to know. The two women are compiling an “Atlas of Historic Liverpool Structures.”
Up-and-coming actress Kitty Doupe shines as a bewitching West Indian maid
Anything can happen in “Any Number Can Die.” Owls hoot, thunder howls, lights flicker and lives are lost due to gunshots, poison, hanging and stabbing. But don’t let that constant violence spoil your evening at the theater. It’s all in good fun, as the stage play soundly satirizes every murder mystery you’ve ever read or seen. The campy comedy by Vermont’s prolific and playful playwright, Fred Carmichael, is being staged through Oct. 13 by the Baldwinsville Theatre Guild.
After 119 years, the Liverpool Historical Society has given up the ghost. Established in 1894 by local teacher Anna O’Neill, the LHS disbanded in September. The society had its roots in the Chautauqua movement, an adult-education crusade spawned at Lake Chautauqua in the Southwestern corner of the Empire State. The movement, spurred by its most popular speaker William Jennings Bryant, became immensely popular in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. In the early 1890s, O’Neill had apparently attended lectures at Chautauqua and spread its gospel to Liverpool where she created historical society to encourage self-education among women. Members were required to present short programs on topics regarding local history.
At its Sept. 23 meeting, the Liverpool Planning Board continued its discussion of proposed development at the Limp Lizard Bar & Grill, 201 First St. Liverpool Properties LLC, a firm created by prominent Liverpool businessman Val Lamont, who owns the Limp Lizard and White Water Pub properties, applied for permission earlier this year to add a deck at Limp Lizard.
On Labor Day, Patrick J. Oneill from Massena left his 2-year-old black Labrador locked inside a vehicle parked at the State Fair. Temperatures hovered at a hundred degrees. More than four hours passed. Concerned fairgoers and a State Trooper made a valiant effort to save the animal, a female named Ali, but their first aid came too late. Oneill, 66, was charged with animal cruelty and failure to provide sustenance, a misdemeanor under the Agriculture & Markets laws. Turns out he was already accused of mistreating 22 horses he owned in Massena.
The Liverpool Planning Board wants the village to consider retaining ownership of at least one of two village-owned pieces of property on the basin block. Bounded by lower First Street, South Willow Street and Lake Drive, the block is the site of ongoing development.
For many years, 207 Oswego St. — which looks more like Old Liverpool Road to me — was the site of Ponderosa Steakhouse. Whenever my brother and his family visited from the West Coast, they’d enjoy digging deeply into Ponderosa’s all-you-can-eat buffet. A few years later, it became Wisteria, a Chinese restaurant, and in 2009 Juanita’s Mexican Kitchen relocated in from Syracuse’s North Side. Later that same year, another venerable North Side business, Squadrito Foods, moved into a storefront on the west side of the building.
Jack Fisher found inspiration in the Sunshine State. “The idea for the Liverpool Clock Campaign started several years ago when a town clock was erected near the house my wife, Kay, and I own in Jupiter, Fla.,” said Fisher, the president of John E. Fisher Construction Company on Wetzel Road in Clay. “When we came home for the summer to Syracuse, I noticed a similar clock in the village of East Syracuse and decided to try to get support around a beautiful monument like this for the village of Liverpool.” Last month, a two-sided “Howard Street” clock was erected on a brick foundation at Washington Park Point at the intersection of Oswego and First streets, facing Heid’s Corner. Manufactured by the Verdin Clock Company of Cincinnati, Ohio, the Victorian-style clock was installed by a Fisher Construction crew.
On Sunday afternoon, Aug. 18, the ashes of music legend Richie Havens were scattered across the field where the Woodstock Festival took place in 1969, now the site of Bethel Woods Center for the Arts. The Day of Song and Remembrance Honoring Richie Havens was produced by my friend, Frank Malfitano, the founder and artistic director of the Syracuse Jazz Festival. The memorial celebration was free and open to the public. More than 1,000 fans, family members and friends attended, according to the Associated Press.
At the village board’s monthly meeting on Aug. 19, Trustee Nick Kochan volunteered to lay the groundwork for a tree commission to assess the village’s arboriculture. Once in place, the commission would involve village residents in efforts to inventory the village’s trees and identify their various species. Kochan models the plan after learning how the village of Fayetteville benefits from its tree commission “I hope that residents would bring some fresh vision and input to the process,” Kochan said. He also suggested that Cornell Cooperative Extension could contribute to the commission’s endeavors. Kochan’s first task is to address the village planning board regarding the commission. “I think it’s a great idea,” said Mayor Gary White. “We do consult an arborist, and we already have a little bit of a [tree] replacement program in effect.” But a commission, he said, could offer a more well-rounded approach. “Having a tree commission could help us stretch our dollars when it comes to getting grants and so forth,” Kochan said.
Banjos, fiddles, guitars and mandolins can be fun, but 31-year-old North Syracusan Matt Kielecki is deadly serious about his work building and repairing stringed musical instruments. Boasting a wealth of experience that would be the envy of many a luthier twice his age, Kielecki (pronounced Kah-LEK-e) now offers his services at the Family Music Center, 914 Old Liverpool Road. He previously worked for American Music & Sound, was the national guitar tech for Fernandez Guitars and managed quality control for Kaysound Imports which services thousands of retailers throughout the U.S. and Canada.
The new biographical feature film about Jackie Robinson declined to depict the infamous incident in which Syracuse Chiefs ballplayers taunted the black baseball pioneer by throwing a black cat onto the playing field. For decades, legend had it that the incident occurred at Syracuse’s MacArthur Stadium, but historical evidence indicates otherwise.
For Jenni Schaefer, denial was a way of life. For years, she thought of herself as “almost anorexic.” Eventually, after studying biochemistry at Texas A&M University before moving to Nashville to play music, she was suffering the effects of a full-blown eating disorder, which she called Ed. That “almost anorexic” label was just a dodge, she realized, a devious self-sabotage. Her courageous chronicle of her journey, “Life Without Ed: How One Woman Declared Independence from Her Eating Disorder and How You Can Too,” became a breakthrough best-seller. Schaefer emerged as a leading light in the recovery movement.
American Diner owner Mike Tassone is not one to keep his opinions to himself. His diner’s menu spices its fare with quips and comments decrying the evils of too much government. Last week, a red-lettered sign went up outside the building’s west wall facing the railroad tracks where they cross Old Liverpool Road: “Repeal NYS S.A.F.E. Act “Honor the Second Amendment. “scopeNY.org.”
Time flies when you’re having fun. Just ask the Liverpool Elks. One of the area’s most active fraternal orders will celebrate a quarter-century of Music Fests when the band plugs in at noon on Sunday, Aug. 11, at the club on Cold Springs Road. Four of Central New York’s best rock bands — The Fulton Chain Gang, Soul Mine, Kat Tale and Mood Swing — will perform one after another through 6 p.m.
The new president of the Liverpool Public Library Board of Trustees is Natalie Scavone and the new vice president is Tim Dodge. Scavone works as principal of alternative education at Cayuga-Onondaga Board of Cooperative Educational Services in Auburn, and Dodge is director of research and media relations at Independent Insurance Agents & Brokers of New York, Inc. Dodge is also a published author. Scavone and Dodge take over this month for the outgoing president, Mark Spadafore, and the vice president, George Alessio, who both stepped down from their executive positions after many years of service but remain as members of the board. Joe Spado Sr. continues as the board’s secretary and Larry Dunstone continues as financial advisor. The other library board member is the former village mayor, Marlene Ward.
Grab your blankets and lawn chairs. The feeling of a drive-in movie will be in full effect both this week and next, as CNY & Syracuse FunFlicks will show two animated motion pictures on a 30-foot inflatable screen at the amphitheater at Johnson Park. The initial outdoor movie night with CNY & Syracuse FunFlicks was scheduled for Tuesday, July 23, with a dusk showing of “Wreck-it Ralph,” in which video-game characters take over an arcade at night. In case of rain, the movie would roll on Thursday, July 25.