Forks in the Road: Small Town Lives and Lessons

Forks in the Road: Small Town Lives and Lessons

by John Sullivan


View All Available Formats & Editions
Members save with free shipping everyday! 
See details


Growing up in the 1950"s and 60"s in a small upstate NY city, the author has interacted with many of the community's leading lights, and has lots of stories to tell, and reminiscences to share. It could be a book about anywhere USA, and in reading the compendium of columns, the reader will get to know people they don't know, and will feel as if they did know them. John Sullivan is good at giving eulogies, and good at telling stories, particularly about people he has known and admired. Each brief biographical sketch gives you not only an understanding of the person and their times, but a feel for the contributions their lives made in the overall quality of life in their communities. As a daughter of one of the subjects wrote to the author, "You gave my mother a great gift-recognition for her life's achievements She was uplifted by your telling of her story, and we are forever grateful to you for putting the cherry on top of her career." Memories, in the end, are all we have, and the sweeter the memory, the more appreciation there is for lives well lived. There are lots of sweet memories, and life's lessons learned in this book. The author hopes you enjoy reading about them as much as he enjoyed writing about them.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781504965453
Publisher: AuthorHouse
Publication date: 12/16/2015
Pages: 146
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.31(d)

Read an Excerpt

Forks in the Road

Small Town Lives and Lessons

By John Sullivan


Copyright © 2015 John Sullivan
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-5049-6545-3



* * *

In the midst of increasing incivility in our current political discourse, when ad hominem attacks seem to be more the rule than the exception, there stands a monument to civil political and professional discourse. He has lived his whole life in Oswego, and is in many other ways an unsung hero in our midst. His name is James G. Grose, son of Oswego scion Weldon Grose and his wife Ethel, whose contributions to Oswego's music community were legendary. Their son, James G. has left his own very indelible mark on the Oswego legal and political community, and done so in his own inimitable fashion.

These days, "Jimmy Grose" as we fellow lawyers called him, is less occupied with trial preparation, and more occupied with caring for his special needs adult son Glenn, but even during the hectic days of Jimmy's legal career, he always found the time for Glenn. The kindness and civility, and patience he displayed in raising, along with his beloved wife Norah, a very special child, spilled over into his political and professional life.

If you ever had a discussion, or disagreement with Jim Grose, you never came away from it with any sense of him being a jerk. Jim was always a gentleman and a scholar in debating the issues, and as much as you may have vehemently disagreed, you always left the discussion on a note of good humor. You always left with a smile, and being eager for the next lively discussion.

In many ways, James G. Grose was a mentor to me in my young lawyer days. I tried my very first case against him in City court before another very wise Oswego patrician in the person of City Judge Thomas M. McGough. It was a case of petit larceny involving a round waisted fiftyish grandmother who was accused of shoplifting at the Big M Market. Her crime involved the theft of a pair of baby socks.

Not the most scintillating or sexy set of facts, but important, nonetheless. After a long trial, and jury deliberations that lasted late into the night, with many requests for the read back of testimony, we ended the case in a mistrial ... a hung jury. They just couldn't bring themselves to convict this nice old lady, against whom the evidence had been neatly stacked and piled high by prosecutor Grose. His Herculean efforts notwithstanding, there was to be no conviction. The jury just could not bring themselves to pronounce this nice old lady guilty.

It was during that first trial that I learned the truth of the old law school maxim, "When the law is on your side pound the law. When the facts are on your side. Pound the facts. When nothing is on your side, pound the table!"

The testimony centered around where the defendant threw the socks out of her purse, as she ran from the store with the manager in hot pursuit. Did the socks land between the sidewalk and the curb? As the manager testified, or on the asphalt parking lot as another witness claimed. In truth, it mattered not, but the discrepancy in this testimony turned out to be my moment to say, "Aha!" and bang the table! Jim Grose never let me forget that one, and I never have, often using the anecdote to regale my students about the art of legal advocacy. It still stands out in my mind as a Jim Grose moment.

There were many more.

An argument with Jim Grose often involved the invocation of some classic metaphor from Greek mythology, or the halcyon days of the Roman Empire. Where did all these stories come from? A little known fact about Jim is that when you wanted to find the District Attorney when he had skipped away from the surveillance of even his most loyal secretary, all you needed to do was visit the Oswego public library. That was his hideout. He could remain hidden there for hours amidst stacks of books. Looking for the DA? Check the Classics section!

One of the lighter moments in my legal career came at the hands of James G. Grose as well. I had been to the Dentist before court one morning, and my mouth was frozen partly shut with ample amounts of Novocaine (an unusual occurrence for me). When my case was called before then City Judge Frank Klinger, I tried to address the District Attorney, but all that would come out of my mouth that morning was "Mitha.. Mitha ... Mittha Gwotthhh ... we had a flea bargain already agreed to on this case!" Judge Klinger laughed so hard he had to remove himself from the bench, and could still be heard howling with laughter from his nearby court chamber. Apparently, my sudden inability to express myself in my normal basso profundo way, my complete loss of the ability to articulate a point, was more than mildly amusing to the regular cast of characters in City Court, even the court clerk Wanda Henderson almost literally laughed herself out of her chair.

There were many other amusing and memorable moments spent with James G. Grose. When music on hold was first being introduced on our law firm's new telephone system, Jim called, and refused to again be placed on hold, saying to the Secretary, "Look, just put the phone down on the desk and I'll sing "Melancholy Baby" to you!" That was his ardent sense of humor on display. That sense of humor sustained him and many of his fellow members of the bar through moments of professional challenge that were not always pleasant. He is and was the kind of person Maya Angelou had in mind when she said, "People may not always remember what you said, or what you did, but they will always remember how you made them feel".

When it comes to Mr. James G. Grose, the answer to that question is "Like a million bucks!". He is the kind of character a community comes to love and to cherish, and Oswego is fortunate to count him as one of its outstanding citizens of durable longevity. When you see him on the street, tip your hat to him or nod your head and say, "Well done Mr. Grose, well done!" Oswego should be glad and proud to have a person like James G. Grose woven into the fabric of its community identity.



* * *

I first met Helen Hennessey Chetney when I was a teenage disc jockey for WOSC, and she was the secretary for the station. She, as it turned out, was a great friend of my next door neighbor, Julie Ann Doyle (Saloga), and her family had run a pharmacy on West Bridge St. for many years. It was our neighborhood drugstore, just like Gover's was our neighborhood department store.

Helen ran the radio station as if it were her own store, allowing her two bosses, Fred Maxon, Assistant Station Mamager and Jack Burgess, Station Manager, the illusion that they were in charge, when it was really Helen who was running the show. In those days, a frequent visitor to the office to see Helen was Palladium-Times ad salesman Bob Chetney. It was an interesting courtship to observe. They were both well into their thirties at the time, and neither had been married, and as it turns out, they were a great match for each other. They married in 1963 in St. Mary's Church, and went on to have three children, first, a girl who they named Mary Beth, then two boys, Robert Jr. and Brian. They bought a large house across the street from the Hospital on West Seventh St., and took in college kids as boarders. Two of my best friends, Jim DeGolyer and Steve Epstein lived there during their sophomore year at SUCO in 1965-66, so I was a frequent visitor to the Chetney house back then, and often invited to share a cool refreshment in their large screened in front porch on warm, late spring nights. Their friends Gene and Julie Saloga would often drop by, as would other friends like McGee Kelly Maniccia and John Holiday.

My first political job was to operate a sound truck for Bob's campaign for County Supervisor for the Third Ward. I remember chanting over and over into the microphone "Vote Row A all the way!" as I drove the truck around the Third ward on election day. I also promoted the re-election of Jim Musico as Alderman. He and Bob were both Republicans. Bob won, so did Jim, and Bob went on to become the first City Supervisor in many years to chair the County Board of Supervisors. He later left the Pall Times after he studied for and obtained a real estate license, and started his own Realty Agency in a building at the corner of West Fifth and Bridge which was home to the former Loescher Funeral parlor. My sister Maureen and her husband Paul lived there as newlyweds before they sold the building to Bob and Helen, and moved to 96 West Seneca St. So my connection with the Chetneys was frequent, friendly, and lots of fun.

Bob and I would team up every St. Patrick's day to do a live radio broadcast from the Ancient Order of Hibernians on Munn St. for over 15 years. We became the kind of "Bob and Ray", or "Click and Clack" of the local March 17 airwaves. Neither of us would touch a drop of drink before sign off time, which was at around 6:15 pm in March. WSGO was a daytime only radio station at 1440 on the AM dial. We used to kid about sounding like Hong Kong on the short wave had we departed from our abstemious pledge during the program. We certainly made up for it afterward, and I think as the day waned on, and I was upstairs in the broadcast room and Bob was downstairs near the bar, he may have had a pre sign off nip, or three.

Bob could just make you laugh. Our St. Patrick's day broadcast often featured the men of St. Mary's choir, with such luminaries as Billy Joyce, Francis Dehm, and Paul Murray. among many others stepping to the michrophone to belt out an Irish tune Bernadette McBrearty, a nurse from Derry, in Northern Ireland would discuss the Irish troubles with me every year in her soft toned lilting voice, and we also interviewed by phone, annually, such Irish luminaries as Eamonn McGirr from Loudonville, owner of Eamonn's Irish pub, who wrote the hit Irish song, "Up went Nelson in old Dublin".

Bob hosted his own weekly Sunday Irish program on the station that became almost as popular as Nick Sterio's Italian American hour, Bob and Helen also became steadfast stalwarts of the Munn St, AOH club.

In addition to all of his Celtic activity, Bob became the Republican City Chairman, and the Republican County Election Commissioner for many years. He participated vicariously in many hundreds of elections, including Helen's election to his old seat on the County Legislature, after it was vacated by another Third Ward icon, John T. Donovan.

One thing was certain with Bob and Helen, if you went along with them for the ride, you were sure to have smiles aplenty, laughs galore and lots of fun. So, in the spirit of St. Patrick, whose feast day we recently celebrated, "May the road continue to rise to meet you", Bob and Helen, and may your children and grandchildren be blessed with many many golden Irish memories. Bob and Helen, you were quite a pair.



* * *

I first met Claude Broadwell many years ago when I accompanied my dad on a Christmas tree buying adventure to his East Bridge St. tree lot. I would become acquainted with him again during my college years when I worked part time as a bartender at Wood's bar near the Forks of the road,. Claude bought the bar from George and Sarah Woods in the mid to late 60's. It was a working class neighborhood bar.

Claude was a kind of working class, neighborly, hardworking guy whose main job was at the NiMo steam plant. On the side, he sold Xmas trees, and he fixed and sold used appliances. With a lump sum settlement from a Worker's Compensation case and the proceeds from the sale of his East Bridge St. Property to Carroll's corporation(later Burger King), Claude was able to acquire "Woodsy's" and changed it's name to Broadwell's. He began catering to the college age crowd, expanded his square footage, and, as they say, the rest is history.

In the process of the next thirty years, Claude, together with his sons Buddy and Gary and daughter Diane, acquired several other "beer joints" as we used to call them, and ultimately wound up building an empire of hotels and restaurants which is second to none in Oswego, and are currently being managed by the next generation of Broadwell progeny, chiefly by Buddy's sons Shane and George, but still under the thumb of master builder of businesses George "Buddy" Broadwell. The new restaurant is named after Buddy and Cathy Broadwells bright and attractive young daughter, Alex.

Claude Broadwell became one of my father's (Sully-of Sully's diner fame) best friends. My father always called him "Hubie", a kind of acronym for a perjorative slight, as in "You be s--t!" I still don't know why they thought that was so funny, but they had many a laugh over that name and saying over the years.

I came to know not only Claude and his wife Sally, but his sons Buddy, Gary, and Joey, and daughters Diane and Sheila as well. They were great friends and good and industrious folks whose hard work paid off. Claude became my client as a lawyer, and he acquired Bayshore Grove and built the Old Timer's Inn, while Gary ran Broadwell's and Gary's and Diane built the Woodshed into a successful college bar at the Forks of the road. Buddy started the Captain's Lounge restaurant and built a hotel across the street, and eventually acquired the old Holiday Harbor, developed Steamer's bar and Grill, and now boasts ownership of Alex's on the water, a convention center, and two excellent waterfront hotel properties.

In addition, Bay Shore Grove became kind of the family compound and a successful wedding venue on the lake, and Sheila worked for Buddy as did Joey. It was always a family enterprise, and what the Broadwell's set out to do they did, and did well.

My friend Greg Smith reminded me of a conversation he once had with "Hubie" in which Greg asked him how he felt about all the businesses he had created and the success he had achieved, and Claude said that to him, the most important part of the success was his family. That was all that really mattered.

The Broadwell family is a great rags to riches success story. It is not without tragedy, such as the untimely demise of Claude's eldest son Claude Jr., and some other setbacks as well, but those are overshadowed by success and accomplishments aplenty. The Broadwell's should be justifiably proud of the empire they have built. And along the way, Oswego has benefitted greatly as a result. Their two hotels along the river, with another riverfront hotel on the drawing board, are no small achievements. They run a first class operation, and they have helped to make Oswego a tourist type destination in ways that the Thomas Motor lodges would never have dreamed.

Sometimes, Claude's son Buddy can be a pretty hard charger, but his heart and vision are always in the right place, and he has a proven track record of success, which makes whatever he does a darn good bet. He is a hands on manager and entrepreneur who I am proud to call my friend of many years.

"Hubie" would be very proud of how his children and grandchildren have developed and nurtured what he began. And to think, it all started with a creaky, beer soaked floor, Forks of the road shot and a beer type joint with Genesee on tap, a couple of bowling machines, and a great juke box. From the humble acorn, the mighty oak tree does indeed grow. My hat is off to the Broadwell family for the success they have achieved, the contributions they have made to the community, and the pleasure of enjoying their good company along the way.



* * *

It is hard to believe that it was twenty years ago, February 2nd, 1994, when I lost my mentor, and Oswego lost one of its most distinguished citizens, in the person of John O'Connor Conway. John was laid to rest after a memorable mass and tribute at his home parish of St. Paul's. I was honored to be asked to deliver the eulogy, and courtesy of Dr. Lou Iorizzo, current Oswego historian. That eulogy is available on the Internet at for those who wish to read more about his life and times.

For me, the memory of having worked side by side with, and under the tutelage of a great man like John O'Connor Conway, is one that I value and deeply cherish. Those years left an indelible mark on me, and in many ways shaped the person I would and have become. His many accomplishments live on, and he is warmly remembered, especially during the gatherings of the Fitzgibbons clan, to whom he is forever connected, having married Mary Fitzgibbons Conway, known affectionately as "Meem". His spirit also endures in the person of his talented and definitive daughter Ellen Conway Kelly, and his twin grandchildren, Conway and Louise.


Excerpted from Forks in the Road by John Sullivan. Copyright © 2015 John Sullivan. Excerpted by permission of AuthorHouse.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents


Introduction, vii,
Preface, xi,
James G. Grose, 1,
Bob and Helen Chetney, 7,
The Broadwell family, 11,
John Conway, 15,
The Crisafulli family, 19,
Charlotte McQueen Sullivan, 23,
The Uncommon Council, 27,
Bill Cahill, 31,
Nick Sterios, 35,
Mary Dault Dowd, 39,
Forks in the road, 43,
OCHS, 46,
Clark Morrison, 51,
Bob and Sue Branshaw, 55,
Gay H. Williams, 59,
Doris Allen, 65,
Norma Adams Bartle, 69,
The Real Santa Claus, 75,
Eugene G. Saloga, 79,
Anamae Mitchell, 83,
John T. Sullivan Sr, 89,
Jack Fitzgibbons, 93,
Will Schum, 99,
David John Roman, 105,
Ed and Kathy Matott, 111,
SAM Domicolo, 115,
Nancy Rodak, 119,
ED LISK, 125,
F. Hosmer Culkin, 131,

Customer Reviews