This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of January 27


January 25, 1873 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       The Coal and Iron Record publishes an interesting article on the extent of the peat fields of this country. According to its estimates our supply of this fuel will exceed that of Ireland 150 times. In Orange and Rockland counties, New York, the peat beds contain at a low estimate, 225,000,000 tons. Beds are also known to exist in over 100 different towns of Massachusetts. The Dismal Swamp of Virginia will yield 500,000,000 tons of peat. There are 4,000 acres in New Jersey, and there are similar bogs in all parts of the State. There is a peat bed in Westchester county, New York, which will yield 900,000 tons, Long Island has a million of tons. Along both sides of the Kankakee River, Indiana, extending from South Bend to the Illinois line, is a peat bed more than 60 miles in length, with a width of three miles. In some places it is over 40 feet deep but even though it averages only half or even one quarter of this depth the aggregate amount of fuel it contains is beyond computation. This does not include one-fiftieth part of the peat bogs of the country.

       It is well known to our readers in Spring Valley and vicinity that there is a race-track being constructed on the grounds of our jolly fat friend, Jacob T. Eckerson, which promises to be first-class. The Messrs. Merritts are the contractors, and already have completed about one fourth of the necessary work. Mr. Wise, the engineer, has spared no pains in laying out the course, and by the first of June it will be ready for those of our fast trotters known as “Scotland Maid,” “Railroad,” “Quicksilver,” “Fanny Young,” and others whose speed will astonish the natives one of these days. The officers of the track association are as follows: President, J. T. Eckerson; 1st Vice President, Capt. M. DeCamp; 2d Vice President, Mr. Brewer; Secretary, T. H. Gemmel; Treasurer, J. C. Brown.

      A man from Haverstraw, whose name we did not learn, fell from an ice elevator, at Rockland Lake a few days ago, and escaped fatal injury by striking against Mr. Hazard in his fall. Neither were seriously injured.

January 26, 1933 90 YEARS AGO
Pearl River News

[Image: Frank Crilley, courtesy of US Navy, via Wikipedia Commons.]
       One of America’s famous deep sea divers was a visitor in Pearl River last week when Frank Crilley was the guest of his aunt Mrs. Celia Bishop of Railroad avenue. Crilley won fame as the deep sea diver connected with the Sir Hubert Wilkins North Pole expedition in the Nautilus. The Nautilus did not accomplish everything set out for it to do by the leader of the expedition, but Crilley did his part in keeping the occupants of the submarine alive on several occasions.
       The man is receiving much publicity through his many adventures and still holds the title of having reached the greatest depth of any deep sea diver. Crilley’s record dive was made some years ago when he attained a depth of 300 feet below the surface of the ocean.
       While with the ar[c]tic expedition of Capt. Wilkins, Crilley was forced to lower himself out of the submarine while below the ice and endeavor to clear passage way through obstructing ice jams. On several occasions during the hazardous work, Crilley was almost closed out of the return path to the submarine by ice.
       Although the men attending him within the submarine were almost frozen, Crilley said he was not bothered by the cold and rather enjoyed the experience.

January 27, 1973 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Calling the phone company about items in your bill, adding new phone service or even annoying calls? Then you might wind up talking to Mrs. Elaine Conace of Nyack, one of about 20 business office representatives in New York Telephone’s Nyack office.
       Mrs. Conace is no newcomer to the job; she’s been representative for eight years and was an operator before that for a total 17 years with New York Tel.
       And as business representative she handles any problems people might have with phone service, including getting new service, changing service, getting directories and advising about new equipment.
       She works out of the Nyack office which handles Pearl River, Nyack, Piermont, Haverstraw, Stony Point, Nanuet and Congers. The rest of Rockland County is covered from the Spring Valley office.
       She’s seen the great influx of people moving into Rockland County reflected in the number of new customers calling for phone service.
       Just in one year the Nyack office saw an increase of 1,377 accounts from 35,500 to 36,877 between Jan. 1971 and Jan. 1972.
       People naturally do complain but Mrs. Conace finds “anyone reasonable when you try to help them even if they come in feeling adamant.”
       And many of the problems stem from “so many things they do not understand about their service,” she said, like what the break-down really means on the monthly phone bill.
       “Most people are pleasant but like in any business there are some unpleasantries,” she said.
       When people complain that there are calls on their bills that they didn’t make Mrs. Conace tries to check it out while the customer is still on the phone.
       She calls a separate department which gets the name of the person the call was made to[,] which sometimes clears it up.
       “Nine times out of ten they will recognize it,” she said.
       And when people say they are charged for more message units than they made, the company checks a register of the units.
       When these steps don’t do the trick the matter goes to a centralized ticket investigation office for further checking, she said.
       And when the company finds the person did not make the call, credit is given on the bill. That also goes for people calling about time the phone was out of service, she adds.
       Mrs. Conace’s office is also responsible for handling about 2,000 accounts monthly or “about $1.2 million,” she said.
       Despite the rash of recent criticism of “Ma Bell” Mrs. Conace sees the utility “definitely doing everything they can. You hear more about dissatisfied people since the satisfied people sit back.”
       She said that when you work for a company you can better understand the inside and that she has seen improvements.
       She cites new equipment being installed in central offices to alleviate the heavy traffic load of calls, and her office getting less calls about problems.
       Even putting in a phone doesn’t involve the delay it used to, Mrs. Conace points out. And new customer equipment including push-button phones have come to most of Rockland County
       Mrs. Conace likes her job since she finds it “a challenge each day dealing with so many people.”

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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