This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of March 3

2023-03-03 TWIR Image-Val

March 1, 1873 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       Don’t put a bill “To let” on your house unless you mean business. A lonely Nyack lady did this, recently, as a practical joke on her husband, whose business compelled him to be out occasionally in the evening, and the consequence is she has had the company of every house hunter in Nyack ever since.

March 3, 1923 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Times

       It is quite evident that Mr. Louis Hoyt, Haverstraw’s dare devil driver, is not content with the record he set upon the ice last week, when he went around the course at the rate of 114 miles an hour, for he has recently purchased one of Tommy Milton’s record breaking Dusenberg [sic] “Eight-in-a-row” racing cars, which will be delivered to him within a few days.
       The engine of this car was made by taking two tremendously powerful and highly efficient eight cylinder engines and placing them side by side, thus giving the car sixteen cylinders. The car is equipped with two clutches, two propeller shafts and two separate gear reductions in the rear axle. The car is capable of making 155.57 miles per hour.

March 2, 1973 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

[Image: Volunteer ambulance corps rider Vi Doerzaph wanted to be a doctor when she was a kid. 'I've delivered eight babies,' she said. 'One inside the rig; the other ones never got out of the house.' Photo by Ted Neuhoff. ]
       “I probably wouldn’t have sense enough to retire until I fell on my face,” remarked 76-year-old Viola Doerzaph of Nyack.
       “Call me Vi,” she urged, a few minutes after I had met her at the Nyack Ambulance Corps headquarters. “Everybody goes by their first names here.”
       Vi, who has close to 32 years  of service as volunteer with the corps—all of it as a rider—is still on call two full days a week from seven in the morning until seven at night.
       “The Corps has been very good to me,” she commented after I had observed the gold 25-year and 30-year service pins she had fastened at her neck. In her white nylon uniform and snow-white hair, the spirited five-foot-two woman might have been a head nurse on some hospital floor as she spoke to me.
       “When I was a kid I wanted to be a doctor,” she confessed, “but it was impossible. We were just an ordinary family, and few women were doctors in those days. I was about to enter nursing school when I got married, and that was that!”
       She rubbed her palms together as if to indicate that the job of being a housewife had demanded much more serious work. “Riding in the rig (ambulance) and tending patients is maybe a way of getting over all the frustration. I've delivered eight babies,” she disclosed. “Only one inside the rig though; the other ones never got out of the house.”
       She sipped at a cup of hot coffee a trainee in the corps kitchen had prepared for her. “First time I ever went out was on my birthday, May 4,” she recalled, her brown eyes flashing. “In the very beginning we didn’t have definite times that we were on duty. It was the war years; men were scarce, and I’d have to go out almost every day. I never worked you know—just kept house, so, many times I’d be out with the rig all day long. I’d get home at 5 o’clock, and there’d be my husband; the dishes not done, and nothing cooked. Then he’d have to take me out to dinner. I got to eat out a lot,” she chuckled
       Vi lost her husband about a year and a half ago when he suffered a fatal heart attack. The couple never had any children, and Vi lives alone now. “Don’t tell anyone,” she lowered her voice, “but I’m the only one they still pick up. I only live up around the corner, but still, the other volunteers have to drive in. When the corps started they picked up everybody, but not many people had two cars then.”
       “In the very beginning we went door to door for donations, too,” she reminisced. “Many times we had the door slammed in our face. People did not go to the hospital much in those days and they figured if they had to go they’d call the hospital ambulance. Don’t let this get around,” she chuckled, resting her fingertips on my wrist, “because I have to go to the hospital all the time, and they might not like it, but even in those days, at a time when money was worth more, the hospital charged even poor people for just a short trip.
       “We went through a time when the corps seemed to be always in the red,” she recalled, shaking her head. “We decided to get a chaplain. He was Rev. Ernest Churchill (former rector of Nyack’s Grace Episcopal Church). He told us that we were above having to go house to house and sell chances on the street. “Have a yearly fund drive and send out mailings,” he said. “Don’t conduct any other solicitation for money, and you’ll never have to go door to door again. You know, he was right. We have been successful ever since.”
       She paused to think some more about the years that have passed. “I think I’ve been appreciated,” she said rather seriously. “I received an award once that I was very proud of. I was named citizen of the year by the Veterans of Foreign Wars, the Nyack branch.”
       She hesitated, then smiled somewhat wryly. “Several years ago we took an alcoholic woman to Rockland State. On the way over, the woman suddenly sat up on the stretchers, turned, and looked right at me. Well! she said to me. I've met other unimportant people like you before.”
       Vi looked into her empty cup, “We laughed about it around here for a long time.”

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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