This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of April 7

2023-04-07 TWIR Image-Carolyn Phillips

April 5, 1873 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

TRANSFER OF REAL ESTATE — Isaac B. Gildersleeve has disposed of the new house lately erected by him in Tappan on the road leading to the Station, in exchange for a farm in the vicinity of Tallman’s, to John A. Dicks. One will move to the farm, the other to Tappan.

A SIGN — We began to think that Spring was never coming, but one or two signs, other than those usually vouchsafed by nature, has convinced us we were in error. We saw one of our real estate agents yesterday showing some city people houses to rent, and that satisfied us that the season was near at hand.

April 7, 1923 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Times

       The field bugs, known in America as June bugs, have resumed their place as toys for German children. An extraordinary flood of the beetles has sent hundreds of Berliners into nearby forests and fields to catch thousands of them and sell them to dealers who, in turn, retail them to fond parents and children. The bugs sell at ten for a mark now, whereas before the war a dozen could be bought for a few pfennigs. The dealer makes 300 per cent profit, those engaged in catching them declare.
       Farmers encourage the catching of the bugs as playthings for city children, as they are destructive to the foliage of orchards and vineyards. The unusually large plague of field bugs has revived the custom of catching them for sale for the first time since the war. An expert “catcher’ usually brings in about 1,000 bugs a day. They live for about ten days as playthings.

       A horse owned by the Ramapo brick company, recently working on contract in Suffern, became so emaciated that the men in charge thought it was affected with an organic ailment and was on its way to horse heaven. It was accidently discovered the horse had an ulcerated tooth that prevented it from eating its food. Brawny arms wth [sic] the aid of a blacksmiths tongs extracted the tooth, and after a few days, when the soreness left, the horse began to grow in flesh and will soon be ready to go back to work.

April 6, 1973 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

[Image: Carolyn Phillips (left) talks to Jane Feuer (center) and Michele Cronan.  Photo by Al Witt, Journal News]
       Not only is nobody afraid of Virginia Crane, but, until a few weeks ago, very few people even knew who she was!
       As the inventor of the fire extinguisher of the type that is commonly used today she probably has done as much to save people as novelist Virginia Woolf has done to entertain them.
       Since 1973 marks the 100th anniversary of the invention of the fire extinguisher, the sixth grade students at Grand View School in Monsey decided to find out about its origin. When they discovered that the extinguisher had been invented by a woman, the students became curious about other women in technical fields.
       They prepared papers on women physicists, doctors, astronomers, and even pilots. They drew up charts and statistics on women in the various technical fields throughout history. And they invited Carolyn Phillips, senior engineer for the New York State Department of Labor, to speak to them on the challenges and problems that women who embark on careers in technology might encounter.
       Ms. Phillips, a Suffern resident, talked about a number of things in her life, including her current involvement in the medical aspects of environmental pollution, her days at Pratt Institute in Manhattan as an engineering student, and her growing interest in engineering as a high school student.
       “I suppose the first time I encountered any discrimination against me as a female,” she recalled, “was when I was excluded from a mechanical drawing course in high school because of the old ‘no-girls-allowed’ rule. Instead of getting discouraged, I pointed out to the school principal how ridiculous the policy was ... especially since the teacher of the course was a woman. I was then allowed to take it, and, from that point on, other girls were also given the opportunity to study mechanical drawing.
       “This to me was just as important as my own freedom to take the course. Once I decided on engineering as my career, it was not that difficult to insist on my right to pursue that interest, but unless young girls are brought up aware of the fact that such fields are open to them, their rights are really meaningless.”
       The problems encountered by some women who do pursue careers in technology range from being overlooked for scholarship funds to receiving inferior pay or less challenging jobs than their male counterparts, but Ms. Phillips’ experiences have been different.
       As a civil service department employee, her pay is equal to that of anyone else doing a similar job, and as an individual, her self-confidence and optimism have made her a hard person to ref use.
       “Part of my job is collecting samples of industrial wastes, and the man who interviewed me was concerned about an old superstition that prohibits women from entering mines,” she reflected. “But I made it clear that I was willing to go into the mines, to climb the smoke stacks and to do anything else that was part of the job. Since he had male employees who were afraid to climb smoke stacks, I suppose he figured he certainly could not have a female employee who wasn’t allowed in a mine!
       “I don’t want to give the impression,” Ms. Phillips was quick to add, “that engineering is dirty work. Most of my work is done either in an office or in a very modern, clean laboratory.”
       One disappointed student claimed it was the outdoor work and adventure that made engineering appealing to him. Pointing out that there are many different aspects to the field, Ms. Phillips encouraged her audience of sixth graders to carry their research further and really to get to know what careers are available in technology.
       Although none of the girls who talked to Ms. Phillips had decided to make a career of engineering, both the boys and girls were curious about the problems of sex discrimination that Ms. Phillips has dealt with, and they were obviously impressed by her personal determination and ability as an engineer.
       Though they were 11-year-old kids, they all seemed aware of the very real problems of sex discrimination. Perhaps Michele Cronin and Jane Feuer summed up their attitudes in their commentary “Survival of the Fittest?” Wryly commenting that the ones who survive seem to be the ones who fit in best, rather than the fittest, the girls wrote, “We think that the women who have made it in the field of technology are extra good, because it is extra hard if you are a woman.”

N.B. The first U.S. patent on a fire extinguishing system for buildings was granted on February 10, 1863. Alanson Crane of Fortress Monroe, Virginia, was granted U.S. Patent No. 37,610, which involved the installation of system of water pipes running through the walls and ceilings of a building. —Hagley Museum, Wilmington, DE.

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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