This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of April 26

2024-04-26 TWIR Image-Sparkill Depot Square

April 26, 1874 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

    Charles E. Hunter, Isaac Vervalen and James Smith are the members of our new excise board, and we hope their term of office will be memorable for few liquor licenses granted.
    Isaac M. Van Wagner, of our village, is the owner of the smallest steam yacht we have ever seen; the boat in 22 feet long, is propelled by a two-horse engine and can run ten miles an hour.
    Another corner vendor was in town this week. He succeeded in drawing a crowd. A fellow of this kind, a hand-organ and monkey and a dog fight can draw together more boys than a dozen school bells.
    William Blauvelt, of Washingtonville, N.J., was the name of the man who received a charge of shot in the back of his head, while trapping near Orangeburgh, and a boy named Weckel was the one who fired it.

[Image: Depot Square, Sparkill, ca. 1920. Image courtesy of the Nyack Library, via]
       An amusing incident happened a few days ago, when the eleven o’clock train reached Sparkill. An elderly gentleman, accompanied by two daughters, got badly mixed up in his endeavors to find the cars going up the Branch. First the old gentleman got lost, then his cane got lost, and, most singular of all, his daughters lost him and he lost his daughters. The girls seized upon the old gentleman’s cane, and set out on an exploring expedition after the cars. The old man got bewildered and froze to a satchel and umbrella belonging to a strange lady. Then there was music, apologies, &c, until finally through the kind offices of Conductor Lozier, the family were reunited; the different articles of property were resumed by their several owners, and the passengers departed in great good humor over the vexacious incidents.

April 29, 1924 100 YEARS AGO
Pearl River News

       Announcement is made of the organization of the Artcraft Pictures, Incorporated, and the election of Elmer J. Van Zandt of Pearl River, as president.
       Artcraft has been incorporated as a hundred thousand dollar corporation under the laws of the State of New York. Mr. Van Zandt has associated with him J. M. Thorne, from the Coast, as Director.
       Edward Scanlon who has just finished playing the chief comedy role for D. W. Griffith in his latest picture, “America,” and Winifred Sackville Stoner, Jr., who recently appeared with Jack Holt in the “Tiger’s Claw,” will be co-featured in a series of pictures.
       Production will start on this series which will be 12 two-reel rural comedies, on or about May 15; and will be made around and near Schroon Lake, N.Y., in the Adirondacks, a wonderful location for this type of story.
       In addition, as support, Gus Alexander, Vitagraph star; Margy Evans, the 250-pound character woman who has appeared in the Torchy Comedies with Johnnie Hines; J. E. Poole and June Alee, who are famous for the impersonation of “Josh and Tildy Medders, of Medders’ Corners,” and other stars of merit.
       Mr. Van Zandt and Mr. Thorn will co-direct the pictures, Mr. Edward Dunn having been engaged to write the stories and continuity.
       Arrangements have been made to have these pictures shown as soon as completed, at our local theatre.
       Mr. Van Zandt has the good wishes of a host of friends in and about this town, who will watch with interest the development of the new corporation and for the local into appearance of its films.

April 26, 1974 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Crackle, scrabble, crunch, twigs breaking, and the smell of new spring grass just cut.
       Mud, muck, goo, yelling, laughing, listening for chirrups in the dried old grass from last year.
       Stop and be quiet.
       Then, jeepers creepers. Peepers.
       “We’re not going to keep them,” Ed Bieber, the naturalist from the Lakeside nature center, Spring Valley, has warned the gaggle of kids who came to hunt the peepers, which are little tan frogs. “I hope you’re really not too disappointed about that.”
       Maybe they were, but none of them was able to capture any of the chirping creatures anyway. One little boy bagged a frog but it was of the garden variety.
       The kids and a few of their parents turned out to march through the twilight in Thursday’s finger-chilling spring air to look for the peepers, the creatures that begin to get out the news of the yearly thaw in early March and then swell to a chorus in summer.
       Bieber held an introductory seminar for the 14 youngsters before the trip into the swamp and woodland and posed a little girl as the sun and a little boy as the earth to explain the turn of the planet that brings the seasons. He tipped the boy at an angle to show the tilting of the earth’s axis.
       The male peepers chirp to get the attention of the females, the kids were told. They have loose skin, on their throats and catch air in the pocket to use for their noise making.
       With this knowledge to aid them, the group took off to search the bogs at the very edge of Route 45, listening for the throaty beeps over the sounds of cars whizzing by and parental voices (“Mommys [do] not have to catch frogs darling, mommy doesn’t have to hurry”).
       They were armed with flashlights, ski jackets, buckets, and boots. One little girl clutched a half-gallon milk container, an enterprising boy had a net to grab the peepers, and another girl carried an old coffee pot.
       “Stand still!” ordered Bob Rutkowski, an assistant naturalist. And one of the boys froze in his tracks. The flashlights began to wander over the dried grass until the tiny creature with the big noise was found.
       Kids crowded around to stare at the peeper, and lights were turned out to calm the little amphibian’s fears. But he took advantage of the lull to jump away to safety.
       The marshland was not the whole show, so everyone retraced his steps out of the grass. They then took off over a harder trail, stumbling over rocks and crashing into bushes (more laughing), and going to the next destination, a woodland swamp.
       It was more like Halloween than a spring night, with blacked armed trees standing gaunt against the stars and a silvered moon. There were fragile, sleeping flowers caught in the beams of flashlights, skunk cabbage leaves to smell, snails and a reminder of civilization the sound of diesel engines on the nearby Thruway.
       The peepers will be singing every evening. Tune in.

This Week in Rockland (#FBF Flashback Friday) is prepared by Clare Sheridan on behalf of the Historical Society of Rockland County. © 2024 by The Historical Society of Rockland County. #FBF Flashback Friday may be reprinted only with written permission from the HSRC. To learn about the HSRC’s mission, upcoming events or programs, visit or call (845) 634-9629.


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