This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of May 31

2024-05-31 TWIR Image-Falls
2024-05-31 TWIR Image-Bullock

May 30, 1874 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

[Image: Stereoscopic image of De la Vergne's Glen, Isaac Van Wagner. Ca. 1880. Image courtesy of the Nyack Library, via
       There is no man in our county who is doing half so much to render our unsurpassed scenery classical and historical as our artist friend, Isaac M. Van Wagner, whose achievements of late have been crowned with the most gratifying success to himself and satisfaction to his many patrons. With his admirably arranged appliances he has lately secured some of the finest stereoscopic views we have ever seen; scenes of wildness and beauty that even the Yo Semite [sic] and Yellowstone valleys cannot surpass. And yet a series of these views are taken right from the center of Nyack, in DePew’s glen, while the remainder have been secured from De la Vergne’s Glen, at West Nyack, one of the wildest and most romantic spots we have ever known so near civilization. Fallen trees, cascades, moss-covered rocks, perpendicular as a wall and fresh from the hand of nature, are some of the features of these pictures, which the artist cannot finish sufficiently fast to supply the demand for them. Go and examine them, and you will say that we have not spoken half enough about their merits.

    The strawberries in market now are a good deal like some ladies’ dispositions—a little sour. Sugar, however, has the same effect on the berries that ice-cream and candies do on the ladies.

May 29, 1924 – 100 YEARS AGO
Pearl River News

BIG BARN BURNS AT VAN HOUTEN’S — LOSS NEAR $4,000 — Fire of Unknown Origin Visits Property at Van Houten’s Mills — Fourth Time In Six Months
       Fire of unknown origin Sunday night did $4,000 damage in destroying a large barn on Morris Van Houten’s farm at Van Houten’s Mills near Orangeburg.
       The Pearl River Fire Department responded promptly and soon had a couple of streams on the flames from the brook nearby but to little avail for the fire had gained such headway that it was impossible to save the building. However the firemen did excellent work in holding the conflagration in bounds, for which they have the thanks of Mr. and Mrs. Van Houten.
       All the live stock from the barn and some of the machinery was removed with difficulty but more than a $1,000 worth of fertilizer stored in it was ruined, in addition to hay, feed and farming implements.
       Insurance was carried on the barn but not enough to cover the loss.
       This is the fourth fire that the Van Houten’s suffered in the last six months. First a kitchen range exploded, then two out buildings burned, and now the barn.

May 30, 1974 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

[Image: Charles Bullock, Central Nyack fireman and first African American in department. Journal News staff photo by Ted Neuhoff]

This is another in a continuing series spotlighting Rockland’s communities.
       The firehouse in Central Nyack was built in 1940 but it looks like the Alamo, with high white stucco walls and a wrought-iron balcony off a second-floor window.
       It saw a battle during the height of civil rights activism in the ’60s that brought its all-white membership to a growing black population of the hamlet.
       Today, there are three black members among the 30 to 35 active volunteers who attend Monday night drills and monthly meetings and who come together informally over a few beers in the fire hall and guard the growing community with three trucks.
       One of them, Charles Bullock, 34, is now the captain of the company. Six years ago, Bullock was the first black elected to the department.
       The blacks and whites working together today tend to downplay the incidents of 1966 and 1967, when Bullock and Edward Kirkland took a complaint of racism to what is now the county Human Rights Commission and when two blacks were defeated in very close races against whites for fire commissioner.
       Bullock says he was not interested in a civil rights fight for the sake of the fight alone. He wanted to be a fireman. “It was something I always wanted to do,” he says, and now he is staying in the department although he has moved to Piermont so that other blacks will have someone to help them get in.
       “I want to make sure everything goes all right for the kids coming up,” he says.
       Bullock cannot advance higher than captain while living outside the district. But he was renting in Central Nyack and had an opportunity to have his own home in Piermont, where he had lived earlier in his life.
       Bullock is also a member of the Palisades Interstate Parkway police. One of the other three black firemen, Kenneth Bradley, 40, works for the Stierlen’s Moving and Storage Company in Congers, and has been a member of the department for 4½ years.
       Al Decker Jr., 32, is a second-generation fireman and the chief of the department. His father is the assistant chief and his mother and wife are active in the ladies auxiliary. He is a chemist at Schwarz-Mann Laboratories in Orangeburg and enjoys the activity around the firehouse.
       At first, he admits, it was a “glory” job that he had admired since childhood, but now it is a satisfying community service.
       “We have a good turnout,” says Decker of the 50 to 70 per cent of the department that turns out for fire calls. It is the smallest fire district in the county—about one mile square—but is growing in population with the apartment houses and condominiums that have been built in recent years.
       The Mountainview condominium has about 700 units, and Central Nyack firemen have been engaged in a jurisdiction al dispute with the Valley Cottage department over the district boundary that falls somewhere in the project.
       The condominium, although an added burden for a fire department, brings in a sizable tax return and each department is claiming it as part of its territory. The Clarkstown Town Board has held a public hearing on the dispute but has not ruled on it yet.
       The department has ordered a new truck to expand its firefighting capabilities and plans an addition to the present fire house in the near future. At 70, it is one of the oldest in Rockland and is still one of the most vital forces in the community’s life.

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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