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This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of June 14

2024-06-14 TWIR Image-Natalie Couch
2024-06-14 TWIR Image-Feldington

June 13, 1874 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

AROUND HOME
    If you want to appreciate the value of ice, just appropriate, by mistake, a piece belonging to somebody else, and after taking it several blocks, discover your mistake, and carry it all the way back.
    Much science and skill was exhibited in ringing the fire bell on Friday morning. We would suggest that a little grease be used before the next alarm, to prevent the bell from sticking on the centre.
    The Rockland Savings Bank, of Nyack, has purchased the lot on which A. D. Remson’s ice cream saloon stands—68 feet on Broadway by 90 deep—for the purpose of erecting a handsome banking house thereon.
    Sheriff Benson’s team tried to draw a wagon on each side of the iron lamp-post in front of the bank, on Monday, but somehow the thing wouldn’t work. The wagon pole was splintered and the horses knocked down.
    Nyack is again happy. At the N.Y.Y.C. races, on Thursday, Com. William Voorhis’ schooner yacht, the Tidal Wave, carried everything before her, winning the race and having time to spare afterwards. In a ten knot breeze we believe her to be peerless.

June 12, 1924 – 100 YEARS AGO
Pearl River News

WILLIAMS REMODELING SCHOOL FOR APARTMENTS
       J. F. Williams has started work on remodeling the old school building on Franklin Avenue. He will make of it two apartments, each containing a dozen or more rooms, which is expected to relieve the housing shortage here a great deal when completed.
       Mr. Williams is also building ten new cottages and houses on Washington Avenue in a new section of the town.

MISS COUCH IS GRADUATED WITH HIGHEST LAW HONOR
[Image: Natalie Couch]
       Miss Natalie E. Couch, secretary to Justice Tompkins of the Supreme Court, was graduated last week from Fordham Law School with the degree of Cum Laude, the highest honor that can be accorded.
       Miss Couch had the highest marks in all subjects among her classmates. She is one of the most active and faithful workers for the G.O.P. in Rockland County.

June 14, 1974 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

LAFAYETTE THEATER WILL STAR AGAIN  GETS NEW LEASE ON LIFE
[Image: Feldington (second from the right) is congratulated by Chamber of Commerce President Jerry Ross, Furgang and Norman Sharoff (from left). Journal News Staff Photo by Al Witt.]
       The marquee lights of Suffern’s 50-year-old Lafayette Theater, dimmed for what was thought to be the final time last October 15, will once again light the village’s main thoroughfare when the theater reopens Wednesday.
       The pop of champagne corks lent a formal note to the informal gathering of friends at the theater earlier this week to celebrate the signing of the lease between the theater’s new operator, Dennis Feldington, and the building’s owners, the Chemical Bank.
       Feldington announced that “The Exorcist” will be the Lafayette’s first attraction, followed by a series of “kiddie shows.” The theater, an ornate product of a far more opulent age, was opened for the first time in 1924, according to John Romansky, who joined the theater as a projectionist three months after its opening. Romansky retired from the position in 1973 after nearly 50 years.
       “The theater was originally owned by the wealthier people in town who formed a stock company called the Suffern Amusement Corporation,” Romansky said. “This was a community affair,” he said. “They played to the carriage trade from Tuxedo.”
        In 1936 or ’37 it was sold to the Skouras Brothers, and later United Artists ran the Lafayette. “There was a big fireplace behind that counter,” Romansky said, pointing to a vacant wall behind the temporarily empty refreshment counter. “And there were chandeliers in the lobby” he added.
       While Romansky will remain in retirement, Frank Loforet, who served as the Lafayette’s relief projectionist for 12 years, will serve as projectionist when it opens next week. “Its nice to have it open again,” Laforet said. “The town needs a theater.”
       “The Lafayette is of the era of the old movie palace, with potted palms,” Laforet said. “It’s one of the only ones left, and the only one in Rockland County,” he said. “All the big old-timers from New York City are gone, like the Palace, RKO and Roxie.”
       According to Feldington, he hopes to hire back other former employes (like Laforet) to once again staff the theater.
       It was Feldington’s experience in the theater field (he is a projectionist at Radio City Music Hall in New York) and the fact that he is a local resident which probably influenced the bank representatives to lease the Lafayette, according to Philip Furgang.
       Furgang negotiated the reopening both as Feldington’s legal representative and as village trustee, interested in seeing the theater active once again.
       “They [the bank] once said that there would never be another movie theater here,” said Furgang. “But they reversed themselves,” he said, adding that the bank had been very cooperative. “They had turned down better offers from major movie operators in the past.”
       Perhaps the key figure in the reopening was attorney Jack Blecher, who served as an intermediary between Furgang, Feldington, and bank representatives Peter Gavin and William Mooney.
       While the Lafayette has lost some of the glimmer it displayed in past years, Feldington has been working to put the house back in order for its reopening.
       “We’ve been working on the plumbing and the air conditioning and just cleaning up the mess,” said Feldington. “We’ve also had to replace exit signs because the antique ones (stained glass) were stolen after the theater closed.”
       Only 750 of the theater’s 1,000 seats will be utilized for the present, and the balcony will remain closed, according to Feldington. “However, if everything works out we may open the rest at some future date,” he said.
       The projection equipment was in excellent condition because both Romansky and Laforet maintained the projectors after the theater had closed, according to Feldington, who led the group on a short tour up the projection room steps.
       “The projectors are ready to go,” said Feldington, pointing out the good condition of the two “Peerless Magnarc” lamps. Although internal parts have been replaced, the casings are the same ones originally installed in 1940, he added.
       Passing the Lafayette’s oval ceiling, imported from France for the theater’s construction but now minus a once grandiose chandelier, the group returned to the lobby to discuss the theater business and what reopening will mean to the village.
       Following the scheduled six-week run of “The Exorcist,” which will be shown for two performances nightly and at matinees, Feldington hopes to institute regular kiddie shows, depending on the availability of prints.
       Explaining why kiddie matinees could not be shown while the primary feature is running during evening hours, Feldington said that the movie companies “will not” permit a theater to show two prints during one engagement, and that companies even “dictate the price” that a theater charges for admission.
       The “spread city” shopping centers have been attracting business away from the central communities and the reopening may bring it back, according to Furgang. “Business is moving out of the village, like all villages, and its tough to attract it back,” he noted.
       But perhaps the one idea that best sums up how the village feels about new life being breathed into the old Lafayette was mentioned by neighboring storeowner, Irving Kraus, who said, “It will be a pleasure to have a neighbor next door that I can talk to and not just look at. Welcome.”
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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 www.RocklandHistory.org or call (845) 634-9629.


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