This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of December 20

2019-12-20 TWIR Image - Ice Harvesting

December 21, 1889 130 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

SPRING VALLEY Persons who stood in the vicinity of the railroad station at Spring Valley on Monday morning were greatly frightened by what narrowly escaped being a dreadful casualty. Just about the time the express train on the New Jersey and New York Railroad was approaching the station, Abram Henry Vreeland, a man well known in the Valley, started to drive over the track. The train was not far away, and when crossing the rails Mr. Vreeland’s horse fell down. The man was terribly scared, as he believed the iron horse was upon him, and bystanders believed so too. To the relief of everyone, however, the engine was stopped in time to save the man’s life, but he will not soon forget his narrow escape.

December 20, 1919 100 YEARS AGO
The Nyack Evening Journal

TUGBOAT SUNK OFF TOMKINS COVE; STRUCK ICE FLOE  The tugboat Osceola, one of the largest towing craft on the Hudson, sunk about fifty feet offshore at Tomkins Cove, on Thursday, when she ran into a heavy ice floe.
     The crew of thirteen took to the boats before the tug went down, after meeting an ineffectual attempt to beach the steamer.
     The Osceola is the property of the Cornell Towing Company of Kingston and is well known as an ice breaker.
     The upper part of the hull is still out of the water, and officials of the company say that the boat can be raised with little difficulty.

MAKE READY FOR ICE HARVEST ON THE HUDSON  For the first time in two years, activities marking the beginning of the ice harvesting were begun Friday on the upper Hudson. Ice, five and six inches thick, is reported along shore from Hudson north, while in the channel, where the swifter current is, the field is reputed three and four inches thick.
     Gangs of men were, Saturday, employed in staking out fields and in-shore the ice was being plowed. Not a pound of ice was harvested last winter.
     [Image: Men sending ice blocks to the icehouses at Rockland Lake. From the collection of Robert Maher Jr.]

December 20, 1969 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

The Milkman Goeth–With $ Squeeze  The clink of dawn—the sound of bottle-rattling milkmen on their morning rounds—is fast going sour in Rockland County.
     Area milkmen have diminished rapidly in number during recent years. Remaining route operators say a profit squeeze is pushing the milkman toward total extinction.
     Local distributors say rising labor costs and competition from large stores which use milk prices as a "leader" to draw customers are forcing delivery sales out of the market.
     "In 1943 you had so many dairies in this county you couldn't count them," one distributor said. "Today you can count them on one hand."
     Patrick Bergin, owner of Bergin Distributors, said he has been lobbying recently for government regulation of milk prices.
     'They say it (regulation) can't be done state-wide, but if it can't be done state-wide, we can do it on a county level," he said.
     Reactions of wholesalers and other distributors to the proposal ranges from mild approval to "it stinks."
     Critics appear to react more to the idea of government intervention than to possible changes in sales or profits.
     However, the president of one large dairy with wholesale outlets in the county said he has no objection, provided prices set were like those on utilities "reasonable, based on your investments."
     Bergin said a delivery-men wage increase and subsequent hike in milk prices last month pushed home delivery prices farther out of competition with wholesalers' rates than they've ever been.
     He said a large wholesaler can pare milk prices to $1.07 a gallon, 57 cents a half-gallon and 29 cents a quart.
     To permit a profit, he said, home-delivery prices must be $1.18 per gallon, 62 cents a half-gallon and 32 cents a quart.
     Richard Kolka of the Strawtown Dairy Farm said a "fair" price for home-delivered milk would be 35 cents a quart.
     "The only way we stay in business now is by working 14 hours a day," he said.
     Government fixed prices would reduce the gap between wholesalers' and deliverymen’s rates by raising minimum store prices to within a few cents of delivery prices.
     Bergin claimed such regulation would "in the long run . . . prove a great savings to the homeowner who uses a lot of milk."
     John Murray, branch manager for the Dairylea Milk Company in Nanuet, said the average milk buyer could save about $16 a year by paying for home delivery.
     That estimation of savings, he said, is based on the cost of an average housewife's automobile trips to a local store for milk.
     Murray said Dairylea wants to keep home delivery service alive to protect deliverymen’s jobs.
     In an attempt to keep milkmen on their routes, most distributors are adding a variety of products to their wares.
     Area route operators are no longer simply "milkmen." They are also eggmen, soapmen, tableclothmen and fruit-cakemen.
     Diversification, however, has not been able to save the milk industry in other areas.

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.


Back in the early 1950's I'd help the milk man when he came into our development in Pearl River. At the end of the run he would give me a quart of chocolate milk.

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