This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of January 3

2020-01-03 TWIR Image

December 30, 1869 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Messenger

By Prudy

Last night, when all the village
Was lying white and still,
With starlight in the valley
And moonlight on the hill,
I wakened from my dreaming
And turned my head to hear
The old clock on the wall
Tell out the dying year

They say that when the angel
The blessed New Year bring,
The soul that wake to listen
Can hear them softly sing
The same melodious anthem
Of peace and love on earth
That told to Judah’s shepherds
The dear Redeemer’s birth

No sound came through the silence
But waiting there I thought
Of all the gifts and blessings
The year to me had brought:
And something sang within me,
“O happy heart! To day
Remember all who sorrow,
And wipe their tears away.”

So, in that solemn morning
When first thy feet shall stand
Where dawn in light unshadowed
The peace of God’s right hand;
These words of benedictions
They welcome home shall be,
“Thy deeds of love and mercy
Have all been done to Me!”

December 31, 1969 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

FAREWELL TO THE SIXTIES Events of the turbulent ’60s represented significant, and sometimes traumatic, changes in a way of life. And as events unfolded in other parts of the country and in far-off foreign lands, the changes were reflected in the life of Rockland residents. Many people who made news far away—as far away as the moon—came to Rockland or nearby to visit, giving us a chance to look them in the eyes and maybe shake their hands.
     What is considered by many to be the most significant event of the decade came to Rockland by way of the television screen, and an awesome and historic moment was recorded on film. The war in Vietnam, the decade's darkest chapter, occupied countless inches of newspaper space and the minds of Rockland parents and young men whose lives it would alter
     New York City built a temporary, neon-lighted Paradise called a world's fair and there are few Rocklanders who didn't make the trek to the Flushing Meadows. And then there was that blackout, an electrical surprise that took us back, for a few hours, to the pioneer days. It was an amusing, fateful, quirkful, spectacular ten years.

ROCKLAND IN THE 60s … WHAT HAPPENED TO THE DREAM? … THE YEARS OF THE BIG MIGRATION  The kids of Rockland nurtured in some of the most expensive schools in the universe and educated beyond their years by electronic communications talk about Time as the last big frontier for exploration.
     But their parents are beginning to be uncomfortably aware it’s Space that represents the real problem of the times. Space and how to use it dominated everything else in the decade’s development even though many residents thought of it in terms of zoning, educating the young, providing basic services or just plain safety.
     The ’60s were the years of the big migration. In 1960 there were 136,803 of us, 52 per cent more than there had been in 1950. Rockland looked green from the city. The builders and land developers were standing ready to provide tiny country estates to all who could buy. The schools were forward looking. Almost every community had a library of some kind and there were two adequate hospitals serving the eastern and western halves of the county.
     The average house cost $15,000 and prices as well as taxes were much lower than in nearby Westchester. Rockland looked attractive to thousands of middle-income families who wanted something better than the deteriorating city.
     What happened between 1960 and 1970?
     Serious flaws appeared in the dream.
     The average price of homes went up to $30,000. A house lot cost $10,000. Taxes tripled. School districts burst at the seams time and time again.
     Poverty followed the migration. Medical care, legal care, psychological care, sanitary sewers, the judiciary, welfare costs soared.
     There are now 218,857 of us, 57,000 of school age population alone. The total county school budget amounts to $77.8 million. County government will cost $40 million next year, up from only $3 million a few years ago. Each of the bigger townships will spend between $3 and $4 million and the villages have budgets of their own.
     At the start of the decade most of the county was old-fashioned Republican and only Haverstraw voted Democratic consistently—an old-fashioned kind of Democratic at that.
     The waves of city Democrats changed much of the political picture in the county by 1965 until Democrats gained the upper hand in Ramapo, Clarkstown and Stony Point and on the county level.  But that was the year the same waves of migration produced a new kind of political cat—a voter who was willing to break away from the majority parties in order to make a point.
     On Nov. 4, 1969, they made their point in a big way. Republicans captured much of their lost ground with the aid of strong Conservative backing.
     The vote was so revolutionary it could only be an expression of a malaise characterized by some sharp symptoms. The pain of spiraling taxes, the crowded roads, the other fellow seeming to be getting the best of the dream.
     And dream it was.
     The voters turned out to reject many incumbents while barely listening to the promises of the challengers. Some of those promises were fairly extreme. They promised to curb the excesses of the builders. To cut welfare and get people back to work. To keep a better eye on spending. These are hard promises to keep. Who will stop free enterprising builders, or reject state and federal mandates to support the poor, the old and the sick, or stop maintaining and improving roads?
     We came to give our families a small territorial right with bedrooms for each member of the family, with the greenery and a dollop of status.
     The voters may have been in a punitive mood, but the newly elected representatives know they're shouldering the same burdens produced by this dream. The newly elected will be advised to move cautiously.
     Over and above all the self-created problems, Rockland is being buffeted by the national and international problems creating short money, inflation, war.

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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