Flashback Friday Archive 2019-20: Flashback Friday: Week of August 7

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August 6, 1870 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       It may not be entirely comforting or reassuring to the inhabitants of our village to know that on Monday night last one of our quiet citizens came very near being murdered; but such is the fact as the following circumstances will show:
       A gentleman named Mills, who for some time has been residing on the premises of the late Mr. Grunenthal, was awakened on the above evening from sleep, by some noise outside of his chamber door. On opening the door to ascertain the cause of it, he found two men, one of whom was just in the act of lighting a match. Without a moment's reflection he seized the one nearest to him and while attempting to hold him, the other drew a pistol and pointing it at the head of Mr. M., fired. Our friend entertaining no notion or being dispatched in that way knocked up the barrel of the pistol in time for the bullet to clear his head; his hand, however, being blackened by the powder from the discharged weapon.
       In the confusion ensuing, the villains succeeded in escaping from the house into the grounds, where they were joined by two others of their stripe, who were waiting doubtless to assist in carrying off the plunder. As soon as Mr. Mills could procure a shotgun, which he had in the house, he discharged its contents at the marauders, but we are sorry to say, without apparent effect.
       It was doubtless this company of burglars that attempted to enter the residence of George Green at an earlier hour on the same evening, but which was frustrated by the vigilance of a faithful dog.
       May not the scoundrels be a part of an organized gang that for the last two weeks have been preying upon our inhabitants and taking from us, a large amount of valuable property, to which no clue will ever be found? And may it not have been one or more of this band that set fire to the barn of Mr. Depew on Saturday morning, so that while the people were in a state of excitement in reference to the fire they would be off their guard as respected to the security of their doors and windows, and thus afford the thieves the opportunity they desired?
       Now, we are interested in the personal security of our citizens to the extent that we are one of them, and hence, have a common sympathy and interest with them; and we here say without wishing to be considered or ocular that unless some measures are devised to rid us of these thieving cutthroats and marauders who reach our village in small boats and commit their depredations in the dead hours of the night, we shall awake, some morning, only to find that a murder has been committed, or our town laid in ashes, or both.
       In all our village, we have but one public watchman whose beat is necessarily limited to the property of those who employ him and who of necessity cannot do justice to an extended round; shall we aid him by a patrol of private citizens detailed from among us nightly to serve say from 10 o'clock pm until 3 am on the following day, or will it pay us to better get two or three detectives from New York to ferret out and bring to justice these disturbers of our peace.
       We submit these questions to the consideration of our readers, with the hope that some decisive action will be taken with reference to them.

August 8, 1970 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Texas is a state which has a reputation for never doing things half-way.
       It was characteristic, therefore, that the commission appointed by Gov. Preston Smith and the Texas legislature to determine how the state could best honor those adopted Texans—the Apollo 11 astronauts—should decide not to award them the medal of honor the state usually bestows but a special medal of valor which may never be issued again.
       The medal has been designed by Thomas LoMedico of Tappan, a sculptor, whose reputation as a medalist is international.
       The commission had hoped the ceremony honoring Neil A. Armstrong, Col. Edwin E. Aldrin Jr. and Lt. Michael Collins could have been held July 20, the first anniversary of their landing on the moon. But not all of them could be present that day. A new date will be set shortly for the ceremony in Austin, the state capital. LoMedico and his wife have been invited to attend.
       The medal has been cast in gold. The reverse shows the entire compass of man's first visit to the moon, the deployment of the American flag by Armstrong and Aldrin, the rippled footprints their boots left on the moon's surface, the lunar landing module and, on the horizon, the earth. The medal bears the inscription “I’ve Come in Peace” and the date, July 20, 1969.
       The commission had specified that the design for the medal should embody “the historical and incalculable significance of the flight of Apollo 11 and the bravery and daring of the men who brought the mission to its successful conclusion.”
       The Texas state seal is incorporated in the design of the obverse of the medal. It shows the single star which gives Texas its nickname, “The Lone Star State.” To the left of the star is the branch of a live oak, a tree frequently found in Texas. To the star's right is an olive branch, the symbol of peace. Inscribed on the obverse are the words, “The State of Texas Medal of Honor Apollo 11 Astronauts.”
       LoMedico said the National Aeronautics and Space Administration had helped him with the research for designing the medal and had been “gracious enough” to send him photographs taken on the moon.
       Among the objects which Armstrong and Aldrin left on the moon were medals struck in commemoration of Gagarin and Kamarov, the Russian cosmonauts.
       Future men on the muon, however, will be unable to leave the Texas medal of valor honoring the Apollo 11 astronauts. When the commission was formed, it was instructed that as soon as the model had been struck and accepted, it was to make sure the die was placed in the archives of the state with other historical mementoes, never to be used again.
       Martin Dies Jr., Texas secretary of state, who is in charge of the presentation, was unable to say just how the commission came to select LoMedico to design the medal. LoMedico himself merely explained that “one project brings another.”
       For LoMedico, who is celebrating his 50th anniversary as a sculptor this year, there have been many projects. Among recent ones have been a medal honoring Jean-Baptiste Point DuSable, the Negro who was the first permanent resident of Chicago, and a medal honoring Capt. James Cook, British explorer and mapmaker.
       The first was commissioned by the American Negro Commemorative Society and the second by the Britannia Commemorative Society.
       DuSable was an adventurer and trader who, while living with the Indians and trapping fur, traveled along trails which led to the present sites of Chicago and Detroit and parts of Canada.
       Finally, in 1779, he decided to build a fur-trading post on the Chicago River near Lake Michigan. The single cabin built by DuSable developed into a growing trading center which became the city of Chicago.
       LoMedico included DuSable’s cabin and the present-day Chicago skyline in his design for the obverse of the medal.
       LoMedico noted the design for any medal takes extensive research. Research for the DuSable medal was done at the Schomburg Library in Harlem.
       The Capt. Cook [medal] was commissioned to commemorate the 200th anniversary of his exploration of the South Pacific. The reverse shows the explorer's head and a quadrant. LoMedico explained the quadrant was significant of Cook's skill as a mapmaker.
       The sculptor grew up in the Upper Bronx when it was a community much like Tappan, he said. In the summer, he and the boys from his neighborhood used to go swimming in Pelham Bay Creek. There was a clay bank along the creek. LoMedico said he used to scoop up clay and fashion models of animals, “much like a child makes a snowman.”
       “I was the pride, of my friends,” he recalled.
       When he was 16, LoMedico was apprenticed to a sculptor. He served as an apprentice for four years. Evenings he attended the Beaux Arts Institute of Design.
       LoMedico opened his own studio in 1935. His first works were life-size sculpture panels for the interior of the courthouse in Wilmington, N.C. Like so much other art then, they were ordered through the WPA's Section for the Fine Arts.
       The sculptor recalled that many now-famous artists and actors found work through the Section for the Fine Arts. They used to meet in the same cafeteria when they went for their pay checks. Among the actors whom LoMedico knew then were Orson Welles, Joseph Cotton and Zero Mostel.
       LoMedico is particularly known for his architectural sculpture and for his portrait plaques, as well as his medallions and medals. Among his major works have been six statues of the saints, which he was commissioned to design for the exterior of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception in Washington, D.C.
       His first medal was one, honoring Herbert Adams, a sculptor and scholar, which he did in 1945, and for which he won a first award.
       He has won many major competitions since, both in medal design and for sculpture. The latest was the gold medal of honor for a bust of his wife, Leonora, in a competition held by the Allied Artists of America.

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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