Flashback Friday Archive 2019-20: Flashback Friday: Week of October 16

2020-10-16 TWIR Image-West Shore Station

October 15, 1870 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       The celebrated temperance lecturer, Edward Carswell, who, our readers will recollect, held forth to us last winter on his favorite subject will again lecture to us on Tuesday evening next at Christie’s Hall. The merits of Mr. Carswell’s oratory are too well known to need any laudation at our hands and if the hall is not packed with an audience anxious to listen to his thrilling passages of wit humor, pathos and tear-starting recitals, we shall be much mistaken. Mr. Carswell is considered in some respect the equal if not the superior of John B. Gough, and no one will consider the evening wasted while listening to this earnest man.
       The price of admission is fixed at 30 cents and tickets may be procured of D. Cranston, J. H. Blauvelt and of the members of the committee at the door on the evening of the lecture.

       John Allen, “the wickedest man in New York” is dead. His wife died some six months ago. He left a hundred thousand dollars as fruits of his wickedness. He died at West Porth, Fulton County, NY, where his father dwelt. A Times writer says that he is now at liberty to say that John repeatedly confessed to home that he had “duped them religious fellers, because he thought he could make more money out of silly church-folks than he could get out of bad sailors.”

October 15, 1920 – 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland News

[Image: West Shore Station, Tappan. From the Bob Knight Collection]
       The so called “death crossing” of the West Shore railroad at Tappan claimed two more victims at 6:15, o'clock last Saturday night, when an automobile in which Hugo H. Ohmeis, 43, and Miss Florence Smith, aged 18, were riding was struck, and both were killed.
       Ohmeis is vice president of the P.M. Ohmeis beverage company, which operates a restaurant at number 140 Fulton Street in New York City and Miss Smith is the daughter of Fred C. Smith, who conducts a hardware store in Sparkill, and was employed as a stenographer by the Holmes Company of New York City.
       Ohmeis has a summer home at Sparkill and his family and the Smith family have been intimate friends. Saturday, he stopped at Smith store to make some purchases and Miss Smith asked him to drive her to Piermont, where she wanted to make a purchase at a drugstore, and he consented.
       They were returning when the accident happened. There is a bell at the crossing, but it is believed that Ohmeis failed to heed the warning and attempted to cross in front of the train, which was running 60 miles an hour. Both were killed instantly.

October 12, 1970 – 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       A machine can squeeze out a large clay pot in a few seconds, pumping out thousands a day, each of them exactly alike, calculated to satisfy demands of quality and style.
       It is an instant, cold, mechanical performance, which, if the design is good, can produce a tasteful pot that is clean-lined, simple, and cooks food well.
       Karen Karnes has been turning out clay pots and pitchers, plates, chairs, sinks, fireplaces, even toilets in her workshop in Stony Point for 16 years.
       She works a good deal more slowly than a machine, in a tradition that is several thousand years old.
       Like every master potter's, her work is tasteful, clean-lined, simple, and has attributes of a work of art.
       A lump of wet clay is centered on the potter's wheel. Miss Karnes' hands smack and slap the gooey mass, forcing it into a compact shape.
       Her electric wheel spins and hums and then as if by magic vases rise higher and higher or dip in and out.
       If the clay does not sag or collapse, a pot will emerge in about 15 minutes in Miss Karnes' distinctive style. No two pots are identical, and no one could mistake them for the creation of a machine.
       Each pot carries singular heavy markings where her powerful fingers have pressed the clay. On the bottom of each piece is Karen Karnes' signature a pair of crude Ks, back to back.
       The product is distinctively hand-made. In the age of the machine, many feel that this is the most important quality they can find in a product.
       Because she is entirely her own master, Miss Karnes can work as fast or as slowly as she wants, creating whatever fanciful objects she wants. That the public buys them is so much the better.
       If her arms are tired and heavy, her pots may be shorter and wider. If she is feeling playful, she may add an extra subtle fillip to the rim. Her feelings can be translated directly into her work.
       Miss Karnes—she formerly was married to the American sculptor David Weinrib—lives quietly with her son Abel in an aluminum-walled house in the woods off Gate Hill Road. Her extensive workshop is attached to the house, and the tranquil mood of the place is perfected by the bubble of the Minisceongo Creek, which runs directly underneath her home.
       Her home-workshop combination is so far removed from normal commercial centers, in fact, that she advises visitors to telephone for directions before setting out.
       Her ceramic ware has been exhibited around the world for years, and has been featured in national magazines. She won a prestigious medal for design in an Italian competition several years ago.
       As one of only a handful of local artisans devoted full-time to an ancient craft, Miss Karnes has taken on a special glamor for those—especially the young—who see hers as a pure and uncomplicated life.
       Clay arrives at Miss Karnes' workshop as simple raw earth in huge bags. She mixes various types and colors together for different qualities, such as texture, durability, and resistance to heat.
       After the clay is mixed it must be worked thoroughly, or “wedged” by being pounded to remove all air bubbles. The bubbles can cause objects to blow up when they are fired
       The clay is then shaped and left to dry thoroughly.
       Application of glazes, a delicate, highly skilled operation, follows drying. Miss Karnes makes all her glazes from scratch.
       Finally, firing in a kiln hardens the clay and produces the high shine of the glaze.
       Miss Karnes now sells her work from her home and from a shop in New York City. Two high-quality New York City stores stopped carrying her ceramic ware when their managers decided the homemade items did not mix well with plastic and chrome ware the stores were beginning to feature extensively.

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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