Flashback Friday Archive: Flashback Friday: Week of November 6

2020-11-06 TWIR Image-Natalie Couch

November 5, 1870 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       Never in the history of our village [Nyack] has there been the same amount of activity manifested among our workmen as at present. Our carpenters and masons are all so busy that it is with difficulty one of them can be secured to do a job, however small it might be. Buildings are being erected in almost every quarter, and late in the season as it is, there are parties from New York examining property with the view to purchase.
       Just south of the Mansfield Avenue depot Mr. Isaac Pye is busily engaged in cutting up the property lately purchased of C. T. Smith into streets, lots and village sites which when arranged in accordance with the plans will make those sites some of the most desirable in Nyack.

November 5, 1920 – 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland News

[Image: Natalie Couch]
       The Republican women of Rockland county staged a spectacle the likes of which has never been seen or imagined at the staid and dignified courthouse at New City on Saturday afternoon. Eight clubs, representing a membership of 800 women and covering every election district, came together to hold a joint meeting as a climax to the complete organization and education of the Republican women voters of Rockland county and to pledge their vote and their united efforts for the Republican victory on election day. The Supreme Court room was crowded long before the meeting was called to order and an overflow meeting had to be organized at the headquarters of the Rockland County Republican Club across the road with Mrs. Helen F. McKelsey presiding. The women met the situation as if it were an everyday occurrence and all the speakers rose to the occasion and made two speeches instead of one. Miss Natalie Couch, vice chairman of the Republican County Committee, made the address of welcome and introduced Mr. George B. Arnot, the County Chairman, quoting the words of the Woman State Chairman, Mrs. Arthur L. Livermore, that if you like your county chairman, you call him your leader and if you don’t like him you call him your boss and all agreed that Mr. Arnot was a real leader.
       Mr. Arnot introduced the speakers. The first one: Miss Mary Wood, Chairman of the Legislative Committee of the National State and City Federation for Women’s Clubs, discussed the domestic issues of the campaign with special reference to the high prices of living and the first step to remedy it: to elect a Republican administration for both State and Nation.
       The second speaker was Mrs. Lulu Edsall Serven, the former Suffrage leader of Rockland county. Mrs. Serven gave an able and comprehensive address on Socialism, its origins and consequences and its present menace to the world. Mrs. Serven denounced emphatically the suffragists who are willing to sacrifice the best interest of the State and Nation to satisfy their spite against Senator Wadsworth.
       At this point Mrs. Grace A. Sayres took the floor and gave the history of the organization of the eight women’s clubs of the county and in behalf of these clubs, presented to the County leader Miss Natalie F. Couch, a bronze elephant in token of appreciation of her work in organizing the county women.
       Miss Helen Varick Boswell, Vice Chairman of New York County, then expressed the appreciation of the Women’s State Executive Committee for Miss Couch and the Rockland County women. Miss Boswell told of her campaign songs in different parts of the country especially in Maine and Ohio and predicted an overwhelming victory.
       Our Congressman James W. Husted discussed the League of Nations, laying stress on Article 15 of the Covenant, which he declared was even a greater menace to American institutions than the much-debated Article 10. These serious discussions were enlivened with music by the Hillburn band and camping songs sung by the audience and written by Rockland County women.
       The meeting was closed by Mme. Jean, a Belgian, who gave her impressions of the United States after a four-year residence and sang the Star-Spangled Banner. The meeting adjourned to the headquarters of Rockland County Republican Club, where refreshments were served at a get together meeting.

November 5, 1970 – 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Rockland, this fall, became the first county in New York State to subsidize a radically styled “free” college in which traditional classroom disciplines are thrown out as repressive.
       About 110 Rockland Community College students—their number is still unsettled as some drop out and others join—have set up school off-campus, very casually and communally, in a large old house in Suffern.
       They have been given their own special faculty and a great deal of control over what and how they will learn.
       Students are free to wander in and out as they please. They need not show up for class, cram for tests, worry about marks or study subjects they despise, for there are no school requirements. No one will fail or be kicked out of the program.
       Six teachers direct the informal operation, leading morning seminars every day and “reacting” on a one-to-one basis with whoever asks them to.
       Known as College A (until a less corporate, more interesting name can be found), the group is independently associated with the main RCC campus as a “cluster” college.
       Typical college procedures and courses will be ignored as students pursue two years of independent, innovative study focusing on broad basic areas like art and literature.
       College A is modeled on experimental programs that several four-year branches of the State University of New York have run since 1968. State officials say it is the first time a “free” college has been tried on the community college level, with the local county providing part of the financing.
       The loose curriculum and free-wheeling approach draw heavily on the “free school” philosophy which has operated for many years at a few private colleges and which underlies the private Rockland Project and Skunk Hollow free schools here.
       Less than two months old, College A has already developed a wide-open style that sets it off vividly from the more sober main RCC campus two miles away.
       Teachers, dressed in the same boots and blue jeans that many of the students wear, spend all day in a constant informal dialogue with their charges. They describe their technique as similar to that of medieval tutors.
       Teaching and learning go on in all parts of the big, sparsely furnished house on Campbell Avenue where the RCC-affiliated Women's Guidance Center formerly operated. A favorite spot is the kitchen, where students take turns cooking from their one and only pot and “rap” with each other for hours.
       On a recent afternoon, a handful of students stood outside, talking about death with psychology teacher Dr. Lincoln Hanson, who was up to his elbows in wet papier mache, making a giant doorknob sculpture. Such an approach is the rule, not the exception.
       Plans are being worked out to give students a major voice in decisions about retaining teachers from year to year. They also will rule on the admission of new students to the program.
       Unlike most private free schools, which draw almost exclusively on well-to-do, middle-class students, College A has a broadly varied student body, including grandmothers, parents and some who have not yet finished high school. In fact, everyone who applied to the program this year was accepted.
       A few problems have arisen. Some students responded so strongly to the communal atmosphere that they wanted to bring in mattresses and live there full-time. Others held a dinner party one weekend night without telling anyone beforehand.
       Complaints have been made that long-haired students are disrupting the quiet residential neighborhood by driving off too fast and chasing wildly in the streets after their volleyball.
       The school is sensitive to criticism and plans an open house today for neighbors to see what is going on. Dropping in is actively encouraged at any time. “We want to make, this the most open school in Rockland County,” Hanson says.
       After two years, each student will get an associate degree, and plans call for most to transfer to four-year schools.
       “I've seen enough to convince me that this is the kind of thing we've got to keep trying, whether College A itself succeeds or not,” says Dr. Seymour Eskow, RCC president.
       Hanson admits that a few students have abused their freedom from strict guidance and discipline by doing little in the way of work. College A teachers generally are delighted with the program, though, and Hanson calls the reaction from most students “magnificent.”

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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