This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: Week of April 2

2021-04-02 TWIR Image-Toddle

April 1, 1871 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

       On Wednesday afternoon of this week Freddy Taylor, of this village, while rambling over the hills, which form our western boundary, overturned a good-sized rock when his attention was drawn to a metallic object nearly buried in the earth, which looked like a piece of brass rusted and mouldy [sic]. He succeeded in digging it out when it was discovered to be an ancient-looking flint-lock pistol, such as were used a century ago. He carried it home and after he had removed a portion of the rust and dirt which was on it the date, “1771” was visible, engraved on the stock. A small brass plate was next removed from one side, and under it was a small piece of paper which evidently had been white once, but which had become discolored by age. On it was some writing, a portion of which (all that could be made out) was as follows:

“We are imprisoned by 17 Indians under Beaver. I myself have killed 4. All well.— Plenty of provisions. Total No. killed 4 R. Coats and 10 Indians.
10 January 1771, Dare Devil Dave.

       This is quite a relic and certainly worth preserving; and it will afford food for our Nyack historian’s digest, and for our searchers after memorials of “ye olden time” to ponder and speculate over.

April 1, 1921 – 100 YEARS AGO
Rockland News

[Image: Mr. Arthur Murray and his partner Miss Mary Faith Yow demonstrate the “Toddle.” Clipped from the the Atlanta Constitution, 1921.]
       The Assembly has passed the Cotillo bill, which would license public dance halls and make proprietors of these establishments responsible for the conduct of their patrons.
       Under the provisions of the measure, which now goes to the Governor, such dances as the “shimmy,” the “wabble,” the “toddle,” and other intimate forms of dancing are prohibited.

       A chauffeur’s job apparently has a very slight appeal to the women of New York state, that is if one is to judge from the few applications for a license that are being filed by women these days with Secretary of State John J. Lyons.
       Only about one out of every 150 or more applications for permission to try the chauffeurs’ examination is from a woman, though it must be admitted that such as do try the test, generally pass with flying colors.

April 1, 1971 – 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       As conservation has become the byword of our times, groups concerned with the environment have turned increasingly to governmental agencies to solve ecological problems.
       But one group, the West Branch Conservation Association, composed primarily of residents of the South Mountain Road area in northwestern Clarkstown, is trying a different tactic.
       Members hope to save their relatively untouched lands by private action, avoiding the hazards of public legislation and red tape
       South Mountain Road, long known for its colony of famous artists, composers, authors, and wealthy businessmen, has remained one of the few “virgin” areas in Rockland County, primarily because of the large land holdings of its residents.
       Content to enjoy the fruits of their artistic labors hidden in the dense natural vegetation of their lands, the people of South Mountain Road have until recently remained untouched by the population growth that has changed the face of the rest of Rockland County.
       In the past few years, though, the approximately 300 residents of South Mountain Road have begun to feel the squeeze of subdivisions springing up around their haven.
       As some of the old guard have died off, the land has become available for sale to “outsiders.” Speculators have bought, but not developed, sections of the area.
       While the problem of encroaching population has not yet reached mammoth proportions, planned sewer interceptors, part of the Rockland County Sewer District 1, Stage 3, have been interpreted by the residents as a harbinger of things to come.
       So they have organized.
       Led by Martus Granirer, a photographer recently moved up from New York City, the group began lobbying to delete the proposed South Mountain Road interceptor west of Little Tor Road and the entire Buena Vista Interceptor.
       According to Granirer, approximately 90 per cent of the families in what he termed “our territory” signed petitions requesting the deletion, stating that the interceptors were “unnecessary.”
       Marcella Beigel, a resident of the area, said the cost of hooking into the sewer lines and pumping from homes which in some cases are as far as a half mile from interceptors would be “prohibitive.”
       “With our large land holdings, septic systems work adequately, and we have received assurance from health officials that we aren’t polluting anything,” Mrs. Beigel said. “We don’t want to disturb this virgin land unless there is a compelling need, which there isn’t.”
       According to Granirer, residents fear the sewer lines would become “a self-fulfilling prophecy.”
       “If you put in sewers which will accommodate 700 households, pretty soon you’ll get the 700 households to justify the installation of the sewers,” Granirer said.
       “Increased land valuation due to the sewers would raise taxes and I’m sure some of our residents would have to sell some of their holdings, thus opening the way for development.”
       The group soon found itself unable to get deletion of the interceptors at this time, although members worked extensively with the Rockland County Sewer Commission and both the Ramapo and Clarkstown Town Boards.
       Realizing that protection of their haven would be a lengthy process if left entirely in the hands of governmental agencies, the residents are taking private action.
       Approximately 70 of the residents met recently to discuss plans to purchase large land holdings in their area and keep them as open space areas.
       Speaking for the group, Granirer said, “We spend too much time trying to reclaim things we have already ruined. This land is presently virgin; all we need to do is keep it that way.”
       The group has received tentative approval from a private foundation, the Nature Conservancy, for a loan for down payment on approximately 50 acres presently for sale in the area.
       The land borders on 43 acres already deeded in perpetuity for green space.
       According to Clarkstown Planner Theodore Zollendeck, these green areas, in conjunction with easements and other open areas held by the town in the area, would create a sizable open space.
       While Granirer admits that buying land through a private foundation funded by the residents is a plan “possible only for those with at least some wealth,” he says all county residents will benefit from the created open space.
       “We won’t make it a public park,” Granirer said, “but there will be nature trails and open areas which all can enjoy.”
       Answering charges by some county residents that the move is little more than an attempt to “keep the rabble out,” Granirer said the land, even if subdivided, would never be used for high-density housing for a growing population.
      “This area is presently two-acre zoning. Any development here would be a high-income area, bringing high return to the speculators. To develop the land wouldn’t help the general population that much anyway,” Granirer said. And the proposed purchase is only a beginning. The group will continue to work to stop the proposed sewer construction and hopes to acquire further lands through purchase and deeding.
       Should the group succeed where others have failed, South Mountain Road will retain its isolation an isolation gained by high motivation, efficient organization, and financial resources.

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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