This Week in Rockland: Newspaper Excerpts: Flashback Friday: January 2020

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Week of January 3, 2020

150 Years Ago: December 30, 1869
Rockland County Messenger

By Prudy

Last night, when all the village No sound came through the silence
Was lying white and still, But waiting there I thought
With starlight in the valley Of all the gifts and blessings
And moonlight on the hill, The year to me had brought:
I wakened from my dreaming And something sang within me,
And turned my head to hear “O happy heart! To day
The old clock on the wall Remember all who sorrow,
Tell out the dying year And wipe their tears away.”
They say that when the angel So, in that solemn morning
The blessed New Year bring, When first thy feet shall stand
The soul that wake to listen Where dawn in light unshadowed
Can hear them softly sing The peace of God’s right hand;
The same melodious anthem These words of benedictions
Of peace and love on earth They welcome home shall be,
That told to Judah’s shepherds “Thy deeds of love and mercy
The dear Redeemer’s birth Have all been done to Me!"

Years Ago: December 31, 1969
The Journal News

     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.

      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.

Week of January 10, 2020

150 Years Ago: January 6, 1870
Rockland County Messenger

By Horace G. Knapp

(Written for the Messenger)

Upon the Hudson’s western shore I stand, Though January’s surly blast prevail,
Just as bright Phoebus peeps above the hills, And regions ’round about be wrapt in snow,
And contemplative round about me scan, Through we no more the summer breeze inhale,
And view our land, its rivulets and rills. There’s beauty here, though streamlets cease flow.
Along this beach the rocks in splendor rise Unlike the city's bustling crowded street,
Their rough gigantic sides against the sky, Where even the open sky is hid from view,
With numerous rents and many a cool deep nook, Where gilded vice and senseless folly meet,
Within whose shade I dreaming used to lie. The noisy rout and revel to renew.
Along this tract of undulating land, Shade, water and unequal surface, all
Beneath the torne, over which the winds blow raw, Combined, surround and beautify our home,
Surrounded by a landscape seeming grand, No other spot on this terrestrial ball,
Here lays our little village Haverstraw. Outshines these hills over which so oft we roam.

                                                                                                                                          —Haverstraw, Jan. 3d, 1870

100 Years Ago: January 9, 1920
Nyack Evening Journal

SPARKILL MAN SUED FOR HEART BALM – Model Alleges Seth W. Fox Broke Promise to Marry – Defendant’s Wife with Him During Trial in Queens County
     Trial of the suit brought by Mrs. Margaret DePataky, a widow about thirty-five, a model for Bonwit, Teller & Co., New York City, for $50,000 damages against Seth W. Fox, businessman and politician of Sparkill, began Thursday in the Queens County Supreme Court at Long Island City. She alleges breach of promise to marry.
     Fox was in court with his wife, whom he married less than a year ago. Wearing a hat with scarlet feather, Mrs. DePataky made such strenuous objection to old men for the jury that more than half of the jurors selected are young. Fox tried just as hard to have old men selected.
     The widow alleges Fox proposed marriage and she accepted on January 10, 1917. This, she said, was after she had spent two summers at Sparkill, during which Fox wooed her ardently, took her on long automobile rides and introduced her to prominent men and women.
     Fox admits most of her allegations but denies an offer of marriage was made or an engagement ring given.

     “Dick” Rudolph, star pitcher for the Boston Braves, entertained with Nyack friends at a fine dinner at his home in West Nyack Thursday evening. The box artist is an excellent host and the evening was one of rare pleasure to his guests.

50 Years Ago: January 9, 1970
The Journal News

     Seeing double is a common affliction at Congers Elementary School this year. There are six sets of twins attending the school, four sets alone in Kindergarten.
     The twosomes line up this way: Joan and Diane Greeley, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Donald Greeley; Andrea and Gina Kaplan, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur Kaplan; Diane and Donna Salvati, daughters of Mr. and Mrs. Rudolph Salvati; Kathleen and Colleen McGrade, daughters of Mr. and Mrs., John McGrade; Michael and Mitchell Chalsen, sons of Mr. and Mrs. George Chalsen; and John and James Healy, sons of Mr. and Mrs. Thomas Healy.
     School officials say this is the first time that so many tiny twins have been enrolled at one time. Teachers are hard put trying to tell these duplicated little people apart. Standard policy is to split up each duo into different homerooms, but even this attempt to ensure individuality has met with surprising results.
     Mrs. Karl Shumacher says one tiny tot set, Joan and Diane Greeley, tried to switch places with one another when they returned to their home rooms one day.
     The kindergarten teacher took one look at the Greeley twin and thought "Can this really be Joan?" She was certain of the switch when her young pupil couldn't locate her usual seat in the class.
     The fifth grade Chalsen twins agreed with the sixth grade Salvati twins that they sometimes get blamed for the actions of their siblings. All four of the older twins agreed that so far, their interests are similar with each brother and sister although they tend to dress differently.
     The Salvati girls accept their double-likeness as part of the relative trend they know of close relatives with triplets and quadruplets in their families. As for the Chalsen twins, both Michael and Mitchell believe they are the first set of twins in their clan.
     Andrea Kaplan would like to be a triplet too. She put her arm around one of the Greeley twins and said, "She's my sister," then added with a big smile, "But she really isn’t."
     Mrs. Thomas Healy agreed with Colleen and Kathleen McGrade's grandfather that their youngsters are becoming more distinctive as individuals as they grow older. Temperament, weight and size differences make the discerning easier for parents and teachers.
     Already, four of the tots are socializing, and phone calls have been made from the Masters Healy residence to the Misses McGrade residence.
     And one of the Healy twins was seen to aim a wink toward one of the McGrade girls.
     Ah, young love!

Week of January 17, 2020

150 Years Ago: January 14, 1868
Rockland County Journal

     The weather for some days past has been very cold; yesterday it seemed inclined to have a little mercy, but all things don't look quite as gentle yet as we could hope. The old saying:  "it's an ill wind that blows no one any good," is in force now, however, for the lovers of the sport of skating have a good time of it and they seem to enjoy it too, by the way. Every night the river, along our town front, is full of the rougher and gentler sexes, gliding about like so many fast fleeting shadows.
     The boys, too, have had a fine time " riding downhill" on their sleds, but the risk attendant is a little too great for the sport. I suppose, however, that to boys the very danger connected with it lends it a charm which, if absent, would destroy the pleasure, and on the principle of "nothing venture, nothing have," the youngsters are willing to venture legs, arms, head and all else for the pleasure.
     A few evenings since, two of our young townsmen had a very narrow escape from serious injury, in this sport. They were gliding downhill at a rapid rate, near Donovan Hotel, when they suddenly collided with a passing vehicle. Henry Blake, the name of one, was taken home in an insensible condition. He is now convalescent, yet badly bruised. David Onderdonk, the name of the other, escaped with only a few scratches and a big scare. The evening following one of the stage horses slipped and fell, when opposite the store of Mr. Stines. It was thought a leg was broken, but after being pried about for some time with rails, he was got upon his pins, and was found to be all right, and ready for another jaunt to Nyack and back.
     The extra meetings in the Methodist Church are still in progress but no special interest to date; still the attendance is good and the spirits hopeful.

100 Years Ago: January 16, 1920
Nyack Evening Journal

     The two night wake for Uncle Sam’s oldtime stewed friend Jawn Barleycorn, started Thursday night and where and when and how it will end no man knoweth, not even Col. Porter, the Big Gloom himself. The Colonel opines that at 12:01 am Saturday, one stingy minute after midnight Friday, Constitutional prohibition will be clapped on—no more foolishnesss about it. Maybe so, probably so; but for the time being this community is as wet as if the two rivers were made of booze and all one had to do was dig it up.
     The realization by most people who ever liked a drop or two of likker [sic] that the end was actually at hand, as Brander Matthews might say, that the stuff was off, led them through well known psychological processes to extremes they never would have contemplated in the old, easy days when a cocktail was not criminal or the absorption of a highball a felony. It was that comprehension that hope is gone, that there will never be any more booze in the land, which sent people in thirsty droves for their last fling with the Demon Rum.

50 Years Ago: January 17, 1970
The Journal News

    Dave Breger, 61, creator of "Mr. Breger" died Friday at the Nyack Hospital. His home was at 26 Smith Avenue, South Nyack. The celebrated cartoonist had been a Rockland County resident for more than a quarter of a century.
     Breger, whose experiences as a buck private in the early days of World War II led to creation of the soldier cartoon character "Private Breger," never forgot the American soldier. Only last spring he toured U.S. military hospitals in Japan, Okinawa, and other Far Eastern countries, cheering up the wounded who had been flown to hospitals from Vietnam.
     The famed cartoonist was credited by H. L. Mencken with giving the American language the term "GI Joe." One of the greatest admirers of his work was General Eisenhower.
     Breger was unique among the nation's leading cartoonists, holding a degree in psychology from Northwestern University and was once office manager of a sausage factory in the Chicago stockyards where he created the slogan "Our Wurst is the Best."
     He was a victim of five holdups and was once shot at point-blank by a gangster. He lived with primitive Indians in the Mexican mountains. He never had any schooling in art or cartooning.
     Born and raised in Chicago, Breger first demonstrated his cartooning and writing abilities for his high school paper. At Northwestern, he was editor and chief of the monthly humor magazine.

Week of January 24, 2020

150 Years Ago: January 22, 1870
Rockland County Journal

SUFFERN Three children of Charles Wybles of Wynockie, aged respectively ten, seven and five years, suddenly disappeared on January 1st. at about four o'clock, P.M.; since which time the friends have searched diligently, but up to date no tidings of their whereabouts have been received. ...
     A brakeman on one of the freight trains, name unknown, had his arm badly smashed last night while in the act of coupling cars at this place. Mr. Southborough, a resident here who is ever ready to assist the unfortunate and afflicted, was promptly on hand to tender help till he was properly cared for. — A humane man is a noble work of God.

100 Years Ago: January 23, 1920
Nyack Evening Journal

     Assemblyman Theodore Roosevelt has been secured to deliver the principal address on the occasion of the third annual Lincoln day banquet of the Nyack Republican Club on the evening of February 12. A second speaker is to be obtained by Judge Tompkins.
     The banquet will be held at the Nyack Club and accommodations will be made for 250 banqueteers. Music will be furnished by the Rockland Jazz Orchestra and there will be professional entertainers.
     The committee in charge of the affair is composed of W. O. Polhemus, chairman; B. M. Carolle, treasurer; H. J Wightman, secretary; George J. Corbett and Donald Fluhr.

     There is more illness in Nyack at present than probably ever before. Grip is epidemic and there are several cases of diphtheria and influenza. Severe colds are also prevalent.
     One physician yesterday made eighty-seven calls at homes where persons are sick, a record for Nyack. One doctor, Dr. S. W. S. Toms, is himself a victim of grip.
     Influenza is not spreading rapidly here, it is said, and the type is far from as malignant as in 1918. Physicians suggest fresh air, simple food, and plenty of sleep as the best preventatives against “flu” and they urge above all dependence upon a doctor and not “home remedies,” once the presence of the disease is suspected.
     Physicians all over he stated are making efforts to prevent a repetition of the epidemic of two years ago. They began yesterday to make demands that the Health Department make arrangements whereby they can secure whiskey for the treatment of patients.
     The drug stores that are licensed and bonded to supply whisky for medicinal purposes are without a supply on hand and physicians complained to the Health Department that it was impossible for them to obtain it.

40 Years Ago: January 21, 1980
The Journal News

     Science and politics had a friendly face-off at a brunch in Nyack Sunday, and both won handily.
     The scientist was Dr. Rosalyn Yalow, 1977 Nobel Prize winner in physiology and medicine, and the politician was Elizabeth Holtzman, congresswoman from Brooklyn and candidate for the U.S. Senate.
     Both women came to the Tappan Zee Townhouse to be the first recipients of the humanitarian awards from the women's division of the Rockland County State of Israel Bonds.
     "I really believe scientists are more important than politicians," joked the Nobel Laureate after Ms. Holtzman received her award. "If we're going to solve America's problems, scientists are going to do it." But she graciously retreated a bit, saying today's political climate may force scientists to take a back seat.
      "Without the politicians, we’re not going to live long enough for scientists to solve our problems," said Dr. Yalow, who developed a technique by which protein hormones can be measured in amounts as small as a billionth of a gram. This technique, called radioimmunoassay, is expected to have far-reaching effects for early detection of many health problems.
     But neither Dr. Yalow nor Ms. Holtzman came to Nyack to talk about their achievements. They came to talk about the state of Israel, their commitment to it and their pride in being Jewish. And what better place to begin than their youths, when the roots of their religious faith began to form.
     Dr. Yalow described herself as a stubborn, determined child, committed to learning and to physics.
     "The eternal commitment of Jewish people to learning is what made us successful today," said the doctor.
     Ms. Holtzman recalled a day when she was seven and her family huddled around a radio to hear Israel's independence announced.
     "My grandmother came to me," the Brooklyn Democrat related, "and said, 'Today is a special day and I never want you to forget it.'"
     "It was a great day for Jews and a great day for people," said Ms. Holtzman. "I have enormous pride as a Jew and as a human being living on this planet."
     She then discussed problems in Iran and Afghanistan, comparing it to Israel.
     "Israel is surrounded by a sea of those who hate her and are willing to destroy her," she said, adding that the United States can support Israel by not being dependent on the Arab nations for energy, and by making its position on anti-Semitism crystal clear.
     The United States must rid the world of Nazi war criminals, she said. "In no way, do we support or condemn the murder of Jews."
     To that statement, Ms. Holtzman got a loud round of applause, quickly followed by a standing ovation.
     The awards were presented by State Sen. Linda Winikow.

Week of January 31, 2020

150 Years Ago: February 3, 1870
Rockland County Messenger

     There was a time, not many years since when ice was considered a luxury, which in Summer was used mainly by persons of wealth, and by the keepers of large hotels, who were compelled to use it for the preservation of their meats, fruits, and vegetables. The increase of ice companies and ice houses, and a regular system of production, cheapened the article, until it at last came to be looked upon as a necessity to even people of moderate means. The crop gathered for many years in this vicinity has been not only amply sufficient to supply our local wants, but it has also been shipped in considerable quantities to other markets.  This Winter judging from present indications will be an exception to the successful prosecution of the business. The unusually mild weather that has prevailed during most of the present season has prevented the seeming of a new supply. The old crop is reduced to a very small stock.
     The business in New York had its origin in 1833 but was pursued with indifferent success until about ten years later, when it first assumed importance as an article of consumption. At first the principal sources of supply were the small ponds in the vicinity of the city. It was then chiefly used by ice-cream and soda-water venders, and two-carts supplied the entire city with what was needed. The whole crop was secured by the labors of fifteen or twenty men and ranged from 600 to 1,000 tons a year. The icehouse at this date was a single vault at the corner of Greenwich Avenue and Christopher street. In 1812, the increasing business required more space, and it was transferred to the foot of Hubert street, on the North River. The company thus engaged the Rockland Lake Ice Company, and the supply obtained from that locality amounted to about two thousand tons. Another company was soon formed, with equal facilities, and a sharp competition ensued between the rival interests. In 1848, a third ice company was established.
     In 1855, the quantity of ice used in this city ranged from 60,000 to 75,000 tons year, the sales being about equally divided between the three companies, who, during the same year, consolidated under the name of the Knickerbocker Ice Company, with a capital of $900,000. A few years after, the New York Ice Company was formed, with a capital of $750,000. This was subsequently merged in the Knickerbocker, whose capital stock was increased to $2,000,000.  The Washington Ice Company started in 1855, with a capital stock of $30,000; but it was managed with great ability and proved a success. From time to time, several smaller concerns, which had sprung into existence, became merged in the last named corporation, and its capital stock now stands at $1,000,000.
     The Knickerbocker Company annually secure about 400,000 tons of ice, and one of their buildings at Rockland Lake has a capacity equal to 40,000 tons. They have sixteen ponds, at various localities, where ice is cut but the main source of supply is at the Lake. From 1,300 to 2,000 men are employed during the season, and 20,000 tons are often cut and housed in a day. The entire capacity of their eighteen icehouses is 436,000 tons. The ice from all their ponds and the lake, is raised and deposited under cover by steam power. Four steamboats and thirty barges are constantly employed, from May to November, in bringing ice to the city. There are six depots of the company in this city, and two in Brooklyn.  The number of their double and single wagons is about 200, holding respectively three tons and a ton and a half each, according to size. These wagons are supplied directly from barges. The company have a manufactory in Twentieth street, near the Hudson River, where their wagons are made and repaired. Their horse stable, near-by, is one hundred feet square, and affords accommodation for the over three hundred horses.
     The Washington Company pack away about 350,000 tons of ice yearly. The number of wagons used by them to supply ice to Brooklyn and this city is about one hundred and fifty. Besides these companies, there is an ice company at Mott Haven, and one at West Farms that serves Harlem and vicinity with considerable quantities. About fifty wagons are also run by private individuals, who obtain their supplies from the larger dealers.
     The ice business is a very unhealthy one, and those persons who are constantly handling the article suffer severely with lung diseases, wasting away, or by paralysis.
     Icehouses are generally built of pine, with double walls, having a space between of about two feet, which is filled with sawdust.
     Old and experienced dealers calculate on securing their principal crop before the middle of January. It requires very clear, solid ice to withstand the intense heat of Summer, and after mid-winter there is a very strong probability that the ice will be porous, and less available for the market
     —Mercantile Journal

50 Years Ago: February 3, 1970
The Journal News

     Picketing has become "the in thing to do" these days and Clarkstown has had its share in the past few months.
     Monday morning saw some 50 mothers, many with children and baby carriages in tow, march in protest at New City against construction of a Reynolds Metals Company plant in Congers.
     Drivers passing the courthouse during the early morning drizzle slowed down to peek curiously at the pickets, many carrying signs such as "Can Reynolds," "Clean Air for Our Children," and "Save our Health."
     Sheriff's deputies were kept busy inside the courthouse trying to keep crying youngsters from disturbing court proceedings and forestalling tumbles down the marble steps.

      Supreme Court Justice Morrie Slifkin, Monday, at New City gave the Hudson River Valley Commission and the Reynolds Metal Company two weeks to file affidavits in the dispute over the company's plans to build in Congers.
     The HRVC had charged the company with failure to halt "preparation" activity at the site proposed off Route 303 for an aluminum can manufacturing plant.
     The HRVC had ordered the halt last Wednesday after a hearing at which Congers residents charged the $3 million plant would cause air and water pollution. The commission then obtained a show-cause order.
     Company spokesmen said construction has not been started but that contractors were working to keep the ground ready.
     Reynolds representatives indicated Monday the project would be dropped if there is direct opposition from local government.
     Two Clarkstown town councilmen, Dr. Frank Bolander and Anthony D'Antoni, said Tuesday morning they would not support the project until questions on pollution and environmental conditions have been cleared up.
     "I cannot go along with the proposal until charges of pollution have been disproved," Bolander said Tuesday morning, adding, "the burden of proof rests with Reynolds."
     The issue is expected to be brought up at Wednesday night's town board meeting.
     Officials at the HRVC said Tuesday morning they expected to be in contact with Reynolds representatives during the two-week period explaining they would call on them as the need arises for additional information.

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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