Flashback Friday Archive 2021-22: Flashback Friday: Week of May 13

2022-05-13 TWIR Image-Bernard

May 11, 1872 – 150 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Journal

      Our lock-up has accommodated, during the week, five individuals whose indistinct recollection prevented them from finding their homes.
      On the 7th inst., the ladies of Tappan will give an entertainment consisting of music, tableaux and charades, in the German M.E. Church.
      Don’t neglect the interests of the Rockland County Bible Society, the annual meeting of which will be held in our village on the 4th of June.
      “Do you desire the pleasure of my company?” is the latest style adopted by a Spring Valley youth, on asking a lady to accompany him on a ride.
      Somewhere up the river there resides the meanest man we know of. Last Summer he bought a ten cent basket of strawberries and ate every one of them while his wife and children were looking on.

May 11, 1932 90 YEARS AGO
Rockland County Evening Journal

       A force of men has been digging out the old gas street lamp posts on Hudson Avenue, Haverstraw, for the past couple of days, and their job has recalled the “halcyon days” when gas lights were quite the thing in the village.
       When the lamps were introduced, they were the most modern equipment. That was more than 40 years ago, and today many are recalling that the folks who stood about watching the installation of the posts now being removed spoke of the wonders of progress.
       Others in the same groups scorned the introduction of the splendor of those days. It was an indication of approaching weakness in human beings, they said, when men and women couldn't find their way home without the new-fangled gas lights. Lanterns were plenty good enough, they declared, as they spat in disgust and walked away.

[Image: The “Boss” (Pierre Bernard) takes a ride while “Baby,” the elephant, gets her training at “farm-culture.” Image from Life at the Clarkstown Country Club. To read more about Pierre Bernard and the Clarkstown Country Club, visit our archived issue of South of the Mountains (vol. 44, no. 1, 2000) here:]
       Dr. P. A. Bernard’s herd of elephants has now an entirely new routine and he is personally teaching one of the “babies” a remarkable stunt—that of lifting his own weight by his tru[n]k. After wrapping the trunk around a stout bar, the animal will step off a platform into space and swing, a feat declared to be unequalled.
       The elephants, so familiar to members of the Clarkstown Country Club or to persons who pass the estate, appeared recently in Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Circus in Madison Square Garden, New York City. It was the first time the company, which has 50 Elephants of its own, hired an outside elephant act.

Varied Work
       Dr. Bernard’s elephants have been taught to plow the four acres used as a club vegetable garden, to push automobiles around, to drag a dump truck and to pull out stakes and fence posts. They even get down on their knees and roll big field stones into position with their trunks and heads as well as work the pumps in the draining of the pools.
       The elephants are permitted to graze on the lawns of the club and loaf in the cool woods on the property, being perfectly reliable around other animals.
       Dr. Bernard always has been fond of animals and during the several years he spent in India he grew to have a special interest in elephants. Last fall friends in India shipped him three baby bulls, Juno, the youngest, three and one-half years old, and Buddha and Babe.
       Dr. Bernard got into contact with Arthur Eldridge who was born with the circus and has been with elephants for fifty-one years since. The trainer took the job of looking after the three babies, and sold Dr. Bernard his own elephant, Mom, a full-grown beast that the Sells-Floto Circus had to get rid of because she was cantankerous. Eldridge has never had any trouble with her.

New Tricks
       The trainer was delighted at the chance to work with such young bulls, having never before started on any younger than eight or nine years, though he himself has made three different trips to India, and has imported eighty-elephants to the country. He set out to make these young bulls do what elephants had never done before.
       Juno, he decided to teach to clown. He got her to box, with a glove tied on her trunk. Then he convinced the idea of getting her to ride the tricycle.
       She was coaxed to a dummy tricycle held to the floor, fixed, so the pedals had but an inch or so of motion. Gradually, the pedals were set farther and farther off axis until she was going through a regular pedal motion. Then she was put on a tricycle that moved. She was afraid at first, but at last she learned. The hardest job of all remained.
       “We couldn't make the bus fit the elephant and still look like a tricycle,” says Eldridge. “I tried three times before I hit on this one, come up with airplane wheels behind and an automobile wheel in front.”

“Wire Act”
       Meanwhile, Buddha, four years old was being trained to do his “wire act” in which he walks a narrow board and turns around on it. First a beam was placed on the ground and he was taught to walk it. Then an inch would be sawed from it every week or so until it got to its present dimension, four inches across. Later it was raised in the air. Buddha has performed the feet off the ground.
       These and other stunts were taught in Dr. Bernard’s garage. The three baby elephants were taught to dance, individually and in a sort of ballet, and to play chimes. Baby was taught to walk up an incline on a big ball. More and more the guests at Dr. Bernard’s estate would go out to the garage to see the stunts.
       Tall tales of what the elephants were doing reached the ears of John Ringling, who came here to see for himself. He persuaded Dr. Bernard to part with his pets for the length of the circus stay at the Garden.
       Training elephants has always been supposed to be a work requiring tremendous patience. But though their training began only last October, the three baby bulls do an act that circus people call the best elephant act ever developed.

May 11, 1972 50 YEARS AGO
The Journal News

       Hugh McPhillips and Allen Potter first met 28 years ago at the County Theater in Suffern, then one of the leading showhouses on the strawhat circuit.
       They were together again Saturday, when the Television Academy of Arts and Sciences presented an Emmy to Potter for outstanding achievement in daytime television drama.
       Potter is producer and McPhillips the associate producer and director of “The Doctors,” NBC-TV's afternoon soap opera.
       McPhillips, a native of Suffern, has been with NBC 21 years. His credits include directing “From These Roots” and “My Five Daughters.”
       Educated at the Sacred Heart School in Suffern and Suffern High School, he has been in the theater—except for a four year stretch in the Army in World War Two—ever since appearing in summer stock at the County Theater. He is a charter member of the Antrim Playhouse.

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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