Thursday, February 23, 2017

Frank Greene

Keep a Good Book in Your Pocket
by Anita Messina

Frank Greene doesn’t understand why people can’t sit down and calmly discuss their problems until their differences are worked out. Ongoing conflicts trouble him. They especially troubled him when he was Staff Sergeant Greene, 15th Infantry Division, serving in World War II.
He saw conflicts in the North Africa campaign in Sicily, Italy, Southern France and Austria. He was one of an elite group of 180 men trained for reconnaissance missions behind German lines. He couldn’t resist throwing some barbs when German soldiers were captured: “You guys are lousy shots. You’ve been shooting at me for quite a while now, but you keep missing.” In one skirmish Frank was hit, but a providential bit of body armor saved his hide. He always kept a small copy of the New Testament in his breast pocket, and that day the good word “saved my bacon” he said. Shrapnel ripped through the book and just barely pierced his skin. His grandson has that life-saving book in safe keeping along with Frank’s collection of military pictures and memorabilia.
Mostly he recalls his distant memories matter-of-factly or, in a few cases, with some chuckles. But he grows sober remembering a night when his small outfit lost 43 men. “You get to be good friends in that kind of close operation,” Frank said. “You rely on one another and to lose that many friends all at once in one night…” He doesn’t finish the sentence. His eyes look deep back into that tragic night, and he is silent. By time the war was over Frank was one of seven men from his reconnaissance outfit who lived to see their homeland once again. Every day he pays tribute to 173 friends who never went home.
After the war he was hired into the sheriff’s department in Auburn. “You didn’t get any training back then. You just got a badge and were considered ready to go out and arrest people,” he said. Gradually he worked his way through promotions and became Undersheriff for Robert Sponable. “That man, Frank said, “was a great human being.”
Frank was born on Cooper Street in Conquest. He’s moved about some. He’s lived in Victory, Ira, Auburn and in Cato where he operated a gas station for nine years. Now he lives in Port Byron next door to good friends and helpmates Sheila and Marion (“J”) Laird. Other good friends take him to Legion breakfasts or to other community events. But mostly his days are long and endlessly quiet.
Anyone who talks with Frank will glean considerable sage advice from a wise, experienced man. His most fervent words of advice center around Talking Books sent free from the Library of Congress. Postage paid arriving. Postage paid returning. The audiobooks service even furnishes the listening machine. “It’s a godsend for anyone with vision problems,” Frank said, vision problems like his own macular degeneration and glaucoma. He urges everyone who needs visual aid to subscribe to this service. And every time he sees State Senator Nozzolio, he tells him “Whatever you do, don‘t cut funds for Talking Books!” A stack of audio tapes are on the end table near his reading chair. The tapes keep him entertained through long days. The tapes keep him from remembering.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Sally Smith

Nonagenarian Dynamo: A Woman to Remember
By Anita Messina
Lithe and energetic Sally Smith kayaked, canoed and played a round of golf every Friday. And doing it all when she was well into her ninth decade.
The links game gave her pause to consider whether she should continue to play. She watched her once strong fairway shots dwindle to a series of short bounces from tee to green. But weighing the pluses and minuses, she knew it was better to stay on course than retire to the sofa, nursing an aging ego. And when you come right down to it, more swings are better exercise than a hole-in-one.
As an SU freshman she planned to major in physical education, but reluctantly Sally gave into her mother’s advice to major in home economics, a more “lady-like profession” than physical education. She sat through one semester learning how “not” to bake a chocolate cake. “That class,” Sally said “was the start of my migraine headaches.” After a series of failed recipes, her mother agreed maybe she should try “phys-ed” courses. Sally lost no time switching her major from baking to basketball and that’s how Port Byron got an inspiring, popular physical education teacher with an amazing sense of humor.
Sally came to her teaching position with a pre-formed liking for Port Byron because when she was small she had happy visits with her grandmother, Jennie Sprague, who lived here. The house is long gone, and Sally doesn’t remember exactly where the house was.
During Sally’s tenure an interesting turn of events happened at Port Byron High School. During the war years Principal Arthur Gates allowed a World War II rations distribution center to be set up in the cafeteria. Some of his staff – Sally was one – managed the rations assignment. Each woman was sitting at a different table. Now it came to pass that a dapper country gentleman, name of Wilbur Smith, Farmer Wilbur Smith, a Cornell graduate, came in to get his fair share of rations. Mr. Gates met him at the door and said, “Now, Wilbur, you pick out the most beautiful girl here and get your ration book taken care of.”
Wilbur sat at my table,” Sally said, “his face red as a beet. Well what could the poor man do but sit right down? I was the first table in line.”
Happily Sally and Wilbur moved from rations to romance. They reared two daughters, Gretchen and Sue and one son, Douglas. Sally spoke often of enjoying activities with her six grandchildren and seven great-grandchildren at their summer home on Ramona Lake.
Through her last days on this planet Sally was out and about. “Every day I go someplace or do something,” she said. Golf and water sports continued along with volunteer work. She told people: “I can’t do what I used to, but at the very least I’ll bring a dish-to-pass.”
Sally’s Often Requested Salad
1 box of bow pasta 
Some onions
1/3 cup sugar
Some peppers
½ cup red wine vinegar 
Add bacon pieces
Sprinkle on pecans or walnuts

Sally believed that to live with vigor “a hearty salad and a trim figure keep the motor running.” And all through life it’s better exercise to hit a lot of short bounces rather than only one long fairway shot. That’s the sound advice echoing still from Port Byron’s blue ribbon physical education teacher, the one with the mischievous sense of humor. Sally is forever remembered, forever revered.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Hellen Davies

Tribute to Hellen Davies
Anita Messina

Some folks give and then they give some more. Such a rare community patron is Hellen Davies, historian, benefactor, researcher, perpetual teacher, a person with unbridled curiosity and amazement for all things past and present.
It’s safe to say that without her energy and the generosity she and her husband Jack showed toward Lock 52 Historical Society, there would be no historical society in this village. Once it was established, Hellen became the principle researcher giving historically authentic, often amusing talks on so many topics. We wondered what fuels her interest in history.
“Well look at that word,” she said. It ends in “story.” To me history is a big, fascinating story.”
Hellen’s curiosity budded and bloomed ninety years ago when, as a child, she lived and read in the Ward family home in a house that still stands next door to the Montezuma Hotel. It was there that she discovered books and their captivating stories. That there was no electricity in her childhood home was not a deterrent for the tiny bookworm. Nights, long after she was presumed asleep, her mother found her sprawled on the hallway floor, reading in the dim light cast by the kerosene lamp.
Not surprisingly the resolute four-year-old determined herself ready to go to school. When her older brother headed to school one fine September day, Hellen insisted she would go too. A sensitive first-grade teacher allowed her to stay thinking she would soon be bored and anxious to head for home. Anyone who imagined that was in for a surprise. Hellen stayed the day and was eager to get to school the next day. She whipped through her primers and her arithmetic facts, always in a great rush to meet new wonderments that lay ahead.
Year after year she read more and more. Her mother encouraged her and stated only one limitation: in the collection of adult books in her home was a copy of “Anthony Adverse.” Hellen was forbidden to read it, an order she was to disregard some years later.
During her teen years Hellen was smitten with a handsome young man named Jack Davies. Although they were not a couple, not even close friends at the time, hardly even acquaintances, she confessed to confidantes that she would one day marry him. To many that seemed a far-fetched notion, but, remember, also highly unlikely was leaping into first grade at age four. Hellen and Jack married, and he whisked her away to Port Byron where they filled 65 years with family love and happy times and stacks of books, shelves full of books, books on every available surface. Her mantra has always been “So many books. So little time.” All the while words tumble around in her brain like energetic popcorn. Some words are serious, some just for fun. Note the word play when she named Jack’s and her three daughters Penny Lee, Patty Lou, Polly Lyn. Patty Lou was the name of Jack’s old girlfriend – pre-Hellen days of course – but no matter. Their daughters’ names would all have PL initials, a double consonant, end in “y” and use eight letters.
When Hellen enrolled in SUNY/Geneseo her first order of business was to read “Anthony Adverse,” a story she hardly remembers “except some nuns were in it.” Certainly nothing offensive, she thought. But a couple of decades had passed. Victorian affronts faded, and if a book mentioned love affairs, a pregnancy, some wild night life, there was no shame in it by time Hellen was of college age.
Hellen earned her undergraduate degree in library science and followed it with graduate work at SUNY/Cortland. She vowed she would never censor a book, approaching each tome as “a teaching experience.” Words, ideas and research, always her preoccupation, now became her occupation when she was hired to be a school librarian in Weedsport.
Many years later when Jack heard that Mayor Frank Thomas hoped the community would form a historical society, Jack suggested Hellen put her research skills to good use and pursue the Mayor’s idea. Forthwith, she became a founding member and generous contributor to Lock 52 Historical Society. The Society honors her for her generosity, her creative programs and her accurate research.
Her community spirit thrives. When the village entertained the idea of building a memorial honoring military personnel, Hellen became a member of the committee, along with Bill Thurston, Bob Ware, Jay Moose, Joe Felice, Mark Emerson and Lucy Ware who serves as treasurer. Bob Ware said the Stabinsky family put up the main monument, and Boy Scout Troop 56 planted all the shrubbery. But he says “Hellen is the mainstay of the memorial committee, and her donations have been considerable.” It’s been a Davies family affair. Hellen contributed the main flag pole, Patty Lou donated many bricks. Penny Lee purchased the eagle that adorns the top of the pole and Polly Lyn bought a pole for a military flag.
In so many ways Port Byron is fortunate to have a woman with Hellen’s dedication to the community. Her gifts are unending and will always be greatly appreciated by the village and the Town of Mentz.
* * * * * * *

Lock 52 Historical Society of Port Byron
Hellen Davies
On June 7, 1978 a group of people met in the cafeteria in the old Port Byron Central School on School Street to wind up the business of the Village of Port Byron and the Town of Mentz Bicentennial Committee. Permission was granted by the village and town boards to disband the Bicentennial Committee and form a local historical society. Both groups agreed to transfer the money in the bicentennial’s account to a historical l society account.
At 7:58 p.m. the Village of Port Byron and the Town of Mentz Bicentennial Committee was disbanded and Lock 52 Historical Society of Port Byron was formed. I believe John Kieffer suggested the name, for he designed the logo.
The first Board of Trustees consisted of Hellen Davies, Carlene Flier, John Kieffer, Frank Thomas, Marie Van Detto, Teresa Van Detto, James Vitale, Marie Wenzel and Ronald Wilson. The first officers were Frank Thomas, president; Marie Van Detto, vice-president; Hellen Davies, secretary; John Kieffer, treasurer and Carlene Flier, trustee.
The meetings were 7:30 p.m. the first Wednesday of each month in the Port Byron Municipal Building. We did not meet in July and August.
In March 1990 Lock 52 Historical Society of Port Byron purchased the Moore House at 73 Pine Street from Merle and Marie Moore. It was thought to be the first frame house built in Port Byron with lumber brought down the Erie Canal, which flowed directly behind the house. But I haven’t seen any written evidence of this.
The original owners of the house were Aholiab and Annis Buck.
The Historical Society grew in number and had many interesting programs, some of which were about Indians of the area, a display of arrowheads, a slide presentation of the Erie Canal, the history of the Port Byron Telephone Company, a history of quilts and quilt patterns, the Warren participation in the Civil War a history of the Warren Mills, a display of dolls in period costumes, Christmas customs, the history of the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern Trolley, railroad history and many more.
The Historical Society worked with the Gifted-and-Talented Children’s Program under Anne Krieling at the Port Byron Central School. We also had a few active members under the age of 20 and several young people in regular attendance plus visits of the Fourth Grade and later the Third Grade during holiday season for a special program.
Now all that has changed due to the stress of all the required testing the students have to take.
We have lost many members because they have passed away, moved away, are too ill to go out at night, and in many families both parents work and have work to do at home at night. The young people are involved in so many after-school activities they need their time for homework and rest.
We are trying to build up our participating membership again.

Monday, January 30, 2017

Helen Lauckarn

Helen Lauckarn by Anita Messina

 Helen Lauckarn and her husband Paul moved to Port Byron in 1951. Paul found employment at Columbia Rope Company, and they rented the upstairs apartment in one of the two houses located on the plot now used by Savannah bank. From that vantage point the young couple could watch the changing village. Businesses came. Businesses left.

Helen grew up on a crop farm in Cato. Her dad bragged that “Helen could manage a team of horses better than any hired hand.” She wasn’t bad at handling a tobacco crop either. Helen’s father, Talbot Streeter (Everyone called him “Tal.”) grew his tobacco seeds in a sock that he kept damp until the seeds sprouted. When sturdy sprouts grew to strong seedlings Helen planted them in the field. She knows all about cutting tobacco and hanging the leaves in the barn to dry. She spent Christmas vacation stripping and bundling fragrant leaves, which her father then trucked to the train station in Baldwinsville where tobacco buyers made their purchases. But each year “Tal” held back one bundle to make his own top-quality cigars.

When she was 18 Helen forged her way to independence. The bright 1942 graduate of Cato-Meridian High School was hired to work in the accounting department at Pass and Seymour. While she was there she heard about a new-fangled contraption that added, multiplied, subtracted and divided. No pencils needed. No erasers either. That contraption was called a comptometer. Its 90 some-odd keys needed agile fingertips and a quick mathematical mind. It’s safe to say Helen had both. She learned quickly and before she could take the final exam attesting to her proficiency, Allied Chemical in Solvay hired her for their payroll department.

 Ethel Blake’s home at 132 Main Street was up for sale in 1965, and Helen and Paul became the new owners of the beautiful Folk Victorian house. The front gable holds an exquisite example of an intricate jigsaw cut design that many passers-by pause to admire. Paul had 11 happy years there until he passed away, in 1976. He was 60 years old. Helen lives there still. There they raised four daughters—Mellony, Sharon, Nancy and Anne. Anne shows boxes and albums full of photographs that chronicle years filled with history and happy times. While the house rocked with glee, Helen watched continuing changes in the village.

Lucy’s ice cream store thrived on Utica Street where the thrift shop is now. The present hardware store was Carr’s Hardware back then. Beautician Dorothy Walker had her beauty parlor across the street. Out back was Lucien Martens warehouse where 10-year-old Mellony filled her red wagon with celery culls and sold them for five or ten cents, depending on the size of the bunch and how sales were going. Ken Tripp had a TV repair store next door. And a World War II memorial now stands where Mr. Kilmer once sold lumber building supplies and gas. Helen marvels at so many changes that have happened in these fleeting years. Marshall’s grocery store where she once shopped is here no longer. The folks who operated the store remember Helen as a sensible shopper who made her family meals and desserts from scratch. To this day she continues to monitor village activity, not out and about so much, but from the vantage point of her beautiful front window in the house that is still referred to as the Blake house.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Ted Wilt

by Anita Messina
Ted Wilt lives in a white house on a pristine lot on Green Street here in Port Byron. He and his wife Lola have lived there for most of their 70-year marriage. The large lot once held an old mill that had been in the family for decades. An old bell sat on top. That very bell now stands on the lawn between the Owasco Outlet and Ted’s home.
Childhood Days
“I’ve lived in Port Byron all my life. My two brothers, two sisters and I lived two houses up from where I live now. My grandmother was a practical nurse, and she delivered all us kids. My grandfather Frank Emmons – ‘Big Frank’ people called him -- was village constable and part-time locktender. He was a big, strong, burly man. When he was a little kid he got a pair of boxing gloves and got pretty good at throwing a punch.
“Pretty often he got called to the Erie House to settle a brawl. Canallers drank a lot – not just men, some women did too – and my grandfather was called to head over there quick to settle a scuffle. Mr. Kerns who owned the grocery store at the lock near the Erie House, would come to get him. My grandfather would jump in his horse and buggy and head there to take care of things. People would warn one another: ‘Don’t cause trouble in Port Byron 'cause Big Frank will haul you off to jail or worse yet put you on the trolley and take you to the prison in Auburn.’
“He must have been quite a man. I wish I had known him. He died two years before I was born. My grandmother kept his 45 revolver, belt full of bullets and his billy club hanging just where he left them. She’d say to us kids, ‘Don’t you ever, ever, ever go near there.’ He had some kind of accident and hurt his leg. Gangrene set in. They amputated and he wore a wooden leg. When he died my grandmother kept that too.”
“My mother’s name was Ethel Emmons. I was named after my paternal grandfather Delvin Wilt and my mother’s maiden name, Emmons so my real name is Delvin Emmons Wilt.”
How in the world did a young man with such a handsome name come to be called Ted? He admits, not a little sheepishly, that his nickname was part of a good-natured tease that his father perpetuated, and it was all because of a little boy’s strong attachment to his Teddy bear. Just before it was time to enter grade school he remembers his father’s repeated urgings, “Now Teddy, you don’t want to be going to school with your Teddy bear. You’re a big boy now, and big boys don’t carry Teddy bears to school.”
“I loved my Teddy bear, but I was too ashamed to bring him to school so on the first day of school I left him at home. That was a sad day. My mother took me to school. First I had to leave my Teddy bear. Then my mother left me. I cried and cried. I remember the teacher – Josie Green – patting me on the head and saying, ‘You’re going to be okay. You’ll be fine.’ I got over it in two days, made friends and had a good time in school.”
Kindergarten reminiscences trigger Ted’s memories of his and Lola’s two children, Kathy and Nelson. “I remember when we took Kathy to college. She just stood there watching me drive away, and I kept looking back and waving until I couldn’t see her anymore. She was always wanting to come home. Every two weeks she wanted to come home. I said to her, ‘I don’t think you need to come home so often.’ She said, ‘You don’t have to come for me. I’ll take the train.’ Nelson was different. He just went off. No problem. Looking back I remember it was kind of hard when they were both away from home.”
Ted remembers school being just “ordinary” during the years between kindergarten and 7th grade and then there was Louie – Louis Hancock.ancock.H Just saying the name causes Ted to break out laughing. He never would say why Louie’s name provoked such mirth.
“School was crowded when I was in 7th grade. We didn’t have enough desks, we needed three more but there wasn’t room to put three more desks. So the principal, Mr. Gates, chose three of us to move into the high school for the homeroom period. He said he chose us three because we were more mature and could handle a high school homeroom. The high school kids didn’t like it one bit having three 7th graders there. But eventually it all worked out. I learned a lot of things I hadn’t oughta, and after a while we all got along good. I can’t remember the name of the girl who went to the high school with us. The other boy was Louie Hancock.” Ted again broke into hearty chuckles. But again, he wouldn’t say why. He would only say, “Louie was sort of troublesome. Life was a big, happy joke to him. Oh, he wasn’t real bad, but he wasn’t real good either.”
Grandfather Delvin Wilt
“My grandfather built this house here on Green Street. He came from a family of millers in Germany. He and his brother decided to come to America, and they first settled in the Adirondacks but then they came down here and bought the old mill on Railroad Road. When that first mill burned down, they built a second one and then they found the old mill here on Green Street and bought it. They changed over from being a lumber mill to being a feed mill because I guess they saw a good business opportunity selling feed for the canal mules.
”Most houses had a few chickens, a cow, a pig or two, and people would come to the mill for feed or I would deliver it after school. One of the places I delivered to was the house right across the street from here. An old lady lived there and also an old guy named Aaron Quimby, a homemade optometrist. He had about 200 glasses on the wall. When I went over he’d want me to try on a pair of glasses. But I didn’t need glasses. He didn’t have any schooling to be an optometrist, not that I know of anyway. He was just a homemade optometrist.
“My Grandfather Wilt took me to the Baptist Church. My friends asked me, ‘What do you do at your church?’ I told them we just have Sunday school and church. They told me at the Methodist Church they had a party every month. They’d play games and have hot chocolate and ice cream so I began to go to the Methodist Church. Then my family became members there in 1934.”
Village Grocers
“My grandmother would send me to the store with a grocery list and the exact amount of money I would need to buy what she had on her list. She had her money exact to the penny because back then prices didn’t change as often as they do now. I didn’t dare buy anything that wasn’t on her list. While I was waiting for the grocer to put up the list I’d stand by a barrel of salt herring. Oh, I loved those things. I don’t know why, but I sure did love them. The grocer always said, ‘Teddy, go ahead. You can take one.’ That was a treat. Then when I got home my grandmother always gave me a penny or two.”
Ted thinks back to the years when Port Byron was a busy commerce center with many businesses and many grocers plying their wares. “I went to all those groceries depending what was on the list to buy because they all carried different stuff. In 1943, 1945 Mr. Elliott had a meat market. He was a butcher. He had some baked goods and some canned goods. Then there was Sam Thomas on the corner of Main and Rochester. Gary Parson on Main Street. Sam Davis on Main Street. On Rochester across from the gas station, where apartments are now, there was Clyde Miller. Herb Marshall had a store and Gary Emerson.
“My grandmother baked from scratch and she would only use Rumford Baking Powder, and I had to go to the store that carried that baking powder.
“Things were a lot different then. Wynne Longyear ran the garages where the Pit Stop is now. In the back of this property where I live now there was a blacksmith shop and a harness shop. My driveway was a dirt road that went up to the canal.”
Port Byron’s Dearly Loved Milkman
Ted developed a strong work ethic starting when he was 10 or 12, cutting lawns. He never had ideas of being a milkman. Fascinated with steam engines, he spent most of his time hanging around the West Shore rail station.
“A line of 80 or 90 freight cars came in every day with lumber, coal and grain, and they’d leave with hay and mincemeat from the mincemeat factory here in town. I spent a lot of time there at the railroad wishing I could be a train engineer.”
That wasn’t in the cards. Instead Ted became a milkman, starting his delivery service in 1945. Through the village and ½-mile beyond in any direction he delivered milk, cheese and eggs. He spread his route out to Montezuma when the demand for milk delivery built up there.
He put in a long day. After delivering he would go back afternoons, when he knew people would be home from work and try to collect any money that hadn’t been dropped in the bottles earlier in the day.
“The people who payed by the month were faithful payers, but sometimes people who paid by the week were not so good. I’d have to go back later in the day if the week’s payment wasn’t tucked in the milk bottle, especially often going back to people who lived in the section where all the trailers were. It was hard to catch up with them. They’d come into town quick and leave quick.”
He started his route at 6 a.m. seven days a week for five years, ending his work day around 6 p.m.
During the war when people couldn’t buy refrigeration some still used ice boxes and needed to have their milk delivered fresh each day. When refrigerators finally replaced all the ice boxes he was able to deliver every other day. Working smart, he split his route into two loops and worked shorter days. In a few far out country places he delivered only two times a week.
He said, “Some days the cream at the top was a little less than usual. People would say, ‘What are you doing, putting water in it?’ I didn’t have anything to do with the volume of cream. That was up to the cow. Then too if the pasteurization temperature got any higher than 145 degrees, that would cut down on the amount of cream that rose to the top.
“People could still go to a farm to buy raw milk. When I was a kid I went to a farm and got a gallon pail full of raw milk. Then my mother decided maybe that wasn’t a safe thing to be drinking so we switched to just drinking pasteurized.
“Webster Dairy, where I picked up my bottled milk, bought their milk from 20 or 30 dairy farms: Jones Farm, Mr. Fairbanks on Halsey Road, the Pangborn Farm. That farm was where the school property is now. The farms weren’t as big as they are now so they had to go to more places to fill the supply they needed.”
Ted owned his own bottles and had “Wilt Dairy” printed on them. He’d bring his empties over to Webster Dairy in Auburn. They washed them and filled his next order.
“People used to use the empty bottles for all kinds of things. Sometimes I picked up a really dirty bottle, one filled with motor oil for example, and I’d wash it before taking it to Webster for a good washing and sterilizing. To settle their accounts people would drop what they owed into an empty bottle set out for pick up. In winter the money would freeze in the bottle, and I’d have to wait for it to thaw before getting my money out. I’d be sure to give those bottles a good washing because there’s nothing dirtier than money.”
Webster Dairy became Hogan-Souhan, about the time milk put up in cartons. Ted didn’t own the cartons then, he just got fresh ones with his new order, but “Wilt’s Dairy” was still on each carton.
“I took over Mr. Batson’s route. Milk cost 30 cents back then. Heavy cream was expensive. One woman bought heavy cream three times a week. She entertained a lot and made fancy desserts.”
A visit with Ted is an enriching experience, learning from his memory shares, warming in his kindly sense of humor, balanced by his sense of fair appraisal. If Port Byron had a royal lineage, Ted would be its most venerable baron.

Saturday, August 29, 2015

Octagon Cabins, Part Two

Way back in 2014, I wrote a short post about the Octagon Cabins. These were small waiting rooms that were built for flag stops along the Rochester, Syracuse and Eastern. The "bible" of all study on the RS&E, written by Gordon and McFarlane, describes the stops as such; "The standard shelter was a work of art, very possibly unequaled on any other electric line outside of the Beebe Syndicate (the owners of the line). They were built in a true octagon shape, every joint being a miter. They were 10 feet square and 14 feet high with 8 foot ceilings inside. Each building was erected on one corner of a 16 by 20 foot yellow pine platform. The framing of the shelter was hemlock and the finish both inside and out was chestnut. Each shelter had a hardwood floor and oak seats with a capacity of 8 to 10 people. All buildings were electrically lighted and under the seats three electric car heaters were provided to keep the passengers comfortable even in the most strenuous winter weather. Each shelter cost $400 (about $7600 in 2015 money)" He also wrote (in 1961) that many of the shelters could still be seen west of Port Byron.

Because of the post, I was contacted by someone in Harrisburg, PA who said he had purchased photos of the cabins at a house sale. The collection has 29 images of various quality covering the cabins, the store, and family members. As a collection on a single subject, it is one of the most complete I have seen for a local topic and gives us a fairly complete look at the cabins and the business.

The signs show that this business was owned by FD Thrush, and wife Zella. Is this a photo of the two of them?
We also have many of showing the woman with a dog that appears in many other photos. Is this Mrs. Zella Thrush?

As I wrote in 2014, Thrush sold the business sometime in the 1940's (see below for update). He worked at the Smith-Corona factory in Cortland, starting there around 1943. Maybe Zella ran the cabin business while he worked elsewhere.

Sometime in the 1960's the cabins were removed. So far, I have not been able to find any record of them in that time period.

These cabins tell a story about a period of time, after the rise of the automobile and the demise of the trolley. They show what life was like before the building of the Interstate Highway system that would take people away from the small villages and rural roads. Route 31, Route 20, Route 5; all had small motels and hotels that served the traveling public. But with the building of the Thruway in the 1950's, this period came to an end

And an update- After writing the above post, I spent the better part of the next day searching for more info. I kept running up against the name of Samuel Harnden. I had through that Sam purchased the cabins later, but than Clara McIver wrote and said that the cabins were always owned by Harnden. And then I rediscovered this article that Cheryl Longyear had given me.

Although there is no paper noted, and I cannot find this on Fulton History, it does say April 1936. So it appears that Harnden owned the business, and Thrush ran it. His name is on the signs. I did find an advertisement from 1937 saying that the Harnden Store and Cabins were under new management. Maybe this is when Thrush came into the story.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Aerial Photos

Before the invention of the airplane, someone wanting a "birdseye" view of the village had to climb to the top of a nearby hill and hope for an open view. We have posted some of these birdseye views in prior post. After planes became available, it was easier to get a real birdseye or aerial view. Here are some we have found. 

Above- This was taken in 1938, just after the school had been completed. 

 Above- We are likely to date this one around 1947. The new concrete highway is being poured on the straightened Rochester Street. 

Above and Below- These two are very close in date, yet the one below shows work on the new firehouse and village offices.If memory serves me, a aerial was used as the inside cover of one of the yearbooks.

 Above- Bill Hecht sent along this one from 2005. 

Above- And from way up high in 1938, a crop of a high attitude military photo.