Thursday, May 28, 2009

Mystery Photo: Memorial Day 1957

In honor of Memorial Day, we want to show you two wonderful color slides taken on Memorial Day in 1957. The ceremony was held in Fulton Park, and in the photograph below you can see the World War II memorial with its list of those who died in service. This memorial had been dedicated exactly ten years previously, on Memorial Day of 1947. There is a note in our records suggesting that the monument was designed by sculptor John Donnelly Jr., but we don’t know for sure. The plaque from the monument was later reinstalled in Memorial Park, in front of the V.F.W. building.

Do you recognize anyone in the photographs? The slides are not the best quality, but perhaps a few of the people can be identified. The Girl Scout and Boy Scout uniforms are easy to spot, but who are the ladies in the white shirts? And does anyone happen to know if Jack Donnelly was responsible for the monument?

If you don’t know, but are curious about the answers, come back and check this post. We’ll attach comments with any information we receive.

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Monday, May 25, 2009

Lewis W. Hine’s photographs of Hastings in the George Eastman House collection

Part I
By now you surely know that the famous photographer Lewis Wickes Hine was a Hastings resident. Hine moved to Edgars Lane in 1917 and remained there until his death in 1940. Hine is perhaps best known for his photographs of children working in mines and cotton mills, which helped speed the passage of child labor laws. As part of our annual meeting program on June 7th, author and historian Joe Manning will be telling us more about these children and their descendents, whom Joe has managed to trace. (For more information on this program see the upper right corner of this blog page.)

You probably also know that the Hastings Historical Society has a small collection of original Hine photographs of Hastings subjects. We posted two of these photographs of Protection Engine Company on this blog on March 28th. And Frederic Perrier has put many more of them in his online article “Lewis Hine in Hastings-on-Hudson.”

You may not know, however, that George Eastman House in Rochester, one of the oldest film and photography archives, has in their collection at least 50 additional photographs that Hine took of Hastings. Some are duplicates of photographs we have in our collection, but many are unique. They came to George Eastman House in 1952 in a group of over 4,000 prints and negatives that were originally given by Hine’s son to the Photo League after his father’s death.

Below is a small sample of the Hastings photographs in George Eastman House’s “Lewis Wickes Hine Negative Series.” If you click on one, it will take you to the photograph’s page on the George Eastman House web site.

(Photograph courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film)

Wouldn’t this have been a perfect illustration for Judy Chamberlain’s article on Hastings’ barbers? Hine has even given it the title “Hoffman Barber Shop.” It shows the shop at 558 Warburton Avenue in the 1930s, when the building still had the same brick decoration as the building further north. In the doorway to the left of the shop you can see Jake Hoffman’s barber pole, and to the right is Memorial Park and the V.F.W. building. Often we can only guess at the circumstances of Hine’s employment, but this photograph may have been commissioned by Jake himself for advertising purposes.

(Photograph courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film)

This photograph is of the 1933 Hastings High School senior class posed in front of the School Street entrance to the "new" (1927) high school building. It appears in the yearbook, though without Hine’s name attached to it. From the yearbook, we know that Hine’s son Corydon must be in this photograph, as well as John Lynch and Arthur Kling. There are eight of these class photographs in George Eastman House’s collection, and they can all be dated by comparison with the yearbooks to either 1932 or 1933. These are the earliest photographs we know of that Hine took for the school system. Later Hine pictures in our collection include photographs of the football team, the orchestra, art exhibits, and shop and home economics classes, as well as general class pictures like this one.

(Photograph courtesy of George Eastman House, International Museum of Photography and Film)

You probably recognize this building, even though it’s not quite finished yet. It is La Barranca, at 465 South Broadway. In the foreground is Broadway and on the far left you can see the original sales office for the building. Behind the building, on the right, runs the Old Croton Aqueduct path. Because it was Hastings’ first apartment building, its construction was a source of local comment and debate. Articles were written about it in the Hastings paper, and both Lewis Hine and amateur photographer A.C. Langmuir took pictures of the construction. And this is very lucky, because Langmuir’s photographs help us to date Hine’s photograph. One of Langmuir’s photographs, dated May 1929, shows the construction at an earlier stage. Another, dated October 1929, shows the finished building. Hine’s photograph is one of twelve of La Barranca in George Eastman House’s series of negatives, all taken from different angles. Hine even took one from the roof, with a view of the river. Why were the photographs taken? We don’t know. But it is possible that the photographs were commissioned by the real estate company, possibly to refute local complaints that they were removing too many of the surrounding trees.

Have we gotten you interested? Want to see a few more of Hine’s Hastings photographs? Tune in next Monday for Part II!
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Thursday, May 21, 2009

Mystery Photo: Watermelon Eating Contest?

Here are two photographs dated August 29th, 1959 and both showing the same five kids. Three of them at least seem to have small white tags attached to their clothes! We are just guessing here, but it looks like they are devouring slices of watermelon. Is it a contest? Are they at some kind of Labor Day weekend festival? It certainly looks like they are in a park – maybe Reynolds Field? Do you recognize anyone? Let us know! And of course we want to know who won the contest.

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Monday, May 18, 2009

Remembering the Hastings Record Shop

By Bob Russell

17 to 19 Main Street ca. 1960 (Hastings Record Shop on far right)

In the Fall 2008 issue of the Historian there is a wonderful story written by Carol Marie (Venuto) Davis regarding her family life and the eventual creation of the Steinschneider parking lot, which required demolition of her home. On page two of this issue, there is a photo of an old dual-use building on Spring Street that was removed in order to provide an entrance for this new public area. This old house had living space above and had the numerical destinations of #10 and #12. I have recently heard that The Hastings Record Shop had its first location in this building, and although I don't recall the shop when it was there I do remember very well how it was when it moved to 19 Main Street at the corner of Whitman (Lafayette Place).

This brick building also housed Ernie's Delicatessen, and the Hastings Five and Ten, a double store closest to the Boulanger Plaza, which was completed ca. 1957. For the record, the 5&10 was run by a Mr. and Mrs. Bromberger. Ernie's Delicatessen was (to my recollection) the first market-type store to use the designation "Delicatessen" until Marchioni's was opened two stores south of Nana's Lunch, across from the Hastings Trans Lux Theatre.

As for Hastings Record Shop, this is how I remember the store and its owners. Margaret and Will Hesketh were husband and wife. Will repaired radios in the back room, replacing tubes mostly. My older brother Bill was into radios and worked for Will for a while. Will had a small panel truck, and would pick up and deliver the repaired radios and TV's with a quiet and friendly smile. He would bring them in a rear door and would take them out to his truck while he was repairing them. Margaret ran the front of the store in a businesslike but friendly way.

As you walked in the front door, the counter was straight ahead, at the back of the store but in front of a partition wall that had a doorway to the repair area in back. There was a register to the left on top of the glass counter, and inside the glass case were various articles for sale such as record cleaning brushes, needles for 78's and later sapphire and diamond needles, plastic inserts for 45rpm records, etc.

Along the left (west) wall was a moveable rack containing slip cases of clear plastic which contained various record albums, both 78 and 33 rpm. You could move them individually from side to side, view and select a particular album which Margaret would remove for you to purchase. To the right of the albums were shelves for older stock 78's and many smaller cubbies containing the latest 45's.

These were the days of monophonic, as stereo was in its early stages and had only begun to appear toward the end of the Fifties. Only a couple of stereo records were available at the beginning, and mostly experimental, containing a variety of works, usually classical in content, such as the "Living Presence" album, ca. 1959.

If you were a regular customer of the HRS and wanted a particular record, Margaret would order it for you and call you when it came in. If a really popular album was about to arrive (Hastings Record Shop only stocked a couple of copies at a time to keep inventory down), Margaret would secretly hold a copy behind the counter for you on request.

I remember buying 78's for our Victrola there, and later The Everly Brothers, Elvis in 1956, Jimmy Rodgers singles in ‘57, etc. It was a treat to go there. Singles were .98 cents each and LP's were as high as $2.95. The store was spotless.

West side of Warburton Avenue with the corner of Spring Street on the far right. The photograph was taken by Steven Kormes during "Spring Thing" in May of 1980. The photograph shows the Hastings Record Shop, The Cheese Genie, The Sunshine Gallery, and King Pizza on the corner.

When E.J. Korvette and S. Klein On The Square opened their stores on Central Avenue, the Hastings record shop felt some loss of business, but continued to sell records, then eight track tapes and cassettes, throughout the Sixties and on into the Seventies, when I lost track of them. I recall hearing about Will’s death, and that the repair business was ended. Margaret continued on into the Eighties at a new location, 545 Warburton Avenue. For all of us who knew Margaret and Will, they were our friends, and will always be remembered as good people.
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Thursday, May 14, 2009

Mystery Photo: Hastings Class of 1963

Editor’s Note: We’ve been having a great time writing about some of the odd corners of Hastings history and the interesting things we have in our collection. We can’t quite manage three posts a week right now, so we’re going to be reducing the number to two and moving the mystery post to Thursday. But we’ve got many more fascinating tidbits to share with you, so stay tuned!

OK, Class of ’63. Now that we know you are out there, we’ve got more work for you. Here is a picture that Martin Merchant took at one of your reunions. Click on the image to see an enlargement in Flickr. The back of the photograph says 1979. But no one is identified! Who are all these smiling faces? And you’ve got some teachers in there, too. Is that Mildred Davey?

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Monday, May 11, 2009

Hastings’ First Jail

This photograph of the village “lockup” has attracted 72 “views” on our Flickr site! So when we came across an old article that mentions the history of the local jail, we decided to share it with you. The 1933 Hastings News article is from a series by an anonymous writer on the early mayors of Hastings, who were called presidents until 1927. This particular article is on the tenure of Joseph Phillips, who was president from 1884 to 1887.

Joseph Phillips, village president from 1884 to 1887

Phillips was a painter, and his house and shop were at the corner of what is now Main Street and Warburton Avenue, in the same spot as Suburban Renewal. He must have had an excellent reputation, for the article says that when Hastings oldtimers wanted to praise any piece of work, they would call it “a Phillips job.”

Warburton Avenue, looking north from the bridge, ca. 1905. The entrance to Main Street is on the right, and the large building on the corner was, in the 1880s, Joseph Phillips' home and store.

Here is what the article has to say about the jail:

Joseph Phillips, village president number four, had no major crisis with which to contend. The building of a village lockup seems to have provided the main difficulty of his successive terms of office...

Phillips and his board of trustees had a lockup built in the summer of ’86 at the foot of Washington Avenue. John Schlachter, village carpenter, had finished the iron-bound wooden shack, and it was ready for occupation, when a certain Mr. Ezra Munsen, Washington Avenue property owner, decided that a lockup would not improve property values. He employed a clever Tarrytown attorney, Lucius T. Yale (of the Yale lock family) to prevent the lockup from being officially opened. Yale was able to secure an injunction preventing the board of trustees from opening the new jail…. John Schalchter was told to move the lockup to a situation on the bank of the creek (now occupied by the Station Plaza).

The lockup had become “the house that Jack built” in the Hastings newspaper of the day. Village drunks were assumed to prefer its new position, which was more sheltered than its first bleak site on the river bank.

The Hastings Record of the time, leading weekly paper of the community, had several verses of doggerel to celebrate the move. A stanza ran:

This is the house that Jack built;
This is the Yale lock, tumbled and strong,
That helped the friendly injunction along;
For the winter boarders singing a song,
The song of the house that Jack built.

The 1889 map above (a detail from an insurance map in our map collection) shows the jail in its “new position.” In 1933, when the article about the jail was written, this area was called Station Plaza. We would now call it Zinsser Plaza, the parking lot across the street from the railway station. As you can see from the map, the area was called Depot Square in the 1880s. Southside Avenue had not yet been built, but you can orient yourself by looking at the train tracks at the top of the map and the street called Valley Street, which is now the part of Southside Avenue that runs down to the train tracks from the Municipal Building. The “lockup” is on the far left, next to Ravine Brook, the creek that used to run all the way down through the Ravine.

The photograph of the lockup at the top of the blog was taken by local druggist Hanford C. Todd around 1905. He used it in a pamphlet of local historic views that he had for sale in his store, so by 1905 this particular jail had probably been abandoned. The photograph appears to have been taken looking north from the jail toward the entrance to Valley Street.
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Sunday, May 10, 2009

Mystery Photo: Anaconda Pioneers

Here are two photographs of Anaconda Pioneers, the top taken at a dinner on October 26th, 1950 and the bottom at a dinner on November 5, 1953. An Anaconda newsletter from 1945 reported that employees were already making plans for a club that would be open to anyone who had been with Anaconda Wire & Cable Company, or one of its predecessors, for at least twenty years. The organization must have been slightly delayed, however, because its first president was not elected until 1947.

Cover of an Anaconda Pioneers brochure from our pamphlet collection showing the club's covered wagon logo, which also appears on the banner in the top photograph. This brochure was printed in 1950 and includes a list of members as well as the club's constitution and bylaws.

In 1950, the president of the Pioneers was mechanical engineer Frank Lynch, the only person identified so far in these two photographs. In the top photograph he is fourth from the left, behind the flowers, and in the bottom photograph he is on the left. Frank’s father Jack was an expert in wire drawing, and started work at National Conduit & Cable Company on the Hastings waterfront in 1891. In 1920, at the age of 16 or 17, Frank joined his father at NC&C. In 1923 American Brass took over from NC&C, and then in 1929 the company was absorbed into Anaconda Wire & Cable Company. By 1965, when Frank retired, he had been working on the same site for 46 years.

Do you know where these photographs were taken? (The photograph below looks like it was taken in Schmidt's Farm, the subject of a previous post.) Do you recognize any of the other people in them? What can you tell us about them?

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Thursday, May 7, 2009

The Hastings Hospital

by Judy (Wemer) Chamberlain

Dr. Jenks hopital building in the 1960s.

If you have taken a trip down Olinda Avenue lately, you may have noticed that something is missing on the south side of the street. For more years than I can remember, a small, old wood and stucco structure stood empty and somewhat neglected. At first I thought it was just an old garage but when I asked about it, I was told that at one time it was a hospital. It seemed kind of small for a hospital. But yes, people have admitted to being born there and others told of their visit to get a few stitches, or having an appendix removed, or reverently spoke about how a family member stayed there while recovering from the influenza that devastated the country beginning in 1919, just after World War I.

The doctor who was responsible for this hospital was Dr. Gedney Jenks. And though it took him 3 years, Dr. Jenks actually built this hospital with his own hands. The hospital was two stories and fully equipped with wards, an operating room and all the modern appliances of the day.

Dr. Gedney Jenks in uniform, standing in front of his hospital on Olinda.

There is an interesting story about Dr. Jenks that I discovered in an old newspaper clipping. It says: “Dr. Jenks enlisted as a surgeon for overseas service when America entered the war (World War I), but the people of the village petitioned Washington for his return, as they were left without a doctor. He was sent back over his protests.”

Dr. Jenks’ hospital was torn down in December of 2008 and with it, a little piece of history.
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Monday, May 4, 2009

The 18th-Century Sloop “Nancy”

The “Clearwater” and the “Sojourner Truth” ca. 1980. The “Clearwater,” birthed in Poughkeepsie, was built in 1969 by Hudson River Sloop Clearwater, Inc. as a teaching tool for environmental education.
Here at the Historical Society, it sometimes feels like “history” begins in the 19th century. Aside from a few Indian arrowheads, our earliest artifacts, our earliest maps, and our earliest photographs are all from the 1840s or '50s. But there are a handful of items in the collection from 18th century. The earliest are probably the three documents related to the ship called the “Nancy.”

To get some idea of what the “Nancy” looked like, go down to the Hudson River and watch for the “Clearwater.” The “Clearwater” and the “Nancy” are both sloops – single-masted sailing vessels with sails aligned along the length of the ship. Sloops were the workhorses of the Hudson River from the time of the earliest European settlers to the growth of the railroads in the 19th century. They were maneuverable ships that could handle the Hudson’s strong tides, variable winds, and sometimes shallow waters, and required only a small crew. The Dutch used them to connect their early settlements in Fort Orange (now called Albany) and New Amsterdam (now Manhattan). In those days, the cargo was often trading goods – furs and grain, or flour from the local mills. By the 1790s, the sloops were carrying fish, lumber, straw, mail, and passengers.

1836 painting by Hastings resident George Harvey showing a sloop docked at the Hastings waterfront, printed on a Historical Society notecard from 1983. (The original painting is in the collection of the New-York Historical Society.)
One of these hard-working sloops was the “Nancy.” The three documents in our collection give us a great deal of information about her. She was about half the size of the “Clearwater” -- 44 feet long and 14 feet 9 inches wide, and weighed 35 tons. She was built in Albany in 1794. In March of 1796, her owner leased her to Philip Forgey and Corbus Lefergy for “one hundred and four pounds current money of the state of New York.”

The two later documents in our collection, dated 1796 and 1797, are operating licenses issued by the U.S. Government and bearing the embossed seals of both the New York Customs House and the Naval Office of the District City of New York. Apparently, licenses had to be renewed annually, since each one permits the owner to carry on the “coasting trade” for “One Year from the date hereof, and no longer.” Her original title was “the Nancy of New York,” but on these two documents she is rechristened “the Nancy of Greenburgh.” (Hastings, as you will recall, was not incorporated as a village until 1879.)

Lease and one of the two licenses for the sloop "Nancy." These documents have been digitized by the Westchester Historical Society. Click on the documents to view them on the Historical Treasures of Westchester County web site. Click on the word "next" at the top of the window to cycle through the pages of the documents.
Forgey and Lefergey are only two of the many variations of the familiar Hastings family name of Lefurgy. The Lefurgys are some of the earliest identifiable residents of Hastings, having been tenant farmers under Frederick Philipse before the Revolution. Lefurgys married into many prominent local families, including the Dobbs, the Snedens, the Browns, the Pulvers, and the Posts.

While we haven’t yet been able to trace Philip Forgey, “Corbus” may have been Jacobus (also known as James) Lefurgy, who was born in Hastings in 1761 and died here in 1826. Further research in the extensive collections of Lefurgy papers given to the Society by Margaret Lane and Clarence Parker may reveal more about the “Nancy” and her cargo and help us fill in the details of Hastings’ early history.
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Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mystery Photo: Sewing Circle at 9 Euclid Avenue

Here is another mystery for you! A group of unidentified ladies are seated around the dining room table at 9 Euclid Avenue, the home of Elizabeth and Harry B. Harvey. Elizabeth is standing in the back, holding a doll that seems to be the model the other ladies are working from. This image is from a color slide taken by Harry in March of 1962. Do you recognize any of the other ladies? Is this an established organization? What is this project they are working on, and what is it for?

The interior of 9 Euclid Avenue in 1957, from two more of Harry Harvey's slides. In the bedroom photograph, a picture of Harry Harvey himself hangs above the bed on the left. Harry was village historian before the Historical Society was formed, and from him we have inherited an invaluable collection of notes on village history.

Our slide collection contains almost five times as many color images from the 1950s as our photograph collection. But the color cannot always be relied upon. Compare the color of the walls in this photograph of the dining room with the photograph of the sewing circle. The black flecks on the images are from the dust that has accumulated on the slides over the past 40 years.
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