Thursday, July 30, 2009

Mystery Photo: Boy Scouts at Anaconda, 1963

We’d love to know the story behind these two photographs. All we know is the date: March of 1963. The man on the left looks like Harold Ormerod, manager of Anaconda Wire & Cable Company’s Hastings plant. Is it an award ceremony? What is the award and who are the scouts and the other two officials? Does anyone know?

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Beneath Our Feet

by Judy Chamberlain

The Hastings waterfront in 1929.

In a recent post, I wrote about walking on the bluestone slabs and asphalt hexagon tiles that lined the sidewalks of Warburton Avenue. Initially, I wasn’t aware that two local industries, which began in the 19th century and were located side by side along the Hudson, provided Hastings with its variety of sidewalks -- and a number of jobs.

In 1882 Hurst and Treanor, dealers in bluestone, established a yard and mill on the waterfront, on the site that would later become Anaconda Wire & Cable Company. While Hurst ran the New York City end of the business, James Treanor moved to Hastings to oversee that operation. By 1885, brother Frank had joined the business of Treanor Stone Works, which had become one of the largest employers in the village.

Detail of an 1889 insurance map showing the Hastings Pavement Company and Treanor's Stoneworks.

Originally, the bluestone was brought from Oxford, NY, via the Hudson River. Oxford was strategically located on the Chenango Canal, an important waterway that went from Binghamton to Utica, and the water access helped in transporting these tremendous stones down east to be cut. In the 1870s, the railroad lines were improving, but the weight and size of the stones presented problems. However, the situation was remedied by James Treanor. He designed a special railroad car that held a stone up on its edge and away from the sides of the railroad car. His ingenious invention helped perfect the stone shipping business and, no doubt, contributed to the success of Treanor Stone Works.

Milled bluestone was very popular in its day and was used for sidewalks, curbs, and architectural elements. The village benefited from this local resource and used the milled stones for many of its sidewalks. You can still find them in certain parts of town.

Employees at the Hastings Pavement Company, ca. 1890.

Another waterfront business that provided Hastings with jobs as well as sidewalks was the Hastings Pavement Company. In 1880 a factory was built to begin manufacturing asphalt blocks, a process that combined crushed stone with asphalt and molded it into uniformed sizes and shapes for sidewalks. In 1897, the Hastings Pavement Company employed 30 men, and in the following year it gave work to 50 men; by 1907, 214 men worked for the company.

With asphalt brought in from Trinidad, limestone from Verplanck Point up the Hudson, and later trap rock from the Hudson Palisades, Hastings Pavement manufactured the 8-inch hexagonal and rectangular paving blocks that remain on some sidewalks in the village today. Unfortunately, a fire in 1928 destroyed the building. The company remained in Hastings until 1936, when it moved to Long Island. It is still in operation, and even though its headquarters are in Islip, it has retained its original name – the Hastings Pavement Company.

Machinery in operation at the Hastings Pavement Company, ca. 1910.

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Mystery Photo: ‘V for Victory’ Dance, 1941

This snapshot, while not of the best quality, is a wonderful document of Hastings during the war years, and we’d love to know who’s in it. It was taken by Dewey Kunze, who was a junior in the 1941-42 school year and photography editor for the yearbook. The Hastings Historical Society owns an almost complete set of high school yearbooks, and here’s what the 1942 edition had to say about the senior class and their prom in the fall of 1941.

“The members of the graduating class of Hastings High School, 1942, have been preparing themselves for citizenship in a democracy. They must now face in actual living those problems they have studied in school. This year the challenge of the future takes on a new meaning, for America is at war and they must not only live in a democracy but they must also help save that democracy. …

… the class of ’42 kept up its excellent record with the fall senior prom, one of the best dances in its high school career. Since everyone was very war-conscious, the class very appropriately chose the theme ‘V for Victory’. …

After the long march to the stage on Commencement night and the last farewells, the members of the class of ’42 will go forth with faith in their country, as they realize that the youth of today is the America of tomorrow.”
Can you help us put at least a few names to these brave seniors? Click the photograph and look at it more closely in Flickr. If you need to enlarge it, click the “All Sizes” link above the photograph. Do you recognize anyone? Let us know!

If you don’t know, but are curious about the answers, come back to the blog and check this post. We’ll attach comments with any information we receive.
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Monday, July 20, 2009

Hastings’ First Ambulance

by Bob Russell

Editor’s Note: Last year, member Bob Russell sent us three wonderful photographs of the ambulance that Hastings used before our first official ambulance arrived. Here is the story behind this unusual piece of machinery.

Until the mid Fifties people were hastily driven to the hospital by family or co-workers, or whenever someone was around to help and had a car available to assist an injured person. Thankfully because of WWII and the Korean War, many citizens were trained in basic first aid, but serious health issues and injuries demanded more specialized attention. No doubt the ambulance evolved from the void of properly addressing these immediate critical needs, and therefore became an invention of necessity. Hastings first ambulance was offered as a temporary loaner. Although the Village did not own it, we had full use of this vehicle until we got our permanent one. It was a new, modified Cadillac and arrived in Hastings during the summer of ‘54. Oddly, it was light powder blue in color, and was referred to as a “model” or prototype of the new red one that we eventually bought. There was no charge for the blue one.

This conversion must have been quite a “chop” job. The rear seat had to be removed as well as the trunk wall in order to make room for the stretcher, which sat on a rigid floor. The roof of course was modified, and then compartments or attachments were provided. This most likely was done at a shop that did this kind of specialty work for many towns. The Cadillac was chosen for conversion because of its size and the comfort of the suspension. It also had a powerful engine. In the Fifties when this first ambulance was made, De Feo Motors of Yonkers was the closest dealer. Perhaps they were the company that sent it out to be modified and equipped for rescue duty. Cadillac hearses were also being outfitted for casket transportation. So the Cadillac went from being a luxury car, to a converted station wagon for special uses. Maybe someone out there will remember the name of the company that supplied them.

I did have the opportunity to look inside the blue loaner one day when the rear door was open. I could see that it was modestly outfitted with a stretcher, oxygen tank and a first aid box. I was with my older brother Bill on the day when he took these photos of the blue car which was kept uncovered in the dirt lot which later became Boulanger Plaza.

The first ambulance was housed in the garage behind the Hook and Ladder building for nearly ten years, and was kept there, including the successive models, until Chief Aresta Aluisio encouraged the Village to obtain the land on the east side of the Chenard's Gulf Station (ca. 1978) in order to erect the present Ambulance Corps. Building located on Main Street.

When the shiny red ambulance arrived it was beautiful and well received. Everyone in town admired the fire engine color, gold leaf lettering that read “Ambulance” and “Hastings on Hudson”. It also had a bright chrome siren on the roof, with a red light similar to the police cars of the day. As a result of this important acquisition members of the fire department quickly formed an ambulance corps of volunteer drivers reporting to a Captain. I believe that our first official volunteer ambulance driver was "Patsy" Melella, nicknamed “Magoose”, and I think his back-up driver was from Uniontown nicknamed “Squatty” Gorman, who always wore sunglasses.

Patsy worked as a delivery man for Riolo’s Market and other stores. Timely deliveries were important, and therefore Patsy was a fast driver. Sometimes he’d hear three blasts on the Municipal Building horn and come rushing out of some public place in order to get the ambulance rolling. There was an old joke on the street that if you were shopping in town and the horn blew three times, it was a good idea to get into a store as quickly as possible, because Patsy would soon be racing by, sometimes jumping the curb onto the sidewalk in his eagerness to answer the call.

Everyone in Hastings owes a great debt to the dedicated members of the Hastings Volunteer Fire and Ambulance corps.

The Ambulance Corps posed with their red ambulance in front of the Hook & Ladder Company building on Main Street in 1958.

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Mystery Photo: Hillside Faculty, 1964

Here's another of our favorite photographs -- it shows the entire faculty of Hillside Elementary School in 1964. It may not be quite as mysterious to us as some of the other photographs in our collection, since we know the names of many of the teachers. But some are still unidentified. Here's what we know: from left to right, seated: unidentified, Connie Schmidt, Gladys Smith, unidentified, May Lynch, Marge Plant, Margie Kunze, unidentified, Evelyn Drewes, and Mary Axtell; standing: Theo Howe, Marcene Weiner, unidentified, Marlyn Bassett, Margaret Downar, Ann Hritz, Principal Dr. Harold Ahlquist, unidentified, Carol Krack, Marjorie Murphy, unidentified, Ann Columbo, and Gertie McDonald. Can you help us with the names of the six unidentified teachers? Have we misspelled anybody's name? Let us know!

If you are intersted in the answers, come back to the blog and check this post. We’ll attach comments with any information we receive.
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Monday, July 13, 2009

Inquiring Reporter Discovers What People Talk About When They Watch Workers Digging on Warburton Avenue

Editor’s Note: This was the headline for an anonymous article that appeared in the Hastings News in July of 1929. Below is an edited version of the article. Though the first two photographs were taken by A.C. Langmuir when the streets were being widened in September and October of 1929, the scene must have been much the same as in July, when the telephone company installed the conduits that would be used to bury the network of wires that crisscrossed the sky above Hastings in the 1920s.

Warburton Avenue, looking south from the corner of Spring Street, October 4, 1929

All along Warburton Avenue, commuters, passers-by and little children with no baseball field to go to, are lingering over the piles of rock that are being dug up and piled up along the ditch in which the New York Telephone Company is placing conduits.

There was quite a crowd all this week at the corner of Spring Street and Warburton Avenue. The explosions caused by the blasting attracted many who were loath to leave, as shock after shock rocked the thoroughfare.

“Say! Look at that guy!” The crowd of boys looked. In the entrance of one of the row of vacant stores slept a worker. He not only slept. He snored. On his face was a look of beatific happiness. He was, any of the youngsters could see, at the height of bliss. “They ought to take that guy’s picture and give it to his boss.”

Warburton Avenue south of the bridge, looking south toward the corner of Washington Avenue, September 19, 1929

Then the whistle blew. With a start the worker awoke. His nimble wits sent him to his feet. When his foreman came around, he was first on his job.

“They ought to fire him and give me his job.

“They ought to put him in the Lyceum outfield!”

“Yeah! The Lyceums are good. They played some game last Sunday, I’m telling you.”

“Say, you saw the game with the Independents last Sunday, didn’t you? Well, did you notice that fellow, Wasko, who was pinch-hit in the last inning? I think it was the last. What a uniform he wore! He had a grey and red suit, green and white sleeves, a black hat, and purple and orange stockings.”

St. Matthew’s Lyceum on lower Warburton was a social organization for men and boys, organized in 1920. This photograph of the club’s baseball team shows both Sid Limekiller (seated third from the right) and John Vasko (aka Wasko, standing second from the right).

“And did you see Sid Limekiller forget where he put his glove when he went out to pitch that same inning? He couldn’t find it, and the rest of the boys were on the field. Finally they got hold of it, nestling behind second.”

Several of the men standing before the Farragut Inn laughed. “Funny how the kids notice those things,” he said. “By the way, did you see the mayor there last Sunday?”

His companion replied that he had not, and the two fell into a discussion as to what would happen if the mayor [Thomas F. Reyolds], the acting mayor, [Henry D.] Cochrane, and the acting mayor’s alternate, James Magee, all were gone. …

Thomas F. Reynolds (second from the right) at a St. Matthew’s Lyceum game. Mayor Reynolds acquired the uniforms for the team from New York Yankees owner Col. Jacob Ruppert. The photograph shows, left to right, umpire H. Shaefer, William Steinschneider, Fred H. Charles, Reynolds, and umpire Louis Limekiller.

Two men, waiting for the blasting foreman to let them through on their way down Warburton Avenue to Dobbs Ferry, were discussing a sermon recently made by Father Southwick, curate of the Sacred Heart Church, of Dobbs Ferry. …

Two other men took their places, idling on the corner, watching the diggers and waiting for the next blast. They fell to talking about the movie that the Reo Company had recently made in Dobbs Ferry. Their discussion attracted another bystander. “Those auto wrecks that they put on were the real thing,” he said. “Why I wouldn’t have done it for – well, it would have taken a whole lot o money, believe me.” …

And that’s what men talk about when they’re watching other men dig a ditch.
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Thursday, July 9, 2009

Mystery Photo: Baseball Players and Fans, ca. 1947

Here is one of our favorite Summer photographs. It shows seven players from the Hastings "Lions" and a few extra fans on the side. Friends of the society have identified a few of the boys -- John Hirniak is on the far left, a Schnibbe boy is fifth from the left, and Frank Minkewicz is seventh. But we'd love to know the names of every single one of them. You can click on the photograph to see a larger view in Flickr. Do you recognize anyone? Let us know!

If you don’t know, but are curious about the answers, come back to the blog and check this post. We’ll attach comments with any information we receive
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Monday, July 6, 2009

Bottled in Hastings: Marc Rosner and the International Hotel

Society member Marc Rosner is a chemistry teacher in the Hastings High School and an avid bottle and coin collector. Somehow, “avid” does not really seem to be a strong enough word to describe his passion for hunting through the backwoods of Westchester in his search for the perfect specimen.

“The holy grail for me has always been a Hastings bottle, and the closest I had come was a shard with "ASTINGS" on it. Recently, I have been scouring the area for new digs and working my way north. The vicinity of the East Irvington Nature preserve yielded some interesting finds. Then I returned to a secret spot I had found last summer, near what I discovered recently is Irvington's "Hermit

Although I haven't found an intact one yet, the site has yielded the best stuff yet for my collection, and I have been sneaking off at odd hours to dig. As I move north, the bulldozers move south and we have been dancing around each other through the poison ivy and ticks. Every time I think I have the last good one, I find a few more, which I'd like to rescue from getting paved under the next new mansion.

Among the finds are several Hastings bottles with the top broken but the body intact. The bottle you see was unrecognizable until I cleaned it with several different chemicals. My relatives think I'm crazy, with good reason, but I enjoy this tinkering.”

Marc’s find is particularly interesting to us because of the words embossed on the glass. They read: “Chas. H. Bevers / Hastings, N.Y.” At the end of the 19th century, Charles H. Bevers and his wife Amelia Halbe Bevers ran the “International Hotel” on the west side of the train tracks, just opposite our present-day train station. (In the 19th-century, the station was slightly to south of its current position.) A hotel stood on the site as early as 1868. An article on Charles H. Bevers in our files tells us that in 1877 Charles went into business with his father to run the International Hotel. The article does not make it clear whether his father, whose name was also Charles, was already running the hotel by himself, or whether the International Hotel actually opened for business in 1877.

An 1889 insurance map (detail above) adds the useful information that beer bottling was performed in the basement of the building. If you look carefully at the photograph of the hotel below, you can see a sign that reads: “Yonkers Beer Ales & Porter.” So the bottles may have belonged to Bevers, but the alcohol in them seems to have been imported from a brewery in Yonkers.

The railroad purchased the International Hotel property from Bevers, probably around 1910 when the new station was built. The building itself, or part of it, might have survived until 1912. A booklet published in 1949 on the history of industry in Westchester says that the “Old International Hotel” and a saloon called the Tammany House on the same side of the train tracks were torn down to make room for a new mill being built by the National Conduit and Cable Company (the precursor of Anaconda).

It's hard to imagine that there was anything “international” about a 19th-century hotel/saloon in a small town like Hastings-on-Hudson. But the article on Bevers tells us that “during its palmy days, this was one of the most widely patronized and universally popular hotels of Westchester County, and held leading rank among others of its group in the State.”

We are grateful to Marc and other local archaeologists for their enthusiasm and their generosity. They supply us with the artifacts that keep the memory of these old Hastings landmarks alive.
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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Mystery Photo: A Kindergarten Class ca. 1947

We have had so much trouble identifying these children that we sometimes wonder if the photograph was actually taken in some other town. We know nothing about the photograph, and we are only guessing that it is a kindergarten class from the late 1940s. Do you recognize any one of these ladies and gentlemen? Does the classroom look familiar?

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