Thursday, January 28, 2010

Good-bye Research Building

If there is a fascination in watching building construction, there is an equal fascination in watching demolition, especially of a building you have come to see as a permanent part of your village sky line.

On January 27th, Southside Avenue resident James Dean recorded the final demise of Anaconda Wire & Cable Company's Extra High Voltage Laboratory, constructed in 1958-59. The link below is to Jim's video on YouTube.

In its day, this building housed a state of the art research & development laboratory as well as a facility for manufacturing the newest power cables designed to supply the growing power needs of huge cities like New York. When it was built, it was the only such plant in the nation. But during the 1960s Anaconda constructed new specialty plants in the south and west and the Hastings laboratory became obsolete.

Now all trace of it is gone, and we look forward eagerly -- or is that anxiously -- to the future of the Hastings waterfront. Thanks for sharing the video, Jim!
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Thursday, January 21, 2010

A Moment of Glory for 25 Main Street

By Judy (Wemer) Chamberlain

Movie crew in front of 25 Main Street, transformed with temporary tiling and potted plants into a Santa Barbara restaurant. (photo copyright Anne Marie Leone)

Hastings was all a buzz this past summer with the news that a movie was being filmed on Main Street. It is exciting when something out of the ordinary happens in a small town. It gives everyone something to talk about, and it makes for good “people watching.” The featured actors included Meryl Streep, Steve Martin, and Alec Baldwin, though only Meryl was in the scene shot this June in the village.

It’s Complicated, the new romantic comedy written and directed by Nancy Meyers, chose to feature one of my favorite buildings in town. The First National Bank building, on the corner of Main and Whitman, was built in 1907, and through its long history the building has housed an assortment of businesses.

Postcard from about 1912 showing the bank building

My connection to 25 Main Street was through a dentist. Dr. Stewart had his office on the second floor. Mounting the steps was like marching to the gallows. I would walk down from school with dread for my afternoon appointments. I remember that the waiting room was austere, the magazines of little interest to me, and time waiting for my turn in the chair, unbearable.

There was one bright spot though. The receptionist was a lovely lady with silver gray hair, who always had a large colorful handkerchief attached to her stiff white nurse’s uniform. Her name was Mrs. Feury. I think her first name may have been Beth, but since I never called her anything but Mrs. Feury, I’m not certain. She was efficient and tried her best to put patients, especially nervous children, at ease -- no small feat given the antiquated drills that awaited you beyond the closed door.

Photograph from 1929 by A.C. Langmuir. The slogan on the window reads: "Love and Thrift Make Happy Homes."

Today the office of dentist Dr. Harvey Kutz is located at 25 Main. However, now for at least the run of this newly released film, the sturdy brick building with its pleasant arches, will be famous in Hastings for its transformation into a restaurant.

Unfortunately, only those who stopped by in person to watch will know this, because the scene shot here ended up on the cutting room floor. For the rest of us who intently watched the film to spot our landmark, well, we’ll have to be content to know that this fine building brought a film crew, Oscar-winning actress Meryl Streep, and some excitement to Hastings.

Editor’s Note: We have lots of photographs of 25 Main, but not when it was Dr. Stewart’s office. Does anyone have such a photograph that they could lend us?

The lost scene: Meryl in the rain. (photo copyright Anne Marie Leone)

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Thursday, January 14, 2010

Mystery Photograph: Ferrera’s Meat Market

Back in 2008 when Carol Venuto Davis wrote her wonderful article for the Hastings Historian on her house at 4 Spring Street, she included this photograph of herself (right) and her sister Priscilla (peeking over her shoulder) in Fererra’s meat market, taken around 1953. We recently asked her to tell me more about the photograph, and here is her answer.

“That's the owner Mr. Ferrera in the long white apron cutting a piece of meat. The two men behind the counter were working for him, but I can't recall their names. The men standing behind my sister are customers. Don't know them either.

The photo was taken for advertising—they had just installed some new meat counters, and I think the local paper was doing a story about that. It was nice of Mr. Ferrera to give me a photo, but then, we were regular customers. Mom sent us there a couple of times a week because she felt they had good quality meat.

I remember the shop always smelled of fresh sawdust and the meat was placed in white cardboard containers then wrapped in brown paper and tied with a string. You don't get that kind of service any more.

One of our chores was to go to Ferrera’s for meat, and buy groceries including fruits and vegetables at the A & P supermarket across the street—you can't really see it in the photo but my sister is holding Mom's shopping list and I'm clutching the money. The butcher or grocer would tally the amount on the wrapping paper or bag, and we were supposed to wait there and make sure the addition was correct before paying. It was good training in budgeting at an early age since I was 11 and my sister 8 years old at the time the photo was taken.”

Please let us know if you can identify the men in the picture. And if you have any memories of the meat market to share, send them along!

Ferrera Brothers market at 546 Warburton Avenue in 1935. The photograph show, left to right: Alfred Ferrera, Jack Cattell, Lillian Cattell, Frank Ferrera, and Albert Ferrera.

Carol is also looking for information about people who might have lived in her family home, 4 Spring Street, before her grandparents bought it in 1926. Some of the names listed on old deeds to the house include: Michael Kablack, Louis & Lizi Babulicz, Abraham & Carrie Oppenheimer, Fannie Leitner, Michael & Agnes Masterson, Jane Scriven, William Kinder, Frederick Kinder, Garret A. Veeder, George W. Bippell and Sidney S. Blackwell.

Let us know if you can help her!
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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Veselykh Sviat! (Happy Holidays!)

The Historical Society does not own as many photographs of holiday festivities as we would like, but here is an exception. Nine members of the Hastings Ukrainian American Society pose for the camera in the costumes that they wore when they went out caroling on Christmas Eve, which by the Eastern Orthodox calendar is January 6th. The photograph was probably taken in the late 1920s and shows, left to right, standing: Steven Borys, Steve Konick, Nick Perik, Michael Myhal, John Penderski, Mr. Siwick; seated: John Politza, Mr. Kozemchyk, and Michael Fedew, who ran a saloon near the train station that was popular with the Hastings immigrant community. Most of the men pictured here worked in the waterfront industries and lived nearby with their families. (Some of the identifications have been challenged and some are incomplete, so if one of our names seems wrong to you, let us know.)

These carolers are following a Ukrainian tradition that goes back in Hastings at least into the 1910s and much further back in the Ukraine. Dinner on Christmas Eve breaks a forty-day fast with a meal celebrating the bounties of the harvest. Caroling comes after dinner, as described by the Ukrainian ethnomusicologist Sofia Hrytsa in an article she wrote in 1999.

“After the meal, young carolers, koliadnyky, go from house to house singing carols and performing a short play on the Christmas theme, called a vertep. The characters usually include shepherds, the three wise men, angels, and devils. One of the carolers says a vinshuvania (a short poem), wishing each of the household members a prosperous and bountiful New Year:

Glory to God,
King of the Heavens!
Grant the hospodar [host] lucky years
By the sevens!
Glory to You God, Glory today!
Grant the hospodynia [hostess]
As many years as you may!”

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