Back in early Greece history much of the farmland around Long Pond Road north of Maiden Lane was owned by the Britton Family. Opposite this land down at 1048 Long Pond Road stood a stone structure, the first location of the Greece school where the Greece Methodist Church organized in 1841, and now is around the corner at 1924 Maiden Lane. The old stone structure’s frame successor is Greece School #9 and remains today as the home of the Douglas Worboys Family.
In 1895 the Brittons sold the farm fields on the west side of Long Pond Road to John and Eva Easton. In 1901 the farm was purchased by Frank and Julia Herman, a farmer who also became a Greece Town Justice.
In 1953 the Herman Farm, with its two gable roof barns connected by a large chicken coop, was sold by Mr. Herman’s daughter, Isabel Johnson, to Clarence and Adrienne Preston of 1036 Long Pond Road. Here fresh produce was grown and sold at the Rochester Public Market until Clarence retired in 1968. Then sons Eugene and Kenneth continued growing produce for sale at a roadside stand. Most memorable were the tall sunflowers that grew close to the road and admired every summer by motorists driving by.
In 1965 Rochester Telephone Company constructed a brick operations center at 1041 Long Pond Road said to be exactly in the geographical center of Greece. This land was the private dwelling of Earl and Anna Davis, a Kodak employee.
Getting up in years, I am approaching 82, the Prestons agreed to sell the couple acres of farmland remaining on the west side at 1043 and 1051 Long Pond Road to The Arc of Monroe for the purpose of building two single-family homes. Nestled to the west of the property lies Preston Circle, named after my family, when that portion of the farm was sold more than 50 years ago.
On March 31, 2023, an official Groundbreaking Ceremony was held beneath a large tent, beginning with delightful entertainment by residents of the Arc. Speakers included Arc of Monroe officials including Tracy Petrichick, President and CEO, Tracy Crosby, Executive Director, Arc of Monroe Foundation, and Town of Greece 2nd Ward Councilman, Bill Murphy. Among invited friends, neighbors, and bystanders, I deeply appreciated the opportunity to speak briefly on the family history and the bittersweet feelings of seeing the rich agricultural farmland transition into residential use.
Remembered were tales of my family working the land and caring for the crops, going way back to a period in the late 1940s when, as youngsters, we would be treated to huge slices of cold watermelon on a hot August day by the grand old, retired gentleman, Frank Herman who still lived in the farmhouse on the property at the time. I recall that years earlier when we kids were too young to pull weeds, we’d play beneath the farm wagon with our homemade wooden tractors out of the hot summer sun.
Wonderful refreshments were provided as media personnel finished up their interviews and everyone disbursed into the light rain that was falling. So, another chapter is completed in the history book of the Preston Family Farm on Long Pond Road. Below are some additional pictures from the event taken by Doug Worboys.
On February 23, 2021, we celebrated the Bicentennial of the founding of Monroe County. Named for President James Monroe, the county was carved out of land taken from both Ontario and Genesee Counties; it became a new county on February 23, 1821, by decree of the New York State Legislature.
After the Revolutionary War, a treaty of 1783 established the Great Lakes as the northwestern border of the United States. This treaty was referred to as “The Thirteen Council Fires” by Native Americans who were attempting to peacefully co-exist with the new Americans. Unscrupulous speculators often attempted to swindle the natives by tricking them into surrendering their land. Meanwhile, George Washington had sent General Sullivan into western New York to forcibly remove the Seneca by burning their crops and destroying their villages.
Land speculators Oliver Phelps and Nathaniel Gorham purchased over six million acres in western NY from Massachusetts in 1788. The land extended all the way from Lake Ontario at the north to the Pennsylvania state line on the south. Phelps also negotiated a treaty with the Seneca, who had originally refused to sell any land west of the Genesee River. Phelps “convinced” the native Americas to part with an area 12 miles wide by 28 miles long for the construction of a mill on the west side of the Genesee. This area became known as the “mill seat tract” and was the site of the first mill built by Ebenezer “Indian” Allan in 1789 (the mill site was just west of today’s Court Street Bridge).
When Phelps and Gorham were unable to pay their debts, their unsold lots were sold to Robert Morris of Philadelphia in 1790. Morris was a financier who quickly turned over the sale of a million acres of Genesee land the very next year to Sir William Johnstone Pulteney. Due to a NY State law that said that a foreigner could not pass title to any New York property, Charles Williamson became Pulteney’s land agent and he held the legal title to the Genesee lands. He opened a land office in Bath, Steuben County.
The settlements on the east side of the Genesee became the Town of Northfield created in 1796. This land was originally a part of Ontario County with the county seat at Canandaigua. It later was known as “Boyle.” The towns split off from Northfield were: Penfield (1810), Perinton (1812), Pittsford and Brighton (1814), Henrietta (1818), Irondequoit (1839) and Webster (1840). Mendon was taken from Bloomfield in 1812 and Rush was taken from Avon in 1818.
Settlements on the west side of the Genesee River were part of the Town of Northampton created in 1797. Originally a part of Genesee County, the county seat was at Batavia. Towns split off from Northhampton were: Parma and Riga (1808), Gates (1808*), Sweden (1813), Ogden (1817), Clarkson (1819), and Greece and Chili (1822). (The reason for the asterisk after Gates 1808 is due the fact that the petition was presented to Albany in 1808, but it took four years to pass in the legislature and an additional year to take effect!) Wheatland was originally called “Inverness” when created in 1821 and Hamlin was originally called “Union” when formed in 1852 before being renamed in 1861. The county seat of Northampton was at Batavia.
In March of 1801, Abel Rowe built a cabin in Batavia and Joseph Ellicott moved his Holland Land Company office into Rowe’s cabin. Abel Rowe soon became a pioneer settler of Gates (later the Town of Greece) and marries the daughter of William Hincher of Charlotte in 1804. Their son Asa would become the famous nurseryman of Ridge Road in Greece.
In 1805, Pulteney land agent, James Wadsworth (1768-1844), offered land for sale in a letter written at Geneseo in 1805. (see at right- New Lands for Sale)
At first, there were very few permanent settlers in our area. Pioneers included Orringh Stone, Daniel Penfield, Glover Perrin, and William Hincher who built log cabin in 1792 on the bluff where the Charlotte Genesee Lighthouse now stands. The “Genesee Fever” pretty much wiped out the settlers at King’s Landing where Gideon King and Zaddock Granger had bought 6000 acres in 1796. The earliest settlers of the Town of Greece are buried at the Hanford Landing and the Charlotte Village Cemeteries.
The 1971 Monroe County Sesquicentennial booklet, Preface to Tomorrow, referred to our area as: “a God-forsaken place, inhabited by muskrats, visited only by straggling trappers, and through which neither man nor beast could gallop without fear of starvation, or fever or ague.” Nevertheless, in 1803, Charles Carroll, William Fitzhugh, and Nathaniel Rochester contracted to buy the “Genesee Fall mill tract” property (100 acres) from Sir William Pulteney, through his attorney Robert Troup.
But it was the area’s waterways that were key to the early growth of Monroe County. The arrival of the Erie Canal was a huge boon to the local economy by providing a cheap and efficient way to get bountiful crops to market. The waterfalls of the Genesee River provided power to its flour mills, mills that shipped over 200,000 barrels of flour in 1826, the very next year after the Erie Canal opened. Schooners and steamers at the busy port at Charlotte brought in lumber from Canada and exported finished wood from its sawmills and flour from its gristmills.
Early settlers planted fruit orchards and grain fields of wheat and barley. Wheat was ground into flour and the excess was turned into whiskey. An early census of western New York noted that there were more distilleries than gristmills.
The population of Rochesterville was less than 5000 people when it became an incorporated village in 1817. That number grew to over 12,000 residents when it received its charter as a city in 1834 and annexed another 4000 acres of land obtained from the surrounding towns of Gates, Greece, Brighton, and Irondequoit.
Both Genesee and Ontario Counties fought the establishment of Monroe County and it took four more trip to Albany to persuade state legislators. But the locals grew tired to long and arduous journey to either Batavia or Canandaigua to record land transactions. Monroe County was approved by the NYS Legislature on February 23, 1821.
Today, the County of Monroe has a total of 19 towns. The current Monroe County Office Building is on the same spot that the first courthouse building of 1829 occupied. After two hundred years, most of the farmland is now gone, but Monroe County can trace its roots back to the farming pioneers who came to the area after the Revolutionary War.
Every historian knows that while researching a specific subject, it is not unusual to stumble on a completely unrelated subject that sparks your interest. One day, not that long ago, while looking for an obscure fact for a story I was helping someone with, I stumbled on a 1937 Greece Press article about Camp Sawyer.
I had written about Camp Sawyer some years ago (Sept. 2018 Corinthian) called A Civic Club’s Legacy, how in the early 1930s it became a camp for Boy Scout Troop 14 from Barnard School. In 1958 the Town of Greece acquired the camp with the provision that it would become a public park. And in 1970 it was opened as Sawyer Park.
What sparked my interest in that 1937 article, was a story about a well being dug by the scouts and their leaders, that hopefully would someday provide a dependable supply of water for their camp. The article stated that the project was running into problems because of a layer of red sandstone and that Empire Clay Products would be donating glazed tile to be used to line the well once completed.
After reading the article, I remembered a photo of Camp Sawyer given to the Greece Historical Society by Gilbert Holtz several years ago. The photo, dated 1943, shows the scouts standing in front of a cabin they had built. What I had never noticed before is a pump in front of the boys. A reasonable assumption can now be made that the boys did in fact finish their well.
I never did find that original piece of information I was looking for and now I am left with several questions that may never be answered about Sawyer Park: Are the remains of that tile lined well still there and where exactly would they be? The land stood unused for several years before the Town officially opened it as a park and there have been numerous changes and upgrades since. Maybe someday, some archaeologist or amateur explorer will find the remains of that long-forgotten well and wonder about its original use. In the meantime, I need to get back to that original research task.
Every year or so, with shifts in population, there seems to be changes where our children go to school, but change has been going on since children have been attending school. One hundred years ago, most Greece children attended one-room schools in one of more than a dozen individual school districts. As times changed, new schools were built, old ones closed, and school districts merged. High school students even attended City high schools. It wasn’t until 1961 that Greece graduated its first high school class. All the while there has been one constant, a public elementary school has been at that intersection at Latta Road and Mt. Read Boulevard for 183 years.
In 1839 Bernard and Mary O’Neil, the owners of a large tract of land, at the Northwest corner of what would become Mt. Read Blvd. and Latta Road, sold one-eighth of an acre of their land to Common School District Number Five for $50.00.
A small school was soon built and used for nearly 90 years, until 1930 when a modern brick school building was built across the street. That brick building was demolished in 2021. It is said that the one-room school building was then moved down the road and became a private home of the first chief of police Milton Carter, but the school district remained the owner of the small one-eighth acre.
The remainder of the O’Neal property was purchased by Patrick and Margaret Rigney in 1850 and eventually owned by their only daughter Mary. In 1944 the land was transferred to the Diocese of Rochester, then to Holy Sepulchre Cemetery Corporation who had plans for a new cemetery. This action resulted in a three-year legal battle between the Town of Greece, and the Diocese. After several court battles, a final State Supreme court decision ruled in favor of the Town, leaving Holy Sepulchre no choice but to sell the land. You can read summary about the cases of Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Board of Appeals and Holy Sepulchre Cemetery v. Town of Greece at casetext.com
In 1948, Harmon Poray purchased most of the O’Neal-Rigney land from Holy Sepulchre, and shortly after Joan and Robert Feeney purchased the original farmhouse. By the early 1950s, Greece was becoming the fastest-growing town in New York and the need for a new school was evident. In 1954 Poray sold a large portion of the land to the Union Free School District #5 and in 1955 sold the remainder of the land to Latta Real Estate Corp. Within two years Picturesque Drive was being laid out in what would soon be a sprawling sub-division and a new school, now called Paddy Hill School would open in Sept 1956 on the very corner that its predecessor, School #5, was built in 1836. In 1956, the Greece Central School District was organized with the merging of districts 2, 5, 15, and 17.
Over the years the present Paddy Hill School has expanded to meet the needs of a growing neighborhood. But we can safely say that Paddy Hill School is the oldest school in Greece and possibly Monroe County.
In 2014, as a gift to the school, the Greece Historical Society secured a grant from the William C. Pomeroy Foundation for a historical marker commemorating the history of the school. That marker sits on that original 1839 land purchase.
The Frear family has been part of the Greece landscape for 130 years, 93 of them over four generations as proprietors of one of the town’s iconic businesses. In May of this year, Warren and Lynn Frear announced that Frear’s Garden Center was closing.
Pat Worboys and I visited Frear’s on June 13 and interviewed Warren and Lynn for a future Bicentennial Snapshot. Lynn explained that a series of misfortunes led to the difficult decision. First, a windstorm on March 6 of this year seriously damaged their greenhouses; they lost over 350 panes of glass and consequently, the plants that were growing in the greenhouses, particularly all their Easter lilies, died. Parts of the roof of the garden center and shingles on the barn were torn off as well. That was followed by a customer-caused small fire that produced enough smoke that they needed to hire a cleaning service to come in and thoroughly clean everything. On top of that were the supply chain problems created by COVID-19 (their vendors were telling them Christmas merchandise wouldn’t be available until January or February!). Lynn said, “it seemed like someone was trying to tell us something.” Their last day was July 31, 2022.
Warren’s grandfather, Ernst Frear, a German immigrant, purchased the property on Stone Road in 1892. He was a truck farmer initially, selling vegetables to wholesalers. In the 1920s Clarence Frear, Ernst’s son and Warren’s father expanded the business, then known as E. Frear & Sons. They acquired greenhouses “from Barnard Crossing,” Warren said, (they may have been from Vick’s nurseries) and expanded to fruit trees and flowers. After Ernst’s death in 1937, the west side of the farm was being used for Frear’s Chevrolet, started by Arthur Frear in 1931. Clarence’s east side was the farm and Frear’s Florist. Clarence’s wife, Gwendolyn, took a course in flower arranging and like other florists provided arrangements for weddings, funerals, and other occasions. The public was also invited to visit their greenhouses for a wide variety of bedding plants.
In 1958, they announced another expansion—it became Frear’s Farm Market. In addition to the bedding plants, fruits, and vegetables, they began selling garden accessories and opened a deli.
An ad in the Greece Post in 1965 publicized another change, Frear’s Lawn, Garden, and Greenhouse Center. That same year, Frear’s started their Christmas Tree, Trim, and Gift Center, a modest beginning to what would evolve over the years into Christmas Fantasy Land with 6000 square feet devoted to every imaginable Christmas decoration including artificial trees, lights, and creches. Eventually, it became simply Frear’s Garden Center.
Warren and Lynn took over the business in 1976; their daughter Kerry was the fourth generation involved in the Center.
Warren and Lynn escorted Pat and me around the property. Only Christmas items and indoor plants remained. The greenhouses were mostly empty. They showed us the barns, one still full of boxed Christmas trees. Built around 1902, these barns date back to Warren’s grandfather. On Stone Road not far from the garage where Art Frear started his auto dealership, stands the family homestead, Warren’s grandparents’ house. No Frears have lived there for some time, but no one resides there now due to a fire.
From their many years at the Center, Warren and Lynn recall what was best about doing business in Greece: the many young employees who became knowledgeable about plants and serving customers well and those customers who were loyal to Frear’s and appreciated the individualized service and advice they could get from people who had been in the plant business for decades.
It was Frear’s for years. Thank you. You’ll be missed.
The Special Police Unit of the Greece Police Department was also known as Auxiliary Police. In 1951 the Federal government passed legislation that civil defense would be a vested joint effort between the federal government and states, to protect against communist government attack of the United States with atomic bombs or other radiological weapons. New York State created the Defense Emergency Act of 1951 which required each county to create a civil defense plan to control traffic, crowd control, assist and manage fallout shelters and have many other entities like medical and construction units available to manage, control, and rebuild in event of an enemy attack.
The County of Monroe instructed each town to create a defense plan which included Auxiliary Police. They had to train and equip the auxiliary police to control traffic and perform other police/civil defense functions as may be required during and after an attack.
The Greece Auxiliary police was formed in 1951 and they were trained to assist with Civil Defense needs such as traffic control, crowd control, shelter security, and more as needed. As the years went on the Auxiliary Police Department stayed active in Greece assisting with traffic during parades, carnivals, and other large gatherings where additional police manpower was needed. Auxiliary Police personnel assisted with traffic control at polling stations and several churches in the town during the 1960s and early 1970s. Through the years the Auxiliary Police Unit picked up additional responsibilities such as issuing parking tickets and patrolling town parks and schools, while still providing traffic control for special events within the town.
In 1997 the County of Monroe disbanded the Auxiliary police for Monroe County. This meant the Town of Greece would have to adopt a new law to create a Special Police Unit which would be under the control of the Town Board and the Greece Police Department. Since then, we have continued to support the Town for all special events and emergency situations caused by serve weather and man-made events.
The members of the Special Police unit are all certified New York State Peace Officers. All members have attended an Academy which involves 160-plus hours of training. They have the authority to enforce laws and have powers of arrest. Their goal is to continue to assist the Police Department with public safety.
They have additional responsibilities such as ATVs and snowmobiles, patrol as needed for nuisance complainants in the town, and they continue to provide an extra set of eyes and ears for the force, along with providing a police presence within the Town as they patrol the town’s parks and schools.
The office of the Special Police is located at 647 Long Pond Road. The Unit is a volunteer organization which has 35 active members. We are always looking for qualified candidates. This Unit is a great opportunity for young people interested in law enforcement or established individuals in our community who want to volunteer in this capacity. Anyone interested should visit our website www.greecespecialpolice.com or call 585-581-6325.
Every community or neighborhood has a gathering place. Over time many come and go, they may change hands or change their name, but eventually something happens and the old place becomes nothing but a memory to the local old timers. Then there are places like the Dutch Mill at Dewey and Stone Roads that seem like they were always there and always will be, but maybe not!
Back in 1928 Leon Cox, who helped organize the Barnard Fire Department, and his wife, Bertha, opened a hotdog stand. Leon constructed a windmill to use as an ornament on the stand. Bertha thought Old Mill would be a good name for their business while Leon suggested Dutch Mill. Drawing straws resulted in Leon’s choice and the Dutch Mill opened with the windmill on top of the small building.
In 1932, with the end of Prohibition, the Coxes added a bar to sell beer and liquor. Then came a $10,000 addition. Eventually the place was sold to Donald Hall, Thomas Brierly Sr. and Thomas Brierly Jr. The trio made extensive improvements. Next, the curved front of the building was added which was designed to provide a glass windowed private banquet hall on the second floor, although that part of the second floor appears to have never been used. The main floor was altered to include a distinctive bar from the famous, now demolished, Odenbach Peacock Room from Main and Clinton in downtown Rochester. In 1947, they changed the name to the NEW Dutch Mill. Saturday afternoon movies were added and in 1948 it was advertised as the nation’s first Cinema Restaurant. Bands played for dancing in the evenings.
In 1984, Chester and Sharon Ventura bought the restaurant and remodeled it; the name went back to just the Dutch Mill. In 2016, Ann Marie and Bob Simmons took over the operation. The Simmons immediately became involved in the community by offering fundraising opportunities and participating in community events. They brought in new bands, started an open mic night, and with their big-screen television, drew packed crowds during major sporting events.
Over the years the Dutch Mill was our town’s gathering or meeting place. Nearly every organization held their meetings and banquets there. Clam bakes, dance lessons, and euchre clubs regularly met there and countless wedding receptions took place on the second floor. All the while, the old windmill, although now a bit tattered, stood atop the building.
This past spring, we were saddened to learn that the Dutch Mill was sold to the plaza owners next door. On Saturday, April 16, 2022, the Simmons served their last customers, then closed and locked the doors. Currently, there has been no announcement about the future of the old place. It is not a designated landmark, so the new owners can do whatever zoning laws allow. We can only surmise its future.
Established to serve the communities along the shore of Lake Ontario, a rail line founded in 1871 was active for nearly 100 years. Over the years the line was operated by several different rail companies and was officially known as the Lake Ontario Shore Railroad, but everyone called it the “Hojack.”
With no documentation, local stories and legends emerged over the years. Like the old game “telephone,” stories changed as they passed from person to person or in this case generation to generation. Because of this, we may never know the true origin of why this rail line is called “Hojack.” For the enjoyment of our readers here are several versions of the “true story.”
Hojack originated from an engineer named Jack Welch who was also called “Big Jack.” Since Jack was a farmer and more familiar with horses than locomotives, when he stopped the train, he would say “Whoa, Jack.” This became Hojack over time.
Another story comes from the early days of the railroad when a farmer driving his buckboard pulled by a mule was caught on the crossing at train time. When the mule was halfway across the tracks, it stopped. The train was approaching, and the farmer began shouting, “Ho Jack, Ho Jack.”
Local author Arch Merrill noted the nickname stems from a similar popular mule story where a farmer’s mules. balking and bucking at the sight of a steam train, stood on the rails, causing the train to stop. The farmer called “Ho, Jack. Ho Jack,” to heel the mules and move them from the track and the name stuck.
Richard Palmer, a railroad historian, proposes that the term applies to a slow local passenger freight train.
Yet another story written on July 22, 1965, in Greece Press states, “This line [was] nicknamed “The Hojack” when it was necessary to hurriedly assemble a train crew in the wee hours of the night; the call “Ho Jack!” would boom through the rooming houses where railroad men stayed.”
Other stories state that vagrants riding the rails were classified by railroad men into three categories – the hobos, the tramps, and the hojacks, each one having a different personality.
Which of these stories do you believe or have you heard another version?
On a final note, it was reported in a 1906 Syracuse Post-Standard article that the railroad prohibited its employees from using the word “hojack.” Apparently, the railroad’s decree did no good because the old rail line will forever be called the “HOJACK.”
NOTE: More information on the Hojack Line can be found in the book The Hojack Line Remembered by Richard Chait available in our museum gift shop or through the Monroe County Public Library system.
Also you can look at the 2016 Hojack Trail Feasibility Study by Burton & Loguidice.
Carter Park is a 12-acre recreational landscape located on Long Pond Road near The Mall at Greece Ridge. It hosts a playground, baseball fields, basketball, and tennis courts as well as an open pavilion. It is a representation of the long tradition and commitment to recreational investment and development by the town and it is named after a particularly meaningful historical local figure; former Greece Police Chief Milton H. Carter.
The park was part of a recreational development wave in Greece during the 1950s and the former American Legion property was previously identified as the “Long Pond Road Recreational Area.” On 15 September 1970, a Town Board resolution moved to change the name to “Milton H. Carter Park,” in honor of the former chief following his death in 1968.
Chief Carter was a resident of Greece from 1904 until his death. Prior to serving as chief, he was a farmer and a decorated World War I veteran. He was the first full-time Greece police officer and with the support of his wife Edna, served as chief from 1931 until his retirement in July 1960. He was instrumental in the creation of the Greece Volunteer Ambulance Service, shepherding the growth of the department from a small town force to a leading, sophisticated, police agency. He developed and implemented the first professional training of the department well ahead of a New York State law that required it in 1960.
At the testimonial dinner celebrating his retirement, leaders of the community spoke of Chief Carters’ “ramrod straight integrity,” his kindness, and his leadership abilities. Former Greece Town Supervisor Gordon A. Howe said of him at the time, “He bears without burden the grand old name of ‘gentleman’.” So was his mark on our history and Milton H. Carter Park stands as a remembrance in his honor.
“Talk of the Town” Newsletter Article, January 2020, Issue by Keith C. Suhr, Assistant Director, Greece Public Library and Greece Town Historian
Here are some facts and images not mentioned or shared in the original story are:
Chief Carter purchased the shell of the old one-room common school district number 5 school and moved it down the road. He was at the storm headquarters for the blizzard of 1966.
For years during the 20th century, many communities in our area had their own airports ranging from grassy fields to paved run ways with hangers to store airplanes. Hilton had the Hilton Airport on Burritt Road. The Brizee airport in Pittsford was on Marsh Road. In Henrietta, there was the Hylan Airport and the short-lived Genesee Airfield. Woodward Field was well-known in Leroy; even Honeoye Falls had a small airfield. Let’s not forget the very early Britton Field on Scottsville Road organized by former Greece Supervisor Willis Britton.
What about the Town of Greece? Our first known airfield was run by WW I Ace, Roy DeVal, located in the Shoremont area in 1927. It had one of the first hangers in Monroe County. During the 1960s and 70s, the Greenleaf Flying Club had a private field on Kuhn Road. Of course, there were other landing areas on private farmland.
The largest and most infamous in the Town of Greece was located at the Southeast corner of Ridgeway Avenue and Lee Roads.
Shortly after WW II, Richard (Dick) Kaiser opened Ridgeway Air Park. At the time many veteran pilots
were looking for a place to store their planes or just a convenient field to land and rest, and this seemed to be an ideal spot. The place had a small hangar and at one time 16 private planes were quartered there.
But by the summer of 1947, neighbors began to complain about the low-flying planes over their homes. In July The Greece Press reported that the Town Board received petitions from the residents of the Latona Tract and Koda Vista neighborhood, citing flights allegedly created by the airpark that were “detrimental to the physical and mental health of the residents, especially children.” They wanted the place closed down.
Kaiser claimed that Ridgeway fliers were getting blamed unfairly for the low-flying acrobatics, but eventually did change the flight patterns of the planes flying in and out of the air park. This seemed to have calmed down the nearby residents.
However, a tragic accident occurred in October of 1947 when an Army Air Corps veteran flew too low while coming in for a landing and crashed into the Erie Canal embankment just north of the landing field killing himself and an 18-year-old passenger.
In June of 1948, a social organization, the Greece Aero Club, was formed at the airpark, and in August of ’48, Jim Earl, also an Army veteran, took over ownership of the place. But soon news reports about the airpark vanished.
Dick Kaiser and his wife, June, eventually moved to Utah. By 1956 Kiser’s wife, also a pilot, was flying in (I kid you not)a “Power Puff Derby” in Salt Lake City and Dick was employed by a company in Utah.
We are not sure when or what exactly ultimately ended the life of this airfield. There were reports of young boys using the “old field” for radio-controlled planes in 1955. Industrial expansion eventually took over the airfield land, forever covering any evidence of it ever having existed. Now, three-quarters of a century has all but eliminated hearing personal stories of the Ridgeway Air Park.
“Your Bathing Suit Must be Right Kind in Greece or You’ll Visit the Judge“
This was a headline in an August 1934 issue of the Greece Press newspaper. Of course, it was about modesty, but you may not have guessed it was directed towards men.
It seems in the early 1930s, men were beginning to follow the new fashion trend of sunning themselves without the benefit of a shirt top. Greece authorities were determined to officially end this custom and return dignity to public bathing by enforcing a bathing ordinance that had been enacted a year earlier.
The ordnance stated,
”No person over the age of 12 shall loiter on the shore, swim or bath in open water exposed to the public within or bounding at any place in the Town of Greece without covering above the waist”
Section 141-C sub-section 2 from Greece Town Law in 1933
Public beaches adjacent to Greece were being patrolled regularly. Enacted primarily to end instances where the public was subjected to shocking scenes of topless men, people were learning that Town government demanded dignity and decency in the gentle art of public bathing.
Greece was not the only local municipality concerned about decency. Earlier in June 1934, the Democrat & Chronicle reported that the City of Rochester Public Safety Commissioner, Walter Cox, stated “the topless bathing suits for men that arein vogue on the West Coast, will not be permitted on Rochester public beaches.”
One wonders how long this ordinance stayed on the books. In 1937, the Greece Press reported that Chief Carter was still stressing the enforcement of the bathing ordinance, but after 1937 no mention is ever seen again.
Apparently, the topless fashion took hold and today the only reference to bathing in the Town Code refers to the restriction of bathing in certain areas.
1933 Greece Town Law
Section 2. No person over twelve years of age shall loiter on the shore, swim or bathe in open water exposed to the public, within or bounding at any place the Town of Greece, with out covering above the waist.
Section 3. No person shall swim or bathe in open water, exposed to the public, within or bounding at any place in the Town of Greece, between the hours of 12 P. M. and 5 A. M.
Section 4. Violation of this· ordinance is hereby declared to be a misdemeanor and shall be punishable by a fine or penalty of $10.00 for the first violation and $20.00 or imprisonment for not exceeding thirty days, or both, for each subsequence violation.
Ration coupons, victory gardens, salvage drives, saving cooking fat, “buy bonds today.” All familiar words to a home front generation during World War II. Unlike our wars since, World War II affected every single person in this country, and no matter what your occupation or financial status, everyone had to deal with rationing. Rationed items included basic commodities like sugar and butter, but nothing affected the lives of people in the suburbs more than gas rationing.
People would complain a little when there was no sugar, but they knew it was for a good cause. But lack of gasoline meant a complete change in lifestyle. Suburban towns like Greece had no parks, and no major stores, even a Sunday drive in the country was out of the question. In fact, for a while, any pleasure driving was banned.
Soon one neighborhood in the Town of Greece decided that if the gasoline shortage wouldn’t permit driving around the country for fun, it was high time the neighbors got acquainted and figured out what to do about it.
In January 1943, this group held their first meeting; about 27 couples comprised the group which tentatively called itself the “Briarcliff Club” as most members lived on Briarcliff Road. A monthly meeting was agreed on and plans dis cussed for various kinds of outings and entertainment.
A two-hour sleigh ride was the group’s first social activity; the Greece Press reported that “the merrymakers startled the countryside ringing with Sweet Adeline and progressed through a long repertoire of other classical and modern melodies.” They ended their day with a fish fry at the Barnard Exempts.
Throughout the next year, they planted a “Victory Garden at the Barnard Except Home, participated in bowling parties, had neighborhood picnics, held a street dance and a clam bake, and sometimes traveled in a group to a county park. A Christmas party was held at the Valleywood Club on nearby Boxart Street and, at Christmas, Santa himself visited all the children on the street and shared Christmas cheer with each of the adults. Stories were told for years after that Santa was quite a bit jollier toward the end of his journey down the street than at the beginning.
An August 1943 softball game against the Strathmore Drive Athletic Club resulted in a loss. No one will ever know for sure, but several of the Red Wing team members lived on Strathmore Drive, which may have helped that team win.
It wasn’t until March of 1944 that they had to hold a party in honor of the first member of the group to leave for the armed forces.
It didn’t take long for the group to discover they couldn’t find any better company if they drove for miles and used tanks full of Uncle Sam’s precious gasoline. In August 1945, a sausage roast and street dance were held, but the War was over by then and the reason for the Briarcliff Club, gas rationing, had ended. Soon some of the neighbors moved away, others began to relish the freedom a family could enjoy with their automobiles. The Briarcliff Club just faded away, but not the memories and the stories told to their children of how they made the best of their situation during the War. What stories are you telling your children today?
Bill Sauers grew up on Briarcliff Rd long after the Briarcliff Club ceased to exist but remembered the stories about the club told by his parents and neighbors.
Originally published in the Greece Post Nov 8, 2007
Last year the Greece Historical Society acquired a handwritten book containing the secretarial notes and minutes of the Bible School Association of Greece dated 1905-1921. Kate Huppé, a recent graduate from SUNY Geneseo, offered to write this story about what she discovered reading these minutes.
This year marks the one-hundred-year anniversary of the discontinuation of the Bible School Association of the Town of Greece. At that time, the Bible School Association was reorganized to better represent the needs of Greece and the surrounding areas. Yet, what led to this reorganization by the end of 1921?
The Bible School Association of the Town of Greece convened three times yearly, once in the winter, once in the spring, and once in the summer to elect officers, according to the Association’s constitution. These meetings strove to bring together “the Bible school workers of the town, to promote more thorough study of the Bible and better teaching of its truths.” Miss Mary Moall, secretary of the Bible School Association, kept meeting minutes for each of the meetings, allowing for a deeper under standing of how the people of Greece, and eventually other towns, approached promoting and teaching the Bible. Record keeping by Miss Moall began on December 5, 1905, and continued through December 15, 1921.
Topics frequently discussed were the creation of an effective Sunday School, the characteristics of an excellent Sunday school teacher, and the mission of the school itself. Naturally, these topics turned towards the youth of Greece, and how to keep them involved in the church and Sunday School. Especially mentioned were young men and how to keep them in attendance – a comment which may sound familiar one hundred years later!
Meetings typically opened with a devotional led by a minister followed by the discussion topics of the day. On April 9, 1906, the Bible School Association convened at the Baptist church. A presentation, ‘The Bible- Where Is It?” given by Reverend J.J. Kelly led to the discussion of what makes a good Sunday School teacher. Miss Moall told the group “of an old Scotchman who held a class of boys by throwing out the lessons … and teaching first about the Bible.” A. E. Truesdale, a frequent attendee of the Bible School Association meetings, responded that “The most successful teachers always carry their Bibles. If we use it, and are familiar with it, it will make us tactful, it has magnetism which gives tact. Religion cannot be described but felt.” In this way, the attendees seemed to believe that a good Sunday School teacher had distinct vindication for the teachings of the Bible. They should emphasize its importance by leading through example.
As the meetings continued, readers of Miss Moall’s secretarial notes will see, attendance increased, both from individuals and representatives of churches in the surrounding areas. Publications in the Democrat & Chronicle also record an increased geographic scope. By the December 15, 1921 meeting, Miss Moall writes not of the reconvening of the Bible School Association of the town of Greece, but of the Bible School Association of the Town of Greece and vicinity. That being said, the meeting on December 15 was held at the Dewey Avenue Reformed Church, located in the Town of Greece.
It appears by the end of 1921, it made sense to reorganize the Bible School Association to better address the needs of the churches of Greece and the surrounding area. Miss Moall concludes her book of meeting minutes writing that the Bible School Association was discontinued, and the First District of Monroe County Sunday School reorganized at Hilton. A new secretary’s book was established. One may assume that topics of discussion of this new Sunday School organization followed suit of those discussed by the Bible School Association, as those remained overwhelmingly similar over the course of Miss Moall’s dedicated meeting minutes. Yet an expanding jurisdiction could have prompted discussions of various kinds.
Thank you to Professor Michael Oberg, Geneseo Center for Local and Municipal History, SUNY Geneseo for connecting us to Kate.
It is quite common here at the Greece Historical Society to receive a phone call or email asking a local history or family-related question, which we are always happy to help with. We also get calls about donating some precious antiques, family heirlooms, or other objects. With storage space at a premium and keep ing in mind the cost of caring for these items, we insist that any object or document we acquire will help to tell the story of Greece.
Then there is that odd call that just does not fit into any category. Last summer someone called who was remodeling their home in Greece and wanted to know if we were interested in what they found inside one of its walls. My curiosity got to me and off I went to see what they had. It was a small handwritten note and some old deteriorated 1938 newspapers. Old newspapers are fun to look at, but of no real value, as they are nearly all available online, or on microfilm, but the handwritten note sent me on a quest to find out who it was that hid these items in the wall.
The note read:
“These papers were put in this wall by John J. Walsh who built this house and this year 1938 I am 47 years old and am employed as a printer and run a linotype on the Times-Union, and the Democrat & Chronicle are printed in the same building. Not knowing when these papers will be taken out of this wall, I wish the papers be shown at the Times to members of the Typographical Union men.”
John J. Walsh
With my connections in town, I did find one man who remembered John at the paper, but he was a very young Times-Union employee at the time and John was on his way to retirement, so he was no help.
Then I was off to search the website, NYS Historic Newspapers, with its treasure trove of old local papers. I found that John J. Walsh grew up in the City and moved to Greece in 1937 with his wife Julia and two daughters. He was a member of the Inter national Typographical Union No. 15 and as his note said, he was employed at the Times-Union.
John was highly active in the Greece Democratic Party, including serving as its chairman for a number of years. He even ran against Gordon Howe for Supervisor in 1939 and for Justice of the Peace in 1943. According to newspaper accounts, he spent quite a bit of time vociferously attacking the Republican majority in Town but still cooperated with them in promoting the sale of war bonds.
In 1944 he was recognized for his contributions to a military club that was operating a service center. He was active in St. John the Evangelist Church and on the committee to raise funds for their new school in 1946, while also serving on the Rochester OPA (Office of Price Administration) Control Board. John died of a heart attack on August 23, 1952, and was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.
Unfortunately, I was not able to share his old newspapers with the guys at the Times-Union. I am sure John would never have imagined that the Times-Union would stop publishing in 1997 and the profession of linotype operator would vanish with the advent of computers. l was, however, able to find stories about his life here in Greece because of the advent of computers. After finding out who John J. Walsh was, I visited his grave; l felt the need to let him know that someone did eventually find his note and those old newspapers some 82 years after he hid them in that wall.
Today there is truly little in newspapers that record the stories of local events or people. This is one reason why the NYS Education Department at the NYS Library has organized the COVID-19 Personal History Initiative to record and preserve the unprece dented historical events currently unfolding around us. They encourage all New Yorkers to keep a journal documenting what their daily lives are like during this pandemic: the challenges they face; the obstacles they have to overcome; and the creative ways they found to connect with family, friends, and community.
Consider documenting your story and donating it to the Greece Historical Society or any other historical society or municipal historian where it will be archived locally with copies sent to the State Library, which will preserve all the journals and stories from New York State for future generations to study and learn from.
In the late 1940s, as bowling was becoming more popular, the residents of Greece had several choices of where to bowl, including Boem’s on Edgemere Drive and the Charlotte bowling hall on Stutson Street. Along the Ridge, there was the Lyon’s Den, Damm Brothers, and Ridge Bowling, but with no AC and the dependence on pin boys, they were not what anyone to day would call truly modern. The first truly “modern” bowling hall in the Town of Greece was first proposed by the Fasano family. Their plan would not only bring a modern bowling hall to the town, but at the same time introduce a new game that might revolutionize the bowling industry.
In 1946, Michael Fasano and his sons, Ernest and Donato, purchased the Lee property at the intersection of Dewey Avenue, Maiden Lane, and Stone Road and within a year proposed building a “Huge” Shopping Plaza which would include a 24-alley bowling hall. The facility would not be the standard bowling game, however, but a new revolutionary game called Rotobowling.
First patented by Orville Whittle of Florida and being franchised around the country, it was unlike regulation bowling. The game used a 94-foot carpeted alley with lights along the edge, rubber cushion banks on each side, and hazard pins suspended over the courts. The balls were propelled down the alley with a device that looked similar to an upright vacuum cleaner. The game was dependent upon a player’s ability to bank shots rather than on physical ability. Scoring combined the total number of pins downed and the number of times the ball was banked.
It seems the Fasinos had some trouble explaining the game to the Town leaders who had the mistaken impression that it was a gambling game with an elaborate pay-off device.
Gambling of any kind, including bingo, was illegal in New York State at the time. There was also the fear that the bar in the facility would be too close to Barnard School. By the time things were worked out with the Town, the Fasinos began to realize there was no future in the game. They probably discovered that people were not amused with a noiseless game that took no physical effort.
The Fasinos then looked for other opportunities and in 1954 opened their plaza with a new modern Loblaw’s grocery, Cramer’s Drug Store, and several other stores, including a restaurant with a bar. We can wonder if the Fasano’s realized that as they opened their plaza, bowling was in fact, being revolutionized. Down the road a mile and a half, Sam Mink at his Ridge Bowling Hall was introducing the Rochester area public to the AMF “pin spotter”, the first automatic pin setting machine, the single most revolutionary item in bowling history.
Modern bowling halls would eventually come to Greece, but not without a struggle. In 1956 Schantz Construction proposed a bowling hall opposite the new Northgate plaza and in 1957 a hall was proposed at McCall and Stone Roads on the Frear Estate. They were both opposed by neighbors and the Town. But soon Dewey Gardens and nearby Terrace Gardens were opened, followed by Maiden Lanes in 1960.
History has all but forgotten the Rotobowling game, and the Fasino’s proposed plan. Luckily for the Fasinos, they realized the public didn’t want to play their game and gave up their Rotobowling franchise before construction began. They did build a plaza, and although the tenants changed throughout the years, the plaza itself lasted nearly a half-century.
This is a condensed version of a story that first appeared in the November 9, 2006, Greece Post
Did you know that one of the nation’s last 24/7/365 public jazz radio stations resides in Greece, New York?
Jazz 90.1 FM (WGMC-FM) has been an important part of the town’s history since 1971, providing jazz and big band music, community events, concerts, public service programming, and instructional opportunities for students.
In 1971, The Greece Central School District sought out community involvement in the establishment of a community FM radio station. On August 31, 1971, the Greece Central School District Board of Education approved the concept of launching a community radio station, and the process to apply for an FCC license began.
On November 1, 1973, 90.1 WGMC went on the air for the first time. Broadcast hours for the first ten weeks of operation were 2:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., and on Monday, December 17, 1973, WGMC expanded its hours to run from 12 p.m. to 7 p.m. During the early years, the station was run mainly by students, under the direction of faculty advisors at Greece Athena High School. Community members were also able to host programs on the station during school breaks, evenings, and weekends. At just 10 watts of broadcast power, WGMC was heard only within the immediate Greece area. The station broadcasted Greece Town Board meetings, Board of Education meetings, and more.
Over the years, WGMC-FM now called Jazz90.1 has seen significant growth moving to 2,050 watts, then eventually to 15,000 watts of power after an extensive multi-year fundraising effort in the early 2000s. The station does not receive any funding from the Greece Central School District, however, the license for WGMC-FM remains under the school district and is housed at Greece Olympia.
Jazz90.1 is one of the last full-time community jazz radio stations left in the United States; it relies solely on donations from listeners and area businesses. The station will celebrate 47 years on the air in November and continues providing its listeners unique local programming such as the Live Studio Concert Series, Greece Olympia Jazz Radio Hour, and more. Jazz90.1 prides itself on also providing great learning opportunities for Greece students who wish to pursue careers in media and broadcasting. Staff of Jazz90.1 work hand in hand with district teachers and leaders, giving Greece students a one-of-a-kind learning opportunity, both behind the scenes and on the air.
At Jazz90.1, they believe that jazz is a living music. Half of their broadcast hours are focused on current artists who are committed to moving the music forward. Jazz90.1 plays more new music than any radio station in the U.S. but also offers a heaping portion of the classics, like Ella Fitzgerald, Duke Ellington, Wayne Shorter, and many more.
Jazz 90.1, is also an important outlet for music and voices that don’t make it onto commercial radio. Their longest-running show is The Polka Bandstand Show heard every Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. The station also features the Lithuanian-language Dainos Aidas and the German Radio Program. As well as the longest locally-running Tech Show Soundbytes as well.