Journey of the Fetzner Knipper Fire Wagon Story an Interview with Bud Steeb

Kay Pollok’s interview with Bud Steeb when Kay was Vice President, of the Historical Society of Greece September 25, 1972.

This interview with Bud tells the story of the Fetzner Knipper Fire Wagon:

Kay: Bud, how and where did you acquire this fire wagon?

Bud: I first became aware of the existence of this antique piece of fire equipment at a garage sale in Rochester in April, 1970. The owner, Mr. Henry Griffin of Paddy Hill Drive, Greece, took me to the nearby residence of his father-in-law where it was stored in the garage along with a hose reel which was used to carry additional hose. This is a picture of the equipment taken when it was owned by Mr. Griffin. Both vehicles were lettered for the Greece Ridge Fire Department Greece Ridge had them on display in the old firehouse and had lettered them for their company. When the old firehouse was torn down to make way for the new one, this equipment was returned to Mr. Ray Fetzner who was the real owner. This is a picture of the equipment as it was stored in the basement of Ray Fetzner’s garage. Actually, the units were never owned or used by Greece Ridge, as it was always privately owned. Mr. Griffin said that he understood this was the first wheeled fire equipment in the Town of Greece and that he wanted to dispose of it to a museum or a collector, and that he had owned it for a very short while I was afraid that it might be purchased by someone out of the Rochester/Greece area and immediately began to negotiate for its purchase. Mr. Griffin and I reached an agreement and it was acquired by me on April 21, 1970.

Kay: How did you learn the history since the man had only owned it a short time?

Bud: At the time of purchase Mr. Griffin disclosed that he had purchased it from Ray Fetzner, prior to the time Fetzner’s garage on Ridge Road was razed to make room for the expansion of the Greece Towne Mall. I knew Mr. Fetzner slightly and through various talks with him, I was able to put together a history of the fire wagon, which at this time was not complete and is subject to future additions. Ray Fetzner’s story is as follows: During the 1870s and into the 1900s Ray’s father and uncle operated the JMF Fetzner Carriage Manufatury which included blacksmithing and painting. This is a picture of the Fetzner business as it existed in the 1870s.

This business was conducted in two wooden buildings connected by a third structure also of wood construction. A photo of this business exists in the Greece Historical Society archives through the courtesy of Mr. Fetzner Adjacent to the Fetzner family business and a short distance to the west was Peter Knipper’s Hotel, which was later operated by his son-in-law, William Buckert, and known as Buckert’s Hotel. Sometime in the 1890s a fire damaged a Fetzner property since there were no organized fire companies in Greece, the Fetzner and Knipper families decided, for their mutual protection, they had better seek a better way to combat any future fires than by the old and only method known then, the bucket brigade. The result was the purchase of a then modern and sophisticated for the time, piece of firefighting apparatus which is our subject of discussion.

Where it was purchased and exactly when and by whose foresightedness, it’s not known today. But in retrospect, it certainly must have been a wonderful addition to the Ridge Road scene in those happy and uncomplicated Victorian days. Ray Fetzner, who admits to being in his mid-seventies, states that it was housed in a small shed between the Fetzner and Knipper establishments as far back as he can remember. This picture shows the firehouse we referred to and believe it or not, that is Ray Fetzner holding the hose This was apparently a demonstration of the fire-fighting equipment. Mr. Peter Knipper, who was the first chief, stands under the street light and Ray Fetzner’s father stands in the doorway of the firehouse Ray, as a young man, helped to pull the equipment to fight fires. A picture of the firehouse and the Fetzner garage which Ray operated for so many years, is also on file in the Greece Historical Society archives. Again, through Mr. Fetzner’s kindness.

Kay: Bud, who were the builders of this equipment?

Bud: Well, whether the fire wagon was imported to the United States complete as it now exists, or whether only the pressure tanks were imported, is not known. On each of the two tanks, which are solid brass of riveted and brazed, construction, are two identification tags which are soldered on. One square embossed brass tag has the following description: “Fire extinguisher, F Carlier’s patent, U.S. Monnet and Company, Paris, France, 40 Rue Notre Dame, Pat. March 30, 1869”. The other tag is oval in shape and is embossed “Bate and Pinkham, pat. March 30, 1869”. They apparently were the importers.

The hose reel is obviously a carriage shop fabrication and very nicely done. Ray Fetzner is not sure who made it, but in all probability, it was made in the Fetzner Carriage Shop. This is a purely personal opinion based on my examination of several commercial and manufactured hose reels.

Kay: How was this equipment operated, and how was it moved to a fire?

Bud: Essentially, this equipment comes under the classification of a soda acid, pressure-operated, hand-drawn extinguisher. This picture shows the equipment hand-drawn in the 1972 Barnard Firemen’s parade. It operates on the same principle as an extinguisher still used, which hangs on a wall on a hook and is activated by tipping upside down. The tanks on the fire wagon, which are mounted vertically,
employ a crusher to release a sulphuric acid which mixes with the soda water solution in the tank, thereby generating tremendous pressure. While I do not know exactly how the equipment was handled, I assume that the tanks were charged with a soda water solution, and a two-quart bottle of acid was placed in the crusher which was incorporated in the pressure-type cap The crusher was a brass cage built on the bottom of the cap so that when the cap was screwed on tight against the heavy gasket by means of a 26-inch spanner, the bottle was inside the tank ready to be broken by the crusher which was screw-operated from the outside of the cap. A seat placed between the tanks was occupied by a fireman with his feet placed on stirrups at the bottom level of the tanks, who on the way to the fire operated the crusher handle so that on arrival at the fire, the front tank was pressurized When the front tank was exhausted, the rear tank was used while the front tank was recharged This was accomplished by a system of valves and piping known as a Siamese manifold.

Kay: Bud, what are the physical characteristics of a fire wagon?

Bud: Well, the length is seven-foot-three, the draw-bar length is six-foot-six, with a quick detachable rig on it. The overall length of the wagon is 13 feet nine inches. The width is five foot eight, the height is five foot five. The estimated weight is 1,500 pounds. The tanks are 18 inches in diameter by 35 inches high of brass plate, tapered at the top like a thermos bottle. The front wheels are 38 inches in diameter. The rear wheels are 43 inches in diameter with brass hub caps and iron tires. The front toolbox has compartments for eight bottles of acid. The rear toolbox holds 50 feet of high-pressure hose and nozzles, a fire axe, a pinch bar, a spanner wrench for tank caps, wagon jacks, wrenches, etc. Other equipment consists of two kerosene fire department lanterns on brackets, two 100-pound pressure gauges (one on each tank) test petcocks, Siamese manifold with necessary valves, four coated fabric fire buckets, a leather embossed belt “alert hose #1” and a white chief’s helmet with a hand-painted tablet showing side arm hand pumper with initials PK which stands for Peter Knipper who was the first chief of this fire company. The hose reel is four foot six inches long with a draw-bar four foot four inches long, giving an overall length of eight foot ten inches. It is 48 inches wide and the wheels are 49 inches in diameter. It carries an eight-inch wooden drum with eight 18-inch winding handles on each side of the drum.

Kay: This equipment is now the property of Mr. Bud Steeb, who feels these historical items should not leave this area, but should always be associated with the Greece Historical Society. Thank you, Bud, for a job very well done.


(Bud Steeb sold this fire wagon to the Greece Historical Society for $1,500 in 1979.)

Typed: 5/24/88 Digitized: 11/07/2022

A Farewell to Frear’s Garden Center

Frear's Garden Center
Frear’s Garden Center

Frear’s Garden Center

1892 to 2022

130 Years of Local Gardening Expertise

Gallery of photos at the end of the story

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.

Left is Kerry In the Middle is Lynn and to the Right is Warren
Left is Kerry In the Middle is Lynn and to the Right is Warren.
november 9 1861
Notice on the beam here it has the date of November 9, 1861.
Aerial view of recent image.
E. Frear & Sons. sign in the section that housed the Farmall Super A.

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.

It was in this barn here that Arthur Frear started Frear’s Chevrolet in 1931.

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.

5000 gallons of oil
This held 5000 gal of oil that heats the greenhouse compared to lots of coal.
This is where a coal conveyer belt ran before switching to oil.

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.

The Frear Family Home Stead.
To the Far Left was the Slaughter Room, To the left, is where all the Christmas Trees and where a fire in the 1960s or 70s was to the right is where a Farmall Super A stored and the picture above with the beam with the date of 11-9-1861.

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.

mail

Greece Special Police, the Former Civil Defense Auxiliary Police

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.

PXL_20210721_133733481.jpg

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.

mail

The Dutch Mill – A Community Gathering Place

The Dutch Mill – April 17, 2022

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.

Leon Cox
Leon Cox

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.

mail

How Did the Term HOJACK Come to Be?

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.

William Aeberli sketch of the old North Greece Road Hojack station
William Aeberli sketch of the old North Greece Road Hojack station

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.

The Hojack Line Remembered by Richard Chait
The Hojack Line Remembered by Richard Chait

Also you can look at the 2016 Hojack Trail Feasibility Study by Burton & Loguidice.

mail

Milton H. Carter Park

What’s the story on….Milton H. Carter Park?

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 Milton Carter (Right)
Chief Milton Carter (Right)
The flag of stars flew at Greece Town Hall to call attention to the number of Greece Men and Women in service during World War II. Additional stars were added as the numbers grew. From Left to Right Town Supervisor Gordon Howe, Police Chief Milton Carter, and Lucius Bagley World War I Veteran
The flag of stars flew at Greece Town Hall to call attention to the number of Greece Men and Women in service during World War II. Additional stars were added as the numbers grew. From Left to Right Town Supervisor Gordon Howe, Police Chief Milton Carter, and Lucius Bagley World War I Veteran

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.

mail

The Ridgeway Air Park

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.

mail

Living in Greece

These articles offer perspectives on what it was like to live in the Town of Greece in the past. Many are from the archives or newsletters of the Greece Historical Society. If you would be interested in learning more about the Town of Greece’s history, please feel free to contact us at (585) 225-7221.

(These stories, are the property of the Greece Historical Society, which retains all right thereto. The contributors to these stories provide them for non-commercial, personal, educational, and/or research use only. Prior written permission from the Greece Historical Society and the individual authors must be obtained for any other use; including but not limited to commercial or scholarly publications, or any reproductions or redistribution of any kind.)

Share Your Stories and Memories

We love to read stories and memories by YOU or your organization. Each of us has a story to tell. Submit a story about your group or a local history story or memory of growing up in the Town of Greece. Please email your story with photos as a zip file to: greecehistoricalsociety@yahoo.com and in the subject line put Share My Story of Local History or Memories Of Greece N.Y. and the title of your story along with a photo and brief bio so when we publish your story in the newsletter and on the web just like the stories below. Your story should be no more than 500 words. Don’t worry if you’re not an English scholar — we will edit as needed for continuity, grammar, punctuation, etc.

Ontario Beach Park – a series of articles written by Dick Halsey (also contains access to other historical content)

Our Interviews and Older Publications prior to the ones published in the Corinthian Newsletter

Some of the stories of living in Greece may bridge the years that the story is based on some may bridge all years and some may only bridge 2 or 3 of the 50 years spans per each 50-year span starting with 1800-1850, 1900-1950, 1950-2000, and 2000-Present.

Explore Living In Greece, NY

Living in Greece Stories (72)Guest Stories (12)1800-1850 (9)1850-1900 (20)1900-1950 (48)1950-2000 (26)2000 – Present (5)From The Historian’s Files (23)
🔍

The Stories That Find You – Camp Sawyer’s The Well

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…

Paddy Hill School

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…

A Farewell to Frear’s Garden Center

Frear’s Garden Center 1892 to 2022 130 Years of Local Gardening Expertise Gallery of photos at the end of the story 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…

Greece Special Police, the Former Civil Defense Auxiliary Police

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…

The Dutch Mill – A Community Gathering Place

The Dutch Mill – April 17, 2022 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…

How Did the Term HOJACK Come to Be?

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…

Milton H. Carter Park

What’s the story on.Milton H. Carter Park? 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…

Greece Demanded Decency- No Topless Bathing!

“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.

Man with proper bathing suit in 1935 (Sauers family album)

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.”

Milton Carter
Milton Carter

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 141-C

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.
mail

Briarcliff Club Memories

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

mail

Bible School Association of Greece

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.

mail

Leaving a Message for the Future

John J. Walsh
Greece Press
1939

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.

mail

Rotobowling Never Quite Caught on in Greece

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

mail