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.
(Written in 1977) (digitized June 12, 2009) (Converted to Web Edition in 2023)
Editor’s note: Dr. George E. Sanders, beloved Ridge Road physician, practiced with Dr. Walter Hillman in the Rowe-Hillman-Sanders home at 2672 West Ridge Road. The stately home became Rivers Furniture Store and then Empire Electric Supply Company. The building has been demolished and has been replaced with three stores in the front Quick Nails, Eyemart Express, and AT&T, on the side next to Round Pond Creek that runs under the parking lot is the Monroe County Department of Health WIC Program office and in the rear of the building is the ABC Associated Builders and Contractors Empire State Offices as well.
I was born in a small coal mining town in Illinois in 1872 in the days before welfare and government messing into the lives of the people. My father was a traveling man. He sold coal. We had a small house, a cow, a pig, and chickens. I went barefoot after May; the first of May until late in September. That means that I went barefoot to school and wore a black satin shirt and a pair of overhauls. If we were poor we did not know it, as my father earned $125.00 per month for his family of six.
When my sister got ready for college, we moved to Champaign, Illinois where the state university was located. I went to the university for three years, then medical school in Chicago for 7 years. My tuition at medical school was $155.00 per year, room $3.00 per week, breakfast and lunch 15 cents each, and dinner at night 25 cents. After medical school, I became an intern at St. Luke’s Hospital in Chicago; received no wages, just room and board. I thought nothing of not being paid because it was the experience I wanted.
When World War I was going on, I asked for service in the Medical Corps and was sent to Camp Gordon, Georgia, and was assigned to a medical unit caring for the 5th Replacement Unit, remaining in the same position until 1919. While at Camp Gordon, A Dr. Walter Hillman from Greece, NY was my roommate. He asked me to come to Greece to practice with him. I arrived in October 1919, stayed at the Hillman home on Ridge Road West, and practiced with Dr. Hillman. By the way, his father, Dr. Livinius Hillman practiced in Greece beginning about 1850. He purchased our house in 1852. The house was built about 1808 by Lewis Rowe. (Note: the Rowe family originally settled in Kings Landing, where Kodak Park is today, in 1797. Because the Genesee Fever was rampant in that area, they relocated to Ridge Road in 1806, opening the Rowe Tavern in 1810 where St. John’s church is located.)
Dr. Hillman (presumably Walter) did not hold office house. He made house calls all day long, and, of course, I did the same. We had several horses and our hired man who took care of them. He also drove for the Doctors. Everything was lovely until Christmas Day. The snow began and lasted until April. I was assigned a cutter and a horse. The roads were plowed by a board wired on the side of a bobsled. I wanted to impress the farmers who were plowing along the road and drove too close to the pile of snow on the side of the road and dumped over. Another cold blustering day the snow was blowing from the west across Long Pond Road and I again was dumped over.
In 1921, Dr. Hillman had an auto accident and died. I had been practicing by myself in a room in the Frank Paine house. Then, after Dr. Hillman’s death, I moved back and established an office, with office hours in the afternoon and evening; thereby, I worked from 8 am to 9 or 10 pm. Those hours would kill the average physician today. House calls were $3.00, office calls $2.00.
People thought nothing of calling the doctor at night, which means that I had to climb out of my warm bed, get dressed and drive to someone’s home. Most of the calls could have waited until morning. One night someone called to come and I being very tired said, “Take one aspirin tablet and a cup of tea and I will call in the morning.” I never heard from them again.
Being near the Ponds down near the lake, I always had a pair of pliers to cut fish hooks that became lodged in people. Wish I had a picture of two little boys sitting in my waiting room with a little puppy between them with a fish hook in his lip. I can still see the faces of those boys. Dr. Hillman and two or three of the nearby physicians operated on the kitchen table. One day I gave an anesthetic for Dr. Lenhart in Spencerport while he did a gall bladder on a table near the window in a house on Ridge Road. Everything came out alright except no one paid me. We took out tonsils on kitchen tables. Thank goodness, w never had a post operative hemorrhage.
Maternity cases – we did most of them in the home. I had taken a short course in the lying in clinic in the ghetto of Chicago and learned how to prepare the bed, and also fix a cone with paper and a cover with ether. The hard part was after working hard all day to get a call to go on a maternity case that would take all night, get home in the morning, take a bath and shave, get breakfast and work another day. Pneumonia was one of the most dangerous diseases in our early years. We did not have oxygen tents for the homes. I remember a case of Dr. Hillman’s who had lobar pneumonia in December. We put him in a room with the windows open so he could get fresh air. He was covered with blankets, but it was cold for the Nurse and Doctor. Luckily, he lived. Remember that was before the wonder drugs.
I remember Dr. Fleming in Charlotte who had a large number of patients about Paddy Hill Church. One day he arrived at the gate of a house where they had a very vicious dog, and the dog was making a big fuss. The Irish lady of the house said, “Come right in, Doctor. If he bites you, I’ll get after him.”
In a rural practice there are always a big number of broken bones. We did have x-ray so their reduction (setting) was not hard. Cutting off the cast was always a job.
Greece in 1919 had about 7,000 inhabitants. Many were Eastman Kodak workers and market gardeners. The town was divided into different parts: South Greece, Hoosick or West Greece, Paddy Hill, North Greece, and Greece Central. Probably because of transportation, these were rather distant centers.
Dr. Hillman had a Buick touring car. He did not want any closed-up car like a sedan, and not long before my time he had given up horses. The winter began in earnest on Christmas Day of that year. We had to rent horses from a neighbor and use sleighs. I thought I was quite well acquainted with driving horses but had never ridden in a cutter. Consequently, I had several dump overs when I got too close to the side of the road. The roads were not too well cleaned.
One night a man came to Dr. Hillman’s house when he was entertaining a group of classmates from the University of Rochester. The fellow had a toothache. Whisky was used as an anesthetic and then we pulled the wrong tooth, so the fellow had to come the next morning and the aching tooth out.
One night after dinner at our house a group of men were sitting on the porch and Al Skinner told about his father who had the contract to cut ice on the ponds and fill the ice houses of the hotels. One morning it was very stormy and cold and Al asked his father if he was going to make his men work out on such a day. His father answered, “Yes, they are men, ain’t they?”
Miss Mary Moll lived on Mill Road and did some reporting for the Rochester newspapers. house. It was a common sight to see her walking on the road from Ridge Road to her home day or night. We would think that was quite a walk these days. In fact, a Mr. Kishlar on English Road, a generation before my time, walked from English Road and Long Pond to Lake Avenue to work. Jack Farrel, lived and worked at our house when a boy, used to walk to Lake Avenue to meet the boys. Jack was a grand man. He came to our home to work for my wife’s grandfather when he was 15 and stayed with us until he died at 87. He was loved by all the kids; never told any of their secrets. He brought up my wife and later our five children. They would tell Jack everything and me nothing. Jack and Frank Siebert would spend their Sundays walking all over the farm.
One night a patient on Manitou Road for some reason thought she would come to my office to have her baby. She walked about six miles and did not make my office but had a baby on a neighbor’s porch. I delivered a baby for a woman who had 12 or 13 children. I dressed in my tuxedo a fitting garb to be at the birth of her last child. Maternity cases would always take long times. One day I delivered three babies in different houses. Also, I remember one night we went to a dance at the University Club after a busy day; I was tired. I got a call for a maternity case and I did not get to bed until 11 o’clock the next night.
North Greece was more of a community than it is today because of better transportation. I remember going down there one day. I drove my horse and cutter down there and tied my horse in front of Doc Clark’s harness shop and make nine calls about the corners. I stopped in Chet Kancous’s meat market to get meat for dinner.
Billy Schmidt’s garage was a very busy place and they certainly were accommodating. One stormy day I got stuck in the snow on Elmgrove Road near the canal bridge. I called Billy and he came from North Greece with four men. They shoveled me out. Billy drove his car ahead to break a path. They had dinner at our house. It was 11 o’clock before they were able to get home because the snow blocked the road.
I have always worked. At age 12, I ran messages for the Pana (Illinois) Telephone Co. If a long-distance call came for someone, and he belonged to the majority who did not have a phone, for 10 cents additional charge I went to tell them to go and call Long Distance.
One summer I worked in a factory – at age 14, which is not allowed now. I ran a grinding machine, and also put rubber tires on baby buggies. After moving to Champaign, I worked in a construction crew. I received $2.00 for a 10-hour day. I hit the boss up for a raise and he gave me $2.50 a day. In Chicago, while in medical school, I put out express packages at for Adams Express Co. 1; also, I sold shoes at Hassel Shoe Co.2 I worked downstairs where we sold $3.50 shoes; upstairs were the expensive $4.00 and $4.50 shoes.
After being in Greece for a year, I was elected Health Officer for the Town of Greece and served over 25 years. In the early days, we did not have the wonder drugs we have today, so medicine was much different. The year before I arrived in Greece, the last case of smallpox occurred. With everyone being vaccinated today, the disease has disappeared. Diphtheria was a dreaded disease and I got in on the first diphtheria anti-toxin treatments.
We organized a health committee in the town about 1926. We had health meetings, had a big Town parade one year, started smallpox and diphtheria vaccinations in schools. Hired a Town Nurse; Mrs. Florence Barnes Justice was our first nurse.
As Health Officer in Greece and Gates, it was my duty to examine all the school children each fall. I received 50 cents per child. That was quite a chore. To examine the pupils in just one of our high schools would take quite a while. Later in my time, we gave polio vaccine in the schools, so now there are practically no polio cases in the county.
As the Town grew larger, more nurses were added. I feel they did a good job. After the county took over the medical department, everything has changed, I hope for the better.
After enjoying retirement in Penfield, the doctor past away on September 5, 1988.
1 Adams Express Co. a 19th-century freight and cargo transport business that was part of the Pony Express system. It became an investment company in 1929 during the Great Depression.
2 Otto Hassel Pasted down Hassel Shoe Company to his son Henry Charles Hassel and Henry owned Hassel Shoes Co from the late 1860s till some point before his death in 1955. Waiting on more Information able the Hassel’s and Hassel Shoe Co from Chicago History Museum to expand a little bit more on this company.
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.
George Caswell sat down with Gordon A. Howe on February 18, 1988, and interviewed him about his time as the town supervisor and his leadership in the community. Gordon A. Howe was the Town Supervisor for 26 years from 1934 to 1960.
This is a transcript from a recording between Franci Howard Whelehan and Marietta of the Greece Historical Society recorded on July 5, 1990, at the Whelehan Allyndaire Farm the Audio will get digitized at some point to be able to be listened to with the text transcript.
Marietta: How are you today, Howard?
Howard: Very well.
Marietta: Good.. have a nice 4th of July?
Howard: Yeah, had a very nice 4th of July, a little warm.
Marietta: Record heat I think.
Howard: Record heat and record thunderstorms and everything else.
Marietta: Do you remember some 4th of July’s from the past?
Howard: A great many of them, of course as you well know when we were little we could use firecrackers but of course, as you well know they went out and a neighbor of mine a Mr. Kintz they were at a 4th of July party…probably you know about that.
Howard: It was outside and his wife was sitting at the end of the table and there are people in the crowd who you might say like to be funny. Well this man had a firecracker, so unbeknown to her, he lit the firecracker and she stooped over and it blew the eye completely out of her head.
Marietta: Oh dear, I can see why they emphasis safety with firecrackers now. That was not a very good way to celebrate the 4th. Well, tell me about your early childhood.
Howard: Well in 1899 my father and mother were married and they moved into this new house on Latta Road.
Marietta: This house we’re in right now?
Howard: Right now. In 1903 my brother Donald was born here and in 1905 I was born here. My father’s parents were farm people they lived on the Island Cottage Road in the town of Greece. My mother’s people were farm people, they lived in the town of Macedon. My father was very much interested in agriculture. This was quite a big farm and he raised a great deal of hay and grain and after they were here for just a few years, he decided that he needed more barn room to hold the hay and grain. So in 1908, he had a new addition put on the big barn. But unfortunately for all of us he never saw any hay or grain put in it, because early in 1909 he died. Well, that was a great shock to our whole family. I often heard my mother say, “when she came home from the funeral that she had two things in life facing her 2 little boys and $5.” Well, we did have the farm. We did have cattle and horses and pigs and all that at the barn and they had to be taken care of so our neighbors were very good at that time…they came and did our chores. Of course, Donald and I were too small at the time we weren’t able to take care of them and my mother knew nothing about farming she was a school teacher all her life and in other words, she couldn’t take care of the big farm. So the people did come but naturally, she knew that we had to have help..had to have a hired man. So she inquired around and was told that there were 2 or 3 men that she might be able to hire..so but they all had the same little trouble they all liked to drink a little too much. But that didn’t matter, who had to have someone, so she did hire one of those men. Well of course Donald and I were very small and we could help out. For example, we could feed the chickens, gather the eggs, feed the little pigs and little calves, and of course another thing that had to be done, to go out in the pasture in the late afternoon and drive the cows down. So in addition to all that just a day or two after the funeral there was a very wealthy man who lived just down Latta Road- his name was Mr. Yates. He owned several coal companies in the city and also in Buffalo, and he sent his hired man out the next day to see if the two little boys here would like a pony. So of course, we liked the little pony, so we did get him. His name was Romeo and he was getting rather old. He was a circus pony. And what he did or what he didn’t do in the circus was let anyone ride on him. So he was another pet. Well then there was no running water, we had a well at the barn and either Donald or I or the man you’d have to pump a pail of water or a couple of pails of water for the women of the house to use and we could do that and in addition to that, the animals had to have water so we would do our part to pump the water into the big trough for the animals to drink. So we did all that and then of course when we got a little older we would have homework to do but after the homework then it would be time to go to bed, which would be about 9 o’clock.
Marietta: Oh bedtime was early.
Howard: So but different things happened even then and I remember this little thing. I was in bed one night and my mother came upstairs and woke me up and said that the Mrs. so-and-so (I forgot her name) was downstairs and she was the next-door neighbor and they lived in a rather. old house. Her husband worked on the railroad. They got ten cents an hour for 10 hours of work. I believe that’s a dollar a day and they worked for 6 days, which would be $6. Well, back of this old house there was a dilapidated orchard that hadn’t been taken care of in a great many years. There were old dead limbs in the trees and on the ground, weeds growing up through it and everything. So my mother said that this lady was downstairs and she wondered if Donald and I would go over. Her husband (there happened to be a bar right over at the corner on the way home with his $6) he stopped at the bar and got a little too much to drink and the $6 was gone and they had no food or anything for the children. So of course they had a few words and the wife knew there was a big rope in the cellar.
The husband went down the cellar and he got the big rope and when he came up and told his wife he was going out in his orchard and go up in a tree and hang himself…he was going to commit suicide. She wanted to know if Donald & I would go over and walk around in the trees and find him hanging there and if we did find him hanging there to come in and let her know and the three of us would go out; she’d have a big knife and would cut him down out of the tree and drag him in put him in and put him on the kitchen floor all night. She said she’d feel better if he was on the kitchen floor rather than hanging up and swinging around in a tree. Well, I was always very scared in the dark and naturally this v.s sure didn’t help any..so the two of us started Over & I was scared to death. And we did start to look around in the trees . . . the wind was blowing some and it would blow the old dead limbs one against another and I thought it was the guy up there swinging his body was swinging. But we kept on going and finally, we heard a little crackling in the old dead brush on the ground. Well, then I was so scared I didn’t know what to do. So the two of us stopped and this noise would come on again. Neither one of us could move..well we stood there for a couple of minutes and finally what appeared in right front of us was a big black & white cow. There was a big barn just the other side of this old house with a little pasture around it and the cow broke out of that night and happened to wander into the orchard. The next morning the lady came over and told my mother that later that night after the husband sobered up a little and he came in and everything was made up so everything was back to normal again.
Marietta: That was quite a night.
Howard: We didn’t have many baths in those days. Not as many as now because it was a little harder to get a bath. Of course, when we’d be going to church on Sunday or if we had to go to a dentist or doctor naturally we would have to take a bath. So I’ll give you a little story about what we had to do to get ready for a bath. Well, take it in the middle of summer, when there wouldn’t be any heat in the kitchen stove. The first thing you’d have to do is get some papers, and some kindling, and some wood and start the fire. Well then we did have rather a big tub..that was used just for that purpose… I don’t know what you’d call it but it held two pails of water, and that would be pumped out of the cistern and you’d pour the two pails of water in this big container… it would take a good half hour to 40 minutes to heat that water. There were no lights then and no heat or anything like that. We did have a cement floor in the cellar but when the water was hot enough we’d get a dipper and dip that into a pail and light a lantern and take it down cellar, dump it in the tub and eventually take a bath..so that wasn’t very easy to do.
Marietta: No it was quite a process.
Howard: Not many baths were taken. As I said there were no lights or anything but for heating, we did have a kitchen stove as most every farmhouse had. Then in the late winter or late fall, they’d always set up in our parlor a little coal stove… they’d call it a pot-bellied stove and in the later part of the summer we would have a team harnessed and they would be hitched onto a box wagon and there was a coal yard (Yates Coal Yard) on Latta Road down about 2 miles and we would go down there and get 2 tons of chestnut coal and come home and put that in the cellar and that’s what would be used for heating purposes.
Marietta: Now would that coal yard be over towards Lake Avenue..that way.
Howard: That coal yard…there’s a lumberyard there right now.
Marietta: Greece Lumber?
Howard: That’s right there and there was a coal yard well right there on the same spot at that time. You could buy either lumber or coal, which made it very handy and I will talk a little more about that.. we used to ship apples and they would leave a car right there. Well in this parlor where the little stove was it was very nice. My mother would if a lady or people came at night.. she might bring them in there. And they would either visit.. we did have a piano in there.. they might play a game of cards or visit or play on the piano. So it worked out very well. Our meals on a farm were here and I imagine every place were good and I suppose the reasons was that we raised a great deal of that right on the farm. Potatoes and cabbage and of course we had our garden.. lettuce and everything berries so it worked out very well and then, of course, we did have our own meat. We raised our own little pigs and we would have our pork to eat in the winter and we did not have much red meat as we called it in those days for two reasons. The first was I don’t know if it was the main one or not, we would have to hitch a horse to a buggy and drive to Charlotte which was 2 miles, and then the other drawback was the question of money. There wasn’t too much money in those days to buy such things. I might give you a little history of that. We did have hens as I said and we would get quite a number of eggs a day all that the family would want to use and then by the end of the week there might be 10, 11 or 12 extra dozen and they would be brought to the grocery store. My mother, there would be a horse hitched up on a buggy and my mother, Donald and I would go down to the grocery store. Well, we knew the grocery men very well and he would always take my mother’s word that there were say 12 dozen of eggs there.
What he would do is write down or figure them up.. they’d come to say $3.25 and so he’d write that down and then my mother would have her list. At that time women didn’t buy anything at a grocery store because they didn’t have the money that they really didn’t need but of course, they did need the coffee, teas, spices, sugar, flour, and things like that. Well, she would read off the coffee I’ss just say 80 cents and he would write that down and then tea so many cents, and finally, he would say Mrs. Whelehan you’re getting near the $3.25 ‘and when she got near the $3.25 that was it there were no more groceries because she had no more money. Well that was that and that was how we lived but we did have a little bad luck there too. At that time men would come from the city with their horses and a little wagon and all papers were reused at that time and iron. On the farm, you’d have plow points and little pieces of iron and my mother would always keep them. Our chicken house was in and old house at the barn and she would keep papers and iron things right besides that… so this particular day this man came and wanted to know if she had any and she said yes she did. So they went over and they would have a little scales. They would weigh the papers and iron. So he weighed them up and paid her and went. And then the next morning, we went over to feed the hens… there wasn’t a hen on the farm. All were gone.
Marietta: Oh, he had stolen them?
Howard: Well that was our groceries and it left us very bad, but we did have nice neighbors, and the first thing we knew each neighbor would come with two hens, and the first thing we knew we had our hen house replenished.
Marietta: Wasn’t that great, oh.
Howard: And the hens were back and we got the eggs and we would begin to be able to eat again and of course we often kind of wondered where the hens went but we felt we sort of knew where the hens went.
Marietta: That’s right.
Howard: The ladies were all very good bakers on account of I just said it was too far and there were no stores near anyway.
Marietta: The closest store would have been in Charlotte?
Howard: In Charlotte.
Marietta: So that would have been quite a trip?
Howard: And so and I know all the ladies but my mother made the cookies, pies, and cakes and the bread. Of course, I don’t know how you make bread but she’d have a big breadboard and when she’d be getting short, she’d mix up flour and water and all at night and we’ll say in the winter and she’d mix that all up and then she had a big container like a pail only much bigger and she would put this dough in there and open the stove door…there’d be a nice hot fire there and she’d cover this pail and by morning it would have come right up to the top. And she would work that down on the big board and cut it down up into loaves and put it in the oven and it would turn out to be very nice bread the next day.
Marietta: Mmm fresh bread.
Howard: Well the canning we had ‘our garden and naturally we had fruit and she would as all neighbor ladies would do a lot of canning and that worked out very well for the winter. They would open the jars and it would taste very good. Now in regard to an ice box.. we didn’t have any such thing and I don’t think that any rural houses around here did have any. We had a nice cool cellar cement floor and we had 2 tubs down there that were used just for that purpose, and before each meal, the butter, milk, and perishable things like that would be kept and the bread was kept in a big tin down cellar and someone would go down and get the milk and things and bring it up and then immediately after the meal someone would bring it right back and we got along very well then. We did in the town there were several ponds and the man who ran the pond, they would be used to cut ice in the winter and as the snow would fall and when the winter time would come and the ice under would be thick enough for him to walk on; he would push all that snow off and would let the cold air get to the little ice by late winter it might be 8-10″ thick and then he would call the neighbor farmers. We had a team and a big long sleigh. It would be cut into big chunks and loaded on our sleighs and then we would bring that to his ice house which would be near the pond and that would be packed away… I believe they put sawdust around the cakes and that would keep them from thawing in the winter and in the summer. I really don’t think that I had any favorite food. I will admit that I always liked sweet things and in the morning on the breakfast table after breakfast, there were always cookies on the table, and at noon there were always after the main meal either pies, pudding something like that, and then after the supper meal, there was always cake. So we always had those things and of course, I appreciated them very much.
There may have been 2 or 3 doctors in the town and I think there probably there were but we didn’t have any in our section of the town because we were so near Charlotte. There were two very good doctors down there Dr. Fleming and Dr. Sullivan… Our doctor happened to be Dr. Fleming and what would happen if a person in your household became sick very suddenly, someone would have to harness a horse depending on the weather and whether they hitched them onto a buggy or a cutter. They would drive down to Charlotte, up to his office and you’d wait your turn to see him. And if the person was seriously sick soon as he got through he would have to harness his horse and drive way out and hitch the horse to the hitching post and come in and administer to the person and but if the person wasn’t quite as bad and could be taken to the doctors…he or she would be taken to the doctor but even that was run a little bit different than it is now. If you go to a doctor or a dentist now you go by appointment 2 o°clock, 3 o’clock or something but then you would open the door to his reception room… I think you might call it. There might be one person in there, might be none. But in other words, you had to wait your turn. What they gave for medicine, of course, I never knew but I did always noticed this that before you would leave them they’d have a little paper container with a little top on it and they would put some pills in there and seal it up and always write on the outside “Take one pill every 6 or 8 hours.”…and of course, we would always follow those instructions.
Around here it was known as Patty Hill and the Irish people and I guess they are all superstitious. I know my mother was and I am myself. I’ll give you a little case about my mother. She and Donald & I were going out one Sunday afternoon in our car. So we got ready and went out.. our car was out in the driveway and when we got in & turned the key on but the engine wouldn’t start. So we tried it some and after we tried it 2 or 3 times.., my mother said to leave it right there that maybe if we got out on the road that we’d have an accident and it would be much worse and that she would have the car fixed the next day. It was probably better the way it was. And another thing I could mention but it was always thought to be very unlucky. We’ll say a woman was going out of her house to go to a neighbor and really needed her glasses, but she went out locked the door and got a few feet away from the house, and thought she forgot her glasses, she would never turn come back and unlock the door because that was very bad luck. And of course, we know about an umbrella walking in the house with that. And of course, Friday was always a day you sort of had to watch out for they said.
Marietta: You didn’t start any big projects on Friday.
Howard: No, no big projects on Friday. Well, entertainment there wasn’t any. You might say for me in those days. Very little if any of course I was only 4 yrs. old and there were a few houses but far away and very few little children. My brother was only 22 months older than I was but he was a little on the smart side a lot and didn’t enjoy playing little games. In other words, he went on & I guess he got through Harvard Law when he was 22 years old which was quite young so I there was nothing much for me to do, so of course, there were no radios, no TVs, telephones nothing. So late in the afternoon over there was the other side of the barn there was an old house and in that house an elderly couple. The name was Mc Cabe that was a rather hard name to say so my mother always told us to the man’s name was Tom and the ladies’ name was Kate, to call them Mr. Tom and Mrs. Kate. So I would ask my mother some afternoons if I could go over and ask Mrs. Kate if she would come over and play cards with us…well she would always say yes. So I would go over and Mrs. Kate was a very large woman and she would always say yes. And you know at that time the women would always put a big shawl over their heads. So you’d see Mrs. Kate coming with a big shawl on her head and we’d play cards on the kitchen table. And I think it was about 8′ long and 6′ wide with two big leaves on it and I always had to sit in a high chair because I was so little even then I couldn’t hardly look up over the table. So I often thought in later years that it must have been a very interesting card game for Mrs. Kate and I always played Donald and my mother. Well when my father passed away, of course, my mother didn’t know anything about farming very hard. And her father was getting very old so he sold his farm and came up to help my mother out a little. So practically every night I guess I’d ask grandpa if he’d play cards with me and he always did. But it went on this particular night and I asked him if he would play cards with me and he had a very good reason why he couldn’t. So I asked him the next night and he had another reason that night but that was just as good and I asked him the third night and he still had another reason he didn’t play with me. So by that time I guess I got a little superstitious or something so, I asked my mother why grandpa didn’t play cards with me. Well, she said this is Lent, and in Lent, you are not supposed to have any pleasure of any kind, and it lasts for forty days and at the end of forty days Grandpa will play cards with you again.
Howard: So I had nothing to do naturally.
Marietta: What kind of cards did you play?
Howard: I have no idea .. as I said it must have been interesting with those older people.. but anyway it sort of passed my time away a little. Well by that time they were beginning to sell farms around and the farms on either side of our place were sold and houses were built and naturally there’d be people in the houses and children so they would come over. I would have horses and they would be hitched onto wagons and they would get on the wagon and ride around and have a good time doing that. Then in addition to that, we had the big barns I’ve spoken about but I’d gone out of that kind of farming into fruit farming. So we had a nice big loft so I fixed that over and put two basketball baskets and the young boys would come and play basketball. Well then there were two old houses over there that we used as barns and I was through with them so some of the little kids turned same as them into clubhouses. So there were several little clubhouses around. Well, then another thing right back of our house there was a large low spot. So I thought it would be nice for skating. So I went down to the east end with equipment and drew in a lot of dirt and made a big dam to hold the water. All the water comes down from the hill and it floods it down there and the water can be very thick. That’s what I did and I put some posts in and had lights put on them and then I had a big tractor and a big snowplow on the front of that and I would push the snow off when it snowed so the water would freeze more. So this particular day I guess had just gone that that afternoon and I had come to the house for something and while I was in the house two little girls climbed up on the tractor and fell off the tractor down on their face and broke their arms and knocked out teeth.
Marietta: Oh dear.
Howard: So of course the ambulance had to be called and that didn’t make me feel very good. But still, I knew that I was insured so that took a little of the sting out of it, but anyway, the officials came and knew more than I did. A great many would skate down there maybe there’d be a hundred or a hundred in fifty kids down there skating around and they would come from as far as Stone Road. So when the officials came he said well that isn’t private skating at all that’s public and you have to have a paid public, which I inquired and it would have cost about $7oo to insure that little thing down there. So anyway I went out of the skating business.
Marietta: You had one venture in the skating.
Howard: Well we did have every winter two big parties. One was held on the top of Patty Hill by a very nice family and the other on Long Pond Road. A few days before the party the lady who would be giving it she would of course invite and the ladies would go and help her get the house ready, wash dishes I suppose, and get chairs ready. And we would all look forward to the night and we would put on our best clothes and each lady was supposed to bring some little food or salad or cake or something like that and so we would go. And in those times people could do different things, they could speak pieces maybe, or there’d be a vocal soloist, a violin and different things like that when they’d all gather that would be carried out, each person would do what he …. and the first thing you knew you could smell the coffee and you could see the ladies bringing the lunch on so we would all have a very fine lunch and then they would go into a big room and there WOuld be the violins, and everything like that and they would play and sing until it got too late and then they would come home…all having a nice time.
Marietta: And that was in a private home.
Howard: Yes, a Leah (Leo) Whelahan’s home, and then over on Long Pond Road there was also a big house Mr. James’ house and it would be the same thing there. Well then another party we always looked forward to was the Farmer’s Picnic and which was held at Manitou which is a long way away when you have to drive there with a horse and buggy…I’d say it’s a good six miles there probably. No one had to be invited we were all…anyone could go. So we would look forward to that and on the day two things had to be thought of – of course, the women would prepare a lunch and but another thing that had to be brought along was a flynet for the horse. Because there would be so many flies around so we would drive way up there, to the picnic. And of course all had a fine time, of course naturally the lake was there and we had bath houses, crocket for ladies, pitching horseshoes was quite a sport then and there would be rides for ponies, merry-go-round, ice anything you want. They’d have it ‘there, so of course, we enjoyed that very much. The Slater family lived just the other side of our house a little and I often heard Senator Slater say in later years, that way they would on the way home discuss all the time about how they would plan for next year’s farmers’ picnic, because none of us had any pleasure between then.
Marietta: So it was a big thing.
Howard: I might mention one more that might not be to close to the Town of Greece but still it was beneficial. I guess probably we all know Frank Gannett. I guess we read his papers some and we in the Town of Greece you could belong to the Farm Bureau. No one would ask – I think it was $5 or $10 a year and when I started in the farming business, I had no father to tell me what to do. I never went to an agricultural college or anything like that – so I always tried to get all the information I could and of course Mr . Gannett was born and brought up on a farm and was just as poor as the rest of us. But every year late in the summer, the ones who belonged to the Farm Bureau would get an invitation from his office. He’d invite us to a picnic on his farm – that was in Henrietta and it would be very beneficial to us because and I think we all know who Mr. Gannett was. At one time before the Republican Presidential Election, it had boiled down to 3 or 4 men who the candidate would be for the Republican Party. And Mr. Gannett was one of three or four men but he missed out on that a little. But we would get an invitation for his picnic and what he would do from Cornell and Michigan State and other colleges, he would have those professors come to his farm and they would conduct experiments all year on his farm and then he would invite everybody around – the Greece people and we would go up it would usually be, it was always on a Saturday afternoon and for some reason, it was always a nice day and we would go up and the professors would all be there and they would explain their experiments to us, which would be very beneficial to us. For example, we didn’t know on the side hill you couldn’t grow any crops on a side hill, but they told us that you could use it for pasture- that if you had a strip and then another strip of plowed ground you could sow something and then another strip of sod and so on. So those experiments were we learned a lot that’s why I’m mentioning it and there might be new machinery to help us out. Well then after that was shown, he had a real old farmhouse and we’d go down for the picnic. And he had a very large yard and that would be filled with tables and I never saw such food- truckloads. Soft drinks, anything you could mention, and then at a certain time over a loud speaker, they’d say that lunch is to be served so they would line up and you could go along. There would be a person there – anything you wanted and you could go back as many times as you’d like. Well then after that they had a little side porch with a little railing around it and after we were through eating then right out from the side porch there were dozens and dozens of benches and we would go and sit on the benches and when we were all placed there M/M Gannett would come and she would sit in a rocking chair on the little side stoop and he would stand up to the rail and tell us about his early days or the farm. Different stories which were very interesting and I do happen to remember this one. Their farm was just a speck east of the city – he named the town but I forget and of course, they worked on the farm and as he grew just a little he decided that he would like a watch but he had no money and his parents didn’t have any money, but he did ask his mother if she would stop in a store when she went up-city to find out how much a watch might be. So she said she would and she went one day and came home and said that she could get a watch for $2.40 Well of course he didn’t have that kind of money at all but he did know there were seven houses, I think between he and the city and right at the end of the city there was a little store and every morning a newspaper company would leave the papers there so that when someone went in to buy something he could get a paper. So he thought it all over that if I could get that company to leave the seven extra papers every morning- maybe I could deliver them to the seven houses & maybe in the time get enough money to buy my watch. So anyway I don’t know who made the arrangements but the company said that they would leave those papers there. So he would get up mornings in the dark before school, walk up and get the papers and deliver them to the seven houses…and his grand total amounted to about 8 cents a home and he put that away and of course, he knew it would be weeks, months ..he had that all figured up. But anyway time went on and he got the $2.40. So he asked his mother naturally there was a big merry-go-round in that section & of course, we all know about the pier. People would walk out on the long pier and if they were in bathing suits they could dive in the water. And then right at the end of Beach Avenue, there was no Driving Park or no Stutson St. bridge then & right at the end of that road down there at the Lake at Beach Avenue there was a big flat boat with a little railing around it. And I’m pretty sure it was known as the “Windsor” and that ran on a chain. And if people wanted to go across to the other side they would get their ticket and every so often it would go back and forth. And of course, it would carry a horse and buggy and well anyway there is quite a big hotel on the other side. A nice hotel and at that time my mother used to raise quite a lot of potatoes. So the man who ran the hotel he got in touch with her one day to see if he could buy some potatoes, so she did sell a lot to them and Donald & I had to deliver them with a team & wagon and my mother always kept very nice horses and the teams we drove that day was one of them was a very strung horse. So we went down with the small load of potatoes and there were men on the little boat and they let us on and I knew this horse was scared but they kept him under control until they started the engine in the boat and it started to move; then he started to move and he stood up on his hind legs and everybody thought he was going to jump right over the railing into the river… but I often thought we were just two boys, we went across- we got across and unloaded the potatoes, what we must have been thinking of when we’re over there that and had to come back the same way.
Marietta: That’s right that return trip….of dear.
Howard: Well just this side then of course there was Lake Avenue and on the East Side of that there were 3 or 4 buildings- yeah they would call them buildings and one would sell ice cream cones, and the other one soft drinks and the other one candy and so on and as luck would have it on the West Side – and there was competition naturally would be the same buildings almost and they sold the same things ice cream, candy and all. See but they all did but on the West side they had it over the East side a little in this respect because just the other side a block or so up was a bar and of course, they would attract some men and they would often go there. But of course, the Lake was there for swimming purposes there were 2 or 3 bath houses and then in the summer when things would really get going good they would line up the sidewalks facing West..running West and there would be all kinds of shops along. These might be ones where little rabbits came up & if you could shoot them and places where you could buy cars and there might be a little places where real rabbits, little children could see the rabbits and maybe this or something and then there were always a little- I don’t know what you’d call it but there 2 or 3 ponies they’d have them tied and if a person wanted a little child to have a ride a ticket could be bought and the child could ride on the pony and then there was a barn there and of course horseshoe p~tching there were a lot of them and they did have a barn there with a horse in it and a big sign on it that the only horse in the world that his head was where his tail should be. So of course that sounded kind of funny to people and when a big crowd would come the people would sort of start to go there and they had two men just for that purpose they would go in and come out laughing as hard as they could – well then people would think that there was something to it and they would go in again and come out laughing harder than ever– well after 2 or 3 times there would be a man there to sell tickets.
Quite a number of people would buy a ticket and go in..well the horse would be standing in just the opposite direction. His head would be just in the opposite direction. So they would do little things like that and anything that you’d mention— Ferris wheels and anything like that was there and well of course it was known as the Little Coney Island. Well then of course another big attraction was the Manitou Line and that was…we would in the house I live in you could always hear the whistle. Different whistles but it started there and they were very nice cars. There 2 or 3 steps leading up to the car and then in the car was as I recall maybe one big long seat but they didn’t mind nobody checked if you wanted to stand on the step going up. You could so people would get on that… they would ride to Manitou or you could get off where ever you wanted and they would stop and start and pick up people and that went to Manitou which was always also you could have a thing there to do and something that always interested me – or the other end of the line near Manitou and of course I never quite could understand how they had it fix- ed but the little railroad that carried the cart went right over the lake you might say they had big posts driven in the ground and then the tracks laid on that and it carried the little cars very well over so it really was a very wonderful place. People would either walk there or you’d drive your horses there or take the street car there. Well then up West of that about 2 miles west of that was Island Cottage and that was also very nice of course it wasn’t nearly as big as Charlotte but of course, the Lake was there and the bathhouse and 2 nice stores you could buy anything- little food that you wanted to and there was a hotel there the Island Cottage Hotel was a nice ground there with picnic tables in and shade trees and people could drive there and then in addition to that there was a nice baseball field and our town always had a good baseball team and whoever was in charge would play usually on Sunday afternoon and during the game, some men would go around with his hand and collect a few pennies around.
Of course going up from Charlotte to Manitou not only could you see the Lake all along but there were 2 or 3 ponds you would pass by and they were very nice and for some reason would always grow in ponds and men would go there and I don’t understand that but at the time were used in the making of a chair and the men some men down around there would cut in the winter in the marsh and they would cut it like dry corn and bring it up to dry ground and put into shalks like corn and tie it and evidently it would dry and then in the early spring/summer a buyer whoever would be interested in it; they would come and buy it from the men and quite a few of them made very well on that. And then another occupation, you might call it, naturally with the marsh there were little animals furry and quite a number of men did trapping. And they would trap these little animals and skin them and sell that and do very well with that – so that line was a very nice thing for people of the Town of Greece.
Well, we did have two railroads near us. One went through Barnards Crossing that was up Dewey Avenue maybe 2 miles or a little more and the branch from that as I have mentioned before there was a branch from that that went down to our (Yates) coal company on Latta Road and lumber yard…..or to put a car we could use it to ship apples on – but the main line that went through up there was for coal and I think that came from Pennsylvania probably and there were 2 big car ferries that drew this coal to Canada. We evidently sold a lot of coal and I understand that each car ferry would hold 12,14, 16 car loads of coal and I don’t know just how they’d do it but where the big boat would come it would back up to the railroad line. It was all fixed with tracks in the boat and they could run the cars right on to the ferry and then they would take that over to Canada and that was that line.
Well then back of us right next to my farm there was another railroad. And I don’t kow how far down East that went but I heard maybe 40 miles or so and it did run..as far West as Buffalo I understood. And that was a real farming section and we raised different things there would be potatoes in one, cabbage and then you all know about Duffy-Mott. They bought great amounts of apples, of course, they needed cans and all that was shipped on that line in addition to that, there were two passenger trains every day and at each little station there would be a little side track and a little weigh-in station would be standing there with scales on it. And for example, if a farmer sold his cabbage a car would be placed near him you might say and the farmers would bring their cabbage there and weigh them on the scales and fill up the car, and then it would be taken away. Now I believe that that line is gone now, it has been out now for about 8-10 years but before that was put in I was told when I was a small boy by an elderly man- and he had seen it before that railroad was there, there was a road there a dirt road and there were little specs of log cabins or places to live and he told me then he said I could take you and show you 2 or 3 wells right now so it proved that there were houses along there at that time.
Marietta: So that was the HOJACK LINE – that’s north of your farm?
Howard: Well that’s – I’ll get to that. That road was there first- well as I say it was right long my farm and I was always very much interested when I was back near there. It’s kind of exciting to see a big train coming – it was then of course today their run on electricity, I guess – to see the smoke puffing out of them and then chugging along and another thing that was interesting – I don’t know why – I would read where they were from.. might be apples from the State of Washington …and they would be from all over, but an interesting thing and I never quite knew why of course it would be in summer and I might be back there working the horses and the train would come along… I would usually stop and for some reason the motormen he would be at the window and he would always wave at me, of course, we didn’t know each other…and I would wave back and then there was always the little question about how it got its name and I guess maybe this they decided on this…as I say it went to Buffalo and right near the stop the trains got in every night at about 5 o’clock and there was a little boy who lived in a house right near, he would ask his mother if he could go out and see the train come up, he was very much interested, so she would always say yes. So he would go out and finally, he would see the train come puffing up and it would stop there and the engineer would shut off all his controls and climb down the ladder and the little boy he would always be so excited he’d shout “hol Jack” because we couldn’t say “Hello Jack” and they think this is how the railroad got its name. Well, of course, I guess we have come along to wars and we have always had them and they aren’t very good things. There were several cases around here, I know a boy who went to school with me, he’s a little bit older, he went over there and while over there both eyes were lost, so from that day until the day that he died a few years ago, he sat in a chair, with people having to wait on him. Well then too, there were airplanes then but people traveled by train and so the government would send a notice to some boys to be at the railroad station at a certain time such as 8 o’clock. So this particular night two boys near here were to go, one was a close relative and the other we knew him very well, so we would go up, people would go up and of course, it would be a very sad sight for the parents to see them go and we all knew, everybody knew they might come back and they might not come back. Well in that particular case after the war was over my cousin didn’t come back but the other boy did come back. We did it was in 1971, eight of us went to Hawaii. My brother and all and Bob and all they were helping me good on the farm. My brother was a lawyer in New York he had given out and wouldn’t take any money so I brought eight people to Hawaii and while there we went to Pearl Harbor. Have you ever been there?
Marietta: No I’ve never been there.
Howard: Well, of course, they had a man on a boat that would tell us and he would go along and I think the first thing that we went by was a huge boat. Just the top of it was sticking out of the water with a pole up with a big 9Americanflag on it and in that boat even then were the bodies of over 1200 young men that was sunk that night or day and then after the war was over they sent some men in to see if they could get the bodies out but the irons and all were so twisted in there so sharp and all that those men would have been killed so they left it right there. So then we went on and when we got to about the end, there was like a big mountain and straight across…it’s kind of hard for me to describe it and then there was quite a spot that there was a desert you might call it and that’s where the planes came over to kill the people and that was right there was of course when they did come over well… I used to buy my spray material from Agway and there was a young man who worked for them and he would come here and he sold to me. And then he had to go to war and he was in Pearl Harbor when it came and he came back and told me all about it. He said he was a pretty good musician and there were 15 or 20 boys at this particular time playing instruments and standing around; they were singing and having a good time and all. Then all of a sudden the planes came over this division in the mountain and of course let the bombs down and he was knocked out, he had to be taken to the hospital, but he said there were 20 of them playing in the band or whatever you call it and over half of them were killed. And then right near there of course that day or night I don’t know which it was a great many of the boats were sunk. But there was a huge boatyard right beside and they had the equipment, and they raised those boats almost immediately and got them in working condition and they helped defeat the enemy. Well along the side was a huge hill or almost a mountain and for as far as you could see was nothing but little white tombstones, with the young men lying there.
Marietta: All the boys we lost?
Howard: So it was an awful thing. Of course then back here we weren’t in quite such bad shape but you could hardly buy anything. If you had a car you couldn’t go out except maybe to a hospital or something like that. You couldn’t buy any sugar or there was a great many things you couldn’t buy or couldn’t do. There was an elderly man, he was a carpenter but he had given it up, but he would come and do little things for my mother; fix a window or something at the barn. So he came one day and said that he and his wife were getting old and with our cold winters that they were going to live in Florida. So he went to Florida, they went to Florida and in the meantime, he heard that he had quite a little bit of money in those days – we heard he had $40,000 which is a lot of money then. He had it in stocks, bonds, and banks. Well then, of course, everything went then banks and all failed so he stopped in one day came to the door, and said Mrs. Whelehan would you have any work for me? He said I don’t have l cent, we hardly have enough money to buy food for my wife and myself. He said every single penny is gone. So my mother said yes that she did have – she wanted a stoop put on – so she said he could put the stoop on and of course, he was very pleased to get the money. But that were the conditions but everything seemed to go bad in those days, but I think it was in 1934 that a cold night came along and I think it went down to around 26 or 27 degrees and I know during the night we could hear; of course we all orchards you could hear your trees cracking open. it sounded like there was a man at the barn with a big board hitting the barn just as hard as you could hit it. Well, we went out the next morning and you could put your arm right through any tree; they were all completely slit open.
Marietta: Would this have been in the early spring?
Howard: Well it was in the middle of winter.
Marietta: Oh middle of Winter…I See.
Howard: Of course, it had to be when it was that cold. It never went that cold before. Well, of course, that was our living but the city people, would some of them not all of them couldn’t buy heat, coal or anything, then they couldn’t get any work, and so the government I don’t understand that but they got in on that and they hired these men that wanted to work for 25 cents an hour and for example in our orchard there would be about 25 brought here every day on a big flat wagon and five or six men would go to a tree with a shovel and an ax and they would dig the dirt away and cut the big roots, and while they were doing that there’d be a man he’d have a big heavy rope .. he would be climbing the tree and go up in the top and tie that rope onto a big limb up there and then when the men on the ground would have the tree pretty well dug; they would call and eight or ten men would come and they would get ahold of this rope and work it back and forth; giggle the tree and finally the tree would go out of the hole and tip over and then it would be ll sawed up by hand. Crosscut saws and ax and things like that and of course they would fill the hole in and all then that wood it would be cut into lengths for our stove or fireplaces and the government did allow us to keep a little of that wood. But then big wagons would come and of course, somebody knew who needed heat and that wood would be brought to those people.
Marietta: So it went for a good purpose, but you lost your trees.
Howard: It worked out very well but of course, it made it very hard on us orchard people because everything was gone. Well, in regard to town government, I never got into that very much…I guess I had enough to do without that but the voting was a little different then from now I think. Now when we go to vote we go to a beautiful hall with lights and heat big nice tables and everything. But then our district was over at the corner of Dewey and Latta Road. The booths were a little bit of a wooden hut you might say. They were kept someplace in the town, I don’t know where and just before the election a big wagon or something would go and one would be loaded on and our’s would be brought over here and put off on the corner- naturally off the road and then in a day or two a little stove to hold wood and a little wood would be brought along and then the day of voting well that would be the same. There would be two Republicans and 2 Democrats sitting at a big table and right behind them were 2 kerosene lamps in brackets and you would go and vote. It was on a paper ballot, I guess and you would put that in a box, and then you couldn’t hold 2 or 3 extra people in them but if there were extra people in at 9 o’clock..the same as now I believe they would be asked to leave and the people would count the ballots and so that was how it was done then. And we did have quite a big man in the town, not only in the town but in the whole county. His name was Al Skinner. I guess everybody knew him quite well. And he won every election for a great many years except his last one. He lived down along the lake I believe and he also had a place to keep little boats, and he was very nice to everybody and then at the same time about was Gordon Howe. He was the town supervisor for a great many years and I did happen to know Gordon very well. We went to Charlotte High School together… but he was a year or two behind me. He was a very fine basketball player and a few years ago we happened to meet in the grocery store and got talking about our earlier days. I guess so he had one thing that he was always sorry about in his life, he had. Of course, he was a fine basketball player, I knew that, everyone did, he did too. But that was his ‘trouble, he spent a little bit too much time playing basketball and thinking about basketball and it was largely on that account that he never went to college.
Howard: And of course, he went way up in the world, was a fine speaker and all but he never went on to college. But he did say as we know…well he didn’t say but we know that he was responsible for M.C.C. being built.
Marietta: Mmm…that’s right.
Howard: So he became very much interested in it but I didn’t happen to belong to the same party as those two men but they helped me out and I was in the fruit business then and I did have a big truck, a big flat bottom truck and they would have a parade every year. So somebody would come and ask me if I would take the band on the truck – so of course, I would be in the parade and they would come and decorate the truck and then I would go where they would say to go and the band would get on and they would play and we would go aroung and finally land at the place for a little picnic. So that worked out very well and they would all do nice things for me but at about that time the Democrats had always run the town…but about that time the Democratic Supervisor got in which wasn’t liked very well by the people, so the next year a Republican Supervisor got in and of course, as we all know they’ve been in ever since, the Republican Supervisors. But up until that time, everything was you might say sort of at a standstill in the town, but Eastman Kodak Company was there and they were growing, they were hiring people from not only the city but outside. They were building houses. We began to improve our roads, water lines were put through, sewer lines were put through, electric lines, and then the people…We were never told how many people were living in the town at that early stage. I know a few thousand and today they tell me there could be around 100,000 people living in the town of Greece and they all seem to be living well, especially in the western part of our town…it’s just building right up and they all are driving their cars by here. All seem to be enjoying it. I’ve lived in this house for 85 years ..it seemed like home to me and I hope I can always live in this home. So I might close by saying… “Be it ever so humble there is no place like home in the town of Greece.”
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.)
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 residents of the Town of Greece enjoy a variety of parks within the Town. Their features and size are certainly diverse, from the 577-acre Greece Canal Park to the 4-acre Henpeck Park.
But their history and names are just as varied. Most parks names are either derived from their location such as Braddock Bay Park or from a prominent Greece native such as Carter, Badgerow, or Basil Marella Parks. But one park, first developed for recreation in 1934, is named after a Hilton doctor.
It all began in 1924 When Dr. Sherwood Sawyer and his wife purchased a parcel of land near the intersection of Latta Road and Long Pond Road from William Hogan. Dr. Sawyer had purchased and developed other properties in the Parma area, so we can assume he planned on developing this land at some time in the future. But with the onslaught of the depression, the town did not develop quite as fast as the doctor had assumed.
Meanwhile, Boy Scout Troop 14 at Barnard School needed a sponsor. It seems the troop had been sponsored by a series of different groups since forming in 1926 but by 1935 they were in need of a permanent responsible sponsor. A group of concerned citizens stepped forward with a proposed program for the troop that would eventually benefit the entire Town of Greece.
In early 1935 a group of Greece men from the Dewey/Stone area formed a committee to sponsor the troop, calling themselves the Barnard Civic Club and civic-minded they were. Their first order of business was to find a suitable campsite for the boys. They found the property owned by Dr. Sawyer perfect for their purpose and the doctor of fered the property to the club for $400.00.
Mrs. Antoinette Grabowski of Stone Rd gave the scout treasurer $2.00 for the express purpose of starting the campsite fund. The remainder of the fund was raised by public subscription. $ 1.00 Certificates were sold with the inscription “Invest in Youth of Today for Better Manhood of Tomorrow”.
The Civic Club purchased the property, and scouts planted trees donated by the State, built a cabin, and for many years camped on this site. They called their special place “Camp Sawyer”.
As the years passed, private camps run by individual scout troops became less common and their campsite fell into disuse. A Scout camp operated and maintained by the Scout Council had opened nearby in Webster and other opportunities opened up with the availability of cheap transportation.
In 1958 the site was offered to the Town of Greece as long as it was used for public recreation. It took a decade but in 1970 it officially opened as a town park.
Dr. Sawyer died in 1944, the Barnard Civic Club eventually folded, and Troop 14 lasted until 1979, but the legacy of that Boy Scout troop, the civic-minded group, and the Hilton doctor lives on in a pleasant picnic ground and park behind the YMCA known today as Sawyer Park.
By far the largest and the most elegant of all the late 19th and early 20th century hotels along Lake Ontario in Greece was the Odenbach Manitou Beach Hotel. It was located at the far western end of the Manitou Beach Trolley. Built in 1888 by the Matthew and Servis Co. of State Street in Rochester, a wholesale and retail liquor and tobacco dealer, it was named for the resort of Manitou Springs, Colorado.
By the mid-1890s it had been taken over by Frederick Odenbach, who already had a modest restaurant on State Street. The Hotel had 25 guest rooms, a well-appointed lobby, a men’s bar, and a ladies’ salon, plus a restaurant.
The building was lit by acetylene gas lamps from the gas plant on the property. The frontage on the lake was almost 800 feet with an expanse of sandy beach. The Manitou Trolley began frequent daily, seasonal service in 1891.
Along with the trolley, the steamer Rosalie (owned by the Odenbach family) ran from about 1912 through 1916. It docked at a pier that was about 800 feet in length, built of cement piers and steel decking. A round-trip ticket from Charlotte was 25 cents.
After Fred Odenbach’s death in 1919, the hotel passed to his four sons, Fred J., John H., Matthew P., and Charles P. Odenbach. Matthew took over running the hotel from then on, making many improvements through the years. A major renovation was the enlargement and enclosure of the front porch. The spacious room could easily seat 500 patrons and included a raised bandstand and a dance floor.
From then on, the hotel became famous for its marvelous food, wonderful dance music, and panoramic view of Lake Ontario. Nationally known orchestras of the day such as Vincent Lopez and Tommy Tucker played engagements there, as well as favorite local bands such as Sax Smith and Damon’s Orchestra.
By 1925 the trolley had bowed out to the ever-increasing automobile traffic and the improvement of Manitou Rd. to a two-lane paved road. World War Il had begun in 1939 and the United States went to war at the end of 1941. Curtailment of unnecessary travel by car and gasoline rationing brought an end to the 55-year run of the grandest hotel between Charlotte and Olcott Beach to the west.
In the Map to the left, you can see the location where Elmheart and Manitou Beach Hotels are located on this SubPlan No2. Manitou Beach from the 1932 City of Rochester Plate Map Number 41.
It closed in 1943, never to reopen. A headline in the Rochester Times Union on May 19, 1955 states: “Famed Lakeside Dining Spot, Hotel Manitou, Coming Down.” Matt Odenbach (manager since 1919) was quoted as saying the work had started several weeks before and would be completed by July 4.
The furnishings had been sold and the lumber recycled. The property was still owned by Matt and his three brothers. The land was split into building lots shortly after. Nothing remains as a reminder of the wonderful times that untold thousands of people enjoyed there…..only the expansive view of the lake remains and a faint musical refrain from long ago, whispered by a few remaining poplar trees along Manitou Road.
It might be a surprise to learn that a man that founded one of the first dairies in Greece also sold “suckers” in his very modest store, attached to his dairy barn. Last month in the Corinthian was a “Guess What?” photo. Readers were asked to identify, what looked like an overturned, double sifter. No one ventured a guess but it was once used to hold Lollipops on Buckman’s diary store counter. It might well have been fashioned by Mr. Buckman or made for him (one of a kind).
A short biography of the Buckman family seems in order, since the recent Buckman’s Diary and Donut Shop may not be known to the younger generation.
The Buckmans came from England in the mid-19th century. The Buckman name appears in the 1875 local census with Job and his wife, Harriet Benedict, and their three children, George, Jennie, and J. Frank living in Greece. Job is listed as a farmer with the eldest George being a farm laborer. George is married to his wife Lucy about 1881 and Homer Jay Buckman is born two years later. Moving ahead to the twentieth century, we find the Buckmans on a Road north of the Ridge which will bear their name. Papa George farms a rather modest plot of 9 acres, plus maintains a modest greenhouse. When a 50-acre plot becomes available on the north side of Ridge Road, just west of Long Pond Rd., he purchases it from a Sarah Walker.
1911 is an important year as he sells almost all of the fifty acres to his son George. A house and sturdy barn are already on the property, so George moves in with his wife, Lucy, and year-old daughter, Emeroy. He soon adds twelve cows….George is in the dairy business! He does fairly well but finds he has competition selling milk. By 1914 the competition is gone as George buys that small business and starts to pasteurize milk and deliver it to customers in a one-horse wagon. Business increases and his own cows can’t produce enough milk for the demand. He soon is receiving raw milk dropped off at the North Greece “Hojak” railroad station. He needs a better delivery system than “ole Bessie and wagon”.
A Ford Model T truck does the trick for a few years until a more rugged REO truck takes its place. Homer adds a small cash & carry business store next to the barn. Milk, cream, and in season, ice cream are the main products with a small assortment of gum and candy (hence the suckers). By the late 1920s, his driver is delivering 300 quarts of milk per day, 7 days a week. Because of ill health, Homer sells his business in 1931 to Robert Peters. Buckman still owns the buildings and continues to live in the house just to the west of the business.
In later years Homer moves to Walker Street (once part of the Buckman pasture) and dies in 1972, at the age of eighty-eight. Ralph DeStephano Sr. had purchased the dairy and property in 1950. The DeStephano’s Buckman Bonney Brook Dairy story has been told a number of times in the past. It could be retold in the near future….. Buckman’s Dairy History (July 2017) and now will be featured as a Bicentennial Snapshot this will be Snapshot # 53.
What are the origins of many of the Greece Street names?
From Arlidge Drive and Armstrong Road to Weiland Road and Wendhurst Drive, you will also find the oddball names of, Canasta Road and Hojack Park! Who named these Greece streets and why do they have these varied names? Why was McGuire Road originally called Sage or Ottaway Road? Podunk Road became Mill Rd., which actually had a Cider Mill on a Creek near Long Pond Rd. English Road was not named after The United Kingdom, but for the Nathan English family who were farmers in the area, and Eddy Road, north of the Ridge, became Mt. Read Boulevard.
The end of World War II saw a huge influx of street development and housing. Multiple adjoining streets were named after wildflowers, types of fruit, variations of common names, etc. A housing tract running north of Ridge Rd., East of Long Pond Rd. acquired a group of early New England names of towns and illustrious citizens. Some of the names are Alden, Cabot, Duxbury, Nantucket, Standish, etc.
When the Greece High Schools were built, starting with Olympia in the late 1950s, they would all carry Greek names. It was natural that Greek names would be used for new streets near the schools, i.e.: Olympia Drive, Arcadia Parkway, Athena Drive, etc.
The introduction of full Zip Codes caused a rethinking of how streets would be named. The Postal Dept. and Town Hall certainly were in frenzy during those years. According to data from our DPW, the town presently has 261 miles of roads it maintains. Monroe County maintains 72 1/2 miles and New York State has 19 miles. There are 1000 roads in Greece, plus 57 which are private.
The compiled list shown below is what I have been able to gather with over seventy Greece Street names that are linked to early settlers, farm families, and tract developers, plus a few miscellaneous names not directly connected to the Greece area.
See last month’s June 2014 Corinthian on page 5, for the first article on “Google Mapping” the street names. In the future, you will be able to go to Google Map Engine Pro and find some of these streets with a short sentence about the origin of their names and more. That will be an interesting but ongoing project. The Latest on the Project can be accessed in a future post the Naming of Streets and Roads has an interactive map in the post and this is a project that Joseph Vitello and Alan Mueller are working on.