Bicentennial Snapshot No. 50: Barnard and Lakeshore Fire Districts

This week we explore the history of Barnard and Lake Shore Fire Districts.

Barnard Fire Department

“Early in 1927, a group of civic-minded citizens of the Barnard District seeing the rapid growth of the section, decided that some form of fire protection was needed. This group set about to organize a fire department, and on April 14, 1927, this was realized by having the incorporation papers approved by the Greece Town Board.”

Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Aerial view of Dewey Avenue at Clark Park, 1970s, Office of the Town Historian

The firehouse was built in 1928 on land donated by George H. Clark.

Leon Cox helped found the Barnard Fire Department, was a town councilman, and was a leading businessman in the area.

Leon Cox
Leon Cox

The district’s approximate boundaries are Mount Read Blvd on the west, Latta Road on the north, and the city of Rochester on the east and south.

Map of Environs of Rochester and Monroe County, 1931, G. M. Hopkins Company, from the Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
Barnard Fire Truck, the 1930s, from the Office of the Town Historian

Their first piece of apparatus was a White truck, combination hose, and chemical, purchased from the City of Rochester. The new company fought its first fire on February 4, 1928, at the MacDonald residence on Wendhurst Drive.

25 to 30 firefighters responded to the fire. It was an all-volunteer company, but today is a combination of career and volunteer members.

Barnard Fire District Volunteers, 1931, from the Office of the Town Historian
First police Department, 1940s, from GHS

When Greece converted from constables to a police department in 1932, their headquarters were a room in the Barnard fire station. The police department moved to the town hall in the 1950s.

The fire district operates from a single fire station approximately in the geographic center of their service area. In 1950, realizing that their iron lung machine was better off in a hospital setting, the Barnard Fire Department donated it to Strong Memorial Hospital. (Snapshot # 47 Childhood illnesses and diseases)

Barnard fire station, the 1960s, Office of the Town Historian
Barnard fire station, 2017, Office of the Town Historian

The firehouse was expanded in 1999.

At 3.7 miles, the Barnard Fire District serves the smallest geographic area in Greece, but it has the densest population at 5,536 per mile.

Barnard fire station, 2006, photo by Bill Sauers
Squad 227 from barnardfire.org

At least one of the firefighters on duty each shift is a paramedic and “Barnard is the only fire department in Greece to provide paramedic first-response.” Of their average 3,500 calls for service, 77% are EMS-related.

Barnard Exempts Board of Trustees, Greece Press, circa 1937

In 1935, the Barnard Exempt Fireman’s Association was founded to provide relief aid to disabled or indigent members and their families, to promote the volunteer department, and to foster camaraderie among current and former Barnard firefighters. Under New York State law, exempt in this case meant that the volunteer firefighters were exempt from jury duty and although not in the town of Greece from a small portion of their property taxes.

Officer's Exempt Form
Officer’s Exempt Form
Barnard Park from google maps

In 1937, the Exempts purchased a 16-acre tract on Maiden Lane to build not only a clubhouse for themselves but also with the intention “to turn it into the finest town small park in the state.” They laid out a baseball diamond, set out tables and benches for picnics, and constructed fireplaces for hotdog and marshmallow roasts.” Over the years the park and the party house have hosted thousands of functions.

And on the grounds of the Barnard Exempts, there is a shed that was used as a camp headquarters for a Boy Scouts troop that was sponsored by Barnard Exempt members

A staple of the Dewey-Stone area was the annual Barnard Carnival and Parade, a fundraiser for the fire district.

People gather for the Barnard Parade, 1970s, Office of the Town Historian

The Carnival was held every year from 1928 to 2016 attracting thousands of people.

Ad for 1943 Barnard Carnival, from the Office of the Town Historian

It has been replaced by Bands at Barnard, a series of summer music concerts. You can find more information online for the 2023 schedule for Bands at Barnard by going to their Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/Bandsatbarnard.

Lake Shore Fire District

In 1957 four separate fire companies that served the lake shore communities joined together to form the Greece Lake Shore Fire District. They were the Braddock Heights Fire Department, Grand View Heights Fire Department, Crescent Beach Fire Department, and Lake View Fire Company.

Current Lake Shore Fire District Coverage Map

In the early 1930s, Barnard and North Greece fire districts were under contract with the town to provide service to the shore communities; Barnard was responsible for Shoremont west of the city line to Island Cottage to the Buck Pond outlet and the North Greece territory was from Crescent Beach west to Braddock Heights, including Grand View Beach and Grand View Heights.

Lake Shore Fire Distract shield on side of the Ling Road fire station, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers
Braddock Heights Fire Department with Gordon Howe, 1940s, Office of the Town Historian
Braddock Heights Fire Department with Gordon Howe, 1940s, Office of the Town Historian

But these areas also had their own fire departments. Like Barnard, concerned citizens formed a volunteer fire department at Braddock Heights in 1930. It was located on East Manitou Road at 2nd Ave. Their nickname was The Swamp Rats.

A new station was constructed circa 1965 at 35 East Manitou Road; today, it is no longer a fire station but a studio home.

Braddock Heights Fire Station
Braddock Heights Fire Station, which closed in the Late 1990s, now a Studio Home
Crescent Beach Fire Dept 1930s Greece Town Historian
Crescent Beach Fire Dept 1930s, Greece Town Historian

Crescent Beach Fire Department was founded in 1934 as the Crescent Beach Protective Association but changed its name to Crescent Beach Fire Department when it was incorporated in 1936. It was located on Edgemere Drive. Their symbol was an owl with the motto “We Never Sleep.”

And Grand View Heights established its fire association in 1925 and incorporated in 1936 and was chartered by New York State as a fire department in 1944. They were located at Lowden Point. In the background of the station is the fire siren that was used to call the volunteers to the station before pagers, beepers, cell phones, and radios in the firefighters’ personal vehicles.

Clip 21: Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Ad for Braddock Heights Fire Department Carnival from eBay

Since they were not under contract with the town, they could not be supported by taxes. Each of these volunteer groups and their women’s auxiliaries held frequent fundraisers such as card parties, sauerkraut dinners, and annual carnivals just like Barnard.

The funds raised were used to purchase firefighting equipment.

Fire apparatus of Crescent Beach Fire Department, 1930s, Office of the Town Historian
Lake Shore fire apparatus, 1984
Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road
Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road

In 1957, when they joined together a new firehouse was constructed on Ling Road and called the Lakeview Fire Company

Two of the Lake Shore Fire Department Stations suffered fires the Crescent Beach fire on February 16, 1983, and the Grand View Beach on March 15, 1983, with both stations unable to operate out of their station bays a new station was required

Crescent Beach Fire House FIRE (GHS)
Crescent Beach Fire House FIRE (GHS) was Located at 1391 Edgemere Drive
Former firehouse at Lowden Point, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers
Former firehouse at 225 Lowden Point Road, 2014, photo by Bill Sauers

The Lake Shore Fire District decided to replace both stations with a new building centrally located between both Cresent Beach and Grand View Beach at 1 Long Pond Road. In 1992, the fire station was officially re-dedicated it as the Charles L. Carroll Fire Station honoring the first fire chief of Lake Shore.

Lakeshore fire house 1 Long Pond Road, 2021, photo by Bill Sauer
Lakeshore fire house 1 Long Pond Road, 2021, photo by Bill Sauers

The new site was centrally located in the fire district, and would provide a “more efficient reaction and response in all directions.” It became the first full-time staffed station in the Lake Shore Fire District and was designated the headquarters. It eventually incorporated Braddock Heights in the late 1990s.

Lakeview Fire Department on Ling Road
Ling Road fire station, 2022. Photo by Bill Sauers
Ling Road fire station, 2022. Photo by Bill Sauers

The Ling Road Fire House was replaced with a new building in 2012 and on June 16, 2012, the fire station was officially dedicated in the name of Robert Brindley, LSFD life member and past fire chief of the Lakeview Fire Company. The Ling Road station covers the east end of the Lake Shore Fire District.

As of 2018, the department had 11 full-time career firefighters and 41 volunteers.

Lake Shore Fire District
Lake Shore Fire District
Lake Shore Rescue Boat
Lake Shore Rescue Boat

Unique to the Lake Shore Fire district, the department has two boats and crews trained in water rescue; the boats are assigned to the Ling Road Station. The fire department averages 1,000 calls for service per year, 67% are EMS-related. In 2018 there were 13 events that required the rescue boat.

Ling Road station sign, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

All the Greece fire departments give mutual aid when required: to the other Greece fire districts, the city of Rochester, and neighboring towns, but sometimes they also provide assistance or will fill in for the fire station, and will deploy elsewhere if needed in the state and country to show support or relief for other fire companies. Most recently Lake Shore District firefighters went to Buffalo to assist them after the Christmas weekend blizzard of 2022. Below is the Map of the Walden Fire District in the Town of Cheektowaga.

Map of the Walden Fire District that the Lake Shore Fire District assisted

As a Volunteer for the Greece Historical Society, I, Pat Worboys worked on the Extreme Weather Snapshots with Maureen, which we put together and aired in November, a month before the Christmas Blizzard hit Buffalo.

It was the second record snowfall in less than a month, from the 78 inches dropped in Orchard Park and then 64.7 at Christmas. It is the most snow in New York State to fall between Buffalo and Tug Hill for the 2022 – 2023 snow season.

I have pictures and 2 time-lapsed footage of the Christmas Weekend Blizzard of 2022 from my apartment in the City of Buffalo, where I only lost power for 24 hours.

This is a link to my timelapse and pictures from the blizzard of 2022 and give you a look at what that Friday looked like for me when the blizzard hit https://photos.app.goo.gl/ADLsKhi8LG76hWGm7.

Some of the issues that the county of Erie and the City of Buffalo had to deal with were the amount of snow that fell in the county and the number of trapped or stranded vehicles. High winds reduced visibility to zero; streets became impassable. Tragically, the City had the highest number of deaths.

One of the more unique problems was that the power substations that are built in what look like fake buildings ended up becoming frozen. Because of the way the heat systems in those substations operate, some of the stations did not allow the snow to pass through nor had very good snow barriers to prevent snow from building up in them; the accumulation of snow and ice inside them caused the grid to crash in certain parts of the City of Buffalo.

A National Grid Substation was frozen by snow and required blast heaters to melt the snow to get them back up and running

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we will talk about some of the notable women in the history of Greece.

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 48: Gordon A. Howe

Today our topic is Gordon A. Howe, longtime Monroe County and Greece political leader whose career spanned 43 years.

Gordon A. Howe

When he died in 1989, Gordon A. Howe was eulogized by US Representative Frank Horton: “He was a great leader and an unusual person in that everyone respected him. He made tremendous contributions to county government and to Greece.”

Gordon Howe was born January 19, 1904, the son of Frank Howe from Hamilton County, New York, and Agnes Murray, a native of Scotland. He was one of five children. They moved to Greece in 1919, residing on Denise Road (where the Pine Grove apartments are today).

Gordon A. Howe
Charlotte High School from the Office of the Town Historian

Howe was an all-around student at Charlotte High School this was when the high school just getting ready to move across the road to its new location to house more students.

Charlotte High photo by John Cranch
Charlotte High photo by John Cranch
1922-23 City Basketball Champions from the Office of the Town Historian (Howe holding the basketball)

an outstanding athlete,

Student Council 1924 from the Witan (Charlotte High School Yearbook) from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division (Howe center of the third row from the bottom)

member of the student council, president of his class his senior year,

Yearbook staff, 1924, from the Witan (Charlotte High School Yearbook) from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division (Howe center row second from the right)

and on the yearbook staff.

He even drew the cover for the 1921 Witan.

Pen and ink sketch by Gordon Howe, 1921, courtesy of Marie Poinan
Senior class president 1924, from the Witan (Charlotte High School Yearbook) from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division

He graduated in 1924 and although he wanted to go to Columbia University and major in journalism, he had to forgo college and worked several years for Rochester Gas And Electric (RG&E).

However, it didn’t take him long to find his true calling—a life dedicated to political service. He became involved with Republican politics as soon as he could vote. In 1930 at the age of 26, he was elected to the position of Justice of the Peace—he was the youngest person in the state at the time ever elected to be a JP. He was self-educated in the law.

Gordon A. Howe after his election in 1930 at the age of 26 from GHS

In 1933, due to the Depression, he lost his job as an insurance adjuster. He said: “I had to do something” so he decided to run for Greece Town Supervisor in 1934. He won at the age of 29, and continued to win, ultimately serving 13 two-year terms as Supervisor.

Greece Press, November 5, 1937
Wedding picture 1937 from GHS

In 1937 Howe married Lois Speares, a former schoolmate.

They first lived in the historic Dennis Denise home at 486 Denise Road not far from his parents.

486 Denise Road photo by Bill Sauers
Gordon with his children Gordon II, Gretchen, and David circa 1954, GHS

They had three children, Gordon II, Gretchen, and David.

In 1941, they purchased the historic Larkin-Beattie home, which was then located at 3177 Latta Road. Today it is the home of the Greece Historical Society on Long Pond Road.

Howe House in winter
Aerial view of the Howe property, 1940s, from the office of the Town Historian

The house came with 25 acres of land, perfect for hosting the annual picnic for the Greece Republican committee or the Barnard Fire Department of which Howe was a former volunteer.

Howe, along with his good friend and fellow Republican Al Skinner, who was Monroe County Sheriff from 1938 to 1973, dominated Greece politics for years.

Howe and Skinner from GHS
Kirk Road Bridge, WPA project 1937, from the Office of the Town Historian

During the Depression years, Howe secured WPA funds to improve roads, including filling in marshland to extend Edgemere Drive from Island Cottage Road to Manitou Road and Braddock Bay,

Greece Press, June 21, 1935

providing employment for 1500 Greece families on welfare. Another project was the installation of sanitary sewers in the Dewey-Stone area.

During Al Skinner and Gordon’s Political term, they also had to deal with the Second World War 1940-1945. More on World War II and its effects during Gordon’s Term.

Greece Press, March 28, 1957

While supervisor, Howe saw the town grow from a population of 12,000 to well on its way to becoming the largest Rochester suburb. The population of Greece rose 402% between 1930 and 1960.

The frist recorded population for the town of Greece was in 1825 it showed that the town had One Thousand Five Hundred Forty Seven people living in the town. In 1830 Depending on the U.S. Census or Landmarks of Monroe County Published in 1895 reports two different populations either it is 2,574 or 2,571 Depending on which data you are looking at in terms of the population.

The biggest change in population amount from 1910 to 1930 was when the city of Rochester wanted the Port of Rochester and the Lake Ave corridor this caused the town to lose population from 7,777 in 1910 and in 1920 to a population of 3,350 and a lose of 56.9% of the towns population. But in 1930 after the dust finally settled from the annexations of parts of the town of Greece it rose 261.60% to a population of 12,113, and every year after 1930 the town grew in leaps and bounds and in 2010 the town reached a population of 96,095. In 2019 the town started to see the population dip under 96,100, some of that is because of how New York State is ran, but also people move to where the work is and able to make more income and have better life for their families.

Historical population Of Greece 1825-2019(Est.)

YearPopulation
18251,547*
18302,574 or 2571*
18403,669*42.50%
18504,219*15.00%
18552,702**
18604,147*−1.7%
18614,177
18704,314*4.00%
18804,848*12.40%
18905,145*6.10%
19005,579*8.40%
19107,77739.40%
19203,350 §-56.9%
193012,113261.60%
194014,92523.20%
195025,50870.90%
196048,67090.80%
197075,13654.40%
198081,3678.30%
199090,10610.70%
200094,1414.50%
201096,0952.10&
2019(Est)95,499-0.6%
U.S. Decennial Census of Greece, New York

U.S. Census Report

* Landmarks of Monroe County – Pub 1895

** Census of New York State – Pub 1855

§ City of Rochester annexed Charlotte 1916

Hilton Record, October 21, 1965

Under Howe’s leadership, Greece set the standard for housing tracts, requiring developers to meet requirements regarding the installation of asphalt highways, concrete curbing and sidewalks, street lights, and sanitary and storm sewers.

In 1948 Howe was elected as chairman of the Monroe County Board of Supervisors a position he held until 1960 when the Board appointed him County Manager.

Gordon Howe with Glen Bedenkapp, 1949, from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
Civic Center proposal graphic from mcnygenealogy.com

During his twelve-year tenure, Howe was responsible for building the Civic Center Plaza,

And expanding the airport

Postcard of Rochester’s airport, from Rochester Public Library Local History and Genealogy Division
entrance to Ontario Beach Park from mcnygenealogy.com

He was a pioneer in consolidating county and city services “moving the community toward a more metropolitan government. Parks, health services, and social services were taken over by the county when he was manager.”

Others have praised him for his “far-sighted” initiative of the Pure Waters Project beginning the process of cleaning up Lake Ontario and the Genesee River by halting the discharge of sewage into them. One editorial said: “Today at a time when other metro areas face disastrous water-contamination problems, the Monroe County Pure Waters System, in the opinion of many, is the finest in the country.”

Monroe County Water Authority’s Shoremont Treatment Plant and Imperial North Apartment on Dewey Ave with Round Pond in the background from the Office of the Town Historian
Oil Painting of Gordon Howe with MCC behind him.

For Gordon Howe, personally, was proudest of establishing Monroe Community College, as seen in this oil painting it was once in the dining room at the Society but has since been transferred and put in archive storage for safekeeping and better preservation of the picture.

Portrait of Howe in County Office Building, from the Office of the Town Historian

Howe served as County Manager until 1972. Former long-time Monroe County Sherriff Andy Meloni said about Howe: “He was a quiet man…a good man…a very kind man who could settle disagreements and never provoke animosities.”

After his death in 1989, the Monroe County Office building was named for him.

And the Portrait seen on the left is located in the Gordon A Howe Monroe County office building on the first floor.

And in 1988 the House where he raised Gordon II, Gretchen, and David grew up was moved to the location it is today as it became the home to the Greece Historical Society and Museum.

Gordon A. Howe Monroe County Office Building from mcnygenealogy.com

Thank you for joining us today, next week we’ll tour the Dewey Stone neighborhood.

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FRANCIS HOWARD WHELEHAN Q&A

By Marietta

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. An original paper transcript is in the museum this is a fully digitized version of the Q&A with Howard Whelehan.

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.

Marietta: No.

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 emphasize 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.

Pig, hog industry
brown hen near white egg on nest
Photo by Alison Burrell on Pexels.com

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.

Marietta: Ah.

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.

Marietta: Oh-h.

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.”

Bicentennial Snapshot # 19- Henpeck, Hoosick, and Hojack, What’s in a Name? Part 2

This week we explore some of the myths of some of the nicknames of the communities in the town. This week we look at street names, elevations, and finally the Hojack Line. Some have myths about the name, while some are named after a person or where one of the settlers came from and decided to call the Town of Greece their home.

Street Names of Greece

There are more than 1,050 streets and roads in the town. It should be no surprise that more than 80 of the street names in Greece are related to the farm families who lived along them. In 1935, town supervisor Gordon Howe proposed that some streets be renamed to honor early pioneers. The first change voted on by the town board was to rename what had been Sage or Ottaway Road to McGuire Road in honor of Felix McGuire who settled in Greece circa 1805. Here is a little bit from the Article written in the society’s newsletter by Bill Sauers you can read more by the link below the quote:

Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov
Map of Greece, 2022, from monroecounty.gov

For the trivia aficionados, in the Town of Greece, there are only 25 Streets and 173 Roads but there are approximately 369 Drives, 160 Lanes, 94 Courts, 94 Circles, 40 Avenues, 25 Ways, 7 Boulevards, 21 Trails, and fewer of Commons, Coves, Estates, Landings, Boulevards, etc.*

There are over 80 streets named after the original farm families who lived there. We have some named for the seasons: Spring, Summer, and Autumn, but no Winter. There are animal streets: Fox, Deer, Hawk, Owl, Eagle. Several have female names: Judy Ann, Jackie, Laura, Roseanne, but very few have male names and there are 14 named after saints. There are “state streets”: Kentucky, California, and Florida, but no “State Street” (although one wing of the mall calls its self Main Street but that doesn’t count), and even some named after the pilgrims; (Miles) Standish and (John) Alden. Wood seems to be the most popular with 97 containing the word wood in them, but surprisingly, for a town once known for its orchards, only eight with Apple. Then there are 40 Creeks and 14 Brooks, but no Stream. We even
have one named after a card game, Canasta. Of course, some developers couldn’t resist sneaking in their own names: Willis, Britton, and Alfonso (DeNardo).

*The numbers are approximate and may vary somewhat from what is stated in this story.

June 1, 2018 – Streets and Roads by Bill Sauers | Greece Historical Society and Museum

Scott Road, Eddy Road, Mt. Read Blvd.

Scott Road

Scott Road was the section that ran from Stone Road to Emerson St.

On Mount Read, a famous female pilot, and no it was not Amelia Mary Earhart, but Blanche Stuart Scott, she was a Pilot, Automobile Adventurer, Actress, a museum curator. Blanche Stuart Scott, America’s first female pilot, was born in 1885 on her grandparents’ farm in Greece located on the north side of Lexington Ave, the south side was in Gates. Reading from her unpublished autobiography during a recorded interview, she said.

“My name is Blanche Stuart Scott and I come from a pioneer family, a Rochester pioneer family, who came to Rochester in eighteen hundred and ten.  And settled out on what was then the old Scott Road and is now Mt Read Blvd.”

Blanche Stuart Scott

The land that was the Scott Brothers lot is now where Delphi Automotive a division of General Motors is located today and is now located in the city of Rochester.

1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.
1910 Map of Greece from the Rochester Public Library History and Genealogy Division.

Eddy Road

Eddy Road ran from Stone Road to Latta. The road was named after Thomas Eddy who lived at 3205 Mount Read Blvd.

Thomas Eddy Homestead

Mount Read

At the corners of Latta and Mount Read on the Southeast corn where Our Mother of Sorrows Church was the land once owned by Nicholas Read a pioneer family of the town of Greece and the Paddy Hill area which we will cover more in a later snapshot either on Our Mother of Sorrows Church and or Paddy Hill. It wasn’t until sometime in the 1920s that the entire stretch from Buffalo road to Latta Road would become Mount Read Boulevard.

Elevations in the town

Below is the list of different elevations in the town listed from the lowest point to the highest point the town. If you want to explore the elevation where you live you can check out the site topographic-map.com which is a great digital representation of the data from the United States Geological Surveys topographical data with color-coded elevation lines blow is low elevation and very red is higher elevations.

  • The lowest Elevation in the town is 243 feet and that is along the ponds at the lake which covers all the beach hamlets along the lakefront.
  • Mt Read at Latta Road Elevation is 345 above sea level.
  • North Greece Elevation at the intersection of Latta Road and North Greece Road is 338 feet above sea level
  • The spot where the Native American fort and Hanford Tavern were at Maplewood drive at Bridgeview drive is only 386 feet above sea level.
  • Barnard / Dewey Stone Area is 400 feet above sea level
  • King’s Landing Elevation is 415 feet above sea level
  • Ridge Road at Apollo Drive Elevation is 441 ft above sea level.
  • West Greece Elevation is 455 feet at the Hoosick Cemetary.
  • Ridgeway ave right at the entrance to Ridge Road Fire District Station #3 is 525 feet above sea level.
  • South Greece Elevation at School 12 at Old Ridgeway and Elmgrove Road is 525 feet above sea level.
  • The highest point in the town is where the BJ’s Wholesale Club is located on Bellwood Drive which is 558 feet above sea level.

Hojack Line / Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad /
Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line
and New York Central Railroad

If you are in your 30s or older at least once in your lifetime saw the swing bridge rotate for the trains to cross over the Genesee River at Port of Rochester. The Lake Ontario Shoreline Railroad began operating in 1871. Ownership and the name of the railroad changed hands over the years including the Rome, Watertown, Ogdensburg Rail Road (R.W. & O.) line and New York Central Railroad. But it was colloquially known as the Hojack line. There are to this day speculations of how the line became known as the HoJack Line.’

Hojack Line Myth # 1

“It seems that in the early days of the railroad, a farmer in his mule-drawn buckboard was crossing the tracks when the mule stopped and wouldn’t move.  When the farmer saw the fast-approaching train, he began shouting, “Ho-Jack, Ho-Jack.” Amused by the incident, the trainmen began calling their line the “Ho-Jack.”

Hojack Line Myth #2

According to a story published in the Greater Greece Post in 1965, “when it was necessary to hurriedly assemble a train crew in the wee small hours of the night, the call Ho Jack would boom through the halls of the rooming houses where railroad men stayed.”

Hojack Line Myth #3

A farmer, turned train engineer by the name of Jack Welch would yell Whoa, Jack when he stopped the train as if he were still stopping a horse. It was picked up and passed on as Hojack.

The More Plausible answer to the Hojack Line Myth

From a scientific standpoint if you listen to the sound of a train whistle as the sound travels thru the air it sounds more like hojack or Whoa Jack but even this could be seen as a myth to the nickname of the line.

Want to Explore More on Snapshot 19

Consider the following the following books for more information on the information in this snapshot:

The Hojack Line Remembered Oswego to Lewiston by Richard Chait is available in the gift shop at the museum and where ever books are sold just not available in our online store.

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Leaving a Message for the Future

John J. Walsh
Greece Press
1939

It is quite common here at the Greece Historical Society to receive a phone call or email asking a local history or family-related question, which we are always happy to help with. We also get calls about donating some precious antiques, family heirlooms, or other objects. With storage space at a premium and keep­ ing in mind the cost of caring for these items, we insist that any object or document we acquire will help to tell the story of Greece.

Then there is that odd call that just does not fit into any category. Last summer someone called who was remodeling their home in Greece and wanted to know if we were interested in what they found inside one of its walls. My curiosity got to me and off I went to see what they had. It was a small handwrit­ten note and some old deteriorated 1938 newspapers. Old newspapers are fun to look at, but of no real value, as they are nearly all available online, or on microfilm, but the handwritten note sent me on a quest to find out who it was that hid these items in the wall.

The note read:

“These papers were put in this wall by John J. Walsh who built this house and this year 1938 I am 47 years old and am employed as a printer and run a linotype on the Times-Union, and the Democrat & Chronicle are printed in the same building. Not knowing when these papers will be taken out of this wall, I wish the papers be shown at the Times to members of the Typographical Union men.”

John J. Walsh

With my connections in town, I did find one man who remembered John at the paper, but he was a very young Times-Union employee at the time and John was on his way to retirement, so he was no help.

Then I was off to search the website, NYS Historic Newspapers, with its treasure trove of old local papers. I found that John J. Walsh grew up in the City and moved to Greece in 1937 with his wife Julia and two daughters. He was a member of the Inter­ national Typographical Union No. 15 and as his note said, he was employed at the Times-Union.

John was highly active in the Greece Democratic Party, including serving as its chairman for a number of years. He even ran against Gordon Howe for Supervisor in 1939 and for Justice of the Peace in 1943. According to newspaper accounts, he spent quite a bit of time vociferously attacking the Republican majority in Town but still cooperated with them in promoting the sale of war bonds.

In 1944 he was recognized for his contributions to a military club that was operating a service center. He was active in St. John the Evangelist Church and on the committee to raise funds for their new school in 1946, while also serving on the Rochester OPA (Office of Price Administration) Control Board. John died of a heart attack on August 23, 1952, and was buried at Holy Sepulchre Cemetery.

Unfortunately, I was not able to share his old newspapers with the guys at the Times-Union. I am sure John would never have imagined that the Times-Union would stop publishing in 1997 and the profession of linotype operator would vanish with the advent of computers. l was, however, able to find stories about his life here in Greece because of the advent of computers. Af­ter finding out who John J. Walsh was, I visited his grave; l felt the need to let him know that someone did eventually find his note and those old newspapers some 82 years after he hid them in that wall.

Today there is truly little in newspapers that record the stories of local events or people. This is one reason why the NYS Education Department at the NYS Library has organized the COVID-19 Personal History Initiative to record and preserve the unprece­ dented historical events currently unfolding around us. They encourage all New Yorkers to keep a journal documenting what their daily lives are like during this pandemic: the challenges they face; the obstacles they have to overcome; and the creative ways they found to connect with family, friends, and community.

Consider documenting your story and donating it to the Greece Historical Society or any other historical society or municipal historian where it will be archived locally with copies sent to the State Library, which will preserve all the journals and stories from New York State for future generations to study and learn from.

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Proposed Community Center and Park

In June of 1929, our town of only 13,000 was growing rapidly and there were no provisions for playgrounds or rec­reation. Then W. Chandler Knapp, chairman of the Greece Planning Board, with the backing of leading residents, proposed purchasing 85 acres of land, known as Glendemere Farms, on Dewey Avenue. The land, to be used as a community center and park, was ideally suited for such a purpose, with a large barn that could be used as a community center and gym, and a building that would serve as a library, and enough land that could provide excellent facili­ ties for bridle paths and a playground. The owner had, over the past 19 years, actually developed his farm as a future park and, at age 69, was ready to sell. He had already donated some of his property to the local fire department the year before. The town council was not ready to commit to such a large endeavor at that time but would take the question up with the Monroe County Parks Commission, relative to their buying the property.”

Plat book of Monroe County, New York. Plate 33 (1924) shows you the location of George H Clark’s Property and where the proposed park would have been

In the civic planning process timing can be crucial and the summer of 1929 was definitely the wrong time. The County was in the process of acquiring land for Churchville, Mendon Ponds, and Ellison Parks, and by the time any­ one gave the Greece project any consideration is was the beginning of the Great Depression. The thought of pur­ chasing more land was the last thing on anyone’s mind.

The particular parcel of land that the Greece Planning Board was interested in was owned by George H. Clark, one of the most well-known and wealthiest individuals in Monroe County at the time. At the age of 24, he and his father purchased stock in the Eastman Dry Plate & Film Company, thereby becoming one of the original investors in what would become the Eastman Kodak Company.

Aerial view of St. Joseph’s Villa from GHS
Aerial view of St. Joseph’s Villa from GHS

Eight years after the Greece project died, the Catholic Diocese of Rochester, negotiated the purchase of the farm from Mr. Clark for $25,000, forever ending any possibility of a town park and community center at that site. Although now in private hands, and developed for other purposes, the land would be used by neighborhood youth for quite some time. Ball diamonds had been laid out by its new owner, and they were open most of the time for pick-up games, the large field was excellent for Fall football, and an adjacent gully made for some of the best, although very dangerous, winter sledding in the area. For many years, long before environmental and safety rules, it was also the site of an annual community Christmas tree burning.

Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers
Barnard Fire Department Plaque photo by Bill Sauers

Most people in Greece have long forgotten the name George H. Clark, but his legacy lives on. In 1928 the Barnard Fire Department built their firehouse on the land he donated. That original firehouse still stands today, albeit with a few additions. In June of 1942 several children and nuns took a bus from the City and moved into their new home, named St. Joseph’s Villa. (now the Villa of Hope) That barn, the one George built years ago, still stands today, although the building that could have been the library is long gone due to the reconstruction and re-alignment of Dewey Avenue.

Barnard Fire District Volunteers, 1931, from the Office of the Town Historian
Barnard Fire District Volunteers, 1931, from the Office of the Town Historian

It took 77 years from that proposed community center and park at George Clark’s Glendemere Farms to the opening, in 2006, of our Greece Community and Senior Center on the Greece Town Campus. So what would we have called that community center and park in 1929? I’m sure no one will ever know, but in 1949 when Supervisor Gordon Howe announced the name of a new street connecting Dewey Avenue and Almay Road, a street that was on the land once owned by George Clark, the land that may have been our town community center and park, did he realize the irony in the street’s name, CLARK PARK?

This building might have become our Town’s community center.

This a condensed version of a story originally published in the Greece Post in 2006

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A German field gun helps win the war

Veterans Day and Memorial Day are special days for Americans. especially for our veterans. On these special days all across America, we gather ’round our war memorials to pay tribute to our men and women who have served and to those who have given their lives for their country.

War memorials can be nothing more than a small plaque on the wall of a town hall, a special area in the local cemetery, or in many cases a large relic from a past conflict. Many towns have a cannon or a statue in the middle of the town square, or a captured field gun like the town of Greece once in front of the old Town Hall on Ridge Road.

It was in August 1931 when a Greece Legionnaires committee, headed by Police Chief Milton H. Carter, acquired a 105 mm German Howitzer. The field gun had been captured from the Germans during the World War and was obtained from the government with the cooperation of Congressman James Whitley.

After some cleaning and polishing, it was placed on a concrete base in front of Town Hall. For a decade, the field gun was the centerpiece of the town’s Memorial Day ceremonies. However, the last time a ceremony was conducted at the field gun during peace time, was on Memorial Day 1941, when Supervisor Gordon Howe placed a wreath on the cannon, followed by a parade to Falls Cemetery, where the Rev. Alfred Wangman, pastor of Dewey Avenue Presbyterian Church, prayed “not for victory but for peace.”

Gordon Howe, Town Supervisor, lays a wreath on Memorial Day at the Town Hall, 1941, from the Office of the Town Historian
The flag of stars flew at Greece Town Hall to call attention to the number of Greece Men and Women in service during World War II. Additional stars were added as the numbers grew. From Left to Right Town Supervisor Gordon Howe, Police Chief Milton Carter, and Lucius Bagley World War I Veteran
M60 tank sits outside at American Legion Post 468 on Dorsey Road

Within a year we were totally involved in World War II. Everyone on the home front was doing their patriotic duty by participating in their local salvage campaign. Here in Greece, residents were collecting old newspapers, tin cans, rubber, you name it, when it was realized that that one field gun was worth more than a 1,000 tin cans.

Soon a decision was made by the members of the American Legion Post, headed by Commander Cyrille Ver Weire, and town officials that the cannon would be dismantled and the metal turned over for the salvage campaign “to help keep Uncle Sam’s war industries humming.”

On Sunday, Nov. 14, 1942, 66 years ago, a delegation including Carter went to Town Hall for the last look at the war relic before its dismantling.
In some respects, it must have been a sad occasion to lose their prized field gun, but the Legionnaires were informed that in return for their contribution of the gun to the salvage effort they would receive another war relic at the close of the war.

That war relic was a long time coming. It wasn’t until June 1999 that the post received an American M-60 tank, which is now on display in front of their building on Dorsey Road.

We can wonder if those Legionnaires in 1931 ever realized that their obsolete captured German field gun would someday be used to help with win another war against the Germans.

Let’s hope that we are never again in a situation that we have to salvage parts from an obsolete war relic.

Originally published in the Greece Post on November 13, 2008

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