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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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 47: Childhood diseases

Today we will look back at some of the illnesses and diseases that affected the lives of many children.

Mother Newell and her eight children, Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery, 2021, photo by Joe Vitello
Mother Newell and her eight children, Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery, 2021, photo by Joe Vitello

When we conduct walking tours of local cemeteries, we get asked about all the small tombstones. Yes, they usually indicate the grave of a child. Here in Our Mother of Sorrows Cemetery are the graves of eight Newell children: Anna, Edward, George, another George, Hattie, Henry, Julia, and Willard.

The child mortality rate in the United States, for children under the age of five, was 462.9 deaths per thousand births in 1800. This means that for every thousand babies born in 1800, over 46 percent did not make it to their fifth birthday. Over the course of the next 220 years, this number has dropped drastically, and the rate has dropped to its lowest point ever in 2020 where it is just seven deaths per thousand births. Although the child mortality rate has decreased greatly over this 220-year period, there were two occasions where it increased; in the 1870s, as a result of the fourth cholera pandemic, smallpox outbreaks, and yellow fever, and in the late 1910s, due to the Spanish Flu pandemic. source: UN DESA; World Population Prospects 2019, Online Edition

Child mortality rate (under five years old) in the United States, from 1800 to 2020
Child mortality rate (under five years old) in the United States, from 1800 to 2020
Each five-year increment is from January 1 of the previous 5-year marker to December 31, of the 5-year marker.

Most of the Newell children lived less than a year, one died at the age of three, and the longest surviving child died at the age of 12. In the United States during the 1850s and ‘60s, 42% of children died before the age of five. There were numerous communicable diseases prevalent in the 19th century. These included smallpox, diphtheria, measles, meningitis, scarlet fever, and whooping cough. Cholera infantum was also common.

Mother with a sick child
Mother with a sick child

One historian wrote: “Up until the 1930s, infant mortality, especially in the cities during the summers, was ferocious. Infant susceptibility to a variety of respiratory and gastrointestinal disorders was exacerbated by poor sanitation, overcrowded tenements, contaminated milk supplies, and lack of refrigeration.” Cholera infantum was a gastrointestinal disease of infants and children. “Various strategies were devised to remove infants from danger during the hottest months.” One strategy was tent hospitals. One was set up in the Town of Greece along Lake Ontario on Beach Ave where Waterview Heights Rehabilitation and Nursing Center and some parts of where Lakeshore Country Club holes 16 and 17 were used as walking paths before the country club was formed in 1932 on the Greenleaf Estate.

Believing that the pure air and salubrious effects of breezes off Lake Ontario could benefit the health of sickly children, Dr. Edward Mott Moore established the Infants Summer Hospital circa 1885 on land

Dr. Edward Mott Moore
Dr. Edward Mott Moore
Halbert S. Greenleaf from Semi-centennial History of the City of Rochester by William Farley Peck
Halbert S. Greenleaf from Semi-centennial History of the City of Rochester by William Farley Peck

…donated by Halbert S. Greenleaf. Greenleaf and his wife, Jean Brooks Greenleaf, had a summer residence on the property that extended from Latta Road to Beach Avenue. It was also the largest stock farm in Monroe County.

Plat book of Monroe County, New York. Plate 24 [map].

The land was situated on a bluff overlooking Lake Ontario just west of the village of Charlotte. The tent hospital was on today’s Beach Avenue. The Greenleaf’s Summer property was 167 acres. His neighbors were the Flemings, the Lings, Mrs. G.C. Latta, J.G. Martie, David Tennison, Orin Hoxey, and the McManus.

Close-up of Halbert S. Greenleaf Property from the 1902 Plat Map
Postcard of Infants Summer Hospital from Rochester Public Library’s History and Genealogy Division

They first erected tents to house sick children. Ample accommodations were provided for mothers who expected to stay with their children. There were no charges for any service or care.

By 1888, some permanent buildings had been erected.

Postcard of Infants Summer Hospital from Rochester Public Library’s History and Genealogy Division
Kitchen and dining hall of Infants Summer Hospital, 1930, from Rochester Public Library’s History and Genealogy Division

Once milk began to be pasteurized there were fewer cases of cholera infantum and children suffering from cardiac conditions or orthopedic injuries needing a lengthy recuperation were admitted here for care.

The Map to the right is the 1932 Plate Map of the City of Rochester which shows the Greenleaf Property subdivided at the Clarence S. Lunt Property.

rpm00588, 11/10/04, 11:39 AM, 8C, 6864×10148 (592+665), 138%, Copy 4 stops w, 1/40 s, R107.3, G86.5, B107.8

This 1935 Plat Map shows a better close-up of the Infants Summer Hospital listed on the map.

In 1929 the name was changed to Convalescent Children’s Hospital. It operated at the Beach Avenue address until 1960. Today the building is Waterview Heights Rehabilitation and Nursing Center.

Convalescent Children’s Hospital, 1949, from Rochester Public Library’s History and Genealogy Division
Convalescent Children’s Hospital, 1949, from Rochester Public Library’s History and Genealogy Division
Ad for Scott’s emulsion, 1880, from the British Library

Another challenging disease for doctors was diphtheria,

What is Diphtheria?

The definition of diphtheria according to the Oxford Dictionary is an acute, highly contagious bacterial disease, causing inflammation of the mucous membranes, formation of a false membrane in the throat that hinders breathing and swallowing, and can cause potentially fatal heart and nerve damage by a bacterial toxin in the blood.  It is now rare in developed countries because of immunization.

Since the disease was so contagious people were quarantined for a range of 12 days to several weeks. Emma Pollard Greer writes in her History of Charlotte that an outbreak in the summer of 1881 delayed the opening of school in the fall.

Quarantine Poster early 20th century, from the National Library of Medicine of the National Institute for Health

In 1913, a boy in the Brown family of West Greece was stricken; his older brother was a teacher at the Brick School, District School No. 10 on Lake Avenue. That school was shut down in the hopes of stopping the spread of what was also called “the choking disease.” You can learn more about this district school in Bicentennial Snapshot # 43

A native of a small town in Illinois, Dr. George Sanders settled in Greece after serving in World War I. He would maintain a practice in Greece for almost 50 years, serving as the Town health officer as well from 1920 to 1944, and as the school district’s physician from 1960-1968.

You can read the digitized copy of his autobiography here on our site

Dr. George Sanders from the Office of the Town Historian
Dr. George Sanders from the Office of the Town Historian
Rowe-Hillman-Sanders House, 2672 Ridge Road West (no longer standing), from GHS

His home and office were on Ridge Road in a beautiful old house.

In his reminiscences, Dr. Sanders describes his campaigns to keep children in Greece safe from the communicable diseases that so often took the lives of children at an early age—smallpox, measles, scarlet fever, and diphtheria. Using horses who were immune to it, an anti-toxin was developed to inoculate children against diphtheria.

Dr. George Sanders inoculating a child against diphtheria, Greece Press, April 24, 1947
Dr. George Sanders, 1920, from GHS

Dr. Sanders wrote: “The year before I arrived in Greece the last case of smallpox occurred. Vaccinations had been started and with everyone vaccinated today the disease has disappeared, but diphtheria was a dreaded disease; I got in on the first diphtheria anti-toxin treatments.”

Headline from Democrat and Chronicle, April 28, 1926

“The groundbreaking campaigns against diphtheria in the 1920s and ’30s evolved into a universal program of infant vaccination in the United States. A DTP vaccine, created in the 1940s, combined diphtheria and tetanus toxoids with an inactivated version of the bacteria that causes whooping cough (pertussis).”

Polio Outbreak

Between 1945 and 1955, those earlier diseases were supplanted by another that struck terror in the hearts of parents—polio. Polio (short for poliomyelitis, once called infantile paralysis), is used to strike thousands of children in the United States each year. According to one historian: “By mid-century, polio had become the nation’s most feared disease. And with good reason. It hit without warning. It killed some victims and marked others for life, leaving behind vivid reminders for all to see: wheelchairs, crutches, leg braces, and deformed limbs. In 1921, it paralyzed 39-year-old Franklin Delano Roosevelt, robust and athletic, with a long pedigree and a cherished family name. If a man like Roosevelt could be stricken, then no one was immune.” Look at this picture of him attending the Mother of Sorrow’s Church centennial celebration on June 8, 1930, we may not know what was to the right of him in the picture but look at how the Governor left hand is gripping the right arm of his secretary Guernsey T. Cross, a certain way, so that FDR could stand up for this picture, in the back of him he may have some sort of device to help him stand up because of the state of paralysis from polio but because this was a photo for the Public we do not have the full picture to the right of the governor in this picture.

Distinguished guests at the centennial celebration, June 8, 1930, from the Rochester Times Union, June 9, 1930 (from left: Governor Franklin D. Roosevelt; Guernsey T. Cross, governor’s secretary; Mrs. Eleanor Roosevelt; State Senator Frederick J. Slater, chairman of centennial committee.)
March of Dimes poster from the Museum of Health Care
1957 March of Dimes Poster from the March of Dimes Foundation

In 1945, there were 12 Grecians suffering from polio. More than half the men, women, and children attacked by polio recovered with no enduring effects 29 percent were left with a slight residual paralysis, 18 percent remained handicapped, and three percent died. It was most fatal to children under the age of 10.

Polio was one of the costliest diseases known to medicine. Some Insurance Companies set up insurance policies for people with Polio to be able to cover the costs of Polio treatments and medical bills related to pay for care if someone had Polio, yet today the same insurance companies no longer will set up coverage to pay for treatments for Cancer, HIV/AIDS, COVID-19 related health issues or other diseases because they are now at the whims of shareholders and Wall Street over the policyholders.

Ad from Greece insurance agency in the Greece Press, September 25, 1952
A child receiving physical therapy for Polio from the CDC

Treatment of the disease in its acute stage required constant skilled nursing, extensive physical therapies, and frequently expensive equipment. That care and treatment often extended for months afterward.

“During the epidemics of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s, some patients with serious breathing problems were placed in an “iron lung,” a cylindrical chamber that surrounded a patient’s body from the neck down, which used rhythmic alterations in air pressure to force air in and out of the individual’s lungs.” 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. We will get to Barnard Fire Department in Snapshot # 50. And in 2020 at least one company at least in the state of Kansas started to make a modern-day version of the Iron Lung to help build them because of the short supply of ventilators in the country because of COVID-19. As of this post currently, there are at least 2 people left living using Iron Lungs in the United States.

Iron lung/via Carol M. Highsmith, Library of Congress/Public Domain
Collection folder to put dimes in from Yale Medicine

Every January for more than 10 years, the women of Greece participated in the campaign to raise money to find a vaccine to prevent polio. The campaign culminated in the Mothers March, a night when everyone was asked to leave their porch lights on and the mothers went from door to door in their neighborhoods soliciting donations. Every home in the town was canvassed. In 1952 almost 2,000 mothers participated. It was an all-out effort joined by many others in the community to contribute to the campaign to fund research for a vaccine.

Every year the Men’s Brotherhood of Bethany Presbyterian Church held a dance; two of the organizers were polio survivors. There were collection boxes in all the schools. The Paddy Hill Players put on a benefit show.

Greece Press January 27, 1949
Greece Press, May 13, 1954

And every year they hoped for an effective vaccine. That hope was realized in 1955; The Jonas Salk vaccine was first to be approved that year; it was made from completely inactivated polio viruses and injected into the body. The oral vaccine developed by Albert Sabin was made from weakened polio viruses. It was introduced in 1963. A kindergarten class in a Greece school was a testing site for the Salk vaccine; the children were given two shots over a two-week period in May 1954. They were part of the largest human experiment in history. Although recently in the news, still, because of the polio vaccine, cases in the United States are very rare now.

Thank you for joining us today, next week we look at Gordan A. Howe

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Bicentennial Snapshot No. 45: Speakeasies

Today we continue our Prohibition in Greece story with a look at the speakeasies that dotted the town.

Clinton N. Howard

Clinton N. Howard was a powerful, passionate, and persuasive advocate against alcohol. He was called the “Little Giant” (he was only five feet tall) and the “Apostle of Prohibition.” Widely known as a brilliant orator, it was said that between 1901 and 1920 when the 18th amendment was passed, he had addressed more people than any other living individual. He visited almost every town and city in the nation. He gave more than 3500 sermons just in the Rochester area alone.

Broadside promoting Clinton N. Howard from digital.lib.uiowa.edu
Headline from Democrat & Chronicle July 31, 1928

Howard damned Latta Road as “the Highway to Hell” because of the number of speakeasies along its length. Once Prohibition went into effect, Howard was a constant watchman to see that it was enforced. He disguised himself (sometimes as a woman) and went into places to obtain evidence the law was being violated in more than 300 cases. During the first week of April 1921 alone, a disguised Howard (he looked like a derelict), along with two US Secret Service agents. visited 138 bars and was served whiskey at 137. He did so to prove his claim that the Rochester area was openly flouting the law and that local police were doing little or nothing to enforce it.

But the beach resorts and hotels that catered to the tourists and summer vacationers were going to continue to give their clientele what it wanted, law or no law.

Limburger Cheese Club at the Grand View Beach Hotel from the Office of the Town Historian

Grand View Beach Hotel

Grand View Beach from GHS

Anthony Kleinhans built the Grand View Beach Hotel circa 1882 at 2200 Edgemere Drive (today Old Edgemere Drive). Joseph Rossenbach, Sr. took over and then was succeeded by his son, Joseph Rossenbach, Jr. who was a proprietor during Prohibition. Newspapers referred to the Grand View Beach Hotel as an “exclusive lakeshore nightclub.” Thousands of dollars had been spent to transform the wooden building, which faced the lake, into an attractive resort. It was “one of the most exclusive of the lakeside night clubs…having long been popular with merrymakers who seek recreation at the midnight hour.” Right from the earliest days of Prohibition, the Hotel was a favorite target of dry agents.

But the year 1930 was extraordinary; in August three raids were made on the Hotel in quick succession. The raids marked the first time within the memory of any of the Rochester agents that a place had been visited two nights in succession. When the agents staged their surprise raid on the afternoon of Wednesday, August 6, four barrels of beer, immersed in the cool waters of Lake Ontario which flowed through a cellaret under the bar room were found.

Headline Times-Union August 7, 1930
Headline Times-Union August 8, 1930

The warrant used in the raid on the night of August 7 was executed in Buffalo on a complaint of two special agents, who reported they had made several “buys” of liquor at the Hotel on Wednesday night, scarcely two hours after the first raid. Agents swarmed into the crowded barroom just as the evening’s gaiety was getting underway. Catching a glimpse of the raiders approaching the door, Harry Lames, the bartender, began smashing every bottle within reach. The tinkling glass spurred the agents to greater speed. One started to leap over the bar shouting threats. Lames desisted in his efforts to destroy the evidence.

Although the agents did not enter the crowded dining room of the Grand View Beach Hotel on August 7, “news of the raid spread quickly and in a moment the place was in an uproar. Glasses were emptied surreptitiously under the tables or tossed into handy flowerpots. Agents reported several cuspidors in the barroom were filled to overflowing with liquid smelling strangely like alcohol as worried customers stood awkwardly nearby with empty glasses in hand.” On August 9, in the third raid in four days, State Troopers seized liquor samples in a midnight raid on the luckless hotel once again. Ultimately, the Grand View Beach Hotel Bar was ordered padlocked for six months in October 1930.

Headline Times-Union October 8, 1930

Sea Glades Hotel/Bar/Restaurant

Sea Glades Hotel, 1930s, Greece Historical Society

The Sea Glades hotel/bar/restaurant located at 788 Edgemere Drive was known by various names over the years, Outlet Cottage, Lake View, The Breakers, Surf Club, and Edgewater, but during the height of the Prohibition era, it was called Sea Glades. The proprietor, Ward Vaughn, was considered the most genial of hosts and a “highly personable character.” At the Sea Glades, Vaughn had a “class trade” who liked to spend freely and stay late. It became Vaughn’s custom to invite his customers to the darkened porch of the Sea Glades to watch the cases of whiskey and bags of ale as they were “imported” from Canada from a boat idling just beyond the sandbar. He figured it proved his claim that his product was “right off the boat.” The rumrunners, however, didn’t like so many witnesses, so they shifted to a nearby cove and loaded the liquor into an automobile, and then delivered it to Sea Glades. Vaughn, reluctant to give up his nighttime drama, just substituted his own employees offloading empty wooden cases from a boat borrowed from a friend, his customers none the wiser about the charade.

Mike Conroy Boxing Career

An immigrant from Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium whose real name was Clement J. Versluys, Conroy made his professional boxing debut on May 31, 1920; and during his ten-year career, with 57 bouts he won 34, 22 of them were KOs, Lost 19, 8 of them were KOs., and 4 Draws. The remaining matches for Mike Conroy’s carrier were before he turned pro which put his record at 31 Wins, 22 of them were KOs, and 2 were either losses or draws before he went pro which puts his overall wins at 65 wins of his 79 bouts, 42 of them by knockouts (KOs). He also won several heavyweight titles here in New York State and on December 13, 1924, Mike Conroy won his match in Havana, Cuba against Antolin Fierro the match was planned to be a 10-round match but by the 5th round, Mike had successfully Knocked out Antolin Fierro and took home the Cuban Heavyweight title to Greece, New York. He was a sparring partner of Gene Tunney during the five years leading up to Tunney’s defeating “Battling Jack Dempsey” (Henry Peaks) for the heavyweight crown. Conroy also fought exhibitions with Jack Dempsey. Dempsey and Tunney were the two leading boxers of the Prohibition era.

Mike Conroy Stats from BoxRec.com and according to BoxRec.com the stats they have for Mike Conroy’s professional debut. any Fights listed in his record before that date of this fight, in record published in THE RING, were amateur affairs.

divisionheavy
statusinactive
bouts57
rounds359
KOs38.6%
career1920-1929
debut1920-05-31
ID#038308
birth nameClement J. Versluys
sex male
nationality USA
residenceRochester, New York, USA
birth place Watervliet, Oost-Vlaanderen, Belgium
BoutsWins
5734
LostDraws
194
Mike Conroy’s Professional Boxing Stats
Mike Conroy matchbook cover
1925 Flyer

Pine Tree Inn

Pine Tree Inn from GHS

Mike Conroy’s Pine Tree Inn, located at 1225 Ridge Road West at the terminal of Mount Read Blvd, was formerly the home of the Lay family, one of the early settler families in Greece. The name comes from the pine trees which used to surround the apple orchards. It was converted to a tavern-hotel around the turn of the 20th century and was purchased by Conroy in December 1928. The congenial Conroy, known as the Bull of Ridge Road, didn’t let the Volstead Act get in the way of his turning the Pine Tree Inn into a local hotspot. His establishment was raided by dry agents in August 1929 and in May 1930 and padlocked in December 1932. Conroy’s inn straddled “the line between the town of Greece and the city of Rochester,” and his lawyers used that quirk to beat convictions. If the warrant said the property was in Greece, the lawyer produced a paper, such as a gas bill, saying it was in the city and vice versa. In due course, agents learned to make out warrants both ways.

Domino Inn / Cosmo Club

As we told you in Snapshot 24, the hotel at Latta and North Greece roads had many names during its 108-year history. It was the Domino Inn and Cosmo Inn during Prohibition. In August 1922, private detectives caught proprietors Harry Wilson and Lewis Dustin serving highballs, cider, and whiskey. Wilson and Dustin were ordered to appear in court to show cause why they should not be removed from maintaining their property. On April 16, 1926, the Domino Inn was raided by a squad of federal agents; they confiscated a pint of gin and proprietor Lewis Dustin again had to answer for it in court. Under new ownership with a new name, the Cosmo Club, the inn was again a target for dry agents in 1932 when proprietor Ray Keck (who previously owned a restaurant at the intersection of Latta Road and Long Pond Road) was arrested for possession of two half barrels of beer and a small quantity of liquor.

North Greece Hotel/Domino Inn from GHS

T.W. Beatty & Son. Island Cottage Hotel

Island Cottage Hotel from GHS

Beatty’s Island Cottage Hotel, at 953 Edgemere Drive near Island Cottage, was a lakeshore landmark built by Thomas Beatty in 1891 shortly after the opening of the Charlotte Manitou rail line. It soon became the spot to go for summer outings and picnics. Raymond Beatty took over the operation of the hotel in 1917. It was nearly destroyed in a fire in 1932. Ray Beatty and Walter Riddell, the bartender, were arrested after a raid on July 23, 1932, when seven half-barrels of beer, 330 gallons of cider, and assorted liquors were impounded. Riddell was arrested and fined again in May 1933 just months before the law’s repeal.

Reardon’s Inn / Braddock Bay Grill

Braddock’s Bay Hotel from GHS

Reardon’s Inn, later the Braddock’s Bay Hotel, was located at 372 Manitou Road. William and Jane Reardon owned and operated Reardon’s Inn. Jane Reardon was arrested on August 13, 1931, for possessing two half barrels of beer, two gallons of cider, two ounces of whisky, and two ounces of gin. She pleaded guilty in September and was fined $100.00. Today it is the Braddock Bay Grill.

Braddock Bay Grill, 2019, photo by Bill Sauers

Grove House

Grove House, the 1910s from the Office of the Town Historian

Grove House, located at 187 Long Pond Road was established at least as early as 1880. It was considered a roadhouse compared to more upscale speakeasies.

The arrests made during raids were for comparatively little alcohol; there was “some beer, wine and cider” on August 28, 1929; 16 one-gallon jugs of cider on November 29, 1929; and a mere two gallons of cider and one barrel of beer in August 1931.

Grove House, undated, courtesy of Bill Sauers
Public Nuisance Sign from GHS

The bar was padlocked for several months in 1932.

Grove House’s alcohol was supplied by the Staud Brothers. According to Dwight Bliss, George Staud told him that they kidnapped a federal agent, who infiltrated the Staud organization and held him in the basement of Grove House where they threatened him with a “one-way ride to Lake Ontario.” The agent managed to escape, but possibly still in fear of the Stauds, requested a transfer to Detroit where he thought he’d be safer.

Grove House bar, undated, courtesy Bill Sauers
Grove House, 2008, photo by Bill Sauers

After Prohibition, George and Eddie Staud operated the restaurant at Grove House.

After the Staud brothers, Fred Rotunno owned it for a bit before it became Barnard’s Grove you can read more on the Grove house from Fred Rotunno and Edmond Uschold interview that was done by George Caswell and Edwin Spelman on August 10, 1977.

Today, it’s Barnard’s Grove Restaurant.

Barnard’s Grove, 2022, photo by Bill Sauers

Explore the Prohibition and Speakeasies Exhibit – Ended December 2023

Prohibition exhibit at Greece Historical Society and Museum, photo by Bill Sauers

To learn more about the Prohibition Era in Greece visit the Greece Historical Society and Museum at 595 Long Pond Road, where Rumrunners, Speakeasies, and Bathtub Gin exhibit has ended. The Museum’s hours are Sundays, 1:30-4 pm, March through December.

Below is a custom map created by members of the society that shows all the locations of the speakeasies.

On the Map Below the Reardon’s Inn is actually supposed to be marked on the John Mose 4 acres lot and not on F.H. Straub land

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 33: Extreme Weather Part 1

Today we will be talking about some historic weather events.

1816 and the effects of Mount Tambora eruption in Greece New York

In 1815, the largest eruption of a volcano in recorded history occurred; Mount Tambora, in Indonesia erupted spewing so much ash into the atmosphere that global temperatures dropped dramatically in the summer of 1816 causing unusual cold and food shortages. 1816 became known as the year without a summer or “eighteen hundred and froze to death.”

Painting of Mount Tambora erupting
Mount Tambora can be seen via space using satellite imagery, by NASA

The volcanic dust carried around the globe on the jet stream covered the earth like a great cosmic umbrella, dimming the Sun’s effectiveness during the whole cold year. The eastern United States, Europe, and China were hugely affected. It caused widespread crop failures, famine, and 90,000 deaths, many from starvation.

The 1815-1816 winter in the northeastern United States was milder and dryer than usual. However, just when it should have been getting warmer, at the beginning of spring, the weather turned colder and frosts were widespread. Farmers held off planting through April and May. By the first week of June, milder weather had returned and farmers rushed to get their crops sown. On June 6th a storm brought freezing temperatures and snow. Crops planted only a week earlier were lost to frost. Throughout the summer the temperatures swung back and forth; no sooner had farmers planted a crop than a frost would wipe out most of the plantings.

Illustration from Pioneer History of the Holland Purchase of Western New York by Orasmus Turner 1849
Dead corn photo by G. Houston from Wikimedia Commons

Cold weather and frost returned again in July. With temperatures in the 40s during the day, people began to worry about famine. On August 6th, another round of winter weather arrived. What vegetation had survived the previous episodes were now destroyed. Once again, another warm period followed but it was too little, too late. A killing frost came in late September, two weeks earlier than usual. Then the winter started again. Many families left New England and migrated west, including to the Genesee Valley.

Our area was still pretty much a wilderness in 1816 and accounts of that summer’s impact are sketchy. MacIntosh in his history of Monroe County says that “the cold season produced a partial famine.” Wheat couldn’t be cut until September and the corn crop was a failure. Henry O’Reilly in his Sketches said about wheat: “The “cold summer” of 1816 was not injurious to our crop.”

First Settlement in Rochester 1812, engraving by Alexander Anderson, 1838
Sunset at Braddock Bay Marina by Douglas Worboys

Q: What was our mitigating factor?

Q: What was our mitigating factor?

A: Lake Ontario of course. Then as now, the Lake impacts our weather.

The modifying effects of the lake on temperatures were particularly conducive to fruit farming and Greece had numerous orchards where farmers grew apples, peaches, and cherries.

Orchard on Payne Farm, Elmgrove Road, 1910, from the Office of the Town Historian
Ice covering the Great Lakes on March 4, 2014 (second highest coverage since record-keeping began in 1970) from NASA

Lake Ontario is the smallest of the Great Lakes in surface area, but the second deepest and so is the least likely of the five to freeze over completely. The Canadian Ice Service (CIS) has been keeping statistics since the 1970s and has calculated the likelihood of the lakes freezing to the point where 90 percent of their surface is covered in ice. Lake Erie is the most likely to freeze with a chance of 69%; Huron comes next at a 22-per-cent probability, followed by Superior at 17 percent and Michigan at 11 percent. Astoundingly, the CIS estimates that Lake Ontario has a mere 1% chance of having 90% ice coverage.

The Great Lakes as seen from space by NASA, April 2000

1934 Cold Snap Hits the Orchards Businesses

Headline from Hilton Record, February 15, 1934

This brings us to the winter of 1934. Temperatures in February of that year were icy. On February 9 the thermometer dipped to minus 22 or lower; the high temp that day was minus 3. That is still the official record low for the Rochester area.

They did not keep records of ice coverage back then, but anecdotal evidence from both sides of the lake, says that Lake Ontario froze over completely that month.

Blue is the Highs in 1934 the Green Line is the Lows

Called the Big Freeze by local farmers, it destroyed most of the fruit trees. Apple trees split in half. Never again would there be so many orchards in the town of Greece.

1934, of course, was the height of the Great Depression. Men on work relief earned 25 cents an hour chopping the dead fruit trees into firewood. They also got to keep some of the wood for themselves.

Damaged fruit trees in Greece, 1934, from GHS
Firewood cut from former orchards, 1934, from GHS
Lake Ontario after March 13-14, 1993 snowstorm

Surprisingly the winter of 1933-34 was not particularly snowy. We have certainly had some memorable snowstorms in this town by the lake. This photo was taken after the March 13-14,1993 blizzard which dumped more than 24 inches of snow on Greece. It was part of the larger so-called “Storm of the Century” which pummeled states all along the east coast from the Carolinas to New England with not only huge amounts of snow but hurricane-force winds. Let’s take a closer look at the Blizzard of ’66, which occurred in the days before modern snow removal equipment such as snowblowers.

Blizzard of 1966

The green line is the Snowfall in inches. The blue line is the Precip that is not Snow

The Blizzard of 1966 was a historic storm for Greece and all of western New York. Nearly 27 inches of snow fell on the last two days of January.

This was on top of about 18 inches of snow from the week before.

Dewey Stone area Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
Snow on the roof meets snow on the ground, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
“Snowhere” to go! Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
“Snowhere” = Snow and nowhere put together as a pun meaning with the amount of snow non of the Town’s citizens could get anywhere in the town due to the amount of snow that was dropped on the city.

Winds whipped wickedly making for poor traveling conditions. Not only the schools but businesses and government offices were shut down for a week.

Town officials set up and operated storm headquarters at the Greece Memorial Hall at 2595 Ridge Rd. W. Ham Radio operators, Amateur Radio Emergency Service (ARES), Civil Defense Radio operators, as well as town officials, which included Supervisor George Badgerow, Milton Carter the Chief of Police, Civil Defense Administrator Walter Whelehan, as well as a representative from each of the four fire companies in the town.

Fun Fact the Monroe County 9-1-1 center did not begin operating until February of 1986 and Greece did not hook up to the system till years later, and on a side note in snapshot 37 the Holiday Inn Fire could have been prevented with an automated system that dialed 9-1-1 and sent the alert to first responders that topic is for another day, now back to the Blizzard of 1666.

Without the invention of Morse Code and Ham Radio, there would have been more widespread communication problems to get information in and out of the town of Greece to other parts of the region. For those that are interested in learning about what it takes to earn a ham radio license and become a member of your local ARES group check out the ARRL.org and ARRL.org/public-service, also check out the local club in Rochester, The Rochester Hams https://rochesterham.org/

Greece Town Hall on Ridge Road, 1998, from the Office of the Town Historian
Civil Defense Seal
Current Logo Of ARES
Cars buried in snow, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers

The Greater Greece Post reported that “Snowmobiles were stationed at the Town Hall and Highway Department Garage to transport physicians on emergency calls. Two ambulances also were stationed at the Town Hall. A supply of milk and bread was kept available for delivery.” Some milk trucks and bakeries started selling their products to customers right from their delivery vans stopped at partially cleared street corners.

Toboggans were kept in readiness so that sick or injured persons could be removed over the deep snow. Standby snow-clearing crews were stationed near all firehouses to accompany fire trucks answering alarms.

Snow clogged parking lot at Nick and Erwin Dry Cleaners, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
Dewey Avenue near Barnard Fire Station, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers

“Three drug stores were alerted so that medicine could be obtained and taken where needed. Fifty prescriptions for insulin alone were delivered by town personnel and volunteers.”

Some residents used an alternative mode of transportation.

Horses on Dewey Avenue, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
This Cat is sick of the snow and wants to get farther than the edge of the driveway
Photo by Bill Sauers
This Cat is sick of the snow and wants to get farther than the edge of the driveway
Photo by Bill Sauers
Mountains of snow, Blizzard of ’66, 1966, photo by Bill Sauers
This person does not realize he is walking on top of a car
Photo by Bill Sauers

Fun Fact: The plow that is sitting in front of the DPW is from the Truck that plowed Long Pond Road during the blizzard of ’66.

On its 40th anniversary, local meteorologist Scott Hesko still ranked the Blizzard of ‘66 in the top three worst storms of all time.

Thank you for joining us today. Next week we turn our attention to ice and wind events. Especially the 1991 Ice Storm and the Wind Storm of 2017.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 29 – Cobblestone Houses Part 1

This week and next we explore some of the cobblestones houses in the town of Greece. Did you know that when the mile-thick glaciers of the Ice Age melted and receded north thousands of years ago, they left unique marks on the terrain and interesting mountains, lakes, rivers, streams, valleys, and some rich and fertile land for growing crops, as well as boulders, cobbles, pebbles, field stones, gravel and sand deposits in different areas that make up different regions in the world? The glaciers left 5 big freshwater lakes behind, how many of the big lakes can you name?

Satellite image of Lake Ontario -November 2009 NASA Earth Observatory
Satellite image of Lake Ontario -November 2009 NASA Earth Observatory

We will go from the west to east starting with Lake Superior, and Lake Michigan, flowing into Lake Huron with Georgian Bay, a small lake between Huron and Eire called Lake St. Clair, then Lake Erie, at the Buffalo end of Lake Erie is the Niagara River which brings the water over the falls at Niagara Falls and in then into Lake Ontario after the water travels out to the Atlantic Ocean via the St. Lawrence River. But for this snapshot, we will be focusing on New York State. In New York State and more especially within minutes you could be at Lake Ontario from anywhere in the town or a 40-to-50-minute drive from Greece you could be in the finger lakes looking at the beauty that the glaciers left on this region. Remember when we explained in snapshot 11 The Ridge Part 1 about Lake Iroquois? Those who may not remember earth science class or other science classes and parts of some history classes when they talked about the Ice Age and how most of the region was covered in ice and glacial valley, also called glacial trough as seen in this map. Almost 13,000 years ago a large glacial lake, Lake Iroquois, as it is called by geologists, lapped the far eastern portion of what became the Niagara escarpment. When the waters of Lake Iroquois receded, it left a ridge of land 400 feet above sea level. You can see on this map, the dimensions of the prehistoric lake in relation to Lake Ontario today.

Lake Iroquois
Lake Iroquois

Notice the red line that is the Ridge Road portion from the Genesee River to Lewiston., the /// lines going from lower left to upper right that is the outline of Lake Iroquois, the cross lines ### in the pen are the ice sheet as the ice continued to recede north as the time when on from the ice age.

And in Bicentennial Snapshot # 19 – Henpeck, Hoosick, and Hojack, what’s in a name, part 2 we looked at some of the elevations in the town from its highest point to the lowest point the town and how the town has two natural ridges.

But that wasn’t all; hundreds of thousands of cobblestones, fieldstones, and gravel pits were deposited in the glaciers’ melting wake. Cobblestones have a round shape. Over the years water made boulders become cobbles, cobbles become pebbles, and pebbles become sand. According to the Cobblestone Museum, “Geologists classify cobblestones as being 2.5 inches to 10.1 inches in size. In lay terms, cobblestone is a stone that can be held in one hand.” This differentiates them from fieldstones, which were also used to construct houses.

During the Program “Set In Stone”: The History Of Cobblestone Masonry, on September 13, 2022, Douglas Farley mentioned that there was a least one cobblestone structure as far away as Colorado. This is mentioned at 12 minutes and 21seconds in the video. https://youtu.be/eJAgwjKHCcw?t=1286

closeup of cobblestone house photo Bill Sauers
closeup of cobblestone house photo Bill Sauers

Some of these cobblestones, fieldstones and gravel pits were found while excavating for the Erie Canal, some were found while farmers were prepping the fields to grow crops. The town has a few remaining cobblestone structures left. There are a couple of fieldstones and one other stone-style house in the town. One of the fieldstone houses in the town is on the grounds of Unity Hospital at 1563 Long Pond Road. Some of the cobblestone houses may have had the back walls built with fieldstones because beauty in the front and the so ugly back fieldstone was not seen from the front. Why wasn’t brick used for these buildings? Well, one writer said “In the early days of the western New York frontier, bricks were costly to transport. To make them locally was also costly since clay had to be procured and molded, kilns had to be built, etc.” The farmers and masons used the material they had readily available and that “material did not require painting or maintenance; and most important, was fireproof and weatherproof.”

1563 Long Pond Rd

School District # 9

  • School district 9 school also Greece Methodist Church mid1800s GHS
  • District School 9 Facing Southeast

One out of the 17 district schools and the 2 joint districts in the 1800s were built using cobblestone the rest of the school districts were built with wood. The cobblestone school was in school district 9 on the 1872 map of the town of Greece and it was located at 980 Long Pond Rd. In 1917 it was replaced by a two-room schoolhouse. The cobblestone school was sold for $ 5.00. Arthur Koerner and Willis construction firm were awarded the contract to build the new two-room wooden school at 1048 Long Pond Road. Also, The Greece United Methodist Church formed inside School Number 9 on July 25, 1841, when Reverend William Williams met with a group of people to start the church, and then another group meeting at the Greece Center schoolhouse at district school number 17 on Latta Road and the church grew to 21 members. The current two-room schoolhouse was later sold at a district auction in August of 1949 and was purchased by Harold Tebo. Harold then hired Arthur Koerner to draw up plans to convert the schoolhouse into a private home and one of the features of the old school hidden above the now lowered ceiling is a tin ceiling that was used to reflect the heat and keep it in the building.

First Christian Church

The First Christian Church was a church that was built out of cobblestone, and it was located at 3194 Latta Road, it was close to the Larkin-Beatie-Howe House where that house used to sit where Wegman’s now sits. The Frist Christian Church used the church until 1866, then Greece Methodist Church used it from 1867 to 1874. Then Greece United Methodist Church built a new church with brick on Maiden Lane and has been there ever since. The former church at 3194 Latta Road was torn down around the 1950s.

First Christian Church then Greece Methodist Church Latta Road GHS
First Christian Church then Greece Methodist Church Latta Road GHS

Davis-Bagley-Hazen House

The first cobblestone house we will look at will be the Davis-Bagley-Hazen House at 149 North Greece Road it was built in 1845 in the Frisbee Hill area, and it was built by Edwin Davis. Lucius Bagley purchased the home from Edwin Davis in 1856 and the 100 acres surrounding the house. The house is a 3 Bedroom, 2 Bathrooms and 1 Half Bath the house has one fireplace. The property now sits on 2.61 acres out of the 100 acres that used to be farmland owned by Lucius Bagley, and the house’s living space is 3,376 square feet. It also has a cobblestone-built smokehouse in the rear of the house.

Davis-Bagley-Hazen home from Town Historian
Davis-Bagley-Hazen home from Town Historian

One of Lucius’ children, Henry Joel, inherited the house and farm; he lived there all his life until he died in 1942, at the age of 90. A Bagley cousin remembered that “it was a standing tradition among the Bagley descendants to celebrate Christmas Day with grandfather Henry Joel at the old cobblestone farmhouse.” Bagley descendants also remembered watching their “grandfather salting and preparing bacon and hams to hang in the cobblestone smokehouse that remains by the driveway today.”

Henry Joel Bagley
Henry Joel Bagley
149 North Greece Road smokehouse
149 North Greece Road smokehouse

The next longstanding owners of the house were Stanley and Mary Hazen. After purchasing the home in 1958, the Hazens made substantial upgrades and improvements to the old cobblestone farmhouse; nevertheless it “retains its rural, exterior dress, yet tasteful planning has transformed the dwelling into a modern up-to-date home. There is a definite feeling of preservation from within with no sacrificing the conveniences of utility, interior decorations, and livability….” In 1989, the Finegans became owners of this historic house.

The Landmark Society considers this house “architecturally significant,” not only as “an outstanding intact example of cobblestone construction in New York State,” but also as a significant “example of mid-nineteenth century Greek Revival, rural domestic architecture in the Town of Greece.”

District School # 7

District School 7 Map
District School 7 Map
District School at 150 Frisbee Hill Road
District School at 150 Frisbee Hill Road
150 Frisbee Hill Road Today
150 Frisbee Hill Road Today

Children attending District School #7 on located at 168 Frisbee Hill would come down the hill with pails to fetch drinking water from the pump by the front porch of the Bagley house. Their teachers were often boarded there during the school season. The schoolhouse was built for $700 on a quarter-acre plot of land leased by Edward Frisbee, a North Greece pioneer, in September 1833, and stipulated that the land was to be used for school. Mrs. Cancella was a teacher at the one-room schoolhouse. Lou Frisbee was the bus driver. The school had about 15 students and went from K – 10 or 11 grade. In 1899 the original schoolhouse on Frisbee Hill just past North Greece was torn down. District 7 lost its old school by Court rule. Florence Haskins at 150 Frisbee Hill Rd. sued Myron B. Kelly, serving as a trustee of the school district for possession of the schoolhouse and the quarter-acre of land her great-grandfather had turned over for school purposes. Dorothy Frisbee used to serve soup, sandwiches, and cookies to the kids if they didn’t bring any lunch says Ruth a former student. The most difficult time was in the winter on the bus because she said the winters were tough and it was difficult for the bus to get through the snow. The roads weren’t plowed like today and the drifts were quite high. She didn’t remember how they heated the school, but she said it got quite cold inside on occasions in the winter.

Next week

Next Tuesday will look at a few other cobblestone houses but for one it was not able to be saved and that is a tale for next week. Bicentennial Snapshot # 30 – Cobblestone Houses Part 2

For More on Cobblestones buildings from this Snapshot

The Cobblestone Church at the Cobblestone Museum in Albion, NY
The Cobblestone Church at the Cobblestone Museum in Albion, NY

Some of the information for this week and next week’s snapshot comes to us from the Douglas Farley and the Cobblestone Museum in Albion, New York you can check out their museum at https:/www.cobblestonemuseum.org/ as well as the program he did at our Tuesday program called “Set In Stone”: The History Of Cobblestone Masonry

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 05: War of 1812 Part 1

War of 1812
War of 1812

This week we begin a three-part presentation on the attacks along the Greece shores of Lake Ontario during the War of 1812. Today we look at the British attacks that occurred on October 1, 1812, and June 15, 1813. At first, there was little support for the war in the Lake Ontario shoreline settlements. The causes of the war were not their grievances. They enjoyed a healthy trade relationship with their Canadian neighbors and it seemed so unlikely that the war would impact them. However, once British warships visited their shore and bombarded them with cannonballs their attitude changed; they realized that the war could be at their doors any time the lake was navigable, especially as Charlotte was a site where provisions for the troops were stockpiled.

The Greece Historical Society presents these weekly Bicentennial Snapshots to mark the 200th Anniversary of the founding of the Town of Greece. Each week we feature a particular aspect of Greece, New York history. Each Bicentennial story will be unique in nature and over the course of the 52 episodes, you will learn about the people and events that comprise the vibrant history of Greece from its earliest days to the present.

Each story is researched, written, and narrated by retired librarian and local historian Maureen Whalen; she has a unique style of storytelling that makes each Bicentennial Snapshot come alive and easy for everyone to understand.

The mission of the Greece Historical Society is to discover, research, and preserve the history of the Town of Greece and to share that history with its residents and the local community through public programs, publications, museum exhibits, and accessibility to its archives and artifacts.

If you are into books then pick up a copy of Eight Miles Along the Shore: or any of the other publications in our online gift shop.

Eight Miles Along the Shore
Eight Miles Along the Shore By Virginia Tomkiewicz and Shirley Cox Husted
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Greece “Roadhouse”

A Roadhouse (United States, Australia) or stopping house (Canada) according to a recent dictionary is Roadhouse: a tavern or inn along a country road, as in the 1920s.

John Frank Maier was born and grew up along with his siblings on Hague St. in Dutch (Deutsch) town. Both his parents were immigrants from Germany. His father, Wenzel, was employed by a local brewery but also was involved in a local Rochester restaurant. During the summer season, young John F. worked for the Beatty family at the Island Cottage Hotel.

He became familiar with the western area not too far from the Island Cottage Hotel. John was just 19 years old in 1919 and eager to own some property in the area of Dewey Avenue and Latta Road. Farmlands spread out in all directions. John purchased a large plot of land at the northeast corner of Dewey and Latta Roads. Within a few months, a low white building appeared at the corner with MAIERS name above the row of front windows. John was in the hot dog and sandwich business. This business prospered just as the automobile was becoming more available.

Thanks to Henry Ford and the Dodge Brothers the price of cars gradually came down and were more reliable. The wage earner and his family could now journey to the Lake or take an afternoon trip all the way to Hilton on improved gravel or stone main roads. On the return trip, the hungry family spotted Maier’s ‘hotdogs, sandwiches, cold drinks’ sign. “Can we stop there, Pop?”, went up the cry. Stop they did and enjoyed Maier’s “eats”!

Fast forward a few years to 1923. John is recently married to Olive Hager and they are looking for a home close to the hot dog stand. It’s at that point they decide, why not build a roadhouse and live on the second floor? The main floor would be a full-service restaurant. Much to the surprise of the local farmers a full two-and-a-half-story building appeared in front of the hot dog stand, which, after a bit, became a two-car garage.

Neon signs were just becoming vogue, so up went a nice sign on the top of the building advertising Maier’s Restaurant. The second floor had several bedrooms that could be rented out to boarders. Through the years, family members in need of temporary housing were always welcomed.

Prohibition, the 18th Amendment, and the Volstead Act became law in January 1920 so there was no bar built in the restaurant. But there was a small bar in the basement where liquid refreshments could be had by select patrons, friendly politicians, and the local constabulary who might wish to wet their whistle!

A great story related to me by one of John F.’s grandchildren was about three “occasional Rum Runners”. The occasional runners were all women! John’s wife Olive, her sister, Midge, married to John’s brother, George, and a friend from Island Cottage Hotel would take an inboard motorboat, on a calm day, from Island Cottage to across the Canadian line into Canada. They loaded the boat with good Canadian liquor and scoot back to Island Cottage. The border patrol never stopped them. The three women were just out for a pleasure cruise! Women don’t smuggle booze????

The depression was full-blown by 1933, the year Prohibition was repealed. John quickly closed the basement liquid refreshment bar. Remodeling of the first floor was in order. The kitchen was enlarged and moved to a new addition on the buildings rear. The former kitchen became the new Bar with entrances from the outside and from the Dining room. A small combo group, pianist, or accordionist performed in the dining room, and those who wished danced in a modest area near the music.

Other small changes occurred as time went along. After WWII, the Bar was again given a facelift with new bar chairs, and a Juke Box was added. The main kitchen staff for many years were Jim Davis and Eddie Surridge. The wait staff changed through the years with members of the family, young and old, pitching in to help.

In fact, the Maier Restaurant was the hub of most family special occasions and every holiday. That gradually diminished after Olive’s passing in 1958 and then John’s in 1965. The family gathered for the last full-service dinner in August 1968.

The bar limped along alone for a couple more years. A petroleum company made an offer to buy the land for a gas station. It was accepted, but all the buildings would be demolished. By chance, a Mr. Wagner heard about that and mentioned his interest in buying the main building. It was agreed he would buy the building, sans the one-story kitchen, for one dollar, then move the building to another location at his expense. There was just one problem. The new location was north of the Lake Ontario State Parkway and the underpass was too low for the building to pass through. The moving company solved the problem by going up the down ramp, over and down the up ramp to its new location on Kirkwood Rd. John’s “Roadhouse” was saved and has been a single house ever since. John F. and Olive Maier would have been quite happy…

A grateful THANKS to John Maier III for sharing with the Greece Historical Society the photocopies of his grandfather’s restaurant and other family photos, as well as his help in sharing many family memories of the restaurant operation. Without John, this article could not have been written.

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“Let’s Go For An Sunday Excursion” – and never leave the county

That is just what families and couples might do in the summer of 1912. Sunday was the ideal time for an outing as the aver­ age work week was 5 and one-half days. The Rochester area was lucky to have Lake Ontario and Irondequoit Bay close at hand where they might travel for the cool breezes. Remember, it was before the days of inexpensive room fans or air condi­tioning. Between 1900 and 1924, Mr. J.D. Scott (a very resourceful entrepreneur) came up with a scheme he called “The Pink Ticket Trip”. He offered tickets from a small tent he would put up at the downtown four corners (Main and State). For a special 50-cent ticket (that’s $11.15 today) you boarded the Lake Avenue Trolley to Charlotte and Ontario Beach Park to see the sites there and perhaps have a ride on the circle swing or the “The Breezer” (Roller Coaster). You might have a photo taken at the outdoor tintype photographer with your “sweetie”, as it was an inexpensive and nice souvenir.

Lake & Bay Belt All Resort Ticket
Japanese Garden Ontario Beach Pk.

Then it’s off to board the J.D. Scott for a short lake trip to the dock at Sea Breeze. At the end of the dock is a small restau­rant called “The Hawaiian Gardens”. A dance floor with automatic music provided by a Wurlitzer Orchestra Piano enter­tained the early afternoon crowd, Later on, a five-piece live orchestra was on hand to keep the dancers feet tapping to lively two steps, waltzes, and the Turkey-Trot! Then over the railroad tracks of the “Hojack Line” to Sea Breeze Park with a small coaster and a carousel built and run by the Long family of Philadelphia. The cotton candy is quite good as well as the fresh roasted peanuts.

Sea Breeze Park
Sea Breeze Pier, Lake Ontario
Pt. Pleasant Gasoline Launch

Down a path which leads to Irondequoit Bay, there’s a Naphtha or Gasoline Launch, waiting to take passengers down to the end of the Bay. Stops could be made at any of the numerous hotels along the west bank, such as Pt. Pleasant, Birds and Worms, the Newport House, etc. The final stop on the Bay was Glen Haven Park with its large hotel, beautiful grounds, and an amusement park on the south end. If lunch had not been had earlier, but brought along (which was often the case), this was the place to spend some time. A large stage with vaudeville acts always attracted large crowds.


Glen Haven & Irondequoit Bay

Boarding a Sodus Bay & Rochester Trolley for a trip back to the station on East Main Street, the car went through a num­ ber of lrondequoit’s wooded glens and over several streams. Gathering umbrellas, coats, ties, large ladies hats, and lunch baskets for the last time, you rode the West Main trolley back to Main and State Street and to transfer points at Clinton or St Paul Street. The trip could be made in reverse and the length of time at each stopover was only governed by the ticket holder. The only caution being, the final boats on the bay and lake stopped running around dusk.

Wouldn’t it be fun to take a trip back in time to enjoy the one-day excursion??? Remember, all electronic devices must be left at J.D. Scotts tent fore boarding the trolley……..

Photos, data supplied by Alan Mueller, Greece Histori­an’s Office.

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