Bicentennial Snapshot No 38: Our Town in World War II

Today we’ll tell you about the town of Greece during World War II.

Panorama of the Opening of the World War II Exhibit
Panorama of the Opening of the World War II Exhibit – Presenting the Colors
Aerial view of Long Pond Road at Latta where Wegmans supermarket is today, 1940s, from the Office of the Town Historian

Encompassing more than 50 square miles, the town of Greece in 1940 was primarily made up of farms and the population was 14,925 as of the 2010 census the town of Greece’s Population was 96,095 people that’s 3,905 people shy of 100,000 people in the town.

The town was protected by a ten-member police force led by the town’s first police chief, Milton Carter, and four volunteer fire companies.

Chief Milton Carter (Right)
Charlotte High School, Lake Ave 1940s
Aerial view of John Marshall High School Ridgeway Ave Rochester, NY

There were nine churches. However, there was no town public library, nor high schools; students attended Charlotte or John Marshall High Schools in the city.

That meant if you went to school at one of the many smaller elementary schools or 1 and 2-room schools in the town of Greece you by the time it came for 9th grade you would either end up doing trade by the 9th grade or attend High School at Charlotte High School on Lake Ave in the Villiage of Charlotte or John Marshall High School on Ridgeway Ave in the City of Rochester. More on the education system prior to the modern education system in a 2 part snapshot coming soon.

There were 39 registered organizations for men, women, and young people including a large chapter of the American Legion, eleven PTAs, political clubs, Grange Hall, Boys and Girls Scouts, and Fireman’s Associations as well as 38 church-related groups.

Grange Hall on Ridge Road, 1945, from the Office of the Town Historian

That All changed on December 7, while it was just getting to lunchtime on the East Coast the sun was just coming, on that day Stanley Hwalek one of the veterans that we interviewed for the exhibit was stationed at Pearl Harbor here is a quote from him in 2015 for the exhibit and you can read his entire veteran’s profile by picking up a copy of Our Town in World War 2 book in the museum gift shop.

Picture of Stanley Hwalek taken in 2015 for the exhibit

“Well, December 7th was just a regular Sunday morning. We were up at 6:00 because on Sundays they let us sleep a half hour longer. Usually during the rest of the week, reveille was at 5:30, but Sunday you were able to sleep until 6 o’clock and they had breakfast from 6:30 until 7:30. After breakfast, I went out on deck with one of my shipmates and I had the morning newspaper. As I’m reading the paper there about 7:30 or so I looked up, we were near this Navy air station at Ford Island, I saw a lot of smoke coming out of the hangars. I said to my shipmate, ‘Look. The Army must be having maneuvers or something because they’re making a lot of smoke out there.’ All of a sudden a plane comes over our ship and starts strafing.”

Stanley was one of the many veterans that survived the attack at Pearl Harbor that December 7th, 1941. On Monday, December 8th, 1941 in a full joint session of Congress President Franklin Delano Roosevelt addressed the Nation and asked for Congress to approve the Declaration of War against Japan and to respond to the attacks at Pearl Harbor.

Headline from Greece Press, December 12, 1941

Grecians answered the call to join the war effort. By March 1942, 1500 men and women had volunteered for civilian defense positions.

By the end of 1944, town residents had collected 165.5 tons of scrap metal, 384 tons of waste paper, 3 tons of rubber, 4 tons of old rags, and 200 bags of milkweed. This gun, captured from Germany during World War I, was donated to the war effort for scrap metal. These stats are from Accept, Buy and Volunteer: The Homefront Experience of the Town of Greece, New York, 1941-1945 by Timothy Dobbertin.

You can read also read the following article that the Society’s President Bill Sauers wrote and published in the Greece Post titled “A German Gun Helps Win the War” about Police Chief Milton H. Carter, who acquired a 105 mm German Howitzer. https://greecehistoricalsociety.org/2008/11/13/a-german-field-gun-helps-win-the-war/

Gordon Howe, Town Supervisor, lays a wreath on Memorial Day at the Town Hall, 1941, from the Office of the Town Historian
Victory Garden Enrollment Form, Greece Post, March 20, 1942

Residents were encouraged to plant Victory Gardens with vegetables, but to also continue to grow ornamental flowers as they would be morale boosters.

Headline, Greece Post, March 20, 1942

By the spring of 1942, 300 had enrolled. By the spring of 1944, there were more than 25 acres of Victory Gardens under cultivation in the town.

The Odenbach Shipyard was the main employer in Greece during the war years, employing thousands of workers at the 4477 Dewey Avenue plant. They made cargo barges, Y-boats, and cranes for the United States Army. At the height of production, they averaged one ship every two weeks.

Kodak, Bosch & Lomb, were also employing workers from Greece and other parts of the community as well but because of the City Annexation of where Kodak’s Lake ave facilities were, they were no longer considered the main employer located in the town boundaries.

Workers at Odenbach Shipbuilding Corp., 1943, 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

Almost 2,000 town residents served in the military.

War Mothers Service Organization, 1943, from the Office of the Town Historian

Families waited at home hoping and praying for the safety of their husbands, sons, and brothers.

cemetery of fallen soldiers and veterans
Photo by Veronika Valdova on Pexels.com

Thirty-four Greece residents made the ultimate sacrifice for their county. They were:

Clip 45:

Back Cover of Our Town in World War II

Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, there are now only about 150,000 still living. In 2015 to mark the 70th anniversary of VE day, the Greece Historical Society opened Our exhibit, Our Town in World War II.

In the Video, we Hear from William Sauers the President of the Greece Historical Society & Museum. Don Riely, was our Master of the Ceremony. Color Gaurd from VFW Post 468. 2015 Greece Town Supervisor William D. Reilich Speaking about what it was like on the homefront during World War II. Jack Foy talked out his tour of duty during World War II. Senator Joe Robach read the list of 32 soldiers. Finally Maureen Whalen the exhibit chair gave a brief overview of the exhibit. can view the entire program below.

Twelve veterans of the war were interviewed for the exhibit. Today, only one of them is still living. But their recorded interviews are available at our museum.

You can explore a digital copy of the museum exhibit that is located in the past exhibits section.

We had a great turnout for the exhibit and when the museum went to the Museum Association of New York the following year we received an award for the exhibit.

You may read about these vets and Greece during the war years in the Society’s publication Our Town in World War II by Maureen Whalen and Marie Poinan.

Our Town in World War II

Thank you for joining us today. Next week our topic is Paddy Hill, What a journey we have had so far exploring the History of Greece through each snapshot that Maureen Whalen and myself Pat Worboys, and thanks to Joesph Vitello, William Sauers, and many our other contributors to these snapshots. These help you learn what life was like through different eras in the town of Greece.

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Bicentennial Snapshot # 24 The Hotel of Many Names

This week we continue looking at the hotel/inn/speakeasy/tavern that occupied the southeast corner of Latta and North Greece Road. This establishment went thru at least the same amount or more owners as the Larkin Hotel. The spot where the Larkin stood became this hotel’s parking lot when the Larkin Hotel was demolished.

This hotel would be a bit bigger than the Larkin Hotel/Tavern the Larkin would have been the same size as the Rowe Tavern this one was feature in both Ada Ridge and the Ridge Part 1 and Streb Tavern on the ridge which would have been approximately 1,514.47 square feet compared to the Hotel Demay at the end of its life was approximately 8,046.63 square feet. The North Greece Hotel had less than 50 rooms that travelers would stay in to enjoy food and drinks, then rest and set off on their next leg of their travel to either Niagara Falls or heading east towards Syracuse or other points east along the lake shore. It appears that the North Greece Hotel opened its doors around 1900 1912 at the corner of Latta and North Greece Roads. Because by opening day, January 5, 1910, it was called the Moerlbach Hotel after the new Rochester Brewery that provided the hotel with the beer it served. The Moerlbach Brewing Company opened its doors in 1909 at the corner of Emerson and Norman Steet where T & L Automatics Inc stands today just a few buildings down from where a descendant of Giddon King grew up and that descendant would be Helen Slocum. To learn more about when breweries abounded in Rochester, in the article Rochester aims to recapture its rich brewery history check out this article from Brain Sharp and Will Cleveland on the Democrat and Chronicle website at 8:21 am on April 6, 2018, which features some more information on the Moerlbach Brewing Company.

Morelbach’s ad in the Democrat & Chronicle Tuesday, January 25, 1910

Rochester aims to recapture its rich brewery history

Recreational trail planned Rochester breweries once known as best in U.S. Breweries are part of Rochester’s business history Beer industry had to revive itself after Prohibition Touted as one of the most modern breweries in the state, Moerlbach’s sprawling campus was destined to be a jewel in a burgeoning industry.

Now back to more on the Hotel with many names as we noted it was named Morelbach and its first proprietor was Frank Pye but he passed away in 1910. The hotel was sold to William “Bill Carroll of Frisbee Hill Road a near neighbor to Edward Frisbee who we will get to in another snapshot or two. When William Carroll bought the hotel he moved his family to North Greece four corners. William Carroll was born in 1872 and his family was a pioneer family that settled in the Parma Braddock Bay area in the early 1800s. In this picture, you can see William Carroll and his son in front of the hotel.

The Odenbachs owned a hotel and an ice cream stand out at the end of Manitou Beach Road where William Carroll worked before he became the owner of the Moerlbach Hotel it was at the Manitou Beach Hotel where he introduced Sherrif Albert Skinner to the Ice Cream Cone no details of what flavor it would have been either Chocolate or Vanilla ice cream. It wasn’t until 1915 that he decided it would be best to revert it to the North Greece Hotel. The Frist Manitou Beach hotel was lost in a suit between Skinner and the Odenbachs, so the Odenbachs had to rebuild the hotel over and some distance from the now Elmheart Hotel that the Skinners now owned more on the Manitou Beach and the Elmheart Hotels in a future snapshot.

The Carrolls served meals at the hotel but only to guests, they could only serve 18 to 20 people in the dining room due to the size it was. One of the most served items in the dining room was claimed to be “The Best New England Clam Chowder in the town of Greece.” It cost only 20 cents. But the neighbors around the hotel would bring kettles to the back door to the kitchen to get them some of Mary’s Clam Chowder.

William Carroll had some strict rules in his hotel. One of the rules was No Children in the Barroom and that included his own children this was probably due to the drinking, smoking, and language of the older gentlemen. One of his other strict rules was towards women, if he saw or caught a woman smoking anywhere in the hotel, he would ask her to leave the hotel.

The was Dancing every Friday night in the dance room otherwise known now as a banquet room these days, each week it could be square dancing, rounds, fox trots, or waltzes, or thru out the night, it could change depending on the music, or who was playing on the stage playing the music. It cost each couple 50 cents to dance the night away starting at 9 pm sharp and ending at 3 am but with drink service cut off at 11 pm in accordance with New York State Law for serving your wines, beers, spirits, and hard drinks, minus water though that they could keep serving after drink service was cut off to the patrons. At intermission during the dances, a table would be set up with refreshments and Hors D’oeuvres in the dance room.

In the Bar room area, there were two pool tables its uncertain if they were for the game of snooker style billiards table or if it is the common pool style billiards table that people would try the game of billiards whether it was a round of 8-ball, 9-ball, 7-ball or the game of snooker billiards at least the tables were not the bumper style table, and if you are interested one of the many types billiard games you can play by going to your local library and checking out a copy of Billiards: The Official Rules and Record Book 2021/2022 edition or any of the other Billiard books in the library.

In the barn behind the hotel, he would have livestock auctions featuring local cattle owners for locals to buy the livestock to have it slaughtered for meat, or those new owners could raise the cattle themselves and have a pasture of their own for their farms. There were a number of different livestock at these auctions. Some were cows, bison, deer, chickens, pigs, sheep, lamb, and even horses that were auctioned off at these cattle auctions the bidders did have to watch out for diseases. Once in a while, there might be regular auctions like household gear, and artwork as well.

That’s Carroll and his son in front of the hotel in this photo
That’s Carroll and his son in front of the hotel in this photo

More on the Elmheart Hotel where Carroll worked before coming here.

The Elmheart Hotel

Manitou Hotel, 1920s, from the Office of the Town Historian
The cover of a promotional booklet for the Manitou Hotel, the 1920s, or the cover of a menu from the 1940s
from the Office of the Town Historian
Barroom Postcard from eBay
Lady Smoking a cigarette 1910s from ebay
Lady Smoking a cigarette 1910s from eBay
Le Billard painted by Jean Béraud
Le Billard painted by Jean Béraud
William Carroll sells hotel to Wilson HIlton Record 1921 July 28
William Carroll sells hotel to Wilson
Hilton Record 1921 July 28
Opening of the Domino Inn
Opening of the Domino Inn

On January 17, 1920, Prohibition was a nationwide constitutional ban on the production, importation, transportation, and sale of alcoholic beverages from 1920 to 1933. Led by pietistic Protestants, they aimed to heal what they saw as an ill society beset by alcohol-related problems such as alcoholism, family violence, and saloon-based political corruption. Nowadays you can still see side effects of people that get drunk or have too much to drink, from Alcohol poisoning to DUI/DWI and other Alcohol related issues. It forced restaurants, bars, saloons, and other establishments to stop selling and serving alcohol products except for those that decide the Protestants did not have the best interest in their mind that Alcohol was like any other addiction, like smoking, chewing tobacco, gambling, and others. Some of the backers of prohibition were soda/pop, tea, and coffee makers, as well as the Protestants. Opposition from the beer industry mobilized “wet” supporters from the wealthy Roman Catholic and German Lutheran communities, as well as the local breweries like Moerlbach, and Genesee just to name a few as well as local restaurants, taverns, hotels, inns, saloons, and bars. But on July 28th, 1921 William Carroll decides to sell his hotel to Harry “Spike” Wilson and Louis Imhoof. Harry Wilson ran another hotel in the Brighton Twelve Corners neighborhood for several years. Harry received possession on August 1st, 1921 and on September 1st, 1921, Harry “Spike” Wilson and Louis Imhoof set to open the North Greece Hotel as the Domino Inn. Sometime during prohibition, it changed owners again and this time it became the Cosmo Inn. More on the Domino Inn and the Cosmo Inn will appear in a snapshot about prohibition.

On March 22, 1933, President Franklin Roosevelt signed an amendment to the Volstead Act, known as the Cullen–Harrison Act,  allowing the manufacture and sale of 3.2% beer (3.2% alcohol by weight, approximately 4% alcohol by volume) and light wines. The Volstead Act previously defined an intoxicating beverage as one with greater than 0.5% alcohol. The 18th amendment was repealed on December 5, 1933 as part of the ratification of the Twenty-first Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This was 6 years before the beginning of the second World War. At this time the hotel was remodeled again and opened as the Corner House Hotel and in this ad here look at the line after good food notice it says All Legal Beverages this meant any legal beverages that the State of New York allowed them to serve after prohibition was over. In 1939 World War would break out and it would cause companies to ration gas and other products that were needed for soldiers on the front lines both on the European and Asian fronts this caused the Corner House Hotel to close its doors in 1941. But just one year after the end of World War II in 1945 it would be sold again but this time to Ray and Irene DeMay, it would stay open until the early 2000s, and in November of 2017 it would be demolished for a proposed Crosby’s Convenience store and gas station but nothing has been built there as of this Bicentennial Snapshot published on August 30th, 2022. More On The DeMay Hotel and Banquet space in Snapshot # 25 – The DeMay Hotel.

Corner House ad Hilton Record 1938 October 13
Corner House ad Hilton Record 1938 October 13
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Manitou Beach Hotel – “From the Historian’s Files”

By far the largest and the most elegant of all the late 19th and early 20th century hotels along Lake Ontario in Greece was the Odenbach Manitou Beach Hotel. It was located at the far western end of the Manitou Beach Trolley. Built in 1888 by the Matthew and Servis Co. of State Street in Rochester, a wholesale and retail liquor and tobacco dealer, it was named for the resort of Manitou Springs, Colorado.

By the mid-1890s it had been taken over by Frederick Odenbach, who already had a modest restaurant on State Street. The Hotel had 25 guest rooms, a well-appointed lobby, a men’s bar, and a ladies’ salon, plus a restaurant.

Frederick S. Odenbach 1853-1919, Courtesy of Marie Poinan

The building was lit by acetylene gas lamps from the gas plant on the property. The frontage on the lake was almost 800 feet with an expanse of sandy beach. The Manitou Trolley began frequent daily, seasonal service in 1891.

Along with the trolley, the steamer Rosalie (owned by the Odenbach family) ran from about 1912 through 1916. It docked at a pier that was about 800 feet in length, built of cement piers and steel decking. A round-trip ticket from Charlotte was 25 cents.

Fred Odenbach and Matthew John Fred and Charley

After Fred Odenbach’s death in 1919, the hotel passed to his four sons, Fred J., John H., Matthew P., and Charles P. Odenbach. Matthew took over running the hotel from then on, making many improvements through the years. A major renovation was the enlargement and enclosure of the front porch. The spacious room could easily seat 500 patrons and included a raised bandstand and a dance floor.

Cover of The Manitou Beach Hotel Menu
Main Dining Room at Manitou Beach Hotel

From then on, the hotel became famous for its marvelous food, wonderful dance music, and panoramic view of Lake Ontario. Nationally known orchestras of the day such as Vincent Lopez and Tommy Tucker played engagements there, as well as favorite local bands such as Sax Smith and Damon’s Orchestra.

By 1925 the trolley had bowed out to the ever-increasing automobile traffic and the improvement of Manitou Rd. to a two-lane paved road. World War Il had begun in 1939 and the United States went to war at the end of 1941. Curtailment of unnecessary travel by car and gasoline rationing brought an end to the 55-year run of the grandest hotel between Charlotte and Olcott Beach to the west.

Matthew Odenbach

It closed in 1943, never to reopen. A headline in the Rochester Times Union on May 19, 1955 states: “Famed Lakeside Dining Spot, Hotel Manitou, Coming Down.” Matt Odenbach (manager since 1919) was quoted as saying the work had started several weeks before and would be completed by July 4.

The furnishings had been sold and the lumber recycled. The property was still owned by Matt and his three brothers. The land was split into building lots shortly after. Nothing remains as a reminder of the wonderful times that untold thousands of people enjoyed there…..only the expansive view of the lake remains and a faint musical refrain from long ago, whispered by a few remaining poplar trees along Manitou Road.

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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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