The Crooked Lake Review

Winter 2005

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January, February, March 1905 and 1955

Glancing Backward

News items from the Naples Record 100 years and 50 years ago


Beth Flory

January 1905

The last of the many holiday entertainments was a concert in Memorial Hall sponsored by the ladies of the Baptist Church. The Neopolitan Orchestra played and soloists and trios made up of local singers performed. Admission was 25 cents, with reservations costing a nickel.

The Millard Missionary Society held a "Colonial Tea Party" in the Presbyterian church parlors. The menu included chicken pie, cole slaw, cheese, mashed potatoes, doughnuts, tarts and pie. The cost: 25 cents. Waiters were dressed in "ye olden style." About fifty couples gathered at John Trembley's for a Hat Social during which the men were given hats to decorate for their lady friends. Hilarity resulted when "some trimmers didn't know the back from the front."

The men's Neopolitan Club, having gone into debt, sold "furniture and fixings" but five men raised money and planned to reorganize and resume meetings. Invitations went out to former Naples residents who lived within one hundred miles of New York City for the second annual dinner of the Neopolitan New Yorkers. Dozens of men and women responded. The tradition would last for a number of years. This rather formal event featured many speakers—all male—with the work of preparation in the hands of (surprise!) the women. Nostalgia, lofty sentiments and sentimental expressions of affection for the old home town dominated the program. Writer/actor Emory Pottle (known as Gilbert Emory in the movies) wrote a song lauding "Naples 'Neath the Maples" which became a great favorite.

The hotel, "The Naples," closed and was for sale. Owner J. T. Brown was moving on to the Webster House in Canandaigua. Everything from a horse to tools and furnishings was auctioned off. Formidable horticultural prowess was displayed by Mrs. J. D. Avery whose snake cactus was ten feet long and covered with blossoms. Mrs. J. H. Presler also enjoyed local fame with her 11 foot long snake cactus and a Christmas Cactus that measured three feet across. January was stormy and windy and sleighing was good. By the end of the month the temperature had gone well below zero. Trains ran behind schedule but the seven RFD mail carriers didn't miss a single trip. Not the case in Prattsburgh and Bristol Springs, noted the Editor with some

January 1955

Suddenly, on the first day of the new year came the death of Arthur C. Parker. Archaeologist, ethnologist, museum director, he was a leading authority on the Iroquois Indians. His drama, The Coming of the Senecas, presented on Labor Day weekend, had been a great success. His books ranged from myths and legends and stories for children through scientific studies of artifacts and agriculture. Following his retirement as Director of the Rochester Museum, he and his wife had lived in their summer home on Parrish Hill where he could look across the valley to Clark's Gully, traditional birthplace of the Seneca nation. Dr. Parker had been honored, greatly respected and loved.

Servicemen who had come home for the holidays now returned to duty. Pvt. Donald Gelder left for Norfolk, Virginia, and Cpl. Frederick Denome was soon to leave for Fort Dix. Robert Mansfield and William Malotte, reservists, were due to report for active duty. While in Naples, Pvt. Fayette Domm married Laura Richmond after which the couple went to Camp Campbell, Kentucky.

The Tabernacle Ministry of Naples observed Anniversary Day following eighteen successful years during which people of color shared worship with white adults and children.

February 1905

When Uncle Ed Wetmore went over to check on his cottage on the east side, he discovered that it had been broken into. The culprit had stolen a coat and pair of boots, leaving his own behind. He was easy to trace because in the pocket of his old jacket was an envelope bearing his name and address.

By now the lake was solidly and safely frozen and it was both a playground and a convenient highway. Iceboating and sleigh riding were popular. John Trickey moved Mrs. VanNess's household goods across to her new home in Cottage City. Previously homebound families like the John Foxes hitched up their sleighs and went calling on friends across the lake.

Ice harvesting was in high gear. The Genundawah 's storehouse had been skidded to land south of Robeson's store in Vine Valley and Charles Robeson was storing ice for the steamboats to pick up the following summer.

Whooping cough and measles plagued the children, closing schools and worrying parents. Irving Barber and Manley Fraser opened a newsroom and lunch counter on the corner of Main and Mill Streets which was "receiving liberal patronage."

In response to a serious shortage the previous fall, a Grape Basket Association was formed to establish a local plant that would produce baskets for the Naples Valley.

A "ragtime social" was planned in Bristol Springs. "Each lady was to bring a ball of carpet rags with her name in the core, to be sold to the highest bidder among the gentlemen, who will take the lady to supper." In this period women hooked and braided rugs as a matter of course. Cloth was first cut into thin strips which were sewed together and wound into balls.You can bet that a girl would be sure that her favorite beau knew which ball contained a small piece of paper with her name on it. Perhaps these lively parties were the origin of "ragtime music."

February 1955

With this month, the Naples Record began its 86th year, having first appeared on February 1, 1870, on four small pages. Simeon Lyon Deyo launched his newspaper in a sawmill. Howard Tellier, the current Editor, provided scenes of Naples from that era along with pictures of leading citizens. Included were historian Seymour Sutton and three others who had recorded the events of the early days of Naples: Jane Mills, Hon. Emory B. Pottle and D. Dana Luther. Old drawings and photographs depicted the Steamboat Hotel in Woodville; the town's showplace, the home of James Monier; and the Baptist and Presbyterian Churches. The wooden Presbyterian Church was destroyed by fire in 1874 and replaced by the present brick building. Other notables featured were the Granby brothers, William Marks, Hiram Maxfield, Cyrillo Lincoln, William Tobey, and Edwin Hamlin. Recognized as old timers now in their nineties were Seymour Edson and Barton Swarts.

The Record noted the promotion of Fred Fox to Assistant Vice President of Security Trust. Fox had been a bank manager for many years. and was active in the Presbyterian Church, the Masons and on the School Board.

A correspondent vacationing in Florida sent news of the local stock car driver Dutch Hoag who had become successful on the West Palm Beach Speedway and the southern circuit. "Known as an always courteous driver, " he was popular—and often a winner—wherever he went.

March 1905

Fashion had gone too far. Missouri was reported to be the very first to outlaw the feathers of certain birds as decorations on ladies' enormous hats. With egrets nearly wiped out, a law (which would later become country-wide) prohibited the slaughter of some species in the name of adornment. However, other birds were not to be spared. It would still be permitted to use feathers of "domestic birds, such as ostriches (?), chickens and ducks" as well as English sparrows, hawks, horned owls and crows.

Spring was on the way and the lake ice looked rotten. Undaunted, Arthur Smith skated to Canandaigua and returned to Naples by train the same day. August Mehlenbacker was driving on the lake and came too near a crack in the ice north of Menteith's. Down went the sleigh into six feet of water. The horses freed themselves and reached shore. Rescuers pulled passengers and driver to safety and hauled the sleigh and its contents to dry land.

On the lake's east side, Charles Canwright's bulldog chased Jacob Walter's cow down the ice to Willow Point. The cow was badly bitten and both animals were dispatched by the dog's owner who paid for the cow.

After cutting a hole in the ice, M. F. Hawley caught sixteen whitefish in four days. Bullheads from West River and Naples Creek were on the market. Residents hoped the lake boats would start their season soon after breakup because spring mud made roads nearly impassible. Some RFD mailmen had to walk their routes. "If you want your liver stirred up, just ride from Ingleside to Atlanta," wrote one of the area correspondents.

Many were the parties and club meetings held in March by this unceasingly sociable town. Surprise birthday celebrations, flinch and whist parties, and a handkerchief bazaar held by the Methodist ladies all featured elaborate refreshments. One night residents were awakened by the racket provided by tin and brass horns, pans and kettles. The shivaree was in honor of three recently married couples.

Obituaries marked the passing of several well known citizens including boarding house proprietor Ida Benjamin, Marshall Nellis and Mrs. Lyman Tobey.

March 1955

The month began with heavy rain, thunder and lightning. Gullies and streams flooded the Naples flats .

Fire destroyed the ancestral home of octogenarian brothers Albert and Lewis Proper in Gulick. The house had been a favorite retreat of Rochester's notorious "Rattlesnake Pete," one of many notables who boarded with the Propers, especially during hunting season.The brothers caught many snakes which they sold to Pete "for his private museum and his famous rattlesnake dinners."

Charles Sturn, Director of Yates County Civil Defense, was one of over 50 directors selected to observe an atomic blast in Nevada in April.. A study would be made of the effects on homes, shelters and utilities in a test program designed to provide information for Civil Defense planning. Governor Harriman also hoped to witness the explosion.

Toward the end of the month a foot of snow closed the Thruway and many area schools but not Naples Central. The temperature dropped to 10 degrees above zero and went up and down wildly for several days.

Ralph J. Lyon was the Citizens Party's choice for Village Trustee to replace Glenn Coons whose term had expired. Mr. Coons as well as Village Clerk and Treasurer Marion K. Bolles received rising votes of commendation for their excellent work.

"Mr and Mrs. George Abraham of Naples were recently presented with an award of merit for their series of radio programs."

The NCS basketball term won the Class C sectional finals. Pvt. Laverne Meyer reported cheerfully to his father Charles Meyer from aboard ship enroute to Japan. He had made coffee nonstop during five days of KP. Soldiers had been encouraged to learn Japanese. "I can't talk it and I don't think I ever can," wrote Private Meyer.

Beth Flory's "Glancing Backward" column in the Naples Record is compiled from
old news items that appeared in the Record. Reprinted with permission of the Naples Record.
Index of articles by Beth Flory
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