The Crooked Lake Review

Winter 2006

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January, February, March 1906 and 1956

Glancing Backward

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


Beth Flory

January 1906

Mild temperatures, even reaching 80 degrees, filled the ice harvesters with anxiety. In a few months their "crop" would be in continuous and heavy demand. The lake had to freeze firmly enough to support men, horses and equipment. Ringing the shores were buildings where the sawed chunks were packed in sawdust and stored. Special icehouses specifically served the needs of the steam boats. And of course income from sales was important to individuals as well as to the local economy.

The month's unusual weather included a severe wind storm that lifted roofing from houses, stores, the Methodist Church and the Record office. The evening train found the tracks blocked by downed trees.

The Editor urged his readership to attend a "famous lecture" on Queen Elizabeth by Joseph Bartholomew, a Naples resident. He had spent only one year at Michigan State University but on his own had mastered Latin and Greek. He enjoyed translating a passage from one language to the other in the morning and doing the reverse in the evening. This independent scholar lectured frequently on writers and works of English literature.

The obituary of Thomas J. Powell, 68, was long and detailed. He had moved with his parents, Shotwell and Sarah Powell, to South Bristol in 1844. Educated at Naples' Hall of Science, Lima Seminary and the State Normal School in Albany, he became a teacher at 17 for $11 a month. A member of the Society of Friends, he was a skilled farmer, avid abolitionist, a promoter of prohibition and a vegetarian.

Evidence that youthful vandalism is no recent development is found in the account of windows broken and buildings damaged in Woodville. Seymour Smith's cottage, Wheaton's barn and Albert Granger's house were among those attacked.

January 1956

January weather was typically varied with two thaws, icy roads and cold winds: "For four days," wrote the eloquent Editor, "there was exquisite beauty as the iced trees on the hilltops reflected like great silver sheets in the sunlight."

The John Motz family of Germany, parents and seven children, arrived to live in Naples and work at Widmers. They found their house furnished and a hot meal prepared by Widmers and the Presbyterian women. The family had lived in Rumania and Austria and was brought to this country by the Lutheran Refugee Resettlement Organization. Mr. Mott and the three sons went to work in the vineyards while the younger children entered school.

Reprinted was "a bit of history" about Hunts Hollow which had appeared in the Record in January, 1880. The unnamed correspondent declared that his information came from "the oldest and only person now living that settled here about 1805, Uncle Alvin Washburn, aged 87," who remembered when there were ten Indians for every white inhabitant. The Indian village was on property which later belonged to J. Byington. One of the teachers at the first school house was the mother of Seymour Sutton of Naples.

In 1956 Naples had 71 businesses, according to Dunn & Bradstreet. Fifty two percent had been in present ownership for no more than 10 years.

February 1906

One hundred years ago at the start of February, weather conditions were like ours today when fishermen could be seen out on the water during all of January. Park Stoddard, S. H. Hutton and S. L Smith had a good outing that began with "one of Park's layouts"—coffee, eggs, etc.?—and continued on the lake in search of the "wily pickerel." The air was springlike and the fishing successful. Almost immediately thereafter came the cold (down to 13 below) until mid month, followed by another warm interlude. Those waiting for sleighing were not pleased by the lack of snow.

Valentine's Day provided this already very social community with an excuse for elaborate parties The guests of Mrs. W. L. Capron, President of the Tuesday Club, had to compose valentines with a prize awarded to the best. A fancy menu included a "wonder cake filled with various articles that conveyed a fortune to each one who partook of it."

The Silver Medal Contest, an evening of music by local talent, featured a "warbling solo rendered capably," by Miss Waddell and a flute solo by J. Leon Trembley. Later in the week a "moving picture entertainment displayed views of the Japanese-Russian war, a London fire, a trip down New York Bay and the Jefferies-Fitzsimmons fight, among others." Both events took place in the often-used Memorial Town Hall.

A fatal accident occurred in West Hollow when Ira Cleveland was struck by a large tree that he was felling on John Porter's farm.

Mary Pierce was one of the few who stayed up til after midnight to watch the eclipse of the moon. Nellis Westbook was pleased to harvest ice 7 inches thick from Mr Graf's mill dam. The Presbyterians were trying to raise money to install gas lights. Among social items from West River was this intriguing note: "We need a meeting here so as to stop old Satan's progress."

February 1956

February began with the season's heaviest snow followed by freezing rain. In West Italy Earle Johnson, 9 years old and home alone, mistook gasoline for kerosene and set fire to the kitchen. He put out the blaze with blankets and because his clothing was on fire, rolled in the snow then went for help to neighbor Esther Shay who called the fire department. Earle was taken to the hospital for treatment of his burned legs.

Charles Briglin purchased the Wolfanger store in North Cohocton. (Fifty years later, the corner business is still known for its large array of candy.)

A/2c Dalton Campbell, Jr., was stationed in Germany while Pvt. Laverne Webster was coming home on leave from that country. A/2c Walter Schlegel was stationed at Keesler Air Force Base in Mississippi. Pvt. LaVerne Meyer expected to return soon to the States from the Far East.

A young writer for the High School Record interviewed Mrs. Ethel Gray who was in her 33rd year of teaching in Naples. Mrs. Gray, perennial advisor to the yearbook staff, was appreciated for her willingness to help students.

Naples lost one of its best loved citizens when Edgar Haynes died. The store on the corner of Mill and Main Streets was open for nearly fifty years and sold everything from groceries to school books and fireworks. His community involvement was extensive; offices he held included bank president, town clerk, water commissioner and justice of the peace.

March 1906

The annual banquet of The Naples Society of New York City was elegant and elaborate with piano music all evening and a menu that included Blue Point oysters, Filet of Sole, Torradoes of Beef Perizod and Philadelphia Capon au Cresson. And of course salads, desserts and cheeses. The many speeches were long, serious and emotional with memories of Naples abundant. To conclude the evening, guests sang Emery Pottle's popular composition, "Naples O'Neath the Maples."

Back home, with snow finally suitable for sleighing, generous citizens took the entire student body of Naples School for rides. Ten sleighs and their teams of horses were provided by Jacob Widmer, F. P. Byington, Albert Bailey, Clark Barber, Frank Manahan, Charles Johnson, R. F. Meyer, Seymour Edson and Dana Tyler.

Snow shut down the village for several days. At the height of the storm, Lewis Gehrig was hauling freight across the tracks by the Lehigh Valley station and failed to notice two cars coming toward him. Gehrig, his wagon and two horses, were dragged for some distance. Amazingly, horses and driver were only slightly injured.

Everyone seemed to be waiting for the first run of the lake boat Wallanick. Well known steamboat Captain George Stemple decided to retire and become a grape farmer.

A strange phenomenon of "moving house" was part of Naples life every spring. Dozens of people were involved, playing musical residences instead of chairs. Others traveled, buying their suitcases and trunks at the Tobey Clothing Store where customers were assured that "for a small sum you can be as well dressed as anyone."

March 1956

Early in the month heavy rains filled cellars, putting furnaces out of commission. Members of the Maxfield Hose Company and their pumpers were much in demand.

The lake rose and backed up into the swamp, inundating the Lehigh Valley tracks. They were raised and precarioualy supported by "mere tamping" and the train finally arrived in Naples on the 21st laden with supplies and much needed coal.

Along with the redwings and the first flock of wild geese came new babies, sons to Theodore and Ruth Capron, Mr. and Mrs. William Musnicki, Mr. and Mrs. William G. Domm, Mr. and Mrs. David Hayward, Mr. and Mrs. Harry White and Mr. and Mrs. Franklin Reddout.

The third Nundawaga Society pageant, planned for August, would tell the story of Hiawatha and the creation of the League of the Iroquois in a drama written by Society President Robert Moody of Rushville. The Nundawaga Grove, site of the productions, was to be dedicated to the memory of Arthur C. Parker.

Enlisted in the Army during the previous month were local men Jackie Schutz, Ronald Drake, Frank King, Jr., and Francis Simmons. Robert McClelland and Frank Jennings joined the Navy and left for boot training in Maryland.

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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