Laurel and Hardy

Looking Back in Philipstown

Laurel and Hardy in "Sons of the Desert," which was shown in 1948 as a free holiday show for children

150 Years Ago (December 1873)

A monster gun that required 37 tons of molten iron, the weight of which had “burst the [molding] box” in November, was cast on the second try at the West Point Foundry. In an operation that took 12½ minutes, two-man teams carried the molten material in hand ladles suspended between them from the cupolas to the reservoir.

After a national financial crash, business at the foundry was picking up, with a federal order for 1,000 projectiles for 300-pound Parrott guns made during the Civil War and mortars for stations on the coast to shoot lifelines to vessels stranded near the shore.

The Cold Spring Recorder reported that a traveling parlor opera had a rough time of it. During a preview, Miss Cattini, accompanied on the piano by Otto, sang a few pages of operatic music in Italian but the audience dispersed before she could perform two songs in English. Then, at the show, twice delayed by bad weather, the audience included boys who were “a great annoyance,” according to the paper.

Children in the audience at a banjo minstrel at Town Hall also were a nuisance, the paper said.

James Swan, a Philipstown papermaker, lost a judgment of $178.35 [about $4,600] by default when he failed to appear in court. He had not paid two rag dealers. When the plaintiffs took the court order to the mill, Swan settled by giving them a ton of paper.

The Charles Spear, traveling south on the river to New York City, was delayed in thick fog, and when the passengers awoke in the morning they found themselves docked at the West Point Foundry. Some came ashore and took the 7:58 train.

Marvin Wilson was selling 25 acres of “choice building land” in Philipstown opposite West Point and offered “a circular with full particulars.”

A federal court held an auction to dispose of the stock and tools of the bankrupt Putnam Paper Mill in Putnam Valley.

The Recorder published an advertisement from an Indiana company offering by mail its “painless opium cure.”

At a meeting of the Putnam Board of Supervisors, a motion to remove $17 [$435] from a bill submitted by the jailer for nursing sick prisoners was approved. However, a motion to strike $18 from his bill for policing services was defeated, as were motions to remove $12, $10, $6, $12 and $18, before it was set aside.

In other business, the supervisors approved a bounty of $3 [$76] for every wildcat killed and 50 cents for every fox, to be paid with presentation of the carcass to the supervisor of the town where it was killed, who would cut off the right ear to send to the county.

The Recorder described Main Street as “in dry weather an ash bed and on rainy days the Slough of Despond” — a reference from The Pilgrim’s Progress — that had been “top-dressed with clay and loam from cellar excavations” and sand and silt from the gutters.

During a moment of inattention, Alexander Turner lost the ends of the fingers on his left hand while cutting feed at Breakneck Hollow Farm.

The ladies’ auxiliary of the Methodist Episcopal Church held a tea party to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the throwing of tea into Boston Harbor to protest British taxes.

Train carloads of cut evergreens passed by daily, bound for New York City.

Sixty chances were offered at $2 [$50] for the raffle at the Pacific Hotel of a Singer sewing machine with a steam motor.

Stephen Davenport was spotted Dec. 13 plowing his field.

Between the end of the Christmas Eve service and the early Mass on Christmas Day, burglars stole every valuable from the sanctuary of the Catholic church.

On Dec. 31 and Jan. 1, the Watson Brothers gave a gymnastics and pantomimic performance at Town Hall.

Leonard Denney transported a load of iron ore on his sled that weighed 5.3 tons.

The Recorder noted a pair of pants had been found on Market Street and could be claimed at its office for the cost of the notice.

The Ladue stables on Stone Street purchased a machine powered by compressed air to shave its horses, leaving them resembling “smooth mice,” according to The Recorder.

125 Years Ago (December 1898)

An engraved gold ring lost nearly 50 years earlier by a member of the Conklin family was discovered on its farm in Putnam Valley while digging potatoes.

The state superintendent of public instruction sent a circular to school trustees alerting them that smallpox was spreading in central New York and noting that no child could attend school unless vaccinated.

Through the efforts of Rep. John Ketcham, an iron mailbox was installed outside the Garrison post office.

In Continentalville, Ebenezer Pratt sold one of his cows and William Scofield installed a heater in his home.

The Haldane Debating Club met to address the question, “Resolved: That New York State should be divided into two states, with the northern boundaries of Putnam and Orange as the dividing line.”

The Recorder noted that “there seems to be no doubt that the seasons have perceptibly changed within the past 30 or 40 years,” with summer weather continuing into the fall and fall weather into the winter.

Haldane High School received a full-size skeleton for its physiology class.

Etta Jaycox opened a store opposite her father’s in Nelsonville that sold holiday goods, notions, fruits, candies and nuts.

The electric streetlights installed below the railroad tracks were turned on.

Isabella Boyd, the widow of druggist Charles Boyd, who had taken over the pharmacy 10 years earlier following her husband’s death, died at age 76.

To celebrate the birth of his child, barber Raymond Lorentzen offered free shaves and haircuts.

Mrs. Nicholas Fish, the mother of Sgt. Hamilton Fish, who was killed in action in Cuba during the Spanish-American War, presented each man who had been under his command with a pearl-handled knife inscribed “Las Guasima, June 24, ’98” and “Souvenir of Sergt. Hamilton Fish to his comrades in Troop I, R.R.R.,” or Rough Rider Reserve.

75 Years Ago (December 1948)

Osborn “Ossie” Mekeel, a former shopkeeper and postmaster in Nelsonville, died at 70. He lived with Mr. and Mrs. Robert Fleming on Morris Avenue.

After its Christmas concert, the Philipstown Chorale made a tour of Cold Spring and Nelsonville to sing carols, ending at Butterfield Memorial Hospital.

Restaurant ads

Restaurant ads from a December 1948 issue of The Philipstown Times

A memorial for the veterans of Nelsonville was dedicated at the corner of Division and Adams streets.

The water board installed a 12-inch line on The Boulevard and a 6-inch line and hydrant on B Street.

The Hudson Theatre on Main Street changed its movie every two days: In December it screened Lost Horizon, with Ronald Coleman and Jane Wyatt; The Luck of the Irish, with Tyrone Power; Julia Misbehaves, with Greer Garson, Walter Pidgeon, Peter Lawford, Cesar Romero and Elizabeth Taylor; Big City, with Margaret O’Brien and Danny Thomas; That Lady in Ermine, with Betty Grable and Doug Fairbanks, in a double feature with Night Time in Nevada, featuring Roy Rogers and Trigger; Luxury Liner, “M.G.M.’s nautical musical”; and Four Feathers, starring “3,000 fighting men and a girl.”

The Haldane cheerleaders hosted a basketball game in the auditorium with faculty and students riding donkeys. The event included the “world-famous” donkey known as Honey Pot.

Among the advertisers in The Philipstown Times: W.A. Scullion Funeral Home at 30 Morris Ave.; Collins’ Restaurant & Bar at 187 Main St.; the Haar Agency at 159 Main St.; Zahner’s Bar & Grill at 129 Main St.; Rose’s Luncheonette at 120 Main St.; Nathan Glick’s store at 93-97 Main St.; Purity Market at 92 Main St.; Coleman Funeral Home at 4 Rock St.; Southard and Covert Insurance at 73 Main St.; and Strickland’s Liquor Store at 62 Main St.

Joseph Percacciolo purchased a lot adjoining Kemble’s Field and planned to build four homes.

The Cold Spring Drum & Bugle Corps hosted a chicken dinner at Scalzo’s for the girls of the Minstrel Show Troupe to thank them for a benefit performance.

A broadcasting club at Haldane produced a 15-minute, weekly show for a new station at Peekskill. Chapman Robinson was the announcer for the program, which aired Fridays at 3 p.m.

The Hudson Theatre hosted its third annual free holiday movie for children under 12, the 1933 Laurel and Hardy feature, Sons of the Desert.

Our Lady of Loretto formed a boxing team; members planned a “smoker” with bouts and sandwiches to raise money for gym equipment.

On his national morning radio show, Talent Scouts, Arthur Godfrey read a letter from Viola Rundell of Cold Spring.

50 Years Ago (December 1973)

Anthony Benecasa, a lifelong resident of Cold Spring, was appointed postmaster. He had worked at the post office since 1948, including 10 years as clerk and 14 years as assistant postmaster.

Nathan Glick, who operated the home-furnishing store at 93 Main St. that had been opened by his father, Jacob, in 1906, died at age 68. As a young man, Glick was a standout baseball player for Haldane and the Poughkeepsie Jewish Center.

The Fishkill National Bank broke ground for a branch at Chestnut and Oak streets.

The Haldane wrestling team opened its season with a 60-12 victory over Dover Plains in which Blue Devils won 10 of the 13 bouts, including nine by pins.

Samuel Scalzo, a plumber for the Capuchin Monastery in Garrison who later operated the Riverview Inn on Fair Street, died at age 66.

Bertha Selleck of Cold Spring visited with elementary teachers at Haldane during a workshop to share what was described as her “unique reading technique.”

Adrian Haar, who moved to Cold Spring from Ohio and joined the James E. Bailey & Son insurance agency, died at 64. The business became known as Bailey & Haar and then, in 1945, as Haar Insurance Agency. Haar was a director of the National Bank of Cold Spring and the first president of the Philipstown Rod & Gun Club.

25 Years Ago (December 1998)

Five Philipstown authors held a joint signing at the newly opened Salmagundi Books: David Landay, the founder of Broadway Cares (Be Prepared); Sara Dulaney (The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Single Parenting); Gail Reichstein (Wood Becomes Water: Chinese Medicine in Everyday Life); Michael Kahan, a professor of political science at Brooklyn College (Media as Politics); and Elizabeth Kimmel (Stone Circle).

Michael Semo, a member of the Putnam County Legislature for 16 years, resigned as its chair four weeks before his term was to end after he damaged a county-owned car. The Patterson resident sideswiped a utility pole on Route 301 while returning from a Putnam Women’s GOP dinner at the Plumbush Restaurant in Philipstown. He said he lost control while reaching for an item in the back seat.

Elizabeth Montgomery

Elizabeth Montgomery in 1967

The Trust for Public Land and the Open Space Institute announced the preservation of 800 acres of woods straddling Patterson and Kent. Known as Wonder Lake, it had been the summer home of actor Elizabeth Montgomery, star of the television series Bewitched, who died in 1995, and her father, actor Robert Montgomery.

After taking off from Goshen, a two-person balloon made an emergency landing in a parking lot in Nelsonville. The flight nearly ended on the Haldane campus before the pilot spotted what he thought was a better spot to land.

Following complaints about speeding, the Cold Spring Village Board voted to install stop signs on Bank Street at its intersections with Parrott, Parsonage and West Bank.

The Village Board enacted a “pooper-scooper” law with fines of $50 to $150 for failing to clean up after dogs or allowing them to run unleashed. The law also gave police officers the ability to ticket the owners of “nuisance” dogs who habitually barked or howled, caused property damage, chased or harassed pedestrians or barked at or chased cars.

Despite pleas by Mayor Anthony Phillips to put aside its “issues” with Nelsonville, no member of the Cold Spring Village Board would offer a motion to waive a $750 fee for Nelsonville to hook up water to its new pocket park at Main and Pearl.

Delmar Karlen, acting superintendent of the newly created Garrison’s Landing Water District, told the Philipstown Town Board that the low bid to clean, reline and replace sections of pipe and reline the cement reservoir was $226,625, or $100,000 more than the town had budgeted. There was urgency because the temporary pipes were above ground and could freeze in cold weather.

Haldane High School received a $53,693 donation from Lucio Petrocelli and his family to buy equipment and supplies for the environmental science, meteorology, earth science and biology classes.

A 39-year-old Hopewell Junction man who was stopped for speeding in Cold Spring was sent to the Putnam County Jail after officers found he had 30 active suspensions on his license from 11 different days.

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