2017-02-22 / In This Place

Guess Again!

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by Trish Adams

Actually you shouldn’t need even three guesses to figure out the year (ending with a “7”) that these news items appeared one February, since both copy and ads all hail from the same year. Don’t be thinking I’ve given you extra clues though: the decade of any year mentioned in the copy has been “x-ed” out!

The New Blacksmith

How we all used to regard the blacksmith with his sinewy arms, depending on his mind for the fine points of the trade, as the personification of manly independence. His shop was a social center, and there the town politicians met to fix slates and consider candidates for the coming town meeting. Knowing ones of the horse swapping guild stopped for crude veterinary, “interfering” was overcome and possibly a specimen of horse flesh past the youthful age had spirits of turpentine applied to its hoofs to induce quick stepping in prospect of a change of masters. Antietam and Gettysburg were fought over by men who participated In the original engagements. Taking the team to be “shod all ‘round new” was almost as much of an event in farm life as a community auction or raising bee, and what was said on these occasions were many times repeated and reviewed at the end of the row or swath. In days still recalled by the active the blacksmith shop vied with the meeting house as a center of community influence.

How all this has changed with the advent of the gasoline age. Such of the blacksmiths as still ply the trade to advantage remind one of a veterinarian or a onetime itinerant dentist. They come on call or travel about seeking trade. The list we call to mind, in nowise complete, of men with bellows and anvil mounted on motor propelled vehicles are Earl Smith of Arena, “Al” Scott of Dunraven, “Dr.” Williams of Arkville, Will Keator of Halcottsville and Mark O’Brine and Leland Todd of Roxbury, who will come to the scene when a horse throws a shoe.

Who Will Be First Mayor of Margaretville?

Wouldn’t You Like to be an Assessor?

The extensive changes made by the legislature two years ago and those already favorably considered by the present assembly make radical changes in the acts governing the villages of the state. The new statutes with proposed changes may well be cal- led revolutionary.

Elections are to be held bi-annually in March and the designation of the chief executive will be mayor instead of village president. Villages of the fourth class (which includes Margaret- ville) may choose two or four trustees as the voters decide, one to be elected each year. It is mandatory that the polls be kept open four consecutive hours.

The proposed changes abolish the office of collector, the taxes to be collected by the treasurer or clerk, without fee. Tax bills will be mailed to those assessed and a specified time given for their payment. There will bo no personal solicitation for their payment or levy by the receiving officer. Delinquent taxes will be returned to the county treasurer, who will make collections through the sheriff’s department, as is now the law governing unpaid town and school taxes.

The board of trustees cannot act, as in the past, as a board of assessors, but must name a person, not a member who will assume the same duties as a city assessor, making the assessment in November for the coming May tax roll. This will be a one man job with authority and responsibility.

The new law with proposed changes and additions practically puts the villages under the same rule as cities. The reports required of the various officials will be lengthy, with the idea of being enlightening. The mayor may be voted a maximum salary of $300 and the trustees $200 each.

Every parcel of taxable real estate must be plotted for file with the county clerk, the secretary of state and the village clerk, and must be so worded in description as to conform to the phraseology of a valid deed. The office of assessor will not be a sinecure or an open sesame to popularity, but a disinterested non-resident might be engaged as appraiser. Surveyors will also be in demand for some months.

A penalty has not yet been provided for any one advocating the disincorporating of a village and the substitution of a fire and lighting district.

This is a suggestion that has actually taken root, with a different schedule, in the Fresh Air Fund

and in The Manhattan Country Farm School with its campuses in New York City and Roxbury.

A Suggestion

One visiting the stone schoolhouse at a countryside gathering could not be otherwise than impressed by the bevy of bright looking girls just budding into womanhood, and the manly appearing boys, in all likelihood gentlemen, and the blending of their voices in song has a charm more inviting than the offering of some vocalists. They are filled to overflowing with country life, health and wholesomeness. In the city there are plenty of young people of like age, mental capacity, character and parentage. Why wouldn’t it be a good idea for urban and rural parents of proved character to swap children for one school year. Details could be arranged, possibly through the churches. What a vision of life and its problems it would unfold to the favored youth in their formative years. They would all be put on good behavior for nine months, they’d learn consideration of others, which many parents fail to inculcate; resourcefulness and an understanding of human nature, which are a great asset of life, and in the coming years, should they follow the footsteps of the most of human kind, they would be better fathers and mothers for the year spent away from home.

Summer Hotels Must Install Fire Escapes

Mrs. Ruth Shorr and Miss Blanche Warner, two of the survivors of the fire which destroy- ed a big summer hotel at Hurley- ville about a year ago, appeared before the Senate Finance committee at Albany early this week and asked better fire protection for Catskill Mountain and other hotels in this state.

They both told of their escape from the Hurleyville fire. Miss Warner was seriously injured by jumping from an upper window. Fourteen people were burned to death in this fire.

A bill to compel some drastic changes in the fire protection of the Catskill Mountain summer hotels has been introduced. The hearing at which the two women appeared was conducted by Senator Benjamin Antin, Democrat, of the Bronx, and would establish a bureau of fire prevention in the department of state police. The measure would require an adequate number of fire escapes on all wooden hotels and boarding houses, as well as other safety measures, and would make the state police an enforcement agency.

Readers will recall that a large number of summer hotels in this and adjoining counties have been burned in the last few years. Several in this township have gone up in flames. But it has so happened that they have burned at a time of the year when not occupied by summer guests.

Some of the insurance companies have refused to insure summer boarding houses because of the great number of fires that have occurred.

Death of One of Valley’s Best Liked Young Men: Leonard H. Ruff

All New Kingston valley were saddened when the news went forth that Leonard H. Ruff, one of our most promising young men, had died of septic pneumonia at the Kingston City hospital on Sunday evening. Mr. Ruff had been troubled with a sore finger, which acted as though a boil were coming, and had it lanced the first of last week. As he did not Improve he went to the hospital.

Young Ruff was 22, lived with his parents, Mr. and Mrs. Henry Ruff, on the farm on which he was born. He was an active member of the local church, from which the funeral was conducted Thursday at 1:30, by the pastor, Rev. Geo. Roseburk. The large crowd and the many floral pieces were testimonies of the high esteem in which he was held in the community and especially by the young people.

Besides his parents he is survived by two younger sisters, Mrs. Julius Koutz ot Roxbury, and Miss Eva, who is home.

Interment in the Valley cemetery, conducted by N. L. Lattin.

Various untitled news items:

No improvement in the congest- ed conditions of broadcasting is shown in the latest reports of the Department of Commerce, based upon the observations of its Federal radio supervisors. The report covers from July 1 to December 31. In this six months period, 22 new stations have gone on the air in the New York district, 47 in Chicago, 25 in Detroit, 23 in Seattle, 13 in New Orleans, 13 in Boston, 7 in Baltimore, 6 in San Francisco and 2 in Atlanta.

Would that our current governor and NYC mayor got along so well. No kissing there!

At the annual ball of the Anawanda club, one of the strongest Democratic organizations in New York, the orchestra suddenly stop- ped and began playing, “The Sidewalks of New York,” and in a cleared space in the center of the ballroom Gov. Smith, with the wife of Mayor Walker as his partner and Mayor Walker, with Mrs. Smith, waltzed to the music, after which the Mayor kissed Mrs. Smith and the Governor promptly kissed Mrs. Walker. There’s political harmony for you!

Solve for “x” — in this news item and the obituary for Commodore Gerry, I have substituted “x” for the year of the decade so that you will still have to deduce the year this column’s items appeared.

For the twenty-ninth time in its history the automobile business has established a new record year. The National Automobile Chamber of Commerce gives a total production of 4,480,000 motor vehicles for 19x6, with the wholesale value of $3,056,904,833. Closed cars continue to increase in popularity, amounting to 74 percent of the total, despite the fact that there was an excellent trade in roadsters. The volume of motor vehicle taxes was $735,226,000. This is close to the total expenditure for highway construction and maintenance during the year.

Commodore E. T. Gerry Dead Owned Beautiful Estate in Bovina and for Years a Leading Citizen of New York

Elbridge T. Gerry, aged 90, patron of Bovina, where his country estate is regarded as one of the finest west of the Hudson river, died in New York Friday. Sixty years ago Commodore Gerry, as he was generally addressed, married Louisa M. Livingston, a descendant of Chancellor Livingston, who by marriage to the daughter of Johannes Hardenburgh, the original patentee, became the owner of a large section of land in this portion of Delaware county and the ad- joining county of Ulster. Some thirty-five years ago, being impressed by the scenic appeal of the Lake Delaware section of Bovina and the hallowed association of the Livingston family when the country was new, he bought real estate and built his summer home. To this he has added farms from time to time and made improvements of priceless value. Later his son, Robert Livingston Gerry, acquired real estate and built a palatial summer place adjoining his father’s, as has also a daughter, Miss Angelica.

Mr. Gerry has been invalided at his home since last month by a fall, in which he suffered a broken hip. His physicians pronounced him out of danger, but said he would never be able to walk again.

His son, Robert L. Gerry, said that death occurred in his sleep. He was able to sit up in a chair for several hours Friday morning, but in the afternoon his heart action begun to fail and his death was not unexpected. His four children were at his bedside.

The grandson of a signer of the Declaration of Independence and the father of a United States Senator, Elbridge Thomas Gerry established his own fame along lines outside national politics.

Much of his long life, however, was devoted to public service. Besides becoming widely known as lawyer, banker and yachtsman, he served on many important commissions in the state ot New York and worked energetically to improve the condition of the children of New York city.

Mr. Gerry, born in New York city on Christmas Day, 18x7, was a grandson of Elbridge Gerry of Massachusetts, who was a signer of the Declaration of Independence, and the fifth vice-president of the United States. He was graduated from Columbia University in 18x7 and was admitted to the New York bar in 18x0.

Since 18x6 he had been known to his friends as Commodore Gerry. He had been interested in yachting for some time and in that year was elected commodore of the New York Yacht club, a position which he held for seven years. His flagship, the steam yacht Electra, became familiar to residents of the leading ports of this country and Europe.

The commodore was fond of entertaining and on each annual cruise of the club the Electra had its full quota of guests. His affection for this yacht was such that when his advancing years led him to the regretful decision to quit the seas for his recreation he would not sell the Electra nor permit her to be used by anyone else. He ordered her dismantled.

Early in life Mr. Gerry became interested in the welfare of the children of New York. He work- ed, wrote and gave in their behalf and from 18x6 to 19x1 he was vice president of the New York Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children. This interest was also extended to dumb animals and for many years he served as vice-president of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. Another of his humanitarian activities was his service as a governor of the New York hospital from 18x8 to 19x2.

In addition to his extensive law practice he had numerous banking affiliations. He accumulated a notable library containing 30,000 volumes.

In the later years of his life he made his home in Newport, R. I.

He is survived by four children: United States Senator Peter Goelet Gerry of Rhode Island. Robert Livingston Gerry, Miss Angelica Gerry and Mrs. Francis Saxham Elwes Drury,

The funeral was held from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, with a private requiem mass at the Church of St. Edward the Martyr. The burial was in the family plot at Hyde Park.

Solve your own “history mysteries” with a visit to our archives at www.nyshistoricnewspapers.org/middletown.

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