Citizens Bank of Monroe: A Town of Monroe Staple for Over Fifty Years.

Authored By Mike Maggin

23 Lake Street in Monroe NY once housed the Citizens Bank of Monroe in Monroe NY. This was a staple of the town of Monroe for more than 70 years. Now it is an abandoned property but when this photo was taken in 1965 the Citizens Bank of Monroe was celebrating its 50th anniversary.

In 1915, the United States had 7,598 National Banks and 18,227 State Banks (FDIC.Gov 2014). One of the banks that opened that year was the Citizens Bank of Monroe located in Monroe NY. Though the building is no longer in use the bank is still talked about and remembered for its great customer service, it’s giant vault, and the ability to survive the run on banks in the 1930s. Many banks did not survive the banking panics that began in October of 1930 and lasted until Roosevelts national banking holiday in 1933 (Bordo and Landon-Lane 2010, 487). During this time over 8,000 commercial banks were part of the Federal Reserve System, but nearly 16,000 were not members, including the Citizens Bank of Monroe (Richardson 2013).

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Enid Bell’s Mission: Art for All

Authored by Carolyn Kosten

This photograph is taken of the original sculpture by Enid Bell (Palanchian) who gifted it to the Leonia Public Library in 1979. Enid Bell used hydrocal relief as the medium to sculpt two birds which look as if they are in flight (Bell Palanchian 1979).

The sculpture, Birds, resides at the top of the Leonia Public Library’s rear stairs where, on a busy day, hundreds of people pass by. The Leonia Public Library welcomes all people, no matter their background. Likewise, St. John’s University’s mission is to respect all people; this includes sharing our gifts with others (St. John’s University 2019). The creator of Birds, Enid Bell Palanchian, excluded none when displaying her work, implying that art is not only for the wealthy.

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The Dial Switchboard: A Piece of Small-Town History in Hazleton

Authored by Gina Coticchio

This is the rotary switchboard which is found in the Hazleton Historical Society Museum. The dial switchboard came to Hazleton in 1954. All the original wiring and phone book is still intact.

The first manual switchboard came about in 1878 and Hazleton, Pennsylvania got its first dial switchboard in 1954. At 11:59pm on April 24the switchboard was up and running in this small town (The Plain Speaker 1954). The Bell telephone company decided to invest in this small town by opening up a building on W. Green St. in Hazleton; with the new switchboard, converting to dial service was costing them $1.5 million (The Plain Speaker 1954). According to Tom Gabos, who is the president of the Hazleton Historical Society Museum, “this switchboard came from the corner of W. Green Street, right across from where our library now is” (Tom Gabos, pers. comm, September 2019). This new technology that was coming to Hazleton was welcomed with open arms. Once word got around of the new switchboard technology, Hazleton was booming with people who wanted to see how this technology would work. By 1940, the population of Hazleton was just over 38,000 (City of Hazleton Pennsylvania, n.d.). By 1953, about 14,000 people were using telephone technology (The Plain Speaker 1954). This is a little under half of what the population was in Hazleton back in 1940. 

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West Michigan Interurban Time Table: Opening a New World

Authored by Lindsey C. Kult

“Interurban Time Table, effective April 12, 1925”, Wait Station, Dekker Huis, Zeeland, Michigan. This is a prime example of the numerous opportunities West Michiganders had to travel outside of their communities.

From the turn of the 20th Century until the mid-1920s, travel by rail was the best way for Midwesterners to travel beyond their hometowns (Ellison 2019; Geberer 2019, 51; Jenison Historical Association 2009, 2; van Reken 1998). The road conditions were so poor during this time that the Dutch and German settlers of small towns such as Jenison, Saugatuck, and Zeeland were essentially isolated from the larger cities in the region (van Reken 1998, 77). The implementation of the electric interurban not only provided the citizens of West Michigan access to the diversity found in larger cities, but also gave them the opportunity to share their values with others.

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Art Buchwald’s Sheep on the Runway: A Columnist’s Debut as a Playwright

Authored by Patricia Monaghan

This folder contains a unique selection of clippings compiled by the late William Harris, a drama and dance critic who assembled a sizable collection of theater memorabilia. The contents of the folder consist of reviews and articles, as well as a half-page advertisement, of Art Buchwald’s debut play, Sheep on the Runway. The play was a comedy directed by Gene Saks at the Helen Hayes Theatre on West 46th Street in Manhattan.

As “the most widely published American journalistic humorist of the second half of the 20th century,” Art Buchwald was a writer unlike any other (Biography Reference Bank 2007). Buchwald spent the majority of his career writing a satirical column that, at one time, was syndicated in 550 newspapers (Nilsen 1996, 80). His contributions to journalism earned him a Pulitzer Prize in 1982 (Folkenflik 2007).

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New York Pride of the Past

Watermarked image of a written letter on a sheet of paper and business card admitting William Bordeau to the National Gay Alliance as a Charter Member

Now known as the National LGBTQ Task Force, the image above is of a handwritten note welcoming Bill Bordeau into the National Gay Task Force, and a business card sized membership card.

Authored by Kathleen Daly

At a time when there was a great deal of political and cultural turmoil there was one local New York City man who was a vocal activist for gay rights. Affiliation of any kind with a group like the National Gay Task Force was polarizing for some, especially when this was a time when the American Psychiatric Association, or APA, still had homosexuality classified as a mental illness. In the publication of the original Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, or DSM, in 1952, as well as in the second version, “individuals were labeled sick because they did not fit in, not necessarily because they felt afflicted, in pain, or under any kind of mental stress” (Dunn 2017, 183). The stigma that homosexuals had to live under was codified under the guidelines of mental health diagnoses and it took a great deal of fighting back from many groups inside the APA, and a few outside as well, to get those definitions removed finally in late 1973.  Other legal definitions and laws changing, such as the case of 1964’s Civil Rights Act and the fallout within the homosexual community (Bruce 2016, 46-47) gave rise to many people within it wishing to take further action. Continue reading

Burroughs Building: The Opportunity to Prosper in the Nineteenth Century

Authored by Megan Sego

Image Bridgeport Public Library Burroughs Building

Burroughs Building, by Jurgen Frederick Huge (1809-1878); 29 ¼” H x 39 ½” W; 1876. This highly stylized ink and watercolor shows the Burroughs Building in 19th Century Bridgeport, located at the SW corner of Main and John Streets (currently the site of City Trust building). The building eventually housed the Bridgeport Public Library on the second and third floor in starting in 1888 until the current Burroughs Library structure was opened at 925 Broad Street in 1927.

Born in Hamburg, Germany, in 1809, Jurgen Frederick Huge immigrated to the United States, particularly Bridgeport, Connecticut at the age of twenty-one. The year was estimated to be 1830, although records officially claiming Huge in directories first appear in 1862 (“Jurgen Huge”, n.d.). Many German citizens immigrated to the United States in the early to mid-nineteenth century as they, “were forced to endure land seizures, unemployment, increased competition from British goods, and the repercussions of the failed German Revolution of 1848” (“Immigration”, n.d.). The port of Hamburg was known as “the Gateway to the World” as over five million European immigrants used the port travel across the Atlantic Ocean to reach the “land of plenty.” Many opportunities were waiting for those willing to make the ship-ward journey (“Genealoger”, n.d.). Continue reading

Certificate of Passage: Last Ride of “The Put”

Certificate of passage on "The Put"
A certificate of passage on the last Northbound passenger train of the “Put” on May 29th, 1958. The Putnam line ran from Brewster in southern Putnam County down to the Bronx for about 80 years. This small document, located in the Yorktown Museum at Yorktown Heights, an old station along the line, is only a testament to the once expansive railway that ran right through the center of Westchester County (above).

Reaching from the High Bridge area of the Bronx up and Brewster in Putnam County, the Putnam line is an old, and possibly forgotten part of history. In 1869, a group of Boston and New York investors sought to connect the two cities via a railway chartered a third set of tracks between the current Hudson and Harlem lines leaving New York City (Kelley 2005). This venture came to fruition in December of 1880, when the fifty-eight miles of track, serving towns that didn’t have immediate access to railways and passengers were able to use the new line by 1881 (Kelley 2005). However, the economic strain that existed on the Putnam line since its beginnings never really disappeared, despite its success as a passenger train. It was passed between companies, shifted around in purpose, and eventually the connection to Boston was removed by rival railways (Kelley 2005). By 1913, the line had undergone several administration changes before finally falling into the control of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad, where it gained the name of ‘Putnam Division’.

In its early days, the Putnam Division was a well used rail line by the many growing towns along its path, providing new opportunities to workers and commuters. Daniel R. Gallo states in an interview that “between 1950 and 1955, the population between Ardsley and Yorktown Heights tripled” due to the use of the Putnam line, which allowed for easy travel between the Westchester County towns and New York City (Strauss 1981). Many of the stations along the Putnam Railway were close to parks and attractions, such as the Lincoln Station and Tibbetts Brook Valley, which in 1927 was developed into a park with swimming pools and walking trails (Brause 2007).

Finally, the financial strain of “The Old Put” lead to its eventual closing in 1958. By its seventy-ninth year of toting passengers, the train line had dwindled to around 300 and was accruing annual deficits of up to $400,000 (Folsom 1958). On its final passage north, Train 947 left the Bronx at 5:47 PM and arrived in Brewster at 8:37 PM: a total of five hundred passengers had boarded the train, celebrating and mourning the last ride of “The Old Put” (Folsom 1958; Kelley 2005). The oldest passenger was 81-year old Henry H. Wells, former Mayor of Brewster, the youngest a 12 year old Michael Fox of North Salem; it carried a variety of passengers from railway workers, schoolchildren, and even bankers (Folsom 1958). Despite the discontinuing of service for “The Old Put”, the party commuters and locals had left potent memories in all involved. This unplanned event demonstrates a small scale of the Vincentian desire to create “global harmony” in the world, and that it is possible for strangers to live harmoniously  (“Our Mission” 2019).

Although the passenger train had come to an end, the freight division of the Putnam line ran until 1981. The five stations along the passenger lines that remained, in Elmsford, Briarcliff Manor, Millwood, Yorktown Heights, and Mahopac, were maintained and used as libraries, museums, parks, offices, and even restaurants through the years (Strauss 1981). Various blog posts, outlining the echoes of the train on the land, and books, such as “The Putnam Division” by Daniel R. Gallo, that record its history keep the memory of this railway alive (Strauss 1981). Today the abandoned rail line is actively used as walking trails, parks, and history trails for those interested in learning more about the “Old Put” and its travels.

References

Brause, Richard. 2007. “Stations Along the Trail on the Putnam Division Right-Of-Way”. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from:
http://bikenorth.zisfein.com/putnamstations.htm

Folsom, Merrill.  1958, May 30th. “The Wheels of ‘Old Put’ Click Out a Sad Accompaniment to Riders’ ‘Auld Lang Syne’”. New York Times, pp. 23.Accessed on: March 17th, 2019
Retrieved from:
https://timesmachine.nytimes.com/timesmachine/1958/05/30/79398160.pdf

Kelley, Ed. January/February, 2005. “‘THE OLD PUT’ Suburban New York’s Lost Railroad”. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from:
https://web.archive.org/web/20050914165131/http://www.bjwrr.com/ontrack/put.htm

“Our Mission.” 2019. St. John’s University. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.stjohns.edu/about/history-and-facts/our-mission

Strauss, Michael. (1981, September 13). “MEMORIES CLICK ALONG THE PUTNAM LINE”. New York Times, pp. 29. Accessed on: March 17th, 2019. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/1981/09/13/nyregion/memories-click-along-the-putnam-line.html

The Albert N’Yanza: Exploration and Subjection is the Belgian Congo

Authored by Leanne N. Manna

Written in 1866, The Albert N’Yanza: Great Basin of the Nile and Exploration of the Nile Sources, gives an account of Samuel White Baker and his Team’s exploration of central Africa. This two-volume set is currently held at Liberty Hall Museum in Union, NJ.

The Albert N’Yanza, or Lake Albert, lies on the border of Uganda and the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is one of the great lakes of Africa. It has long been an object of fascination and exploration. The presence of books like The Albert N’Yanza: Great Basin of the Nile and Exploration of the Nile Sources serve to highlight how celebrated these explorers were. Throughout these narratives there is a common theme of seeking greatness and disregard for the indigenous people. For example, Baker names Lake Albert “in memory of the late illustrious and lamented Prince Consort”(Baker 1866, II). Naming “discovered” landmarks was quite common among explorers. In addition, Romolo Gessi remarked several times in his account of circumnavigating the Albert N’Yanza that people would flee their villages with their belongings as they approached (Gessi 1876, 51-54). This is most likely from fear of whom these new arrivals could be and what they planned on doing. There is a much darker history surrounding the history of exploration in Africa and in the Democratic Republic of the Congo specifically.

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Recognizing Staten Island’s World War II Efforts

Authored by Erin Ajello

A watermarked photograph of blueprints.

This photograph shows Robert Feist’s blueprints of a German rocket from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island. Feist created them as part of a national U. S. Government project.

            As Staten Island is often referred to as the forgotten borough, it unsurprising that it is a place with a rich, forgotten history. The above artifact, a page of missile blueprints from the S. S. White factory on Staten Island, shows a unique part of Staten Island’s war efforts during World War II.     

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