FROM PAGES PAST — 1947: Laughs abound in 'Hollywood Supper' benefit

Yates County History Center
1947: Don Mills and Norman Wilbur present the award for "Outstanding Hat" to Velma Remer at the Penn Yan Methodist Church’s Hollywood Supper benefit.

The Yates County History Center’s volunteers have gleaned these entries for your enjoyment from their digitized newspapers. You can access them at the free site For more information about the YCHC, visit

150 Years Ago

March 7, 1872

Winter - The Winter which ought to be closing at this date has been distinguished for deep freezing. It is said the ground has not been frozen so deep before in many years as now. The ice which has been gathered has much of it been from 18 to 24 inches thick, so deep has the water frozen on the surface of Lake Keuka. If it be true that the advent of March in the raging capacity of a lion indicates an exit in the mild attitude of a lamb, we shall have some warm weather before the first of April. Winter has made no fiercer display than that of the last few days of what is erroneously called spring. It is customary to call March a spring month, but it is seldom worthy of the title in this climate.

Sodus Bay & Corning Railroad - We are glad to learn that preparations are being made for vigorous work on the Sodus Bay and Corning Railroad as soon as the Spring shall open. It is intended to put three hundred men at work, and have the road fully finished as far as Penn Yan, if not farther, the present year. The rails are already purchased for the track.

Penn Yan’s Future - “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which taken at its flood leads on to fortune." This is as true of business as of men. Penn Yan in its younger days had an eye to business, when it dug its canal that gave it a lift ahead of all its rivals as a shipping port and business center. And when this had fulfilled its mission and became too slow for the times, and the era of Railroads come, its business men were equally wide awake, and invested their thousands in a railroad that they might hold what they had gained. And again when the need was felt for better facilities for the education of our youth, the Union School bill was fought through, and a flourishing academy established. With its public interests, thus jealously watched, our village has rapidly grown, and today stands without a business rival in the State for a place of its size. How shall it hold its present supremacy is a question demanding the immediate attention of its men of business. Our neighboring rivals were never as active as at present in seeking to cut off our trade. One by a railroad through Hall's Corners, Potter Center, Branchport and Hammondsport to Bath, and the other by a road through Naples and Rushville to Bloods. Dundee also on the South, is seeking to draw the Corning and Sodus road out of its direct line for her accommodation, and to the great damage of the road and of our place. Will any of these roads be built? We feel assured that at least one of them will. The soft coal interests lying south of Corning must have a direct outlet north to the Erie Canal and to Lake Ontario. The road that will give the easiest grades and the shortest line will get the business; and such a road, without question is the Corning and Sodus Bay, if built on a direct line. Do the business men of Penn Yan desire the road, or will they fold their hands and cry “a little more sleep and a little more slumber," and awake some morning to find depots at Branchport, Potter Center and Rushville and one third of their trade lost forever? Nothing will prevent the building of one of these roads west of us, but immediate and vigorous prosecution of the proposed line through this place.

100 Years Ago

March 8, 1922

Prohibition Violation - Wm. Davenport is in the county jail charged with violating the excise law. It seems that last week a woman called up the sheriff’s office and complained that her husband was drunk at Davenport’s hut near the Branchport bridge. The sheriff and one of the state troopers went to Branchport and found the woman. They visited the hut together. The woman said her husband was inside. She went inside herself, and after considerable persuasion, Davenport gave her a glass full. It was then she opened the hut door and invited the sheriff and trooper to come in and have a drink. This was what they wanted, because they did not have search and seizure papers. The glass full of “Rye Relish” was bottled and the officers returned to Penn Yan to have it analyzed. They found it tested better than 5 percent alcohol. They returned to Branchport, arrested Davenport and searched his place. They secured a pitcher full which tested 4.85 percent and a crock full which went 5 percent. Davenport, when he appeared before Justice Abram Gridley, pleaded not guilty and was held in $1,000 bail, which he could not furnish and so is in jail. He has thirty days in which to decide whether he will waive examination and await the action of the grand jury.

Law Enforcement Applauded - Sheriff Watkins, his deputies, the state police and village officers are to be congratulated for the fine start they have made to clean up Penn Yan. Last Sunday the Penn Yan Methodist Sunday school passed resolutions commending the men for their work and expressed their willingness to stand back of any movement looking towards the enforcement of the Constitution of the United States.

Soldiers & Sailors Hospital Fundraising - Twelve dollars was the amount paid to the treasurer of the Soldiers and Sailors Memorial Hospital during the month of February on the $46,000 of unpaid subscriptions due more than one year ago. Someone has figured that at this rate it will take about 320 years to collect the balance due. Hope we will not have to wait that long for the new and needed hospital.

The Elmwood Theater, Harry C. Morse, Manager - This week’s features include: FRIDAY: Sydney Chaplin in “KING, QUEEN AND JOKER.” Sydney Chaplin, brother of the famous Charlie, has returned to the screen, in a five-reel comedy thriller about a barber who captured a throne. Filmed amid scenes in England, France and America and packed solid with laughter. SATURDAY EVENING: Reilly Bros. Orchestra plays for Dustin Farnum in “IRON TO GOLD” The star plays a powerful Western role. The picture abounds in quick action and speed. Mr. Farnum does the best acting of his screen career. Marguerite Walsh is leading woman. MONDAY AND TUESDAY: “FOOL’S PARADISE” A Cecil DeMille production. This picture is the last word in drama, thrills, beauty, romance, heart throbs and splendor. Played by a large cast, including Dorothy Dalton, Mildred Harris, Conrad Nagle, Theodore Cosloff and others. Matinee, 22 cts.; evening, 22 and 28 cts.

75 Years Ago

March 6, 1947

Worst Storm of Winter Blocks Railroads, Threatens Food Supplies, Closes Schools, Keeps Road Crews Working 24-Hour Shifts - The boys who were in the South Pacific or Australia or India when the storm of 1945 isolated Penn Yan for six days, now have a vague idea of what that time was like. It isn’t the same, because there was much more snow then and the weather was colder, but they can get an idea. Starting early Sunday, the worst storm of the winter practically isolated Penn Yan during the early part of this week. By dusk Monday afternoon snow plows were fighting a losing battle on the main highways and all secondary roads were closed. The high wind made drifts that crept across the roads with unbelievable swiftness. On Route 14, for example, where the drifts had crowded all traffic practically into the ditch on the eastern side of the road, one car pulled into a comparatively open space to allow another to pass. In the very brief time the car stood still, snow piled around the wheels until the vehicle was stalled. Visibility was zero. Traffic was at a minimum, however, there were no accidents. Tuesday morning practically every road in the county outside of the village of Penn Yan was impassable. By noon Milo had roads open to Himrod and the state road to Dundee was passable but dangerous. To the north, all roads beyond the Yates county line were closed. On one occasion some dozen or more cars followed the snowplow on Route 14, trying to get through to Geneva but when the Ontario County line was reached the snow stretched away unbroken, with no sign of life as far as the eye could see, snowplow and cars turned around and came back to Penn Yan. Different from the storm of 1945 when there was just too much snow everywhere, this storm is spotty. In places the roads are bare for as much as a quarter of a mile and then the snow is piled in a drift 10 feet high and rods long. In such place traffic is still one-way and visibility is very poor as the wind blows a stream of snow spray from the tops of the banks.

Hats and Quips Draw Laughs at Hollywood Supper - The Penn Yan Methodist church dinning rooms were jam-packed with approximately 300 guests on Friday night for the Loyalty class’ big Breakfast in Hollywood program. The popular Don Mills and Norman Wilbur played their accustomed roles of Tom Breneman and Cruising Carl, the Crooner. Probably the two most outstanding hats worn that evening were the Christmas tree and ornaments with which Miss Velma Remer adorned(?) her hair and the candlestick and lighted candles donned by Miss Ethel Boyce. Miss Boyce’s hat was auctioned off by "Breneman,” purchased by Howard Fullagar of the Bath Road, and the proceeds given to the Red Cross. As the events of the program followed in the usual course, Miss Remer was awarded the Good Neighbor orchid. A very long letter, signed by 87 different persons, with others declaring vocally that they would like to sign, too, gave the judges very little choice. The decision seemed to be unanimous. Praised for her work at the school as well as service at the hospital, Miss Remer was the good neighbor without contest. Mr. and Mrs. Howard Barringer, of 132 Lake Street, Penn Yan, married 51 years, received the bouquet for that accomplishment. Asked for a way to arrive at such a long term of marriage, Mrs. Barringer declared that the first thing to do was get married. Mr. and Mrs. George Bates, married 50 years on Oct. 31, 1946, were recognized but received no gift. Mr. and Mrs. Clarence Wilbur, married 27 years, parents of the “crooner,” were declared to be practically in the novice class. Mrs. Florence Butcher of the Guertha Pratt home, 84 years old, received the orchid, and appropriate caress, for being the oldest lady present. Mrs. Dudley Fox was awarded a bouquet of roses for being the mother present with the largest number of children. She admitted to nine. Marcia Scofield was promised a pair of nylons if she would light a cigar and take one puff. She did it — and got the stockings.

50 Years Ago

March 9, 1972

1972: Richard Curbeau joined his father, James Curbeau, as a partner in Lown’s Department Store, Main Street, Penn Yan. The business was founded in 1889.

Lown's Department Store - Richard Curbeau has joined his father, James Curbeau, as a partner in Lown’s Department Store, Main Street, Penn Yan. The business, founded in 1889, when the store was owned by John H. Lown, was taken over by his son, George, following the original owner’s death. In 1903, there was a merger of the Lown interest with C.N. McFarren under the name of the Lown Dry Goods Company, at which time the business was incorporated in 1913. I. L. Yetter was elected president and in 1917, became actively interested in the company. James L. Curbeau and sons, James and Donald, purchased the business May 2, 1946 and the Curbeau interests have been operating the business since that date. In 1951, Donald Curbeau left the firm to specialize in children’s clothing and his father, James L., remained an active member of the organization until 1965, when he sold his portion of the business to his son, James R., now sole owner. Thus, the Lown’s store in Penn Yan is one of the oldest established department stores in Central New York, dating back 83 years.

College Student Claims Record - Miss Carole Lowman, a freshman at Keuka College from Philadelphia, claimed the world’s record for a bubblegum bubble yesterday (March 2). She created a nine-inch wide sphere with three pieces of standard bubblegum. Winning the Philadelphia city championship when she was 13, Miss Lowman tried for a record after classmates at the women’s college learned of her talent and published a story about her in the college newspaper. After the information services of the Rochester Public Library searched a number of sources for an existing record and found none, Miss Lowman decided to set her own. The results were carefully measured, recorded, and notarized, and will be sent to the editors of the Guiness Book of World Records for their consideration. Miss Lowman modestly attributes her talent to “something I was born with.” But later revealed that there is a technique for contest-winning bubbles. If the consistency and air pressure aren’t just right — pop!

Mustang Hoopsters Record First Victory - The Mustangs of PYA sporting a 0-17 mark prior to gametime with Marcus Whitman last Friday figured to give the home team a good game but were not exactly favorites to win. However, Coach Jim Johnston’s crew really upset the apple cart and picked a good time to notch their first win of the season, a 63- 59 thriller over the Wildcats. Thus PYA finished the W-FL season with a last place 1-13 record while Whitman ended up with a 5-9 mark, good enough for a sixth place league finish. John Lauer, one of the top 5 scorers all season long, came through with a season’s high of 30 points while pacing his team to victory. The 6-5 junior with ten point efforts from John Nielsen and Jim Wilson provided Coach Johnston with 3 scorers in double figures. Dave Burley with 17 points and Kevin Runner and Terry Bodine with a dozen each tried to match the Mustang offense but their efforts were a little short. Burley, fouling out in the third period, hurt the Wildcats chances in the nip and tuck affair. PYA trailed 15-10 and 30-28 after the opening two periods but grabbed a 45-40 lead at the end of the third quarter and held on in the final period.