From cracking down on South Olean’s wild boys to a former city resident saving the day for his bomber crew again, from a 50,000-strong welcome for the Miss New York Pageant to more development on the city’s west end, here’s a look back on the week that was 100, 75, 50 and 25 years ago on this edition of Turning Back the Clock.
July 8 — City health officers reported that parents of ill children who fail to report will be severely dealt with. Parents whose children have contracted contagious diseases that are being treated without a doctor could face fines for not reporting. In addition, sick children are to be kept at home — placards have been placed in theatres, halls and other areas where children congregate warning parents to keep sick children away as to cut the risk of spreading infections.
July 10 — Olean, like other communities nationwide, is having a recurrence of an epidemic — specious and persuasive selling of stock in “very promising” oil property in Texas. While the news of oil in Texas is real, the men selling land are similar to those who sold Alaskan and Georgia gold country in previous years that turned out to be flops that cost many a local good money for bad land.
July 10 — South Olean will lose its hard boiled crowd of youngsters, city police promise after two of the wild boys were sentenced. One 15-year-old will spend a year in reformatory school, while the other, 18, said to be the ringleader, will probably go to jail. Crap shooting, gun shooting, swearing, poker playing and other James Boys stunts are listed in the gang’s catalog of misdeeds.
July 8 — C.H. Berlin, 44, known as a crack rifleman, is the eighth victim reported dead in the explosion Friday at the Defense Plant Corp. facility in Oil City, Pa. Three others remain in critical condition, as Pennzoil officials are unsure what caused the explosion and fire. Berlin, who in 1938 had the best small-bore rifle average in the country, was a World War I veteran with 77 marksmanship medals to his name.
July 10 — Tech. Sgt. Paul Van Derzoe, formerly of this city, received his fourth Oak Leaf Cluster to his Air Medal. Jumping from his B-17 Flying Fortress nose gun to the co-pilot’s seat after downing a Messerschmitt fighter, he helped bring the aircraft home despite losing two of four engines. The incident came just 10 days after he earned his third cluster for putting out a fire on board the plane, “Me and My Gal,” after it had been hit by 20mm cannon fire.
July 11 — The Olean-Bradford (Pa.) campaign for “Ten Tanks for the Yanks” was successful. The first cooperative venture to raise money for war bonds oversubscribed the $575,000 quota for Series E bonds. As a result, 10 tanks will go into battle with plaques indicating the people at home are backing the men on the fighting fronts. Another four tanks are hoped to be built with further fundraising, locals reported.
July 8 — Equipped with a tape recorder, Times Herald staff went downtown to get feedback on a new plan for downtown revitalization — renovating downtown buildings and putting in parking behind, creating a “mall” atmosphere. The plan met with much approval following a previous option to level virtually all of downtown for parking lots, with new mall-style construction away from North Union Street. “It’s about time they did something — it’s about 30 years late,” said Mel Follett of F.R. Brothers Pharmacy.
July 9 — Pajama-clad tenants escaped injury early today after the third floor of Bradford’s Capital Market and Crawford Food Mart went up in flames. Firefighters were called out at around 6:15 a.m., as the tenants of the 20 apartments fled — many losing all of their possessions. This is the second major fire to strike downtown Bradford within two months. A May 2 fired leveled Singer’s Furniture on Main Street.
July 14 — Around 50,000 spectators are believed to have turned out for the annual Miss New York Pageant parade on Saturday. Staying at the Castle, the 22 contestants rode into town in the backs of factory-fresh 1969 convertibles — thankfully, the weather cooperated, for their sake and for that of the viewers. The parade took almost an hour and a half to pass the judges stand, with Bill and Mildred Miller of Buffalo TV fame as the head judges.
July 12 — Olean and Portville will get their second aerial spraying of mosquito larvicide this season tonight, with select sprayings of adult mosquito insecticide set for later in the week. The move toward larvicide is aimed at stopping the bugs before they can become a nuisance, stopping the spread of diseases like malaria and Eastern equine encephalitis. Unlike in 1993, those involved in a challenge to the spraying in court said they are not planning any legal action at this time.
July 12 — The latest development for the west end of the city of Olean and the town of Allegany is awaiting some changes to move forward. The planned BJ’s wholesale shopping club needs to help improve traffic flows, town planning board members said. Plans for the area include BJ’s, a movie theater, Walmart, a new Kmart and a new, larger Tops grocery store. Traffic is believed to be a concern, several residents said, citing a state DOT report recommending widening West State Street to five lanes.
July 14 — A state Department of Health report on cancer around the West Valley Demonstration Project failed to report that residents in the seven-town area around the project reported slightly higher than normal cancer rates, a watchdog group reported. The Coalition on West Valley Nuclear Wastes accused the state of failing to note higher rates of lung cancer, leukemia and all other cancers than similar-sized populations elsewhere in the state. But while there is no concrete proof the cancers were caused by the radiation, watchdogs reported the cancers are sensitive to radiation.