Turning Back the Clock

Turning Back the Clock

From the continued march of war to support for baseball, from St. Bonaventure banning the voice of the Beat Generation to a little trip “down the mighty Mississip,” 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.


May 1 — Plans for rebuilding the Olean Armory are almost complete, and contractors will soon begin bidding on the work. The home of Company I of the New York National Guard burned to the ground on the night of Jan. 23, 1917, and despite at least 10 streams turned on the blaze, the administration building was too far gone to save. About $125,000 in damage — about $2.36 million today — was done, and many trophies and items owned by the Spanish-American War Veterans and the Grand Army of the Republic clubs were lost.

May 3 — Looking for a new recipe to beat the ration blues? Try the Olean Evening Times’ latest War Recipe: Rhubarb Sponge. Soak two tablespoons of granulated gelatin in ¼ cup cold water. Scald a cup of milk and dissolve 1/3 cup of sugar. Pour the hot milk over the gelatine and stir until dissolved. Set in a cool place until it begins to stiffen, then add a cup of rhubarb sauce and fold in two well-beaten egg whites. Turn into a cold mold and let set and serve with whipped cream.

May 4 — Seven more Oleanders have been called to the colors by the draft, with the men expected to leave shortly for training at Fort Slocum. The number aren’t part of the latest call for 200,000 more draftees, so it’s likely these won’t be the last Olean men called up for service. To date, hundreds of men have been drafted, enlisted or been federalized with Company I of the New York National Guard for service in the Army, Navy or Marine Corps.


April 30 — Local industry workers and leaders showed their support for the Olean Oilers baseball team, hoping the games this summer will prove a morale boost for the community. All weekday games — including the home opener May 18 against Jamestown — will be night games, with an 8 p.m. start allowing for all workers to attend. The plant committees will also sponsor ticket sales and special night attractions.

May 3 — New regulations on blackouts, said local civilian protection director B.M. Marcus, mean the community will soon be seeing unannounced blackouts and daylight alerts. A new two-tiered system of alarms will be used, as to allow war production to continue as long as possible before airstrikes. The Luftwaffe never had a bomber capable of striking Olean from Europe in operational service, and such blackout efforts would only have been practical in event of an invasion of the continental United States.

May 5 — Keep digging those Victory Gardens, Olean. A series on how to plant the perfect garden to offset rationing run in the Times-Herald, with today’s article explaining the need to plant as few seeds as possible. With every seed a potential plant, a package for a small vegetable should be enough to support the whole family for the season. Try about 1.5 bushels of potatoes, and half a pound of beans to get through the fall.


May 1 — Felmont Oil Corp. has begun a cleanup of the remnants of the Socony-Vacuum oil refinery with an eye to developing a North Olean industrial park. The 120 acre site is north and east of the Agway-Felmont chemical complex along Buffalo Street. Felmont bought the area in 1964, the year before the Agway-Felmont complex was announced. Company officials said the site is nearly perfect for redevelopment, as it is adjacent to Olean’s factory district and the Southern Tier Expressway will have an exit a few hundred yards away in the future.

May 2 — St. Bonaventure University has banned poet Allen Ginsberg from a May 13 poetry reading, workshop and class attendance. “His reported activities and behavior are not sufficiently compatible with the standard of propriety and the stated educational goals of this university,” said Bona President, the Very Rev. Reginald Redlon. Ginsberg, a voice of the Beat Generation and the later counterculture, was described by Redlon as a “hippy poet.” Redlon said that the decision did not pass judgement on Ginsberg’s poetry, his Buddhist religion or his homosexuality.

May 4 — The Olean Urban Renewal Agency urges Oleanders opposed to a 400-yard-long underpass on North Union Street to come up with a better idea to alleviate longstanding congestion across the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks near Whitney Avenue. Bruno Gattuso, chairman, said that the $2 million plan, which would effectively eliminate all on-street parking in favor of lots on side streets, is the only solution the state will pay for to the congestion. Eventually, rail usage would drop, the railroad would declare bankruptcy and the problem would mostly solve itself.


May 3 — Although the city of Olean’s new wards won’t take effect for aldermen until after the election, locals will feel the first effects this week during the annual school and library board elections. The reduction in wards from 11 to seven was part of the charter to go into full effect Jan. 1, 1994, with a full-time mayor. At the time, the wards each included about 2,200 residents. To date, the ward maps have not been updated to account for changes in population.

May 3 — Bryan Elliott and Thomas Evans of Shinglehouse are planning to travel the Allegheny River by canoe, eventually making their way to New Orleans. Traveling through 13 states, the duo plan to head down the river to Pittsburgh, where it joined the Monongahela to form the Ohio, and then along the Ohio to Cairo, Ill., where the river flows into the Mississippi. The men will be raising funds for the local Legion post and the Oswayo Valley Pee Wee Wrestling Club.

May 4 — Bye-bye tobacco, says Franklinville Central, as all all three buildings in the district will be going “smoke-free” this summer. Citing concerns over second-hand smoke, district officials also negotiated in smoking cessation benefits into union contracts this school year. Many other local schools still allow smoking inside, but a state law to stop the practice is before the state Legislature.