From busting bootleggers to the Limestone post office burning, from Bob Hope offering a message of hope to Ka-Bar coming home, 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.


June 1 — City police reported that after a year of relative peace thanks to Prohibition, arrest records were shattered in May. The police blotter showed 105 prisoners for the month. With automobiles having weather that permits speedy driving and alleged bootleggers getting a little careless, the number of arrests swelled. Prominent among the charges were intoxication, disorderly conduct, assault and petit larceny. Alcohol-related crime would continue to grow, earning the city the moniker “Little Chicago” like several other small communities used for trafficking alcohol.

June 4 — The Western New York & Pennsylvania Traction Co. was sold this morning at the courthouse in Little Valley to F.L. Bartlett of Olean and E.A. Mason of Philadelphia for $100,000. The sale came after the struggling trolley line fell into bankruptcy in the face of postwar recession and increased competition from automobiles and buses. Once the primary mode of transportation for those commuting to and around Olean, the line would close for good six years later. Today, only the ruins of an old power house in Ceres and the occasional track excavated under city streets can be found.


June 1 — Mrs. Gordon Jones of Irving Parkway is leaving Olean this week for Seattle and a voyage to Japan to join her husband, Lt. Gordon Jones, who is serving with the occupation force at Sendai. Mrs. Jones and two children, Kathleen and Gordon, will live in the country for a year or two depending on Lt. Jones’ assignment. They were among the names of 1,000 family members scheduled to leave for Japan and released by the War Department.

June 3 — The Limestone Post Office building, at Main and River streets, was destroyed by fire which swept through the 100-year-old landmark Sunday afternoon. The value of lost mail cannot be immediately estimated, yet it is considerable, said Postmistress M.G. McCarthy, including several government checks and a number of C.O.D. packages. Clyde Kieffer, recently discharged from the U.S. Navy and chief of Limestone’s reorganized fire department, was working on his car across the road, spotted the flames and turned in an alarm. A booster truck grew water out of a well across the highway to fight the blaze until a motor car ran over the pressurized line, cracking it.


June 1 — Bob Hope, in town to receive an honorary degree from St. Bonaventure University, told graduates that the long-haired and odd-clothed graduates should now consider themselves as the “establishment,” going forth to do good work and fight for freedom, peace and change. “There’s nothing terrible about being square. The squares are the ones who make the clothes, bake the bread, build houses and even make the motorcycles,” he said, telling graduates that they should “pass on the flame of love and knowledge to all with whom you come in contact.”

June 2 — Salamanca’s Lindi Krantz recently dug up a white plaster or concrete Indian mask embedded in the ground behind her house. The object, face down, showed the curious features of the famous “Spoon Mouth” Indian mask. Leo Cooper of Carrollton, a former president of the Seneca Nation of Indians, said his nation has never made masks of anything but wood — principally basswood, a light, easy-to-work medium. It is possible, he said, the mask may have been formed by pouring plaster over a wooden mask. It appears to be quite old, though, and appeared to lay in the ground for many years.


June 1 — Alcas Corp. is taking a new approach to securing a bigger slice of the cutlery market — by picking up a new brand with a long Olean history. The firm announced it will be cracking into the retail sporting knife market with the acquisition of Ka-Bar Knives Inc. from American Consumer Products Inc. The new ownership will bring the company back to Olean, said Erick Laine, Alcas president. Ka-Bar once was headquartered at 438 N. Eighth St. for 66 years. The firms were not strangers — since Ka-Bar moved to Ohio in the late 1970s, Alcas had been manufacturing the famous Marine fighting knife for ACP in Olean.

June 6 — Following complaints of smells and overcrowding, the SPCA in Cattaraugus County announced it would waive adoption fees for dogs and cats — giving pets away to good homes. The shelter has 127 dogs and about 70 cats, said President Kelly Chaffee, noting the board waived fees partly in response to a state police probe of a complaint that alleged cruelty due to the overcrowding. The no-kill policy at the shelter drew criticism — unlike many other shelters at the time, the SPCA did not kill animals to free up space. Charges were not brought against the shelter.


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