From finding a gas leak with a match to fireworks returning as World War II ends, from the loss of the Hotel Randolph to good news for farmer but bad news for July 4th ne’er-do-wells, 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 29 — Manager Edward Noonan of the Touraine Restaurant was convinced last night that he had the right idea about finding gas leaks — he searched with a lighted match, and found it. Chairs and tables in the restaurant did a shimmie to the music of the large explosion in the basement. Noonan was unhurt, however, having somehow dodged the many projectiles thrown about by the explosion. No fire followed as his luck continued, but thoroughly convinced by the success of his method, he reported he will try it only “once.”
July 5 — Safely and sanely, Olean observed the Glorious July Fourth. A morning baseball game between the Pennsy Railroad All-Stars and the Bradford Olympics in Pennsy Park in the morning was a victory for the Olean players, 6-3. A pavement dance in North Street at night, given by the American Legion, drew a large crowd and the music was excellent. There were many family picnics in Riverhurst and Rock City Parks, with every car that left the city carrying picnickers. Three small fires were reported — all blamed on home fireworks — but fortunately no serious injuries were reported.
July 2 — Cattaraugus County is the second county in the state to achieve its E-Bond quota in the Seventh War Loan, with the county committee chairs receiving a telegram from the state congratulating the county on its record. Yates County ranks first. While the countywide figures are on target, Olean is still some distance away from its $500,000 goal. Nationwide, it was one of eight pushes to have Americans cover the cost of the war through voluntary bond purchases, which raised $156.4 billion for the effort.
July 5 — Before an overwhelming crowd of 7,500 spectators, Olean’s first fireworks demonstration in four years was presented at Bradner Stadium. The proceeds from the show, hosted by the American Legion, were earmarked for returning veterans of World War II. Two hours of entertainment were provided before the show, including a parachuting American flag to open the festivities. The fireworks opened with a salvo of 9-inch shells, while rockets and signal lights represented the battle in No Man’s Land as the grand finale.
July 1 — The Southern Tier Expressway will not only revolutionize the area’s state road network, but also the Allegany County network. Route 408, which runs from Cuba to Friendship, will be turned over to the county as the highway will bypass it. Today, it is known as County Route 20. Another branch of 408 — from Route 19 at Transit Bridge to Garwoods near Canaseraga — will also be turned over. That stretch is split between County Route 15B (believed to be the remains of the old stagecoach road from Olean to Rochester) in the north and County Route 16 in the south. All of the north-south routes in the county are also expected to carry heavier loads to the highway.
July 3 — Fire destroyed the 85-year-old landmark Hotel Randoph after grease in a deep-fat fryer caught fire in the kitchen. Owners William Isadori and Michael Benca, valued the two-story, 14-room hotel at $300,000. More than 250 firefighters from as far away as Lakewood and Salamanca fought the blaze, with one suffering from smoke inhalation. Off-duty State Trooper Peter Roughhead was in the restaurant when the fire flared, and tried to put it out with dry chemicals. “I kept putting it out and it kept lighting up again,” he said.
July 4 — After a man was maimed in an explosion, local police reported that residents should refrain from using their own illegal fireworks. Overnight, a Salamanca man lost most of a hand and suffered abdominal injuries after a firecracker he was handling exploded. Along with the horrific injury and the bill from a Mercy Flight trip to a Buffalo hospital, he is also to be charged with possession of illegal fireworks. OF the 12,700 annual injuries reported, more than a third occur in New York, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
July 5 — Heavy rains dampened fundraising efforts for Bradner Stadium’s fireworks show, but thousands still flocked to the annual show. However, the rain kept some troublemakers at bay, with fewer problems reported at the stadium and around town. In addition, Cornell Cooperative Extension officials reported farmers will have something to celebrate, with doubt conditions being alleviated by the rain in time for the corn crop’s pollination.