From the death of an Olean private to the end of a manhunt, from the unveiling of new snowmaking tech to a local mini baby boom, 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.
Feb. 18 — George Long, an Olean High School graduate, “is making a name for himself in basketball” at the University of Buffalo as he “led his five to victory in a fine display of teamwork and fancy passing, according to reports from Buffalo,” as UB defeated Westminster University, 37-18.
Feb. 21 — Mr. and Mrs. L. Furman of Blakesly Valley, off Pleasant Valley Road, have learned of the death of their son, Pvt. Wallace Furman, killed in heavy fighting in late September on the Hindenburg line in France. Pvt. Furman enlisted in Olean’s Company I two days before the unit was ordered from here. Age 23 when he was killed, he had been a flagman with the Pennsylvania Railroad before he enlisted.
Feb. 19 — One of the most intense manhunts ever to be conducted in the area ends as three escapees from the Chemung County Jail in Elmira are taken into custody — one near Portville and two others in Bradford. William Elliott, 23, captured in Cattaraugus County by a sheriff’s deputy, and Charles Chamberlain, 40, and Michael Julian, 42, had broken out of the jail in Elmira a few days earlier by overpowering a guard. Law enforcement officers, including Cattaraugus County deputies and New York State Police troopers, had converged after the fugitives were reported in the Olean area.
Feb. 23 — The Olean Times Herald reports that 1st Lt. William E. Johnson Jr., pilot of a P-47 Thunderbolt fighter with the 8th Air Force in England, has recorded his first air-to-air victory over a German fighter, a Messerschmitt 109, in a dogfight over France. Less than two months later, on April 10, 1944, Johnson would be killed in a dogfight with 12 German fighters, which were attacking a group of U.S. B-24 bombers over Normandy, France.
Feb. 20 — The newest snowmaking machine at Grosstal, the ski area in the town of Allegany, is featured in the Olean Times Herald. The snowmaking machine was built to provide artificial snow cover at the highest point of the ski area, reached by the 3,200-foot Stadell chairlift. Grosstal built a pond as a water source and put in compressors to pump the water up the slope for the snowmaking process.
Feb. 21 — The Times Herald reports the death of Hinsdale’s Pfc. Michael A. Clute, a U.S. Marine who was killed Feb. 17 while on patrol in Quang Tri Province in Vietnam. A 1967 graduate of Hinsdale Central School, he was a son of Bruce M. and Gertrude Wheaton Clute of Fay Hollow Road.
Feb. 18 — Olean High School senior Bobby Parks is honored for reaching 1,000 career points for Huskies varsity basketball; at that time, he is only the second player to reach the milestone. A few days later, teammate Dennis Turner, a junior, is also honored for reaching the 1,000-point milestone.
Feb. 21 — It’s not necessarily a bona fide baby boom, but the Maternity Unit at Olean General Hospital reports the birth of 42 babies in the first two weeks of February, an unusually high number. Hospital officials indicate that the average number of births for a total month is between 50 and 60 babies. The last time officials recall so many births was in July 1993, when 71 babies were born that month.