From cracking down on booze to a generous gift from a former mayor, from a new home for L’Alcove to the Bonnies taking no pity on the Rams, 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. 23 — City officials are mulling their own version of Prohibition, which would outlaw possession of alcohol of 1 proof (0.5% alcohol) or higher outside the home, and only allow alcohol to be sold as medicine or given to “a bona fide guest in one’s private dwelling.” Most of the speakers — reverends at local churches — spoke in favor of the matter to stop the scourge of drink. The Rev. G.R. Williamson noted that confusion over alcohol percentages in the federal Volstead act and state laws could be ironed out by the strict limit inside the city. Prohibition, approved in 1919, would be revoked in 1933.
Feb. 26 — Spurting furiously in the last few minutes, St. Bona tried to overcome the early lead of St. Francis in a hotly contested game at the state armory last night. The whistle blew too soon, leaving St. Francis with a 30-26 win. St. Bona’s has a remarkably good team, but they were slow to start. Had St. Bona played the entire game as they did during the last few minutes, they would have won handily. The Brown Indians would go 2-13 that first season with coach Al Carmount.
Feb. 22 — The Cattaraugus County Department of Health reported that rabies has reappeared after a 14-month absence. A rabid dog was reported in the town of Perrysburg, with another suspected a few days later. The Perrysburg “mad dog” appears to have traveled through several towns and had fights with several dogs — indicating it may have spread the virus which is almost always fatal in humans. A vaccine for the disease in dogs would be introduced in the next decade, along with mandatory orders from the state, virtually eliminating the disease in domestic animals — and significantly reducing the number of cases transmitted to humans.
Feb. 25 — The Forness Pond, south of the home of former Mayor Fred Forness Jr., will be offered to the city as a skating pond. While used for the past 20 years for skating, Forness wished to make the arrangement permanent, possibly with flood lights to make night skating available. He said sufficient land to access Hoop Street would be included. Forness said he has long supported youth recreation in the city, and would prepare a formal offer for the three-foot-deep pond. Today, the area is home to Forness Park.
Feb. 22 — Visiting Olean to discuss the state budget, Assemblyman Lloyd Russell and Sen. Jess Present were given a petition with 10,000 signatures opposing “any further increases in welfare benefits or tax increases” in the 1971-72 state budget. For two hours, residents peppered the duo with questions on welfare spending, high taxes, loss of industry and budget allotments to pet projects across the state. The 150 attendees of the meeting applauded calls to limit the number of children allowed to families receiving benefits, as well as stripping voting rights from recipients.
Feb. 25 — L’Alcove Restaurant will be moving to the former Swartz Super Market site at the corner of North Union and Wayne streets after Butch Butchello announced he will buy the site and two nearby homes. The restaurant design is being finalized, he said, but will retain the current look at 920 N. 4th St. Although informally opened in 1937, the restaurant received its official opening with a liquor license in 1938. It was closed for about six months after Butchello opened the Castle 25 years prior, but reopened after a deluge of complaints. The restaurant would remain open until 1997.
Feb. 23 — After 18 months, consultants have wrapped up a downtown strategic plan for Olean. Working with the city, the Chamber and Jamestown Community College, consultants recommended creating a business improvement district to coordinate joint marketing efforts and help oversee facade improvements, which would result in a unified and attractive look. Also a priority would be keeping and expanding JCC’s presence downtown, as bringing students and staff into the area increases spending at businesses hurting from developments in the city’s West End.
Feb. 23 — After spending all day traveling due to inclimate weather, Fordham’s 3-21 Rams made their way to the Reilly Center to face St. Bonaventure’s men’s basketball squad — and received no mercy. Turning over their first five possessions and having roughly the same number of turnovers and field attempts in the first half, the Rams were on the losing side of a 73-47 thrashing in front of 4,500 fans and a regional television audience. “We knew it was a tough day for Fordham,” said Bona coach Jim Baron, “but I thought our guys really came out strong defensively. We played with real good aggressiveness.”