In Years Past

In 1913, at Albany, the Erie Railroad was required to show cause why the order for the elimination of the grade crossings in Jamestown should not be obeyed. The order was made by the public service commission which stated that although the railroad company was long ago directed to proceed with the elimination of the grade crossing in question, it had not done so and had let no contracts whatever. The firm of Mahoney & Swanson, which was awarded the contract, appeared not to have signed the actual contract in order to save the expense of the bond that would be necessary as soon as such contract was signed.

After months of legal entanglements, disputes and delay, the final crash in the Hill Piano Co. affairs had come. That the sensational career of this old, well-known firm in Jamestown would soon pass into piano history was assured by the marvelous rapidity in which the pianos were being sold. Trustee Edson had taken heroic measures in his selling plan and offered every single piano, new and used, at unbelievable discounts. Could anyone imagine a Knabe upright selling for $90? It was being done at Hills. With the famous Chickering piano being sold for $50, it was plain to be seen that the last word had been said in sensational piano bargains.

In 1938, Chautauqua County was third in traffic fatalities of rural areas in New York state in 1937 with 14, and fourth in accidents with 172. Erie County, with 532 accidents, 32 of them resulting fatally, had the worst record and Genessee County was second. Sergeant Joseph W. Brandsetter of the State Police said “a large number of the accidents are due to excessive speed, carelessness and disregard for the rights of others. If highways were 100 feet wide and there were 50 troopers for every mile, it wouldn?t stop the killing of people through carelessness,” said the sergeant.

Imagine how desolate our city of Jamestown would be without its factories. No busy clank of presses nor whir of machinery … no smoke rolling skyward from giant chimneys … no field of parked automobiles waiting outside to carry workmen to their homes at quitting time. Yet that would be but half the drab picture. For without its industries no modern city could carry on its other activities. Stores and shops would close their doors for want of customers. Schools, parks, hospitals, libraries, could not longer operate without the funds which industry poured into the public coffers through taxation. Thousands would be compelled to abandon their homes and seek a livelihood elsewhere. So it payed for everyone to do all within their power to help preserve the prosperity of these vital institutions.

In 1963, the Men’s Club Sports Dinner, a major stopover on the yearly big-time banquet circuit, was in no immediate danger of being canceled, but it wasn’t the profitable promotion it once was because of the 100 percent jump in expenses. That seemed to be the rumor gist after the previous night’s 12th annual event at the Hotel Jamestown, by far the most expensive the hardworking Temple Hesed Abraham group ever staged. “We may not break even, but we haven’t talked of canceling the event,” one high-ranking Men’s Club official said. “We feel the dinner has become an institution here and we want to maintain it just as long as possible.” Several club officials made no secret of the fact the prices now demanded by top athletes had virtually ruled out continuation of the “18 and 20 speaker dinners.”

The Jamestown Public Welfare Dept. saved $112,840 in 1962, seven and one-half percent of its $1,507,975 budget, according to figures released at a board meeting. Total expenditures the past year were $1,395,135. Decreases were noted in aid to dependent children, aid to the disabled, home relief and medical assistance to the aged.

In 1988, firemen expected to work all night putting out the remains of a barn which caught fire and rapidly burned to the ground on the Busti-Stillwater Road in the town of Kiantone. “We have it under control now. It’s just a matter of putting it out,” said Kiantone Fire Chief Mike Hohman. “The only reason we have it under control is that there isn’t much left.” About 50 cows were reportedly in the barn when the blaze began. The owner, Elliot Kidder, was getting the cattle out when the first trucks arrived. The cows were later taken from the area in trucks. Some 7,000 bales of hay had been stored in the three-section 200-by-100 foot barn.

By mid-April, Jamestown residents would get their first glimpse of a combined monthly electric, water and sewer bill, designed to improve customer service without any rate increases. The combined utility bill, unanimously approved by the Board of Public Utilities, meant customers on the average, would pay $29.75 a month instead of paying quarterly for water and sewer service. Electric was the only utility billed monthly and quarterly water and sewer bills were mailed separately. “It’s a way of really trying to improve our customer relations,” said Public Utilities General Manager R. James Gronquist.