In Years Past

In 1914, a good many Jamestown folk watched the old year out and the new year in at the Hotel Samuels grill room. The event was one of the most interesting of the kind ever noted in Jamestown, for it was almost as if a section of New York City had been moved to Jamestown. Down New York way they made a good deal of fuss on New Year’s Eve. They have what was termed watch meetings in every big restaurant and those who desired to attend these meetings had to reserve their tables in advance and pay a pretty penny for the privilege. Landlord Hurlbert of The Samuels used to run a hotel in New York and he imbibed some metropolitan ideas. Among others was the New Year’s Eve celebration. He arranged one of his own on very much the same lines as in the big town and his patrons had a very pleasant evening.

The New Year’s open house and gift reception at the Warner Home for the Aged in Jamestown was an encouraging success and the members of the governing board who had it in charge were gratified. A large number of persons visited the home during the day and the gifts of both cash and supplies were generous. It was expected, however, that gifts would continue to be received for some days.

In 1939, the younger set, over 500 strong, danced the new year in at the 16th annual New Year’s Eve informal ball of the Alpha Rho chapter, Pi Phi fraternity, held Saturday evening at the Pier Ballroom, Celoron. The ballroom was decorated with holiday festoons and the Pi Phi banner occupied the center of the stage. At midnight a large cluster of balloons was released and noisemakers were given out, as 1939 was welcomed. Due to the fact that the dance lasted until the small hours of the morning, many of the younger set attended various breakfast parties.

Jesse Martin, 84-year-old dulcimer player, who obtained a measure of national fame several years back when he won a musical contest staged by Henry Ford in furtherance of Ford’s promotion of interest in old-time music, died at Warren General Hospital Sunday afternoon. Martin and his dulcimer were, for a considerable period, a novel and interesting part of the local scene. After his appearance before Ford at Detroit, for a time he conducted a theatrical tour in various cities. Martin formerly resided at Frewsburg and more recently he had lived at Youngsville, Pa.

In 1964, a building across from Jamestown City Hall collapsed under the weight of snow the previous afternoon, sending tons of brick in a massive tidal wave into the street, leaving three persons injured. The building housed three stores and a restaurant on the ground floor. The three injured were riding in a car which fate decreed should be passing by at the precise moment the upper floors of the three-story building crashed into Third Street. Most seriously injured was Helen Wellman, 41, of Price St. She suffered head injuries and was rushed to WCA Hospital. Her condition was critical. She was riding with her husband, Ira, 61, and their son, Daniel, 8. They were on their way to attend a movie at the Dipson Palace Theater. Rescue workers said it was a miracle the family survived. The car was flattened and battered in like a toy. The collapsed building had once been the Lyric Theater.

A 73-year-old motorist was injured, two cars and a panel truck were crushed and two buildings were damaged when a New York Central Railroad eastbound freight train derailment of 36 cars hurled 15 boxcars upon two streets in Dunkirk below a 15-foot railroad embankment. City officials estimated the loss “conservatively” at $200,000. Police and railroad officials were unable to determine the cause of the wreck, the worst in the history of the city, which also blocked railroad traffic on the Central’s four main track lines for more than 10 hours. The force of the impact split and crushed most of the derailed cars, scattering tons of merchandise, thousands of cans of soup, along the tracks and on the streets below. One of the cars was so badly damaged that its cargo, propane gas, was leaking from it.