In Years Past

In 1914, a shabbily dressed old man, named Michael B. Mahoney, with fancied grievances against the city of New York’s administration, fired one shot at Mayor Mitchel as the mayor, Corporation Counsel Frank Polk, Police Commissioner Arthur Woods and Tax Commissioner C.V. Mullen were on the point of starting in an automobile from the City Hall for luncheon. The bullet entered the left cheek of Polk, knocked a tooth to the floor of the automobile and came out of his right cheek. Powder from the revolver slightly burned the left ear of Mullen. Woods, who was standing beside the automobile when Mahoney fired, slammed Mahoney to the street and held tightly to Mahoney’s pistol hand while the old man tried to fire again. “Why did you want to shoot the mayor?” asked Borough Inspector Dillon. Mahoney merely made a gesture with his hands.

A sad poisoning case was reported to Coroner Illston. The victim was Lavance Ellicott Roberts, the young son of Charles and Edna Roberts of Washington Street, Jamestown. The child swallowed some strychnine tablets that had been left in a bureau drawer and died later in the day. Mr. and Mrs. Roberts had planned to attend the matinee at the Samuels opera house. They arranged to leave the boy at the home of Richard Wickfield, while at the theater. Before leaving for the Wickfield home, the boy apparently swallowed some of the strychnine pills. The parents did not notice anything wrong as the child walked with them to the Wickfield house. Soon after arriving there, convulsions set in. A doctor was called but could not counteract the effects of the poison.

In 1939, a hearing was conducted at Mayville by the State Department of Health in connection with the alleged pollution of Chautauqua Lake by sewage from the village emptying into the lake. It followed the declination by vote of the village residents to take advantage of the WPA proposal to pay part of the fund necessary for the village to put in sewers and erect a disposal plant. At the time the proposal was made to the three largest communities bordering the lake, Celoron and Lakewood voters favored the project and had sewer systems underway. Mayville alone voted against the project. Mayville witnesses said they knew of no sewage channels entering directly into the lake or its tributaries.

Most of us thought the old hometown was a pretty good place to live. But was it? Now there was a chance to find out how any town stacked up beside another town by applying a scientific measure of comparison set up by Dr. E.L. Thorndike of Columbia University. Thorndike had published the results of a three-year $100,000 study of 310 cities in a book Your city. Jamestown stacked up well. Under Thorndike’s scoring system, Jamestown was given a rating of 750 which was far above the average of 575 for cities over 30,000 population.

In 1989, Lucille Ball, recognized as one of the world’s great comedic talents, was determined to fight her way back to good health after emergency heart surgery so she could return to her hometown. Nelson Garifi, director of community relations at Jamestown Community College, said he received a call from Lucy’s office the previous evening, just before she went into surgery. “She wanted us to know she was going to get through this thing and get through it well,” Garifi said. Latest reports listed her in guarded condition after seven hours of emergency high-risk cardiac surgery. Although Lucy would not be able to visit Jamestown in May to receive her honorary degree from the college, all events originally planned to honor the 77-year-old actress would be rescheduled. “She still plans to come here,” Garifi said.

Jamestown area residents would have a chance to join in a community-wide “get-well” greeting to Lucille Ball. Lucy underwent emergency heart surgery at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles. “We want to wish Lucille Ball most sincere best wishes for a complete and speedy recovery,” said Jamestown Mayor Steven B. Carlson. “Our thoughts and prayers are with her.” Carlson said welcoming banners had been prepared for Lucy’s visit. “I am asking the community to join me in sending our best wishes and greetings to Lucy by signing one of these banners,” he said. Carlson said both JCC and City Hall officials “are delighted with Miss Ball’s obvious strong desire to come back to Jamestown.” Two major ceremonies had been planned: the awarding of an honorary doctorate at JCC and a public tribute at City Hall.