Adriaen Van der Donk, the ‘Founding Father’ of Yonkers
By Mary Hoar, President of the Untermyer Performing Arts Council, Yonkers Historical Society President Emerita and recipient of the 2004 Key to History
Monday, May 11th
May 11, 1931: The Directors of the Hollywood Inn voted to dissolve the corporation; they said the jump in their taxes from $1600-$8000 was the major factor in the financial crisis the center faced. Started in 1896, the Inn was one of the leading facilities for young men in the country, and was responsible for the success of many of Yonkers sports stars.
May 11, 1941: The City of Yonkers Common Council unanimously adopted Councilman Dennis Cooper’s resolution authorizing two week vacations with pay for all sanitation workers on the payroll for one year or more.
Tuesday, May 12th
May 12, 1923: A jammed steam whistle of the National Sugar Refining Company rudely awakened residents of South Yonkers and beyond. The shrill noise continued for several hours until management managed to find an employee that knew how to fix it.
May 12, 1926: After reading in New York papers that Public Safety Commissioner William Van Keuren claimed his resignation was at “his own volition, without any threat or intimidation that he should resign.” Mayer William Walsh was irritated. Walsh told the Herald Statesman he sent Special Deputy Louis Van Dyk to give the Commissioner the message to “resign or be fired.” Apparently Van Keuren offended the mayor and others when he “promised to make men” of the Yonkers police when hired the previous December.
May 12, 1929: The accurate marksmanship of Yonkers’s Motorcycle Patrolman John Yascovic was credited for his saving the life of a six-year-old! The young boy had been attacked and severely bitten by an enraged bulldog.
Wednesday, May 13th
May 13, 1923: A new brewing company, Flynn and Montalto, leased the building at 251 Hawthorne Ave. Yonkers residents Joseph Montalvo and Charles Flynn owned the company, and planned to hire seventy-five workers when production started in July.
May 13, 1943: After learning from Price Administrator Prentiss Brown that gas supplies in the Eastern states had hit an all time low, Yonkers police were put on the alert to look for violators of the pleasure driving ban. Most gas stations were out of gas, but those that had a few gallons left were instructed to only sell them for essential driving.
Thursday, May 14th
May 14, 1856: A very strange fish was caught in the Hudson River off the coast of Yonkers. Four feet long from nose to the tip of its tail, its body shape resembled a toad fish. Its mouth was filled with teeth and was extremely large. When the creature was dissected, they found five full-grown shed, some hardshell crabs and a moderate size terrier. It had two hands, each with four fingers and a thumb, and fins. Some claimed it was a lophus, a creature described by Dr. DeKay, author of The Natural History of New York, and not uncommon to the waters around New York City.
May 14, 1926: The membership of the Lincoln Heights Iimprovement Association urged a park be built in their community and named after Lewis Sayre Conor, a Yonkers man killed during World War I. Conor had lived at 54 Hancock Avenue.
May 14, 1928: Saint Casimir’s Church was formally dedicated by the hierarchy of the New York Archdiocese, including Patrick Cardinal Hayes, before a standing room only crowd. All present paid tribute to the pastor, Reverend Joseph Dworzak.
Friday, May 15th
May 15, 1940: The first day of the auction of artifacts from the collection of the late Samuel and Minnie Untermyer began at 2 PM at Greystone. French and English furniture, tapestries, oriental rugs, Chinese porcelain and jade, Indian miniatures, silver, China and other property were sold. The sale continued for three days.
May 15, 1942: The Herald Statesman presented Betty and Betty Fox and their sensational Dance of Death… on top of the Herald Statesman building! The couple performed 180 feet in the air on an 18 inch stage, using no railings or any type of safety equipment. Dances performed during the four shows included the waltz, foxtrot, Big Apple, rumba, tango, adagio and the “latest dance craze,“ the jitterbug. Ads for the event publicized the couple as “acclaimed by millions as the most Death Defying act ever presented anywhere.“
Saturday, May 16th
May 16, 1942: The Common Council gave permission to the US Shipbuilding Corporation of Brooklyn to use ten acres of city-owned land to construct buildings for a shipyard. The firm had a contract to build all-welded vessels for the war effort, and expected to hire at least 300 Yonkers workers.
May 16, 1945: Nineteen-year-old Albert Curcio of Glover Avenue was seriously wounded in Germany when he literally caught a Nazi grenade to prevent it from injuring his fellow servicemen. The device exploded, blowing off both his hands. He received a Purple Heart Medal and the Presidential Unit Citation with an Oak Leaf cluster. He also wore the Good Conduct Medal and three battle stars for action at Leipzig, the Rhine and the Ruhr. Before enlisting, he was a ship fitter for the Consolidated Shipbuilding Company of New York.
Sunday, May 17th
May 17, 1653: Adriaen Van der Donk copyrighted “A Description of the New Netherlands,” the first book published by a resident of what now is New York State.
May 17, 1931: The Putnam Division of the New York Central Railroad moved into its new station in the First National Bank Building. While its new home was under construction, it had a temporary station at 116 New Main Street. The brand new terminal was in exactly the same location as when the Putnam division first began, December 1888.
May 17, 1941: Striking simultaneously in several areas of Yonkers, police and Immigration Inspectors search for more than 1000 Yonkers residents as part of a nationwide drive to round up aliens here illegally in our country. Of the more than 1000 people questioned, only four were arrested.
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