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The Way We Were - East Rochester, 1925

The Way We Were - East Rochester, 1925
Town/Village of East Rochester

The Way We Were - East Rochester, 1925

Submitted April 2024, by Anita M. Mance, Historian

Several weeks ago, I decided to write my April article about what was happening in East Rochester during the last solar eclipse here in January 1925.  I searched through photographs, interviews, newspaper articles, files, and advertisements.  Sadly, I was able to find nothing about activity here in our village to celebrate the event.  So, I decided instead to write about what daily life was like in East Rochester ninety-nine years ago.
     
In 1925, East Rochester was twenty-eight years old.  Our village was bordered by a number of  farms – those belonging to the Worthing, Ransom, and Harris families were among the largest.  The population of our village was 5813.  People traveled to our community by car, train, or trolley.   The President (Mayor) of our village, Howard Worden, would have been very busy keeping up with the speed with which our community was developing.  Many industries were here, including:  the Carshops, Piano Works, Ontario Drill Company, Despatch Lumber, Lawless Brothers Paper Mill, Pierce Oil, Crosman Seed, and Brainerd Manufacturing.
     
By looking through advertisements from the 1920s, we can see that our business district was thriving.  Businesses included:  Pierce-Hazzard Pharmacy (where hot water bottles and steam vaporizers sold for $1.50), George March’s Pure Food Shop (where Heinz ketchup cost 19 cents), Fawcett’s Restaurant (diner made from an old trolley car), Saxton’s Variety Store, East Rochester Candy Kitchen, King’s Shoe Store, Fryatt’s Dept. Store, LaDue Millinery Shoppe, Baier Bakery, J.L. Welch Men’s Shop, L.J. Farrell (electrical contractor who sold washing machines for $155.00), W. D. Hewes Insurance. Mauro’s Hotel and Athletic Club, and the Rialto Theatre (the largest movie house between Rochester and Syracuse).
     
Our village government offices, police, and fire departments were housed in the Municipal Building on Main Street opposite the Eyer Building.  1925 was a special year for the fire department with its first real fire truck being delivered from the American LaFrance Company.  The truck, known as Ol’Betsy, is showcased in the front of our current firehouse.  Our village library was housed in the Merchants Despatch Transportation Reading Room – a little white house In Edmund Lyon Park behind the church.
     
Kate Gleason was very busy creating affordable housing with the Concrest and Marigold Gardens developments on the western border of our village.  She had already donated acres of land in the middle of East Rochester for a park; and with the help of workers from her father’s company, Gleason Works in Rochester, cleaned up the property and developed the area into our first park—Edmund Lyon Park, dedicated in 1916.  Kate had also designed a nine-hole golf course built near where Route 490 is now located.  The clubhouse on Roosevelt Road was called Genundewah Court.  It is now an apartment building.  
     
Our school district was comprised of two buildings on East Avenue.  The elementary school was built in 1924.  It is now called the Lois E. Bird Elementary School.  A high school had been built in 1911.  It was located where the Morgan Middle School now stands.  Part of the current middle school building formed the newer high school built in 1937.  By 1922, 1000 children attended our schools.  Louis Bird was the School Superintendent.  It is interesting to note that in 1920 our school was the first in Monroe County to serve milk and crackers mid-morning.  In the spring of 1924, high school students published the first edition of the school newspaper,  The Brown and White.  
     
Attending church services and activities was an important part of family life.  Churches active at the time were:  First Baptist Church, St. Jerome’s Catholic Church, Parkside Methodist, Trinity Evangelical Lutheran, St. Matthias Episcopal, First Presbyterian.  A number of volunteer organizations also existed, including:  ER Study Club (a women’s group), ER Masons, St. Nicholas Society (an organization for Italian families), and Despatch Pioneers.
     
We do not know for sure if there were any eclipse celebrations in our village ninety-nine years ago.  In 1925, villagers may have gathered on the hill of Harris Farm (the original Tunis Brizee farm) and in Edmund Lyon Park (our only park at the time) – the same places where many in our community gathered on April 8, 2024.

   
 

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