From the 1870s into the first decade of the twentieth century, the Port Chester Journal was the principal paper of the Town of Rye, reporting news and commentary about the Village of Rye, the hamlet of Milton and other nearby communities.
By Paul Hicks
From the 1870s into the first decade of the twentieth century, the Port Chester Journal was the principal paper of the Town of Rye, reporting news and commentary about the Village of Rye, the hamlet of Milton and other nearby communities. Buried in the online archives of that newspaper are the following glimpses from the holiday seasons of yesteryear:
January 1: settling up day; the sleighing is splendid; the harbor is frozen tight as a drum; today is ladies day, and the ladies are “on the wing;” the new year was welcomed by the usual cannonade of small arms and bell ringing.
The Losee House at Rye Beach advertised “ample accommodations for sleighing parties” and the Oyster Saloon on Main Street in Port Chester touted its “Stews, Roasts, Raw and Pickled Oysters.”
Mr. N.M. Parker, the popular and gentlemanly ticket agent at the depot, was married to Miss Helen F. Vaughan on Christmas day. Good luck to them.
The ice on Joseph Park’s pond is nine inches thick. They are quite busy cutting and filling the houses.
The children’s festival held at Christ’s Church on Christmas Eve was “one of the happiest and brightest they have ever had.” At the Christmas Festival of the Presbyterian Church, “the program was an excellent selection of carols and lessons.”
The “guess” hog at Roxy Moore’s Saloon, Grove Street, was won Christmas afternoon by a man from Rye named Ball. It weighed 310 pounds. While the lucky guesser was in the saloon “wetting his whistle,” the pig was stolen. No trace has been found.
A good-natured young man, a driver in town, forgot the precepts he had learned at his mother’s knee and got rather hilarious on Christmas Eve. We might express ourselves more plainly, but we believe the break of the young man was a mistake, and he will not again celebrate in the same manner again on Christmas Eve.
The Milton school house was dressed in Christmas greens in the shapes of crosses and anchors with the motto of “Peace on Earth,” entwined with the American flag…It was a pleasing sight to behold the different nationalities represented. Germany had its representatives, and the Emerald Isle, not to be outdone, sent a few in their mothers’ arms, and Africa gave a dark background to the picture, all bearing evidence to the powerful influence of the American system of education, that such a mingling of races could make the American citizen.
The Rye Gun Club changed their grounds to Buckley Grove, where their annual Christmas shoot at live birds was held.
At the holiday dinner of the Apawamis Club, the bill of fare included: oysters, caviar sandwiches, fried smelts with tartar sauce, filet de boeuf with mushroom sauce, Parisian potatoes, French peas, lettuce salad, Roman punch, roast quail, assorted cakes and cheeses.
William J. Foster’s emporium advertised dolls and toys, including “bicycles, velocipedes, drag wagons, jumping jacks, ten pins, jack rabbits, dancing clowns…all that go to the gratification of the young.”
The Loyal Crusaders held their first Christmas Festival at the Lyceum [in Rye] last Tuesday evening, and the hall was filled to overflowing. The entertainment included a fan exercise in which seven pretty young misses spelled out “welcome” with their fans and marching by ten little temperance boys. The program ended with the unfolding of a Christmas tree.
Chas. H. Ellis, Pharmacist advertised “Be sure you see my stock of Holiday Goods-the First Trolley car ever run in Port Chester will start at my store tonight.”
Don’t forget the grandest clambake of the season. Beck’s annual winter clambake will be a feast fit for the gods; it takes place on January 30. There will be an abundance of game and other good things in the bake so don’t fail to be on hand and in time.
Parker’s [Port Chester] Special Holiday Sale: “Wagons, Sleighs, Harnesses, Blankets, Sleigh Bells, Whips, etc.”
“Order now your Christmas trees and holiday wreathes from Charles Fremd’s nurseries,” located at North Street and Railroad Avenue [which was later renamed for his relative, Theodore Fremd].
The annual “Christmas Tree Entertainment” by the Sunday school children of the Church of the Resurrection was held at the Lyceum. “The children have been zealously preparing for it under the careful direction of the Sisters of Charity.”
It is rumored that a prizefight with all its accompanying excitement took place recently at Rye Beach, followed by clams and liquid refreshments. The night watchman of the Village Improvement Association, patrolling this district, reports “nothin’ doin’ and that all the hotels and buildings on the beach were quiet and orderly. Possibly, he was absent searching for the burglars said to be hovering in that vicinity.
“A liberal supply of Rinaldo’s [Port Chester] wines will add to the joys of Christmas time…Come and try our fine selection of California wines-Port, Sherry, Angelica, Catawba, Muscatel and Tokay.”
Rye is a busy little village. There is a certain activity about its people, to say the least.
Mud, mud, mud is the “white man’s burden” in Rye, especially along Purchase Street.
Christmas is over and we are approaching the end of the year with rapid strides. Before we have the New Year, ours to make of it what we can, we feel enthusiastic that we will do much that we failed to do in the past; at least we feel we will do the best we can.
To paraphrase the old adage: “the more things change, the more some stay the same.”