2006-07-19 / Star Journal

Political Clubs Ponder Candidates In July 1912

Political Clubs Ponder Candidates In July 1912

Get into a conversation with a longtime Queens resident and you're likely to discover a subscriber of the Long Island Star-Journal, a daily paper that informed the community about local and world news until it folded in 1968. A banner across the Star-Journal masthead reminded readers that the newspaper's name came from the merger of the Long Island Daily Star (1876) and the North Shore Daily Journal--The Flushing Journal (1841).

            Taft, Wilson and T. Roosevelt 
  Presidents Taft, Wilson and T. Roosevelt Welcome to July 1912!

On July 2, the Democratic National Convention in Baltimore nominated Woodrow Wilson for president and Thomas R. Marshall for vice president. This convention was one of the most contentious in the history of the party. Fortysix ballots were taken before Wilson and Marshall were selected.

On July 17, President William Howard Taft's Assistant Secretary Allen prevented the explosion of a bomb, which had been mailed to the president. Allen was slightly burned when he snuffed out a fuse which was ignited as soon as he opened the package. Secret Service men were called. They found six pounds of dynamite in the box.

At a meeting of the Richmond Hill Republican Club the question of whether to endorse Taft or Theodore Roosevelt, who was the nominee of the Bull Moose Party which he had formed after losing the Republican nomination to Taft, came up. The club was divided evenly on the question, and some thought that the meeting might be disrupted. However, a compromise was worked out beforehand. The club would endorse neither candidate for president. (In November, Woodrow Wilson was elected president.)

The magistrate in Long Island City police court continued his fight against Sunday rowdiness by sending two men to jail for 30 days and others for shorter terms. A 30-day term was received by Joseph Smovolsky of Manhattan. He was arrested in a car at Bridge Plaza for being drunk and disorderly. The arresting officer claimed he was drunk and roughhousing with others in the car, very much to their annoyance. He was abusive when told to stop by the officer. Smovolsky, claiming he had nothing to say, did not take the stand.

William Stein, also of Manhattan, was arrested at North Beach and charged with disorderly conduct, causing a crowd to collect. The complaint charged Stein with conducting a three-card monte game at the beach before about 50 people. He pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 30 days. Stein was known as one of the best card men in the country.

On July 28, a Sunday, the local police of each town in Queens made a visit to baseball grounds in their precincts and served a large batch of summonses at those games where admission was being charged, which was evidently illegal on Sunday. At one game, a shift of nomenclature prevented police involvement. Instead of selling "admission tickets", "membership tickets" were sold. At another game, the usual passing of the hat for voluntary contributions was waived.

The police also visited North Beach, where they found violations of the Sunday law. John Down of Astoria was arrested for delivering beef to a concession stand. Two other Manhattan men were also fined $2 each for delivering frankfurters to North Beach stands.

Permits for public baths along the East and Hudson Rivers, including those in Astoria, were issued for the summer by a reluctant Board of Health. It was feared that this might be the last year for this. The Health Commissioner was reluctant to phase out the baths without a substitute because they were the only way that the poor could enjoy open-air bathing. The Health Department did have clear evidence of pollution, but did not have clear evidence of how detrimental to health this was. The benefit of immersion in cool water could not be denied, but some thought that even a few cases of typhoid or severe eye damage would justify closing the baths permanently. One line of thinking to remedy the situation was that the city build large "natatoriums" (buildings with swimming pools and maybe locker rooms inside). The pools would be filled with fresh water from the new Catskill aqueduct.

circlinghawk.com F. Rodman Law circlinghawk.com F. Rodman Law On July 4, the crowds at Rockaway Beach were estimated at 150,000. In the afternoon, the crowds were so large that it was difficult for one to pass along the avenue or elevated boardwalk. The demand for bathing houses was too great to be met, and some had to stand in line until their turns to bathe came. It was also estimated that 20,000 took a dip in the ocean.

On July 26, a factory manufacturing "Our Darling" matches in Evergreen (Ridgewood) was destroyed by fire. Thousands gathered to watch the conflagration at the factory of John T. Huner. A number of fire companies were summoned to the scene. Upon their arrival it was immediately obvious that nothing could be done to save a building, which contained not only thousands of matches in storage but thousands more in various stages of manufacture, not to mention the flammable chemicals necessary for their manufacture. Firemen simply directed water to reduce the burning mass to ashes. There was no explanation given for the cause of the fire. The loss was estimated at up to $100,000, but Huner promised to start immediately to rebuild the factory and continue business. He thought that there were probably enough matches in his zinc storehouses

which were not destroyed) to fill orders until production could begin again.

On July 25, Rodman Law, the inventor of a new style of parachute, jumped from the Queensboro Bridge into the East River, as the stunt was recorded by a moving picture camera. Law had entertained New Yorkers with his leaps from the top of the Statue of Liberty and high buildings in Manhattan. There was a problem with this leap though: his parachute didn't open. People on board the tugboat that was to pick him up were decidedly anxious about his fate. But Law jettisoned his unopened chute and held his arms close to his sides. He entered the water with scarcely a splash, and a few moments later his head bobbed above the surface. The tugboat picked him up, and he drove away. The jump was made during evening rush hour when riders on a Third Avenue trolley car witnessed Law's jump from the bridge and gasped in horror.

On July 13, the Star reported that, by the second day of the swat-the-fly campaign of the Housewives League of Flushing, 81,725 flies had been killed. The juvenile "fly king" was Frank Seiderwurn who had killed 280 ounces (17.5 pounds) of flies. There were to be nine more days of the campaign.

That's the way it was in July 1912!

Greater Astoria Historical Society exhibits are open to the public on Saturday from noon to 4 p.m. at Quinn's Gallery, 4th floor, Thomas M. Quinn & Sons Funeral Home, 35-20 Broadway, Long Island City New exhibit, "Lager, Leisure, and Laughter: Long Island City at Play", now on view. For more information, call the Greater Astoria Historical Society at 718-278-0700 or visit www.astorialic.org.

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