On this day in Yonkers history…

Lieutenant George Barr, rescued from a Japanese World War II prison camp in 1945

By Mary Hoar, President Emerita Yonkers Historical Society and President of the Untermyer Performing Arts Council

monday august 22
August 22, 1882: Workers at William Copcutt’s silk mills nail notices to trees around Yonkers, calling on all other power loom weavers to help them in their strike for higher pay.
A delegation from Copcutt’s silk handkerchief shop, operating half of the factory’s looms, had met with Copcutt to demand more pay, saying they could not live on 68 cents for single-loom handkerchiefs and $1.38 for a dual trade job. After being flatly refused, the department got together and decided to “stand out” until rates were raised; 2/3 of the orderly and silent strikers were girls and women. The company claimed they were paid more than anywhere else in the country, $12 a week if they worked regularly.

August 22, 1945: Leake and Watts officials announce that they have not received any security information from Air Force navigator Lt. George Barr. Barr, who lived in the house after his parents died, was a basketball star at Yonkers HS; his skills earned him the nickname “Blitzkrieg”. Barr was captured in the 1942 Doolittle Raid on Japan; Yonkers hoped he was one of four airmen rescued from a prison camp in Peiping the day before.

Tuesday August 23
August 23, 1940: In a scene from the Wild West, six gunmen stole Yonkers’ mail from a train at Marble Hill station. Bandits thought Alexander Smith’s payroll was on the train, but it was delivered earlier in the week. A Yonkers man saw the robbers jump into a car and gave police the car’s license plate number.

August 23, 1945: The Army announced that Lt. George Barr was one of four Doolittle airmen rescued from a Japanese prison camp by paratroopers, but was hospitalized; he weighed 97 pounds.

Wednesday August 24
August 24, 1901: William Shrive, one of Yonkers early car dealerships, proudly announced that not only was his company the only Yonkers locomobile agency, but that they had, direct from the factory, one of their latest improved machines! The quiet steam locomotive, claimed to be the ideal car for doctors, sold for $600.

On August 24, 1933, Thomas Beer published his new collection of short stories entitled “Mrs. Egg and Other Barbarians”, published by Alfred Knopf of New York. Six of these stories, called “frivolous tales” by Beer, had appeared in The Saturday Evening Post He was best known for his biographies of Stephen Crane and Mark Hanna, published three novels, and was considered the lead author of Yonkers.
Although born in Iowa, Beer grew up in Yonkers, living on Palisade Avenue. As an adult, he “wintered” in Yonkers and spent his summers in Nantucket.

Thursday August 25
August 25, 1943: Hawthorne JHS and Yonkers HS graduate Jack Lambert is the first voice heard in the Hollywood movie “Bomber’s Moon,” playing a turret gunner discussing the beauty of the moon. Lambert became a well-known character actor, appearing in crime dramas and westerns, such as Vera Cruz, The Killers, The Enforcer and How the West Was Won. He has also appeared on Gunsmoke, Daniel Boone, Wagon Train, Get Smart and The Andy Griffin Show. He played regular character Joshua Walcek on Darren McGavin’s Riverboat.

August 25, 1945: YFD crooks decide to play a prank on firefighter Lieutenant Thomas Barden, a former national running champion. Barden had excellent vision…but needed reading glasses. After reading a report, he cleaned his glasses, then tucked them neatly into the case. When away from the office, the fire station comedians put red dots on the lenses. The next time he put on the glasses, he saw red spots in front of his eyes. I took them off and everything was fine. It happened again. He finally saw what the crew had done…and cleaned his glasses.

friday august 26
August 26, 1935: Assistant Health Commissioner John Faiella announces that Yonkers will not use a new polio serum extracted from monkeys until it has been proven.

August 26, 1952: Fifth District Councilor Aloysius Moczydlowski requests that the red light on top of the Nodine Hill water tower be replaced. He told the City Council that due to increased air traffic over the water tower, residents in the area feared an accident. In bad weather, the planes flew quite low, very close to the tower.

Saturday August 27
August 27, 1956: The Yonkers Keys win the Eastern Junior American Legion title in Togus, Maine by a score of 9-4! The pitcher in Game 1 was Romeo Fields; Don DiChiara pitched the second. Fields attempted to steal home from third base, but was tagged by the Everett MA catcher. Or was he? Luckily, the third baseman had called a time out while Romeo was on his way home, so the game was called up!

August 27, 1964: The New York Film Festival chooses Nothing But A Man starring Ivan Dixon as one of the feature films to screen at Lincoln Center’s Philharmonic Hall. The same day, Nothing But a Man, the only American film entered, was screened at the Venice Film Festival. Rookie Leighton Avenue resident Michael Roemer directed the independently financed film at a cost of $230,000; drawing on his personal experience of being persecuted by the Nazis, Roemer also co-wrote the film.
Sunday August 28

August 28, 1945: Musical star John Boles surprises diners at the Strand Café on South Broadway when he arrives wearing red slippers. After eating, he bought a newspaper in the square, smiling at all the commotion he was causing. Erskine Johns dubbed Boles the “Frank Sinatra of the 1930s” due to his memorable vocals. He was best known for his film and Broadway roles from the 1920s to 1940s.

August 28, 1956: Yonkers welcomes the home of the Yonkers Keys with a motorcade of seventy cars! Police officers sounded sirens, flags waved, horns sounded and “Go, Go, Go” signs were posted all over town! The crowd at the clubhouse was addressed by retired major league umpire Bill Grieve, who coached the first American League Junior Champions Yonkers twenty-eight years earlier!

Questions or comments? Email [email protected] For more information about the Yonkers Historical Society, Sherwood House and upcoming events, please visit our website www.yonkershistoricalsociety.org, call 914-961-8940 or email [email protected]

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