Maddock is a former village clerk of Lyons, former president of the Lyons Heritage Society and a member of the Wayne County Historical Society.
WAY BACK WHEN IN WAYNE COUNTY: The Lyons I remember
Finger Lakes Times
By WILLIAM J. MADDOCK
Sunday, December 20, 2015
The end of an era is about to take place on Dec. 31, 2015, the date the Village of Lyons will no longer exist after servicing its residents for 185 years. This dissolution has caused me to reflect on things that have occurred during my lifetime.
I can still remember my first day of kindergarten in 1938, the room with the fountain. Our teacher was Mrs. Bella Ostrander. It was then the Lyons Union School and by third grade it became the Lyons Central School District.
Today’s generation probably can’t figure out how grades K-12 all fit into the elementary school. In the mid 1950s it became apparent that a new school was needed and the Middle/High School was built on Clyde Road. The art class and the Future Farmers of America were located in the Bronson House. There was a statue of Venus DeMilo in the art room and every so often parts of her anatomy were painted with various colors. This site is now the elementary school bus parking lot.
And wasn’t it quite a shock when Dr. Sheldon, the school doctor, retired and was replaced by Dr. David Ennis? The exam usually consisted of listening to your heart and pulse and bending over and touching your toes, but a new feature was added — checking the boys for hernias. That was quite a surprise!
I wonder whatever happened to the painting of the Last Supper that hung above the doors to the auditorium?
The Cole Brothers Circus would come to town and perform in the elementary school gym. They had one difficulty, however. The elephant could not fit through any doors of the school and a library window was removed to gain entrance.
The Cole Brothers elephant, also the emblem for the GOP, was again brought to town in 1951 when Governor Thomas Dewy came to Lyons for the construction of a bridge over the New York Central Railroad tracks!
At one time Lyons was quite a railroad center. The station was torn down in the late 1960s. Quite often several of us would stand on the bridge when a steam engine passed underneath spraying us with hot steam and a few cinders. Many weekends and evenings were spent at Carl Ormsbee’s, the gate keeper’s shanty on Geneva Street. We would cook hamburgers on the small pot belly stove there. A bell in the shanty would ring when a train was approaching and Ormsbee would turn a crank outside to lower the gates.
When the new addition to the Community Center on Broad Street was dedicated, Myron C. Taylor, the donor and former Lyons resident, arrived in Lyons in a private car at the end of a passenger train. Taylor served as U.S. ambassador to the Vatican and president of U.S. Steel.
Each winter the Community Center, under the direction of Charles Tindal, would put on a winter carnival on ice. Many local residents participated, but I especially remember watching Lee and Mary Boice perform ice dancing.
I well recall watching Mayor Charles Utter in the late 1940s (then a man in his 70s) shoveling snow into a dump truck along with the village employees. In those days many professional persons would run for the village and school board. When I graduated from high school in 1952, Dr. Myron C. Carmer handed me my diploma and Rear Admiral Rupert Zimmerli, dressed in his white uniform, was the graduation speaker.
Lyons had its share of grocery stores, large and small, from the 1940s to late 50s — such as Joe and Gabe’s Southside Market, Sapp’s Red and White, The Corner Store, Bert Lehns, Cateau’s, Foley’s (later Barletta Economy Market), Kelly’s Grand Union, August Williams, Moran and Amrose, Mack’s Red and White (later Emmy Coles), Salerno’s Market, Santelli’s Market, Market Basket and P&C.
We also had restaurants and diners: Mike Petrus, Bridge Tavern, La Cantina, Trombino’s, Soda Spa, Wayne Hotel, Paliotti’s (later the White House Inn), Greco’s, The Family Diner, Connie Guyl’s Diner, Lyons Restaurant and the Lyons Den.
In addition, we had our share of barbers: John Klenk, Lew Hayden, Phil DeJohn, Rougy Moran, Skinny Palsco, Herb Downey and Ken Delpapa. If you wanted a watch or jewelry, you could select one from Marshall’s, Ohmann’s or Greco’s Jewelry, the sole survivor today.
You could also buy a new car in Lyons then, as well. Your choices were a Ford from Jack’s Lyons Motors, a Dodge or Plymouth from Zazarra’s Lyons Service Station, Studebakers from Schleedes, a Buick from Sibley’s Buick (later Gardner’s Buick), a Chevrolet or Oldsmobile from Wayne Chevrolet, a Nash or Kaiser-Frazier from Westendorf’s and Hudsons from Comella’s. Clothing could be purchased at Daniel Moran and Dominick Zieno’s stores, Pacello’s Men’s & Boys Shop (later Flock’s) Marcia Kays, Gilbert and Purce, Harriet’s Dress Shop and finally William Holloway & Sons. If you needed shoes you had a choice of Paliotti’s, Sauter’s or Ungerer’s. In fact, I worked at Ungerer’s store in 1951 and 1952.
Full band concerts were held in the park during the summer. Most of the players were members of the Lyons Fire Department Band; others were Bob Resue, Bob Boehmler and occasionally Chet Robb. Auggy Williams would sell popcorn in front of his store on Church Street.
During World War II, we would go to the store with a ration book to purchase food and commodities. My grandfather was an air raid warden and during a blackout he would don his steel helmet, armband and flashlight and patrol the streets looking for people who had light showing. He would also inspect the Kenmore Machine Shop, which had a military contract; thus he was authorized to carry a pistol. I can remember the German prisoner of war camps at Newark and Clyde. Prisoners from Clyde worked at Ernest Naylor’s Kraut Factory on DePew Avenue.
There were also sad occasions when a soldier who was killed in action would be returned to Lyons. A military guard of honor was always present to meet the train and escort the remains to their final resting place. Two of those guards that I remember were Capt. William S. Gavitt, U.S. Army, and Charles Ennis in his Canadian Army uniform.
Finally, there were the Saturday afternoon serials at Ohmann’s theater for 12 cents admission. The balcony was open and the projectionist was Bud Storms. The owner, Amos Ohmann, would take us boys in his car and drive all over Wayne County to place coming attraction fliers on car windshields. Our pay was a free theater pass for a week.
I started this article about the dissolution of the Village of Lyons, an entity that I served and am truly sorry to see go. I was the village clerk from 1963 to 1979, served on the Village Board from 1993 to 1997 and have been a member of Hook and Ladder Company No. 1 for 63 years. I can honestly say that I enjoyed every year of service. The things that I saw and did growing up in Lyons created many fond memories and friendships that have lasted a lifetime.
"Everything that has ever happened to us is there to make us stronger."