As always, there were many tragic local stories in the Syracuse Journal during 1931. One of the saddest involved a train-car collision that took the lives of Mrs. Tillie Mazaitis, 44, wife of Joseph Mazaitis, and her daughter, Miss Mary Louise Mazaitis, 17, of Rockaway Beach Road.

The teenager was giving her mother a driving lesson near their home in the recently purchased family automobile. It was believed Mrs. Mazaitis was driving when the care was struck by a Delaware, Lackawanna & Western locomotive at the Rockaway Beach crossing, early in the evening on October 1. However, morgue officials were unable to determine for sure which of the two was behind the wheel.

The Mazaitis home was on Rockaway Beach Road, halfway between Van Vleck Road and the beach. The two intended to drive down to the beach, turn around and drive back, members of their family said.

Apparently the accident occurred on the return trip. As they approached the crossing, so was a D. L. & W. passenger train bound for Oswego. The locomotive hit the sedan and carried it down the tracks for 30 feet, finally tossing it to one side, a twisted mass of steel.

The impact threw both mother and daughter out of the car, but not before they had been crushed in the wreckage. Miss Mazaitis was killed instantly, her mother died within minutes.

Members of the Mazaitis family heard the crash and ran to the street to determine the cause, only to see the new sedan wrecked and mother and daughter lying at the side of the train.

Surviving Mrs. Mazaitis, besides her husband, are three sons, Richard, 15; Joseph, 21, and George Mazaitis, 26, and a daughter, Mrs. Leona Kensworthy, 25, of Solvay.

There was no mention in the newspaper story about a signal at the crossing.

Charles R. Hall elected mayor
The largest voter turnout so far in the history of the village saw Charles R. Hall, Democrat, elected mayor over Frank W. Craig, Republican, by 120 votes, on March 17. Trustees elected were Morris P. Fennelly, Democrat, over incumbent Republican Matthew Gleason, 579 to 501: John Falkowski, Republican, over Edward J. Jutton, Democrat, 428 to 383; incumbent George P. Rarick, Democrat, over Charles Renders, Republican, 468 to 368, and incumbent James A. Cottrell, Democrat, over Michael Radford, 460-368. Two trustees were elected in the second war, one of fill a vacancy.

The election shifted power over to the Democrats, who wasted no time making changes. On April 6 William J. Burns was named village clerk, Asher Cohen was selected as village attorney, Edward Jutton as treasurer, Fred Luchsinger as auditor, John Friedli as highway superintendent, and J. J. Norton as superintendent of light and water. Theodore Grant, Paul Tarolli and John Stanton were name assessors.

Some changes met resistance, which led to court battles. On November 14, one such battle was settled when Justice William M. Ross ordered village officials to restore Howard Houseman, to his job as garage repairman, a $175 a month job, with back pay from May 7. Houseman was one of several Republicans ousted when a Democratic administration under Mayor Charles R. Hall went into office.

Did Al Capone send you?
A motorcycle-car chase on June 6 that started at Fairmount Corners and ended in Wolf Hollow, a wooded area off Onondaga Boulevard, was merely Act One in the wild story featuring local police and some would-be Chicago gangsters.

Oh, sure, blame The Solvay Gang
An early morning gun battle in Syracuse on June 17 sent police on a merry chase that eventually ended in New York City. Along the way, however, there was more talk about the infamous Solvay Gang.

Syracuse Journal, October 14
Future of Solvay depot in doubt

Charles R. Hall, Democratic mayor of the village of Solvay, will lose his job as ticket agent at the New York Central depot in Solvay, if officials of that railroad are successful in their application to the public service commission for permission to abolish the office there.

At a hearing before R. B. Burnside, assistant counsel of the commission at the courthouse Tuesday afternoon, the railroad brought out that receipts from the sale of tickets failed to pay the agent’s salary. They also brought out that express business is handled through the Syracuse office with more frequent collections and deliveries than under the old system.

C. E. Olp, superintendent of the Syracuse division, and J. M. Reilly, express agent, testified receipts at the station last year were $1,388, as compared with the agent’s pay of $1,633. The officials said the railroad proposes to maintain the depot and have trains stop there as under the present schedule. Passengers, however, would buy tickets on the train instead of at the depot.

Village Attorney A. S. Cohen, W. J. Burns, village clerk, and Zef Pieri, trustee and steamship agent, and Claude Duvall, school superintendent, expressed the belief the agent should be maintained for the convenience of the 10,000 residents of the village. They were unable, however, to show any great use of the ticket agency, and that, the commissioner explained, was the important point at issue.


Stage a raid and they will come
Prohibition agents continued their futile attempt to put illegal Solvay bars out of business, and village residents — and, no doubt, thirsty Solvay Process workers from several other communities — were always on hand to give the agents a difficult time.

So it was on January 5 when several hundred people threatened prohibition enforcement agents during a raid January 5 on the Italian-American restaurant at 101 Cogswell Avenue.

Most of the raids targeted places on Milton Avenue, and some of these spots were hit more than once. A cafe at 2257 Milton Avenue was raided on January 20 for the second time in the new year. On the second raid agents confiscated six barrels of beer.

On January 22, raiders battered down a concrete wall in a secret cellar of the premises at 2263-2265 Milton Avenue, and found nearly 500 gallons of cider. Agents also searched the upper floors of the premises and found six and a half barrels of beer. Benjamin Veri was charged with violation of the prohibition laws and released under $1,000 bail for a hearing later. Veri was arrested again March 23 during another raid on his place.

The next day there was a raid at 2215 Milton Avenue. Thomas McCue was arrested; three barrels of beer and quantities of alcohol, whiskey and gin were found.

Nine days later, 240 pint bottles of home brew were poured down the sewers of a cafe at 2019 Milton Avenue, after dry enforcement agents raided the place.

Agents shifted target on July 16 and aimed at the so-called "roadhouse belt" at Fay Road and Salisbury Road. There were at least two places at the intersection, but were considered more upscale than Milton Avenue bars, thus being referred to as "resorts." Alexander and Jenny Roberts, proprietors of a place at 329 Fay Road, were arrested.

Michael Louise was arrested during an August 29 raid at 112 Cogswell Avenue, where agents seized a gallon of wine, pint of whiskey and barrel of beer, the wine and whiskey being found in a trap beneath pails in a cupboard.

A pint of whiskey and five barrels of beer were found September 3 at 2267 Milton Avenue. Proprietor Michael Baratta was arrested, so was Thomas Kennedy, accused of throwing a bottle at the agents.

On October 23 there was a raid at 239 Charles Avenue, Solvay, which upset 50 angry patrons. Prohibition agents termed the place an elaborate brewery. Large quantities of mash and equipment were seized, along with 32 half barrels of beer.

It was back to 2237 Milton Avenue on November 12. Federal prohibition enforcement agents found 100 pints of beer and 10 gallons of mash on the third floor.

The Volstead Act was growing tiresome, but it had more than a year to go.


Just say the secret word: Tindall
The outstanding player on the Syracuse University football squad during its October 10 win over Ohio Wesleyan was to receive a pair of New Algonquin shoes donated by H. W. Cook, president of the A. E. Nettleton Company.

Coach Vic Hanson and newspapermen were hard-pressed to name one player in the lopsided 48-7 Syracuse victory. The problem was solved by placing the names of deserving players in a hat. The name drawn? Guard Frank Tindall, former Solvay High School star, who recovered two fumbles during the game. On October 12, Tindall went to Nettleton’s to get fitted.

The Solvay native played both basketball and football at Syracuse and in his senior year was voted the most valuable player on his team and was named an honorable mention All-American guard.

He played professionally for the Toronto Argonauts and was moved to tackle and was a conference all-star in 1933, his rookie season. Toronto won the Grey Cup that year. Years later he was inducted into the Canadian Football League Hall of Fame.

However, it was as coach at Canada's Queen;s College that he is best remembered. His teams won eight intercollegiate titles and one national title. The Frank Tindall trophy is given each year to the top college football coach in Canada. He also is remembered on the Queen's campus where the football field was named in his honor.

He died in 1993 at the age of 85.

Slowly recovering his sight after spending a week on the verge of blindness, William Tindall Jr., 122 Charles Avenue, Solvay, was discharged from the Hospital of the Good Shepherd May 20.

A tiny piece of metal which lodged behind his eye last Thursday imperiled Tindall’s sight. Physicians who have studied his case declare it is impossible to remove the piece of metal, but believe nature will provide its own remedy.

Employed at the Eastern Greyhound Line garage, 601 Hiawatha Boulevard, as a repairman, Tindall was hammering on a small shaft in an effort to force it into place. A tiny chip of metal from the shaft suddenly flew through the air and pierced the lower eyelid of Tindall’s left eye, struck a bone and ricocheted deeply behind the eye socket. The only possible way to remove it, X-ray examination revealed, would be to extract the eye.

For two days Tindall was blind in the left eye. Then his vision began to return slowly and X-ray examination revealed that the metal fragment was becoming coated with flesh in such a position that it no longer affected the nerves.

Yet another Tindall — Emily Tindall — was queen of the 12th annual festival of the Solvay schools on June 4. This festival was held on the grounds of the old Solvay Intermediate School, Woods and Orchard Roads. Miss Tindall is the daughter of Charles and Margaret Tindall.

Olga Harkovecz went on to graduate from Solvay High School in the 1940s. She was working in the office of Pass & Seymour in 1951 when she married Stephen Melnick, who operated the Melnick farm on the Meridian-Weedsport Road. In 2011 the Melnicks celebrated their 60th anniversary.

A first for Helen McCarthy Rivette
For the first time since enactment of the prohibition enforcement law,a woman attorney appeared before United States Commissioner Haight April 10, defending a man charged with violation of the dry laws.

The attorney was Mrs. Helen McCarthy Rivette of Solvay. Her client was Frank Barry, 1709 Milton Avenue, Solvay, whose premises were raided by dry agents some time ago. Mrs. Rivette sought to have the charges dismissed on the grounds that the description of the premises in the search warrant was faulty. She presented photographs to back up her claim, but Commissioner Haight denied the motion.

Next time simply give her the gong
Mrs. Mary Bullinski, 40, of 2059 Milton Avenue, was dropped to the sidewalk from the third-story window of her home when a prank went wrong during an August 22 party. She was knocked unconscious, but fortunately survived without breaking any bones.

Andrew Chilski, 42, of the Milton Avenue address, was arrested. He said he grabbed Mrs. Bullinski by the legs and held her out the window, but in trying to pull her back, he slipped and released his hold. Chilski told police he'd been annoyed by Mrs. Bullinski's singing.

Rough way to start your work day
A burst of flames after an explosion of a gas stove at the State Fair on September 9 imperiled the life of Anthony Floreck, 307 First Street, Solvay. Floreck escaped with a badly scorched face and slight burns about the eyes. Employed at a refreshment stand, Floreck was attempting to light the stove when it exploded.
Raymond Barone, seven-year-old son of Mr. and Mrs. Antonio Barone, 207 Abell Avenue, Solvay, was fatally injured January 11 in a coasting accident on his street. His sled ran into a car driven by Herbert Hewitt, 205 Center Street.

Classmates at Solvay High School were active and honorary bearers at funeral services March 22 for Eleanor Mary Bleich, 13, daughter of Mr. and Mrs. Gustave Bleich, who died Thursday in People’s Hospital.

Burial was in Myrtle Hill Cemetery. Honorary bearers included Vera Shortt, Genevieve Brock, Edith Mancabelli, Marion Hall, Mary O’Brien, Eleanor Newton, Ruth Torrey, Irene Chamberlain and Geraldine Leachenar. Active bearers were Robert Bleich, Wendall Morris, John Snigg, William Feisinger, John Conway and Samuel Emlich.

Harry Welch, 40, of 2320 Milton Avenue, Solvay, was fatally injured in an automobile accident on June 22 near Mattydale.

Donald Hall, 31, 110 Russet Lane, Solvay, driver of the heavy sedan, is in St. Joseph Hospital with minor hurts. He suffered numerous contusions and bruises about the body.

The accident occurred shortly after 1 a.m. Hall was driving south on the main highway on a straight stretch of road when the sedan suddenly slid off the concrete, plowed 75 feet along the brink of a small ditch, and finally went over the ditch and crashed into a tree.

Giocondo Pieri of 105 Cogswell Avenue, Solvay, linguist and traveler, one of the few persons in Central New York ever to attain the age of 100, died yesterday. His wife of more than 70 years, Mrs. Monica Giananni Pieri, was 100 years old when she passed away last year.

Born in 1831 in Tuscany, Mr. Pieri began to travel when he was 17. His wanderings took him across the ocean 13 times and into France, Spain, Italy, England and Africa. During those years of travel he mastered five languages.

After he married, Pieri and his wife came to the United States and established residence in Buffalo, where for many years Mr. Pieri conducted a statuary shop. Five years ago they came to live with their only surviving son, Zefferino Pieri of 105s Cogswell Avenue, Solvay village trustee..

Francis T. Cleary, 53, of 401 Center Street, died at St. Joseph's Hospital, Syracuse, of injuries suffered when his car crashed into a tree in West Genesee Turnpike near Orchard Road.

Cleary’s companion and driver of the automobile, James R. Brown, of Orchard Road, Solvay, lies in a critical condition at St. Joseph Hospital with a fractured skull and both legs broken.

Dr. Daniel F. Mathews, 59, former county coroner and Solvay health officer, died November 29 in a Crouse-Irving Hospital. He had been ill a year and a half. He was a graduate of Bellevue medical school and had practiced medicine in Syracuse and Solvay for 35 years. He was health officer of Solvay for many years, retiring last year when he also gave up his private practice.

Dr. Mathews was county coroner from 1900 to 1906. He was a brother of the late Sheriff James T. Mathews, for many years a political power in Onondaga County.

The physician is survived by his wife, Mrs. Mary O’Brien Mathews, whom he married in 1903; three sons, John, Joseph and Daniel F. Mathews Jr.; two daughters, Margaret and Helen Mathews; a brother, Patrick W. Mathews of Niagara Falls, and a sister, Mrs. Catherine Degan of Syracuse.


A six-team village baseball tournament
The village conducted a round robin baseball tournament composed of the strongest teams in the village — Solvay Tigers, Solvay Firemen, Solvay Polish Club, Community A. C., Milton A. C., and the Hunters Club.

Hunters Club was placed In the eastern division of the league, along with Community A. C. and the Solvay Firemen; the western section included Milton A. C., Solvay Tigers and Solvay Polish Club. The western section would prove to be stronger and much more competitive.

There were two games each Sunday, either at the Woods Road field, Pass & Seymour field, Hunters Club field, or Lewis Park, just over the village line in the west end of Syracuse. The tournament started on August 16 and did not end until October 4. The championship game was delayed until then because all three teams in the Western division had the same record — two wins, two losses.

The Syracuse Journal, on August 31, reported there were 7,000 spectators at a game played the day before when the Polish Club beat the Solvay Tigers, 7-2. The Tigers had a pet mascot, a goat, which was trotted out before the game. Some members of the Polish team arrived on an old-fashioned buggy pulled by a white mule.

That game would be the last victory for the Polish Club, who lost their next game to Milton A.C., 18-3. The Solvay Tigers then exacted their revenge on the Polish Club.

Milton A. C. eliminated Polish Club in the playoffs, but fell to the Solvay Tigers the following Saturday. A day later the Tigers won the championship by handing Community A. C. their only loss. I could not find an account of the game, only an October 9 story that stated the Tigers were winners of the Round Robin.

Solvay High School's baseball team won the only two games I could find, though the Bearcats did not win their division in the Onondaga County League. The dominant team, three years in a row, was Skaneateles High, led by pitcher Whitey Wilshere. Solvay's star was shortstop John Zulberti, who eventually would play minor league baseball. Other members of the team were Wheeler, Beagle, Kinsella and Salvetti, but the newspaper did not offer first names.

Highlight of the Solvay High season may well have been a 2-1 win over Central High of Syracuse on May 22. Kinsella was the winning pitcher; loser was future major league pitcher Johnny Gee, who stood six-feet-nine, and was the tallest pitcher of his time.

For the second year in Solvay, March Madness was more than just the annual village election. Community Athletic Club staged its second basketball tournament for area teams, with games played on the Solvay Process court. Teams were divided into three classes — midget, junior and senior.

The Solvay Aces won the so-called midget division, beating a team called The Celtics, 29-12. Teams in this division were comprised of teenagers. The age limit, I believe, was 15. Players on the Aces included Brostek, Hall, Darrow, Gettman, Sullivan and Olgeaty.

They were the only Solvay team to capture a tournament championship. Camillus A. C. won the junior division, beating Otisco, 23-19. Frank Kantak, who starred for Camillus High, was high scorer. A team called Becker's All-Stars won the senior championship, beating the Temples, 33-30.

Many weeks earlier the Solvay High School team began its 1930-31 season in the Onondaga County League with four straight victories. The fourth victory resulted in what looked like a football score — 41-3 over Elbridge, a team that would remain winless that season.

However, a week later, Solvay fell, suffering one of the worst defeats in school history when arch rival Camillus High beat the Bearcats, 54-15. Kantak led Camillus with 19 points. Solvay won three of its next four games, but closed out the season with three straight losses.

Solvay High School played six games, won four of them and had one loss and one tie, which was good enough for only a fourth place finish in the Onondaga County League, which lumped 10 schools together. Marcellus was league champion, with only a tie to blemish its record. East Syracuse and Manlius had 5-1 records. The Solvay-East Syracuse game was scoreless until the closing moments when an 80-yard return of an interception resulted in a touchdown, giving East Syracuse a 6-0 victory.

The Solvay Tigers, who won the village baseball championship, also were crowned the football champ with back-to-back wins over their leading challengers, Milton A. C. and Community A. C. Afterward, Ray Parker, business manager of the Tigers, upped the ante through a letter published in the Syracuse Journal. The letter stated, "The Tigers are claiming the Central New York championship, and if the leading Syracuse teams don't like that, let them book the Tigers for a game and then beat them." I could find no record of such a game being played.

As for Community A. C., they had laid claim to the championship of Solvay on November after beating yet another Solvay team, the Aces. Carmen Bucci and Bob Rood led the Community A. C. to a 14-6 win. Other members of the Community A. C. team were Pepe Bendetti, John Simiele, M. Murphy, Red Barry and Mike Charles.

The Aces had been unbeaten and unscored upon since 1929. The Aces included several Solvay High School players, including Joe Plants, Spillet and Lyons.

Names of Tiger players in the various stories that fall included C. Lamanna, Lavigno, Fowler, T. Yezzi, J. Lamanna, Gettman, Galante and Joe Otter, described as "the pint-size quarterback." Olgeaty was the coach.

Syracuse Journal, February 17
Solvay bowlers set endurance mark

Syracuse’s first endurance bowling contest, with six of Solvay’s younger pin stars as starters, gets underway at Doran’s Alleys this afternoon. The contestants, three of whom are pinboys at the Solvay alleys, hope to break the existing mark of 49-1/2 hours established recently in Roanoke, Virginia.

The contestants, who have been getting in condition for the grind for the past two weeks, are Rolando Aurelli, Mario Speziali, Tommy Franza, Dominick Bagozzi, Fred Lanni and Amadio Monte (not included in the Journal photo above).

Solvay merchants have donated many special prizes to the competitors all along the route. Meals, ice cream and milk for the contestants during the grind will also be donated by local merchants.

Manager Polly Doran has inserted special rules which requires each bowler to secure a score of better than 75 each game after 18 hours and to roll at least 20 hours to be eligible for the prizes.

Syracuse Journal, March 2
Establishing a new world’s record for marathon bowling by completing 51-1/2 hours on they alleys before they stopped at 5:30 o’clock Sunday afternoon, the five bowlers who started their record-breaking grind on Friday afternoon at 2 o’clock at Doran’s Alleys in Solvay today are co-holders of the new world’s endurance mark.

The five bowlers — Tommy Franza, Fred Lanni, Dominick Bagozzi, Mario Speziali and Ronald Aurelli — were haggard and almost completely worn out by their nerve-racking test as they passed the previous record of 49-1/2 hours at 3:30 o’clock Sunday afternoon before a crowd of nearly 1,000 spectators who jammed every available inch of space within the bowling parlors all day.

The bowlers agreed among themselves to continue until 6 o’clock, with the bowler having the highest average for the total number of games bowled being declared the winner, but at 5:30 o’clock Speziali was forced to give in and the remaining four decided to quit with him. One other starter, Amadio Monte, had quit Saturday morning after bowling nearly 18 hours.

The five finishers were given a rousing reception by the horde of spectators when they passed the world’s mark and again when they gave up the grind after 51-1/2 hours.

Each of the five finishers rolled a total of 128 games. Franza had high average of 133, Lanni was second with 129, Bagozzi third with 124, Speziali fourth with 117 and Aurelli fifth with 111.

Syracuse American, February 8
Probably the youngest combination among the 2,300 teams from all parts of the country to participate in the annual A. B. C. bowling classic at Buffalo, February 27-April 5, will be the Milton A. C. of Solvay, headed by the local season’s sensation, Greg Griffo.

Griffo, at 22, is the “father” of the quintet, which enjoys a 10-game lead in the fast Solvay A League. The Milton combination boasts a team average of 20 years old, but despite its youth is capable of turning in splendid totals, as evidenced in its work in the Solvay league.

The five young men boast a team average of 937 for the season, and recently ran off a string of 15 straight wins. Griffo is the outstanding star of the team, with an individual average of 207 for the 66 games he has rolled in the league, but his teammates are holding up their end. James Lauricello and Adlio Togni each boasts a 187 average, Pat Orbino 185 5and Angelo Bresadola 180.

A benefit dance held in the Milton A. C. clubrooms last night assured their expenses to their first A. B. C. tournament.

Syracuse Journal, May 5
As a fitting climax to his sensational season on the alleys, Greg Griffo, Solvay’s bowling “find,” annexed the individual bowling championship of New York State when he came through with a three-game total of 695 on the closing night of the eighth annual New York State championship at the Jefferson Lanes on Monday night.

Griffo’s total was two pins higher than that registered by Bill Leslie. Griffo rolled games of 258, 202 and 235.

Syracuse Journal, May 15
Johnny Rutkowski, Polish Home bowling ace, and Mario Speziali, Solvay’s youthful sensation, will fight it out for the two big cash prizes of $400 and $150 in the final 20-game home and home series of the Journal-American’s citywide championship roll-off.

They will clash in two 10-game series on Saturday and Sunday nights, final plans for which will be completed this afternoon between the two finalists, their managers and management of the roll-off.

Rutkowski and Speziali earned the right to compete in the finals by again finishing first and second in total pinfall in the semi-final round of the roll-off conducted Thursday night.

Rutkowski led the survivors Thursday for the second successive night when he turned in a five-game total of 1,067, with Speziali again a close runner-up with 1,059.

Interest was at fever heat throughout the city as the semi-finalists went into their matches Thursday night. Long before the matches were scheduled to start at the Polish Home and Doran’s alleys in Solvay, every available nook and corner was crowded with spectators, and throngs of latecomers found it impossible to get inside the two establishments. It is expected that plans will be made today to accommodate overflow crowds for the finals.

Rutkowski won the $400 prizes as the Journal-American's 1930-31 champion, Speziali was the $150 runner up. Solvay also took fourth and fifth places with Tommy Franza and Greg Griffo.

Syracuse Journal, December 5
Johnny Martino, first week’s qualifier in this season’s Journal-American citywide bowling classic, led the bowlers throughout the city in Friday night’s competition with a total of 688 to better his own league record of 678 in the Knights of Columbus League which he made in qualifying for the tournament.

Martino anchorman for the Isabellas and far out in front in the race for individual honors in the Knights of Columbus League, bunched games of 243, 222 and 223 for his big total.

Manager Bill Doran will conduct a turkey roll at his alleys in Solvay tonight. There will be six squads running every 50 minutes starting at 7 o’clock. A turkey and a chicken will be awarded in each squad. Doran announced this morning there are still openings in most of the squads.

A benefit dance, the proceeds of which will be used to send the six leading individual bowlers of the Solvay Mercantile League at Korzyp’s Alleys to the annual ABC championships in Detroit next spring, will be held at Verdi’s Hall in Solvay tonight. All bowlers and friends are cordially invited.


Most items are from the Syracuse Herald-Journal and its Sunday edition, the Herald-American. Several were edited for length.

For more on Solvay way back when, check out
the Solvay-Geddes Historical Society