Syracuse Herald-Journal, September 27, 1939
Sulphide Gas Held Death Cause

Coroner H. Ernest Gak today concluded his investigation of the death of one of five Solvay Process employees felled by gas fumes yesterday afternoon, issuing a verdict of "death probably due to hydrogen sulphide gas" in the case of Rocco Frumano (Femano), 326 First Street, Solvay, 39-year-old father of nine children.

Two of the other victims who required hospital care, Fred Antonioli, 25, of 107 Freeman Avenue, Solvay, and Edgideo Togni, 26, of 212 Caroline Avenue, Solvay, were reported in "fair" condition today at University Hospital.

The fourth and fifth men affected by the fumes in the soda ash department of the Solvay plant went home after receiving first aid in the company's emergency room. Their identities were not revealed.

It was shortly before 3 p.m. while a crew of men were completing repairs on a pipeline that the fatal accident occurred.

According to a company spokesman, a device known as a "slip blank," a metal disk, which had been inserted in the pipe to prevent any gas flow while the repairs were underway, was being withdrawn from the pipe to put the line back in service when poisonous fumes poured out into the soda ash department building.

Gasping and choking, Frumano, Antonioli and Togni collapsed within a few seconds, while the two others stagged away from the scene. Other workmen ran into the danger area and carried the victims out to safety, and then to the plant's emergency room. Meanwhile, the gas was shut off at another point in the plant.

Ambulances from University and Cruse-Irving Hospitals sped to the scene, but Frumano was dead when an intern reached him. Antonioli and Togni were taken to University Hospital. The body of Frumano was removed to the county morgue, and there it was identified by Louis Frumano, eldest son of the victim.

The Solvay Process Company spokesman said officials were at a loss to explain the presence of poisonous fumes in the ammonia pipeline.

The death came a week after the victim's wife, Mrs. Clementina De Luigi Frumano, gave birth to their nine child, Thomas. She is still under a doctor's care.

Besides the wife and infant son, the victim leaves six other sons, Louis, Joseph, Andrew, Robert, Rocco Jr. and Gerald Frumano; two daughters, Mary and Rose Frumano, all of Solvay; his father, Luigi Frumano, two brothers, and several nieces and nephews, all of Italy.

A native of Italy, Frumano came to Solvay at the age of 14 and worked for the Solvay Process Company for 20 years.

Kills wife, two of his children
Boleslaw Waszkiewicz, 45-year-old Solvay steelworker, walked into the Solvay police station June 17 and gave himself up after strangling his wife and two of their four children. His only explanation was that he was “afraid of losing his job.” On October 2 County Judge Frank P. Malpass announced Waszkiewicz had been found insane and would be committed to the State Prison for the Criminally Insane at Mattewan.

Midget auto races a problem
The area along West Genesee Street that became Fairmount Fair and the site of the very popular Wegman's Supermarket was once either the home of Champion Park, a midget auto racing track, or across the street from what was a major source of irritation to nearby residents of Westvale.

Trouble was, noise from the track prevented people from sleeping at night. This led to the September 11 arrest of Jesse C. Pooler of Dewitt, who opened the track earlier in the year, attempting to cash-in on what seemed to be a nationwide craze. The complaint as made by two women who said the noise of the cars was only part of the problem. They claimed the noise of loudspeakers and the smell of castor oil used in the racing cars also was offensive.

Pooler was released, but his track was soon out of business, and was abandoned a year later, and torn down shortly after that.

Stubborn fire at Solvay Process
Solvay firemen needed gas masks October 7 for their three-hour battle with a fire in two 400-foot conveyor belts and motors in the lime kiln of the Solvay Process Company. They were hampered by intense heat generated when water from their hoses mixed with lime in the kiln. Firemen had to work in short relays to quell the fire.

Firemen escaped harm, as did more than 150 plant workers who joined them in their efforts. However, most were later given care at the plant's first aid room for irritation of the eyes.

Cause of the fire was overheated conveyor bearings which ignited the large belts used in the kiln.

This fire was over-watered
On November 10, Solvay firemen were summoned to the Pass & Seymour factory on Milton Avenue about 6 p.m. to put out a small fire in a wooden box on the third floor. The problem was not the fire, which was quickly put out, but the water flow, which poured down through all three stories. Firemen could not shut it off before there was extensive water damage.

Syracuse Herald-Journal, December 2, 1939
Brakeman crushed to death by cars

Pinned between two freight cars which started to move as he was adjusting the coupling, Thomas Flynn, 47, of East Syracuse, brakeman on a Solvay Process Company train, was crushed to death about 4:30 a.m. today, according to coroner E. Ernest Gak.

Dr. Gak said the fatal accident occurred on the railroad tracks inside the company's plant at Solvay. Flynn, stepping between two freight cars to couple them, was trapped when the engineer received a signal from another member of the crew to back up, said Dr. Gak.

As the train moved back, the coupling of one car struck Flynn and rammed him against the coupling on the other car, crushing his chest and killing him almost instantly, said the coroner.


Louis Balduzzi of 11009 Third Street, Solvay, made news on September 16 with the great northern pike he caught at Cross Lake The fish weighed 10.67 pounds and was 37 inches long. Balduzzi told the Syracuse Herald-Journal he was fishing with a spinner, bait-casting rod and 16-pound test line. He was fishing without a landing net, and said he had quite a time landing the fish, eventually putting down his rod and reaching over the side of the boat, grabbing it with both hands.

Miss Frances Calllisto of 103 Smith Street was voted Miss Solvay. She was crowned by Mayor John Degan at a dance sponsored by the San Felices Musical Club in Solvay Guild Hall. Runners up were Misses Ernestine Ciciarelli, Sue LaBerge, Mary Valerino , Anne DeStefano, and Thelma Poulsen.

Carmen Nucci, anchoring the Solvay Grill team, went into December 28 with a 176 average, and began the night with games of 167 and 162. In his third game, however, he was perfect, rolling 12 straight strikes for the first perfect 300 games of the season in league competition in the Syracuse area.

One of his teammates. Nick Ezzo, was one of two Syracuse area bowlers to roll a perfect game the year before. Both Nucci and Ezzo accomplished their feats at Korzup's Alleys in West Solvay..


Syracuse Herald-Journal, October 31
Former school superintendent dies

In failing health the past year, Claude A. Duvall, 72, of 4888 South Salina Street, widely known educator and retired superintendent of the Solvay schools, died last night in Clifton Springs Sanatorium.

Death came to the veteran educator a little more than a year after he retired from the superintendency of the Solvay schools. Although Mr. Duvall had been in poor health for some time, it was not until late in the summer that it affected him to any great extent, and on October 2 he entered the sanatorium at Clifton spring for observation and treatment.

He was an educator of the old school. Born in Tyrone, New York, he did his grade work in the district school there and later was graduated from Cortland and Oneonta Normal schools. He received a master of science degree from Syracuse University in 1926.

In 1888, he began his teaching career in Tyrone, at the same school he attended as a child. A year later he went to Burdette, and then to Northport in 1891. His next move was to Bayshore, Long Island, where he taught four years, and then accepted a position with the Silver-Burdette Publishing Company, traveling for several years selling school books.

In 1910, Mr. Duvall was named principal of Solvay High School, a post he held until 1925 when the board of education named him superintendent of school. He remained in that capacity until the summer of 1938,, when he retired.

It was while he was principal at a school in Northport, Long Island, that he married Adelia E. Barker, a teacher in the school. She survives him, along with two daughters, Mrs. George C. Troop and Mrs. Mark N. Russell, both of Syracuse; two sons, Prof. John C. Duvall of Syracuse and the Rev. Dr. Sylvanis M. Duvall of Chicago; a sister, Mrs. C. D. Seybold of Ithaca, and four grandchildren, Miss Shirley F. Throoper and Miss Marie E. Russell of Syracuse; Jean Louise duvall and Joy Millis Duvall of Chicago.

Basilio Giacometti, 55, 127 Freeman Avenue, Solvay, was killed when he was hit by an automobile while walking near Cold Spring Bridge on September 24. A native of the Italian Tyrol,, he had been employed at Halcomb Steel. Survivors were two brothers, Barney of Alliance, Ohio, and Angelico of Buenos Aires, Argentina, and two sisters, Mrs. Rose Baltraini and Mrs. Roscietta Baltraini, both of Tyrol.

John Pllch, 45, of Solvay, died October 16 after a long illness. A native of Poland, he had lived in Solvay for several years where he was formerly employed at the Frasier & Jones Company. Surviving are four sons, Henry, Chester, Raymond and Arthur Pilch; two daughters Miss Antoinette and Miss Dorothy Pilch; a sister, Mrs. Genevieve Michelski; a step-brother, Peter Pilch and a step-sister, Mrs. Rose Rogun.

Peter Scaia, 57, former resident of Solvay, died December 6 in Wilmington, Delaware, from injuries suffered in a fall down a flight of stairs. Mr. Scaia had been a resident of Solvay where he lived with his daughter, Mrs. Maurice Maestri, before going to Delaware 10 years ago. Other survivors are his wife, Mrs. Carolina Grandhi Scaia and four daughters, all in Italian Tyrol, and two grandchildren.

J. Donald Schwarz, 45, 144 Boulder Road, Solvay, died December 9. He was stricken ill with a gall bladder infection 10 days earlier and taken to Crouse Irving Hospital where he died. A native of Rome, New York, he had been a resident of Solvay since becoming an accountant for the Solvay Process Company in 1922. Survivors: His wife, Mrs. Jessie Strohl Schwarz; his mother,, Mfrs. John Schwarz; four sisters, Mrs. George Case and Mrs. Rolland Wilson, both of this city; Mrs. Harry Moldt of Rome, and Mrs. Edward Wright of Dundee, Illinois.

Thomas F. Sullivan, locomotive engineer at the Solvay Process Company, died suddenly of a heart attack October 15 at his home, 216 Alice Avenue. He was born in Syracuse 50 years ago and had lived in Solvay most of his life. Surviving are his wife, Mrs. Elizabeth Sullivan; two sons, John and William Sullivan; three daughters, Miss Margaret and Miss Marie Sullivan and Mrs. France Farley, and four sisters, Mrs. Julia Hand, Mrs. Clark Smith, Mrs. Albert LaValle and Miss Agnes Sullivan.


Football: Solvay is league champion
Solvay played five games that season, and won them all — 7-0 over North Syracuse; 32-0 over Skaneateles; 38-0 over East Syracuse, 14-7 over Baldwinsville, and 19-6 over Fayetteville.

Three Bearcats made the first team All-County eleven — Ralph Willoughby, halfback; George Borrell, quarterback; Nick Gettino, guard. End Nick Demperio and tackle Bob Himpler were second team selections.

Other Solvay players were Julias Kulak, Reno Continetti, Richard Bowers, Charles Tindall, Mike Anthony, and Pat O'Leary. There were last names only for several others — Baldrini, Bellotti, Capella, Chajka, Chamberlain, Cicero, Corey, N. Demperio, Flaherty, O’Brien, Piro, Renders, Rynkiewicz, Smoral, Sullivan, Szczech, Tarolli, H. Himpler, N. Gettino, Kazel.

Hard to see how the All-County selectors overlooked O'Leary, who scored at least five touchdowns, including one on a 70-yard return of an interception.

Items are from stories in the Syracuse Journal
and its Sunday edition, the Journal-American
For more on Solvay way back when, check out
the Solvay-Geddes Historical Society