On this day in Yonkers history…

America’s two greatest magicians: Harry Houdini, standing, and Harry Kellar, of Yonkers, seated

By Mary Hoar, President Emeritus, Yonkers Historical Society, 2004 Key to History recipient and President of the Untermyer Performing Arts Council

monday january 17
January 17, 1904: Ludlow Park resident Kellar the Magician (Heinrich aka Harry) performs for President Roosevelt and his family at the Lafayette Theater in Washington. Kellar lived at 75 Sunnyside Drive.

January 17, 1929: Lt. Frederick Hopkins of Riverdale Avenue, a Yonkers High School graduate, professor of military science and tactics at NYU’s Guggenheim Aeronautics School, addresses the Yonkers Citizens Military Training Camp Club at the new North Broadway Armory. Addressing the crowd, he predicted that one day airplanes would replace artillery. Previously an Air Corps instructor at Kelly Field in San Antonio, Hopkins recounted amusing incidents that happened to famous future Airmen during their training at Kelly. Lieutenant Lester Maitland, considered an aviation pioneer, received the “Dumbbell Trophy”; instead of flying north, he ended up fifty miles south of his assigned landing spot. Hopkins also shared that Colonel Charles Lindbergh would not have been memorable during his years as a student at Kelly except for a serious mid-air collision eight days before graduation; Lindbergh bailed out to save his life.

Hopkins transferred to the Air Force in 1947 when it became a separate branch of the service; he retired a few years later in 1951 with the rank of major general. Among the awards he has received are the Distinguished Service Medal and the Legion of Merit.

tuesday january 18
January 18, 1911: William Port east of Nepperhan Avenue becomes oldest man in Yonkers; in his 99th year, he had lived in Yonkers for more than half a century. He died the following December.

January 18, 1938: Mayor Joseph Loehr indicates that he is ready to work with the Republican majority in the Council to resolve the deadlocked city budget. While discussing this, he revealed that he had met Republican Majority Leader Alderman Fred Storay hours before the Council vote and reached an agreement to cut the budget by 328,000 $. Loehr, denying that he had “stuffed the 1938 budget with political jobs”, published a list of jobs from the original budget, including policemen and laborers previously paid to do municipal work by the WPA. Storay later denied that a meeting took place after the vote, ignoring Loehr’s claim that it happened before the vote.

Wednesday January 19
January 19, 1938: Mayor Joseph Loehr appoints songwriter Bud David Green of Lee Avenue commissioner to the board of trustees of the Yonkers Museum of Science and Arts. Green, who previously worked in the motion picture industry in California, moved to Yonkers after selling his company to Warner Brothers. Green wrote many well-known songs such as “Once In A While”, “Sentimental Journey”, “I’ll Always Be In Love With You”, and “Flat Foot Floogie (with a Floy Floy)”.

January 19, 1938: The Yonkers Corporation attorney advised City Clerk Heafy that the 1938 budget had “not been passed within the time prescribed by law and was further opposed by the mayor and never correctly passed its veto”. Republicans would have needed 9 votes to overturn the veto; they had seven. As a result, Heafy was unable to calculate property taxes to send property tax bills.

Thursday January 20
January 20, 1923: Patroller William Comey saw a woman fall onto the streetcar tracks; he rushed to grab her and pull her to safety just as a streetcar was about to arrive here.

January 20, 1938: Civic leader James Moseley volunteered to act as a mediator in the City Hall budget impasse; he sent telegrams to Mayor Loehr and Republican Majority Leader Fred Storay offering his services. Moseley was vice president of the American and Foreign Power Company, past president of the Ludlow Home Owners’ Association and the Council of Yonkers Civic Associations.

Friday January 21
January 21, 1945: Dr. Edward Jones, whose dental practice was at 45 Warburton Avenue, attends the inauguration of President Franklin Roosevelt. Dr. Jones, co-chair of the New York State campaign for President Roosevelt; had recruited African-American voters for the president.

January 21, 1987: Show business columnist Earl Wilson of Marshall Road died in St. Joseph’s Hospital.

saturday 22 january
January 22, 1937: More than 100 drivers got new license plates at the County Automobile Bureau’s first Yonkers office, opened in Tibbetts Brook Park.

January 22, 1938: City Comptroller James Hushion requested a state Supreme Court hearing to kill the Common Council’s economic budget and force Republican aldermen to approve the budget submitted by the council of estimate. Although the comptroller was trying to get the Loehr administration’s budget approved, Mayor Loehr was named one of the 15 defendants. Others named in the lawsuit were Council Speaker Fiorillo, City Clerk Heafy and the 12 aldermen of Yonkers. Supreme Court Justice Gerald Nolan signed the papers at 9 p.m.; all defendants immediately received a copy. Former company attorney Harry Laragh is said to be defending the Republicans named in the lawsuit.

Sunday January 23
January 23, 1931: Ending its longest season in ferry service history, the Yonkers-Alpine ferry announces it will close until March 1.

January 23, 1945: Yonkers City Council unanimously approves a rezoning of 22 acres of Grassy Sprain Golf Course to allow the Celanese Corporation to build a million-dollar scientific research laboratory on the site.

Jan. 23, 1951; After discovering a fire in her apartment at Coyne Park Veterans Housing, June Casey rushed into the smoke-laden rooms to collect her three children. She carried the children to a window where Joseph Magariello was waiting to take them. Magariello, who lived in the building next door, spotted the fire and tried unsuccessfully to break down the door.

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For information about the Yonkers Historical Society, Sherwood House and upcoming events, please visit the Yonkers Historical Society website www.yonkershistoricalsociety.org or call 914-961-8940.

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