In this week’s article, we will talk about volunteerism and the great organizations that we have, past and present. So many of the groups have gone, and much of their existence has been removed. There is one book that was written in 1989 compiled and edited by Betty Troskosky called “Palmyra: A Bicentennial Celebration 1789-1989.” It takes over from where the 1930 book “Palmyra and Vicinity” by Thomas Cook, fondly called “The Cook Book,” left off.
Our first visit is the “Palmyra Air Park” started by Wayne-Ontario Flying Club on land bought from Pete DeVuyst and Hoddy Forshay on the west side of Division Street, where the relatively new apartment complex is located. A white cinder block hanger was the main building, with small open sheds on the opposite side of the field that kept many of the private airplanes. It was May 5, 1946, when this new airfield opened with its first air show in October of that same year, then a second having at least 1,500 attendees. The fanfare included hamburgers and hots sold by Palmyra Fire Department and the Uniform Club of the American Legion, James R. Hickey Post No. 120. Bands, daredevils, skill flying and dog fights (the kind in the air) as well as races were the entertainment of the day.
When this bicentennial book was written, the airfield was going strong. Guest pilots were Ray Hylan, of Rochester, and W.B. Skelton, of Jamestown. Hylan owned an airport on Marsh Road in East Rochester, where now lie many residents from Monroe and Wayne counties known to us as White Haven Memorial Cemetery. The airfield was a huge part of Canaltown Days ,as the airplanes gave rides to all brave enough to take a chance. Then its property was sold and lay vacant for many years, finally giving way to the apartment complex there today.
Another staple of most communities, the Chamber of Commerce, was founded in Palmyra circa 1948 with the local businesses joining together to offer a telephone, general information line also serving as a complaint and suggestion line. The Chamber was busy with spring projects on Main Street, the Christmas Lights in December and general beautification after the long winter snows. The Palmyra Chamber disbanded after decades of dedicated and involved business. A rebirth of this was called the Macedon-Palmyra Chamber with Walworth joining the fray, and today it is called Canal Connection Chamber of Commerce.
Palmyra FD was officially formed in 1828 with three fire wardens: Benjamin Throop, Pliny Sexton and Stephen Ackley. It was their job to find and extinguish fires. A 20-man fire company was formed. By 1845, it grew to 56 willing volunteers, then came the fire truck, horse and harness and so on. The fire company after 1868 was housed in the new village hall on either side of the front door. By the late 1970s, a new building was planned on East Main Street to house the number of fire trucks and equipment, including a boat for the canal. Palmyra is still a volunteer fire company, and is called upon frequently to put out fires. There is no community that has so many fires, catastrophic fires and death related to these fires. Our fire department has had to endure and fight so many fires. Thanks to our dedicated firefighters. Next week, we will continue with our volunteers.
Historic Palmyra’s fundraising steak dinner is April 21, $25 per person with silent and live auctions. A great time with great food. 5:30 p.m. at the Alling Coverlet, 122 William St., Palmyra. Call the office to save your tickets at (315) 597-6981.