Past chamber of commerce

The Stewart Bell Jr. Archives at Handley Regional Library is seeking information about this photo. It was most likely taken in the 1960s. If you know the identity of anyone in this photo, call the archives at 540-662-9041 ext. 17 or email

100 years ago

George G. Polley, “The Human Fly,” thrilled an immense crowd of spectators at the Shenandoah Valley National Bank building yesterday evening by scaling the building from the ground to the roof and then capped his performance by climbing the tall flag pole on top of the building and performing various blood congealing stunts perched on top of the flag staff.

Nearly 3,000 people witnessed the performance from every point of vantage — in the streets below the man and from windows and roofs in the neighborhood.

The Human Fly uses no apparatus of any kind in performing his feats, as he relies entirely upon his superb nerve and strength in his fingers, hands and body to clamber slowly from one projection on a building to another. He usually makes use of the windows in climbing the face of a structure as the projecting arches overhead offer a handhold and he pulls himself to the top of each window and then clambers to the top of the structure.

Polley appeared for the benefit of the truck fund of the Friendship Fire Company.

July 10, 1919

Just as George G. Polley, the Human Fly, had gotten part of the way up the side of the Handley Library building last night in his intention to scale the structure a violent wind storm occurred which nearly blew the Human Fly from his perilous perch.

Several thousand persons were packed in and around the library and scattered in all directions at the approach of the storm, and Polley gave up the attempt to reach the top last night.

He will give his exhibition tonight at the library. Upon reaching the top of the building he will give a hair-raising exhibition of bicycle riding around the large dome that surmounts the front of the structure.

July 11,1919

The formal consecration of Emmanuel Chapel at Boyce, Clarke County, took place yesterday morning. The sermon was preached by the Rev. Giles B. Palmer, rector of Meade Memorial Church, White Post.

The new chapel, which is of native limestone, was built at a cost of about $5,000. It is part of Christ Church parish Millwood, of which the Rev. B. Duvall Chambers, formerly of New York, is rector.

July 14, 1919

According to the Staunton Daily News, Polley, “The Human Fly,” who climbed up several buildings here last week, had a fast and furious fight with one, Carlton May, known as the mayor of Verona, at Staunton one night last week, after leaving Winchester.

The fight is said to have been on New Street, and that it was over a remark that Mr. May made to a young lady of the Human Fly’s acquaintance. It is said the Human Fly came out victorious.

Someone also had accused Polley of being a married man; that he had a wife and two children in Richmond yet was quite a gay bird or rather a gay fly, with the girls of Staunton. Mr. Polley published an offer of $5,000 reward to anyone who can prove that he is or ever has been married. The reward has not yet been claimed.

July 15, 1919

75 years ago

Another name was added yesterday to Winchester’s lengthening scroll of heroic war dead when Mrs. Paul P. Thomson, of 107 Morgan St., received word that her son, Capt. Paul J. Thomson Jr., had been killed in action somewhere in the Pacific.

The information was contained in a telegram and carried no additional information as to when his death occurred or the particular area.

Captain Thomson was in the 25th year of his age. He was in command of a battery of the Tenth Artillery of the Second Division and had gone through the hard and tough battle of Tarawa.

In addition to his mother, who was formerly Miss Gretchen Bigelow of Worcester, Mass., Captain Thomson is survived by one sister, Mrs. Harry F. Byrd Jr.

July 10, 1944

Winchester and vicinity continued in the grip of a heat wave today, and the drought which has reached serious proportions continued unabated.

July 10, 1944

A letter received from Private Beverley Byrd, paratrooper, now undergoing treatment in a hospital in Wales for gunshot wounds in his left arm and wrist, brought the additional information that occupying a cot next to his in the same hospital was none other than Capt. Mifflin B. Clowe Jr., also of Winchester, who was recently wounded in France, and that Captain Clowe was making good headway toward recovery.

Captain Clowe had been for the past year or more in command of old company I of Winchester and his outfit was among the first to fight their way ashore when the French invasion was made June 6.

Private Byrd also made a landing June 6 with his parachute and was wounded June 9 in the Cherbourg area. Captain Clowe was wounded about the same time.

July 10, 1944

Pvt. Francis B. Williams, 23, was killed in action in Italy on June 3 according to word received by his wife.

Mrs. Mildred Sibert Williams, who has been making her home with her mother, Mrs. Ernest Windle on Orchard Avenue, received the telegram from the War Department on June 19. There were no details.

July 11, 1944

The carpenters, painters, plumbers and electricians are busily engaged putting the finishing touches on the new School Community Cannery and Lunchroom building at the Stephens City High School to get the plant ready for inspection.

The building is of brick construction 33 ft. by 55 ft., neatly plastered on the inside and with celotex ceiling.

The Stephens City community is to be commended on the fact that they are the first in Frederick County to establish facilities to provide students with a hot lunch during the school session.

July 11, 1944

Word has been received from headquarters, European theater of operations, that Pfc. Finley Whitlock, 21, of 553 Highland Ave., has been recently awarded the Order of the Purple Heart for wounds received in the invasion of France. He is convalescing at a United States Army general hospital in England.

Pfc. Whitlock, an infantry scout, landed in France on D-Day. He was the first one of his company off the boat. He blew up wire entanglements that had been placed on the beach as an obstacle to the landing troops as his unit pushed in.

July 12, 1944

50 years ago

Lawrence Ambrogi, assistant commonwealth’s attorney, was directed to draw up an emergency ordinance effective at once to prohibit “any operation that affects the weather in general, including cloud seeding from the ground or from the air” in Frederick County. Such activity will be a felony punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and a sentence of one to five years.

July 15, 1969

25 years ago

Wayne A. Koehler is the new president of the 68th Shenandoah Apple Blossom Festival. Koehler succeeds James R. Robinson, who was president of the last two festivals. Robinson is now a member of the festival’s Board of Directors, as is customary with all past Apple Blossom Festival presidents. Koehler has been a volunteer with the festival for 25 years.

July 14, 1994

— Compiled by Priscilla Lehman

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