On a sweltering Labor Day in 1973, with the thermometer stubbornly registering 96 degrees, the air was thick with humidity. Orange & Rockland, the local utility company, appealed to both individuals and businesses to cut down on their energy usage. Despite the uncomfortable conditions, the extended weekend provided the perfect opportunity for leisurely home stays and shopping excursions. The retail giants in Nanuet, often referred to as “big box” stores, enticed shoppers with an array of enticing bargains on that Labor Day.
Traffic & Crime
Typical of any long weekend, the Tappan Zee Bridge experienced predictable traffic delays on both Friday and Monday nights. On a darker note, an armed robbery unfolded at the West Gate Motel bar, where the perpetrator not only made off with cash from the register but also targeted two patrons. The situation escalated when the robber confined the bartender and the customers in the refrigerator. In a contrasting scenario, a 17-year-old armed robber faced defeat when attempting to rob Traverson’s Wooden Indian. Prompt action from two South Nyack police officers, who happened to be entering the restaurant for dinner, led to the swift apprehension of the young culprit.
Meanwhile, on the national stage, President Nixon held discussions with Spiro Agnew to hash out the intricate details of the Vice President’s resignation due to corruption charges. In Texas, Storm Delia was menacingly approaching the shore. The literary world mourned the passing of J.R.R. Tolkien at the age of 81 on that very Labor Day. The New York sports scene saw both the Mets and Yankees grappling with mediocre performances. Notably, Billie Jean King, soon to engage in the iconic tennis match against Bobbie Riggs, faced a setback by losing in the fourth round of the US Open.
Tango in Paris” and Woody Allen’s “Everything You Wanted to Know About Sex.” The television offered a holiday treat as Tony Bennett and Lena Horne teamed up for a special program. In a TV pilot, beloved local resident Helen Hayes starred in “The Snoops Sisters.” The Rockland County Dog Show, held at Spring Valley High School, attracted a notable attendance of 1,201 dogs. Emerging as the victor was a blue terrier, winning hearts and accolades. The Captain’s Cove, the second of three riverside restaurants at the Nyack Lighthouse Marina announced its opening with live music Wednesday through Saturday. Rumors appeared in the Journal News about a possible move of the shops on Nyack’s Antiques Row on S. Broadway to the vacant Wilcox & Gibbs property (later Pavion).
Labor Day Deals
Amid the hustle and bustle, the larger retailers like Bamberger’s at the Nanuet Mall, Korvette’s, and Grant’s rolled out back-to-school and end-of-season promotions. Even the smaller mall retailers, such as Glynn’s Shoes, which also maintained a presence in downtown Nyack, joined in the wave of specials. Across town at West Nyack’s Robert Hall, shoppers enjoyed a mammoth sale, featuring polyester men’s sports coats at a mere $25 among a treasure trove of other bargains.
A Quiet Labor Day
In sum, Labor Day 1973 in Rockland County unfolded as a tranquil affair. It existed within the context of a pivotal year marked by the completion of the World Trade Center, the landmark Roe v. Wade ruling, the passage of the Endangered Species Act, and the official conclusion of the Vietnam War.
Michael Hays is a 35-year resident of the Nyacks. Hays grew up the son of a professor and nurse in Champaign, Illinois. He has retired from a long career in educational publishing with Prentice-Hall and McGraw-Hill. Hays is an avid cyclist, amateur historian and photographer, gardener, and dog walker. He has enjoyed more years than he cares to count with his beautiful companion, Bernie Richey. You can follow him on Instagram as UpperNyackMike