Anyone who lived in Westfield during the 1920s and ‘30s will remember Bob Franklin who owned and operated the Newsroom and was involved in almost every sports event or program carried on in the village. At one time he owned and managed the Jamestown Baseball Club and was largely responsible for organizing Base Ball Leagues throughout the county.
Robert Jerome Franklin was born in Buffalo in 1888 and came to Westfield in the early 1920s to run the Newsroom, which was located at the “jog” on Main Street in what is probably the oldest building on the business row. It was built about a hundred years before Bob Franklin came to town and was known as The Old Stone Tavern. Since Franklin’s time it has been operated as Jones Clothing Store, Walter Sack’s Clothing Store, Robert Shearer’s Men’s Shop and, for a short time, June Waite operated a fabric shop at the location. Presently the Bootery is located in the building.
The old Newsroom was not only a place where literally everyone stopped for the daily paper and magazines, cigars and such, but it was a gathering place for the men of the town and something was always going on at the place.
Typical of the special features was the dog-naming contest. In 1923 The Westfield Republican reported, “Robert J. Franklin, proprietor of the Newsroom conducted a novel contest at his place of business last week. Robert has seven fine setter puppies which he placed in his window and offered a cash prize of $2.50 to the person who would suggest the most suitable name for one of the puppies. The prize was won by Salvadore Orlando, who suggested the name Flash. Judges in the contest were William Marsh, Clifford Bristol and George Minton.” While the puppies occupied the front window, a checker tournament was in progress in the back part of the store and was developing a great amount of interest besides uncovering a new bunch of stars and past masters at the game. After the tournament had gone on for two weeks, Roll Northrup succeeded in beating all comers. He was awarded a fine silver medal donated by Mr. Franklin.
At about the same time The Horseshoe Pitching Season opened across the street from Mr. Franklin’s place of business at the corner of Elm and Main Streets. Mr. William Nicol was official referee.
Bob Franklin had a keen sense of humor and many tales were exchanged at the Newsroom. From time to time stuffed animals or fish would be displayed at the newsroom and the proud hunter or fisherman would spend some time in the store to receive compliments and congratulations.
After retiring from the Newsroom, Mr. Franklin in 1938 received an appointment to the position of Court Crier at Mayville and also became a deputy sheriff.
Robert Franklin was a man who gave freely to his community, especially in the field of sports – a man we remember.
Marybelle Beigh is the current Public Historian for the Town and Village of Westfield. Her office is located at 3 East Main Street in Westfield, N.Y, 14787 — inside Parkview Ice Cream Parlor. Her scheduled office hours are Monday through Friday 9 to 11 a.m.; other hours by appointment.
Beigh can be reached at email@example.com or by calling 326-2457 (office), 326-6171 (home) or 397-9254 (cell).
Photo courtesy Patterson Library, Sherman Collection
Newsroom proprietor and community personality, Robert Franklin, shown here with his wife and children Anna, James, Austin and Mary Jane, and of course, a beloved pet.