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MEMORIES OF BELLWOOD-ANTIS

Mrs. Carol (McCartney) Tutokey
Mesa, Arizona

(The following are a few of one lady’s grateful memories of growing up and going to school in our community. They provide not only a picture of how things used to be around our area, but a glimpse of how special she considers those times in her past, spent right here where we work and live. They are not supposed to comprise a chronological or all-encompassing view of the past, but rather an informal “conversation” of some of her thoughts.)

Have you ever noticed when approaching the top of the Bridge Hill the road disappears? That is quite a sensation for someone’s first time over it.

I remember when S. E. Woodhall was the store to go to for clothes and such for the simple times in which we lived. I remember when Woodhalls’ had a fire and fire sale when we all went to buy items that smelled and looked burnt. I can still smell it when I think about it. Things also smelled like mildew because of the water.

Remember Sakmar’s 5-$1.00 Store with the old wooden floors that seemed to go up and down like a roller coaster? You could actually buy things for a nickel. I wish that I could remember all the names of the people who were so important in that era.

I remember the young men, fathers and husbands who were brought home from the Second World War in coffins. Some not able to be viewed but brought home to the family living-rooms.

My most tragic memory was of Betty Ann Cook, a dear thirteen-year-old friend who had missed an entire year of school from illness. Shortly after returning to school (only a couple of weeks into the new year) she was struck by a truck after getting off the school bus in front of her home with her mother watching. I will never forget her. She was an only child and her father had just passed away in January of that year.

My fondest memories are when I was dropped off Saturday at the old movie theatre on Main Street. I believe admission was around 16 cents, but don’t quote me. Candy bars were a nickel. How amazing it was when they put in the popcorn machine that you put in your nickel, placed your bag under the opening and you received a whole bag of hot popcorn. I was fascinated with that device! Sometimes they would stop the movie and the Boy and Girl Scouts would take up collections for the March of Dimes.

Once when my Grandfather and I went to the movies the projection booth caught on fire. We all got out okay and it didn’t burn down. After the movie we usually got something to eat. One place offered hoagies that you watched them make, and when you ate it the oil and vinegar would run down your chin. Another popular choice was Killians drug store, for a dish of ice cream with chocolate syrup. They sold fancy packaged candy and magazines. I always loved the smell of that place.

My grandmother Blanche Roots’ brother, Frank Singleton, brought two Canadian Black bears from Canada in the early 40’s. He had a gas station and sold little odds and ends of groceries. The bears were Amos and Andy, and were just like little kids that they were. They dug out underneath the foundation of the building they were housed in, and would climb the telephone pole in front of the station. Other times they got out and watched my great aunt in the kitchen through the windows, or ate berries behind the house. Of course they grew up and made Singletons a very popular place to drive to on a Sunday. People came from all around to watch the bears drink soda and eat chips or anything else that folks brought or bought at the station. He was able to expand it into a sporting goods store where he sold guns and hunting equipment. Even after Amos and Andy, Frank and Margie were all gone, it was still “Where the Bears Are.”

When young Doctor Ronan came to town he set up an office on Main Street. You didn’t need to make an appointment and you were seen in the order that you came in. It was a rather large waiting room and you always went there an hour or so early before the doctor arrived in an attempt to be first. Chairs were lined up around the walls, you memorized the order in which people came in, and read years-old magazines while you waited. He was such a busy doctor and used to have to sleep in the furniture store or wherever he could to get some rest because he was constantly being called. He died of a bleeding ulcer. The other doctor was Donald Lovell, across from Schmittles Gas Station, and we were related to him. His waiting room was so small that even as a kid, you sat on the chair and put your feet on the other wall facing you. He and his family lived up stairs. He didn't give you a prescription, but poured pills into a small paper bag right out of a large bottle. Didn’t even seem to count them. Always had extras for the next time you were sick.

Jessie DiRinaldo was a beautician on Main Street. My mother would take me there to get a permanent on a machine that looked like a milking machine that as I recall gave me burnt places on my head (Good perm, though!). She also became a Girl Scout leader and held our meetings at the Methodist Church.

The teachers then were so marvelous. They were there to teach and you had better be ready to learn. The High School was half the size it is now, and the gym was where we had assemblies, gym class (of course), basketball games, farm shows, etc. The only time we wore sneakers were for gym. I should not start to mention teachers by name as inevitably I will forget someone. But they inevitably come to mind. Supervising Principal Charles Metcalf and his wife Gertrude in the library. Assistant Principal Charles Hetrick, secretaries Marilyn Burns and Mary Foust. James Bender taught me art, Robert Breslin trusted me with his life to teach me drivers education, Harriet Doran taught the fundamentals of math and then some, and Susan Sunderland, who, when you asked for a lavatory pass, timed you and you had BETTER have been in the rest room. Dorothy Jamison taught typing and bookkeeping and was a wonderful teacher. Howard Walker taught English and was one of the brightest teachers I had the honor to have. The wonderful football teams we had that made us all proud that we were from Bellwood-Antis, lead by the coaches Elwood Petchel (who all the girls had a crush on), Ted Delozier, and George Guyer in 1955.

In closing, we had great bus drivers that no one was afraid to leave their children with. Wharbenton, Oswald, Putt, Montgomery and one more (I can’t recall his name) drove through some of the worst weather and got us there in one piece. We did not have snow days unless it was an extreme storm.

Well, I will stop now for now. I feel like I have written a book, and I left the area when I was 17. I wish I knew why now.

It has been a pleasure thinking about all those good old times and wonderful people who made them so. —Carol Tutokey

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(Carol would love to hear from any of her old friends, classmates or teachers. She can be reached at: TUOKIE@aol.com)

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