I have very fond memories of growing up in Butler. I lived most of my childhood years in the West End on Mercer Street. I remember playing outside until the street lights came on then we had to head home. Using stones and drawing hopscotch on the sidewalk. Roller skating on the sidewalk with a skate key on a shoelace around our necks. Having the City Police block off Ridge Avenue in the winter so we could sled ride. The City Fireman flooding the tennis courts beside Broad Street School in the winter so we could ice skate. Wading in the creek catching minnows. Catching tadpoles at the pond behind the City swimming pool, taking them home and watching them grow into frogs.
I remember during the polio epidemic how we had to come inside during the afternoon and lie down for an hour and rest so we didn't get polio. People thought flies carried polio and everyone had those ugly fly strips hanging everywhere—to this day I hate flies. We walked, rode our bikes or took the city buses everywhere. Neighborhood Nights at the city playgrounds. How hard we worked at Broad Street playground for the special night and how much fun to walk all over the city to the other playgrounds. How each playground had their teams and we would compete with the other playgrounds. I was never good enough to be on a team but I was the city Jack Champion one year and had a little cardboard plaque to prove it.
I remember when the Fair Grounds were on the site of the current high school. We could sit on our front porch on Friday night in the summer and hear the stock cars racing. When the circus would come to town we would go to the railroad yard on Monroe street and watch them unload the animals, and then they would parade them on Jefferson Street to the Fair Grounds with all the elephants in a row, trunk to tail.
I remember hobos as they were then known coming to our back door and asking for something to eat. They always were alone, always came to the back door and my mother always gave them a full meal and they would leave with a bagged lunch. My mother told me they were men trying to find work and were going from town to town on the trains. The man who would come to sharpen knives with his wheel he worked with a pedal. The Pickle Brothers picking up trash. I remember going to the movies on Saturdays at the Capitol, Penn, Majestic or Butler Theaters. Summers at the Butler City swimming pool and the water shows. As some of you may know. my parents owned the contract for the refreshment stand at the pool and also one at Stoughton's Beach so we were at a swimming pool every day from before Memorial Day until after Labor Day.
Riding with my mother to pick up my father at the end of his shift at Armco along with the 3:30 PM whistle that would blow. I remember as a Brownie Scout going on a field trip and taking a train from the station under the Wayne Street Viaduct to Pittsburgh to see the first 3D movie at a big downtown theater. The Inn Confectionary and Portman's Dairy after school for vanilla cokes, Cummings for a root beer float, hot dogs with everything and fries with gravy at the Hot Dog Shop, basketball games in the high school gym, the Golden Tornado band marching from the high school down Jefferson Street to Pullman Park for a football game, after the game walking back up Jefferson Street to Tumble Inn.
I remember Main Street being vibrant and bustling with people. Troutmans, Jaffees, Woolworths, Offitts, Grants, Murphy's, Crawford's, Millers Shoes, Alands Toy Store, a bank and a police officer on most corners. The big huge bus station on Cunningham Street, the air raid siren test every Monday morning and how we practiced air raid drills in school.
I find as I get older I want to reminisce but have trouble finding someone to listen so thanks for listening.