A lot of very nice people have shared their memories with me either by phone, in person, by email or through this web site; however one gentleman went one step further. Leonard Chapman and I had conversed previously on the location of the Jockey Moore One Room Schoolhouse on the old Clark farm that I just could not seem to find. I got a call from Mr. Chapman two years ago to inform me that he was in town visiting family and wanted to know if I had some time to talk. I agreed to meet him and was in for a treat.
Most meetings I attend usually are sit down, sip coffee, mention one memory and let the other memories build from there similar to a snow ball rolling down a hill of snow, all the while I try to write as fast as I can. This meeting was a little different. As soon as I showed up, Mr. Chapman said, “Okay, hop in” pointing to his mini-van. We drove through the North side and the memories started. Instead of someone sitting in a comfortable chair recollecting, Mr. Chapman was pointing to things and sharing his memories.
At the end of the Veterans Bridge (or Fifth Street Bridge) he pointed to the B&O empty lot and shared that he remembered the little shop that used to sell garden plants by the big billboard at the end of the bridge. I looked at him, looked at the sign, grabbed my notebook and started writing as fast as I could trying to keep up. Someone was outside washing their car which reminded Leonard there used to be cement slabs with hoses on First Street by Spring Avenue. The area was owned by the tube mill and it was available to the mill workers so they could go and wash their car.
We drove past Merrit Brooke and he recalled the ice rinks that I have been looking for pictures of for quite a while. He shared that there were actually two rinks there at the end of Todd Avenue when they would damn up the small little creek that runs through today. The upper ice skating pond was run by the city and Buccelli’s ran the lower rink out of their house. The basement of the Buccelli house had ice skates you could rent and a place to put them on.
I had been trying to find information on the ice rink(s) for some time and was writing as fast as I could but Mr. Chapman was onto his next memory as we drove past the Ben Parker Farm. Today you would have a hard time guessing it was once a farm except the old rusty combine sitting in the field. Mr. Chapman assured me that it was once a farm, in fact a dairy farm. Ben Parker owned the dairy farm, processed his own milk and delivered in his old 1933 Ford like John Dillinger used to drive and made famous. He also shared that the Parker farm is where the circus would set up for a number of years when it would come to Ellwood City.
As we continued on down Wampum Avenue a number of other topics were discussed the old abandoned Matheny House that belonged to Joe Methany, the Matheny graveyard, who built the Spanish style home by Jockey Moore, the empty garage that was once Strabellas Garage, which foreman played Santa at the Shelby Clubhouse Christmas parties, and of course the day the earth moved. Oh by the way, inside the Matheny graveyard, according to the headstone, was a person born during the Revolutionary War.
We did eventually make it to Jockey Moore and right where he told me was the old schoolhouse. Right in the middle of the room is the hole in the ceiling where the old stove pipe chimney once exited the room. Old slate chalkboards still hung from the walls. It was a step back in time.
On the way back into town, Mr. Chapman pointed to the left and said this used to be McQuiston’s farm, then he’d point to the right, this was Phelner’s farm, point to the left Koser and so on. To read more about the farms, click here.
If my little drive down Chapman’s memory lane sparked any memories in your mind, please share below or email me at email@example.com. If you have any pictures, especially of the ice rinks, I would love to use those as well. Please email them to firstname.lastname@example.org
Thank you Mr. Chapman and I apologize it took so long to post a lot of these stories as I was hoping to get pictures to go with most of them. I apologize for not giving credit to the person who donated the picture of the old McCandless farm that was located on West Line Avenue Extension but I did not write down who it was. I believe it was Jim Spielvogel, but not positive. Whomever it was, thank you.