I want to let my visitors know that I'm planning a new website, Bradford Stories, which will be
a sister-site to Back to Bradford. It is a future project that relies on you. If no stories come in,
then there will be no site.
When I first created Back to Bradford,
I had an idea for a site that was all personal stories
from people who have lived in the Bradford area. Where Back to Bradford is mostly images,
Bradford Stories will be mostly text.
I love reading 'Round the Square in The
Bradford Era and I want to provide a venue where
people can share their stories. It will be a "storage shed" of memories that visitors can read
The stories can relate to schools,
sports, stores, restaurants, hang-outs, churches, natural
disasters, parades, carnivals, dances, area vacations, neighborhoods, special people, etc.
If the story does mention other people, it can NOT reflect badly on them in any way. (slander / libel)
And please keep the story on topic (memories). This will not be a forum for modern social commentary.
Don't write your story for "publication." Write it as if it's for your children and grandchildren to read.
To help keep the site a positive place,
I will require that the stories NOT be anonymous.
The writer of the story will be known to readers and will, therefore, be held accountable for
their words. The stories will be Copyright to the writer.
The stories will be submitted to me by
e-mail and I will read them to make sure no questionable
content is included. This is a rated PG site. ;) I will also proofread and do minor editing if sentences or
paragraphs are too long for easy reading, but I will not change the meaning of the text. The stories can be
from one paragraph to a page long. Please try to keep to this limit. These are short stories, not autobiographies!
If there is a photo that helps illustrate the story, I will allow one (or maybe two:)
People of any age can submit a story. I
encourage family members to talk to the older generations
and write down their stories to share. I would also love to hear from children and teens. Adults
aren't the only ones who have "growing up" stories!
If a teacher does a class assignment
where the students have to write a short essay about growing
up in Bradford, I could put those stories in a section of their own for easy viewing.
I could also do class collections of
stories that pertain to certain graduating classes. Alumni and
school reunions could get together and participate in this way.
If you have any comments or suggestions, I would love to hear from you.
And if you have a story to tell, please send it in!
For comments, suggestions, or story submissions, please use this e-mail address:
THIS NEW WEBSITE IS ON HOLD FOR NOW. BUT IF YOU HAVE A STORY TO SHARE,
PLEASE SEND IT IN AND I'LL ADD IT BELOW.
Dad's Old Work Truck by Fran Bottone
is a short story about one of my dad's old work trucks. My dad
was Joseph A Bottone, a well-known local painter. He always
had an old work truck of some kind when my brother and I were small boys back in the early 60s.
I have fond memories of riding in them in the
front and in the back. Our mother was a little over protective and
she wouldn't let
us ride in the back, so my dad would wait till he was out of sight of our house and then pull over and let us in the back. Thanks dad!
One day in the mid 1990s, I was riding my motorcycle along the creek
bank down near the old Tuna Cross Roads junkyard
happened to look over and see a familiar sight. I parked and walked through the brush and there was one of my dad's old trucks sitting
there. He had painted a green truck red. I remember him masking it off in our driveway and painting it with his house painting equipment.
Visible faintly on the door was 'Bottone
Painting.' I stuck my head in and had a total flashback. Sights and
even the smell of the interior was
still there. You just never know when a moment like this will happen. I don't know how long I stood there just taking a trip back in time...
I took out my tool kit and removed an emblem from the front fender that I still have on the wall of my workshop to this day.
When I found this truck, it had been at least 35 years since I had seen it and probably 20 years since my dad had passed.
I was a patrol at Derrick City School
in 1984/85. Bus #26 with Daryl as the driver. I was very proud to be
a patrol & I took it seriously.
I was there to look after the younger kids, keep them safe. Help the bus driver keep a calm ship. There were 2 younger girls who always
wanted to sit with me in the front seat. To be fair, I let them rotate days.
Daryl was responsible for getting the
mail from the school & delivering it to the Post Office every
day. Daryl was not a young man, so I
volunteered to get the bag from the office & bring it down to him as he waited in the bus. That was a LONG & FAST run every morning.
All the way up those concrete steps to the building, UP the flight of stairs inside the front door, DOWN the stairs on the other side, down
the hall to the office and then ALL the way back down to the bus. WHEW! That sure did wake me up!
At the end of the school day, each
patrol would go from classroom to classroom & do their bus
call-out to gather their kids & lead them
down to the bus. My call-out was "HARRISBURG RUN!" I was always envious of the call-out for "BELLS CAMP / ROB ROY!" It
sounded so much cooler!
smell of it is in my lungs,
in my veins, in my memories.
It has been breathed deep
since I was a child
and over the decades it has
soaked into my being.
Back then, the odor was heavy,
hanging in the air like a perfume
only the earth could procure.
It surrounded our house
as the goldenrod did,
mingling its scent
with the flowering fields.
Taking walks up Glycerin Road
would reveal open pools of brown goo,
autumn leaves stuck to the surface,
bugs landing with no hope of escape.
The pipes crisscrossing our hill
were still in use back then,
chugging back and forth, barking
out the language familiar
only in oil country.
Visitors experienced the unique flavor
of the water from our well,
but only in the driest summers
could we taste the deep and murky dregs
being pulled up from the rock pool.
For years now the hills have been silent
and that certain smell has faded.
The rusting tanks
stand abandoned in the fields
and the jacks wait quiet.
There are laws now forcing landowners
to pull pipes and plug old oil wells.
And so, acre by acre,
my thoughts are displaced
and the landscape
of that pungent odor is changed forever.
But I can still sense it lingering,
having been breathed into my heart.
The Zippo Ski Slope by Dave Rathfon
I'm sure many people remember the Zippo
Ski Slope. It’s location was on the hillside behind the outfield
fence of the Bradford Senior
League baseball field at the Callahan Recreation Park.
In the heyday of the Ski Slope, they
had a pulling rope that would pull you to the top and lights on the
poles to ski at night, which many
people did. It also had a ski jump on the left side, which only the brave would use.
In the 1960's the pulling rope and
lights were gone and only a very few would ski. It was used for
sledding then, except when a few
skiers would chase you away.
Around 1965, the kids from the
neighborhood would meet and have races down it seeing who would win
or go the farthest, sometimes
sliding across the field at the bottom and landing in the Bennett Brook. The hill was pretty bumpy, sometimes we just couldn’t hang on,
ending up with cut lips and bad bruises. We would bring our sleds, toboggan, cardboard, anything that we could slide on.
Then, one Christmas we got a silver
saucer with two hand straps. My older brother had to just try that on
the Zippo. All I remember that
day was at the slope, him starting out and going at what we thought a blazing speed, flipping head over heels a few times and the bright new
saucer making it to the bottom having a large dent and his gloves stuck in the two straps on the side. It took him a few minutes to get up. I
don’t think the silver saucer ever came with us again.
At the turn of the century, Bennett
Brook had been the location of what we would call today a kind of
health spa where people would come
and soak in the cold spring feed of the brook. At one time near the now Swimming Pool area of the brook, you could see sections of a side-
walk that ran next to the brook, which led to what I was told were the pools to soak in.
yea, the Zippo slope was used in later years for what was not so much
fun. During football season, when practice was held in the baseball
outfield, some of the coaches would have us run up the hill and pick a certain flower and bring it back when we messed up a football play. The
coaches also got a kick out of which seven guys could push the heavy old pipe blocking sled up the hillside the farthest. Not all was bad. For
pushing it the farthest, we got to skip the wind sprints at the end of practice!
Working for an Old-Time Oil Producer by Dave Rathfon
It was the summer of 1969 and I was in
need of some gasoline money. A friend told me about a job that was
opening up on an oil lease in the area
because the man who owned the lease was dangerous and my friend was quitting after only a week. I was leery, but applied and got the job.
The oil lease, which was located off PA
Route 646 and NY Route16 in the Knapp Creek area, was owned and
operated by a man named Thomas B.
Martin. Later, I found out that he was a relative of my Great Grandmother Nora Alice Martin Maltby.
My friend said, "Whatever you do,
don’t go into the Pump House when he starts it up in the morning",
which I didn’t, because all you could see is a large
flash of fire, then Tom would come out and say "that’s done."
My job was to team up with a man from
Olean, NY, and pull old pipe tubing and sucker rods from
non-producing oil wells. The equipment we used was
an 1899 tractor for the pulling machine power, in which the brake didn’t hold very long, an old pipe wagon with metal wheels, and other oil well tools from
the turn of the century.
One day I said to old Tom, "we can
smell gas coming from the oil well," he said that’s nothing as
he came over and pulled out his old Zippo lighter and lit it
over the pipe with a small flash of fire. He said "see!" When I turned around, I noticed the guy from Olean about 15 feet away. Lucky that day, I guess.
That was a long, hot summer and I found out how hard it was to work on an oil lease and be a roust-a-bout.
I believe that Tom Martin’s brother
was Clifford Martin, another Oil producer from this area, who was in
the nitroglycerin explosion in the Marshburg area on
Sept. 19, 1941. That story can be found on the Bradford Landmark Society website under the Historical Data section.
Old Tom Martin died on April 8, 1980.
You tend to respect
the old-time oil producers of times gone by. Its easy to forget these
days, when all you have to do
is go to your auto service department for an oil change.