By Susie Spitler
For the Weekly Record Herald
WEST MILTON — This is a continuation of the last fall oral history recording session held Nov. 10. The session covered the 50s by members of the ‘61 and ‘62 graduating classes.
Marvin Rue covered M-U sports through the ’50s — Once A Bulldog, Always A Bulldog! Intramural sports were big then, mostly for girls so they could play and also for the boys who did not make the school teams. These included: basketball, volleyball, softball, bowling, archery and table tennis.
In the mid ’50s, Physical Ed. teacher Nellie Waymire organized a Milton GAA (Girl’s Athletic Assoc.) so they could compete in interscholastic programs. Marvin gave credit to the hard work of supporting groups of M-U sports: cheerleaders, marching and pep bands and majorettes as well as parents.
Marvin shared a long list of very impressive statistics of the football, basketball, baseball, boy’s track, GAA, volleyball and bowling teams. He also listed many outstanding athletes and their Milton accomplishments as well as those who have gone on to make their mark after graduation. This is quite an informative and amazing list!
Sharon Kauffman Hastings talked about what it was like to be a typical teen in the ’50s. She grew up east of the river on Wheelock Rd. It was a time of many rock and roll artists, mainly the “scandalous” Elvis. Instead of the radio, teens could listen to their own records, costing less than $1.00. If they did listen to the radio, it was to Gene “By Golly” Berry on WING. You could carry your transistor radio with you everywhere.
Families hardly ever ate out but eating at the West Milton Inn once in a while was a real treat, especially their $3.00 steak dinner. You could see Our Gang movies at the Roxy Theater, buy your clothing at Polaski’s (later Yount’s Clothing), get your drugstore items at Kenny’s Drugs. Their 8” TV screen allowed them to watch Mickey Mouse Club (Annette was the favorite), American Bandstand.
Entertainment was the football and basketball games. You got your ice cream at Cool’s and pizza at Vic & Mom Cassanos. Communication was a phone on a party line. School lunches were a quarter. Your mom chopped her chicken and vegetables on the same cutting board and thawed the meat on the kitchen counter.
The school day was started with prayers and the National Anthem. There were prizes in boxes of soap and cereal.
Other memories: bike rides, roller skates/keys, Omar Bakery delivery and the milkman bringing glass bottles to your door. The Fall Festival on Washington St. with tons of confetti.
Susie Miller Cummins talked about Miller’s Grove Swimming Pool and Drive In Theater. In 1927 her grandfather dug a pond so the employees of his coal business could clean up. He had a cement bottom poured and the local kids started coming by to cool off. 1931-1932 he enlarged it for public swimming. He then had trees cleared to make room for shelter houses then added bleachers so those not swimming could observe.
He passed away in 1938 and her dad Dale and his brother Bill took over. They were open Memorial Day through Labor Day. In 1951 they added two elevated boardwalks for sunbathing. Due to their church background no alcohol was ever allowed. Swim lessons were given by Del Ronicker.
They sat in the middle of several school districts: Vandalia, Milton-Union, Randolph Township and Tipp City, pulling guests from all around. They had a gravel playground and an arcade housing: a punching bag; photo booth; metal stamp machine; a pin ball machine. The favorite at the concession stand was frozen candy bars.
They opened up the drive-in theater in 1949 with 450 spaces and benches at the front and by the concession stand for those walking in. It was open weekends, had fireworks on the 4th of July and hosted an Easter Sunrise Service.
Behind the theater was the Frederick Field House which housed the M-U Band Camp in the summers.
To share memories go to two different Face Book sites. One is Miller’s Grove Was My Second Home. Jerry Pearson has written a nostalgic piece about “if I could go back for just one day I would…” The other is a newer site titled Remember Miller’s Grove.
Kay Ditmer Baker talked about the Cotillion. It was started in 1949 for grades 9-12 and provided lessons by instructors from the Arthur Murray Dance Studio in Dayton. The dress code for guys was slacks and dress shirts and for the girls skirts, nylons and flats plus formals for special occasions. They met in the school cafeteria.
They had two formal dances a year, one in December and one in the spring. 1952 or 1953 square dancing was introduced to grades 7-12. In 1956 Bob and Ruth Tinnerman became instructors.
Russell Honeyman talked about Overlook Park. In 1903 the Dayton-Piqua traction line bought fifteen acres at the north end of Milton. They built a dance hall, provided boats for rent and cleared a picnic area. In 1935 Art Holmes bought it for $500. It remained a dance hall until WWII. It was leased out and new hard wood floors were installed and it was used as a roller skating rink from 1941 to 1956.
It was owned by Virgil and Florence Pierce and their son Kenny. Virgil kept the coal furnace heated up and Florence sold tickets and refreshments. Kenny took care of the skate rental.
Some memories were that if was dimly lit with perhaps a dozen 60-70 watt bulbs, it was sometimes very hot and they had to open the windows. Some of the skates: all skate; all girls; all boys; free style; boogie bounce; and waltzes, when they would turn out the lights and have flood lights shining on a large mirror ball. Kenny would always lead the Grand March.
There were no water fountains and the restroom was outside. You sometimes had to sweep snow to get to it and it was lit with one 50 watt bulb. In 1976 Jim Sarver bought the park and has restored it for private parties.
To hear many, many more details and watch the complete session tune into the local access station, listen on You Tube, purchase a DVD or borrow one from the M-U Library. For further information call Barb at 698-6559.