Wednesday, July 20, 2011


By John J. Creedon
US Town first town to fall
            Some years back, during the days of the “Noble Experiment” known also as the 18th Amendment or Prohibition, we had a tavern owner by the name of Jack Creighton.  Jack being an Irishman was both friendly and witty and had a host of friends.  During the term of one extra zealous Sheriff of Slat Lake County, who was going to dry up the town and reform all of us. Deputies were sent out to raid our taverns and confiscate their wares and close them up one by one.
            In due time Jack’s place was raided and found to be selling something stronger than Becco or Necco, Volstead’s answer to mans’ insatiable thirst, and his establishment was padlocked. Jack had a large sign painted and placed in his window draped in black with the wording: “One by one the Roses Fall.”
            I am reminded of this sign as I see the buildings up town fall to the battering ram and bulldozer of the wrecking crew.  There was some hope in Jack’s case, as he opened again, as good as new and with more and better merchandise, but our buildings are gone for good, to rise no more.
            Each of these buildings had an interesting history and an important part in the life of our town, so I will try and recall some of the highlights of events that took place and the people who were part of it.
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            Carr Fork Bar at 6-1/2 Carr Fork was occupied by Bunker and Jimpson around the early 1900's.  It was later known as the Thompson Block, owned by Frank Thompson family.  I remember when Otto Kappel had a tailor shop there and where he wrote his little paper taking to task various individuals and groups, especially the politicians and lawyers.  I recall one passage from his sheet, “Some men get callouses on their hands from work, some on their feet from work, our Town Clerk sits in the City Hall.
            The county jail was in this building for a short time, when there was a misunderstanding with city government.  It consisted of an iron cage about eight feet square.
            In the Mid-twenties there was a boarding house on the ground floor run by Mrs. Roper. This was to be the setting for one of the most gruesome murders in the town’s history.  Nursing a fit of jealousy, one of the boarders by the name of Blackburn laid in wait in the Carr Fork garage for Miss Nelson, a waitress at Ropers, who had spurned his courtship, and cut her throat from ear to ear.  He was sentenced to life in prison and was released a few years ago.  That sentence was very unpopular in our community.
            Bill Goris had his barber shop there for many years.  One of the features on his sign was, Bath with hot water, towel and soap for two bits.  Last one to occupy this part of the building was the Copper Trading Post.
            Probably the best known and remembered was John Feraco’s Café where the finest meal, both in quality and quantity was featured.  I can see now as clear as yesterday, the trio that made Feraco’s famous, Della, Jennie and John with their friendly smiles and hearty laughs.  No wonder it was a pleasure to eat thee, with good food, expertly cooked and served by those wonderful girls and with John always on hand to help out and join in the conversation with his inimitable manner of speaking.
            Gone too is the building at 505 Main, where one of Bingham’s first clothing stores was operated by Steve Hays.  Several stores were operated in this building, the last I remember was Herman Ritter’s Outlet.
            Next door was the Stage Line office where the buses have operated for many years.  This building was a saloon in the early days and according to old timer, was owned by Jacob Newman. I remember it as the Liberty Theater where I first saw Eddie Polo in a movie serial. After the Liberty closed, it was a saloon again, but I don’t recall the name of it, but one event happened that was amusing but could have been tragic.  A somewhat roused miner put some blasting caps in the pot bellied stove and when the Chinese janitor went to stir up the fire, the caps exploded and blew stove and Chinaman out through the single wall.  He was badly hurt, but the saloon was a shambles.
            Down the street at 497 was the Senate Bar, where the best whiskey in town was dispensed (not being of age at the time these comments are based on hearsay).  This bar featured Warwick Whiskey and was run by a Mr. Jackson.  He did not allow any drunks or rowdies in his place.  It had the traditional swinging doors and I remember a time or two when my brothers and I shoved a bucket and a dime under the door and got our bucket of suds to take home.
            Many stores opened and closed in the Senate building.  Ben Lewis and C.A. Eliades had jewelry shops, Art Tremelling had a tailor shop and Jack Lutzger ran a clothing store.  Later “Panco” George Nacheff had a shoe repair shop and T.P. Durrant a photo studio.
            For those who enjoy a touch of nostalgia, I shall in the coming issues of the Bulletin, try to recal to mind the people, places and events that made history in Bingham Canyon.  Join me and travel with a boy that grew up in Bingham and loved every minute of it–down Memory Lane.

Goodbye Princess
 By John J. Creedon
            “Backward, turn backward, O time in thy flight, Make me a little boy, just for tonight”
            Forty years ago, three small boys were among the large crowd at the premier performance at the new Princess Theater, and last Sunday evening these three met again in the foyer of the theater and reminisced about that exciting night so long ago.  I must admit that through misty eyes of Joe Brisk and Harold Chesler.  It is not easy to say adieu to an old friend, even if it is just a building of concrete and plaster.
            Without fanfare of any sort, the Princess Theater passed into oblivion September 25th with its final show, witnessed by just a few of the faithful.
            For forty years, the Princess has been the center of entertainment in the Bingham area with a variety of events taking place in the history of Bingham.
            I remember well the excitement and anticipation during the building of the Princess.  On its completion it was judged the ultimate in theaters in the state with the exception of one or two in Salt Lake City.  The building was owned and built by George Chandler, on the site of the old Bingham Livery.
Highland Boy has fallen
            What a gala opening night sometime back in 1920.  The theater was packed and the picture was “The Valley of the Giants” with Wallace Reid starring.  The new Princess was a far cry from the old narrow, single aisle show that stood near the present Copperfield tunnel.  It was equipped with the newest and latest devices for movie viewing, and through the years the operators of the Princess have kept pace with the improvements in their field.  The first talking picture was shown in 1930 and new projectors and screens were installed as the old one became obsolete.
            In 1954 in connection with the Galena Days celebration commemorating the Fiftieth Anniversary of the incorporation of Bingham and the beginning of the Utah Copper Company, the theater was completely renovated including a huge mural of the Utah Copper and Bingham.
            Since that first picture, “Valley of the Giants”, thousands of movies have been shown to movie fans in the district.  I remember in the early days of the Princess, the Clays girls, Ada and Ruth operated the player piano to accompany the pictures.  The mood of the picture was carried out by the piano.  Who can forget the stirring music signifying the charge of the cavalry, arriving just in time to save the wagon train or the fort from the attacking Indians, or the sad refrain during “over the Hill to the Poor House.”
            Mrs. Nellie Jones played the piano too and we had bits of vaudeville supplementing the movies.  John Culleton would play the violin and Vera Chiara would sing.  Several amateurs performed on the stage at various times.
No more Galena Days
            The high school plays were presented in the Princess and I remember in my senior year playing the role of Nick King, burglar, in our drama, “A Full House”.  Later that year our graduation exercises were held there.  This was to be the last one, as the new high school was completed the next year in 1925, and the commencement program was held in the school auditorium thereafter.
            Political rallies were an important part of our community life in those by-gone days, when the city offices were fought for with much vim and vigor by the rival candidates.  Oratory rose to great heights, especially during the campaigns of Dr. Straup and Dr. Flynn.  I can still se Sr. Flynn leaning over the footlights and point his finger at Dr. Straup, and calling him “Little Napoleon” and a few other choice names.
            At the next rally, Dr. Straup had his day and made his charges and name calling at the expense of Dr. Flynn.  Those were exciting days and votes were fought for vigorously.  Some very strange alliances were formed in city elections.  Party lines were crossed and politicians who opposed each other in national and state elections were buddies in the city voting.
            The only man who could stand up to Dr. Straup and slug with him verbally and hold his own, was Dr. John F. Flynn, and Irishman with a ready wit and a great flair for showmanship.  Dr. Flynn had a full length mirror in his office and he would practice his speeches and mannerisms in front of that mirror.
            In the stirring election, Dr. Straup saw his party swept into office and there was a general house cleaning in the city administration from top to bottom.
            Irregularities in election practices were the rule in the bygone day.  On election day the town full of strangers that were not seen since last election.  Many of the tin horn gamblers and tainted ladies that had left for greener pastures would return to support their candidates and it is said that they would sometimes vote in both districts.  There was always a few votes cast from the cemetery, at least some of the names on the voting list coincided with the names on the gravestones.
            Another policy generally accepted was former residents of Bingham voting in the elections, although they had moved to other parts of the district and county.  As long as they did not register in their new home, they had a right to vote.  What a commotion it caused when this right was challenged by election judges and stopped for good.
Copperfield is about to fall
            The Princess was the scene of many Fourth of July speeches and free shows for children, Christmas parties and war bond drives.
            One spring when the creek flooded, the water rose and washed the stage of the theater out into the seating area.  The firemen and other volunteers worked long hours with poles to try to clear the creek bed so the floor waters would subside.
            Guiding the destiny of the Princess, beginning in 1917 were Ted Chesler and Max Brisk. Later Mr. Chesler became the sole owner and after his death, his son Harold, carried on.  At the last performance, the sons of these two pioneer movie men were present to write the finis to 43 years in the entertainment business.
            I shall always be grateful for the opportunity of growing up in Bingham, truly a melting pot of humanity.  It is true that most mining towns were largely made up of different races and creeds, but here we were so compact.  We all used the same schools, the same churches.  We went to the same theaters and the same entertainments.  We even used the same street.  (Of course we only had one to begin with.)
            This closeness produced a tolerance and understanding between people from different countries and places, that is not present in larger cities.
            Two of our native daughters, who have made their mark in their chosen profession, Ivy Baker Priest and Dr. Lenore Richards have told me on several occasions that the background and environment of Bingham was an important part in their relations with the public and gave them a broader understanding of the many problems that confront all of us from time to time.
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            I remember well of my first friends—boys and girls of many nationalities, Swedes, Finns, Greeks, Italians, Slavonians, English and Irish.  We had no racial problems as I can recall.  We all played together and we even picked up some of the languages of our friends.
            Most of the Austrians and Slavonians and a good portion of the Italians settled in Highland Boy; the Greeks, Japanese and Englishmen in Upper Bingham.  Carr Fork was the home of the Swedes and Finns, and Upper Main had the bulk of the Italians.
            It was considered unwise in those early days to venture into new territory alone.  You would probably run into one of the gangs in that particular neighborhood and get initiated.  This happened to my brother, Dan, the first day  were in Bingham.  Mother sent him down town to the Bingham Merc. for a piece of stove pipe.  One hour later he returned with the black stove pipe and a pair of eyes to match.  He had been initiated into the Carr Fork gang.
Saltas Store in Copperfield
            Mother ran a boarding house for the railroad men and took care of the B&G dormitory too.  Life was never dull in a boarding house in those days, with boomer railroad men and miners continually on the move.  I was fascinated by the tales of some of these men and would take in every word they would say.  They had been around, or at least they talked like it.  Some had sailed the seven seas, worked in every railroad in the country, or worked in many of the famous mining camps in the West.
            Tex Marshall, a tall lean Texan was one of my favorites.  He would talk in Spanish and throw fits for my benefit.  He remained a good friend of mine until his death last year.  “Society” Brown was another character I remember so vividly.  He was a dandy for sure.  Wore a derby hat and carried a cane.  He worked at the B&G depot.  One Christmas he paid mother his board bill with twenty-five one dollar bills, each tied with a pretty red ribbon and in a fancy jewel case.
Terrace Heights
            Another character I remember was a pompous old gentleman, named Howard, but called General Noga.   My mother she said he reminded her of Noga, the hero of the Russian-Japanese war.  He disliked children, and especially me.  I was bribed to slam the door whenever I came in the house during dinner hour, by Tex and some of the other men as this displeased him very much. I made quite a bit of money, as I was most cooperative in making life miserable for him.  My neighbors at the B&G were all Japanese.   I made many good friends among these people and one in particular, K. Seow.  He was a dear friend to my family for many years and when my father died in 1926, Seow cried as hard and as long as any of us.  He called him Poppa and told the railroad men, he was Irish, because Mr. Mike was Irish and his Poppa.  When I lost my mother and my brothers, Seow was one of the first there to try to comfort me.
Copperfield and Dinkeyville
            The cleanliness of these Japanese was amazing.  They had a big wooden tub with an iron outside and they would build a fire under this tub to heat the water for their bath.  Several of them would get in the tub together and they would sit by the hour and read their papers in that peculiar singsong way of theirs.
            They ate at a long table and the main food was rice.  They had a sauce that came in wooden tubs, that was poured on the rice and fish to supplement the diet of rice.  I guess every family in town had one of these tubs at one time or another with flowers or plants growing in them.
            New Years was always a big day at the Jap camp.  They would pound out a paste of rice in a hollow tree trunk, using a big wooden mallet and little cakes of this rice would be offered up to Budda.  Each man had a little shrine to Budda near his bed.  They slept in a large room and each man had his section separated with a curtain.  The huge table in the dining room would be heaped with all kinds of food—lobster, crab, shrimp, turkey, roasts of meat and fruit of all kinds and plenty of Sake to drink.  Everyone was welcome.  Some of the guests, unfamiliar with that potent drink, Sake, would have a tough time making the stairs to the dormitory or the tram.
Our famous Doctor Richards

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