Wednesday, July 20, 2011


By John J. Creedon
Highland Boy School
            School bells are ringing and happy children (at least most of them) are beginning another year learning their ABC’s and other assorted subjects in thousands of schools throughout the country, but not so in Bingham Canyon.
            For the first time in the memory of any old timer left around, there is no school in Bingham of any kind.  We became aware of this trend a few years back when the elementary school at Copperfield closed its doors and the students were transported to Bingham and Copperton.  Next came the demise of the Highland Boy School and now this September, Bingham Central has ceased to be.
Copperfield School
            There is great sadness in a community when the sound of children is gone and when you see the empty school and the naked flag pole without Old Glory standing starkly in the vacant lot, that just last year echoed with the squeals and shouts of children playing.  You feel a pang of longing for the old days.
            No one seems to remember a school in Bingham before the little one room building that set at the corner of Main and Markham, where the Canyon Hall later was built.  Some have a faint recollection of hearing of some other site of a small school, but most agree that the one at Canyon Hall was the first recognized school.  It was here that students in the 1890's and into the first decade of the Twentieth Century learned their reading, writing and arithmetic.
Highland Boy school
            In those early days the headmaster or principle was over the entire school.  It seems the eighth grade was the ultimate in education for most in that day.  It was last year that our sister school in the Jordan District celebrated its fiftieth year of high school, and. I have found evidence that the first graduation class in Bingham High dated back to 1912, so probably 1962 would be our Golden Jubilee year.
            No one seems to remember when the old Central school was built.  It stood in the center of a lot where the Civic Center stands.  The building was stone and brick and had a little cupola on top with a bell.  This was the school I first attended in 1912.  To the south of old Central was the high school building and while I was going to school they began the gymnasium building to the north, with calss rooms on the top floor and a swimming pool in the basement.  This building was completed just before the first World War and marked the beginning of basketball in Bingham.
Bingham High later Bingham Civic Center
            Until 1925, when the new high school building, Bingham Central now, was completed the first, second and third grades used the old Central building, the fourth, fifth and sixth were on the top floor of the gym, and the seventh, eighth and high school used the old high school building. When the new high school in Bingham was occupied in 1925, the old Central School was abandoned and torn down and the first six grades used the old high school.  School was discontinued on the top floor of the gym at the same time.
            In the 1930's the present Bingham High was constructed at Copperton and the school buildings in the Civic Center lot were vacated for school purposes and the old high school was torn down, leaving just the old gym standing.  The first six grades then moved up the street where they held forth until this September.
Bingham High School  1930
            Our schools were in a unique position in Bingham.  All traffic passed the schools and we watched the ore wagons and sleds laden with their precious cargoes wend their way to the loading dock at the Rio Grande Depot.  We were fascinated by the skill of the “skinners” as the drivers of these vehicles were known.  It took great skill to handle six and eight horses with a set of reins for each pair of horses.
            Runaways were frequent and it is to the credit of these men and the children that there is no record of a fatal accident on the narrow streets.
            We watched the transition of the horse to the automobile and were equally fascinated by the chugging of the horseless carriage and I can remember some of the comments of the old timers that the auto would never succeed, at least in Bingham where the grades were so steep.
Lark School
            Another thrill afforded us was the clang of the fire bell and the sight of the firemen running up or down the street with the hose cart.  Sometimes they were lucky enough to charter a horse to pull the cart.  It was tricky business to hold back the cart heavily laden with hose and nozzles, when going down the hill.

By John J. Creedon
            Fall, the prettiest season of the year is here and the mountains are alive with brilliant colors.  The first touch of frost has turned the mountainside into a maze of bright yellow and red leaves intermingled with the dark green of the evergreens.
            All of this beauty looks down on a scene of desolation as old Bingham continues each day to move closer to its ultimate end.  The empty spaces where the homes and other structures are being town down become wider and more numerous.
Canyon Hall later Canyon Motor
The old Canyon Hall is down to its foundation and all that is left of it is the happy memories of gay times within the wall.  What a place it was to dance to the spring floor that never tired you no matter how long or strenuously you danced.
Gone too is the Federal Apartment building, built many years ago to house the post office after it moved from the Society Hall building.  For a short time it housed an automobile firm, Fonnesbeck Motor who handled the Dodge and Plymouth line.  It was one of the most popular apartment buildings in town and was well kept up by genial Jim Elliott, who was the caretaker.  He did a fine job with the limited allowance he had to work with.
            The Alexander Apartments, long a popular spot for renters has also fallen to the wrecking crew and all that remains to remind one of a big building there is the retaining wall in the rear.
Dimas's Bingham Grocery 
            Gaping holes where displays of merchandise formerly held the spotlight, greet the eye up town in the Bolognese Block.  It was here that A. Goffen had his jeweler shop and later barber shops operated by Bruce Ivie and Andy Savich.  In the early “Twenties” there was a group of clothing stores in this block.  I recall Levitan and Appleman, two of the men who operated these stores.  Later Dr. Scussel filled his prescriptions here to be succeeded by John Tangaro.
            The oldest and longest tenant of this block was James Up-to-Date Store where so many of us would gather and chat with Uncle Mark James and later on Earl and Et.
            It was in this block and the Senate building that Ben Lewis and C.A. Eliades had their jewelry shops.  How many of you remember the big ring hanging out over Main Street advertising Ben Lewis’ store and the big clock with his name on the face?
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            The little buildings next to the Standard Garage have been leveled and as I looked the site of these over, I thought of the earlier days when the site was to be the home of the Union Hall. The foundation and sub floor was laid, but that was about as far as it ever progressed.  For years the old boat, the Santa Maria, used in the Columbus Day parade, reposed on this platform.  This building was the dream child of E.G. Locke, regarded by many as the first union organizer in Bingham.
            There seems to be a difference in opinion of Mr. Locke’s aims, but many who knew him and his problems feel he was a victim of brutal persecution for his views.  He was blackballed by the mining companies and practically run out of town.  At that time it was almost a criminal offense to belong to a labor union and the big companies cracked the whip in no uncertain manner.  Maybe the IWW or “Woblies” as they were called were a bit radical but they had a hard heartless group of big business to contend with and out of their efforts the labor movement began to take its rightful place in placing the dignity of man above or at least on a level with the dollar sign.

            E.G. Locke was a member of the Fire Department and was noted for his oratory ability. He had a flair for writing poetry and had many ditties relating to the doings about town published in the Bulletin.  His most loyal and constant companion was a Great Dane dog.  They were a familiar sight on Main Street.
Prigastis and Apostal Grocery
            One more casualty in the closing of stores is Christ’s Market at 106 Main.  Christ Apostal has called it quits after thirty-five years in business.  Chris has contributed much to Bingham in carrying his patrons over the rough spots of depression, strikes and layoffs and has raised a fine family.  His sons, Chris, Jr. and George were prominent in athletic circles in high school and college.
            In talking to Chris the other day, he said he was saddened to leave Bingham and the people he loved.  He had enjoyed his stay in Bingham and was leaving because his business had all but left.  He commented on the role of the Independent grocer in todays business.  Chris said when he started business there were eighteen wholesale houses to deal with and take advantage of this competition.  Now there are only two wholesale outlets and you take what they have to offer. The little man has a tough time to compete with the super market.
            We wish you well, Chris and Luella Aposal, and trust you will enjoy a well earned rest.

By John J. Creedon
            After thrity-five years of serving the people of Bingham and visitors fine meals, both in quality and quantity, genial George Wells has called it a day and is taking a well earned rest from his labors. He is visiting his daughters and their families in Washington and Hawaii and will probably end his vacation in Colorado with other members of his family.  George has certainly earned a rest, for he has put in long hours six days a week for many years over a hot range in the cinfiend area of a restaurant kitchen.
George Well's kitchen
            George has been a vital part of Bingham for so long that it will be strange without him.  I always marveled at the speed and efficiency he sent about his work.  To see him break eggs with one hand and mix up the batch of hotcake batter or a salad was a sight that cannot be forgotten.
            He always had the time to chat a moment with friends and was ready to make a bet on a ball game or fight or other sporting events.  George was a true sportsman and an ardent outdoor man.  He loved to fish when he could get the time to do it and was always ready to listen to the tall tales of other fishermen and sportsmen.
            George first came to Bingham about 1926 when he worked for his brother-in-law.  He worked later for Frank Carr and when John Feraco opened his café, George was the cook.  For several years George and Della and Jenny worked as a team in the Carr Fork Café.  For more than fifteen years he has operated his own café in the Feraco building.
Well's Family gathered for Marillyn's marriage
            It was a treat to have one of George’s steak dinners, topped off with a slab of apple or cherry pie, baked by George himself.  Too bad these pie companies cannot make pie that has some taste or flavor.  Too often the paper plate has as much taste as the crust. We wish you well George and hope that you enjoy a long well earned rest.
            The places for the fellows to bum around are getting fewer and fewer and this last week another hangout has closed, Gogo’s shoe store.
            Steve has not been with us for many years, but in the short time he has been in Bingham, he has made a host of friends and with his easy going friendly manner his store was a haven for friends to gather and shoot the breeze a bit.
            Gogo will open a store in West Jordan and will not be too far away from his old buddy, John Adamek.  Good luck, Steve, in your new location.
            Last week I had the good fortune to meet up with a couple of former Binghamites and spent a few minutes recalling old times. 
Chipian's Grocery
Sergio Alvarez, one of our former star athletes at Bingham High was home for his regular annual visit with his mother, Teresa Urbina.  Sergio is an example of what can be accomplished if you have the will to succeed and the support and devotion of good parents.  It was not an easy task for him to graduate from the Utah State University and go into teaching, but he made the grade and is a credit to Bingham and his mother.  He coached and taught in a high school in Idaho and six years ago he transferred to Las Vegas, where he teaches Spanish and he informed me that beginning this year he was coaching baseball in addition.
            Always a perfect gentleman, Sergio spoke glowingly of Bingham and the training he received there from his teachers and coaches and the friendly attitude of it people.  He said he was saddened to see the old town going, but that he would come back as long as there was any of it left.
            It is so refreshing to meet someone like Sergio, cognizant of his humble background and grateful for the opportunity of making good, and most of all—not forgetting the one who has stood by him always—his mother.  What a fine example of a real man!
Bingham Hospital with Doctor Paul Richards
            I met Dr. Frazier in the museum the other day and we had a pleasant few minutes of reminiscing among the old pictures and of a happier Bingham.
            Doc is tanned and healthy looking and seemed so proud of showing his visiting friend the real Bingham in pictures.
            No matter where they go or how famous or successful they become, a real Binghamite never seems to lose that old feeling.

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