Saturday, January 21, 2012

"Bovina Center, My Home Town" - Part XII

This is the ninth of a series of entries from the script used on April 21, 1955, when citizens of Bovina presented a pageant of the town's history - "Bovina Center, My Home Town."  Though I'm not 100% sure, it appears the script was written by Vera Storie and her brother Fletcher Davidson.  The items in brackets refer to the tableau of local citizens acting out parts of the story.  [Sections I and II are in the May 21 blog entry, sections III and IV are in the June 21 blog entry, section V is in the July 21 entry, section VI is in the August 21 entry, section VII is in the September 21 entry, section VIII is in the October 21 entry, sections IX and X are in the November 21 entry, and section XI is in the December 21 entry.]   

XII.     Some Accomplishments of Later Years

At one time in town there were twenty cemeteries, many of them being private burial places, some of which are still to be found on the farms in [the town]. Later when the Reformed and the United Presbyterian Churches were built, a cemetery was built next to each of them.  In 1853 our present cemetery, one of the most beautiful in this vicinity, was completed, the first burial being made on October 30, 1853.  Elbridge T. Gerry donated the iron gate at the entrance.  In the year 1910, many improvements were made, including the income of the cemetery; and in 1917 the vault was built, all of these improvements, largely due to the efforts of J.W. Coulter and Alexander Hilson. 

The first library in town was located in the basement of the United Presbyterian Church and served for years the entire community.  The present library occupies a building donated by J.W. Coulter and was opened in 1917.  The Gerry family has donated money for books and still does furnish the library with the daily paper and several magazines. 

The water system, promoted principally by J.W. Coulter, Andrew Doig, and Alexander Hilson, was built on 1913 and now supplies the town with pure spring water, all the water passing through a charcoal filter and chlorinal system.

The fire department was organized in 1915.  [*19-Fire Dept]  No engine was required for pumping or driving water through the hose system to extinguish fires as there was a 60-70 pound pressure to the square inch on each hydrant.  Recently company has purchased a jeep and fire truck in order to serve all parts of the town in case of fire and to pump water from artificial pounds to be found in almost every farm.  The first officers of the company were Alex Myers, chief engineer; John R. Aitken, the foreman of the Hose Company; and David Currie, the foreman of the Hook and Ladder Company.  Today’s fire chief is Floyd Aitkens. 

The Bovina Center Cooperative Creamery was established in 1902, milk that time coming from 67 dairies and totaling 22,000 pounds.  It was rebuilt recently and includes all the modern conveniences. 

Electricity, which did away with the kerosene lamps and lanterns in town, was introduced in the year 1927.

“All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy.” – therefore, the hard working people of this town in 1928 felt that the time had come for them to make a reality a dream which had long been near to their hearts.  They wanted a recreation hall where all could engage in any activity which they enjoyed.  Therefore, everybody put himself to work.  The ladies pieced quilts which they sold, they held bake sales, they sold subscriptions to the Delaware Express, they produced home talent shows, and they even helped the men to put on a clambake.  And how the feathers flew for a day or so in Bovina!  On the night of the bake the heavens opened and poured down rain, but the spirits of the Bovina folks were not crushed.  On went the bake, and in came the dough.  And finally after several years of hard work the hall was built and dedicated.  Many of our form residents also assisted us in this project, donating large and small sums of money.  Once again the Gerry family generously gave us their help.  Anna Scott, who was born and spent her girlhood here, donated the money to build the dressing rooms, to put a floor in the cellar, and to equip the kitchen.  Mrs. Sloan Archibald donated the velvet window drapes and stage curtain, and Mrs. Alexander Hilson and Mrs. John Irvine donated the track on which the state curtain moves.  These are but a few of those who helped.  The night of the dedication in the summer of 1930 was a gala affair, many of the former residents returning to celebrate with us.  And so Strangeway’s Hall over Thomas’ Garage was left to dream of all the gay times that it so well remembered and to be forgotten just as had the hold town hall years before, the old hall that was once located in Lester Hoy’s house recently dismantled because the flash flood of 1953 had taken it from its foundation. 

For a number of years each summer the town held an Old Home Day which was usually largely attended by her former citizens.  A parade with floats was one of the big events of the forenoon; then a picnic dinner was served after which children’s contests and games were held.  Then came talks from some of the former residents, always an enjoyable part of the day’s program.  The last attraction of the daytime was a baseball game played by neighboring towns – usually Delhi and Andes.  And last of all, the climax of the day came with the evening’s home talent entertainment.  War, automobiles, movies, and the radio finally crowded out Old Home Day, much to the sorrow of many.

As long as any of the present citizens of Bovina can remember, thre has stood at the entrance of the village the picturesque single arch native stone bridge to welcome alike stranger and friend.  [21 – Old Stone Bridge] In 1873 Arch Phyffe and Wm. Seacord built the bridge here during the term of Road Commissioner John R. Hoy, grandfather of Mrs. William Storie and Fletcher Davidson.  After it had been completed for some three years, while they were repairing the foundation, which had weakened, the inhabitants one day were surprised to find their bridge fallen into the waters of the Little Delaware.  Not discouraged by this mishap they set about rebuilding it, this time the work being done by William Cooke and George Currie, uncle and father of David Currie.  And today it is still standing as sound and strong as ever, the arch still being in perfect condition.  However, with the coming of automobiles, busses, and large trucks, the bridge, which was built for oxen and horse-drawn vehicles, has outlived its usefulness.  Being only twelve feet wide and having curved approaches at either end, it has tested the skill of many a driver, some of whom have gouged and knocked off the sides of the bridge.  Soon a large steel structure will carry the traffic in and out of Bovina, but never can it command the admiration for its beauty that the old single arch stone span has commanded for more than 75 years, it being about the only historical mark to be found in the village.  Would that it might be preserved as a foot bridge and be restored to its former beauty to live on respected for the work it has done and loved and admired for its beauty. 

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