Poking around Worthington nets new discoveriesIt may surprise you that I have done a lot of poking around in Worthington through passing years. I believe I have been in every public place. I have been in many private homes. Some might suggest Paris would have been more rewarding. I don’t believe so.
By: Ray Crippen, Worthington Daily Globe
WORTHINGTON — It may surprise you that I have done a lot of poking around in Worthington through passing years. I believe I have been in every public place. I have been in many private homes. Some might suggest Paris would have been more rewarding. I don’t believe so.
I climbed inside the tower of the old courthouse and I climbed the Second Avenue water tower. I have been in all but two or three Worthington churches and I was in half-a-dozen churches which no longer exist, which came to be replaced by new buildings. I was in the new St. John’s Episcopal which once stood on Cherry Point — I was in the undercroft. Several times I have been in the original, 1882 St. John’s, now the chapel at Garden of Memories.
I was at Worthington airport when passengers boarded planes there, and I was at the C&NW depot when passengers boarded trains there. I have been at band concerts on the courthouse lawn and at band concerts at Chautauqua Park. I saw House of David play baseball on the Clary Street fairgrounds, and I once won a blue ribbon on the Stower Drive fairgrounds. I was a student at the original, 14th Street Worthington Junior College, and I was at the dedication of the campus that has become Minnesota West.
I have swum along the sandy beach off Vogt Park, and I took swimming lessons in the waves above the rocky bottom of Chautauqua Park’s beach. I am making my way to my point —
In the early 1930s, perhaps as a public works project, Worthington built a rock retaining wall along the Chautauqua Park beach. A layer of cement was smoothed along the top of that wall.
Very many times I have been on the Chautauqua Park pier and I often noted the names scratched into that cement when it still was wet. Marcia Arnold’s was one.
Worthington has been bringing in boulders to line the Okabena shores. Much of that old retaining wall was taken away. Only lately — this truly surprises me — only lately did I find my way to that remaining section of the retaining wall that is behind the Chautauqua Park garage, or shed, or utility building. Whatever.
Only lately did I discover that Billy Blanchard took a stick and scratched his name in that cement. George Pappas scratched his name next to Billy’s. Then Lawrence Mortinson. It was “Sept. 27.” (Inevitably, someone also scratched a profanity. “You are a GD SOB.” “Damn” is spelled “dam.”)
Well — Lawrence Mortinson was in the WHS Class of ’31. Billy and George were younger, Class of ’32 or Class of ’33.
Billy is lucky he didn’t get in big trouble, and perhaps Billy was in big trouble. The Blanchards lived in that neighborhood, at 729 Lake Avenue. Billy’s father was Dr. A.F. Blanchard, a chiropractor and an elected member of the Worthington school board. Dr. Blanchard would not have liked Billy scratching his name in that cement.
George Pappas was the son of Mike and Mary Pappas. The Pappas family (Greek) had Worthington’s most popular restaurant, at 713 10th Street, in that early 1930s era. They later moved to Rochester and opened Michael’s, which now is into a fourth generation and which continues as one of Rochester’s popular restaurants.
The Pappas family began a Worthington tradition continued by Mike Lang at his own Michael’s Restaurant. From the Rochester Michael’s menu: “Pappas French Fried Onion Rings., $4.25; Our own recipe lightly battered and fried, serves 2-4.” Also from the Pappas menu: “Ice Cream Oreo Pie, $4.25; Oreo crust with ice cream, topped with hot fudge sauce.”
Back to those boys and the retaining wall —
In 1928, ’29, Billy Blanchard played intramural basketball with the WJHS Aces. George Pappas played with the Racers, who won the team sportsmanship award.
Lawrence Mortenson was a freshman at that time, a year or two ahead of George and Billy. There is more research pending on Lawrence.
It is not hard to imagine Dr. Blanchard lecturing Billy on, “Fools’ names and fools’ faces…” In truth, I doubt Dr. Blanchard ever knew about the names on that wall.
Anyway, in this instance, those names were seldom seen. It was 2008 before I discovered them, and I have poked around a lot.
Ray Crippen is the former editor of the Daily Globe. His column appears on Saturdays.