The late 40s is where my memory thoughts began.
If you are coming from Mildred heading south on Rt 487 and cross the Little Loyalsock, turning right will bring you into Lopez. On the other hand, if you are coming from Wilkes Barre heading north on Rt 487, you will pass on your right over in the creek what was known as “concrete”, a favorite swimming hole. The concrete structure is the remains of the holding dam for a long-gone sawmill. This provided a place for the older kids to show off by diving or should I say jumping off into the water about eight feet below. It did seem more like twenty feet high to us younger kids. Anyway, a bit farther ahead, you arrive at the same intersection and the business district is just ahead.
At this junction, on your left, just up on the hill you would see a fantastic honor roll about 18 to 20 feet wide. It contained the complete list of names of all the men and women from Lopez that took up the fight of World War II. Most names were of white letters, but a dozen or so were a yellow gold. This signified that they were killed in action. This memorial was truly a sight to behold and gave us an appreciation for those that fought for us and the US of A. Lopez had the highest percentage of service persons in the war in all the country. The Kravitz family had eight sons in at the same time.
A bit farther behind the memorial is my school which was at that time, three classrooms downstairs and two rooms and an auditorium upstairs. The auditorium was used for singing, music practice, (I played the clarinet as did Maxine Reese and Loraine Gavlick as I remember) and it was also used for learning square dancing. Mr. Gavinonus was the instructor for all this and I remember Sandra Bundle and myself being used often by Mr. G to demonstrate the various actions in square dancing. By the way, my class consisted of 3 girls and 9 boys.
Classroom one downstairs was grades 1 and 2 with Miss Finan. Classroom two was grades 3, 4, and 5 with Miss Maseck. Classroom three was grades 6 and 7 with Miss Walsh. Our school janitor was Mr. Miller who on occasion might ring the morning bell an hour early on the 1st of April. He with Bobby Reese, Pat McDonald, David Katchmarsky and others, set up a slingshot range in the basement so we could practice.
Recess was “1 2 3 Blacksmith”, Releavio, and the tag game where if you were tagged on your shoulder, you had to hold on your tagged shoulder while you ran around to tag someone else. Down on the flat was a group of swings and sliding boards and an area that worked well for baseball.
Lunch, was for me, about a half-mile run to home, which I enjoyed running. Barb Neufer lucked out with a two-minute walk, John McDonald had about a mile hike to home, and Alex Stavisky even farther. This, we did every school day whether it was 80 degrees, minus 30 degrees, sunny, raining, or 4 feet of snow. No “snow days then” and no busses then either. I do remember snowball fights in Tee shirts with the temperatures between zero and 20 degrees.
From in front of the school, going toward town, you pass a small pond on the right with tall cattails, pollywogs, frogs, minnows, and a snake or two. Then on the left is a road that goes to Turrelltown, mispronounced Turrtletown. Up this road on the right we pass the old jailhouse later used for voting, and then the remains of the long-gone brick factory with a huge flat roof that permitted a lot of games to be played once you climbed up on to it. Many joyful hours were spent there. A bit farther up the road was the Lopez Pajama Factory. It’s claim to fame, other than being one of the largest employers in the area of folks from as far away as Towanda, was the fact that pajamas from this factory were the ones used in the movie “Pajama Game”.
The road continues on with some houses on the left and right Chernak and Zosh were two of the families there. The road then makes a left turn but also a gate which led to what was known as Newels and quite a ways past was an artesian well with water shooting 3 or so feet up out of a pipe. Back at the gate we take the left and just a short way we are at a T. To the right is the old Russian Cemetery and to the left goes back to town. On the way, you pass the Kozemko chicken farm and one of the boys use to give me my haircut. Further down, families on both sides, Bundles, Keuititsky, David Kozemko, Homza, and Millers to name a few.
Going back to Main Street, on the corner we find ourselves at McGee’s. It was a combination old fashion ice cream parlor and hotel. Ann and Candy McGee were the owners and operators with counter, stools, booths, and even a jukebox. Ice cream cones, sundaes, floats, burgers and of course sodas were the order of the day. I remember buying three rolls of Ansco 620 film there for $1.00 and no tax. Ann was as sweet as the ice cream Sunday she whipped up for you. They also had a gas pump there which I think was “Calso”. The next building had the post office and a few apartments followed by Johnson’s (soon to become Ortleib’s) grocery store. Next in line was Becky Johnson’s home and husband Bill’s barbershop and where they sold candy, postcards, and other novelties. (This building became my first photography studio) Next was Squire Dunn’s barbershop and he had a Texaco gas pump in front of his place..
Across the street from McGee’s was the Hotel Lopez. An original old fashioned bar/hotel with a large mirror and a large variety of bottles filled with the taste of your choice. Available on the bar would be large jars of pickles, sausages and more. A long shuffleboard lined the one wall to entertain the patrons between elbow lifting exercises. Behind the hotel was the little league baseball field and farther back is where the annual Lopez Old Home Day was held for many years. Next door was the Lopez fire hall which housed a 1923 REO fire truck and dinner hall downstairs with the VFW hall upstairs. Next was the home of Paul and Geniveve Daily. Mrs. Daily was our postmistress. After the Daily’s was a building housing on the second floor, St. Mary’s Catholic Chapel. Unfortunately, this group of buildings on both sides of Main Street burned to the ground in 1982.
Continuing on we are at the bridge over Lopez Creek. Just a good hit of a baseball up the creek would put you at another popular swimming hole known as Gulick’s. On the left next to the creek is Kellog’s store with Betty Kravitz as clerk. Originally Mr. Kellog ran a jewelry store and a drug store with Doc. Christian, but Morris Kellog (the son) had shoes, clothing, etc. in there. The storefront was a bit off the road and had sort of a ground-level porch to the road. This left a good size hid away under where some of the older boys would gather and smoke cigarettes and then eat sin-sins. Next door was the home of I think Motsko, and if I remember right, he suffered with gangrene in his feet. After that was the Andy Decker home. Across the street was Decker’s Bar, formally the New Theater. Andy Decker’s bar was the better class of bar in the town with dancing area, tables, and a jukebox with occasionally some local musicians providing music. Lopez being a “wet” town, found the bars populated by men from the Air Force Base just 8 or so miles south on route 487. Two doors up is Dyer’s Hardware store where you could get any hardware you could think of plus Sunoco Gas.
At this point you are at an intersection on the left known as Church Street, a street to the right called Flat Street with Main Street continuing straight up the hill. Going up Church Street from the corner was Decker’s home on the left with Gulick/Vanderpool home on the right. Halfway up the hill was Waldron’s on the left and “Back Ally” (now Lilac Lane) going off to the right. Next up the hill is Springer’s on the right and Wood’s on the left and again on the right is Slovic’s home. Next is a street to the right of unknown name (now Maple) and then the EUB Church on the right, with Gulick/Mattychak’s on the left.