Columbia Gardens, East Butte, McQueen, Meaderville
Those Were The Days Reunion
The first lost neighborhoods’ reunion was the East Butte, Columbia Gardens and Elk
Park.   This began as a Harrison School Reunion by a number of folks who were
reminiscing and wondering about other class mates and families.   At that time,
only those families who lived in these neighborhoods, and who attended the Harrison
School or their children attended the Harrison School were invited.   Because
of many requests to have another Reunion and to include McQueen & Meaderville, one
will be held on Audust 13, 2011.
Anyone who has ties or roots to any of the above 4 lost neighborhoods are invited
to attend a festive gathering at the Maroon Activities Center (MAC) on the above
date beginning at 2:00 P.M.   The Reunion will be an all day and evening event
with dinner and entertainment provided.   The cost for an individual is $25
per person.   The reunion promises to produce many photographs, recollections,
music, and memories.   Registrations must be sent in by Jul. 30, 2011
Marie Ralph, 163 Trail Creek Road, Butte MT 59701.   More information and a
registration form can be obtained from our web site at
Following are fond memories of these lost neighborhoods:
Millie (Oreskovich) Roskilly
made East Butte her home until her 1954 marriage.   Her fondest childhood
memories were the great celebrations held in the neighborhood.   Oh, the
parties my parents had," said Roskilly, whose mother and father both immigrated
from Croatia.   "They'd be singing and having a good time."   Roskilly,
childhood antics included "chasing the ice man for a bit of ice" and skiing on
homemade skis her brother built from an old barrel, felt that it wasn't so much
the neighborhood, but the people living there that made East Butte so special.
"People were so good," she said.
said there were 134 residences with 2 grocery stores (Chadonich’s and Jones’),
a café and 2 service/gas stations (Weir’s Service Station which was moved from
Hickory and Garfield streets to Fir St in 1945, and Sutey’s Service Station
built between 1954 and 1956 that was later relocated on Continental Drive).
Butte’s first national chain drive-in, the A&W Rootbeer stand, was a hit
for all of Butte’s residents.   It was later relocated to Continental Drive
where the building still stands.   Around 1951, U.S. Highway 91 was built
through East Butte to the Woodville Canyon. There were 2 bars , a saloon and
Mike’s Boarding House.   The Harrison School had only four classrooms with
two grades in each of those rooms.   A heavy highway contractor, Kiely’s
Constructon Co. was also located there on Cherry St.   We also had 2 skating
rinks and a dance hall called the Narodna Dom Dance Hall which was the Slovenic
Lodge.   “Those were the days” JoAnn concluded.
Edna (Johnson) Goodman
was 3 years old when her families moved to East Butte.   Edna smiles as she
recalls how the neighborhood children, whether it was summer or winter, played
in the old ore dump.   "Of course," Goodman said, "all the kids played kick
the can, too."
Rose Marie (Rebich) Ralph
says "It truly was a great place to grow up, and it was a safe haven.”   She
recalls attending Butte's smallest elementary school, the Harrison, which was
located on 2065 Fir St.   She boasted that her alma mater won a lot of school
championships.   "We had no coaches," explained Ralph, "we just did our own
thing."   She also reminisces about the many family gatherings at her parents
and grandparents to include roasting a pig and dancing to accordion music.
That’s where I learned to polka.   It was also fun to sleigh ride down the
creek and roast potatoes in a bon fire.   Being my Dad and Grandma were from
McQueen, we attended all the McQueen parties and picnics.   Then, there were
the frequent trips to Tipparari’s which was later known as Nettie’s Ice Cream Store.
During my younger years, I thought the only grocery store in town was Cesarini’s.
Diane (Warnstrom) Faroni
an East Butte native lived there until her marriage in 1959.   She described
her old neighborhood as the last great place.   "It was a nice, safe place —
we never had to lock our doors," she said.
Not many can boast of having such a big backyard, but
can.   He felt the same then as he does now, that he was one of the lucky few
to be born and raised at the Columbia Gardens.   As a young boy he delivered
both The Montana Standard and the Butte Daily Post in his neighborhood and as a
teen and adult operated, among other things, the Gardens' roller coaster.
However, thanks to Ann Meehan, the Gardens' playground supervisor, young Bugni
also had an additional non-paying job.   Because his family literally lived
just a hop, skip and a jump from the playground, Meehan would bring kids to his
house.   "I had to give lessons on how to use the playground equipment,"
he said.   With a smile, Jerry said “It was fun working there."   “All
my life I had heard the ACM would close the Gardens," Bugni added. "I never believed
it until it happened."   Jerry was also the janitor for the Anaconda Company’s
Main office building until it closed.   Jerry kept a close eye on what was
discarded as garbage by the company and kept anything historical and /or valuable.
His collection of the Columbia Gardens and Meaderville memorabilia are
unbelievable.   He is a true historian.
, on the other hand, said that moving to the Gardens was a big adjustment.
She went from attending one of the largest public schools in Butte, Emerson, to
going to the smallest, Harrison.   The family moved to the Gardens after her
dad, while out walking, saw a "for sale" sign on a house at the Gardens.   "He
came home and said `We're moving to the Gardens," Given laughingly said.
Looking back, Given noted that one of the biggest reasons she liked living at the
Gardens was that it was a "tight-knit community."   But there are other memories
Given has cherished, including playing at the skating rink in the winter, and on
warm, summer nights, putting the phonograph on her window sill and turning it up
real loud, as only a teenager would.do.
Ann (Caddy) Bone
liked having little or no traffic and the empty lots to play baseball and kick-the-can
that was played by all the kids of that era.   Great times were had hiking the
East Ridge without adult supervision and packing a lunch for the day.   It seems
like yesterday, we were roller skating up and down Ash Street hooting and laughing
with friends.   Those times are gone and how times have changed.
can thank his father for growing up at the Gardens.   In the dead of winter,
Thompson's father saw a picture of a home on the wall at Wulf Realty.   His
father quickly purchased the home.   Thompson, who liked living in a small
community, appreciated the fact that people at the Gardens looked after each other.
Carolyn (Mayo) Harvey's
family ran a fox farm at the Columbia Gardens and described her childhood neighborhood
as a "nice, quiet place to live."   As a teen, she was the chief babysitter at
the Gardens, charging 25 cents an hour.   She also worked at the ice cream
parlor.   She recalled how music in the 1940's was definitely a big draw at
the Gardens.   Bands such as Henry Busse and His Orchestra, Sully Mann and His
Orchestra, Gus Arheim and His Orchestra, and Tommy Dorsey & His Record-Makin'-Record-Breakin'
Orchestra performed at the Garden’s Pavilion.   The 1950s brought the music of
Harry James and His Musicmakers, Sammy Kaye and His Music Makers, Guy Lombardo and
His Royal Canadians and the Jimmy Dorsey Orchestra.   Growing up in the Big Band
era, Harvey was able to see a number of these musicians perform in the Gardens'
spacious pavilion.   "I can still see Tommy Dorsey bouncing across the dance
floor," Harvey recalled.
Ralph “Wop” Barsanti
recalled his dad sending him to Baldy’s Place, later known as the McQueen Club,
every Sunday for a bucket of beer.   Being under age, all kids would go to
the back door of Baldy's and bang on the door and hand him a lard bucket with
a handle to be filled with beer.   In those days it was the procedure to
wash out the lard bucket and use it for many purposes, in our case to pick up beer.
Next, one of our favorite past times was going to Nick"s Place.   Not to
drink, but to bowl in the one lane bowing alley.   We would pin set to make
enough money to be able to bowl a game or two.
Saturday nights was special.   We would go to East Butte to the Narodna Dom
Dance Hall.   We would first start our drinking at the McQueen Club, from
there we would go to Nick's for a few drinks.   Needless to say, by the time
we reached East Butte, we were pretty well on our way to having more than we should have.
Also, we would go to Gergurich's Bar in East Butte for drinks and to another
place that was run by Francie Spehar, a polular drinking place for us.   We
mostly always walked to East Butte. We could ride the street car but I don't remember
ever doing this.
The only time we would ride the street car would be on Kids Day at the Columbia
Gardens.   We would ride to East Butte, transfer to the street car going to
the Gardens.   Hang out the windows and catch hell.   Coming home we
would do the same thing.   There are so many fond memories about going to
the Gardens.   Mostly to ride the air planes, the roller coaster, on some
instances the merry-go-around.   And, of course, we would always eat there.
On days like the 4th of July, Labor Day, Miner's Union day all of our families
would go there for picnics.  You could almost bet it would rain.   Just
sprinkles, but that was common.   On Miner's Union days there were always events.
The one that comes to me is the men and there rope pulling contest.   Teams
from different mines would compete against each other.   There were kid’s
things too.   One was the potato sack race.   It was always funny to see
kids racing and falling during the race.
Georgene (Boksich) Cachola
shared that McQueen may be just another “lost neighborhood” to those who didn’t know
that community, but to her and others growing up in the 40’s and 50’s, it was our
The summers especially were glorious.   Often, on a beautiful sunny morning,
we packed our lunch (bologna or peanut butter sandwiches and a jar of Kool-Ade)
and headed toward Sunflower Hill (on the East Ridge of Butte).   After hours
(it seemed) of hiking, we’d eat our warm lunch and hike back to McQueen.   We
had to return by dinner, but that was the only restriction we had.
A summer’s evening might find us playing Kick-the-Can, or Hide-and Go-Seek with
lots of kids from the neighborhood.   Unless you could persuade your folks
to allow you to sleep out in the yard in a tent or on your front porch, you had
to be in the house by dark –whenever that was!
I especially looked forward to the weekly summer movies that the McQueen Club
organized for us kids.   I can still smell the popcorn, and see the old
wooden benches all set up in the Club dance hall.   The movies -black and
white- were thrilling!   Swiss Family Robinson, Roy Rogers, Heidi, Treasure
Island, Our Gang, Lassie, - all the great ones.   Of course, there was a
lot of noise, jostling, and flirting (among the “older” kids).   That just
made the evening even more exciting.
There were lots more summer activities – roller skating down Willow St. (where
I lived), and hoping you could stop before you hit Garfield (one of the “busiest”
streets in McQueen).   Also, we loved to dig (for what?) in the “prairie”
across from our house.   My friends and I smelled like “stinkweed” for hours
until we were forced to wash-up.
And, of course, we had to make our daily trip to Nettie Pancrozzi’s Ice Cream
Parlor (Nettie’s as we called it) on the corner of Leatherwood and Garfield.
Five or ten cents could get you a delicious ice cream cone, or a little
brown bag of penny candy.   This was heaven!   Looking at the cases of
soft, sugared watermelon slices, brown licorice, candy corns, malted milk balls,
and fat jelly beans always made my mouth water.   And, who could forget the
pack of imitation cigarettes – white with a little red food coloring on the tip
of the cigarette.   Ah! – we could all pretend that we were grown-ups who
smoked.   How politically incorrect!
No plans were made on Thursdays during the summer.   Why?   That was
Children’s Day at the Columbia Gardens.   We packed a lunch, and waited for
the bus near our intersection.   (No fare was needed).   After we arrived
uptown on the corner of Park and Main, we (and most of Butte’s children),
waited for the next available bus going to the Columbia Gardens.   And, oh
what fun waited for us there.   If we were really lucky, Jerry Bugni or his
brother would give us a free ride on the roller coaster, and we could save that
extra 15 cents for a cotton candy.   Of course, if you ran out of money,
you could always look down the wooden slats of the sidewalks on the promenade
and try to fish out a couple of lost coins.
Fall and winter were nearly as great as summers when you lived in McQueen.
Halloween was huge as we kids could go anywhere in the community (without adults)
and even down to Meaderville (We HAD to get a Truzzolino tamale for lunch the
next day).   Most everyone knew us and our parents so it was a pretty safe
and secure environment.   I remember my mom giving us a pillowcase for our
goodies and a piece of Ivory soap (to soap the windows of those who didn’t answer
the door).   Of course everyone had to stop at the Club to get one of those
big, delicious Hershey bars.
As soon as winter chilled our little community, the McQueen Volunteer Firemen
were readying the skating rinks.   The one we used most was on Spruce Street.
It was flooded and carefully maintained.   We even had a roughly built
change house, and there was always a well-fed bonfire to warm our cold toes.
Many a rough and tumble game of Pump-Pump-Pull-Away was played on that rink.
It seemed we spent almost every minute we could there when we weren’t at school.
During the Christmas holidays the Club members put on a giant Christmas party.
I believe they were said to have distributed more than 500 bags of candy, fruit,
and toys to all the area children, and even to those who didn’t live in McQueen.
The huge beautiful tree growing beside the Fire Hall would be lit, and
sometimes we sang carols under its branches.
Percy Trevenna was the designated Santa Clause. I, of course, didn’t know that
for many years.   Percy was not your typical “Bohunk”; my father told me
that Percy was a “Cousin Jack”, but obviously that was o.k.   Once, when I
was about 8 years old, I called my friend Beth a “Cousin Ginny”, and I remember
getting in a little trouble about that.   I found out those designations
were derogatory names for the English people among us.
Holy Savior Parish, headed by Father Pirnat, also was a big part of our lives
(if we were Catholic).   The parish hosted the yearly carnival which was
well-attended.   I remember my parents dragging me away from the Penny-Toss,
after I had used my weekly allowance.   Once again it was a great time to
socialize for all ages.   The weekly bingo games in the basement hall of the
school were another weekly event that brought forth everyone from grandmas to
toddlers.   I won a liquor basket as a door prize one week.   Strangely,
there didn’t seem to be any problem with a 12 year old winning a liquor basket!
The most fun, however, were the wedding and anniversary receptions in Holy Savior
Hall.   It seemed everyone came to these gatherings. Plenty of sarmas (soured,
stuffed cabbage rolls), klobase, and povitica were served, and the accordion music
played on and on.   We all learned to do the polka.   Grandmas danced with
grandmas, men danced with men, kids danced with anyone, and many a Croatians, Serbian,
or Slovenian song filled the hall (as well as a few phrases we can’t repeat!).
Reminiscing about McQueen conjures so many memories for me and many others.
Though I’m now a “middle-aged” woman of 64, I will always feel grateful that I
grew-up in a special time where I played, felt safe, was loved, and lived in a
magical place – my McQueen.
Arlelne (Mazolo) Stephen
recalls the annual McQueen picnics that were mostly held at the Shamrock Picnic area
near Elk Park.   Then, there were those treats passed out by Santa Clause at
the McQueen Club.   Fun was had by all at the Spruce Street skating rink that
was kept clean by Mr. Marvin.   Netties Ice Cream Store was also a favorite of hers.
These are just a few memories that were shared.   We know there are many more.
So, come join us on August 13th.
A group of Butte High School students from Chris Fisk’s class will participate,
record and video with the plan to place the results at the Butte Archives for historical purposes.
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Page created: Jun. 04, 2008 and modified: Feb. 18, 2011