Portville, New York What it Was like Then - 1935-1954

by Richard Allen Rice - 31 December 1988

I was motivated by several factors to write of my experiences growing up in Portville, New York. I read an interesting work by Carl 0. (Dutch) Marsh entitled, Portville As I Remember It Back When, March 1965. Later as I got involved in family genealogy, similar works by Harry C. Holcomb, Glimpses of Fifty Years, 1931, and History of Portville Methodist Episcopal Church, written by Phoebe Wood in 1896 were very helpful. Lastly, although I do not consider myself old yet, I would like to leave with my children, grandchildren, and future generations my perceptions of growing up in Portville during the 194O's and 1950's.

Much has been written about life in small towns all across our great nation. What makes this work different is that it is about my hometown.

It is about how I viewed the people and events that prepared me for the world of adulthood. It is about school, church, community, family, good times, bad times, and all the other things one experiences growing up.

It is about the trials of childhood and adolescence that shape and strengthen one's character. It is mostly about the good times that one occasionally recalls and laughs about with an old friend, or reminisces about in the solitude of the mind - and feels a pleasant glow.

It is about the bad or unpleasant experiences which, in retrospect are few, and those, for the most part, tended to add perspective and depth to my inventory of life’ experiences.

Many names of relatives, friends, former teachers, and other acquaintances are mentioned herein. Some name usage may seem to portray a person or persons negatively. It is not my intention to do such, but to report my perceptions and/or relationships with those whom I came into contact with while growing up. While I have tried to be as objective as possible, a certain amount of subjectivity, or personal bias is unavoidable because: (1) memories are dimmed by the passage of time, and (2) typical children and teenagers, of which I was one are highly impressionable, and not necessarily objective.

Initially this was intended to simply and briefly summarize what I observed and experienced while growing up, something about the people I knew, and any other comments which would depict life in Portville way back in the 1940’s and 1950’s. Very quickly, however, I found that reminiscing about my first memories was turning into something much longer and more detailed than originally planned. Then the story turned toward family and a genealogical lesson on how I happened to be rooted in Portville. Later memories were followed by people, places, and things, and how I saw Portville then.

Time and distance have a way of dimming the memory, so consulting with my brothers and sister, as well as with others, helped clarify some points. Unfortunately living so far from Portville I did not have access to reference materials, and/or other persons who could help with additional information. As a result. I have used terms like: "I think," and "I believe," where otherwise I could have been more precise. Most of what I have written is from memory, although a quick trip to Portville for the sesqui-centennial on August 21-24, 1987, allowed the gathering of some street numbers and other specific information.

The Portville history buff, as well as others, will find things herein which may not agree with their studies or remembrances. Some may find things that are just plain wrong, factually, or are distorted from their point of view. Others may chuckle in agreement as they are reminded about an event which happened long ago, or of a person or persons they may have forgotten about. Still others may wonder why there wasn’t more detail on their family, business, church, or social activity. Time, space, memory, and objectivity are my humble excuses.

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