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Ormie King: Memories of Mary Street in Auburn

Today’s article and photos come to us from Alan Paul, and here’s what he had to say about growing up in Auburn:

My name is Alan Paul and Ormie has invited me to reminisce about my memories of growing up in the Second Ward. I have been gone from Auburn since 1963, but my experiences of growing up in Auburn remain a strong influence in shaping the rest of my life. My wife, Marie Fabel Paul, and I have been in South Carolina since 1995.

My roots run quite deep in Auburn and in particular Mary Street. My great grandfather, Robert Ralph Henderson Galbraith, on my father’s side, built his home at 27 Mary St. in 1867. My grandfather, Frank Paul, lived in five different homes on Mary Street, including 56, 27 Mary and 2 Mary St. My parents, Ralph and Evelyn Paul, built their home at 105 Mary St. in 1927. That is where I grew up along with my two brothers, Richard and Don. On my mother’s side, she lived on Swift Street. My grandfather, E.E. Kent, ran the Auburn Business School. As you can see four generations of the Paul family lived in the Second Ward on Mary Street. My sister in law, Betty Allen (Richard’s wife), lived on the corner of Mary and Swift streets.

Growing up on Mary St., my life centered on the Y field, the woods and fields south of Auburn, and Seward School. Early on my two friends were Phil Ceferatti and Annette Newman. We played baseball, kick the can, etc., all in the street. Probably drove the neighbors crazy. Later on, my two closest friends were Dick Hodder and Roger Ingalls. We spent hours together at the Y Field and in the in the fields south of town. We ice skated in the swamp behind Harriet Tubman’s home, went skiing and sledding on Quill’s Hill, and trapped Muskrats in the creek on Quill’s Farm.

The center of my early life centered around the Y Field. There was no television, no social media and few organized events for kids my age. The Y Field offered the place to go during both the winter and summer. The playground with the slides, swings and craft activities were important during my early years. As I got older it was baseball, football and watching the softball games in the evening. In the winter, hardly a day went by that I did not ice skate on the rink just below the clubhouse.

I probably spent more time at the Y Field watching the evening softball games than all other activities. After supper, I would go to catch the early game and stay for the second game. I became a real student of softball. I knew the players, knew their strength and weakness, and could readily predict the outcome of each game. I was actually employed for four years. I worked for Steve Fromell, chasing foul balls. Dick Hodder, Roger Ingalls and I were paid 50 cents per game to retrieve foul balls. Thus for four years I attended every game. I worked the right field line for the second game and Roger worked the left field line. My good friend Mike Fiduccia tended the scoreboard in center field and Jimmy Schmidt was the score keeper. Having watched so many games, I have a number of players that stick out.

"Monk" Curtin is at the top of my list. He was by far and away the most skilled softball player, both as a pitcher and hitter. I loved his games; since he was so dominant the games were short and I could go home early.

Big Lou Pelton could hit the ball farther than any other player of that era. The right fielder would position himself almost on Mary Street to field or catch his hits. I once had to chase his foul ball to the front yard of Ed Boyle on Swift Street. Ed was mayor of Auburn at that time.

Duke Pagano was the ultimate all-around player. He played shortstop and was a skilled fielder and strong hitter.

Slowball Reese could throw an off-speed pitch that would tie a batter in knots.

Lastly a player that I don’t remember his name but he was known as Horse. His ability as a center fielder to throw out a base runner at home plate was astounding.

The king of the Y Field was Jack Clifford. Jack had a special radar. If you went anywhere near the ball field prior to the first game, you could bet that Jack would yell at you from the balcony of the clubhouse.

Seward School was another important part of my growing up in Auburn. Several people stand out among my memories of Seward School. H. Pearl Gray was my sixth-grade teacher and she stands out as probably the best teacher I had in the Auburn school system. She took a real interest in her students, didn’t tolerate any nonsense, and was actively involved in her baseball teams. Anne D. Clark was both my first-grade teacher and school principal. She was tough as nails. I spent considerable time after school in her office. I made the mistake of hitting her sister’s car with a snowball and paid a dear price for doing it. Many of my close friendships were formed at Seward School: John Langham, Bill Messer, Paul Lattimore, John Bouck, Jim Pfiefer, Bill Reese, Jim English, Dick and Paul Mahlstedt , John Alisandrello and Don Chowaney.

My thanks to Ormie for asking me to write this narrative. This was a very special time in my life.

Many thanks, Alan, for being a great Legend of Auburn!