STEUBENVILLE -Connie Strachan Creek can remember when the South End neighborhood residents drove to Tappan Lake for an annual picnic.
"They did that when I was very young and it was great fun for everyone. I think everyone in the South End tried to be at those picnics. That kind of died out over the years until last year when we decided to try a South End reunion at Beatty Park. It was such a success we decided to hold the second-annual South End reunion again this month at the first shelter house at Beatty Park," Creek explained.
The reunion is open to anyone who was born and raised in the city's South End between the years of 1935 and 1975 along with their families.
CHILDHOOD FRIENDS — Mollie Talbott Paolisso, left, and Terry Smogonovich shared childhood stories during the 2013 South End Reunionat Beatty Park. The two women have been friends for years. They joined approximately 250 other South End Reunion attendees to share stories and reminisce about growing up in the South End. - Dave Gossett
TALKING ABOUT THE NEXT REUNION — 2013 South End Reunion attendees, from left, Don Durbin, Bill Goettge, Connie Strachan Creek and Cherie Huggins Metcalf were among the crowd at Beatty Park last August. - Dave Gossett
Creek said this year's reunion on Aug. 16 will start at noon and continue until approximately 6 p.m.
"We had close to 250 people attend last year's reunion and it was a lot of fun. I saw a lot of families and old friends attend the reunion and renew old friendships. We will be asking for a $2 admission fee to help pay for the meat, ice and refreshments we will purchase for the event and are also asking everyone to bring a covered dish. And folks may want to bring lawn chairs for seating. Everyone who plans to attend the reunion are asked to call Don Durbin at (740) 317-5069 so we can get an accurate count of the number of people who will be at the reunion," declared Creek.
"We have arranged for a photo booth to be at the shelter area that will allow families and friends to take a photo of themselves. And we will be taking group reunion photos at 1 p.m., 3 p.m. and 5 p.m.," added Creek.
"Lynn Bell Haines started the idea on Facebook last year, and we should all pat ourselves on the back. We want to do this every year to bring people together and to show our South End neighborhood and Beatty Park is still a pretty good place," stated Creek.
"Last year most of us wore purple South End reunion T-shirts with white lettering. This year we are asking everyone to buy a white T-shirt with purple lettering. We will also have purple wings to symbolize the South Enders who have passed away since last year. The T-shirts cost $12 each with most of the proceeds going back to the reunion committee to help pay expenses. And we will offer a 50-50 drawing," Creek said.
Police Capt. John Young, a former Lincoln Avenue resident, was planning to attend the reunion and was asked to serve as the official police security for the event.
"Its nice to listen to the older people reminiscing about the old South End. I have heard stories about the businesses that were here, the schools and the friendships people made back then that are still strong today," said Young.
Creek said the stories the residents and former residents tell at the reunion are among the best memories she has.
"Beatty Park is where we all came all day long. We ran home and ate dinner and then came back until the park closed and the caretaker would make us leave. In the winter we would sled ride on McKinley Avenue. The city would bring a steel barrel, some wood and coal and we built a fire to stay war. We started in Billy McKee's field and came down Harding Avenue. We usually went home when our clothes were so frozen we couldn't take it any longer," recalled former resident Bill Kerr.
"We once had three slaughter houses in the neighborhood plus the different stores. It was a great place to grow up. No one cared if you were rich or poor. We were all one family. We are all very proud to be from the South End. It's hard to explain to someone who didn't grow up here. We considered the area from the railroad underpass to the bus turnaround to be the South End," said Debbie Tempest Booth, who still lives on Lincoln Avenue.
"I was born on Lincoln Avenue and grew up here. My mother still lives on Lincoln Avenue. Growing up here was the best. Someone always had your back. Everyone knew everyone else. And it is still that way today. You can take a person out of the South End but you can't take the South End out of the person," stated Terri Smogonovich.
Jim Trimmer has been a South Ender since 1926 when he was born in a house across the street from the Beatty Park entrance.
"Growing up in the South End was wonderful. I went to the old Lincoln School and belonged to Finley Methodist Church. Later on when I got married my wife and I moved to a house on Tweed Avenue and raised our family in the South End. The South End is my home," Trimmer recalled.
"The South End was a special place because everyone knew each other. And we were at Beatty Park from the minute it opened until when it closed. It was a great neighborhood and everyone always had fun," Mike Ravasio noted.