Archived Story

Cardinal Charlie: Century Theatre featured Minnie Pearl

Published 7:45pm Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Once in a while the Century Theatre would have stage entertainment, usually country-Western from WLS, Lulubelle and Scotty, the Arkansas Woodchoppers, Minnie Pearl with the price tag on her hat and the Duke of Paducah.
Carson Minshall said the slightly drunk Duke got lost on Oak Street.
The Chamber of Commerce hired Walt Gilbert as director. He was paid $5,000 a year.
Walt’s wife inherited $10,000 and they built a house on Spruce Street across from the back of the school.
Cart thought it was a few houses down west of Lowe Street.
Their son Bob was Cart’s age and was a cheerleader. Bob was sent home from school for wearing them to class, as they were orange and black corduroy pants.
His dad Walt got into it, but the school board said they were a distraction. They let him wear them only on game days. Cart got them from Bob.
After the war, Bob worked for Honeywell in South Bend as CEO for temperature controls and had a heart attack.
Cart couldn’t find a job and Vic Phillips said John Baich had been looking for a driver for the bottling works. Cart got the job.
Bill Tinkey ran the bottles. Bob Ruple was the main driver. Casmer Stasiak was in charge of frozen stuff.
Cart said John Buck had a son, Carroll, who was close to my age (I don’t remember Carroll Buck). Back then they washed the return bottles in a lye solution.
He said one day he had Carroll with him and was going fast to get back for lunch. He said he was doing about 70 mph and broke over a hill and smacked into Steve Symonski with a full load of junk, or maybe it was the marl man’s car.
Carroll lost a tooth. He said John needed a new truck anyway.
Helen Smith taught me algebra. She was a six-footer. It was war time and she married a man named Steve who was an Army captain.
Bud Terkos got back from the South Pacific and was stationed at Vero Beach, Fla. I was stationed at Jacksonville.
We read in Berenice Vanderburg’s column where Helen was living and decided to visit. Capt. Smith was out on bivouac.
Bud and I hitchhiked to their place. When Helen spotted us, she ran up the path and picked us up, one under each arm, and nearly kissed us to death. She was one homesick girl.
We spent the night there and she tucked us in as if we were her kids.
Peter cooked breakfast a la the Olympia. Helen invited us to have a Dowagiac reunion.
In a restaurant walked one of the Meyers boys. He was putting in a field kitchen for the Army. I had bumped into Gerald Lang and Tony Moroz, so there had to be others in the area.
I wrote Berenice about out reunion. She had the names and addresses of about 30. She advertised in the paper and we turned up nearly 60. Meyers brought a field kitchen.
Cart had an old junkyard dog, the world’s best, which followed him to school every day and waited near the auditorium door.
Cart said Peter Mikovits went over to Europe and brought back his wife, Sophie, dropped her off at Irma Smith’s hair salon and said make her over American. Cart’s mother, Irma, and half a dozen ladies took over and soon she was American and spoke pretty good lingo.
Sophie did some Heddon work at home.

“Cardinal Charlie” Gill writes a nostalgic weekly column about growing up in the Grand Old City.
Email him at

Editor's Picks