Museum guest speaker

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Bill Maytum was the guest speaker at the museum today (9/16). He talked about the early days in New Port Richey as he remembers them, beginning in the 1940s.

Mr. Maytum is a lifelong resident of this area, a former city council member, an Air Force veteran, and he was King Pithla in 1974. He operated a private contracting business.

William Critchley “Bill” Maytum (b. May 21, 1935) is the son of Joseph August Maytum (1887-1952) and Bertha E. Critchley Maytum (1895-1945). Joseph was twice elected to the New Port Richey city council.

Bertha was a daughter of William Critchley (1857-1931) and Caroline Steger Critchley (1858 or 1856-1944). Bill believes that his mother was responsible for the name St. Stephen’s for the local Episcopal church.

William Critchley served on the original New Port Richey city council when the city was incorporated in 1924. Thus Bill Maytum, who served on city council for 12 years and 3 months, is a third-generation family member to serve on city council. Bill said that his grandfather was an early advocate for incorporation of New Port Richey.

Here are a few interesting facts Bill Maytum mentioned in his talk today.

During the depression, three local residents loaned the city $1,000 each for the city to make bank payments and prevent some sort of foreclosure. One of the three men was his grandfather William Critchley, who was known as “Commodore Critchley.” His grandfather was repaid the $1,000.

Bill graduated from Gulf High School in 1952. The class had 30 students. The graduation ceremony took place in the auditorium in the high school. His junior prom was held at the Hacienda Hotel and his senior prom was at the Upham House in Tarpon Springs. This building later became Anclote Manor Hospital.

He said that for a high school to remain accredited, it needed a minimum of 200 students, and Gulf’s enrollment was near that number. He said that when a student had to go home because of illness, they made sure he or she checked in for attendance before going home, to keep the numbers up. The students feared that Gulf might be closed and they would have to transfer to Tarpon Springs High School.

Since Gulf was the only high school in western Pasco County, a school bus picked up students in Aripeka, Hudson, and east of Bayonet Point. The bus probably sat about 20 students. He said some of the students had to endure a 1 1/2 to 2 hour bus ride.

He recalled that Miller’s Bar, which was a bar and restaurant, posted a sign during World War II which read, “Free Beer the Day Hitler is Buried.”

He recalled that U. S. 19 was a two-lane brick road with no stop lights, but he said that cars could not go faster than about 35 miles per hour because of the condition of the road.

Bill remembered the big deal that it was when the volunteer fire department got a new Mack truck in 1950, with townspeople turning out to see it. Previously, he said, the city used a converted Model A truck.

He recalled that the fire siren used this system: one blast was an emergency, two blasts indicated a brush fire, and three blasts indicated a home or structure fire.

Bill said that his first job, at about age 15, was with Warrie Rothera. Bill repaired radios for 50 cents per hour. Rothera was an electrical engineer, a graduate of the University of Toronto.

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Tour of the Tarpon Springs museum

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This picture was taken at the Tarpon Springs museum today (Aug. 18, 2017). They provided a special tour for the board members of the West Pasco Historical Society. Some of the people in the photo are with the Tarpon Springs Area Historical Society. They have a wonderful museum, located in downtown Tarpon Springs in the former railroad depot of the Atlantic Coast Line Railroad, built in 1909. larger picture

Museum visitors

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Visitors to the museum on Aug. 14 were cousins Beva Karay of New Port Richey and Patty Stevenson of Inverness. Their grandfather, Richard D. Stevenson Sr., was elected to the Pasco school board in 1936 and served until 1955. They are also descended from Samuel and Elizabeth Stevenson, who were living in Hernando County by the 1860s, before Pasco County was created.

Museum hours to change

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The museum has recently experimented with opening on Saturdays and Sundays. It appears now that our traditional schedule was more popular, so beginning Sept. 1, 2017, we will revert to our former schedule and open on Fridays and Saturdays. Hours are 1 to 4 p.m. both days. We also open at other times by request for group tours. (We will continue with Saturday-Sunday for the remainder of August.)

Museum visitors

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Two county officials were visitors to the museum on Aug. 2. They are Cathy Pearson, Assistant County Administrator, and Chris Cauley (far right), Program Administrator. Also in the picture are Dr. Rao Musunuru, honorary board member of the WPHS (left), and Bob Langford, President of the WPHS.

Museum visitors

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Among the visitors to the museum today (7/16) were Charles Blankenship, a son of Frances Mallett, and his daughter, Christine Orrell. Charles has studied family genealogy extensively. He attended Pierce Grammar School on Main Street in the 1940s.

Stilt house notables

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At the stilt house of W. D. “Des” Little in March 1976: Johnny Cash, his wife June Carter Cash, Rev. Billy Graham, his wife Ruth Bell Graham. St. Petersburg Times photo provided by Clyde Hobby. (7210)

Walter Mallett (1923-2017)

walter300Walter J. Mallett, a life member of the West Pasco Historical Society and a World War II hero, died today (6/20). He was 94 years old. His wife Frances died five days earlier at age 97. Mr. Mallett came to Port Richey in the late 1940s and later, with his brother, operated Tropical Realty. A memorial service for both Walter and Frances will be held on July 15 at Trinity Presbyterian Church, time not yet determined. Two more pictures are in the comments. A wonderful article by Bill Stevens from 2011 is here.


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At the museum in 2016: Brian Schmit, who is writing a book about the early days in New Port Richey, Frances Clark Mallett, Walter Mallett, and son Vic Mallett. Brian interviewed Frances and Walter for his book.


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Frances and Walter Mallett in 1980.

Museum visitor

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Reynald Feldt Jr. was a visitor to the museum today. As soon as he puts on the finishing touches, he plans to donate a model of the New Port Richey railroad depot in 1925, which you can see in the lower right corner of this photo. Rey lived in New Port Richey as a child but graduated from Clearwater High School in 1953. His grandfather, Emil Nyman (1884-1927), was an early businessman in town, having arrived in 1912. Rey has allowed us to scan many old photos of his family in New Port Richey.

Frances Clark Mallett, 1919-2017

frances300We are saddened to learn that Frances Clark Mallett, a great friend and life member of the West Pasco Historical Society, died this morning (6/15). She was 97 years old. Her father, Victor Malcolm Clark Sr., was the first elected mayor of Port Richey, and her grandfather, James Washington Clark, settled at the mouth of the Pithlachascotee River in the 1870s. He later persuaded Aaron Richey, who gave the town its name, to settle here also. This photo was taken at Port Richey Historic Preservation Sunday, an event she organized, on July 16, 2006.