Museum guest speaker


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.