Wooster alligator was a choosy eater

A recent mention of the pet alligator who lived in a 19-room home on Beall Avenue in Wooster during the ‘60s prompted Alan Griffiths to expand on the story.

“I lived in that Beall Avenue house during the summer of 1966,” he wrote. “I was a student at Ohio State University in the Dairy Science Department after having completed two years as a math major at Kent State. My advisor at OSU got a summer job for me in the Ohio Agricultural Experiment Station’s Dairy Department.

“I worked the early morning at the Dairy Barn, rest of morning in a lab, and the afternoon on a local dairy farm doing fieldwork — just what a young man with no experience in any of that needed,” he wrote.

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“The Experiment Station,” Griffiths continued, “also had good connections with housing in Wooster … so when I went to the address on Beall Avenue for the first time, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It was a huge, wonderful old house. The house was owned by three older people who were quiet and easy going — as was I. We got along well from the very start.”

A 5-foot alligator who only eats fresh ground beef from Smith’s grocery

Griffiths said he had been living in the house for only a few weeks when he was asked if he wanted to see the family’s pet alligator out on the side porch.

“Sure enough,” Griffiths recalled, “there was a 5-foot alligator in a bathtub. He was a very finicky eater, so I didn’t have to worry about him. He would only eat fresh ground beef from Smith’s grocery … nowhere else. Allegro also had a hump in his back due to having rickets when he was young. They took him in because nobody wanted an alligator with a hump.

“Allegro,” he explained, “was brought in during the colder seasons when he would hibernate.”

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He used the rope elevator in Mollie Miller’s clothing store in the 1960s

After school and on Saturdays Wes Davis said he used to work at Mollie Miller’s clothing store, which was located in the Clark building on East Liberty Street.

Davis said he frequently had to use the building’s old rope elevator, which caused some concern for the 6’1”, 150-pound teen who questioned its reliability.

“I was a stock boy there during the 1960s,” recalled the 1968 Wooster High School graduate, “and I used that elevator many, many times.

“Molly and Harry David Miller were such good people to work for,” he added.

(A previous column mentioned that the hand-operated elevator was patented in 1878 by the Marshall Electric Co. of Pittsburgh.)

Davis — who collects anything having to do with the Titanic and who owns a piece of metal from the doomed ocean liner — also said that a Ruth Becker, her brother, sister and mother survived the sinking of the luxury British steamship during her maiden voyage in 1912. (Rev. Becker, a missionary in India, wasn’t traveling with his wife and children at the time.)

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“However,” Davis said, “the Becker family does have a Wooster connection. They lived here from 1919-1923 when Rev. Becker served as pastor of Zion Lutheran Church.”

One of the first telephones in Wooster

When telephones first came to Wooster around 1900, the McClarran and Caskey Grocery — located at the time in the Frick (now Amster) building next to the Courthouse — had one of the first phones in town along with the railroad depot and Boyd’s Drug Store in the southeast quadrant of the square.

Thought you should know.

Columnist Ann Gasbarre can be reached at agasbarre@gmail.com or 330-345-6419.

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