Town of Canterbury CT

Town of Canterbury
1 Municipal Drive
Canterbury CT 06331

Beverly Kettle Pukalo

By Sheila Mason Gale

Beverly Kettle Pukalo was born in Oneco and moved to Sterling when she was 11 years old. Her parents were Ira and Carrie Kettle and they had eleven children: Walter, Gladys, Lillian, Norman, John, Eleanor, Wallace, Donald, George, Beverly and Harold.

As a child she remembers her eighth grade teacher, Julia Miller, who was from Canterbury.

When the children were all grown and married, they would get together at Mom and Dad’s on Sundays and tell stories about their childhood. Lillian and Donald were the comedians in the family and would keep the whole family in stitches. Every 4th of July the family would gather at Norman’s house in Sterling. He had a grove of trees in the back of his property where the family would picnic. Some of the family went quahoging the day before and her sisters would make two kinds of chowder for the picnic. They played horseshoes and had watermelon fights at the end of the day.

She met Bill Pukalo, who lived in Canterbury, through her brother Harold who played baseball with him in the Twilight Leagues which would be semi pro leagues today. A scout asked Bill to try out for the Boston Braves, but he refused because he was 26 and felt he was too old.

They were married in 1951 and moved to Canterbury and lived with Bill’s parents. It was only supposed to be temporary, but 56 years later she is still in Canterbury. When her daughter, LeeAnn, was born Beverly decided she would be a stay-at-home Mom. She remembers LeeAnn always wanted to be a teacher. When she was a child she would sit behind a desk and make her cousin be a student. LeeAnn grew up and became a teacher at Dr. Helen Baldwin School.

Beverly was enjoying her time at home when Mrs. Arlene Strube (wife of Calvary Chapel’s minister Henry Stube) asked her to fill in for her in the Baldwin school cafeteria and work with Ida Clark two hours a day. She agreed to take the part-time job since her Mother-in-Law could watch her daughter.

 In 1957 Malcolm Wibberley and Helen Laisi took her aside and asked her if she would like to become the school secretary since Doris Becotte Swan was leaving the position. She passed a typing test and the current Principal, Mr. Ferrell, said she could have the job, but Beverly said “no”, but later she talked it over with her husband, Bill, and he thought it was a good idea so she decided to take the job. However, she told Mr. Ferrell she would only stay until June. When June arrived, so did Malcolm Wibberley. He took her aside and said, “I want to talk to you”. He asked her if she would stay a little longer to help since Canterbury Board of Education had just hired a new principal, David V. Norell. Beverly thought the job would only be a couple of weeks, but she continued as the Secretary to the Principal/Superintendent until her retirement in 1994. When she started at the school there were approximately 325 students. When she retired there were about 625.

When Beverly started her new position, the Principal’s office contained the desks of the Principal and the secretary, facing each other. It also had a couch for the teachers—this was considered the “teacher’s lounge”. It was also the office of the school nurse, Ruth Gorman. I remember just outside of that office in the hall was a large framed photo of Dr. Helen Baldwin. It was too difficult for the children to say Mrs. “Pukalo”, so one of the teachers, Lillian Goodrich, allowed the children to call her Mrs. Bev. She is still known today by many former students and friends as Aunt Bev.

Bev worked with the following Principals/Superintendents: Edward Ferrell, David Norell, David Boland, Dr. O’Neil, Myrtle Morse, Jim Gallow and Robert Coffell.

She can recall many stories regarding the children, but the following story stands out in her mind. When there were two separate school buildings, some of the children had to have lunch at 11:15 in the morning. Because it was so early, they were allowed to take something from the lunchroom to have as a snack at 2:00pm in the afternoon. One First Grade teacher found something dripping from one of the lunch boxes and asked the First Grader what he had saved for a snack. He said he saved his orange popsicle.

Beverly especially loved all the students. It makes her so happy to have the children, who are now adults, come up to her and give her a hug and talk about their childhood days in school. Sometimes they say they were a “bad” kid, but Bev will always say no, you were just a little devilish. Bev said God sent Mrs. Strube to her to give her a job, she wasn’t sure of at first, but a job she grew to love for nearly 40 years.

 

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