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Nebraska...Our Towns

Nebraska...Our Towns

Terrytown -- Scotts Bluff County

Terry Carpenter back in Nebraska after several years as assistant city manager at Long Beach, CA, at the drawing board where ideas took shape.
Row of "mobile homes" during the Depression in the original "Terrytown" of south Scottsbluff.
A much quoted man, Carpenter had opinions on many things, and wasn't one to mince words.
The house Terry built for the love-of-his-life, Hazeldeane Carpenter.
The working-man's Senator, Carpenter had friends on both sides of the tracks.

Nebraska's only gasoline refinery was sold by its owner, Terry Carpenter, one bright spring day in the late 1940s, and like any business deal of that magnitude, the transaction involved a lot of personal tension. Carpenter, who had been having trouble with his eyes, suddenly lost his sight for several hours. He attributed the temporary loss to the tension involved since at the same time, he also sold his creamery and five or six other businesses he had built up in Scottsbluff over the years in the part of town known as "Terrytown."

But, that was not the end. He then bought what seemed to be worthless river-bottom land between Scottsbluff and Gering, and promptly set about "making improvements."

One of the first things was to set up a brick factory. To get sand and gravel for making bricks and blocks, he used what was available. The hole that remained promptly filled with water and is now known as "Terry's Lake." Sand that was not suitable for bricks was used for fill in the low-land. Forty eight apartments were then constructed from the bricks.

Terry Carpenter was a unique individual, and never one to sit still for long. As a very intelligent, hard-working businessman, he of course had been active in civic affairs and in 1947 was elected Mayor of Scottsbluff. That was a short-lived honor, since, because of his many business ventures, some people thought his position as mayor, and a supplier of materials to a firm that contracted with the city, was in violation of state statues. Feeling it unfair to other city officials and an unhealthy situation for the community, he stepped down, saying "In taking this action, I realize the bulk of the criticism is coming from a very small segment of the citizens who would oppose anything with which I might be connected, regardless of merit." Not long after that action, he decided to sell his businesses in that city and look elsewhere for something that needed doing. This new project on the other side of the river was "that something."

A long time friend, Chuck Davey said, "Terry came from a very poor background so he had a great empathy for people who were down on their luck, and didn't have anything to live on. He came from the wrong side of the tracks and didn't want to go back. He also tried to help people so they didn't have to go back either!" During the Depression years, he had allowed the penniless and down-and-out citizens to camp in wagons and buggies on land he owned. If they had a shovel and wheelbarrow, he'd pay a dollar a day for moving dirt. This allowed them to eat, and he provided milk to them from the creamery. (In time, these camp grounds were built into a mobile home park.)

With the area along the river greatly improved, he hoped it would be annexed. However, neither Gering or Scottsbluff were willing to consider it. So knowing a few things about how governments are set up, he incorporated it into its own village and named it "Terrytown."

Soon businesses included a horse stable, which was later turned into the popular Stable Club Cafe, Terry's Arena, The Copper Kettle restaurant, and Terry's Store, where liquor by the drink was sold long before Scottsbluff or Gering allowed such sales. There were other businesses including; a line of gas stations, bakery, drive-in theater, and a radio station.

In 1952 Carpenter was elected to the Nebraska Legislature. He served in this capacity for the next 22 years, accomplishing more than any other Senator before or since. He was known through out the state as "the man who got things done.!" The list of credits in his commemorative tabloid is long and impressive. Top among them; the Educational T.V. building and translator system making quality education and entertainment available to everyone in Nebraska, the University's new Sports Complex, and the home he built for his wife, Hazeldeane Carpenter, in Scottsbluff.

Compiled from material sent by Mrs.Terry Carpenter, 2309 4 Avenue, Scottsbluff, NE 69361