What inspired the Da Boys BREAD (for schools) RUN?

Durkee hill sign
©Michael C. Antil, Sr 1935

Imagine, if you will, what it would be like to grow up with no television. Growing up in a place in time when, if you were lucky enough to even have a telephone, you had to wait until your neighbor was done using theirs before you could ask the operator to make your call — and then having to be careful what you said on it because everyone could listen in on the party line and you didn't want to offend anyone.

Oh, you didn't have to worry about secrets back then — there weren't any secrets — you just avoided at all costs getting admonished by any and all Mothers within earshot. The mothers all stuck together, it seemed, and anyone of them had permission from all the rest of them to stand you down when necessary or to pinch your ear and lead you home like a bad puppy to face the inevitable stare down of your parents. (The "Stare Down" — you've heard of it — we've all done it — it was, in fact, invented by the parents of the 30's, 40's and 50's).

If you can imagine all of this, then you can begin to see what growing up in the beautiful "Currier and Ives"-like farm and dairy country all around the Village of Fabius in Central New York State in the 1940's — white snow-covered blankets in the winter, yellow and crusty golden browns in the fall, and a green more majestic than emeralds in the spring and summer.

At a time when some neighbors still had horses pulling hay wagons and surrey carriages — when you would shout out of a school bus window "Get a Horse!" to friends on their tractors — can you imagine kids in these 1930's and 40's and early 50's seeing this enormous sign on the top side of a hill from as far as 30 miles away for the very first time?  It could take your breath away.  The "D" alone on the sign was taller than 350 feet! As kids, we would imagine that 10 of our school buildings would have fit in the "D" alone — and we would imagine how it would take more than 3 football fields laid end to end to fit the width of the sign into it.

This was way before Disneyland was ever even invented — or even thought about.

Wow! . . . but wait — there's more.

Driving with our Moms and Dads to see this Durkee's Bread sign on a hill just a few miles from where we all grew up was truly an adventure we looked forward to - just as it was in laying on the floor in the dark, with the glow of the dial casting shadows as we listened to the radio for Superman, "Look. Up In The Sky" or Sergeant Preston, "On King! ... Mush!, You Huskies!" or the Lone Ranger, "Hi-Yo, Silver, Away!", or reading The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, "Haven't you ever wanted to go on an adventure, Jim?", or The Hardy Boys, "I've been on some of your boat rides. We'll probably get lost or marooned and won't get home for a week."

The Durkee's Bread sign just seemed to fit in for some reason; and, by just being there, it made growing up during that time magical for us. For some reason, we knew we were special — for some reason. We were witness to a real taste of what "Bigger than Life" meant — and it made Superman and all very plausible — that we could achieve our dreams and of how we were blessed with its presence as an everyday reminder of what a person could achieve if he put his mind and heart to it.

It didn't take much to stir our imaginations in those days. Stirring it was all most of us needed - it seems.

The 1935 BLIZZARD stirred imaginations — all main roads were snowed in.
Albert and Big Mike send bread to Binghamton by plane!
plane 1935 blizzard
(click on photo to enlarge)

Another fond memory we all share? How about a favorite? How about the class field trips when the bus would take us all (right past that Durkee's Bread hillside sign on Route 11) to the Durkee's Bakery plant in Homer, N.Y. , where Mr. Durkee and Mr. Antil would hand every kid on the tour a whole loaf of warm, not yet sliced bread, right out of the oven. A loaf that each of us would typically have devoured on the school bus by the time we turned right in Tully en route back to our school in Fabius – Fabius Central.

Today, we give thanks to these two men for a lot of our childhood memories.

Two Dads — both pillars of neighboring communities, who just happened to be partners in the Durkee's Bakery of Homer and Carthage, N.Y. — and who, between them, had 17 children.

Mr. Antil & Mr. Durkee
mike antil
al durkee
(click on photo to enlarge)

Albert J. Durkee and Michael C. Antil Sr. (and their wives, Florence Durkee and Mary Antil) were best friends from the early 1920's and they were together as business partners since 1929. For all of our growing-up years, they not only entertained us with things like "bigger than life" hillside signs, and bigger than life floats for parades for Ful-Milk and Korn Top and Donald Duck and Sunbeam and Duncan Hines breads - these two great inspirations, Mr. Albert Durkee and Mr. "Mike" Antil also put bread on our tables . . . .

parade float 1

parade float 2
(click on a photo to enlarge)

... they did it by buying our family's wheat, corn, milk and eggs from the farmers; by employing 100's of our families and neighbors to bake all the bread and rolls and cakes and cookies and even more to bring it all back to all the stores and the dinner tables of homes all throughout upstate New York.

Wes Carr, one of Da Boys,
in 1941 with his dad in their Durkee's Bakery delivery van

(click on photo to enlarge)

Everyone who was there then — when we were — has fond memories of the bakery, of Durkee's Bread, and of these two great men. It is in their names — Albert J. Durkee and Michael C. Antil Sr. — that we chose to leave this legacy to all schools — benefiting schools and ultimately school-children everywhere - just as they would have wanted us to do.

ful milk metal sign

Da Boys BREAD (for schools) RUN is a gift from one basketball team of '56/'57 — we affectionately call "Da Boys of '56/'57", who grew up in the world-and-times of Mr. Durkee and Mr. Antil. We now volunteer our time and energy and money, in their honor and memory, so that we can help both our beloved Alma Mater and schools everywhere.

Albert J. Durkee and Michael C. Antil Sr. would have wanted it this way.