Early 1900s - Arthur Holcomb ran a Socony Standard Oil gas station there built by Jake Waldron. 1932 or '33 Charlie Pereau bought the station and added a separate building for a store with an area that served lunches. He also built a dance floor where Fred West, son of Elmer West of Igerna, played for dances. The dance hall finally closed down and remained vacant in great disrepair.
Ken and Meta Davis purchased the property and turned it into a restaurant. They also built seven cabins across the road on what is now Stewarts Shops. Later, Basil and Ruth LaPointe converted two of the Davis cabins to make their home. The Davises sold the property to the Hartleys in the late 30s, then Ray and Fran Ringler Riding owned it for seven years into the 50s.
Basil and Ruth LaPoint, their son-in-law Wick Martin and daughter, Nathalie Martin then took over. They kept the name "Riding's" for a few years then called it "Basil and Wick's" until 1991 when it closed and remained empty until October 1998 when it was purchased by Bill and Maureen Donovan. They had the building demolished by the North Creek Fire Department in a controlled burn and rebuilt a new improved restaurant called "Casey's North". The Donovans ran it until May 2006 when it finally closed. Kelly Hayes opened the business under the name "Kelly O's" from 2007-2008. Today it is known as "Durant's" after the famous Durant of railroad fame and is operated by Kip McDonald and Marian Eagan.
Mention the name "Basil and Wick's" to almost any local resident of a certain age and a story is sure to be forthcoming. Bill Nickerson fondly recalls shooting bumper pool there, while Mike Ordway has unprintable humorous memories of the urinal-less men's room. Burt Miner played hand shuffleboard, danced to the juke box, shot darts, and took the lovely Helen Sheridan there on a first date. Helen (later Mrs. Burt Miner) notes that although the legal drinking age at the time was 18, most young folks did not abuse that privilege.
Tom Butler shares some poignant memories of the popular gathering place:
"In the early or mid 1950's, Ray and Fran Riding purchased the place, and that is when my memories really began. It was the place to be on Saturday nights especially. The jukebox never stopped playing, the dance floor was jammed, and excitement reigned supreme. There were bunny hops with thirty or forty people trailing in and out of the building, regardless of rain, sleet or snow. Emulating a very popular western television show of that time called Rawhide, Denny Lamos of Long Lake, would arrange six or more chairs on top of three or four tables, and he would be the stagecoach driver with make believe whip, horses, and gee hawing from the passengers seated behind him. A wild, loud and fantastic time was had by all.'
It was the time of our youth, and the place was packed on weekends. The living was better than good. Whenever we could, we coaxed Basil to play the piano. His tickling of the keys was hot, fast, beautiful and accurate. At times, he needed a pail of water handy, or perhaps a fire extinguisher, in case OSHA ever visited the place, as his playing was indeed very intense. On Saturday or Sunday afternoons, there were many impromptu jam sessions when musicians from all over the area gathered and played country, rock, bluegrass, jazz and blues. The good times rolled, but then, even faster, they ran away from us. When Basil retired, his daughter, Nat, took over management for a few years still serving delicious food and friendship, but the wild times had become a bit more sedate. After Nat closed the bar, it sat vacant for a long period of time.
"The establishment has been a mainstay in our community, and we wish the new proprietors every success, and hope they will have memories as many of us have, when they reach their golden years."
The scene on the dance floor is remembered vividly by musician Frank Conti:
"It was 1972 when Denise and I began teaching at JCS. Our first apartment was the cabin in back of Basil and Wicks. After meeting Jeff Baroudi, we formed a band, Frank Conti and the Rhythm Machine, which included Jeff on bass guitar, Gary Tracey on guitar, Hank Freebern on drums/vocals, and me on sax. After getting a songlist together, we asked to play at Basil and Wicks. We were an instant hit, with cars lined up on both sides of Route 28 every Friday and Saturday night. It was so crowded on the dance floor that the floor often felt like a trampoline. It would spring up and down as they danced. Usually in the crowd were such personalities as Chuck and Tudy Severance, Barry and Terry Waterston, Ernie Johnson, Hoopie and Joan Colton, Micky Baroudi, John and Evelyn Kellogg, and Tom and Stub McConnell. What a happening place."
Frank Morehouse expresses some comical, tender, thoughtful observations:
"It is not possible to write a story about Basil & Wick's. The place was a story every time you went in there.
From those of us who would really like to show our age you will still hear "Riding's" once in awhile. The Ridings owned the place before Basil and Wick bought it and it was a haunt of many of our parents. For my age group though it became Basil's since Basil was more than likely the one that would throw you out of the place if he didn't like your behavior on a particular night. Luckily his memory was short or his capacity for forgiveness was great because people always made their way back into his good graces. Basil was "70 something" for the 20 or 30 years that I knew him and Wick was his son-in-law; a fact that would only be acknowledged on leap years and Sundays. Between the two of them and Ruth and Nat in the kitchen, they held court, entertained, counseled, and loved everyone who knew them, and a lot who didn't know them, nightly for many years.
It was the only place in town to get a pizza which could only be gotten after a certain time by going out into the kitchen and asking Ruth and Nat very nicely if they would mind making one. It was a gathering place where old and young, local and stranger, democrat and republican, left and right, up and down, could meet and if nothing else agree to disagree. It is even rumored that certain people met their future bride in this fine establishment under the watchful eyes of all the proprietors.
I don't know if there are places as dear to so many hearts now or if our fast paced lives have done away with them. I do know that for a lot of years the stars aligned over the south end of North Creek Village and people of all walks came together to share, laugh, sing, dance and fall in love at Basil and Wick's.
By Sally Heidrich and Kathy Maiorana with contributions by Don Roblee, Jamie Martin, Nathalie Sharrow, Linda and Tom Butler, Joan Colton, Joyce Parker and others.