By Mike Mastovich
JOHNSTOWN, Pa. – Sisters Betty Baldwin and Joan “Tootie” Kelly have fed tens of thousands of hungry sports fans during five decades.
The two Johnstown women certainly are familiar faces at both the Cambria County War Memorial Arena and Point Stadium, where they’ve worked in the concession stands since the 1960s.
“I started first when the firemen had it,” said Baldwin, referring to the City of Johnstown Fire Department, which operated the Point concessions years ago. “My husband was the groundskeeper for 39 years at Point Stadium. Tootie came in when the firemen were there, too.”
Baldwin, who only laughed when asked her age, has served hamburgers, hot dogs, nachos, fries and soft drinks at both venues for about 45 years.
Kelly, the younger sister, has worked the stands for 40 years.
“I had five kids and I had to work in between raising a family, but I always made it there,” Kelly said. “I wanted to work with my sister. It’s been great. We get along fine.
“When we first worked there, it was altogether different. We had a great time, down the Point especially.”
Currently, the sisters and their co-workers at the concession stands are serving customers at both sites, with the ECHL Johnstown Chiefs playing at the arena and Bishop McCort football and other scholastic sports at the Point.
“I like people,” Baldwin said of working at the downtown Johnstown facilities.
“That’s my outlet,” added Kelly. “I get out and meet the people and see more people. I know what’s going on in the world and down in the city, especially.”
Menus have changed through the years. So have the cooking and refrigeration systems so pivotal to such an operation.
“You used to just make french fries and hot dogs at the Point,” Baldwin said. “It’s altogether different now. It really has changed a lot. We used to only sell hot dogs and french fries and candy. We didn’t have all that stuff like they have at the War Memorial.”
They recalled working many memorable sporting events on the ice and baseball diamond, as well as the basketball court when the arena frequently hosted hoops contests.
“We enjoyed all of the times, really,” Baldwin said. “The AAABA Tournament is the best.
“We always met nice people. When they made ‘Slap Shot,’ we worked then at the War Memorial. We worked the concession stand. We waited on Paul Newman. We gave him popcorn. He said, ‘Hello.’ He seemed very nice.”
When the motion picture “All the Right Moves” was filmed at the Point in 1983, Baldwin and Kelly helped distribute thousands of free hot dogs used to lure fans who were “extras” in the stadium crowd scene in the Tom Cruise movie.
They also were on hand when Bon Jovi rocked the Point, creating plenty of controversy after the playing surface was damaged by thousands of rock fans standing in the muddy field in the late 1980s.
“They come and go,” Kelly said of the players, performers and fellow concession stand workers.
“We were there for the beginning of hockey. We were there for the early years of the AAABA. We were there for all of that. We always worked together except when the firemen had the two stands at the Point. Back then, I would go work the stand that used to be under the scoreboard.”
The sisters hope they’ll occupy their familiar places in the concession stands for at least a few more years.
“I don’t know how long it will be, as long as I can do it, I guess,” Baldwin said.