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John B. Sullivan - Early Years: Gail Keller Scott stories about ‘Johnny’

Photo Courtesy John B. Sullivan archives

As part of 100th year anniversary, we asked for your stories about your interactions with the Sullivans and staff at American Insurance. This story takes us back to when John Sullivan was just a young boy. So we wanted to take a minute today to step back in time to share these recollections with you.

Gail Keller Scott has known the Sullivan family since she was the babysitter at age 12 in the 18th Avenue neighborhood in Lewiston. Her younger brother, Danny, was the same age as “Johnny”. So, she took a liking to Johnny. She remembers that over the years the two boys played outside a lot, and two of them were easier to keep track of than just one.

The 50s and 60s were the "Leave it to Beaver" times and Gail said, “We lived on 18th Avenue and we would go downtown and just all over the place unaccompanied by adults because Lewiston was a safe place."  But, she recalls sometimes being afraid to babysit at night. “I think I would call my parents and have them look outside to see if anyone was there, outside.” She also recalls walking home two doors down and having either Betty or Frank (“Sully”) stand outside and watch her until she got to her front door just to be safe.

Reasons to call American Insurance 

Gail and Danny, the underage driver!

Gail remembers an accident in the neighborhood that involved an insurance claim at American Insurance. The year was circa 1957 when the Reno Addition was being developed.

"Mom was hosting a baby shower when my brother, Danny (around age 4), climbed into Helen Bussert's vintage yellow Jeepster and shifted the car into neutral," Gail said. "It was parked in our steep driveway. The Jeepster gathered speed as it crossed the street and bounced down the hill until it hit a pile of excess concrete and suddenly stopped. A wide-eyed boy sat stunned in the driver's seat.

"The car? As I remember it, it had about $400 damage to the underside," she said. "A neighbor, Ione Hinkle, fortunately was not hurt when she slipped in the mud while chasing the car. And my mother's high heels went from stylish to mud-encrusted as she raced to the car and her dazed son. My brother? Experience was a good teacher in this case."

An Easter photo of Majorie Keller on the 600 block of
18th Avenue, looking north toward the Normal Hill
Cemetery and the Lewiston Hill.  (Photo courtesy of
Gail Keller Scott)

John recalls that he and Danny would play together a lot when they were in grade school.  We would just jump over the back fences and trespass over two neighbors yards to get back and forth from Danny's and Gail’s yard to my house. John recalls one time when he and Danny were playing with BB guns, they had to stop while John went in the house for a few minutes to eat his lunch. Danny just waited out in the garage and I guess he had a "Dennis the Menace" moment.  

John said, “We heard quite a commotion outside and found out that Danny had shot-out George and Nancy Follett’s front bay window across the street.” 

Since John was inside having lunch and his mother, Betty, could attest for his whereabouts, it was Danny who got in big trouble. So, John dodged a bullet - or rather a BB, so to speak, on that one. And, in Danny's defense, he was left unsupervised - ha! 

Gail got her first car insurance at American Insurance for a 1964 Mustang in 1966. According to our files, we have also insured a 1966 VW, 1969 VW and a 1992 and 2003 Honda Accords.

"Over the years, there were other cars, houses, rental and vacation properties and boats which American Insurance has covered," she shared.

Gail is shown on Easter 1954 on the 600 block of 18th 
Avenue, which was then a dirt road. (Photo courtesy of
Gail Keller Scott)

Gail's one accident occurred when she was driving an older model GMC Jimmy. At the corner of 21st Street at 16th Avenue, she was stopped on the hill at the traffic light. When the light turned green, the car in front did not move but Gail did. Idaho's seat belt law had just gone into effect and the uninjured people in the other car were not buckled up. American Insurance promptly covered the physical damage to the other car, the Jimmy was unscathed, and Gail received only a $35 traffic fine.

“The Agent I talked to said we should feel so lucky because we just have to pay for damage to the vehicle and no bodily damage since the people in the other vehicle were not wearing their seatbelts,” she said.

Gail had a 37 year fulltime teaching career from 1966 to 2004 at Clarkston's Lincoln Junior High and Asotin High School teaching English, journalism and social studies, and then she substituted for 14 years. 

She appreciated reading our story in our Newsletter about Nellie Flatt, as they were in the district together. “I subbed for quite a bit as well, and enjoyed having the kids.”

Gail appreciated the obituary article about Frank “Sully” Sullivan about how he served his country. She can recall other neighbors who served in the war and who didn’t regularly talk about the events. From 1945 to 1953 was only eight years after the war ended so people just didn't talk about it then. 

She remembers that one neighbor, Wayne Petrie, had been a POW and walked in the Bataan Death March. She once interviewed him for a high school speech class. 

"Anyone who is interested in learning more about this historic tragic event should read John Grisham's book The Reckoning that showed very clearly how the service members lived while they were overseas or prisoners of war," she concluded. 

Read Gail's original note that she sent after Sully's passing to the Sullivan family in 2013 here.


Share your memories with us!

As we prepare for our 100th anniversary, we want to hear your experiences and memories of our relationship. Please tell us your stories about your most memorable, most funny, your most exciting, your most worrisome memories of the time you've been here with our agency. Contact Stephanie Herbert, marketing assistant, at marketing [at] am-ins [dot] com or (208) 413-6242 or comment here below to share your stories with us!


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