Law and Order

The Daily Prompt: Snapshot Stories — Open the first photo album you can find — real or virtual, your call — and stop at the first picture of yourself you see there. Tell us the story of that photo.

Okay, you asked for it. Well, maybe you didn’t really ask for it. But I’m going to give it to you. First album, first photo of me that I find. I must admit I ran across quite a few early photos. But what can I say about this one? Really, all I can tell you about this photo is that it is of me. I can’t tell you how old I was (guessing somewhere around two maybe?). We were in Columbus, Ohio but I’m not sure if we were living at the Jefferson Hotel (father was manager) at the time of this picture. As you can see, I don’t know anything about photo restoration and this one is in very poor condition.

Linda_Fotor (2)

I grew up loving mysteries, and like many young girls during the 1950s and 1960s, I voraciously read (and vicariously lived) as Nancy Drew. When I was older, I worked with the police department from 1974-75 as a patrol officer.  But reality set in and I realized I didn’t want to be the one GOING TO a shooting in progress. So my working life was spent working with attorneys safely tucked behind a typewriter/computer. But I never lost my love of a good mystery and I still love good old target shooting! And I must say, I’m pretty good at it even if I do say so myself!

Focused

Daily Prompt: Papa Loves Mambo

What sort of music was played in your house when you were growing up? What effect, (if any) did it have on your musical tastes?

Oh, my stars! When I opened up my email and saw this Daily Prompt, I actually laughed out loud.  The words to that song, Papa Loves Mambo, popped right into my head along with several others from the mid-1950s. At that time, most of the music I listened to belonged to my older brother (11 years my senior). I, of course, had songs such as “How Much is That Doggy in the Window” and other popular tunes from singers/actors such as Burl Ives, Gene Autry and Hopalong Cassidy. But the ones I remember most and thought of first when I saw this prompt were my teenage (then) brother’s records. I assume they were pretty much the hits of the day. Sometimes when I want to be silly around people now, I’ll start singing or saying the words to such tunes such as these:

Green Door

Me Make Um Pow Wow

Istanbul (not Constantinople)

Okay, if you’re through laughing, you can pick yourself up off the floor. Sheesh, I was only about six years old. Obviously, they were my formative years because the words and music stayed with me! Of course, it wasn’t long after that (probably somewhere around 1957-1958) my best friend and I taught ourselves how to jitterbug to some of these 1950s hits by watching American Bandstand!

Yes, I really do like a lot of the 50s music. But the truth of the matter is that I have always liked and will always prefer the sounds of the 1960s and 1970s. And that’s just the way it is — I mean the way I am! I’m not about to start listing all my favorites from my teen years. We’d be here all week!

Daily Prompt: Our House

From the Daily Prompt:

What are the earliest memories of the place you lived in as a child? Describe your house. What did it look like? How did it smell? What did it sound like? Was it quiet like a library, or full of the noise of life? Tell us all about it, in as much detail as you can recall.

Barrington2_Fotor

I lived in this English Tudor from about 3 until I was 6.  That house has, I believe, formed my entire taste in homes and furnishing styles.  Course, I guess they do say those are the “formative” years!!  I still have so many memories from those few years in that house.

Dad_Fotor

I remember Dad’s strawberry patch in the back yard. I can still remember him complaining about the birds getting his strawberries. So, he took some chicken wire and made a frame to cover the patch. He said it worked perfectly to keep the birds out; if he could only find something to keep the little fingers out!

There was Mom’s flower garden and rose bushes. She had every color rose and tulip and I can still smell that beautiful strong floral scent. I don’t know all the different kinds of flowers she had. But I remember the beauty. I’m just sad that I have no pictures. I have great memories of that backyard. That’s where my mother would sunbathe on her quilt while teaching me the alphabet and to count to 100.

I remember my Dad stopping the car at the end of the driveway when he was getting home from work, putting me on his lap and letting me “drive” the car up the driveway!

This is Mom and me in the living room. I’m all dressed up because I was a flower girl in a wedding. I have no clue whose wedding!

_FoMomtor

Our house backed up to the high school football stadium. My Dad and brother would go up on top of the garage after each high school football game to gather up the lost items/money from the overzealous patrons!  Having the stadium there also gave us the PERFECT view of the fireworks each 4th of July.  I remember picking and eating the wild rhubard that grew behind the neighbor’s garage; climbing trees — including the neighbor’s cherry tree and eating the good ones at the top; learning to ride my bike; my best friend Dodi.  As a side note, after 60 years, I have reconnected with Dodi via Facebook and email! Amazing.

One time when my aunt (my mom’s twin sister) was visiting, she and the rest of the family were outside.  I was probably no older than four. I went up to the attic, which had been converted into my brother’s private sanctuary (he’s 11 years older than me), where I had no business. But, for whatever reason, I decided to look out the open, screened window at everyone. Lo and behold, next thing I know is that the screen starts to fall. Well, since I didn’t want to get into trouble, I held onto that screen while hanging half in and half out of the window. I remember screaming my head off. Next thing, my aunt just happens to hear/see me and she starts screaming and running. Needless to say, they got to me in time! So much hugs and yelling. Imagine nearly falling out of the third floor attic window because I wouldn’t let go of the screen when it fell out. You can almost make out the window at the very top on the side of the house. 

I had my Boston Terrier, Happy, then. My constant and faithful companion. Bostons do have bull dog traits — no wait, that’s bull headed traits! I was upstairs on the second floor getting ready to take Happy for a walk in the neighborhood. He had his leash on him and we started down the stairs. We were about halfway down the stairs and something excited him. He took off and dragged me down the remainder of the stairs. At least they were carpeted and I was just scared and not hurt. My dad caught me at the bottom and tried to console me by telling me I should have just let go of the leash. Hmm, I see a pattern developing.

I remember the playroom off my bedroom entered through my closet; my Mom decorating my bedroom in pink and white, stenciling and handpainting a big “L” on my bed’s footboard.

So many more memories of that time and place. But please don’t ask me what all I did yesterday! I can’t remember!

The Long and Short of It!

I remember one summer back in the 50s, I guess I was probably about eight to ten years old, and my parents took me from Ohio to Kentucky to spend some summer time with my cousin, Carol Sue. She was a year younger than me and we were like sisters. That summer we did everything together.

Carol Sue was going to get to go to a beauty parlor (they were called parlors back then!) and get her hair cut. I really wanted to go, too. So, my aunt had me write my Mom and Dad and ask if I could have $5 to go with Carol Sue and get a haircut. When the money arrived, off we went to get our haircuts. We went by ourselves because the shopping center was within walking distance.

Carol Sue went first and when she was done I really liked her haircut. So, I jumped up into the chair and told the lady that I wanted the same haircut. She hemmed and hawed and talked to the other ladies in the shop. She kept asking me if I was sure it was okay with my mother if she cut my hair. “Of course,” I said, “She gave me the money to come here!” And she proceeded to give me a haircut. I loved it!

A short time later, my parents came to pick me up. I remember standing in the living room with Carol Sue and my aunt. I was so excited to see them again even though I had had such a wonderful time at my cousin’s house.

My mother was the first one through the front door closely followed by my father. As soon as she walked in, she took one look at me, screamed and fell back into my confused father’s arms. He took one look at me and he started yelling, “What did you do to your hair? Look what you’ve done to your mother! Your hair….! Your mother….!” He stuttered those phrases about two or three times. I didn’t understand what the big deal was.

That was about the time they began “yelling” (my parents never really yelled, they just voiced disapproval) at my aunt. Well, the big deal was that my mother loved my hair. I suppose my dad did too. It went all the way down my back to just below my waist and it was thick and wavy.

001

My mother recovered. She said that when she sent me the money to go with Carol Sue to get a haircut, she thought I was just going to get a trim. My aunt started in on how she hated long hair on an active child. It was impossible to untangle and it would grow back. My aunt survived.

I had gone to the beauty parlor with waist-length hair and I came out with the style of the day – a pixie cut – one-inch all over!  I don’t have any pictures of myself with it but here’s a Google image I found that would have been similar.

Source: Google Images

Source: Google Images

Everyone survived! My folks took me home and my hair grew out again! You know, now that I think about it, I don’t think I ever got to spend the summer with Carol Sue again.  Hmmmm….

Pinky!

Ode to Pinky

I think that I shall never see

A bunny lovely as Pinky

Yep, pure and complete corn! But, what do you expect when you’re talking about a bunny that’s at least as old, if not older, than me?  HA!  That’s right.  My little Pinky.  We have a history together, Pinky and me, yes we do.  Why, I bet that bunny came into my life when I was about three months old.  Do I dare say that I’m just weeks away from turning 65?  Okay, I won’t say it.  We’ve been through a lot together, Pinky and me.  You can think all you want that I’m nuts but I’ve kept this little bunny with me my whole life.  In my youngest years, Pinky was my “security blanket”.  Unlike Linus, I found that it was much easier and more convenient to carry around Pinky rather than dragging some old blanket all over the place.

I couldn’t go to sleep at night until I had Pinky safely tucked in, far away from any edges of the bed. Oh, my, we certainly wouldn’t want any part of him to extend over the edge of the bed and then suddenly be taken by those monster things that always lurked just out of sight under the bed.  Why I’d sooner have hanged my own foot over the edge than any part of Pinky.

Are you wondering what he looks like? Well, here’s a picture of him now.  Turns out I don’t seem to have any pictures of him when we were young.  I will say that we both definitely looked a lot better back then!  He measures 9 1/2 inches from the top of his ear to the tip of his leg.  So, you see, he would have been much more manageable than some old blanket.

Pinky

Ah, it brings to mind the words of that immortal poem by who knows who that goes, “Fuzzy Wuzzy was a bear (insert bunny even though it won’t rhyme!), Fuzzy Wuzzy had no hair, Fuzzy Wuzzy wasn’t very fuzzy, was he?”  Hoo boy, we really did say those things!  Yep, when Pinky was younger, he was covered in a soft blue-grey fuzz.  His ears, and the ends of his arms and legs were covered in a soft pink fabric.  At one time he had two eyes! And, yes, the eyes were made of a hard plastic or glass, I can’t tell.  And I didn’t swallow it!  Now the fuzz is practically all gone.  The funny thing is that it’s like it has disintegrated on its own because I don’t remember him being that bare when I put him away.

I remember the first time I “lost” him.  Or should I say, I remember the first time I remember I lost him.  I was probably about three or four years old.  One day he just seemed to vanish from the house.  It didn’t make any sense to me.  I cried for what seemed like at least three days.  My parents turned the house upside down looking for him if for no other reason than to just shut me up!  I knew I wouldn’t have lost him.  Suddenly one day he just showed up.  Truth?  I think my older brother had hidden him from me.  It’s one of those things you’ll never know.

Anyone remember traveling before we had Interstates?  Now, I’m really showing my age.  Anyway, we used to travel between our little town in northwestern Ohio to visit my Mom’s family in Lexington, Kentucky.  Two lane roads all the way.  And my Dad was the type that (1) he always traveled at night because of less traffic and (2) he loved to stop at little diners at almost every little town to sit at the counter, have a cup of coffee and talk to the people.  Well, on one of those trips, being a very sleepy child, I left Pinky at some diner.  I have no idea how many miles we had driven before I started crying for my long lost friend.  And wouldn’t you know, my Dad actually turned the car around and went back and retrieved my Pinky for me.  I know that what he really wanted to do was to keep going on the road but he did that for me.

I remember a time, oh, I was probably about eight years old.  I decided on my own that Pinky needed a bath.  I doubt he’s what you would term washable but I did it anyway.  It probably would have worked out just fine but, kid that I was, I put him in a plastic bag with wooden colored pick-up sticks.  My goodness, for a long time that bunny had so many different colors on him.  But time has a way of taking care of just about everything!

Well, enough reminiscences.  These things only came to my mind because I was going through some things and “found” Pinky again.  It’s funny the things we attach ourselves to.  Anyway, I hope I haven’t completely bored you!

MARY HARTLINE

Hartline 001

DOES anyone else remember Mary Hartline from the 1950’s television show Super Circus? Well, I do. Except that when I was a kid, I always thought it was called The Mary Hartline Show! If you want more information about her and/or her show, just Google “Mary Hartline”. I liked everything about her – her beautiful long blonde hair, her costume, her boots, and her baton. As a child, I was the proud owner of a Mary Hartline doll, a Mary HartlineDoll dress and her paper dolls. I do still have my doll.

In the early 1950’s, I modeled children’s clothing for a number of the major department stores in Columbus (Lazarus, The Union, etc.). It was loads of fun. In 1952, Mary Hartline came to town to introduce her new line of girls’ clothing. I was lucky enough to be a part of it. Now if I could just actually remember the whole thing! If it wasn’t for having the pictures, it would have been a missing memory.

Hartline paper

Hartline paper2

Well, if Mary Hartline had any influence on me it would have to be the following:

1.  White majorette boots with tassels (came later in my junior and senior years!);

2.  Baton (ditto!);

3.  Long, wavy blonde hair; and

4.  Loving elephants!

At Easter Time…

Bunnyland 2a

Gosh, does anyone still put their children through this ? I look completely puzzled in this picture. I’m not so sure I was having such a great time!

Bunnyland 4a

They did it again a few years later. At least I’m not afraid to look it in the face. I think I’m smiling. Of course my Mom probably convinced me it was just another photo shoot. I must have been given some candy or something.

Anyway, Easter is such a beautiful time of year. But these photos got me wondering about the connection between eggs, rabbits and Easter. So, I found an interesting article on Discovery.com. A couple of statements from the article state:

According to the University of Florida’s Center for Children’s Literature and Culture, the origin of the celebration — and the origin of the Easter Bunny — can be traced back to 13th-century, pre-Christian Germany, when people worshiped several gods and goddesses. The Teutonic deity Eostra was the goddess of spring and fertility, and feasts were held in her honor on the Vernal Equinox. Her symbol was the rabbit because of the animal’s high reproduction rate.

*  *  *

The first Easter Bunny legend was documented in the 1500s. By 1680, the first story about a rabbit laying eggs and hiding them in a garden was published. These legends were brought to the United States in the 1700s, when German immigrants settled in Pennsylvania Dutch country, according to the Center for Children’s Literature and Culture.

The Easter bunny, colored eggs and parades are all well and good but this is why Christians around the world celebrate Easter:

John 20:11-17

11 ¶But Mary stood without at the sepulchre weeping: and as she wept, she stooped down, and looked into the sepulchre,

12 And seeth two angels in white sitting, the one at the head, and the other at the feet, where the body of Jesus had lain.

13 And they say unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? She saith unto them, Because they have taken away my Lord, and I know not where they have laid him.

14 And when she had thus said, she turned herself back, and saw Jesus standing, and knew not that it was Jesus.

15 Jesus saith unto her, Woman, why weepest thou? whom seekest thou? She, supposing him to be the gardener, saith unto him, Sir, if thou have borne him hence, tell me where thou hast laid him, and I will take him away.

16 Jesus saith unto her, Mary. She turned herself, and saith unto him, Rabboni; which is to say, Master.

17 Jesus saith unto her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended to my Father: but go to my brethren, and say unto them, I ascend unto my Father, and your Father; and to my God, and your God.

Luke 24:5-7

5 And as they were afraid, and bowed down their faces to the earth, they said unto them, Why seek ye the living among the dead?

6 He is not here, but is arisen: remember how he spake unto you when he was yet in Galilee,

7 Saying, The Son of man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again.

Mark 16:6

6 And he saith unto them, Be not affrighted: Ye seek Jesus of Nazareth, which was crucified: he is arisen; he is not here: behold the place where they laid him.

Matthew 28:5-7

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified.

6 He is not here: for he is arisen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

7 And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

May you all have a blessed Easter.

My Downtown Playground – Part 3

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Growing up in a small town in the 50’s really did have that Mayberry feel to it. Most of the kids knew each other and hung out together at one point or another. It’s true when they say that everybody knows everybody else in a small town. That’s pretty good for the kids. I won’t speak for the adults – I didn’t live there as an adult!

School Days

School days were pretty regimented. Girls had to wear skirts and boys had to wear long pants. There were rules and regulations and the adults were treated with respect. By golly, it actually gave the teachers an opportunity to teach instead of constantly worrying about discipline and lawsuits. Okay, this isn’t intended to be a soapbox entry so I’ll get back to the story.

I walked to and from school each day, just under a mile each way. No, really! If I didn’t walk, I was riding my bike. At least it wasn’t uphill both ways although it did feel like it most of the time. Especially on Tuesdays and Thursdays when I had to take my violin. Those were the days I was always sick but couldn’t get my mother to believe me for some strange reason. But I walked to and fro through some of the coldest, snowiest days. This was Northwest Ohio after all. I will never forget the one afternoon I was walking home through the very deep snow. Try to picture this. I was always very small. I was probably not even four feet tall yet at ten years old. Here I am walking through the park on my way home after school. Suddenly I disappear into a snow bank. I’m not buried but I’m deep enough that no one can see me and I’m having a heck of a time trying to climb out. So, as panic began to set in and I didn’t want my body to be found in the spring thaw, I finally managed to claw my way out and make it home. Not one person I told my story to seemed the least concerned. I still remember that and I still remember the reality of my fear of the possibility of not being able to get out.

I thought so highly of my third grade teacher, Miss Spridgeon. Gosh, she was so pretty. I suppose I was called the teacher’s pet because I was always volunteering to clean the blackboards for her. She really set me on Cloud 9 when she told me one day that I reminded her of Grace Kelly. Everyone, even kids, knew who Princess Grace was. I look at my pictures and I just don’t see it. But I keep telling myself it must be in there somewhere! HA! No wonder she made the top of my favorite teachers list! And all the while I’m sure it was a ploy to build my confidence. It worked!

4th Grade

Mrs. Weck’s Fourth Grade Class – Franklin Elementary School

Naturally, recess was our favorite time of day and it came once in the morning and once in the afternoon. Since that time all of the playground equipment we played on has long been destroyed as being unsafe for children —

The Swings

The Swings

Maypole

The Maypole

merry-go-round

The Merry-Go-Round

monkey-bars

The Monkey Bars

A lot of the time was spent playing girls after boys. Yes, you read that right. Girls after boys. We would chase the boys around the playground. What would we do when we caught up with the ones we were chasing? Why, we’d hit them on the arm, of course. What else would you do to the boys you liked? Silly!

Since my best friend, Mary Beth, lived across the street from the school, a lot of our afternoons were spent participating in the national pastime:

Americanbandstand1957

I don’t know about the rest of the nation but watching Dick Clark and his American Bandstand is how I learned to jitterbug! Of course when you’re 8-12 years old there’s really not much call for the jitterbug. Truth be told, it was years later before I discovered that I had learned it backwards from the TV! It turns out it didn’t matter anyway. By the time I was ready to rock and roll we were experiencing the British invasion and we were twisting the night away or doing the Bristol Stomp among other dances!

Summer Fun

School’s out, school’s out, teacher let the monkeys out. Now who on earth made that one up? And to think we used to chant that when we were kids. We didn’t even know we were insulting ourselves. Kids sure were naïve then.

We had about three months of what we called freedom. And one thing is for sure, we didn’t spend it lying around indoors in front of a TV screen. Almost every day, we’d be out the door early morning, meeting up with friends either at somebody’s house, at the YWCA or at the school playground for a day of play. Our days consisted of roller skating or swimming at the Y. We would play ping pong or checkers at the Y or badminton at someone’s house. We would go to the school playground and play on the swings or the jungle gym or the merry-go-round. Or we would just walk around town and visit friends. We were always on the go. The rest of the time we were off riding our bikes.

Riding Bikes

Schwinn

There was lots of bike riding around town. I don’t remember which Schwinn model I had. I just remember it was turquoise and chrome and had the carrier on the front like the one in the picture. I sure loved that bike! A bunch of us used to gather over on Race Street. What an appropriate name. It had a sort of incline. I don’t think I’d go so far as to even call it a hill! Man, was I crazy. I used to get my bike going as fast as I could and then do crazy things like let go of the handlebars or take my feet off the pedals or both! Sometimes I would hold the handlebars and stand on the seat. I think back now and my poor Guardian Angels were working overtime. One little rock in the road and I would have been a grease spot on the road. But all went well. I still marvel at our bravery (stupidity!). Ah, the foibles of youth. Youth knows no limits. There’s no such thing as mortality when you’re a kid. I suppose that’s why we can usually get away with so much more.

There was the time Mary Beth and I took off on our bikes one day. She wanted to show me where she used to live in a little town called Middle Point about 7.5 miles from Van Wert. So, sure, why not! Did we give any thought to the traffic? No. Did we give any thought to the time away? No. Did we give any thought to food? No. Did we give any thought to water? No. Did we give any thought? NO! So off we go. Two 10-year-old girls alone on their bikes on the highway. I don’t know what we were thinking. Oh, that’s right, we weren’t thinking. We pedaled for what seemed like hours. We were hot, tired, thirsty and hungry. So, we decided to turn back around and go home. We learned a hard lesson that day. It’s a miracle neither one of us ended up sick or hospitalized. We were literally on the point of exhaustion. But we survived and lived to tell the tale! And we never tried another stunt like that again!

Sleepovers

sleepover

There’s nothing more fun for young girls than getting together and spending the night together to giggle and talk about growing up, watching TV and driving their parents crazy. Something inevitable is always bound to happen. Not anything drastic but usually just enough to get into some kind of “trouble”!

I remember one night Mary Beth was spending the night with me. My mother had this beautiful black ceramic cat that curled around a glass fish bowl. Instead of keeping fish in the bowl, she had several colored glass balls in the bowl. I loved that statue and knew better than to mess with it. But I had company and, of course, wanted to show it off. Well, wouldn’t you know, instead of just pointing out the piece, I just had to pick up the bowl. CRASH it went and shattered at our feet. Of course, it just had to be one of Mom’s favorite pieces. Once she determined that neither one of us was hurt, she made us go to bed – lights out for the rest of the night. Bummer! Poor Mary Beth. She had nothing to do with it. Ah, but we survived!

And then there was one time when I was sleeping over at my friend Carrol’s house. It was a Friday night and guess what was on TV? Here’s your first clue!

FridayNightFrights

Picture this. Here are two little girls all decked out in their pajamas huddled on the sofa in a pitch dark living room in front of the old black and white TV. Shadows bouncing on the wall from the TV. Godzilla We are so intently watching Godzilla. Yes, I said Godzilla. Everyone else has gone to bed. It’s just the two of us – or so we thought. We’re getting to a really scary part of the movie and BAM! Up from behind the couch roaring his head off comes Carrol’s older brother. Picture two little girls screaming their heads off and waking up the entire house. I don’t remember how long it took him to stop laughing. And, if I remember correctly, Carrol and I were the only ones not laughing when it was all said and done. Yes, folks, that stuff really happened in the 50’s. Kids were gullible. I’m here to testify to it.

Conclusion

There are so many thoughts and stories to be written down and shared about living in and growing up in a small town in the 1950’s. It was a wonderful time. It was a different kind of time. I feel very blessed and fortunate to have been a part of that time. There are so many more things I could write and as time goes along I’m sure I will. I hope you’ve enjoyed my brief little trip down memory lane. Your thoughts and comments are always appreciated. God bless.

My Downtown Playground – Part 2

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

This picture doesn’t do downtown 1950’s Van Wert justice! Of course, this particular picture is not from the 50’s but it’s the best I can do for now! But this was a big part of my playground. Growing up in a hotel without having other kids around to get into trouble with, you learn to find your own trouble!

Mary BethMy best friend (then and now!), Mary Beth, and I spent a lot of time walking Main Street, stopping after school for French fries and Green Rivers. We would occasionally switch out the Green Rivers for Cherry or Vanilla Cokes!

Directly across the street from the Hotel is the historic County courthouse. Click here for a brief history of the courthouse.

Van Wert County Courthouse

Van Wert County Courthouse

Cannons in front of Courthouse

Cannons in front of Courthouse

Mary Beth, and I used to hang out a lot at the courthouse. No, we weren’t in court. We were in and around the courthouse. We were just kids and we weren’t juvies. To continue. We’d roam the halls sometimes but mostly we spent time climbing around on the cannons. It’s amazing how fast those “horses” could go.

Memorial Hall at Courthouse

Memorial Hall at Courthouse

See that little white building with the green roof in the lower left hand corner of the picture? That’s a War Memorial building that houses a collection of photos of soldiers from Van Wert. Mary Beth and I used to wander through there looking at the pictures of the men and women who served this great country. We didn’t know any of them but it was fascinating. I know some of the photos went back to WWI.

William Edwin Carter

William Edwin Carter

Viet Nam Memorial

Vietnam Memorial

Of course, at the time, neither of us ever suspected that one of our dear elementary school friends would end up on the Vietnam Memorial Wall and have his picture placed in the Memorial Building (I don’t have a copy of it or I would post that). Dead at the age of 20. So sad for so many. But I digress. William Edwin Carter, R.I.P.

Across from the Hotel is a restaurant called “Balyeat’s Coffee Shop” that has been there what seems forever.

Balyeat's Coffee Shop

Balyeat’s Coffee Shop

Well, okay, forever to me is from 1922! That red neon sign can be spotted a mile away. The sign and the coffee shop are still there and they’re still serving excellent down-home cooking. Their pies are to die for. In fact, I wish I had one now. My family and I used to eat in there quite often. In fact, that’s one of the locations I was chatting with Cisco and Pancho.

In this old postcard, you can see the old movie theatre across the street from the Hotel at the end of the block.

Cinema

I used to spend time in there. I suppose you could say there were some perks living in the Hotel. I’m guessing now but I’m pretty sure my Dad had made some arrangement with the theatre owner to let me in for free. Otherwise, how could you explain all the times I just walked in? I know there were a few times I would take a friend or two with me. I loved that old movie house. Some Saturday mornings they would have games and contests for the kids followed by cartoons. It was a few hours of Saturday morning freedom for lots of parents! I still remember one of the contests I entered. We were supposed to fill our mouths full of saltine crackers and then whistle. For some reason, I didn’t win. Could it be that I have trouble just whistling even without anything in my mouth? Nobody would do that today because they’d be so terrified of a kid choking and the parents suing. People didn’t think that way then. Kids actually were allowed to have fun. I can still hear the roar of the laughter from probably a hundred or more kids. Boy, it got loud in there. But fun.

When you walk a couple blocks or so the other direction from the Hotel, there was Fountain Park.

Fountain Park

Fountain Park

Two acres right in downtown. It was a pretty park with swings and paths. I don’t think I spent a lot of time actually in the park because there was just so much other stuff to do. I did cut through it a lot, though, on my way to friends’ houses!

YWCA

YWCA

Last time I was home the YWCA was still there. I think Van Wert is one of the few towns that had separate YWCA and YMCA facilities. Now, this is one place where I did spend a lot of time. Nearly every Saturday morning when I wasn’t at the movie house, I was in there roller skating. Yep. I loved it. I was never a fancy skater or anything but I had fun doing it. I remember one time, a bunch of kids formed a chain and put me on the end of it. I think it was because I was small. Boy, I never let them do that to me again! I was flying. It’s a miracle I didn’t crash through a wall or something! Of course, it might not have been as bad as my memory serves!

My Mom was such a fashionista. I remember I had a special roller skating outfit. It consisted of a red satin blouse and a short black velvet skirt with red satin trim and matching red satin pants. I had a rhinestone roller skate pin that I would always wear.

Rhinestone Pin

Rhinestone Pin

I still have the pin and, as you can see, it’s missing a few of the rhinestones so I don’t wear it anymore.

I used to go swimming a lot at the Y. It was an indoor pool and the smell of chlorine was so strong I can still conjure it up. And, of course, after all that exercise of roller skating or swimming or ping pong or checkers, etc., I always had enough money in my pocket to buy a snack. It was always the same thing no matter what.

6 oz. Coca-Cola

6 oz. Coca-Cola

MoonPie

MoonPie

But my absolute favorite downtown playground activity has to be The Brumback Library! There is no way I can do justice to the beauty of this library. I’ve never seen anything like it before or since. Click here for a brief history of the Library. The Brumback Library stands as the first county library formed in the United States. The building was dedicated on January 1st, 1901. It’s been renovated a couple of times and expanded but they’ve done a magnificent job of maintaining the integrity of the building. I saw it a number of years ago after the expansion.  They did a fabulous job of making everything match.  It’s such a beautiful place.

The Brumback Library

The Brumback Library

I have such wonderful memories of this library. It has been likened to a CASTLE! That’s how I always thought of it. I spent more hours in this library when I was in elementary school. Maybe that’s why I love reading so much. Not only was it a treasure trove of books, it was a fabulous place to explore! I don’t know if they still have them, but some of the upstairs walkways were made of heavy frosted glass. They were so cool! I think they may have been removed or replaced when they remodeled. There were so many stairways and alcoves to explore. I doubt the kids today would have the run of the library like we did back then. Migosh, I miss it!

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

Library Interior

I could go on and get really detailed about all the stores and alleyways and things to explore downtown. But I’m sure you’ve read enough for now. Besides, I’ve got to save some for the third and final installment on Van Wert in the 50’s.

My Downtown Playground – Part 1

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Downtown Van Wert, Ohio

Around 1956 my family moved to a little town called Van Wert, Ohio. Apparently Dad took it upon himself to buy an old hotel smack dab in the middle of town. It was called the Marsh Hotel or the Hotel Marsh, depending upon individual preference. This became my new stomping ground. We occupied the Manager’s Suite on the top floor.

But what–you say–did a kid do in the middle of downtown for entertainment? Well, there were lots of things to occupy my days and my mind.

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For starters, there’s the Hotel itself. How many kids get the run of the house, especially if that “house” is a hotel? Being Nancy Drew incarnate, I could run up and down those hallways and into empty rooms looking for “clues” and building cases.

There was a big formal restaurant dining room in the back of the Hotel. In that dining area sat an old piano. Gosh, I loved that old piano. I didn’t know how to play but that didn’t stop me. I learned all the easy stuff kids learn on pianos without lessons. Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star; Row, Row, Row Your Boat; you get the idea. Little tunes kids can pick out on their own. Of course, that was only allowed during times the restaurant was closed. We wouldn’t want to ruin anyone’s appetite!

The check-in desk was full of surprises with its cubbyholes and glass display cabinet. There were boxes of cigars in the display that were for sale. I don’t like the smell of cigar smoke but I did like the smell of those cigar boxes! I had quite a collection of the old empty boxes. Most were used to store my crayons and other trinkets.

Marsh Desk

Yep, that’s me, my Mom and my faithful companion, Happy, right there at the check-in desk. It’s a pretty beat-up picture but if you look real close over my Mom’s right shoulder, you can just barely make out an old PBX switchboard. I’m guessing it was installed maybe in the 1930s or 1940s.

Antique PBX

Antique PBX

This picture is just an example of the PBX with those cords and buttons and I knew how to use it. I was able to take and place calls on occasion to help out! It was fun.

elevator handle

The hotel was four stories and had an old Otis elevator that was manually operated. It had one of those gates across the door that was shut manually. And then there was the apparatus that moved the elevator up and down. It was pushed to the right to go up and left to go down. The trick was when you stopped at each floor you had to bob up and down until you got it lined up. Otherwise, there would have been a big step up or down when exiting the elevator. I did operate the elevator on occasion. There were times when I just wanted to go upstairs and grab something out of the apartment without having to run up and down the flights of stairs so I would take the elevator. Sometimes I would even get to take the guests to their floor. Then you always said “Watch your step, please.” Of course, I  only got to do that when Shorty was busy! We had a regular bellhop named Shorty who was also the elevator operator. Such a nice man he was, too. Heck, he tolerated me, didn’t he?! Hey, I just realized. Could this be like a forerunner to video games? You don’t see the connection? Well, I had to synchronize the handle up and down to get it lined up just right with the landing.

The Cisco Kid and Diablo

The Cisco Kid and Diablo

There were definitely some perks being the young daughter of the Hotel owner. Every now and again someone famous or sort of famous would stay at the Hotel. One such individual I remember so well was Duncan Renaldo. Who is that some of you younger readers might be asking. Why, it’s the Cisco Kid! Oh, Pancho! Oh, Cisco! Leo Carrillo, who played Pancho in the TV series was traveling with him. Of course, he also brought with him his trusted horse, Diablo, but Diablo, much to my chagrin, did not stay at the Hotel. They were in town for the Van Wert County Fair. Even as a child, I knew that the Cisco Kid was a VERY handsome man! He and Pancho were talking with me and asking me if I watched their TV show. Of course I told them I did – and I did. When they asked me which day it was on TV, I couldn’t tell them. I was so embarrassed at the time. But, he was so gracious. He had such a wonderful laugh and he said I was so cute. Well, that was all I needed. I was smitten. Of course, my poor mother was just sure that I would be “discovered” and asked to go to Hollywood and become famous and rich. Ha!

From Google Images - not the actual dance troupe

From Google Images – not the actual dance troupe

One other example was a troupe of Irish dancers touring the country. If memory serves, they probably ranged in age from about 10 or 12 to about 15 or 16. Having Irish blood myself flowing through my veins, I felt as one with them! They were teaching me how to do the Irish jig and a sword dance. My, but they were a fun bunch. I was able to ride on the tour bus with them to one of their stage performances. Naturally, I fell in love with a couple of the Irish boys. They weren’t just cute – they had the neatest accents ever! They paved the way for Michael Flatley and Lord of the Dance!!

Yes, there was a lot of mischief for a young girl to get into at that old Hotel. In Part 2 I’ll move my activities to the great outdoors. Look out world, here I come!