Posts Tagged ‘Childhood Memories’

duke

Not Duke but awfully close.

Looking back, growing up in the small southern Ohio town of Bourneville wasn’t a bad way to go. Everybody knew everybody else, everyone looked after each other, and we were sort of unaffected by what was going on in the turbulent 1960’s. Oh, I knew about the Vietnam War and all the protests, but that was mainly because of my oldest sister Karen. Sis, always the rebel, made sure her little bro knew about the injustices of the world. As far as the Civil Rights movement down south, my father had made all that clear to me years earlier during our vacations to Florida. I distinctly remember him pointing to the “Whites Only” signs over bathroom doors in Georgia and explaining how it was wrong. All-in-all though, my daily life was pretty idyllic, to be honest.

I say all that because it’s pertinent to the story that follows.

For a few years in the mid-60’s I had a dog named Duke. Unlike all the dogs I’ve owned as an adult, Duke was an outside dog. We didn’t really know what kind of a dog he was, he sort of looked like a Greyhound with longer, collie-like hair. He was light brown with some white on his face and tail, and he could run like the wind.

How do I know this, you ask? Because he chased every car that drove by our house. Pull in our driveway? Fine. Drive on past? Get chased.

Anyway, Duke was a great dog.  He went with me everywhere, followed me whether I was on my bike or walking. He’d wait patiently outside the local store or gas station while I was inside, hang with my friends and I, or just generally be a great companion for a kid growing up in Southern Ohio.

And everyone in town knew my dog Duke.

Then one day, for some reason I was all by myself at home. This wasn’t unusual, parents left their kids home all the time back then. Hey, we could fend for ourselves. Compared to now it was a totally different world.

Anyway, the phone rang and it was the guy who owned the gas station in the middle of Bourneville. He basically said to get down there, that Duke had been in an accident. Obviously, I was distraught. I raced down there on my bike, and as I rounded the corner I saw a group gathered, maybe 8-10 people. When I got near they sort of separated so I could see, and there, on the ground, was Duke.

He looked normal, no visible injuries at all, and no blood. He was breathing normally and just looked very at ease and peaceful. Still, something was clearly wrong.

What happened next could only happen in a small midwestern town. Somebody backed up a pickup truck, and some of the men helped me place Duke gently in the bed. Somebody put my bike in as well, and we were driven back to my house where we carefully lay Duke on a blanket on my garage floor.

At that point everybody sort of backed away and left, leaving me there with my buddy.

And so here I was, a 10 or 11-year old kid, sitting on my family’s garage floor, with my dying dog’s head on my lap.

After maybe 10 or 15-minutes Duke sort of gave a sigh, and I knew he was gone.

I then held Duke, waited for my father to get home, told him what had happened, and he and I proceeded to bury Duke in our backyard.

Was it a tough moment for a kid my age? Hell, yes. But it was a different time, a different era. What happened wasn’t unusual for a small midwestern town in the 1960s. While people looked out for each other, ultimately you had to be independent and deal with life on your own.

And I did.

And in the end, I was better off for it.

 

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Man, do these two videos bring back memories . . .

It’s just an old cement post, and it stands probably 150-feet from my front door.

I FullSizeRender (6)currently live in the house I grew up in, so I’ve driven or walked by the post at least 100,000 times according to my estimations. I have no idea how long it’s stood there, but I’m guessing it could be at least 100-years old.

The Post was built during a time when people went the extra mile to make things the right way, so rather than just put a standard wooden post in the ground they took the time to pour a big, ornate concrete post as a cornerstone to their property.

People don’t do that type of thing anymore, you know? Everything is done quickly and as cheaply as possible nowadays. That’s one of the things that makes The Post cool to me. Somebody cared about its appearance.

The Post has stood there while the world rolled on through two World Wars, the Great Depression, the Kennedy Assassination, the Vietnam War, 9/11, and many other world and local events.

The Post was right beside Twin Elementary School, a building in which I spent at least 7-hours a day from the ages of 6 to 15. I remember kids sitting on The Post before and after school, either waiting to go in for the day or waiting on a ride home. I recall kids sitting on it after basketball practice at the school, waiting on mom or dad to pick them up.

On many a summer day I sat either on top of it or on the ground leaning against it, watching the occasional car go by as I talked with my friends.

And man, if I had a dollar for every bicycle that leaned against The Post I’d be a rich man today.

Hell, The Post was right there that warm summer day back in the late 60’s and served as a starting line for Max when he made his famous ride down the hill and into infamy. It’s also where the Bicycle Wagon Train began its descent into history.

Through it all, The Post has been a constant, standing tall day after day as the years went by.

I really don’t know why The Post fascinates me so much. As I said, it’s just an old cement post after all. But I love old stuff like this, and the fact that the man who poured the concrete and frame for The Post clearly took pride in what he was doing makes it special to me.

As I mentioned before, Twin Elementary School stood right next to The Post, and it was sadly and unceremoniously knocked down back in 2008. Right down the hill there once stood a beautiful old church, and it suffered the same fate.

I suppose one day I’ll come home and see that The Post is gone as well, and if that happens it will make me sad. Again, it’s just a concrete post, but somehow it’s more than that to me. It represents pride in workmanship, childhood memories, longevity, and much more.

Strange how you can become attached to an inanimate, soulless object, isn’t it?

Note: Sparky loves The Post too, but for other reasons.

Alright loyal readers, sit back and enjoy a trip back to yesteryear, a journey in time if you will. Those of you under the age of 45 may not understand a lot of what you’re about to read, but rest assured you may find it interesting anyway. What we’re about to discuss are memories of days gone by, places that once existed that have since vanished into the mists of time. So sit back, read, and see if this takes you back to a better place.

Now that I’ve lured you in with my poetic prose, let me explain exactly what I’m talking about. I was talking with a friend the other day and we started discussing establishments around our area that were at one time popular but for whatever reasons ended up shutting down. On a related note, my readers from other parts of the USA and beyond will have zero idea what the hell I’m talking about.

But enough chit-chat. Let us begin. Do you remember these?

Burger Boy Food-a-Rama

Anybody? The home of the twirling satellite? Used to sit in front of Central 11Center? I used to love that place. And remember when the sniper opened fire on the place and shot a woman going through the drive-thru? Good times. But seriously, that actually happened. Wait. Now that I think of it, was that a Burger Chef? No, I think it was a Burger Boy. Am I confused? I’m getting a headache.

The White Cow

The White Cow was a restaurant on High Street on the north end of town. They had a cool white cow on the sign, oddly enough. They served breakfast too, I believe. My uncle Myrl used to eat there every day. True story.

Schachne’s

We’re going old school now. Schachne’s was a department store in downtown Chillicothe that had entrances on both Paint Street and Second Streets (I think). I recall going in there as a kid. They had these wooden floors that would creak as you walked on them. The store had two floors and even had an elevator. I can still remember how it smelled. Alas, the strip malls came to be and Schachne’s died a painful death. Sad, really.

The Big Wheel Saloon

The Big Wheel was a great little bar on Paint Street. Unfortunately, it seems the little neighborhood bar may be a thing of the past. You know, places where you go in with the sole purpose of having a drink or two and nothing else? Nowadays a place has to serve food or have TVs and stuff. The Big Wheel had none of that, and it was perfect.

1Sambo’s

The inappropriately named Sambo’s was a restaurant on Bridge Street, where Frisch’s now stands. Sambo’s was an all-night establishment that had great pancakes. It was a staple for those of us who had been out and wanted something to eat before heading home. For those who don’t know, the restaurant was themed after Little Black Sambo, a character in a racist children’s book that was written in 1899. Hence the inappropriateness. Anywho, other than the blatant racist overtones it was a nice place to eat a stack of pancakes. On a related note, that last sentence has probably never been written before.

The Silver Lady

The Silver Lady was a little bar on East Main that used to have live music, cold beer and a distinct lack of, uh, cleanliness. One of our favorite local bands, The Knapp Brothers, used to play there a lot and we’d go to hear them play tunes like “East Bound & Down,” “I’ll Fix Your Flat Tire, Myrl” and other country rock tunes. Good memories of that place, man.

Tastee Freeze

Back in the 7o’s the Tastee Freeze used to sit where Giovanni’s sits now. As most of you know it was a Dairy Queen type of place, and it got a lot of our business because it was on the west end of town. I spent a lot of nights sitting in a booth at Tastee Freeze, drinking a vanilla shake, contemplating life and how I’d somehow lost Megan Grossman back in 8th grade.

Sam’s Place

Sam’s Place was a huge bar/concert venue that sat off Route 23 a few miles south of Chillicothe. This was back when those huge bars were popular, like Gilley’s in Urban Cowboy. Sam’s Place had great southern Ohio bands like Black Leather Touch and SD Kite play there. There were constant fights in the parking lot, as I recall. Not involving me, of course. The building still stands and houses a carpet business or something. But man, if those walls could talk . . .

Woolworth’s

Ah, the 10-cent store! It was in Central Center and had one of those little restaurants inside with a soda fountain bar and spinning red stools. They also 11111served Coke Floats and had the best grilled cheese sandwiches known to man. Dad used to get his hair cut nearby once a week and I’d head to Woolworth’s to buy a few 45s at 72¢ each. For you youngsters out there, 45s were small records that had an A and B side. I couldn’t wait to get those records home to play them. Great times indeed.

Reider’s Drugstore

Reider’s was a great drugstore (I think on Church Street maybe?) that had one of those soda fountains similar to the one in Woolworth’s. They had all sorts of candy and other assorted goodies that could make a 10-year old kid’s head swim. I had an aunt and uncle that lived down the street, hence my familiarity with Reider’s.

Fiesta, Torch and Moonlight Drive-Ins

Kids have no idea what they’re missing nowadays. The demise of drive-in theaters is simply tragic. So many great nights were spent there. Everything was better at the drive-in, including the pizza. I used to love it when people would start honking their horns as it started to get dark, demanding that the movies begin. Our area used to have three, yes three, drive-ins.

On the north side of town was The Fiesta, on the south side was The Torch, and earlier there was a drive-in on the east side of town called The Moonlight. There’s still a cool drive-in up in Lancaster that I highly recommend.

NCL

Who remembers this little restaurant? The letters NCL stood for Nice Clean Lunch if I remember correctly. I used to stop in there a couple times a week for a sandwich. Nice little place to grab lunch. Oh, and it was nice and clean.

The Office Lounge

Remember The Office Lounge? It was a little underground bar that sat below where The Chillicothe Paints store is now. It was tiny and very intimate, and always seemed damp to me. It was a nice little bar if you wanted a quiet getaway.

The Adena and Majestic Theaters

11Once upon a time, children, Chillicothe had two places where you could go watch a movie. Incidentally, both were old, classic theaters that weren’t originally built for the silver screen. They had balconies and were beautifully ornate structures that were works of art in their own right. Just wonderful places to sit, relax, enjoy some popcorn and a box of Milk Duds* while watching a movie.  The Majestic, by the way, is still in operation on a limited basis.

*I have seldom watched a movie in a theater without enjoying a box of Duds. It’s tradition, kids.

Johnny’s Drive-In

Johnny’s was an after game fixture back in the day. They had those pull-up spots where you ordered through speakers and a waitress would come out with your 111111food so you could eat in the car. Of course, you could always go inside and sit in a cool booth if you wanted. They had great fried chicken, tenderloins and strawberry pie. Today there stands a Taco Bell were Johnny’s used to be. Sigh.

There were other places that my sisters used to talk about, but they were a bit before my time. I’ll have to rely on some of my older readers to tell you about Ater’s Lake and The Sugar Shack.

On a more personal note, there were a few more places that I remember fondly from growing up. If you were a kid in Bourneville in the 60’s you’ll remember Homer Ward’s Sohio Station, Lance’s Store, Ted Wisecup’s Sunoco Station, Springer’s Store, and the Texaco Gas Station. And who can forget the old church where the Dairy Hut now stands?

I know I’ve forgotten a slew of establishments, and I’m counting on you guys to remind me of them. Please understand that I realize I could be off on some of my recollections, and if so feel free to correct me. After all, it was a long time ago.

So, loyal readers, do you remember these? And what have I forgotten?