Youngstown Hidden Treasures and Rememberances

My son, Adam was home from college for a few days. He brought his girlfriend along to visit. We spent time on such a beautiful day sight seeing in the area. Downtown Youngstown and YSU are looking very nice for the most part. The little garden next to the Wick Pollock Inn is a real hidden treasure.

We did some walking with a puppy Adam’s girlfriend owns in Mill Creek Park. We truly are blessed to have such a terrific recreational area. Fellowship Gardens was very busy with many visitors enjoying its splendor.

I am reminded of a poem I wrote about Youngstown.

A Childhood Adventure

Hard to believe
it was decades ago,
pre airbags and seat belts,
pre malls and cinema plexes,
that two brothers bounced up and down
in the backseat of a two-tone
Ford convertible.
They couldn’t sit still
because of a burning sensation…
money in their pockets
saved from cutting Grandpa’s yard.
Soon to be spent
on comic books and model cars.
With mom behind the wheel
and Grandma riding shotgun
wearing a pillbox hat with a veil
and dark sunglasses
and one of those mink stoles,
the type with the whole mink nose
to tail with beady eyes.
We were on our way to our most serious
shopping expedition.
The frequent trip
from our Western PA home
to the area’s shopping mecca,
downtown Youngstown.
To me it was as adventurous
as drums along the Mohawk,
the music from the Fairlane’s
one speaker said it was more like
Elvis on Route 7.
Further up the road it was
the Beatles on Wick Avenue.
Past dealer after car dealer on the
Wick auto strip.
All the latest makes of Detroit iron were there:
Galaxies, Comets, Starfires, Jetstars, and Novas.
Space age names for the days of JFK’s “New Frontier.”
Each dealership had triangle-shaped multi-colored rows of flags
to me the conveyed a carnival atmosphere
little did I know they were there
to scare off birds and their droppings.
Then past Butler Institute of American Art
and picturesque Jones Hall.
Over the hill
and we were in the heart of Youngstown.
On the outskirts of downtown,
lay the soul of Youngstown,
the steel mills.
But here in downtown
were stores reaching to the sky
full of treasures
Marco Polo could not have imagined.
Department stores like
Strouss and McKelveys
were so big
almost every floor
had a restaurant on it.
Strouss’ had its famous chocolate malts
in the basement.
Restrooms on every floor,
a plumbing contractor’s dream
and a janitor’s nightmare.
Elevators and escalators
to move you about seemed like
amusement park rides.
When we parked our car
they lifted it into the air
on a ramp to park it on another floor.
An amusement ride even for the car…
an all-encompassing experience.
Strouss and McKelvey’s each had a whole floor
with nothing but toys.
Pure heaven!
We joined in the hustle and bustle
of West Federal Street:
Past Woolworth’s, Peoples Drug,
Hartzell, Rose & Sons and the Parkade Shops.
Mother and Grandma would head to
Lustig Shoes and Livingston’s.
After taking my brother and I
to Fanny Farmer’s for candy,
they would drop us off at
the State or the Warner Theater.
We would sit spellbound
watching movies like
Ben Hur or
The Alamo.
Then it would be off to the Ringside
for some spaghetti
or Isaly’s for a skyscraper cone.
It was all bigger than life.
I can’t help but be reminded of it all
when I take my kids to
faceless malls
and cracker box cinemettes.
I feel sorry for them,
they never had the experience that was
downtown Youngstown.

Michael Franti: Time to go Home

More Michael Franti: Yell Fire

Still More Franti: OH My God


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