Do you remember when the only thing at the corner of Hall and Norton Roads was Moore’s Ice Cream?
Have you ever gotten a ticket in New Rome?
Have you ever eaten at Ding Ho’s, Peacock West or the China Inn? What about Lum’s on Georgesville, Harvest House in Westland, or Zantigos on West Broad?
Did you think the best steak came from York Steak House, the best coney dog came from Georges, and the best pizza from Todd’s?
Did you shop at Westland before it was enclosed?
Did you ever shop at the Gold Circle on West Broad?
Did you ever play Putt Putt on Georgesville?
Did you think Grove City was miles away through massive corn fields and Delaware was a different country altogether?
Did you ever shop at the Hilltop Big Bear with the big circles in the sign?
Did you hate Hilliard football and they in turn hated you? Westland, West, Grove City or Franklin Heights too?
Did you ever take the curves on Demorest Road way too quick?
If you answered yes to one or more of these questions, you may be or were once a Westsider.
Welcome to my site dedicated to memories of the west side of Columbus, Ohio. I hope your stay is enjoyable. I grew up on the far west side and have fond memories of those times. Now I’m in my 40s and I'm feeling kinda nostalgic about the “good ole days”.
A search of the web turned up some great sites that you can visit on the links page. However, I wanted a more personal memory page so here I am. I am also inviting all of you to share your memories with me as well. Please email me here email@example.com if you would like to share your life and times with me. I'm always looking for pictures, memories or memorabilia.
It was an unremarkable neighborhood calling itself a Village,
Nothing more than a suburb of Columbus, Ohio -
Far West Side.
Populated mostly by people from Kentucky and West Virginia
In the years following WWII,
Coal mines and farming played out
An Appalachian diaspora.
Their accents soothed but not tamed as they pretended
To be Midwesterners.
They cheered the Bucks and voted for Nixon
But there was a shotgun loaded and close at hand
Just in case someone broke in
To steal their Zenith color TV.
Founded in 1955
Lincoln Village, A Planned Community,
Developed by a large insurance company.
Town Square was a mini mall,
Where groceries, pharmaceuticals (the legal kind) ice cream and library books
Could be obtained,
A beer and wine carryout,
Good Mexican food and bad Chinese.
Across the way you could get the Colonel
And the best pizza ever.
The hospital was within walking distance,
As were banks and churches and the school.
Many of the streets cul de sacs
The speed limit throughout the Village 25 mph,
Except on Broad Street, a section of Old Rt. 40/
That went right through the middle of the Village.
There it was 45,
And if you tried to cross Broad
Anywhere but at the lights at Murray Hill or Old Village,
Maternal Hellfire rained down upon your head.
Because even if your mom did not see you try,
Someone elses mom did.
You knew this threat was real
Because you had observed your own mom
Doing it to other kids.
My family were latecomers
Arrived in late 1966.
My parents had done their part
To keep the Baby Boom going
By producing Carol in 1958,
Pam in 1960,
Darlene in 1962 (tragically short life, gone the same year)
And then came Cindy in 1964.
Stair step daughters.
Three (four, ghosts are still family) daughters.
No son to teach how to work on cars,
Good thing Cindy was a Tomboy.
After that Mom had the Pill
Penn Central paid Dad a living wage
So after two and a half years in a two bedroom apartment in Evergreen Terrace
In 1969 we were able to move to 229 Danhurst Road
A larger but still humble abode,
So we girls could walk to school.
Living in the heart of the Village
There were very few fences,
Behind our house was one huge back yard
Shared by all the houses on our street and the next street over
Where all the children of those two streets
Ran and played safe from cars and strangers.
Free of encumbrance,
But within shouting distance
When Mom wanted you home.
There were sidewalks in front of the houses,
Perfect for hopscotch, jacks and roller skating
Or riding a bike.
Much time spent outside,
When the TV shows we loved were not on.
TV not a babysitter but a friend,
A simple friend without many choices.
Special events indeed special,
Armstrong walked on the moon!
The sky seemed so vast
Across that wide yard.
The only tree an ancient oak,
Trunk so large it took the arms
Of two men to reach all around it.
That tree got cut down,
Mom said because it was dying
And people were afraid
It would fall on a house.
The stump was just over four feet tall.
We used it as a stage
Or just as a place to sit
To see the world from a bit off the ground
On a cloudless Summer day.
The blue dome of sky overhead,
Reaching to eternity
Just how small one human is
In comparison to the cosmos.
On a soft summer night
While crickets sang,
Being far enough away
From the still small city to the East,
The dark sky filled with the steady light,
Of those bright jewels of night
That are the stars.
As small jewels in the bushes
And air around us,
Fireflies made their best effort
To reflect the stars.
Catching stars in mason jars.
They blinked on the nightstand
Until we slept,
And of course were dead by morning.
The land on which the community was built
Had been the eastern edge of the Prairie.
Evidence of that being;
Queen Anne's Lace, milkweed,
Brown eyed Susan, chicory and goldenrod
That grew wild in any spot
That was not
Covered by a house on a concrete foundation,
Surrounded by a small bright green lawn
Studded with the brilliant beauty
Of dandelion reflecting the Sun.
Cattails thrived in ditches
And on the banks of the small pond
At the Lincoln Lodge.
The hot sun beating down
On the heads of three girls in swimsuits,
Making their way to the oasis
That was the Livco Pool.
It’s deliciously cool waters
Carefully guarded by near adult teenagers.
Rest period resentfully obeyed
By children with wrinkled fingertips
And bluish lips,
Not realizing they had been saved from hypothermia.
Lining up to be fastest to leap back into the water
When the guards whistles blew,
And WCOL played from tinny speakers mounted on poles
To swim until the time came
To make the weary march back home.
Warming in the humid air
That ensured that your swimsuit would never fully dry
To eat hot dogs grilled, potato salad and sweet corn
Followed by frosty watermelon slices
Under the spindly tree in the front yard.
Because the house was still too hot,
As air conditioners were a luxury
That a living wage earner could not afford.
Some nights included a trip to Moore’s,
An old cinder block building on the edge
Of vast cornfields and horse pastures
That housed an ice cream stand.
Rich fresh handmade treats
Made from the cream of cows
Raised on nearby Amish farms.
Devoured by always hungry children
Who enjoyed feeding the crispy cone
To the fat, gentle horses
Who lived in the field beyond a wire fence.
Bellies full, hands and faces sticky
We returned to the Village
Under sunsets were that were always so vivid.
Skies in surreal shades of orange and green
Deepening into purple black night.
Concern for the environment
Was the province of Hippies in that day,
The Fischer Body plant and other industry
Polluted without remorse,
And the beautiful sky at sunset
Was actually screaming in agony.
And we breathed in the poison air
There was a fear from the sky
That was not quite so subtle;
The people who walked the land of my childhood,
In times ancient before folks of fair skin
Invaded and stole these lands,
Named it the Land of Devil Winds.
Perhaps we should have paid attention
Humid summer day suddenly cold,
Sky turning green and winds frantically blow.
A wail in the distance,
Hearing the warning siren cry,
We all ran to our house and prayed we wouldn’t die,
Huddled in the inner hall of a house without basement
Under quilts and pillows.
Watching later on Eyewitness News
A man who lived just three blocks away,
Standing amidst the rubble of his home.
Shaken and weary saying
The accustomed survivor’s mantra:
“I heard a noise like a train, then it was all gone”.
Tornadoes are just a way of life here.
Summer fades to Autumn and leaves become vivid,
There is a smell in the air of
Newly purchased crayons
And other school supplies.
The Buckeye Battle Cry
Blares from transistor radios
On Saturdays while Dads
Mow and rake and work on cars.
It is still hot in the daytime
But after the sun is down
Your mom appears at the back door
With the sweater she insists you put on
Because she is chilly.
The less than half mile walk
To Prairie Lincoln Elementary School
Is as much an adventure
As any safari ever was.
Three little girls from a house
In the middle of Danhurst Road
Emerge with their book bags
And join two others
Who came from the far end of this road.
Carol pairs with Sue,
Pam with Connie,
And Cindy the kindergarten baby
Tries to keep up and insert herself
Into the sophisticated affairs
Of these separate
Third and Fifth grade pairs.
But only as far as five houses
When Christopher joins her.
Cindy always forgets that boys are icky,
Especially since Chris shares his Matchbox cars
And Green Army Men,
And lets Cindy be Batman
Because he is the Joker.
They lag behind the older girls
And practice cuss words they have heard,
And pointedly ignore
Their classmates Amy and Paige
When those two girls
Come from the last two houses on the street
And make their prissy way to school
Dressed better than anyone else.
Here is something I forgot to mention earlier:
The further you drove away
From the larger roads that feed
Into the small roads of slower speed
In Lincoln Village
The houses become grander.
From end to middle
Are L shaped half doubles,
One side is a two bedroom,
The other has three.
Then there is a row
Of single floor ranches,
Then there are two story Cape Cods.
And on the corner of each of the streets
There is a very large house
With a yard and fences and hedges.
229 was the the final half double
On our side of Danhurst Road.
Other children, boys and girls
Issuing forth from their various abodes,
Would join up after the left turn
Onto Amesbury Way.
The clumps of gender and age
In the march towards education
Would coalesce into a patient mass
At the corner of Murray Hill Rd,
A busy thoroughfare
That required fifth graders
To be given authority
Over sleepy adults driving to work.
Children who seemed so mature
In their orange belts that had
A diagonal shoulder strap
Embellished with a real badge,
Silver for the regular Safety Patrol
The Captain’s (always a boy) was gold.
Brandishing their poles
From which hung
Safety orange flags
That proclaimed STOP!
In no uncertain terms,
That took their duties to heart
And made sure no child strayed
Into the path of an oncoming car
By using whistles to hail
The attention of anyone who ‘d dare
To cross anywhere
But where they kept their vigilant watch.
Prairie Lincoln was a modern school
It was one of the first built edifices
To draw families to the Village.
The school was long and low and mostly glass
The structure a serpentine corridor
With rooms on either side.
The office, gym/lunchroom and library
A hub in the center.
Kindergarten through 2nd grade
The corridor from the east,
3rd grade through 5th
Baby playground on one end
With see-saws, swings and low slide,
Big kids playground on the other side.
Oh lovely Autumn
The smell of burning leaves
After school treats
Apple cider and cinnamon donuts
Bright sunshine but cool air.
The Western edge of the Village
Still rural enough
So that wonderful adventures
In the cornfield by Westland High
Are not too far a walk away,
Dead stalks the perfect place to play
In that magical hour
After the bell rings at 3:15.
But make sure you are aware of the time
Because you are beyond the reach
Of the sound of Mom’s whistle
So technically you are breaking the rules,
But ever since Mom started to work
She usually is not home before 4
And she usually does not seem
In too much of a hurry to call us in.
Yet she always manages to smile
When we straggle in
Except on those rare days
When the whistle’s heed was ignored.
Girls sitting at the kitchen table
Homework, coloring and paper-dolls
Mom manages to get a load of laundry on
While trying to make sure the chicken does not burn
As it simmers in it’s pool of Crisco on the stove.
Beggars Night as Halloween is called here,
The rare unsupervised jaunt into the darkened night
To collect a kings ransom worth of candy,
All dutifully carried home for Mom to inspect,
Because everyone knows ghosts are not real
But fiends hiding razor blades and poison
Are what needs to be feared this night.
The giant pumpkin (over 3 feet tall!)
And our black cat Shadow,
Mom in green makeup
And scary black dress
Ladling candy from the old canning cauldron
That has dry ice in a coffee can hidden beneath
Creating a mysterious mist that trails
Into the waiting bags of beggars
Ensure that every kid in school
Remembers begging at our house.
Then suddenly it is truly cold,
The leaves have all fallen
The smell of the smoke
From the piles laboriously raked
And re-raked after children had
Joyously leaped and rolled in them
Under a grey dome of sky
That dropped the first snowflake
That would soon be followed by many
And dark night came earlier
As Winter had crept in.
A long trek on rural roads
The interstate was not yet complete
Three little girls play and sleep and argue
Unencumbered by seatbelts
In the wide backseat
Of a car rusted and worn
That has a very powerful engine
Lovingly maintained by the man
Who drives too fast, chain smoking
As Mom points out interesting sights
And leads her small choir in
Hymns and silly campfire songs,
That are never enough to quite distract
The girls who know better than to ask
Dad to stop so they can go potty
Because they know he regards
Any stop on his course
As a personal defeat.
Suddenly the road becomes familiar
And the excited girls avidly peer
Through the windows of the car
In order to be the first to spy
The solid white farm house
With red and white candy-stripe awnings
And proudly declare “I see Mama and Papa’s House!”
Dad has barely set the brake
Before the thundering herd of youth
Breaks free of the confines of the car
To stampede across the yard
To the waiting hugs and kisses
Of the dear old couple
Who they love in the most profound way,
But also to rush to that room off the utility room
Where they can relieve themselves (finally!)
And then shrug off coats and hats and sweaters
That they sweated in all the way here.
The smell of the coal oil furnace
And the scent of Lemon Pledge
And hot coffee and some delightful roasted meat
Mingle in the warm air of a house
That Mom always refers to as “Home”
And the girls never notice
Just how much more quiet
Their already reticent Dad becomes
In the presence of the people
Who are related to his wife and and children
But not really to him.
In the front room is the piano
And a once live tree
That fills the room with it’s dying scent
And twinkles and shines with lights and baubles.
The neatly wrapped packages beneath
That remain a maddening mystery
As they are not to be opened
Until the next morning
Which seems an eternity away.
The gas fireplace adds it’s warmth
As the dear old woman strokes their silky hair
And the girls takes their turns
In the lap of the dear old man,
While Mom bustles and dashes about
Settling all their things in the rooms upstairs
Once occupied by herself and her sister,
As Dad smokes and drinks coffee
And uses as few words as he can
Speaking to the wise old ones
Who are polite to him.
After a very satisfying dinner
A resented nap is required
Because the Midnight Service
At Williamsburgh Church of Christ
Will be attended
And children should not be cranky
As they sing “Oh, Holy Night”.
The stars are brightly shining
But are not seen by the three sleepy angels
As they are gently led or carried
Across the farmhouse yard
After the long ride back from that rare night service,
To be put in a bed heavy with quilts
That Mama had brought from Tennessee
Long before Mom’s life had started
When this loving old woman had been a bride.
Three little girls dream in the bed
That their Mom had restlessly yearned to abandon
Little more than a decade ago,
To wake long before anyone expected
And dash down the stairs
Still dressed in flannel nighties,
Bare feet cold on bare tiled floors
To open packages and then eat breakfast
Before they can play with the treasures
That had been contained within.
Another day and night follow
In a content jumble
Of play in a house too hot and a yard too cold,
And little girls not noticing
How restless their parents become
And little girls not aware
Of the serious talk the two couples
Old and young engage in
Across that generation gap
That never before in the history of time
Had been wider.
War, politics, religion, financial responsibility
Sore subjects that the girls
Are blissfully unaware of,
That are the topic of quiet debate
For two men of different temperament
As the older woman sits silently content
In the knowledge that Papa is always right,
And the younger woman sways and waivers
Loving both and wishing
She had made a wiser choice
When she had flown this coop.
The girls barely notice their parents departure,
As Mom and Dad head out to home alone
With promises to call when they get there
And a week at Mama and Papa’s place
Begins in earnest;
With beloved grandchildren
To be sweetly “spoiled”
Mama and Papa seem younger
As they match the pace
Of this wild pack of girls
Who revel in being indulged.
The magical night that is the not only the eve
Of a new year but also a new decade
Arrives in what seems a dismaying short time
To three little girls who cherish Cinderella’s tale
While eating a formerly frozen pizza,
Sipping 7-Up from wine glasses
Only to fall asleep while Guy Lombardo plays
And Mama and Papa wake them
To see the ball drop
A world away in Times Square
And then lead them to their bed
For the first sleep of 1970.
The parents return
And the trunk of the car is packed fuller
Than it had been on the trip down
With all of those gifts that had lain
Beneath the tree that had fueled the fire
Made in the field behind the garage
To burn the weeks trash.
Boredom prevails as the girls
Are ushered back to Lincoln Village
To resume the accustomed routine
Of school and chores
That seems so pale and dreary
In comparison to
The G-Rated Bacchanalia of
Perilous treks in blowing snow and biting wind
In dark Winter mornings
And dusky afternoons
To and from Prairie Lincoln
Painfully cold fingertips and chapped lips
Serve as reminders that you carelessly lost
The mittens and scarves that you began Winter with.
Snow falls on snow
And the piles the plows make grow.
The quiet streets become canyons
Of grimy hard packed walls.
January stretches long.
February is mercifully short,
March brings a subtle shift
Barely noticed longer days,
And icicles melting as snow
Gently steals away,
When the little girls discover
Brave green shoots peeking out
Of black earth that has mostly thawed
That will become the tulips and daffodils
Their Mom had planted
As a promise that life will return
To a land that appeared dead
But was only sleeping,
And now was awakening.
Pussy willow and forsythia
Harbingers of Spring
As were of course the robins
And all other birds that sing,
The mourning dove's coo
Will always be
The sound of Central Ohio
Rain slickers and wet socks in shoes
That had been less tight at the beginning
Of the school year
And joyous outdoor recess
Help the Winter weary children
To bloom like the flowers and trees
And a special Sunday in Late March
Brings pastel dresses and new shoes
To three taller little girls.
April fools them into thinking
Winter is just a memory.
But the frost that makes the grass crunchy
Cannot be denied.
The heavy coats are donned in morning
And carried home from school
Or forgotten and placed in “Lost and Found.”
But one bright day
It is suddenly May
You walk with bare feet
In cool green grass
After doffing socks and shoes
To feel the sidewalk warmed
By the gentle Spring sunshine.
Your play outside extends
Into later nights
And another harbinger arrives,
The bell of the ice cream truck.
The girls in unison shout “Stop”!
And importantly enter into a transaction,
Hard earned nickels and dimes
Acquired by collecting empty bottles from pop
Are exchanged for bomb pops or push-ups
That are devoured swiftly.
More run and play are the business at hand
To ensure your appetite for dinner has not been spoiled.
Walter Cronkite in the background,
Breezes flutter curtains on an open window
As the girls look at their plates
And wish that instead of beans and weanies
They could have White Castle every night.
Dinner dishes done and a dash towards the door
To play in the twilight
Yearning for the later bedtime
That just a few short weeks will bring
Once June arrives
And the school year concludes.
The mosquito trucks roll
Down the quiet Village streets
Issuing forth a sweet smelling, toxic mist
The children dance and play in this yellow cloud
Unaware of the harm
That will manifest in matured bodies
In the decades to come,
Only glad that the nasty pests
That sip their life blood are dying now.
Weekend nights are celebrated
By piling into the backseat of Dad’s car
Dressed in your P.J.’s,
To munch on salty popcorn and drink cold Pepsi
While watching the double feature
At the 40 Twin Drive-In
Content in the knowledge
That Summer had begun in earnest.
A long stretch of freedom
Full of joys and fireworks -
Picnics and church camp -
Trips to Mama and Papa’s -
Corn on the cob, melon and ‘maters -
Deep, dark suntans -
Crawdads caught at Darby Creek -
Hair tangled and full of burrs-
Long days full of play -
Short nights spent in deep sleep-
Are the jewels we mined
In this very special time,
In this very special place,
The treasure collected by sisters and me
In the Spring and Summer
Of our lives
To sustain us in our own personal
Autumn and Winter.
We were young children
When the revolution came
Unaware of the boys dying in a senseless war,
And struggles and protestations
That were intended to be
The dawn of a new era,
But were just the last hurrah
Before inevitable demise.
Not noticing this shift that was to be for our benefit
So we would become women who were equal
And rights would be civil
And the air we breathed cleaner
And the water we drank would be more pure,
We woke from our childhood dream
And now can only pass through
The ghost of Lincoln Village
As it no longer is the haven it once was.
The planned community now
Just one more stretch
Of fast food joints and retail Giants.
Fences around untended littered yards,
Separating strangers that never become neighbors.
The seasons pass unnoticed
By children who lead lives
In crowded classrooms
Where they process information instead of learning
And are permitted structured play by day.
Children that grow ever more obese
From eating processed foods
In front of cable TV by night.
Crime that used to be so rare
Or far away in other neighborhoods
Now the very real threat to be feared,
Has made prisoners of all the residents
Of this Village formerly populated
By safe families living free
We left our childhood enclave
And raised our children as far as we could get
From this decay.
We tucked them in at night
Grateful we could provide for them
As best a life as we could
And fell asleep ourselves
Wishing that somehow
Their childhood dream
Would be as sweet as ours had been.
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