60 years ago…

Guest Columnist

Shaker Heights, Ohio
Summer 1951

In 1951, neighborhoods were the center of life for many people. Families generally had a single automobile. It was used by the father for work and the occasional ride in the country on weekends. Bicycles were the family’s auxiliary form of transportation. Mothers stayed home and tended the house and kids. The bikes would get the kids to school, neighborhood shops, recreation areas, etc.

In the neighborhood, on any given day, the first movement on the street would be the sound of Larry and Jimmy delivering the morning paper. This occurred prior to 6 a.m. As the day progressed, the milkman would arrive with the day’s milk delivery, followed shortly thereafter by the bread truck arriving with breads and pastries and finally, the ice cream truck would arrive in the late afternoon.

Occasionally as the bread truck passed, the driver would stop and give the kids some broken cupcakes that he could not sell. Wow! Sometimes the milkman would give us a quarter each if we would follow him down the street and deliver the milk from the truck to someone’s milk box and return with the empty bottles. That little job got us into the Saturday afternoon matinee where we could, for 25 cents, pay to enter the theater, buy popcorn and a candy, and watch a serial episode of “Zorro” or “The Lone Ranger.”

Neighborhoods were efficient and served the needs of the people living there. Every neighborhood had a green grocery store. The green grocer sold fruits and vegetables. There was also a regular grocery store. There you find the more mundane item such as toilet tissue, canned goods, bags of flour, salt, rice, sugar, etc.

There would be a meat market, a fish market, a bicycle shop, a hardware store and a drugstore. There would also be a gas station. Tires could be repaired or purchased, and the owner-mechanic provided a full-service repair facility for the family automobile.

Both the drugstore and the hardware store had a special place in our 9-year-old lives. The drugstore had the soda fountain, comic books, candy and baseball cards with bubble gum. It also had the basics such as band-aids, aspirin, eyewash, heating pads and so on. It was “sweet” to be able to go to the corner drug store, sneak a peek at the latest Superman comic book and have a root-beer float. My mouth waters every time I think about those root-beer floats.

The hardware store was where you could buy a new snow shovel so you could earn that winter income shoveling the neighbor’s walks and driveways. You could also buy a baseball on your way to Saint Cecelia’s schoolyard to play baseball all day. On those days, we would meet up in the morning with a couple of bologna sandwiches, a baseball, a glove and a bat and make our way to the schoolyard along a rigorous racing path over little hills and obstacles. The winner of that race earned the right to first at bat.

Ah, 1951, “Zorro” serials, baseball cards with bubble gum, broken cupcakes, friends, fun places to go and fun things to do. I was safe, fed, watered and loved. Those memories always bring a smile to my face.

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1 Response for “60 years ago…”

  1. Tim Violand says:

    Larry, I enjoyed our round of golf last Saturday, what a great surprise to meet a fellow “Clevelander”. I have enjoyed reading your articles as they bring back a rush of childhood memories. I grew up on the westside, just off Detriot Ave and Wagar Ave (W166th). I remember as a child around 9, maybe 10 years old, of getting on the CTS bus (by myself) to the W98 Rapid Station and taking the train into the bottom of the Terminal Tower, I would walk up the hallways to meet my father on Public Square and go to an Indians game. Great times.
    I still have my baseball bat from “Bat Day: at Cleveland Municipal Stadium. A 32 inch wooden bat ( I can’t imagine handing these out today) to the first 5000 kids that came thru the gate. Sam McDowell, Duke Sims, Fred Witfield, Larry Brown, Leon Wagner and Rocky Colivito. great memories.
    Keep up the great work, I look forward to your articles. See you next week on the course.

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