Hello walkers! If you read Part 1 of this tale, you know that we’re headed out today for a leisurely stroll down Memory Lane to visit the shops, as they were in the 60’s and 70’s, in our quaint village of Loudonville, Ohio. So have a seat on that bench there….put on your walking shoes, grab a bottle of water and let’s get going. We’ve got a LOT of ground to cover today!
We left off at People’s Drug Store so we’ll just mosey on down that side of the street. Of course there were many more stores than what I’ll be mentioning here…I’m just recalling the ones I have personal memories of. First stop, The Loudonville Restaurant, a family restaurant and gift shop located in the most eastern portions of what I believe is now Amish Oak. Back then there was a laundromat and McClain’s Appliance’s squeezed in there too but I think the part that was the restaurant is now the furniture store. When you first walked in, you found yourself in the gift shop filled with all kinds of interesting treasures. It just so happened that I was the Hostess/Gift Shop Clerk the summer between my sophomore and junior years at Ohio State. It was a good job for me but would have worked out better, had I not met my first boyfriend in Columbus about 6 weeks before school let out. You know “young love” and all that….we thought the world would come to an end if we didn’t get to see each other! I didn’t have my own car until I graduated from college so he loaned me an extra one he had … an olive green Dodge Dart that, as I recall, was not overly dependable. Needless to say, though, I drove that beater down to Columbus late Friday nights after working at the restaurant all day, stayed at his parent’s house on the far west side of Columbus and drove it back home every Sunday night…usually in the wee hours. Now, as a parent myself, I can clearly see why my own parents were less than thrilled with this arrangement. It’s no wonder that I ended up with mono by the end of that summer….burning the candle at both ends as I surely did. I was always thankful on Monday mornings that I was the hostess and not one of the girls who had to do a lot of “memorizing” of orders and such. That restaurant was the meeting place for lots of locals and a lot of young gals got their waitressing start there back in the day.
As we go on down to the corner, when I was REALLY young there was a bakery there at Main and Spring, where Amish Oak originally started. I have limited but fond memories of standing in there at the case of goodies with my mom, breathing in the heavenly scent of donuts and other pastries. I put a “call” in to my intel “source”, Mr. G, as to the exact name of this bakery but he was unable to produce any results. I believe it was Porter’s but I wouldn’t “take that to the bank”.
How are y’all doing? Ok? Do you need to stop for a drink of water ?
This next stop is a ways down the street. We’ll cross over the bridge now…..the NEW bridge. The old bridge was much different with all the steel girders high overhead. There on the right we find the Loudonville Canoe Livery. For me to include it on this stroll you might think I was a frequent canoer….and you would be wrong. Actually, I have been canoing precisely twice in my 59 years, and only one of those trips was from this livery. No, the reason I have very fond memories is because it was owned by my aunt and uncle …Hezzy and Virginia Nave…and my memories are more centered around their gift shop/snack bar. My grandma used to help them out there in the shop and I used to love to go in and examine all the cool “Indian theme” items that, as a small child, I had never been around. I found it all fascinating. They all lived there too above the shop – my aunt and uncle and my two cousins – and hosted some memorable family get togethers there.
Next stop is the Party Shop, where the Loudonville Equity is now. It was a very popular spot for those “thirsty” folk or, in my family’s case, those wanting a good ice cream cone. Peanut butter crunch for me please. Celia Anderson would always greet you with a kind smile. Later they moved about a block away but most of my memories are from this original location.
Come on now….keep up….we need to cross the street here. Be careful, it’s a very busy intersection.
Let’s head up to the corner of Main and Spring again, this time on the south side to where we find D’s Dariette. It was a real treat to stop here on a hot summer day for a cone or a slushy. My grandmother worked here clear back when my mother was just a young thing. She had lost her husband when my mom was only 13 and walked every day….in her old cuban heels, mind you, clear down from the corner of Haskel and Union, where she worked until closing and then walked all the way back home very late at night, alone. My mom used to say that the police chief way back then – old Rhinie Schnitke – used to try to give her a ride home to help her out but she was very “old school” and didn’t want anyone to get any wrong ideas about that. She would have been exhausted….and in those HEELS…..up hill for a great stretch of it! She never did accept his kind offer. This corner still serves up food, but now it’s tacos and nachos and such since Taco Bell replaced old D’s.
We’re rollin’ now! Another block or so before we stop again. You doing ok? Any blisters on your feet? Need a bandaid? Potty break?
As we walk into this next stop, the wonderful sights and sounds come pouring in from all directions. Strang’s Department Store …now Four Seasons…. was an institution in my mind and probably in many others’. The glass encased displays at the sidewalk were always filled with interesting things. As you opened the big door and the “old timey” bell rang, you stepped into a wonderland of treasures, the first of which was the old wooden floor that creaked with every step. There’s something about walking on an old wooden floor…it transports you back in time. As I recall, I think the front end of the store was linens and things and as you walked towards the back, you would find clothes for women and children. It was a rare treat for us to get any clothing from Strangs, as per Part 1 of this saga, you already know that most of my “duds” came from the old Sears and Roebuck store. Once in awhile, though, I can recall getting a nice sweater or something from there. My mom loved to browse there, as she had memories of it from back in her day as well. As with People’s Drug Store, one of my favorite things about Strang’s was that, believe it or not, my dear Aunt Virginia worked here too! I believe it was after her years at People’s. I can almost see her now, standing just outside the little “alcove” in the center of the store where the huge old antique cash register was, watching as we walked in the door and up that stretch to the center. As I recall, there were jewelry displays close by that old register, and being the “dyed-in-the-wool” jewelry-lover that I am, I would always make a beeline to check out all the pretties. Great old memories for sure.
A couple doors up from Strangs was the Loudonville Public Library. Yes, can you believe it!! Right there in the center of town. Obviously it was MUCH smaller than the beautiful big place it is today further up the street. Back then I recall that we sat at big round oak tables and hunted for our books by using the old wooden “card catalog” in the center of the room. For you “young’uns”, each book had a card in it and when you wanted to check out the book, you took it to the desk and the librarian pulled that card out and stamped it and the book with the due date by which you needed to return it. Computers weren’t even on the horizon yet. My great love for books and reading got a good start at this place. I vividly remember Mrs. Yeager, the librarian, being very stern and strictly enforcing the “no talking” rule at all times.
On the corner of Main and Water was the Big Plus store, where the Coppertop Gallery is now. It was a bit similar to a “dollar store” and yet things were not quite that low-priced. It was small and I remember the aisles were kind of close together but the shelves were full of all kinds of things. The floor in here was also wooden and creaked like Strang’s. I recall Mrs. Bookman working in there for many years.
Are you getting tired? Hot? I am too. We’re almost done….two more stops.
Another “institution” in my young life was the Ben Franklin store, or the “dime store”, as we called it back then. My oh my but I enjoyed just browsing through the aisles here. You could literally find just about anything … except food. Well, unless you’re counting candy or nuts! Me being me, of course, the candy aisle was one I gravitated towards. That and the jewelry and art supplies. Some things never change! That was back when they had bulk candies in big glass cases and a clerk would have to weigh some out for you and put it in a bag. They also had glass cases of bulk nuts …maybe even the kind that was heated and lit up, as I recall. Many a week’s allowance was spent at this wonderful Loudonville landmark.
Ok folks, we’re coming to the end of our little journey here but I can’t quit before making a stop at one of the biggest “warehouses” of youthful memories for me and many others alike. The Loudonville Theater, aka the “Rat Palace” was the happening place starting around middle school. No, I never saw a single rat or mouse or anything of the sort and I have no idea how it ever acquired such an undesirable moniker. When I went, it always appeared clean and in good condition…yes, the seats were old and some torn and there was kind of an “old” smell to it but I LOVED going there and have many fond memories of eating popcorn and watching all those great old movies. I saw my all-time favorite there – The Sound of Music – as well as another movie I’ll never forget, for other reasons, “The Legend of Boggy Creek”, which terrified me so much that I nervously chewed clean through the vinyl strap on my purse, there in the creepy darkness with my equally scared pals. In my mind’s eye, I can also see Mr Leach, the very serious and strict owner, as he walked up and down the aisles telling kids to get their feet off the seats in front of them or to be quiet. His mere presence was enough to keep me from doing anything that would require his intervention. Good times.
Well, there we are. A stroll down my personal Memory Lane of some of the sights and sounds of Loudonville in the 60’s and 70’s. If you’re my age or older, I’m sure you have even more you could add. I find great pleasure in recalling these good times…while I still can. Memories, like time, are fleeting and I think it’s fun and also important to get things “down on paper” for future generations to come. Back then if you’d have told us we’d be walking around with little telephones that you could watch TV and play games on we would have searched your pockets for a “joint”. The reverse is true as well. Kids today have a hard time wrapping their heads around facts like us having to get up off our behinds to change the black and white TV channels by turning a dial on the set, or not being able to talk on the phone right when you want to because Mrs Smith down the street was part of your “party line” and when you picked up the receiver to make the call, you could hear her chatting away to Mrs. Jones….and you had to wait until she finished.
Seeing where we are compared to where we’ve been is very enlightening and gives us perspective. That, of course, can be very educational and teach us a lot of important things about life. That’s all well and good but it’s also just plain fun….and even a little therapeutic, to sit back and reminisce about the good old days . Thanks for keeping me company along the way.