Sunday, March 1, 2009

Old West End

Dave, I am a 1955 DHS grad and a TPS elementary counselor.  I have also worked at the TTA in the DeVilbiss building; it is a grand program and offers advanced course work to prospective engineering students. 

I am enclosing an article written about growing up in Toledo.  I was a student at DHS and my family had a little store in the old West End, which has a little bit to say about the '50's. you might enjoy it.

[Great Story Lynn! -- see below.....Dave]



Published in "The Bend of the River Magazine"

Lynn Payne Sigman

In the 50's I was a young girl working in my family's business.  Payne's Market, owned by my parents Wilson and Ruby Payne, was located on the corner of Detroit and Delaware.  This colorful corner was a microcosm of enterprise, family values, ethnic blending and American ingenuity.  

Across the street was Johnny Ray's indoor/outdoor market.  You could always find fresh flowers on the steps and luscious blueberries in season. The Ray's were parents to eight children, all hard working and known throughout the neighborhood, as  a well respected family.  The youngest was Margie, my friend.  On lazy summer afternoons we would sit outside and dream of the future.  Margie went to Central and I went to DeVilbiss.   Our friendship developed over our teen years. As we approached young adulthood, Margie became engaged to Bob Megan; they married, started a family and recently, celebrated their 50th anniversary. I went off to Ohio State and over the years we lost touch.  I remember those afternoons fondly. Two young girls, sitting in the sun, chatting and sharing laughter.  

Around the corner was the Savage Market.  The little boys, Bob and Jim were about my age, working with Dad.  When their store, or ours, ran out of an item, we helped each other out.   Like the Ray's and Payne's, theirs was a blessed and respected family business.  Our customers were friends and neighbors. Family owned food markets worked long hours, and delivered groceries to the door. When there were hard times there was a "book" in the drawer for the folks that couldn't pay until Friday.  On another corner was Verbryke's Pharmacy where you could sit at the old fashioned ice cream counter.  The Verbryke's lived on Hollywood Avenue and walked to and from the store each day. Around the corner was Mrs. Martha Daniels' Millinery Shop. She fashioned hats from lace, feathers, and pearls.  Each was an elegant creation.  In those days ladies wore hats and always gloves. 

The "corner" grew alive each morning, like a Hollywood set, as merchants set up for the day's traffic.  Our air conditioner was a "transom" window over the front door and big old fashioned ceiling fans.  Daddy always had the console radio on.  He would dance down the store aisle with the ladies and sing the "Tennessee Waltz". He was a powerful man with a generous heart.   Many men were out of work and would walk in the door.  My Dad always had a wrapped package ready for them. They never had to ask; he would hand it to them and shake their hand.  Often we bought ice from the vegetable man, Mr. George Ray.  A little extra ice kept the corn and berries fresh.  Our ceiling was high and had punched tin squares. The floors were wooden. We had a beautiful old fashioned shiny brass National Cash Register.  Momma enjoyed everybody and had a stool next to the cash register for her friends to rest.  She always had the coffee on and time to talk to the customers, or hold a baby. 

Many of our customers worked downtown and rode the bus which stopped in front of the store.  They would stop on their walk home to purchase the days groceries.  Folks shopped every day.  Refrigerators were small and money was used as needed.  Toward evening it was exciting to see who was coming in off the bus.  Officer Sullivan was a regular and added a cheerful note to the end of each day.  Dr. James Campbell was beginning his practice and he often used the bus.  He would come in and always purchased healthy foods.  Captain Commager was a daily visitor.  He had a dog by his side.  He was a retired sea captain and told me stories of far away places.  A gentle soul with shining eyes as he told of his adventures.  It is a splendid memory.

Our neighbor Mr. Lee established Lee's Chinese Hand Laundry.  I remember the day we were chatting on the walk outside the store and he expressed his joy.  He and his family lived in a tiny apartment above the Laundry.  They had worked and saved to bring 16 members of his family to America from a troubled China.  True grit.

Mr. Marino's Shoe repair was up the street.  I visited often, and he taught me a few Italian phrases I still remember.  The Sundry Store was a little farther up the block and sold items nowhere else to be found. Specialties, candies, earrings magazines. Another unique, neighborhood, family business, with a small "Beauty Shop "in the back.  I was about 12 when I saw my first baseball game at Swayne Field; I am still a baseball fan. Right down Bancroft was Mr. Giha's store. I remember "Pauli" with black curly hair and long legs playing with a basket ball in front of his Dad's store. Another long time Toledo respected family business.  My Uncle, Lowell Sheriff  worked next door in Lee's Market. Mr. Joe Green was the owner.

Our working neighborhood was rich with ethnic diversity. Irish, Chinese,  Italian, Dutch, Middle Eastern, Jewish, African American and many other descendants of exotic homelands. Friendships were lasting, time was slower. Church and school bound neighbors together.  

Sooner or later everyone crossed paths. Names float up in my memory Quinn, Reams, Dwyer, France, Kreglow, Angevine, Keanelly, Butler, and dear Miss Melda in her 80's who walked her little dog to see my mother every day.  Our Landlord was Mr. George Stahl who painted in oils and encourage my love of the arts.  Mr. Robert Linn would stop on his way home from the Edison to share a story and often helped me crank the awning up at the end of the day. His son Bobbie came by and pulled my pigtails.  Ladies attended Mary Manse College and wore starched uniforms. The Notre Dame Academy for high school girls was located on Bancroft Street. The young students were mysteriously schooled behind ivy covered walls. If you looked carefully while riding the bus you could see the Nuns walking in the gardens on the grounds.

It was the "Old West End," no other place like it.  The homes were lovely, "Painted Ladies" built in the Libbey Glass age. Generous porches with wooden swings invited a visit. Some had carriage houses and tennis courts. Yards filled with giant Lilacs, Lilly of the Valley.  Cabbage sized peonies and fragrant antique rose bushes were abundant.  Lawns were carefully tended with push mowers.

It was a privilege to grow up in that time and to share history with these fine neighbors.  I always thought I'd go back someday to live.  It was "Magic" and who knows, I have always believed the best is yet to come.

With greatest respect and fond memories,

-- Lynn Payne Sigman, Perrysburg Ohio

No comments:

Post a Comment