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02/27/21 11:22 AM #1    

Harry Fitch

Although Jim Cocanour lived in Newark only seven or eight years, his death last December ignited a wave of nostalgia from our collective (for most of us, at least) youth growing up there. We were born as America celebrated the euphoria of victory over tyranny in World War II and, for the most part, we enjoyed the benefits of the postwar boom. Much of what I will share comes, of course, from my own youth in the East End and the Lincoln school district. And from my being male. But I think most of you will relate to many of these remembrances from your own experiences. I wanted us to share our childhood there, not just our high school years as time erodes our memories and takes us from each other.

            Newark was big enough to be considered a small city, but small enough to have the feel of a town. Nearly everyone lived in a part of the city from which they could easily go downtown by bus or walking and, for our age, once we were older by bicycle. The vibrancy of Newark was centered around the square and the imposing Licking County courthouse. Downtown meant many things for kids our age from 1945-1963. There were four theaters (some of you do remember the Grand, don’t you?) where we could see movies at kids’ prices until we were twelve. But some of us had to prove (on our mothers’ good names?) that we were still 11 (or even younger) if we were “too tall” for our age. And then there was the Arcade, where for some reason the projectionist would often start the first film of a double feature somewhere in the middle. Never did figure that one out.

            Downtown also had Isaly’s dairy and their skyscraper shaped ice cream cones. There were local and regional stores, like Moore’s and King’s, that had special magic to them, especially at Christmas time when they would stock more toys or host a visit from Santa. I recall one time when Rudolph was supposed to accompany Santa but when we kids gathered (I think at King’s), Old Whitebeard said Rudolph had misbehaved and he had left the errant reindeer on the roof. Who could trust Santa after that? And there was the magic of going to Penney’s and perhaps other stores that sold shoes and looking at the bones of your feet through the x-ray machines they had then. And how many of us went to McMichael’s or Martin’s music stores and listened to records in booths before we bought them? The proprietors trusted us. And if we rode our bikes to those stores, we parked them outside and they were still there when we finished.

            Many of us lived in Newark in 1952 when the city celebrated its sesquicentennial. Parades were held downtown every day for perhaps a week. And how many of us went to the Chevrolet dealership one of those celebratory days and, as seven-year-olds, stared in wonder at the giant Budweiser Clydesdales that were boarded there for at least one of the parades? And remember, adult males had to grow some variation of facial hair or be arrested. My dad grew a mustache. Unfortunately, no pictures (if there were any) survive. I don’t know what, if anything the women had to do, maybe wear a bonnet.

            Probably most of us lived within easy walking distance of a grocery store. We lived near the top of Dewey Avenue and had two practically in our backyard on Oakwood Avenue, Nichol’s and Miller’s. And down Oakwood at about its middle was Cannizaro’s, situated in their home’s front porch. I’m sure many of us had one like Nichol’s where the pop was stored in a cool water filled tank. Half the thrill often would be reaching into that tank and searching for a special or rare flavor, such as Vernor’s Cola Beer or a Spring Hill Strawberry pop (did any of us dare call it soda?)

            Most of us undoubtedly had neighbors and/or relatives or even our own yards where we could gather freely apples and cherries, grapes, rhubarb and other garden delights because the adults didn’t mind.  We even had some neighbors who still had working water wells in their yards. One in particular, a bachelor who had New York Yankees mementoes freely open to visit in his garage, allowed us boys to drink from his well whenever we wished. We played in the streets (Mother May I, Hide and Seek, tag football), even softball perhaps. On Dewey we finally had to stop that when a hit ball broke a neighbor’s front window. We moved our games then to vacant lots or larger fields, such as Carson’s Field, as we grew older. Most of us probably had a neighborhood porch where the kids would meet whenever they would get together for play. Ours was the gathering place, primarily because it was central to those scattered about our end of Dewey. And many of us would have the forerunners of block parties, groups of neighbors getting together with the adults visiting while the kids played. Maybe some were lucky, like we sometimes were, when the grownups pitched in to make homemade ice cream.

            Somewhere within easy walking distance or only a short ride were root beer stands such as Hootie’s and Stewart’s. Then came the Dairy Queens and Dairy Isles with cones for a nickel. And there were neighborhood pizza shops like Rosato’s.

            We rode our bicycles so many places, but in our case, usually all over the East End. As we got older, some of us would ride ours out Route 79 “all the way” to Wilkins Corners, quite a distance at that time.

            Many of our fathers, uncles, and neighbors worked in factories and other commercial endeavors that had sports teams for them. So I’m sure many of us would go to the likes of  Everett Field or Fiberglas Field in the summer to watch them play softball before we would go to the swings, jungle gyms, and other “child” sites. And some of us surely went to watch them play in men’s league basketball at the Fifth Street Gym or our local junior high gym, sites that a number of us young boys would “inhabit” as athletes once we hit junior high and beyond, such as in Church League.

            And then there were such annual, or nearly so, events like when the circus came to town. King Brothers, Clyde Beatty, Cole Brothers. Living in the East End and attending Lincoln made the circus a special treat because it came to Carson Field. So, many of us found ourselves roaming the grounds the morning of the circus’ pitching before we would have to make the short trek to the Lincoln classrooms. We’d see elephants staked to the ground being fed hay by workers. We’d see different parts of the Midway and of course the big top being erected. And one year one of us had an “interesting encounter.” Some of us who were there heard a ruckus and turned just in time to see a Lincolnite (I believe it was Bill Linehan) dodging a stream of piss from a male lion. I don’t know if any of it hit him or if he had done anything to antagonize the beast, but he kept his distance from the animal after that.

            Other events that I’m sure many of us attended were the parades, such as the ones for Labor Day, where it seemed like skilled workers had something to hand out, like yardsticks, to spectators. The Memorial Day parade was another major one. I can still picture World War I veteran Major Montgomery sitting erect atop his horse, leading the procession up Cedar Street to the cemetery, boys on bicycles bringing up the rear, baseball cards clipped to their rear wheels with clothespins so that they would make a child’s bike sound a little somewhat like a motorcycle. And there was always the annual ice cream social at the Children’s Home on East Main Street.

            I’m sure many of the other schools had Fall Festivals like Lincoln, where kids could win prizes at various activities. And I’m sure most elementaries, if not all, had Halloween parades around their campus. Of course, at Lincoln, once we became junior high schoolers, the Halloween activities became “baby stuff.”

            Of course, being in Lincoln’s neighborhood, I was able to attend it for nine years. So there was no big transition into junior high. “We’re big shots now. We’re in junior high school.”  So those of us who just moved up there had no trepidations of such a major move. But what about those who came from one of the nearby elementaries, like Conrad and Hazelwood? Did they have worries? I don’t recall any showing such fears when we met some of them that first morning outside the school and in the days after. We were merely making new friends, like Bill Wright and Jerry Juniper and Pat Wolverton. Or seeing more of occasional friends like Denny Cluggish.

            That covers a lot. I’m sure there’s more I could add, which I may do later. And of course, if any classmates can think of something more to bring up about those times, especially 1945-60, before we gathered at the old high school on West Main, I’d love for you to share them.

02/27/21 04:04 PM #2    


Dan Jones

Spot on Harry. Those were some great and memorable times. Thanks.

02/28/21 07:52 AM #3    

Carol Harvey (Kinney)

Thanks Harry. As an East Ender myself till half way through the 5th grade I remmeber this well. Carol Harvey Kinney

02/28/21 10:58 AM #4    

Diane Fiecoat (Ryan)

Such great memories ...... though mine came from a Roosevelt & girl’s point of view, the experiences and activities were similar....just different neighborhood shops & eateries - Butler’s, The Fairfield Shop, Jack Hemmer’s, 10th St Market (great penny candy) Bilandi’s Pizza, etc.

Thanks so much, Harry, for a wonderful read.

02/28/21 11:30 AM #5    

Margo Farnham (Roop)

I was a west end girl with 3 sisters. Moved to Newark in 49. So interesting, Harry, your memories were extensive. Enjoyed reading them. It seemed like my early years, 7-11, was school, home and grandma's house. She lived in Hebron and so did my aunt and cousins. Spent many many days at The Buckeye Lake Amusement Park. Loved the swimming pool and roller skating and playing skeeball. I'll have to jot down more memories and post later. Hope to read other memories too. God Bless you all. Stay healthy so we can meet again. Margo

03/01/21 02:43 PM #6    

Paul Hill

Thanks Harry for the "trip down memory lane" in the east end. Moving there from 192 South Second St. to 796 East Main St. during the 5th grade seemed like a move to the other end of the world. I always say I am a proud east ender with south end roots.

Thanks again...Paul Hill

04/21/21 02:11 PM #7    

Harry Fitch

I wonder if anyone else remembers this incident from their own place in Newark on the day it happened.

It was an evening, most likely in the summer, because I cannot remember wearing any jacket or warm clothing. And it had to be in the mid to late 50s because of things I know and things I googled before writing this.

I was at the corner of Dewey and Chester, parallel to the Pennsylvania Railroad tracks, south of Burke Golf and Heisey's. Undoubtedly, Ken LaFollette was with me, because that is where his house was. My cousin Terry Antritt may have been there too, but I can't recall for certain. And there may have been other boys from our neighborhood, but that I can't be certain of either.

Anyhow, we heard this loud rumble coming from the east. We looked in that direction down the long stretch of tracks and here they came. They were in groups of four, at least eight each and maybe as many as 16. They were low--no more than just a few hundred feet off the ground. First came the B-47s, crusing with their swept wings over us. Amazing, as seeing jet bombers so low over our heads can be for young boys. But as much as the B-47s thrilled us, the planes that came next caused our jaws to drop.

This second group were B-36s, those massive behemoths with three engines on each wing, the propellers in the rear. But what astounded us even more was that we could clearly make out the bombay doors as they passed directly overhead. They were that low. Quite a sight for boys our age.

They were so low that we were fortunate to get the full effect of their low passage. Were any others of us that fortunate that evening so long ago? Does anyone else remember them?

04/22/21 08:12 AM #8    

Carol Harvey (Kinney)

I do not but would have loved to witness with you.  I also didn't know you and Terry were cousins.   fun to know.

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